How to Make Moonshine: Advanced Mash Techniques
Making a moonshine mash can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. If you are ready to take your moonshine skills to the next level, check out our advanced mash techniques.
Advanced Mash Techniques
While we have described how to make a basic mash in How to Make a Moonshine Mash, there is always more to learn.
As you become more familiar with the steps and equipment, you can advance into some additional techniques for refining your mash. These techniques will help you to craft your own unique style and spirit and learn more about the science behind moonshining.
Of course, we don’t want to throw too much information at you at once. If you are new to shining, make sure to check out How to Make a Moonshine Mash for some basic techniques to master first. Advanced mash techniques are some more complicated steps that are optional but will enhance your final product.
Using an Immersion Chiller
Some moonshiners prefer to use an immersion chiller to reduce the temperature of their mash quickly after cooking.
Using an immersion chiller is basically placing metal coils (usually copper) which have cold water running through them into your mash to quickly bring down the temperature. While waiting for the temperature to drop naturally could take several hours some immersion chillers can bring the temperatures down in about 15 minutes.
Some immersion chillers will have the ability to connect to a kitchen faucet or garden hose for easy at home use.
It isn’t only the amount of time saved that attracts home distillers to immersion chillers. They are worried about their mash getting contaminated by bacteria. Bacteria love warm moist environments. By chilling your mash quickly you are discouraging the growth of bacteria by cooling off the mash quickly.
Of course, you can also always go the DIY route by filling your kitchen sink with ice water to cool your mash. Many moonshiners report this step only takes about 30 minutes. You can pick up bags of ice at the local corner store fairly cheaply.
Sparging the Grains
While cooking the mash some moonshiners will recirculate the water over the grains to release all the sugars. This is much more easily done when there is a space between the bottom of the pot and the grains.
If you want to try this technique for yourself, look for a moonshine still with a false bottom such as the Magnum All-in-OneStill Kit or the Blue Ridge 5 Gallon Stainless Steel/Copper Stovetop Moonshine Still Kit.
Some cooking pots have a built in ‘tap’ to drain the liquid and then it can be recirculated manually. This is done by filling a pot and then adding a metal strainer on top of the pot so as to not disturb the grain bed too much. Once the pot is filled up you can slowly pour the mash water over the grain bed.
This is an advanced technique and is not necessary, especially for beginners.
How To Lauter Your Mash
Lautering your mash is the technique of removing the spent grains from your mash. This can be done at different points during the moonshine making process.
For some, they will remove the grains after cooking the mash once all the fermentable sugars have been removed from the grains. For others they will wait and filter out the solids from the liquid after fermentation.
Many home distillers do choose not to filter out their solids and even keep them in during the distillation process. They do this by using a double boiler or ‘steam’ distillation method so that the grains do not burn on the bottom of the still.
While this process may work generally well. It does leave a lot of room for error. Traces of spent grain that get into the still can affect the taste of your moonshine. Some describe it as leaving a chemical or even a garlic-like taste to their shine.
Adjusting the PH of your Mash
While certainly not a step that beginners need to worry themselves with, adjusting the PH of your mash is a helpful additional step to improve the health of your yeast as well as enhance what you can expect to extract from grain.
A PH scale runs from 1 to 14 with 7 as neutral. Everything below seven is acidic and everything above 7 is alkaline (also called base).
The ideal PH reading for a mash prior to fermentation is between 4 and 4.5. The ideal PH reading for meads, ciders and wines are 3.4. Anything below a 7 is good for beer.
To lower the PH of your mash add lemon juice. To raise the PH of your mash add baking soda.
You can use precision test strips for testing PH, however not all strips are good for reading the entire PH scale. Make sure you get the right strips for the type of distilling you are doing. You can also use a PH reader that will read the entire scale and give you a precise reading.
So now that you have learned the advanced tecniques for making moonshine you should be ready to buy your first still. Take a look at some of our all-in-one moonshine still kits. You can get everything you need to make delicous moonshine at home.