Guest Blogger – Sally Barker

Sally Barker Blog

The Easiest Alcoholic Beverages To Make At Home (Legally!)

What’s the point in going self-sustainable if you can’t celebrate your efforts with a hard-earned tipple? While it’s great to support the small brewing industry etc when you can, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t supplement your time down the pub with a few choice bevvies of your own construction. Here are a few of the simplest DIY alcohol recipes to get you started…

A Word Of Warning

Before launching into all of this boozy loveliness, it’s worth noting that – alcohol being a potentially dangerous substance – there are all kinds of laws governing its production and distribution. If you’re planning on selling the alcohol you’re making, then you will need all kinds of registrations, licenses, inspections and so on. Probably better to just give it away. It is also illegal to distill alcohol without a license, so stick to naturally fermented brews rather than anything you have to use a still for. It’s also illegal to use water purification equipment to distill alcohol, so don’t think you can get around the law with that particular loophole! Don’t worry, though, if you’re a spirits-lover. You can still make some nice spirit-and-liqueur-type drinks by using high alcohol washes.


Cider is dead easy to make. It pretty much makes itself if you leave the apples for long enough! The high sugar content in apples means that they’ll get pretty alcoholic pretty quickly. The trick with cider making isn’t so much getting the alcohol to come through as it is to make the stuff taste nice. If you’re not pretty good at boiling up the mash with sugars etc, you’ll get a very rough-tasting drink which, while it’ll tickle the tastebuds of anyone who was brought up on a farm, will make your more urban guests pull some very funny faces! There are all kinds of refinements you can add to the cider making process should you so wish, but the basic method runs as follows:

  • Gather cider apples
  • Pulp cider apples
  • Boil up pulp with sugars and whatever so else you please
  • Strain mixture
  • Put in bucket
  • Add yeast
  • Wait (three or so weeks, usually)
  • Drink!

Elderflower Champagne

This is an old forager favourite, and proves wonderfully refreshing at mid-late summer parties! There are some amazing elderflower champagne recipes out there, with plenty of variation in the precise ingredients, so we’ll only give you the basics here and let you do your own research into refinements! Arguably the most enjoyable part of this drink (apart from consuming it, of course!) is the gathering of the elderflowers. Wandering about in the summery countryside with a sweet-smelling bag of elderflowers is a lovely way to spend an afternoon! Anyway, here’s your elderflower champagne basics.

  • Dissolve sugar in a bucket of hot water
  • Aerate and add your gathered elderflowers (you’ll need quite a lot!), along with anything else you want to flavour the champagne with
  • Add champagne yeasts
  • Wait, stirring occasionally
  • After six days, strain the mixture into another bucket
  • Wait to settle
  • Siphon into bottles
  • Wait for another week or so (you may have to loosen the bottle tops every so often to release excess pressure)
  • Drink!


If you can make bread, then you can make beer. Beer is probably the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man, so it’s not actually difficult to produce it. Like cider, the trick is in getting it to taste nice! It’s actually a lot harder to make beer at home than it is to do so in a brewery, simply because you must be a lot more precise with your ingredients, timings, and amounts when working small-scale. So it may take you a few tries to get your home-brewed beer right. Still, experimentation is all part of the fun, right? You can buy pretty good homebrew kits these days and, to be honest, you’re probably better off doing so than trying to construct your own – although if you’re confident and handy, then go for it! Again, there are millions of different ways in which to make your beer taste great, so we won’t give you a precise recipe – but here are the brewing basics!

  • Make a mash (boil malt in plenty of good-quality water)
  • Add hops (or whatever flavouring you choose to use!)
  • Boil the ‘wort’ (brewing term for the malt-water-hop juice)
  • Strain the wort
  • Cool the wort
  • Add wort to the fermenter
  • Add yeast
  • Wait! For as long as it takes!
  • Drink!



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