Hurricane Prep, Day 4 – Happy Wife, Happy Life!

Tonight, while making dinner, the wife and I got into a discussion that was heading into argument. I realized it was a no-win, and acquiesced (to the Dallas hillbilly, that means I caved in).  Shifting gears to not think about the conversation, I started to try, yet again, to come up with today’s post.

And the answer immediately came to me.

During the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, our power was out for several weeks, causing us to “camp” at home. This really wasn’t much of a problem for us, other than the boredom. Living in an electronic age, not having electricity quickly shows you how much of a crutch it is.

And whats a favorite pastime when its hot, and you are sitting around? Drinking! And what is one of the first things the authorities do when a hurricane devastates an area? Stops ALL alcohol sales! YOU BASTARDS! How else will my wife be able to deal with me during these stressful times????

I learned a hard lesson then…the opposite of “Happy Wife, Happy Life” sucks. Being from the hills of WV, I recalled several of my dad’s friends making their own adult beverages, some legal (HI Crandall!), some not so much (I miss you, Ray!). If THEY did it, why can’t I? Once we had power again, I added “Making home brew” to my things to research. And NAILED it!

My research took me from the simplest (Baby Duck Wine, anyone?) to setting up your own production, getting federal approval, and doing it as a business (NOT for me, I may add).  Somewhere in the middle, I found OzTops, a simple, brew-your-own system for making young fruit wines in less than three days. Yes, THREE DAYS!

Thinking it was too good to be true, I spent the $20 at the time, $25 now, to get an “International Kit”. One use and I could only say that this was money well spent!

The process is simple. Using a cleaned soda bottle, one that originally held a carbonated drink (less likely to explode to to pressure), and the fruit juice of your choice along with the special caps and yeast from the kit, you turn a healthy kids drink into an  adult beverage.

The process:

  1. Take an empty soda bottle (I used a Publix soda water bottle), and wash it thoroughly, using a cap full of bleach to sterilize both the bottle and the cap. Save the cap for later.
  2. Get a 64 oz jug of room temperature Juicy Juice (rectangular bottle). This contains nothing that will kill the yeast, or add “off” flavors, and comes in the perfect size.
  3. Pour the Juicy Juice into the soda bottle. It should fill to almost the top, leaving about 2 inches of head space.
  4. Add the suggested amount of yeast, about a 1/2 teaspoon to the juice.
  5. Screw on the OzTop cap with your choice of carbonation amounts, Low, Medium, or High. I typically used Medium.
  6. Set it in a warm-ish place, I used the top of the refrigerator.
  7. Leave it for 2-4 days, the longer you leave it, the less sweet it becomes, and the stronger the alcohol content (the yeast converts the sugars in the juice into alcohol- the sweeter the juice, the higher the potential for alcohol content..stand by for more info). I suggest 3 days for a semi-sweet wine.
  8. Chill, then drink!

It takes less time to DO than it did for me to type it up…and that’s not the best part….follow me – When they shut off alcohol sales, you can still buy groceries, like sugar, yeast, and fruit juice. Of course you’ll buy a 12-pack as the storm approaches, and if you think it may adversely affect you, simply start a batch (or two) a day or so out, then a second batch two days later, etc. At no time do you run out of refreshments (Assuming you have the proper raw materials), no matter how long the crisis is in your area. In fact, the longer the crisis, the better the wine becomes as a trade item in a SHTF scenario!

My wife enjoys the strawberry-watermelon, straight strawberry, mixed berry, and white grape. We buy Juicy-Juice every time the price drops below $2.50 a bottle, and put it in storage, using it for when the kids want a fruit drink, but keeping the stock to a dozen or so bottles.

No, it won’t win any prizes. But Boone’s Farm sold a LOT of wine in it’s day, and the wife says it tastes FAR better than that does. I like the apple or the watermelon wine, aged 3 days.

Using the same techniques outlined above, only substituting other ingredients, you have an unlimited variety available. I once made a jalapeno wine from raisins and jalapenos that was quite the hit! Another trick I would use is to add a 1/2 cup of sugar and let it ferment 5-6 days, increasing the alcohol content, but retaining some sweetness. The alcohol content will increase up to the point that it starts to kill the yeast, max of around 14-18% or so, depending on the strain of yeast used. Also keep in mind that typical “bread” yeast can possibly leave a “bread-like” taste to your wine. But that’s better than a “hint of ammonia”.

The OzTops can also be used to make root beer, ginger-ale, and other “soft-drinks” in the old style. Keep in mind that, just like the old-style soft drinks, there may be a bit of alcohol in them.

I’m certain I can make my own OzTops lids now, and there are other options to prevent “bad” yeasts from contaminating your brew. If I get enough interest, I may post a how-to on making the one-way gasketed seals. And yes, in a pinch, a balloon can serve the same purpose.

So, should you have need of an adult beverage when the stores are no longer selling for whatever reason, you now have some idea of how to do it yourself.

Some legal notes: US law states that you can make your own wine or beer, but cannot distill them into stronger stuff. This means no whiskey, brandy, rum, etc. From Wikipedia:

Individual states remain free to restrict or prohibit the manufacture of beer, mead, hard cider, wine and other fermented alcoholic beverages at home.[18]For example, Ala. Code § 28-1-1 addresses the illegal manufacture of alcoholic beverages in Alabama, and no other provision of Alabama law provides an exception for personal use brewing.

However, most states permit homebrewing, allowing 100 gallons of beer per adult per year and up to a maximum of 200 gallons per household annually when there are two or more adults residing in the household.[19] Because alcohol is taxed by the federal government via excise taxes, homebrewers are restricted from selling any beer they brew. This similarly applies in most Western countries. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed into law a bill allowing home beers, which was at the time not permitted without paying the excise taxes as a holdover from the prohibition of alcoholic beverages (repealed in 1933).[18] This change also exempted home brewers from posting a “penal bond” (which is currently $1000.00) which had the prohibitive effect of economically preventing brewers of small quantities from pursuing their hobby.


Here is a GREAT place to visit before starting down the Home-brewer’s Path:

And for this week only at Publix:

Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Juice Blend, 64 oz , $2
Manufacturer Coupon -$1/3 Juicy Juice products printable
Store Coupon -$1/2 Nestle Juicy Juice, excl single serve, (Target coupon) printable
(Buy (3), use $1/3 and $1/2 store coupon, makes it $1.33 ea.)

That’s about $2.66 a GALLON for wine (not counting labor or materials :P)! That’s cheaper than Two Buck Chuck!



Tomorrow, is the final post in my five day Hurricane Prep week. Again I’m at a loss for my exact subject matter. It seems I work well under pressure :)

Please “like” FloridaHillbilly on Facebook, subscribe to my feed, and tell your friends! The more folks involved in preparing themselves, the less likely they are to knock on your door looking to help drink your home brew ! (And btw, selling home brew is illegal in most places)


PS- Anyone get my two obscure movie references? First to let me know and I’ll buy you a drink (when you are of age, KL)


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