I've been doing some research into alternative fermentable sugars for brewing, in order to better understand what ingredients can be used when malt is not available. I've done cider and mead in the past, which was a lot of fun and had great results. I'm not very interested in grape wine, although I might play around with fruit at some point. But for now, I was thinking about what it would be like to be cut off from normal supply lines in various environments, if one still wanted to brew. I had two specific scenarios in mind: northeast United States/Canada, and Hawaii.
The Northeast is a bit easier, since maple syrup makes a good fermentable sugar, and can be used for wine, basically a mead, but with maple syrup instead of honey. So for that, I decided to make a variant of the famous JAOM mead recipe, but with maple syrup. To mix things up a bit, I used blood orange and muscat raisins, but otherwise kept the recipe the same. (Yes, I know neither ingredient is native to the Northeast region, but ultimately, those ingredients are just adjunct, and I could make it without them, I just also wanted something that would taste good in the end...)
For Hawaii, while there are plenty of apiaries on the islands, I decided instead to do something around a more ubiquitous crop (at least historically), namely sugar cane. There are cultures in South America that make a wine out of cane juice, and I was initially planning on going that route, flavoring with guava. But at some point I realized that ginger was also a common crop of Hawaii, and that made me think of ginger beer. I figured a guava-flavored ginger beer might taste good, so i decided to pursue that. I started with sucanat - which is an unprocessed version of evaporated/dehydrated cane juice - as the base. I cut raw ginger into small pieces, and added that to the must.wort. I then added guava purée, and a wedge of lime, to round out my recipe. The actual brew came out with a reasonable beer-like original gravity, and I pitched an ale yeast to kick it off.
The maple wine will take months before it is ready, but the ginger beer should be drinkable in just a little over a month. It should be interesting to see how it comes out...