The freezer system of increasing alcohol
British Customs are now saying this system is on a par with distillation, and therefore not allowed in the UK. They have to be nuts!!!
Right, let's get on with more free info. Yeast and sugar create alcohol; tolerant yeast will reach a higher level of alcohol than say beer yeast. Sugar, which is in most fruits is not high enough to reach above 6% Vol. so sugar is added in winemaking to raise the level. Most wines are 10% to 12% Vol. And whilst the following is for fun, the main text is aimed for the wines in the 10%-12% bracket
Now while you are reading this (and I hope you have printed it off) get a bottle of lager, take the cap off drink the liquid in the neck of the bottle and put the bottle in the freezer. Tomorrow, take it out and turn it upside down to drip in another vessel. When Two thirds are in the new container pour the remainder in the bottle away, (it's mostly ice). Now re-freeze the remainder using the bottle again. When frozen, repeat the process. If you started off with a pint, after the second run aim for half a pint remaining. This should have doubled the original alcohol you started with. So your 6% is now 12%, if you repeat everything again you could achieve 24% but only ¼ of liquid remaining. That's about as high as this system works. Things to avoid, freezing fizzy drinks in a bottle with the lid on, you risk the glass cracking, also don't fill your glass or plastic container you are freezing, leave it short of the shoulder by 2 inches. Ice expands when frozen, allow the frozen container to stand for a half-hour before lifting the cap, this reduces the chance of the liquid spurting out. To aid in transferring the liquid from one container to the next, I use matching containers and matching lids. If they have plastic screw on lids, I glue them together, back to back and then drill 4 x ¼ inch holes around the centre to allow the liquid to flow down. Your first run could take 4 – 8 hours to drip into the second container, but the second run will be much quicker. The colour and the sugar travel with the alcohol, also the flavour, so if you start with a sweet drink it could end up like a liqueur. A heavy beer like stout would end up disgusting, whereas a weak flavoured home brew wine could be very palatable. Why run it twice through the freezer, and not once? It is such a large volume to separate in one go, I have found two runs will bring over 95% of the alcohol, where as one run only 80%.
An extra benefit is the high alcohol content will keep this wine indefinitely like fortified wine. In theory there is no reason why much higher levels of alcohol could not be achieved through the freezing method, it is limited to the lowest level your freezer will allow. Unlike distillation freezing allows the colour and sugar to travel with the spirit, to me that's a good thing adding flavour to the drink.
Now if you wish to make liqueurs here are some brilliant tips. Get some fresh untreated sawn English oak wood from the timber merchants, cut into kindle size pieces that will drop into a demi- john or plastic container, remember the wood will swell when wet. Dry off by putting into a warm oven for 45 minutes, opening the door every 5 minutes to release the steam. Now burn the wood with a flame torch, or just hold it over the gas till it is a just a little charred. Drop it into the new wine and in weeks it will impart a mild flavour of Brandy. This is why a good wine is left in the barrel. This next tip you won't find in many books, most branded liqueurs bought today are about 20% Vol., but if you wish to fool people that it is nearer 40% add 4 – 8 drops of Capsicum Tincture B.P.C. to one bottle of wine. It is not expensive and can be ordered from your Chemist, buy the smallest quantity they will sell you. Lastly if it is a dry wine, stir in caster sugar to taste.
To re-iterate, if your starter wine is 12% then your end product will be half the volume and twice the level of Alcohol, 24% - 28% is the best this system will do on an average household freezer. As the aim is to freeze out the water, you could try putting your freezer on maximum, and go the extra few percent.
A useful bit of information, water boils at 100 c Alcohol at 78.3 c, and alcohol freezes at minus 114 c. also if you saved this job until there was a heavy frost, this whole operation could be done at no expense.