Historically, alcohol has been used for social activities, both religious and non-religious practices, and as a dietary component and medicinal agent.
Alcohol drinking by different cultures predates written history. It is no longer recommended for therapeutic purposes because of its ability to intoxicate users when taken in large amounts.
Whether you choose to drink beer, wines, or spirits, they all contain alcohol. Get your facts straight about alcohol and the processes and ingredients involved in its production.
What Is Alcohol?
As mentioned above, alcohol ethanol is present in beers, wines, and spirits and may cause drunkenness.
Alcohol is classified as a sedative-hypnotic drug. It can depress the central nervous system when taken excessively. Alcohol may also affect different organs, depending on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over time. At lower doses, it can act as a stimulant, inducing feelings of euphoria.
How Is Alcohol Made?
Alcohol is produced by fermenting a natural source of sugar with a catalyst, usually yeast. This process is called fermentation. With carbohydrates like as starches and sugars as the main source, carbon dioxide and ethanol are the end products of alcoholic fermentation.
Many brands keep their recipes a secret, known only to their distillers or brewers. However, all types of alcoholic drinks follow this basic process.
Although all alcoholic beverages are produced by fermentation, others are further purified via distillation.
Fermented drinks are consumed as is after the removal of sediments through filtration. The fermentation of beers and wines may produce other byproducts, which include methanol, but they are only present in extremely low amounts and cannot cause health problems.
Distilled drinks, known as spirits, start as fermented drinks, but then distillation occurs. The drink is heated at a controlled temperature to separate the mixture’s components according to boiling points. The portion that boils first at a lower temperature is known as the “heads.” It includes methanol and is removed quickly. The ethanol boils next, which is recovered and bottled.
At higher temperatures, the “tails” boil. Some of these may be included in the final product to add unique flavors. Some additional ingredients like coloring and flavoring are mixed to distilled spirits to make the final drink.
Fermented alcoholic beverages have lower alcohol content than spirits. A typical spirit is 80 proof, which is equal to 40% alcohol by volume.
What Are the Main Ingredients of Your Favorite Alcoholic Beverages?
Just about any plant matter can be used to produce alcohol. Here are some of the source materials for several popular alcoholic drinks.
The most special feature of port wine is its sweet taste. Traditionally made in Portugal, this is a dessert wine that is made using a wide variety of grapes or sometimes blackberries.
Barley, yeast, water, and hops are the 4 main ingredients in beers. The sugar from the barley is extracted and converted to alcohol by the yeast through fermentation. Other grains like rye, maize, wheat, and rice can also be used to make beers.
Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic drink, generally made from a mash of grain like wheat, corn, barley, and rye.
The unique taste of this drink is achieved after its fermentation in a block of charred white oak wood. Aging only stops once it is bottled. A good whiskey contains approximately 40% alcohol.
Your favorite vodka is often made from potatoes or fermented cereal grains. Others also make it from fruits or sugar. You can drink vodka as is or in a cocktail like a Martini and Bloody Mary.
Brandy can be made from any fruit, but only grapes can give it a higher acidity. Brandy is a perfect after-dinner drink. It contains approximately 35-60% alcohol, and unlike whiskey, this is aged either through caramel coloring or in wooden barrels.
Another well-loved alcoholic drink is rum. This one is made using the products of sugar cane and its juice that is distilled. This liquid is then aged in barrels.
Similar to vodka, gin gets its name from Juniper berries. It is made from citrus peel, juniper, cinnamon, coriander, almond with neutral grain alcohol. The flavors in gin are all natural.
Infused with seeds, roots, barks, flowers, spices, and herbs, then fortified by adding brandy, this drink is an aromatic wine.
You can enjoy 2 types of vermouth, the sweet and the dry. This is a favorite ingredient in Martinis!
Everybody loves tequila! This popular Mexican drink is distilled from blue agave.
Drinking alcohol, whatever the type, should be done in moderation. Experts recommend women to stick to a maximum of 1 drink per day and men to 2.