Monday, December 11, 2006

I Was A Teenage Moonshiner, part one.

Sometime during our early teenage years, Chris, Tole and I over-heard Someone Who Should Have Known Better mention that it was legal to produce 200 gallons of beer or wine per year for personal consumption.

You know what was going to happen next.

Unfortunately, this was sometime before the existence of the World Wide Web, and if you needed to research something -- say, the origin of wine or beer -- you had to go down to the library and start paging through books.

Normally, I am all for a relaxing day in the library, hunting down stray facts, but after a couple of days, we began to suspect that maybe the Chief (and only) Librarian in Small Town Shi'a Baptist, Texas might have been a bit remiss in the ordering of books that might detail the manufacture of Demon Rum.

So. We had a brain-storming session in the living room, pooled our intellectual resources on the subject of Booze, Production Of; and decided that we probably needed some juice, some yeast, one was probably supposed to go into the other ... and then we'd wing it from there.

We pedalled furiously down to the corner store, announced that we were in the middle of an experiment; bought a gallon jug of apple juice and a three-pack of bakers yeast; and pedalled back to the house with our booty.

Once back at our house, we poured a packet of yeast into the apple juice, decided that we had an awful lot of juice, emptied the other two packets in, screwed the lid down good -n- tight and hid the jug in the pantry.

Four days later, during our after-school observation of our proto-booze, we discovered that fermentation produces CO2. A lot of it. CO2 that desperately wants to be somewhere else -- and a firmly screwed-down lid doesn't slow it down much.

The effect following the sudden *POP* of the cap is best described as a Fountain of Fermentation.

Manky apple juice everywhere. Ceiling. Walls. Floor. Shelves. Cans of foodstuffs. Oh, and us.

Two hours of mopping and sponging up apple fermentation in an unventilated itty-bitty little room later, we pedalled -- slightly unsteadily -- back down to the corner store, announced that we had exp-, expushr-, hexpear-, had a bit of a problem with the thingy and re-stocked our supplies.

A nice gentleman who had been coughing in line behind us insisted that we accept a ride back to the house in the back of his pick-up and, as he dropped us off, mentioned -- apropos of nothing -- that some experiments needed to breathe -- through a tube was best -- and that the addition of a quarter cup of sugar was never a bad thing. In some experiments.

Tube, hell. After we dumped the yeast and sugar into the gallon jug of apple juice, we bunged the jug -- sans lid -- under the kitchen sink. And waited.

After about ten days the bubbling and frothing stopped. In our gallon jug, we had ... stuff.

The bottom of the jar looked remarkably like the bottom of a cattle tank. The top looked somewhat like the surface of a peat bog. And in between the two was ...

... a thriving colony of sea-monkeys.

Not the sea-monkeys that you saw advertised in the back of comics books at the time. Not Mr. and Mrs. Sea-Monkey and the babies with the crowns and the lunch-pails and the castle in the back-ground.

No. These bore a striking resemblance to the demonic, mutated, sub-aquatic, ninja-SeAL alien sand-fleas that the lying bastards sent you after you mailed them the [deleted] coupon and your hard-earned money THINKING you were going to get Mr. and Mrs. Sea-Monkey!

Errm. Ahem.

We stared at the swimming thingies for a while, and then Chris said, "I don't think anyone's going to want to drink this."

I ventured that maybe if we didn't tell anyone about the presence of the ... only to be interrupted by Tole stating, "We don't have to tell anyone about them. I think they're more than capable of announcing that fact on their own."

"Okay," sez me, "What if we strain out the scum and algae and thingies?"

"Straining may get the bugs, but do you think they crawl out of the jug to go to the bathroom, or do they do the deed right there?" snarked Chris, Master of the Bad Mental Image.

"Wait, wait, wait," said Tole, "What if we strain it, then distill what's left? Purified, right? No sea-monkeys, no sea-monkey leavings."

Huzzah!

Story to be finished tomorrow. Or sometime.

LawDog

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The Horse and Mule live thirty years,

Yet know nothing of wines and beers. . .

Your faithful, sober bone dry hen
Lays eggs for noggs, and dies at ten.

