How to Make Moonshine
There has never been a wonderful feeling than the feeling that the weekend is around the corner and all that is left to do is to relax and catch up with the society around. These may involve hanging out with your friends and in the process having some few drinks in the process is a must do activity. However most of us do not understand the making of the drinks in which we take. This article guides you through the making of an ‘old’ brew known as the Moonshine.
When the name moonshine pops up in your mind in sparks memories of the upcountry and the dem days before the coming of the modern drinks. It also brings the memoirs of how an old mother or man used to wake up early to make the drink so that when the customers comes calling the Moonshine would be ready. But the question is how is this famous liquor made?
The making of Moonshine is an art that requires following of simple steps and guidelines. The overall process entails distillation and fermentation but care should be taken to ensure it is not methanol that is produced rather than ethanol otherwise referred to as alcohol. The first process is to prepare a special liquid known as the wash. A wash is basically clean water mixed with sugar and kept in cool place for sometime after which the process of distillation comes.
After preparing a wash, the concoction is distilled so that any impurities can be removed from the wash. A point to note is that ordinary sugar is the most recommended ingredient in making the wash because it gives your moonshine tat unique taste. Now we have our distilled wash which is then poured in a big glass or a pot. Yeast is then added to the wash a process popularly known as Fermentation. This process entails conversion of the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the yeast that was added. The process is rather a longer process and thus takes some time in order for the alcohol to be produced. It takes on average 5-7 days so that a consumable percentage can be arrived at. Care should also be taken not to achieve high percentage of alcohol which is deadly for example 90%.
The next process after fermentation is distillation. This is where the fermented liquid is distilled and watered down to reduce the percentage of the alcohol from say 90% to 40% which is a little bit of the moonshine that is required. That is basically the making of moonshine and is ready for use. Now having said earlier that white sugar is the most preferable ingredient for making moonshine does don mean it is the only item; brown sugar, molasses, raw sugar are others that can be fermented into moonshine. They all contain high level of sugar that can make products like rotgut, rum and some special type of vodka.
Grain seeds can also be used to make bourbon or whiskey (scotch). This is because they contain starch that can be converted to sugar by special enzymes during germination. The whole process of distillation and fermentation is then applied to make the spirit popularly known as grain based spirit. That entails the general overview of making moonshine. Read this full tutorial of making moonshine
Distillation Facts – Doing It the Right Way
Once fermentation has been accomplished, the next action that you should step in order to completely learn how to moonshine is to subject the fermented wash to the process of distillation. Basically, fermented washes must undergo this vital process in order to get rid of impurities and concentrate the alcohol contained in the wash. It does not matter whether you use a grain or sugar wash because all kinds of wash must undergo distillation. Distillation is considered to be the most satisfying part in creating moonshine for most brewers. This is due to the fact that you will always have a little amount to taste and take pleasure from if you wish depending on the type of spirit that you wish to come up with.
The purpose of your finished moonshine is a very important aspect to consider before going through the distillation process. You must ask yourself whether you are making brandy, schnapps, rum or other kinds of spirits that are made from sugar based wash. You may consider ending up with a neutral spirit so you can have something good to mix with your personally made malt whiskey or you may try to blend it with essences. This lets you have every little bit of something special on your shelf. The taste and odor quality greatly depends on the number of times you run your spirit into the pot still or how you create your cuts.
Furthermore, you have to take note of the vapour temperature so that you can have the best guidance on what is presently emerging of your still. It will be beneficial to know that once your wash has undergone fermentation; there will be the presence of other substances aside from just alcohol or ethanol and water. These traced substances are also called congeners which may consist of acetone, methanol, propanol and many more. Few of these substances may be used to enhance the flavors of your spirit so you have the option to keep all or certain portions in order to enhance the taste of your beverage. You can accurately measure the vapour temperature by placing a thermometer above your still columns. This will give you the right indication of the vapour temperature because various substances contained in your wash also have varying boiling points. Being able to monitor the temperature accurately will let you know what is actually coming out of your still at specific points. The rule is the substance with the lowest boiling point is the first thing that will come out of your still post condensation. Yet, it must be taken into consideration that the placement of the thermometer can have an effect of the temperature readings. So, it is important to make yourself familiar with your still and the readings it present.
But before you can make cuts, it is recommended to conduct a basic run in order to make yourself more accustomed with the process. You may begin by pouring the sugar wash directly into the boiler of your still and then subject it to heat. It must be noted that as the temperature of your wash shoots up, the contained substances with the lowest boiling points will immediately transform into vapour ahead of other components. Typically, your wash may contain certain amounts of acetone which has a boiling point of 56 degrees Celsius as well as specific quantities of methanol which has a boiling point of 64 degrees Celsius. Hence, when your wash is heated, chances are acetone and methanol will be the first substances that will come of out of your still. Basically, acetone will come out first because it has a lower boiling point. This works as the acetone vapour reaches the condenser and turn into liquid until it completely emerges from your still. As your wash heats up even further, there will be a pause until the temperature reaches the boiling point of methanol. At this point, the output is still a blend of methanol and acetone until the temperature varies in some degrees and the outputs will be pure methanol. You must remember that both of these substances can cause harm to your body so it is essential to remove these components from your wash. In general, acetone is present in your wash in tiny amounts whereas methanol can be found in amounts of 50 to 100 ml. But to be safe, it is suggested to throw the initial 200 ml of still output.
In essence, the vapour temperature will shift rapidly from boiling point to another boiling point of each of the substances present in the wash. For instance, you will notice a quick transition from 66 to around 78 to 82 degrees Celsius as the output shifts from methanol to ethanol. Basically, ethanol is the main element of your moonshine so you have to start gathering the still output once the 200 ml of methanol has been thrown away. From the formula of 8 kilograms of sugar and 25 liters of plain water, you can actually extract about 5-7 liters of ethanol with 65% alcohol strength. But then, you must also remember that the output gathered earlier will have a higher concentration as compared to the output collected at a later time. This is because of the degree of overlap among the various substances contained in the pot. Until you get the last portions of the ethanol in your wash, you will see that the temperature display will remain as constant.
As you continue with the process, the temperature will rise as well and at this point, ethanol is still coming out of the pot. But then, as the temperature gets higher, you will also be collecting congeners, which are harmless elements that can enhance the flavor of your spirit most especially if you are creating a rum or similar beverage. Yet, if you are making neutral spirits, these compounds are not necessary.
