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    Transforming Sugars To Alcohol: Demystifying The Science of Fermentation In Alcohols

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    February 20, 2016

    By Cherryy Chauhan

    Aaah Booooooze! Even the name transcends divineness. Having a lousy day or not, it somehow lifts up every mood. Such a beautiful thing. It helps you unwind, injects the party fever in everyone, and what not! While it’s unarguable that it is certified as legitimately awesome but what most people forget about it, is that it is in fact, a gift of science. OH YEAH.

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    Now what’s interesting here is that science treats alcohol as a solution that is formed by the reaction of hydrocarbons with water. It is a simple chemical compound, that’s produced more often than not in regular chemical reactions.

    Isn’t it intriguing?

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    So shall we get to the bottom of this, then? Let’s GO!

    WHAT IS ALCOHOL?

    Alcohol is a term that is frequented with organic chemistry, the part of chemistry that deals chiefly with the element Carbon. Alcohol is a term used collectively for a series of such homologous Carbon compounds that comprise of a hydroxyl group (-OH) attached to them.The chemical name of the alcohol we use for drinking is actually ethyl alcohol or ethanol.

    HOW IS ALCOHOL FORMED?

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    The formation of alcohol is a quite straightforward. You take any sort of foodstuff that comprises of sugars or starch and then you just ferment it for some time. This step will be your alcohol content determining step. The longer you ferment, the stronger the drink.

    OKAY, SO WHAT IS FERMENTATION AGAIN?

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    I’m glad you asked. Fermentation is the process of adding yeast or bacteria to sugars (or starch) which through natural chemical processes just transform it into alcohol. Fermentation for alcohols is referred to as ethanol fermentation. The yeast and bacteria feed on the sugars to generate alcohol as the primary and carbon dioxide as the secondary or by-product.The process should always be done in such a vessel that allows carbon dioxide to escape but no outside gases to penetrate. Fermentation is not only done for production of alcoholic beverages, but also amongst one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. It also contains probiotics that help in digestion.

    HOW DOES FERMENTATION DECIDE THE TYPE OF ALCOHOL PRODUCED?

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    It’s pretty simple. The type of alcohol generated, be it beer or wine or spirits, it all depends on how long the constituents are left for fermentation. Since beer is made with minimum alcohol contents (as low as 3%) the fermentation for beer isn’t long enough. With the addition of a few hops and grains and beer is all set and good to go.When the same beer is distilled, whiskey is created.

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    Similarly, for wine fermentation is performed on grapes and ciders or primarily fruits of all sorts. When the sugars from the fruits react to the bacteria of fermentation, wine is produced.

    Take a visit to a vineyard once. The visit will contain all sorts of fabulous and marvelous experiences. If you can’t get to a vineyard try heading to the nearest microbrewery. Give them a nudge, and then ask them to show you the operations of the brewery and before you know it you’ll be designing your very own microbrewery plants in your head!

    Porza, Switzerland - 24 September 2014: People harvesting grape on a vineyard at Porza near Lugano on Switzerland

    So go get that excitement bug some wings and swing by your nearest brewery. Learn the art of alcohol making do let us know how you felt about it. HAPPY DRINKING!


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    Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.

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