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.

How much alcohol in a banana?

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 Alcohol and Fermentation

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.

Fermentation has a long history


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.

Read how much alcohol in orange juice here

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.

Fermentation and Wine



You can read my review of my favorite alcohol free wine online here.

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.

Treading Grapes with Your Feet

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!

You read about my review of Alcohol Free Sparkling Wine here

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.


Alcohol comes from sugar and fermentation

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.

Read how much sugar in alcohol

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.

Louis Pasteur Milk and Alcohol

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.

Brewing is a big industry

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.

This has revolutionized alcohol free wine for example and you can read about it here.

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.

Slightly ironic.

I would love to hear your views on what is fermentation in alcohol. Leave your comment below and I always get back to you.

4 thoughts on “What is fermentation in alcohol?”

  1. Very interesting post on fermentation and I must say that you certainly do tell a very good story,

    I can’t get that image of people tramping around in the grapes and it’s the fungus on their feet that is the secret.  That is disgusting lol.  I always thought that they had washed and scrubbed their feet before hand.  But the image I now have is them running around in shoes all day to get their feet all sweaty, so that they could make good wine lol.

    I didn’t know that it took sugar too to make the fermentation happen.

    I have learned a lot from this.  Thanks for sharing.

    • My pleasure Geoff and great to hear from you. Yes the wine and the feet thing was interesting. Good old fasioned wine making! 

      Its certainly an interesting area and one that is often over complicated. 

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on what is fermentation in alcohol.

      I loved your comment. All the best, Phil

  2. Hello there, Phil! This is an interesting article. I didn’t know too much about the fermentation process. I may have learned about it before but I guess I have forgotten it all over the years. So the key is sugars in any form (even fruit) and yeast. Now I feel like just playing around with yeast and sugars as an experimental project. Thanks for creating this fun read.

    • Hey Mike thanks so much and I am pleased you enjoyed what is fermentation in alcohol. To be honest I think I learned quite a bit at school and before creating this blog forgot all about it!

      I really enjoyed reading your comment and thanks so much for stopping by. All the best, Phil


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