And once you reach the point of 93 to 97 degrees Celsius, the still output will transform into a milk like substance called fusel oils. This substance taste horrible and can affect the quality of your moonshine in a negative way. So, you have to be very particular with this temperature so that you will know when the fusel oil will start to come out. In order to be safe, you must halt the collection once the temperature reaches 92 degrees Celsius and turn the heat off completely.
At this stage, the distillation is almost finished and all you have to do is to taste your finished product. Yet, you must measure the strength with an alcometer first prior to tasting in order to avoid the fatal effects of pure spirit. You can further dilute your spirit with varying amounts of water in order to reduce the concentration. Blending it with essences and other substances that intensifies its flavor is also a great idea.
Grains That Needs To Undergo Gelatinization Process
Please read this carefully because the process of gelatinizing grains is not always necessary in the process of making moonshine. Gelatinizing the wrong kind of grains will actually kill the enzymes required in the mashing process and this will result in a big flop. Some grains that must undergo this process are millet, corn as well as other sources of starch such as potatoes. Using these ingredients will require you to undergo the process before you proceed with mashing your grains. Other grains that do not require gelatinization includes rye and barley due to the fact that the enzymes present in these grains can be deactivated at temperatures over 72 degrees Celsius. Therefore, subjecting these in high gelatinization temperature is really not a wonderful idea. If you are using grains that do not require gelatinization prior to mashing, you can directly proceed to Step 2 – Mash the Grains.
It is important for you to know that the gelatinization process is plays a big role in separating the molecular bonds of starches in order release the enzyme called amylase that will be responsible in transforming the starch into sugar. This enzyme greatly helps in the process of mashing as well due to the release of fermentable sugars. The higher the amounts of these sugars results in a much higher production of alcohol as well. The process of gelatinization greatly can happen in the presence of heat and water which can be so easy to perform at home. You will know if you are successful in gelatinizing your grains if it appears gluey and thick in consistency.
The gelatinization of starch is a very significant process when mashing grains and distilling moonshine. Yet, it must be noted that it is only needed when you use a specific type of grain that requires this process. If you will take a peek into the table of gelatinization temperatures that can be found in this page, you will realize that almost all of the most usual grains gelatinize at the same temperature as it is required in mashing them such as 63 to 67 degrees Celsius or 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, the process of gelatinization can take place within the mash turn which makes extra steps no longer needed. The grains that still require this process are the grains with gelatinization temperature above the average temperature required for mashing. For this reason, these grains must undergo the process separately in order not to destroy the enzyme that will act as the converter of starches to sugar. The enzyme is very significant in the process of mashing so killing it means failure on your part.
One perfect example for this theory in preparing grain wash is bourbon which is made up of at least 51% corn. In a standard recipe, bourbon can contain 60% corn, 20% malted barley and 20% malted rye which makes the mixture entirely made of corn. As you already know, corn is a kind of grain that requires gelatinization before the mashing process. Apart from that, corn seems to be one of the hardest grains to work with most especially for beginners. Yet, with a great deal of practice, this would not be difficult anymore.
The corn that is commonly used in bourbon is the cracked type bought from the livestock or pet feeds supplier. Again, make sure that it is free from any harmful chemical that will make it unfit for human consumption. You can utilize various ways to gelatinize corn like the many ways in making moonshine; you should select the method that works best for you. If all of these seem to work for you, simply choose what you like the most.
The most common method can be performed by soaking the cracked corn in plain water for 24 hours or overnight. The longer, the better it is due to the fact that corn is hard, dry and brittle as you purchase it which is why hydrating it ahead of time can will make the gelatinization faster. Once already soaked, you can place the corn in the container or a bucket and fill it with water until it reaches 2 inches above the level of the corn grains. After which, you must cover it to ensure it will be free from dirt and insects. Then, all you need to do is to fill your boiler with plain water as well as the corn and then subject it to heat and let in reach the temperature of 90 degrees Celsius which is near the boiling point. Once this has been reached, you have to turn the heat away and keep the corn in this temperature for a period of 45 minutes. Stirring it occasionally for every 2-3 minutes will help. After the period of 45 minutes, the corn has already started to gelatinize and all you have to do is to maintain the temperature at 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit until you are happy with the result. At this time, most of the corn has been dissolved in the water and the result is a thick porridge like mess that should be cooled for mashing.
Once your corn or other grains you prefer to use has gelatinized, all you have to do is to cool it down to 70 degrees Celsius prior to adding any other grains. Adding your grains at a temperature higher than this can adversely affect the action of the enzymes they hold.
Since it is important to observe gelatinization temperature, here is a table summary of the gelatinization temperature of certain grains.
|Food Items||Celsius /°C||Fahrenheit/°F|
Making a Sample Bourbon Recipe
In order to understand the entire process of making moonshine, it will be useful if you will take a look at creating bourbon. You do not have to recall everything from the start because you can begin with the step where you have a bigger amount of spirit that results from the middle of the second run. In the process, you will have smaller vessels that were gathered towards the final round of the pass. What you can do is to take a sample of the contents of every vessel by putting a small amount f each in a separate shot gloss and taking a taste. In order to create a perfect mix, you can use the half water, half spirit ratio. This is a good way to identify the taste of the alcohol in different stages without dying of alcohol intoxication. It is highly advisable not to drink the alcohol straight from the shot glass as it can cause death in worst cases.
As you taste the samples of the various vessels, you will realize that the ones collected at a later time have more flavour than those collected early in time. The whole idea why you have to do this is to modify the flavour of your spirits so that it will suit your palate perfectly. Hence, if you have gathered a total of five vessels, you can taste them all and see if the first and second have distinguished taste. If none, these can be returned to the larger vessel. At this point, you ma like the taste of the third and the fourth, but you might find the fifth vessel have less desirable taste and can be thrown away. The ones that have pleasant taste can be diluted to 50/50 water so that you can come up with a spirit that has a desirable taste. In this way, you can achieve the spirit that best suits your tastes. Once you are happy with the flavours, what you can do is to determine its concentration and see if it is already appropriate for consumption. Preferably, it is best to have a 45% alcohol that is 90 proof. It is not recommended to have a spirit that is 65 % strong.
