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Home brew spirits

Marty Ireland

I have been home brewing beer wine and spirits for a long time. Like many hobbies and interests you can keep it simple or get into it seriously.

My home brewing of beer and cider has been from a can or kit which has included stout, various ales and lagers, Hazy Ipa (opaque, juicy beers), and apple cider.

Wine has been from a variety of fruits, vegetables, even coffee and ginger, however grapes are the natural best thing and it just happens without too much intervention.

Spirits happened by chance when an entry-level air still called a Vodka Maker came up in a Buy Sell Swap paper for $150 ($300 new back then).

Already having a brew barrel to start a ferment, in went 6kg of sugar, a sachet of liquid carbon and a turbo yeast, giving a total volume of 23 litres. Sit it on the dining table or kitchen bench if you have no dedicated room or area to do this.

1: Brew barrel
2: A sachet of liquid carbon and a turbo yeast

At room temperature this may take a week, more in cooler months, but a heat pad will achieve fermentation in 2 or 3 days ➊ ➋.

With ferment complete, stir in Part A clearing agent then 1 hour later, Part B and wait 24 hours ➌.

3 Clearing agent

Now the magic happens in the still, fill it up to the set level, add some copper gauze ➍ some ceramic beads and a small amount of conditioner.

4: Copper gauze
5: Distiller.

In picture ➎ at left is a heating kettle that boils and produces a steam that condenses in the fan-cooled coil in the head and drips out into a collection jug. 

Unlike a more complex still (like a column still, such as Turbo 500 ($500–700), which need constant attention with temperature and flow, discarding the first 50mls etc, this one has a continuous run of 4–6 hrs and you are done.

With an air still, like this one ➎, you just wait and collect the first 750mls then stop, which takes about 3 hours, and you need to do 6 runs for 23 litres of fermented product, so to be practical, I do 3 one day and 3 the next.

6: This raw spirit is then run thru a carbon filter and diluted back to 1 litre

This raw spirit is then run thru a carbon filter and diluted back to 1 litre ➏ and is now ready to flavour. There is a range of flavours available in a brew shop or Bin Inn ➐.

A general spirit of whiskey, rum, gin vodka etc works out at about $15 a bottle, Irish cream, Khalua or Galiano around $22 ➑.

Joining a local club and talking with other brewers will expand your set up, process and what you make.

This hobby has been shared with many visitors , and of course fellow campers, so keep and eye out and we might share a tipple with you at a camp near you.

Cheers and bottoms up.

8: The finished brew

©2024 Marty Ireland

Cheers and bottoms up

, p


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