Alcohol consumption, production and sale has been an integral part of many societies over the course of human existence. The exact origin of alcohol is as of yet unknown, however it is generally regarded that early farmers noticed the rich aroma and flavour of fermenting fruit (Narconon alcohol rehab, 2010) and as such recreated the substance in consumable amounts. The first ever known record of organised alcohol manufacture dates to approximately ten thousand years, where the drink was produced from fermented honey, also known as mead. Soon after alcohol became a major part of many cultures, records dating circa 6000BC found depict the cultivation of grape vines for fermentation (Narconon alcohol rehab, 2010). During 3000 BC Egypt began shipping wine throughout the Mediterranean (Narconon alcohol rehab, 2010). By 1500 BC, Romans had adopted wine into their mythological beliefs with the ingress of a new god; Bacchus. Today alcohol still remains an integral part of society either economically, religiously or culturally; however the product is not without is consequences.
Alcohol chemically is any organic molecule with an OH functional group, however for the sake of this essay the term alcohol will refer to ethanol, the type of alcohol used in regular consumption. Ethanol is a by-product of yeast (a type of micro-organism). Yeast consume glucose, sugars, from fruits or crops such as barley they then excrete carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethanol (C2H5OH or C2H6O) (How is alcohol made?, n.d.). Yeast do this by the presence of the enzyme zymase in their digestive system. The enzyme speeds up the otherwise long process of glucose break down into carbon dioxide and ethanol, fermentation. This can be represented by the chemical formula:
C_6 H_12 O_6 □(→┴〖Fermentation〗^* ) 2C_2 H_5 OH+2CO_2
* The process is catalysed by the enzyme zymase, greatly speeding up and allowing for it as the enzyme reduces activation energy required.
Beverages adopting this method, to achieve alcoholic content are defined as “naturally fermented alcoholic beverages.” Examples of these include beers and wines. On large scales these beverages are produced by organic material placed in a large vat of water and yeast, as depicted by fig 1.1.
The type of organic material used by the brewer defines the end product. For instance beer and lager result from the fermentation of the glucose in crops such as barley; whereas white wine is produced from glucose in grape juice and red wine from the glucose in grape pulp (How is alcohol made?, n.d.). The type of yeast will also vary according to what beverage is desired by the manufacturer. The suspension of yeast, water, alcohol and organic material is then left to sit until the process of fermentation is completed. The resulting liquid, a combination of juice, alcohol and water, is then filtered, packaged and sold. Beverages produced in such a fashion can achieve a maximum alcohol concentration of twelve percent (BBC, 2014). The...