In order to accomplish the entire process, your bourbon must be aged using a charred oak cast or similar item in a specific period of time until you are satisfied with the taste. Aging it in oak cask will enhance its sweetness as its sugar contents can caramelize during the aging or charring process. The oak also contributes to the over-all flavour apart from the sweetness that can be tasted in your bourbon. Though a great number will no hurry and buy a 500 litre bottle of bourbon for a variety of reasons. One reason is that the quantities of bourbon created by a home distiller would not be enough to moisten the base of the cask. There are absolutely smaller casks that can hold 2 litres that can be bought from specialist manufacturers. Though this is the case, using charred oak chips instead of a cask is more recommended for beginners. The final product can be almost the same with that of a barrel without much expense. Also, the spirit can be ready for drinking in less time too.
If you are wondering where you can get oak chips, you can check with your local home brewer store and shop from a variety of types and styles. Some of these are entirely new chips while some are wooden chips out from used aging barrels. You can use whatever you want, but you have to remember that used wood chips have lesser capacities to age your spirit than new ones. You can follow the instructions in the woodchip packets and add these to your spirit according the recommended amounts. If there are no instructions included in the packet, you may start with 10 grams of wood chips in a litre of spirit which is a good starting point. Using plastic or glass container or demijohn is a good place to keep your spirit during the aging process. However, you must take note that once you have placed the chips in the demijohn, it will be hard to get them out of these containers. You can also benefit from using the same container again and again although it may take more time to age, but it is all worth the wait because the resulting product is of excellent quality.
The good thing about woodchips is that it can age the spirit at a rapid rate most preferably within a period of 10 days. For better results, you can take a few samples while it is aging and see how the aging is progressing. It is also essential to keep in a cool and dry environment for maximum aging. Once you are happy with the final product, all you have to so is to remove the oaks and splinters using a filter and let it sit for a little more time, most preferable a month. There is no period on how long you want to keep your bourbon once the wood chips have been removed because the aging process has halted at this point.
Making Moonshine Using Sugar Based Wash
Knowing the various steps on how to moonshine is essential so that you can have the best knowledge on how to make moonshine starting from the wash. Basically, there are two types of wash such as the sugar wash and grain wash. In this article, you will learn more about using sugar wash as the base for your moonshine. Practically, using sugar wash is the best way to start with learning moonshine most especially if you just bought or created your still. This is also perfect for beginners who have never tried this process before. The best thing about sugar washes is that it is very easy to prepare. Plus, it offers great outcomes even among new moonshiners. Also, it provides you the opportunity to make a trial of your still and see at what vapour temperatures you will produce the various compounds that your wash holds.
You may have read of numerous guides on how to moonshine and you noticed that spirits are actually divided into two such as sugar based washes and grain based washes. Sugar based washes are commonly used by novice moonshiners and these contain ingredients such as raw sugar, white sugar, molasses, dextrose and fruit juices. Other kinds of ingredients that contain sugar and can be directly fermented are also used. On the other hand, grain based washes contain ingredients such as rye, barley, wheat, corn and other malted grains. These grains contain a great amount of starch that can be converted to sugars by releasing enzymes responsible for conversion. This is accomplished through malting.
Having a rough idea of the two categories can make things clearer to beginners. In short, there are things that can be subjected to fermentation instantly and there are also things that require mashing first. This simple guide can be great aid from aspiring moonshiners. Learning the key ingredients first as well as the processes involved in making moonshine is a good way to start.
So, if you want to come up with your sugar wash, you will have to mix in 8 kilograms of white or raw sugar with 25 liters of plain water. After which, good quality yeast such as turbo yeast can be added to initiate the fermentation process. The fermentation process using sugar wash usually takes seven days. The outcome will be a neutral spirit that can be combined with essences or consumed plainly as vodka. Following this process can produce about 10-12 liters of finished product.
If you are interested in making rum, you can follow the moonshine recipe of combining 4 kg of raw sugar and 3 liter of molasses added with turbo or rum yeast. This alternative method of creating rum as another sugar based wash lets you understand how you can make cuts in the distillation process.
Selecting the Right Mashing Tun for Mashing
Mashing is an important step in process of brewing or distilling when it involves grain washes. Grain washes needs addition preparation techniques so that it will be suitable for the fermentation process prior to distillation. Basically, mashing is the simple process of mixing crushed grains with water and subjecting this to certain heat temperatures in order to trigger the release of the enzyme that will convert the grain starch into fermentable sugars. Most common examples of grains being used in the process are rye, malted barley, corn and wheat. Typically, the recommended temperatures for heating are 45, 62 and 73 degrees Celsius. The heating time depends on how long starches will break down into sugars. This process may be crucial if you have little idea on preparing grain washes for distilling moonshine. Yet, by researching, you will absolutely find why mashing is an essential step in preparing grain washes for distilling moonshine.
Essentially, there are two known methods utilized for mashing various grains and these are almost similar to the techniques being used in brewing beer. The most popular method is called infusion mashing. In this method, the mashed grains and water are heated straight from rest temperature to rest temperature. The usual variation of this method is to pour hot water to the prepared mash to implement the change in temperature instead of heating it directly. The other method is called decoction mashing which involves putting a certain part of the grains to a boil and bringing these back to the mash which in turn increases its temperature. Out of the two, the infusion technique is most preferred by home distillers due to its simplicity.
In doing this, the plainest type of mash tun that you can use is beer boiler that can be bought in homebrew stores or a large metal pot placed over a stove. A big pot and a stove may not be the first thing that may enter your minds most especially if you are already an expert in making moonshine, but by trying it accompanied with a bit of practice, you will realize that these equipments are quite effective and efficient most especially if you already have these at hand. On the other hand beer boilers are much different than the usual coffee makers that you find in homes and offices. These are commonly made of stainless steel and you will also find units with an electric element attached in the boiler which is apart for the mash. If this is not the case, the mash will stick to the element and this will create a mess that is too difficult to clean. The boiler can be used in a number of ways such as the boiler of the condenser or the still used in the distillation process. The most used type of boiler is the one the one that makes use of beer keg made of stainless steel and uses a propane burner in order to produce heat. The beer keg [check this out] in this kind of boiler usually has a foam and mesh in order to aid in draining the mash.
