I bottled my first batch of home-brewed beer this weekend. The brewing process is actually pretty gross when you think about it. It’s essentially sugar water that has been infected with a fungus. You leave it in a bucket at room temperature to fester for a week and then bottle it up. The fungus eats the sugar and “relieves itself” into the brew, producing the alcohol and carbonation. Then you drink it.
As I was putting the caps on the bottles I started wondering if anything in there could make me sick, after all, the only other home-made booze I could think of will blind you.
To figure out if I was at risk of blindness, I learned how moonshine is made, and found there are three dangerous substances that can potentially make their way into the finished product: Radiator fluid and lead are the first two, and are accidentally introduced by people trying to save money by using old car radiators in their stills. The third thing is toxic additives. These are intentionally added by unscrupulous distillers to fake the alcohol content of the drink. According to How Stuff Works, “these could include manure, embalming fluid, bleach, rubbing alcohol and even paint thinner.”
None of these dangers pertain to beer. What I was really worried about though was bacteria. Just to be sure about the safety of my brew, I asked a friend who has been brewing for years. He said he’s only ended up with one bad batch, and advised me to pour it out if I found myself sipping on a putrid black sludge.