Austrian prisoners' boozy Christmas foiled

Vienna: Hopes among resourceful inmates of an Austrian prison for a cheerier Christmas were dashed after 50 litres of a festive home-brew hooch were discovered by guards.

Prisoners at the Stein jail mixed bread rolls with fruit to create "Punsch", a popular winter-warmer at Austrian Christmas markets, the jail's management said on Tuesday.

"Bread rolls contain yeast. They expand a great deal and speed up the fermentation process," the prison's deputy director Christian Timm told AFP, saying the moonshine was recovered in several cells of the jail, in the outskirts of the northern city of Krems.

With prisoners allowed to buy food and have regular visitors, such incidents were difficult to prevent, he said.

"This is a facility with 800 inmates in more than 400 cells ... and an area of almost 60,000 square metres. Unfortunately one or two things can go unnoticed, which is why we do searches," Mr Timm said.