The edge of having a reliable set of beer boiler or a delectable pot over the stove is that most grains like certain rice and what variety as well as corn needs to undergo gelatinization before they can be mashed. This requires boiling these grains for a very long period in order to achieve its mushy or soft consistency. This lets the starches present in the grain to be easily transformed to sugars.
The kind of mash tun that is gaining popularity in these days is rectangular coolers or beverage coolers. Using coolers as a mash tun is highly recommended if you are new to making moonshine because it is easy to use. These picnic coolers are available in various sizes and you may not even have to buy anymore because you may have one in your garage already. The best features of these coolers are its insulated interiors which promotes indirect heat. These coolers can be used by adding hot waiter in order to set the temperature of the mash as needed. Placing the lid can maintain the temperature inside which may decline for a degree or two in a span of one hour. This makes it very easy and convenient to use for beginners.
After mashing has been done, all that is left is a liquid with traces of hanging particles of spent grain. These particles must be separated or sparged from the liquid. This can be performed by placing using a mesh when pouring the contents from the mash tun to your fermenter. Another way is to palce a tea towel or screen mesh directly on top of your fermenter so that you can easily starin the contents of your mash tun. This task can be messy, but with much patience and determination, this can be done completely.
In some cases, home brewers use a modified beverage cooler. This type of cooler involves a false screen bottom and a spigot. This allows the mash to drain leaving all the unnecessary particles behind. It is very advantageous because it does not require extensive labor aside from the fact that it is really effective.
Yet, an innovative method in mashing just entered the scene and this is referred to as Brew in Bag. This is probably he ultimate solution for separating the grains from the liquid. This works by placing the grains in a muslin bag or loose nylon before it is added to the mash tun. The entire process is just the same it is just that separating or straining is no longer required because the grains remain inside the bags. You just have to pour the liquid directly into the fermenter and the job is finished.
The Moonshining Fermenter
A fermenter is one of the most important pieces of equipment required in the distillingmoonshine process. It is one of the equipments without which one is totally not able to get exactly the kind of drink that they require. It is thus wise that one ensures they choose wisely the kind of fermenter they should use in any moonshine making process. It ensures that there is no contamination occurring in the system such that the process takes place well without any problems involved.
In the fermentation o0f the various types of drinks such as alcohol, spirits, beer or wine there are two types of fermentation processes that can be undertaken to obtain different types of drinks in terms of their superior taste and quality. There is the open fermentation process which takes place as the fermenter is open. In this process the fermenter is only partially closed with a table cloth with the sole intention of ensuring that foreign substances do not get into the system thus contaminating the reaction but air is allowed to enter. There also is the closed fermentation process which takes place as the fermenter is closed tightly such that even the air outside the system cannot enter into the system.
The closed fermentation process is widely preferred all over the world due to its many advantages over the open fermentation process. These advantages include its ability to easily ferment the starch in the grain to pure and high level of an alcoholic drink which is very superior as compared to that obtained from the closed fermentation process. It is very hard for one to control the kind of substances that get into the open fermentation process some of which work to give the drink obtained afterwards a very strong repulsive smell and a very low alcohol percentage. It is thus wise for me also to talk of a fermenter for the closed fermentation process since it is the most widely used equipment.
There are a number of choices as far as buying a fermenter is concerned, both of the fermenters pictured on the left of this page are commercially manufactured and they can be purchased from as little as $AU30 or so. Pictured at the top is a 12 litre glass fermenter fitted with a plastic airlock to a hole drilled in the cork. As some air space is needed to accommodate foam this fermenter can comfortably ferment a wash of 10 litres making it ideal for trying new recipes or making small batches.
The one at the bottom is typical of a store bought high density fermenter that holds a maximum of 23 litres of any liquid. It is thus not wise to put any more than 23 litres of any substances in the fermenter since this would have adverse effects on the reaction. Under normal circumstances the reactions that take place in the fermenter usually have two by products. These are the drink wash one is preparing which later is distilled to obtain the drink one was preparing and the carbon IV oxide gas. This gas is produced in low rates at first but as the reaction proceeds it is produced in more quantities. It is thus important to ensure that it is removed from the system failure to which it could easily blow off the lid after reaching a certain point where it has to be removed from the system. This is the reason also why one should ensure that they do not put much more than 23 litres of water into the system.
They are fitted with different types of lids such as the screw one with and O-ring screw at the top and the snap on lid. Either of the lids is very effective and can be comfortably be used for any of the processes one is undertaking. Most of the fermenters also are fitted with a flat bottom which works to ensure that the yeast which is used in the system settles quietly at the bottom after the reaction is over such that it is very easy to transfer the wash into the still for distilling after the fermentation process is over. Some however have a tap below which works for the same purpose such that as one is transferring the wash from the fermenter they do not disturb the yeast as this would result in it moving over with the wash into the distillate which is not advocated for.
Airlocks are another very important part of every closed fermenter. They are very vital due to their function which is to ensure that the carbon IV oxide gas produced in the reaction is easily removed from the system to prevent any undesired activities taking place. They are usually s-shape bends that are fitted at the top of the fermenter and filled with water. This is so that as the gas is produced in the reaction it is able to easily bubble out through the s-band. It is filled with water so as to prevent any air from the outside from entering in the system and as such they are very great innovations that work to make the reaction very easier and manageable.
One can easily know the rate of the reaction until its end point. This is by the use of the airlocks such as the s-bend. During the first few hours of the reaction the rate at which the gas bubbles out through the airlock is very low but as the reaction continues it increases. During the last few hours of the reaction one will notice that the rate of the gas bubbling has decreased drastically until it gets to a point where it no longer is being bubbled out or if it does it does so in a very low rate. This signifies the end of the reaction and at this time one can comfortably take the wash to the still for distillation.
The Process of Aging, Blending and Flavoring Your Moonshine
After distilling the wash, the next step that you have to accomplish is blending your spirit that can be performed through adding flavors and aging. The process of blending and flavoring goes hand in hand in order to come up with a finished product that is essential part of distilling moonshine whether you are using sugar based or grain based wash. These processes play a big role in spirit making because it makes your spirit pleasing to your palate. It must be noted that the way you flavor and age your spirit will rely n the type of spirit that you are creating such as vodka, whiskey, bourbon and many more. There are various processes that are involve in the process of aging your spirit and in case of bourbon, you can use oak woodchips sometimes referred to as staves to trigger the aging process of your bourbon. Oak woodchips are excellent in improving the flavor of your bourbon making it smoother and mellow. It is more advisable to use wood chips if you are making your own spirit instead of aging these in barrels because oak wood chips have better capacity to enhance flavor.
