Searches at two jails reveal how enterprising inmates brew their own liquor from rice and fruit Prisoners have been brewing their own moonshine inside at least two prisons. At Stanley's Pak Sha Wan prison yesterday, officers found homemade wine and betting slips during a search of the workshops and dormitories. Guards found a stash of liquor made from fermented rice and fruit in a workroom at Ma Po Ping prison, on Lantau, last week. The search of the Pak Sha Wan medium-security men's prison followed the discovery of traces of a drug in a prisoner's urine. Two prisoners were put on disciplinary report following the search, while three others were put into isolation, but no drugs were found. A senior official at Ma Po Ping prison said it was not uncommon for inmates to be caught making their own home brew and a Vietnamese inmate had recently been disciplined for making another small batch of liquor. During a routine search on Monday last week, prison officers had found a small plastic bag filled with the orange liquor hidden in a garment workroom at the prison, which houses 600 inmates. 'It wasn't a big amount, just contained in a small plastic bag, much smaller than a shopping bag,' the prison's senior superintendent, Tin Man-yuk, said. Prisoners sometimes sneaked oranges, which they are served daily, and rice from the dining room to their dormitories or workrooms to make small quantities of the brew by fermenting them. 'With the orange and rice, all they need is a bag to put it into and ferment it to make spirits,' Mr Tin said. The rudimentary brewing technique had been popular in the past among Vietnamese refugees in prisons. 'This is a technique used in Vietnam. It's quite easy when you know how to do it,' he said. Prisoners found brewing their own tipple usually have their privileges withdrawn as a punishment. Until less than seven years ago, it was illegal for anyone in Hong Kong to brew their own liquor without a licence. Following criticism of a crackdown on stores selling kits to make beer and wine in the late 1990s, the law was amended in 2000 to allow people to make their own home brew, so long as it is less than 50 litres and clearly marked 'not for sale'. A food scientist from City University, Desmond O'Toole, said the making of wine from rice had a long tradition in Asia. It could be made by adding a fungus to rice grains or allowing the rice to grow a fungus naturally, which then evolves into a yeast. Dr O'Toole, an associate professor at the university's department of biology and chemistry, said it would be relatively easy to make the liquor surreptitiously. 'You don't need a still,' he said.