Alcohol (ethanol)


A primary fermentation product of sugars in over-ripe fruit by yeasts and molds. The earliest alcoholic beverages produced by humans likely included mead and wines obtained from direct fermentation of diluted honey and fruit juices, respectively. This would have required the use of containers. Beer, on the other hand, requires a first step to produce fermentable simple sugars from starch. This can be achieved by malting, sprouting grain to obtain plant enzymes that are then used in mashing, the enzymatic digestion of starch into fermentable simple sugars. Malted grains and starch from tubers, banana, etc., can also be combined to produce alcoholic beverages. The use of symbiotic communities of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY, including Qu or koji) allows for the direct fermentation of grain and tuber starches to ethanol, such as in Chinese rice wine. Finally, distillation, a technology that is only a few thousand years, allows the concentration of alcohol into distilled spirits.