Yet, a lot of spirits require aging in barrels in order to accomplish the flavor profile. There are helpful guidelines that can help you become successful with this process. Primarily, you have to choose a barrel that is fit for the kind of spirit that you are creating. In case of bourbon, it will be perfect if you will use charred oak barrels. On the other hand, if you will produce whiskey using a plain oak barrel will be good enough. If you are making a Scotch Whiskey, aging it in old sherry cask can bring out enticing flavors.
But then, no matter what kind of barrel you use in aging your spirit, there are certain facts that you have to follow carefully. The most important thing that you have to remember is not to leave your spirit in the barrel for an extra long period of time. This is because the spirit can acquire a woody taste that can make it not appealing to the palate depending on how long you have let it age in the barrel. In order not to waste the spirits that have gone woody, what you can do is to blend it to develop a good taste. Another thing is that spirits will age rapidly in small barrels or using wood chips compared to aging it in large barrels. This has something to do with the allocation of the volume of the spirit to the surface area of the barrel. For instance, if you are making a whiskey, you can come up with a well aged beverage using a 50 liter cask for a period of six months. Therefore, if you will age whiskey in a 500 liter cask, it will take about 5 years in order to achieve good results. Yet, if you are using woodchips, you can achieve a well aged spirit in a period of 5 to 7 days. Also, you must remember that a new barrel have the capacity to age spirits better than an old barrel. Apart from all these, wooden barrels have the tendency to breathe which is why a great percentage of the spirit can be lost over a certain period of time. With this, wooden barrels need to be topped up.
The process of blending is also an important area to consider when making spirits as this is widely utilized in commercial distilleries. One good example of this is the y Scotch Whiskey that has been blended in wide varieties. Also, it is believed that a single malt whiskey is too strong which is why it is the best practice to blend it with grain whiskey, malt whiskey as flavorings, color additives as well as neutral spirits. Adding these substances make your final product more affordable to the consumers. The most common examples of blended whiskey are Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker. Yet, if you are after a neutral spirit, what you can do is to use a sugar based wash and distill it thrice until you come up with a 96% alcohol. You may dilute it with plain water to bring it back to 50% concentration. In this way, you can always create instant and affordable neutral spirit.
The Process of Fermenting the Wort
Whether you decide to ferment off the grain or on the grain, the entire process of fermentation will remain the same for both so you have to keep a keen eye on this process because it is really important in making moonshine. At this point, you should have come up with a clear brown liquid referred t as wort or sweet wort. If you choose to ferment on the grain, you will see the solid settle down on the bottom as you let it cool down. If you will utilize a hydrometer, it is also important to have a specific gravity reading of 1.050 which is higher than water. The wort is very prone to contamination at this stage so you have to ensure that it will be free from harmful organisms because this can affect the flavor of your spirit and may cause low alcohol strength or in worse cases, both of these can happen.
Thus, sanitation is very important in this process in order to avoid infection by bacteria and wild yeast that may be present in the air and various surfaces that surrounds you. Although in the mashing process, you have subjected the grains to certain temperatures that are detrimental to some organisms. However, as the wort is cooled down, this produces a perfect environment for these unnecessary organisms to thrive. But this temperature is what you look after so that you can pitch in the yeast that is essential in making a wash with acceptable alcohol content that can be processed in your still. Learn more here
You can protect your work by sterilizing all your equipments such as the fermenter itself and other things that may come in contact with the wort such as the lid, airlocks and mixing spoons as described on Cleanliness and Hygiene page. In summary, the equipments should be immersed in unscented bleach with the formulation of 1 cup bleach to 60 liters if water. This process should tale for at last 30 minutes before these can be rinsed with flowing water. Yet, if you decide to use a soaking solution aside from bleach such as the ones that can be bought at local home brewer stores, it will require you to read the instructions very carefully. Rinsing the sterilizing compound is vital to make sure that it will not destroy your yeast and even you for it can be poisonous as well. Apart from sterilizing the equipments, it will help a lot if you will wash yourself too as you may also contribute to contamination. It will be great idea if you will sterilize all the necessary equipment while your wort is cooling so you can save time. If you can manage to soak your equipments in the soaking agent earlier in time, you may also do so for your own convenience.
At this stage your wort should have a temperature of less than or equal to 30 degrees Celsius. The most optimal temperature to add in yeast would be 25 degrees Celsius because if it exceeds more than 30°C (86°F) the yeast will die and may release awful flavors that will decrease the quality of your final product.
The process of adding the yeast to the wort is called pitching the yeast and you perform this in two ways depending on the kind of yeast that you are using to ferment your wort. You can use liquid yeast and if you wish to do it this way, you must remove it from the fridge few hours before fermentation and allow it to cool to room temperature while you are preparing the mash. Once ready, you can simply pour it in the wort and mix it thoroughly. If you will choose active dried yeast, you have the option to pour in straight to the wort or rehydrate it in a cup of water before pouring it in the fermenter. Usually, dried active yeast comes in single dose sachet and can be purchased from your local home brewer shop. Typically, modern yeasts have no problems when mixed with the wort.
Once the yeast has been added to the wort, no further preparations are needed in order to prepare the wort for the fermentation process. The fermenter should be tightly sealed and then the boiling water should be poured into the airlock. This should be placed in a suitable place where it will be from changes in temperature. Preferably, it should be kept in a cool dark place. This is due to the fact that yeast does not need light in order to take its action. Also, you must be cautious when using barley because barley wort reacts to sun and it will release off flavors.
In performing fermentation, certain interventions are not needed because the fermenter should remain sealed until the whole process is complete. You have to practice much control and avoid opening the lid in order to see what is happening because this increases the occurrence of infection. If you wish to view the action taking place, it is advisable to use a glass fermenter so that you no longer have to open the lid in order to take a peek.