But sinful, Ginful, beer soaked man,

Survives three score years and ten."

I know there's a couple more verses, after I sober up I may remember 'em.

Anonymous said...

Oh, great. Now we have another story unfinished. I am still waiting for the end of "The Pink Gorilla" and "The 'Stache" stories to be finished.

Anonymous said...

And I thought the worm in the tequila bottle was bad.

mustanger98 on THR

Anonymous said...

Thats rough. I've had wild yeast strains get into my beer but sea monkeys? Never.

Can't wait for the upcoming stomach pump part.

Phoenix Ravenflame said...

Story to be finished tomorrow. Or sometime.

That's really cruel. I force myself not to stop by once a day and ask for the rest of the mustache story, and now I have to wait on the rest of this story, too.

I have a half a mind to only check three times for the update tomorrow instead of six.

Anonymous said...

I have GOT to stop drinking and smoking whilst reading your blog! It's hard on the lungs, throat, nose, monitor and keyboard.
Bugger!

Tim Covington said...

This will be interesting. I am a home brewer who has made beer, mead, wine and cider. I just want to know if anyone died or was brain damaged by this little experiment.

Anonymous said...

Thought this was a good place to tell ya...I've known LD for a little over 20 years and I'm still waiting for the end of The 'Stache. The Pink Gorilla Suit however I was privy to the ending in RL, but I won't spoil it here. :P

I would just like to add though that the funk generated by apple juice that has "gone over" during fermentation rivals 4 day old road kill in August and the smell requires something akin to a decontamination chamber to get out. We stunk for about a week.

Kimberly said...

Ack, I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything reading this story. Don't need to wreck a keyboard right now!

When are we going to see the end of this story, the moustache story and the pink gorrilla suit story?

Pgrl said...

Actually those of us who grow aquatic gardens use yeast fermented co2 to supplement the fish's co2. We hook up airline to a plastic ladder diffuser in the tank and the little bubbles go up the ladder. It's pretty cool to watch and the plants are beautiful. I'm dying laughing at the explosion you folks must have had. By they way, yeasties like protein powder and molasses and a little ammonium sulfate (yeast nutrient) too. :)

Andrew Weitzman said...

*ahem*

An experiment involving dandelions, sundry juices, and a rather vague recipe taken from a Wicca handbook that included traditional English recipes resulted in something rather similar. Only it involved the Holy Dandelion Wine Bottles of Antioch exploding in my father`s wine cellar.

Chemistry is fun!

ben said...

"Here, hold my beer and watch this"

thought that saying was meant for me and some of my friends I grew up with but might fit you and yours more. It was fun though, glad we lived through ours and that you did the same.

Anonymous said...

Went to a small Catholic boarding school for high school; some guys on my floor tried the cider-jug thing under their beds.

3 am, *pop*.

"Sorry, Father, just cleaning up here..."

Phoenix Ravenflame said...

dandelions, sundry juices, and a rather vague recipe taken from a Wicca handbook

I'm going to die now! LawDogs story had me laughing hard enough that something like this just made it too much for me.

Hmm... I have a recipe for mead from one of those McWiccan books. Maybe I won't make it.

markm said...

IIRC, Scientific American had an article about making mead back in the early 70's. That was before Al Gore invented the Internet, so you might have some trouble tracking it down...

What I remember is that mead is made from honey, and honey has two levels of protection against yeast and other little flora and fauna growing in it. One is that the concentration of sugar is so high that it sucks all the water out of single celled organisms, killing them. So add water to dilute the honey. The second is some natural antibiotics. Heating destroys those.

How much water and how much heat? "That exercise is left to the reader." Or track down a proper recipe.

Finally, IIIRC the SciAm article concluded that they had probably achieved a fair resemblance to the Old English/Norse drink - and they now understood why the Old English and Vikings switched to beer once they learned how to make it. So unless you've got more honey than you know what to do with, maybe there are better ways of spending your time.

Waes Hail

Chocolatesa said...

I've read just about every post from the present date to this one and I don't remember seeing the Pt. II of this. If there is one please direct me to it, and if not, please write it!!! Thanks :D