Grapeshot Challenge: Brewing Goonshine

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Words || Nathaniel Keesing

One of my greatest idols growing up turned my world upside down when she turned to me one day and said, “You’re a bit of a bogan aren’t you?”

I couldn’t believe it. I had never considered myself one before. I am partial to a little outdoor ugg action. But did I really have the essence of eshays running through my veins? Could I really be related to Kath and Kim?

When I found out my first challenge of the year was to brew my own goon, I just knew that this was my chance to connect with my supposed heritage. Was someone’s passing comment as valid as a DNA test? Is it even something you can test for? Well… no. But I could feel it. Deep within my subconscious was a lad ready burst free and pester someone for a ciggie. So I threw on my oldest, dirtiest Nike TN’s, turned my undies inside out and set out to make my own goonshine.

Googling how to make the delicious elixir of life turned out to be more difficult than I thought. A syphon? An airlock?! I’m not here to make ‘Bogans in Space’. Goon didn’t taste that complicated. There had to be an easier way. I eventually stumbled upon a simple two-step guide. Hey, I can count to two. And the recipe was sans equipment: all I needed was grape juice and baker’s yeast, then Bob’s your uncle (and brother)!

I packed my bum bag and headed to the closest late-night shopping at Westfield. My kin were in their natural habitat here. Do I dare approach? Would they accept me into the family? My Pig Latin was still a bit rusty, so I was too scared to frolic with my people.
First on my list was unpasteurised grape juice, as preservatives will kill the yeast. Is yeast conscious? Are they like sea monkeys? Are there yeast bogans, too? I didn’t want to take the chance of accidentally committing mass murder, so I spent a bit extra to get the good pre-pasteurised stuff. My plan was get two different flavours, then mix them together. That’s how you get that delicious twang of the humble fruity lexia. Next was to get my new friends: baker’s yeast apparently ferments quicker than wine yeast, and I’m lazy as fuck, so it was an easy choice for me.

But there was one thing missing from the guide. How could I have forgotten? I needed a goon sack! But where? The iconic foil bag was nowhere to be found. I had to improvise, but the answer was simple. Bin bags. MacGyver would be proud. I decided that a lemon-scented liner would be best to give the broth an aromatic and full-bodied flavour.

2x Grape Juice: $10.
1x Bakers Yeast: $3.50.
1x Lemon Scented Bin Bags: $4.

Was this all the same cost as a box of cask wine? Well, yes. But that didn’t have the heart, love and care I was about to pour into my baby yeasties. I took my loot home and set about making my new children a home.

I sipped out a bit of grape juice and dumped the yeast directly into the bottle. That’s it. That’s how easy it is to make goon. (The cask wine industry HATES me for exposing this secret.)

Only a few hours after rehoming my yeast, a thick scum of froth was bubbling on the top of the juice. Kids can be so messy. The guide explains that it will take 10 days for the yeast to grow up and eat all the sugar in the juice, which they then excrete as ethanol, aka the active ingredient in every one of your messiest nights out.

The guide also recommends leaving it at room temperature but out of direct sunlight. I left the bottles on the floor in my room in case they wake up crying during the night, and I threw my PJ pants over the top to keep them in the shade – who needed all that fancy space equipment?

Little did I realise the mother of all hot days was to come. Remember that 47-degree day we had in January? Yeah, it did … something to the goon. I got home to check on my babies, and to this day, I don’t know what it was. A thick scum had collected on the exposed walls of the bottle. Strangely, it was in a wavy pattern. Were my children artists? I felt a glimmer of pride and thought nothing of it.

The day had come. It was the morning of FOMO, the perfect testing ground for my new brew. I prepared the vessel that will contain the sacred beverage (AKA, my goon bag). It’s a thing of beauty. I open the juice bottles when it hits me. It stunk like the inside of Satan’s colon. I gagged. Did I fail to follow two simple steps? Google tells me this is natural and the sulphur smell will pass in time. But FOMO won’t wait, and neither will I.
I fill my makeshift Capri-Sun and head out the door.

I’m at the back of the bus to FOMO when I gather enough courage to take a swig – and it’s not too bad. Tasted like juice, if the sweetness had been deleted. I did feel bad: my yeasties had done their job, and now I’m eating them? Some dad I am. They got the last laugh though. As soon as I swallowed, the foulest taste flooded my mouth. I, ingeniously, had to take another sip to wash it away. A vicious cycle ensued which left me gagging to survive at the back of the Vengabus.

I arrived at FOMO not drunk, but poisoned. Which is kind of the same thing right? My stomach challenged Post Malone as to who can sing the loudest. After several visits to the toilet, I decided to join the mosh pit. Big mistake. “Now everybody jump!” shouted RL Grimes. Sure, why not?

What was left of the toxic slush that I had imbibed forced its way back into my mouth. I couldn’t vomit on these half-naked people. My yeast children wouldn’t have wanted their slightly-digested corpses to slide down the arsecrack of the dude gurning in front of me. I forced it back down and continued to regret my existence.

I ended the festival dehydrated and destroyed. A lad next to me says “That was fucking sick brah!” The irony not lost on me, I choked, “Yeah brah!” I feel like I had been accepted into the fold, but not without a newfound respect for my fellow bogans.
I feel like I’ll always have a bit of bogan in me now. But maybe it’s just some leftover yeasties.