The process of fermentation usually takes 5 to 10 days depending on the type of yeast that you pitch in your fermenter. You can use a hydrometer in order to identify the progress of fermentation, but the most suitable tool to use is the airlock. Initially, when you fill the airlock, the yeast will be held inactive until the yeast rehydrates and come into action. At this point, the airlock will bubble, but you must also take note that some yeast variety can take 6 hours up to 24 hours to become active. When the fermentation process is totally complete you will notice that the airlock will bubble with an interval of several seconds depending on the strain of yeast that you use. Once all the sugars in the wort are all fermented, the bubbling will decline and at this time, it is considered that the fermentation is complete.
The Process of Malting and Mashing In Alcoholic Beverage Production
Aside from sugar wash, home brewers also use another type of wash called grain wash. This is also the kind of wash that most commercial distillers use to produce a distilled beverage. However, using this kind of wash involves additional steps before it can be fermented with yeasts. In essence, the process of malting and mashing are used to extract the sugar in these grains so that it will be ready to be fermented.
Malting is actually the initial step that you must take in order to prepare your grain wash into fermentable form. This is done by soaking the grains in water so that germination can take place. After which, the germination process is stopped by letting the grains dry with dry air. But then, the grains must be allowed to grow for few days before drying them out. This technique lets the enzymes thrive in the grain so that the conversion of starches to sugars can take place. Also, doing this halts embryo growth so that it will not eat the sugars that will be produced in the process.
The process of malting typically occurs in a malt house or malting floor. This is described as a wooden floor with some perforations on it. The germinated grains are actually scattered on the wooden floor where it is smoked through the holes in it. The smoke comes from the fireplace built under that can produce up to 55 degrees Celsius of heat.
Moving forward, mashing is the next process when it comes to preparing the grain wash. This method involves combining non-malted and malted grains with plain water and then subjecting these to heat. It must be remembered that there are certain temperatures that must be met in order to achieve key temperature to allow enzyme activation. This enzyme will act to convert the starch into sugar. Yet, it must be ensured that the grains are properly mashed or cracked to expose the contents of each grain.
Also, it is essential to know that various enzymes are most active in different temperatures. This means that there are enzymes that will be most effective at certain temperatures. Thus, rests in temperature are highly recommended in order to achieve best results. For instance, malted grains such as barley may be heated to 45 degrees Celsius and maintained in the same temperature for at least half an hour. The same thing can be done with a temperature of 53 degrees Celsius and higher until 63 degrees Celsius is reached. This can be maintained up to 90 minutes before raising the temperature to 71 degrees Celsius. Yet, these four rests are not absolute because some do not require this technique. In fact, some perform heating using only one temperature such as 68 degrees Celsius which is only ideal for Beta- Amylase conversion alone.
It is also relevant to know that there are various methods that can be used to perform mashing. The most common method is the one being used by major breweries such as using an infusion machine. This machine emits direct heat in order to effect changes in temperature. The other method is performed by adding hot water and placing it in a sealed insulator container to retain the temperature. This method is widely used by home brewers in the absence of advanced machineries.
The Role of Still and Temperature in Making Moonshine
Distilling moonshine involves a lot of processes and different materials such as a still. Without this equipment, making quality moonshine is almost impossible. Yet, many individuals are still not certain as to how this thing woks and how does it affect the beverage they are making. In actuality, there are various types of stills and each has its own function and is perfectly suited for certain tasks. Thus, an adequate knowledge on the different types of stills is essential in order to come up with best results. In general, pot stills are the most widely used by many brewers, but there are still a lot to know about the different stills.
In order to understand various stills and its purposes, it will be useful to master the distillation process. So, for better understanding, a quick review of how distillation works is necessary. Let say, you use a basic sugar wash in order to come up with your distilled beverage. You can initiate the process by pouring your fermented wash into the still and heating it to certain temperatures. As the wash heats up, it will reach its boiling point. At this stage, steam and vapor rise up into the condenser which transforms the vapor back into a liquid form. This liquid serves as the output of the still and is referred to as your spirit.
In essence, when you prepare your wash it is just normal that it will contain several substances such as water, ethanol, fermentation derivatives like methanol and other elements that can be utilized to contribute to the taste of the final product if you wish for it. Although the alcohol is the major thing that you want to extract from the mixture, there are still other components that you have to get rid of quickly such as methanol which is the byproduct of fermentation. Methanol in small quantities can cause hangovers, but you must be aware that large quantities of methanol can cause blindness. Also, there are substances that can be retained if you desire to make a flavored spirit or omit in case you want a neutral one.
So, what is the role of the still in the process? Essentially, the still presents the means so that certain substances in the wash can be separates at various boiling points. In actuality, methanol which is an undesirable derivate has a boiling point of 64 degrees Celsius. In relation, ethanol boils at 78 degrees Celsius and water has an absolute boiling point of 100 degrees Celsius. Both methanol and ethanol are combined with water in the distillation process. Hence, when all these are mixed and subjected to heat, the whole liquid is reduced and the components with the lowest boiling point will transform into vapor ahead of other substances. Therefore, in the process, the methanol will actually turn into vapor first and eventually into liquid form once it reached the condenser. With this, you can collect the liquid methanol and discard it until nothing is left from the mixture. Yet, it must be noted that there can be some degree overlap among various substances. In the initial process, you will mostly catch methanol and then a mixture of methanol and ethanol until no methanol can be collected at all. That is why ample knowledge about these different temperatures in necessary if you want to distill your own beverage.
The overlap of temperatures can be very eminent when using pot stills, but can be both advantageous and disadvantageous at the same time. For instance, if you pour a sugar based wash that has been fermented to 20% alcohol strength into the still once will have an outcome of 60-65% alcohol strength if you get rid of the first 200 ml in order to eliminate its methanol content. If you once again run this mixture to the still, it will reach the 90’s level until the percentage shoot up to just above 95% in the third pass which is almost 100% pure. And since this is the case, you must know that is fatal and you must not drink it at this stage. However, if you use a reflux or fractionating still, you can come up with a suitable base mixture in just one pass and this contains no flavor at all making it ideal for adding spirit essences. You can water this mixture back to the strength that you prefer, but the most recommended is about 40-65%.
