What is fermentation in alcohol ?
If you are looking for a better understanding of what makes alcohol free difficult to make it might be useful to understand what is fermentation in alcohol?
I don’t know about you but I often have to admit science is not my forte.
I had some truly awful teachers at school and to be fair I preferred reading a book about Shakespeare then looking at a test tube.
I was probably not their best student either.
But things changed after going alcohol free because of my health and the fact I can’t drink alcohol.
I have become very interested in what is fermentation in alcohol? It fascinates me.
For example why is there is sometimes a trace of it in natural food and even alcohol free drinks.
In fact one of the most read articles on my blog is about how much alcohol in orange juice?
People often asked me about alcohol in food and how much alcohol in bread rolls for example. And you would be right to ask.
It’s a bit like giving up wheat once you give up alcohol you find it’s everywhere.
How much alcohol in a banana often comes up as well !
And the main reason is because of a natural process of fermentation which has been harnessed by science, food and drink makers but in high quantities can also make us drunk.
I would not worry about alcohol free beer making you drunk though. Its impossible!
Yep you read that right.
So what is this thing called yeast?
One of my better teachers was a biology one and one day she brought some bread in and slapped it on her workbench and said “ What is this tiny fungus called? Well it’s called yeast!”
None of us had had the chance to answer at this point. Of course, we just saw a loaf of bread!
Yeast is a key factor in creating what gets you drunk at the pub.
It helps create the alcohol in wine and beer. I remember that day at school fondly as we got to eat the bread but I also thought it was a bit weird
I had never thought about my Dad’s pint of beer or my mum’s sherry in that way before.
She told the story about some fruit and that alcohol is actually thousands of years old and started with fruit in a jar.
Now I can’t tell you if this story is true but if you look at old Roman digs for example you will see lots of old wine jugs brought up so it must be true.
It appears this early fermentation of fruit led people to drink it, feel all funny and get drunk and so alcohol was formed.
Maybe its when a hangover was also first discovered!
So according to the history of Romans, the Egyptians, Saxons and Greeks they were all the forerunners of alcohol so beer and wine.
Or certainly alcohol.
So this really was the start of alcohol production as we know it today. All from a jar of fruit that was fermenting!
Beer, Wine and Alcohol Making
Even if you go back to wine making by monks including mead on “Holy Island” in Northumberland UK you see hops grains and grapes all being left for a long period of time.
It began creating something that gives us a silly laugh or a warm feeling that we now know as the effect of alcohol.
Of course at the time no-one knew why or that they needed to do more to craft the drink recipes that we know how today.
So it seemed leaving fruits and grains in barrels or jars for ages produced the drinks we know as wine and beer.
But of course it lacked sophistication.
If you go back to Latin, not my area of expertise, it has been said the word “fermentation”comes from the term “fervere” so “to boil.”
Any Latin experts in?
Of course people just boiled grapes and hops and hoped for the best and ended up with mush!
This quickly went off and rotted.
I have even heard people talk about early alcohol free wine in those terms but luckily we now know how to make wine and take the alcohol out.
Otherwise, people would still be saying it was just grape juice!
The Torres Wine family in Spain has this to an art in my view and you read my review and comment if you would like.
Online shopping is still one of the few places you can get alcohol free wine but hey back to fermentation!
Of course, we now know that temperature and air are a key part of what is fermentation in alcohol.
It is actually a big science feat really.
In Spain, I watched a traditional wine making session once and there were people treading grapes with their feet.
The winemaker explained that the microorganisms on the people stomping around was transferred to the grape mixture causing the wine to ferment.
I was gob smacked.
But in the museum they have a whole section on something called eukaryotic fungus that we can’t actually see but really it’s yeast!
Over time science developed this into what we know as alcohol fermentation today.
As far as I know in this small Spanish museum they still make some wine using their feet.
I did try some wine as I drank at that point and it certainly had some punch. I will give it that !
Spain, Italy and even England now makes sparkling alcohol free wine.
The choice has moved on from our feet making the wine!
Yeast and Fermentation
In 1755, yeast was listed in the Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson as “the ferment put into drink to make it work; and into bread to lighten and swell it.”
As science developed they learned that only is yeast technically alive but we also learned a lot about sugar which is the other key component of alcohol of course.
Adding sugar to the yeast is key.
Science learned that sugar is made up of a mixture of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen.
It’s rather ironic that both sugar and alcohol can actually do a lot of damage to our bodies if over consumed.
So when you break it down, science makes it a bit complicated but in reality it’s simple!
To make alcohol or create a reaction that produces alcohol you need yeast or “ferment” as it’s sometimes called and then a chain reaction is created.
Yeast is the starter pistol that creates even more alcohol and advances the process.
So it’s like a firelighter so to speak.
Two-thirds of the sugars were transformed into alcohol while the remaining turned into carbon dioxide. Yeast kick started the process of alcoholic fermentation
Did you learn about Louis Pasteur at school
Maybe it was to do with milk but actually his role in alcohol fermentation is just as key.
Pasteur demonstrated microorganisms so yeast are able to convert sugars into alcohol from grapes and therefore create wine even without oxygen.
He described it as “respiration without air” (Pasteur 1876).
It’s amazing what you learn at school! But you never think about it until you are researching alcohol free. Crazy really!
In where the milk thing comes in as the great scientist Pasteur illustrated he had discovered two types of fermentation alcoholic and lactic acid.
Alcoholic fermentation is caused by the yeast; lactic acid fermentation caused by the bacteria.
It is why some yogurt brand make a big thing out of their good stomach bacteria.
The Chemical Process of Fermentation and Alcohol Free
So thanks to yeast and science brewing and wine making are massive .
It’s a big industry from food to juices as well.
Fermentation happens naturally and of course with advanced science and manufacturing it’s bigger there than ever before.
If you think about it, the whole thing came out of the process of science and people who were curious about bacteria, yeast, sugar, heat and that funny feeling when they eventually made alcohol.
They created the first hangover and also created something that people world over can become addicted to.
It one of the reasons one of the most popular self development programmes on the blog is from Mark Tyrrel an experienced coach and therapist who helps people overcome addiction from their own home with his brilliant online course.
You can find out more by clicking my affiliate link below and I receive a small commission if you purchase.
If you do decide to try it out for any mild addiction including chocolate for example I would love to get some feedback on what you think.
As more and more people realize they want to drink alcohol free drinks for personal health or fitness that market is becoming bigger than ever.
It’s slightly ironic that having to find out how alcohol is made science has now successfully found a way to brew creating no alcohol or the “dealcoholization” process.
The alcohol free market through the vacuum process where the flavor is left in but the alcohol is taken out will probably once again transform what we eat and drink.
It seems science, fermentation and alcohol will continue to make its mark. I personally am pleased about that!
Always know your alcohol limit through the drink aware website
So what is fermentation in alcohol
The fact is the way early science talked about it was confusing.
Of course, they learned about bacteria, yeast, sugar, fruit and natural fermentation and what on earth was this alcohol that resulted in our headache the next morning!
We now know that fermentation used well can make a big difference and help produce hundreds and thousands of products worldwide.
Of course, it has in many ways done a lot of damage if over used mainly in alcohol drinks and addiction. Or even just social drinking as what is acceptable increases.
It used to be a glass and now its a bottle!
Science is now helping alcohol free drinks into the market by learning how to take out the result of fermentation.
I would love to hear your views on what is fermentation in alcohol. Leave your comment below and I always get back to you.