Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Moonshine , how to brew your own drink.

Get the Equipment Ready

  1. 1
  2. Gather supplies. It's important to use the right supplies when you're making moonshine, because using equipment made from the wrong material can backfire - literally. For the sake of safety and the best chance of making true moonshine, collect the following supplies:
  3. A pressure cooker. Use one you don't intend to use for other purposes, or buy a new pressure cooker specifically for making moonshine.
  • Copper tubing. You'll need about two yards of tubing that is 1/4" in width. This can be purchased at a hardware or home and garden store.
  • A drill with at least a 1/4" bit, for drilling a hole in the lid of the pressure cooker.
  • A 15-gallon metal pot.
  • A large plastic bucket.
  • Cheesecloth.
  • 2.5 pounds of cornmeal, 10 pounds of sugar and 1/2 ounce of yeast.
    1. 2
    2. Build a still. Drill a hole in the lid of the pressure cooker and thread it to snugly receive a 1/4" copper tubing. Insert the end of the 1/4" copper tubing into the hole, being careful that it does not project through more than an inch. This is your condensing tube.
    3. The tube should be long enough to go from the cooker to a sink and extend beyond the sink down to near the floor.
    • If you don't want to drill a hole in the cooker's lid, you can thread it through the vent and affix it there using duct tape.

  • Make the Mash

    1. 1
      Boil 10 gallons of water. Place the pot under the sink and fill it 2/3 way, then place the pot on the stove and turn the burner on high. Let the water come to a rolling boil.

    2. 2
      Cook the cornmeal. Add the 2.5 pounds of cornmeal to the water and stir it will a wooden paddle or another instrument. Let it cook for a few minutes until the water combines with the cornmeal and thickens into a paste. Remove the mixture from heat and allow it to cool, then pour it into the clean bucket.

    3. 3
      Add the sugar and yeast. Stir in 10 pounds of sugar and 1/2 ounce of yeast. Use a wooden paddle or another large instrument to thoroughly incorporate the sugar and yeast into the mash.

      • Bread, brewers' yeast, naturally occurring yeast or even sourdough starter may be used in place of dry yeast to start the fermentation process.
    4. 4
      Ferment the mash. Loosely cover the bucket with cheesecloth and place it in a cool, dark place, such as in your cellar or basement, to allow fermentation to take place. Fermentation occurs when the yeast metabolizes the sugar and corn carbohydrates and produces alcohol.

      • A brown or light tan foam will appear on top of the mash bucket, gradually rising up higher each day. When the mash quits working, the sugars are "used up," and you will notice the foam, or "head" is no longer rising.
      • The mash is ready for the next stage when it stops bubbling. At this point it is referred to as "sour mash."

    Distill the Mash

    1. 1
      Strain the sour mash through a cheesecloth. Place the cloth over the bucket, then tip the bucket over a clean bucket or pot. You may also use a screen wire or a clean white t-shirt to strain the mash.

    2. 2
      Pour the strained mash liquid into the pressure cooker. Clamp down the lid and place it on a stovetop burner. You may discard the solids that you strained out with the cheesecloth.

    3. 3
      Position the copper tubing to create a condenser. Run the copper tubing run from the lid (or vent) of the pressure cooker to a sink filled with cold water. Coil the middle of the copper tubing in the cold water, then run the other end of the tube over the edge of the sink to a clean container on the floor.

    4. 4
      Turn the stove on under the pressure cooker. Let the contents heat to exactly 177 degrees F (80 Celsius) and no more. This is the approximate boiling point of grain alcohol. As the pressure cooker heats, the alcohol turns into ethanol steam, travels through the condensing tube to cool. The resulting liquid drips into the container on the floor. That's the moonshine.

      • The liquid that comes out of the copper tube before the cooker reaches 177 degrees contains methanol, which becomes steam at a lower temperature than ethanol. This low-boiling liquid must be tossed out. Methanol attacks the optic nerves when consumed. You'll probably have to throw out at least two ounces of liquid before ethanol, which can actually be consumed, begins to emerge.
      • Keep monitoring the temperature and collecting alcohol until the temperature rises above 177 degrees or drops below it. You should be able to collect about 2 gallons of liquid.
    5. 5
      Transfer the alcohol to jars. Finished moonshine is between 180 and 190 proof (90 to 95%) - practically pure grain alcohol. To make this product drinkable, responsible brewers cut it to half strength by mixing with pure spring water.


    • Using a hydrometer to test for alcohol content and a thermometer to cook the mash will give better results.
    • Most people who make "'shine" do so outside, over a wood fire, near a cold-water creek. This eliminates the danger of cooking alcohol indoors. The mash, while "working," has a very strong odor, which is another reason to do this outdoors.
    • Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a singular species of yeast used in both bread and brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast and Whisky yeast are carefully bred strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are simply more resistant to higher concentrations of ethyl alcohol and take longer to die off thus extending their lifespan and their production of ethyl alcohol. Neither bread nor brewer’s yeast create by-products that will cause illness, blindness, or death. Distillers generally remove the first 5% of the distillate termed 'foreshots', (containing esters, methylates, and aldehydes). They are distasteful but not fatal and the smell and taste is naturally prohibitive. On record, fore-shot distillate has never blinded, killed, or sickened anyone, it just tastes bad.
    • Do not invite friends over while the mash is working. I have personally smelled mash from over a mile away while fishing on creeks in moonshine country.
    • Let the mash work as long as the head, or foam, seems to be rising, but it will ferment out and go sour, so about 10 to 14 days is maximum, depending on temperature. Yeast acts more slowly at lower temps.
    • Keep the sour mash covered, but not air tight. A wine maker's flask with an air lock would work well for this.


    • In the unlikely event someone may accidentally drink the spirits you produce, do not use aluminum tubing or pots in this process.
    • A pressure cooker can be dangerous. This author recommends using a "turkey cooker" deep-fat fryer with the lid clamped down, instead.
    • Using a yeast other than High Quality Brewer's Yeast will produce some amount of methanol, which will lead to illness, blindness, or death.
    • Brewing moonshine is legal in the USA, but you must have a permit and pay taxes on it.
    • Do not drink this product, use it for experimental purposes only.

    Things You'll Need

    • Pressure cooker
    • 5 feet 1/4" copper tubing
    • Clean bucket with cover
    • Cheese cloth or an old, clean white t-shirt
    • Cornmeal
    • Sugar
    • Yeast

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