While this overlap in temperature is very beneficial in making spirits that are rich in flavor such as bourbon and whisky. This is due to the fact that when the vapor temperature reaches 78 to 84 degrees Celsius, still outputs will turn to a mixture of ethanol and other components such as congeners or the derivatives of the fermentation process. Congeners typically contain chemical substances such as esters, acetone, aldehydes i.e. glycols, ethyl acetate and propanol. It must be noted that congeners play big role in the taste and odor of your spirits and these are the major still outputs at temperatures above 90 degrees Celsius. Essentially, managing the amount of congeners that you would like to incorporate in your spirit is more convenient using a pot still rather than using other types of stills. This is because using a pot still makes the temperature changes more pronounces; thus it will be easier to collect the outputs when the vapor reaches certain temperatures.
In this process, it will be useful to use separate vessels to collect still outputs in order to separate various substances such as ethanol and congeners and mixing certain amounts from these outputs in order to produce a well flavored spirit. The process of splitting the still outputs from one another is referred to as making cuts.
Choosing the Type of Still to Use in Distilling Moonshine
The process of distilling moonshine will never be successful without using the appropriate still. Hence, choosing the right kind of still to use is very essential in making moonshine or any kind of distilled beverage. Basically, there are three kinds of stills that are widely used by commercial and home brewers and these are the following: pots still, fractionating still and reflux still. Choosing the right kind of still for your needs is a big contributor to the quality of your final product. Yet, it does not actually mean that each type cannot carry out all the tasks of another, but certain types are just more specific than the others.
The simplest kind of still is the pot still. This type is widely preferred due to its simplicity and convenience. Its main components are the condenser and boiler which can execute all the functions needed to produce a finely distilled beverage. This works by placing the mash or the sugar based wash into the boiler and then heat is applied using a gas flame or an electric source. The liquid wash is then transformed into vapor and then allowed to rise into the condenser which turns the liquid back into liquid form. Typically, the vapor temperature is often measured in order to identify the composition of the vapor at certain points in the distillation process. For instance, if the temperature of the vapor is around 78-82 degrees Celsius, it is just right to assume that most of the liquid that you are getting is ethanol because of its boiling point.
This is also very useful to produce spirits with varying strengths with mush ease although the process can take long. If you use a grain or sugar wash fermented with 20% alcohol strength and run it in the still pot once, you will achieve a still output with 60% alcohol strength given it was run under 72 and 92 degrees Celsius. This output is full of flavor and can be modified even further by running it in the still for the second time around under the same temperature. The still outcome will come up with a spirit containing 80-95% alcohol but less flavorful. If you do this again and halt collecting the spirit when the temperature of the vapor reaches below 90 degrees Celsius, you will end up with an almost pure spirit with fewer flavors.
Moving forward, another kind of still to use is the reflux still. It is also made up of major components such as the boiler and the condenser, but includes a vertical column between the two structures. This column is packed with metal like substance such as stainless steel or even marbles. This type of still works as the temperature of the column changes and gets further from the source of heat. In essence, this means that as the vapors pass through the column, most of it undergoes condensation and come back into the boiler in liquid state. Thus, the taller the column, the purer the final spirit will be. This type of still is more recommended if you want to come up with spirits with alcohol strength of over 95%. Yet, it must be noted that this strength is fatal and must undergo further processes.
Apart from pot and reflux still, you can also make use of a fractionating still. This type is a more extensive version of the reflux still as it features a 50 cm column at least and can be as high as 1.2 meters. Using this type of still usually allows almost all the vapor to undergo condensation as it reaches the end of the column. In this type of still, almost 90% of the vapor will come back to the boiler as liquid. Thus, the result will be a spirit with 95% alcohol strength in just one pass. The spirit can be so pure using a fractionating still without having to go for vacuum distillation.
The outputs of the three kinds of still can be different from each other and the processes may vary as well. However, you must notice that the outputs are really quite high. For instance, a pot still can produce a spirit with 65% alcohol strength in just one pass and can reach up to 95% or above in the third pass. A fractionating skill can even come up with a stronger output in a single pass and with mush ease. With this, it is really essential to measure the strength of the alcohol so that you can reduce it appropriately using plain water in order to make the alcohol content lower than 65% in order to avoid alcohol poisoning. It must be remembered that using a fractionating or reflux still can result to a highly concentrated spirit that is enough to cause death.
Hence, selecting which kind of still is the best depends of your choice. All three kinds of still can be sued to come up with a pure spirit given much practice. Yet, you can make things easier by using a fractionating still which can create pure spirits in one pass.
Read this article: Moonshine Is Growing in the USA
Fermenter for Moonshining Processes
Moonshining is one of the easiest processes that one can undertake at the comfort of their homes and that can easily be termed as economical. This is because by simply fermenting one`s own drink they are able to easily save a lot of money as opposed to buying drinks. Fermentation is one of the steps and processes that is very important and vital in the activity and that determines largely what type of drink one gets at the end of the process. This is because it determines the alcohol percentage and the type of drink made and hence is one of the most important processes that everyone should ensure they undertake with caution.
There are two types of fermentation processes. There is the open fermentation process and the closed one. The open take place in an open space where the fermentation process take place in an open bin or fermenter partly covered on the top with a table cloth to prevent foreign substances in but air is free to enter. Closed fermentation process on the other hand takes place in a closed fermenter where there is only space for excess carbon IV oxide to be expelled from the system.
Open fermentation process is not regularly encountered in our current world since there are over a dozen advantages of the closed fermentation process against the open one. These include the easiness in controlling the alcohol percentage and levels of anaerobic respiration taking place in the closed fermentation process which is practically impossible in the open fermentation process. The closed fermentation process is thus discussed below with the obvious conclusion that it is more likely to be of greater demand than the open fermentation process.
There are a number of choices as far as buying a fermenter is concerned, both of the fermenters pictured on the left of this page are commercially manufactured and they can be purchased from as little as $AU30 or so. Pictured at the top is a 12 liter glass fermenter fitted with a plastic airlock to a hole drilled in the cork. As some air space is needed to accommodate foam this fermenter can comfortably ferment a wash of 10 liters making it ideal for trying new recipes or making small batches.
