prison hooch and how do inmates make it

prison hooch and how do inmates make it

Defining Prison Hooch

Prison Hooch, also known as “Pruno,” is an illicitly made alcoholic beverage that inmates concoct in their cells. Using everyday items like fruit, bread, sugar, and even ketchup, inmates create a brew that has been infamously associated with prison culture.

The History of Prison Hooch

Prohibition Era Influence

The art of making hooch in prisons dates back to the Prohibition Era in the United States. During this period, alcohol was banned, leading to the rise of bootlegging and homemade hooch.

Modern Day Relevance

Today, despite strict prison regulations, the practice of brewing hooch remains prevalent, testifying to the human spirit’s resourcefulness.

Ingredients of Prison Hooch

Source of Sugar

Fruits and vegetables, such as apples, oranges, and potatoes, serve as the primary source of sugar. Inmates also use jelly or syrup to expedite the fermentation process.

Yeast and Fermentation Process

The yeast necessary for fermentation is typically sourced from bread. This yeast converts the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

How Prison Hooch is Made

Gathering the Ingredients

The process begins with inmates gathering all necessary ingredients secretly. This requires craftiness and a knack for bending the rules.

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The Brewing Process

The fruits, sugar, and water are mixed in a container—often a plastic bag—and bread is added to kick-start fermentation. This mix is then hidden away and allowed to ferment for several days.

The Risks Involved

Making hooch is not without risk. Aside from the threat of being caught, there’s the possibility of the brew becoming contaminated, leading to severe health issues.

Variations of Prison Hooch

Just like traditional beverages, prison hooch also has variations. The type of fruit used, the length of fermentation, and the proportion of ingredients can all influence the final product.

The Taste of Prison Hooch

Despite its notorious reputation, prison hooch is not known for its taste. Often described as vile, sour, or like “rotten trash,” it’s a drink of necessity rather than enjoyment.


Understanding prison hooch offers a glimpse into life behind bars, highlighting the ingenuity and perseverance of those incarcerated. However, it’s important to remember the risks and implications involved in the illicit brewing of this beverage.


  1. What is prison hooch made from? Prison hooch is typically made from fruit, sugar, water, and bread.
  2. Is prison hooch dangerous? Yes, prison hooch can be dangerous due to potential contamination during the brewing process.
  3. What does prison hooch taste like? The taste is often described as sour, with some comparing it to “rotten trash.”
  4. Can you make hooch outside of prison? The brewing process is not exclusive to prisons, but it’s illegal and can be dangerous.
  5. Why is it called “Pruno”? The term “Pruno” is derived from “prune,” as prunes were commonly used in the original recipe.
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