There was some interest in this in the "last purchase" thread so I thought I'd post about what we have going so far. Basically, we're doing this as an experiment to see how far we can cut the monthly adult beverage budget since you can make a gallon of fairly potent stuff (7-8%) for about $5.
This is the process I did on Sunday afternoon. There are a few more things to buy if we get serious, like a hydrometer to measure alcohol content, maybe some bigger jugs and better bottles. But for now we are just winging it -- we're into it for about $30 so far. The most expensive thing was a $10 auto-siphon for bottling.
This is my first time, so feel free to correct anything or add suggestions!
1 — Sterilize everything (if we ramp this up I will get the spray sanitizer, doing the first batch as cheap as possible)
2 — Get some yeast. This was $3 and came highly recommended, but you can use cheaper stuff, or even bread yeast if you're feeling adventurous. It takes about 1/5 of a pack per gallon but you can add a little extra with no issues.
3 — Get some yeast nutrient ($2) and pectic enzyme ($2). The nutrient helps the yeast do their thing; the pectic enzyme helps the pectin to clump up and fall to the bottom (clears up unfiltered juice). Each of these will last for 10+ batches.
4 — Get some apple juice. We started with this fancy $8/gallon stuff since jugs with juice were the same price as new empty ones.
5 — Get some vodka to put in the air lock (keeps out contaminants and bugs, keeps mold from growing. We already had this cheap/decent local stuff but I'll get something cheap for this purpose next time I'm at Spec's.
6 — Fill the airlock
7 — Add a cup of sugar to boost the alcohol content. If you don't add sugar it will come out around 5%.
8 — Add the yeast, pectic enzyme and nutrient, then shake the hell out of it until all the sugar is dissolved
9 — Put in the airlock (1-gallon jugs take a #6 stopper) and put it some place dark for a week
We had this amount of action after 24 hours, pretty fun project so far!