I'm a zymologist, no, not some foreign person but a home brewer. It all started when as a lad I worked with an old Canadian fella. As most people do when working, we discussed just about everything under the sun. The subject of alcohol came up one day and Jerry expounded his knowledge on the subject.
"The easiest brew to make is pumpkin wine, first you take the top out of the pumpkin and scrape out all the seeds, fill it up with sugar and a hand full of raisins, stick the top back on and put it in an enamelled basin and cover it with a clean tea towel and leave it to ferment, ya have ta be patient though." So when I got home, I told Mum about this project so she helped me set it up. When the fermentation had eaten all the pumpkin innards, leaving just the skin, we broke the skin and drained it into the basin. Mum strained this through some boiled muslin and we bottled it; once bottled Mum stored it in the back of the pantry. "Ye have ta be patient."
Come Christmas time we opened the first bottle and a Zymologist was born. My interest in brewing continues to this day, more than sixty years on.
Why am I writing this yarn you ask? Over the years I've brewed a multitude of beverages, in the early days making alcohol in Australia was illegal, more reason to make the stuff. There was a plethora of 'good' recipes floating around, with ingredients like tea leaves, egg shells and Vegemite included. Occasionally one would come across something that worked without making you puke your guts up, my mate Jerry guided me through my tender years, he also had a book with fair dinkum recipes, not something dreamed up by some wannabe brewer. Getting the bottling time correct was important, many a tyro experienced World War 3 in the bottling cellar.
As time moved on, restrictions on brewing were lifted and it became legal to brew your own. Coopers in South Australia were the first to market home brew kits, the wort was in a plastic bag and you added the yeast and waited to bottle; it was a good brew, a bit yeasty for the factory fed drinker but the spring board for may other brews to follow. Most Aussie drinkers were brand loyal, if it wasn't Vic bitter etc it was crap; true Colonial stupidity.
Over the years I've experimented with different adjuncts, honey added a different flavour, I've even added jam to the brew. Some were good some just so-so, win some lose some. The distillation of alcohol was and still is illegal, why? no one can tell me, it doesn't make sense, you can make alcohol but you can't separate it by distillation ... so ... how do you make a still?