Use less yeast for lower production and longer life. More yeast generally equals a higher rate of production, but for a shorter period of time because the alcohol builds up faster. Sugar is really irrelevant, as long it doesnt all get used up. It's just there to feed the yeast. While having too little can shorten longevity, adding more or less wont change anything as far as production rates go. With most common recipes the yeast will die from alcohol poisoning before sugar become a factor.
You're going to have to experiment some to get the right amount of production relative to longevity. I would start out with maybe 1.5 cups of sugar, and no more than 1/4 tsp of yeast, possibly less.
I would also think about using a 2 liter bottle instead of a 1 liter. Alcohol concentration will take longer to reach toxic levels with more water, which equals more longevity.
As keymastr said, you never want to allow production to slow down. Add a bubble counter bottle so you can keep a close eye on the rate of production (via bubbles per second/ten seconds, etc). As soon as you see a decline, it's time to make a new batch - and that is how long you can consider the current recipe "lasting." It's not about how long it will run, its how long it will run steady before starting to slow down.
Something like 1 bubble every 2 seconds would probably be a good target rate to shoot for in the beginning. Obviously a lot depends on diffusion efficiency, but I would think 1 bps would be too much for a 4 gal
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Last edited by burr740; 05-28-2015 at 04:37 AM.