At the bottom is a fermenter typical of a store bought high density fermenter that holds a maximum of 25 litres and can be used to ferment beer, wine, cider and of course the wash that will eventually become your moonshine. This fermenter holds a maximum of 23 liters and it would not be wise to put much more than this amount since the yeast tends to act on the starch reducing it through anaerobic respiration to alcohol. In the process a lot of foam is produced which fills up the tank such that should one put much more than 23 litres there is going to be a lot of pressure and the lid may eventually snap rendering the entire process futile. It is thus important to observe the 23 liter mark and ensure that not much more than this amount is put in the fermenter. This form of fermenter is commonly used since it is very much affordable and very easy to use. It offers guaranteed results and does not have any kind of adverse unexpected effects. There usually have two types of lids, the screw one with an O-ring seal while the other one has a snap on lid. Both of the lids however will effectively serve their purpose and as such can be used.
Each of the fermenters above have a tap at the bottom whose function is to ensure that the wash can easily be removed via the tap without disturbing the cake of yeast that will have settled at the bottom of the fermenter. It is thus very important that one ensures they do not disturb the yeast while at the process. For some of the fermenters there is no tap and as such one has to improvise a good way of draining the contents of the fermenter into the still without disturbing the cake of yeast at the bottom. The most common and best method to do this is by the use of a length of food grade plastic hose instead while ensuring that one does not disturb the yeast at the bottom.
Each fermenter must have an airlock at the top of the lid. The purpose of this airlock is to ensure that the gas evolved during the process gets rid of such that it does not have any adverse effects on the reaction in the fermenter. There are two by products created during the process which are ethanol which is the alcohol and carbon IV oxide gas. As the level of gas increase in the system it would reach a point such that it fills the inside of the fermenter. In such case should it not be removed it can easily affect the fermenter at its weakest point which is the lid. The gas blows off the lid and this would render the entire process a waste. As such there is an s-bend airlock put in place to ensure that the gas is removed from the reaction. The s-bend contains water at the top whose function is to ensure that the air outside which contains bacteria unwanted in the reaction does not get inside the system.
The gas gets out of the system by bubbling its way through the s-bend such that the rate at which it bubbles out can easily tell you of the rate at which the reaction is taking place. During the first few hours of the reaction there is less bubbling of the gas but as time goes the rate increases. It will take a couple of days depending on the amount of sugar and ingredients being fermented for the entire reaction to completely ferment. One is able to know when the reaction is through as at this time the bubbling gets to a point where there is very little bubbling which eventually stops. At this point the reaction is over and one can proceed to distill their wash. Read this good article
Health Hazards for Distilling and Fermenting Moonshine
When fermenting and distilling moonshine there are couple of facts you need so as to ensure that it is safely and properly made and that there are no risks taken when one is taking the drink. The fermentation process is a very tricky business even in the production of beer itself such that even the best of breweries have to take various precautions so as to ensure theyproduce a substantial and safe product that at the same time is quite attractive to take. This is because the process involves the use of bacteria that uses the process of anaerobic respiration to ferment or breakdown the sugar fed into the system and the end result is a drink that will be attractive both in its smell as well as the taste.
The irony in all this is the fact that while the bacteria will infect the wash, it is practically impossible to make the best moonshine without them. Yeast is the most important bacteria in the process but should be properly regulated such that the level of fermentation is high while at the same time it is safe for consumption and the drink generated in the process is of the highest quality. Bacteria are good fermentation agents that make the entire process very easy and fast. All they require is a low level of oxygen and some time to respire and they will definitely generate a great drink. However they will also generate a drink that can be very harmful to the taker if not well maintained and watched. One thus requires the knowledge of the process such that they are able to easily make the best drink with the simplest and hassle free process.
The fact of the matter is that bacteria is found everywhere in the air such that there is absolutely no preventing it from contaminating whatever one is preparing. However what really matters in the process is the regulation of these bacteria such that there is no high level of fermentation that would yield verystrong liquor while a very low process will generate a drink that is harmful to the health of a person. They can as well infect the equipment used in the process such that despite any efforts to control them in the process and the reaction, one still finds the drink contaminated and they do not know how it came about. It is therefore very important that one ensures they know what they are doing during the process such that they know how to control these agents and their equipment to obtain the desired results without the risk of harming those who latter take their liquor.
It is a very simple process to ferment and distill moonshine but one needs to know how to go about it so as to get the required results. Once the wash is ready one should proceed to pitch the yeast and close the lid as fast as they can. This is because when the lid is open that is when the bacteria is very much attracted to the already prepared food which in this case is the rink that is being prepared. It is thus a very important part that one should ensure they take into very deep consideration. It is always wise to ensure that everything is ready before the beginning of the process such that there is no need to runaround the entire place reaching and preparing things that are already due.
Cleaning the equipment is another part that one should highly take into consideration. It involves ensuring that there is no harm done to the plastics since a small scratch provides a home for the bacteria to settle and the next time one is using the equipment they will find that they do not get results as they had previously fond. One should therefore use a soft cloth or sponge which wipes clean the surface leaving it clean without any harm to the surface. All the equipment should be thoroughly cleaned such that they do not infect or provide home to the unwanted bacteria. Detergents should absolutely not be used unless they are specifically meant for home washing since they would easily contaminate the reactants.
The next step should be sterilizing the equipment such that there are no bacteria left in it. One should ensure that they are able to get a big enough bin where all the equipment can easily fit and where they can all be immersed in the sterilizing agent for the expected duration of time. Once the bin has been obtained one should ensure they are able to get a good sterilizing agent such as sodium metabisulphite or NEO pink are some of the common agents found locally and which can be used with the same and expected results. Bleach is another agent that can be easily obtained and which has the same kinds of results which is to make the equipment safe from bacterial infection or attack. One should follow the instructions given on the product label mixing the agent with the required amount of water and closing them in for the given duration of time.
Once this is done one should then ensure that if the agent is toxicity they rinse all the equipment with a lot of water to remove the entire toxicity which would be quite harmful if contaminated with the brew and consumed. High alcohol percentages render yeast quite harmless and actually dysfunctional such that it is not possible to have the drink infected at this stage. Once can thus proceed to heat the distillate to the required temperatures without worry of an infection from this stage henceforth.
Preparing the Sugar Wash
The process of preparing the sugar wash is an essential aspect to learn to be able to make moonshine with desirable outcome. Basically, you will need to have a sugar wash that can be mixed straight into the fermenter so the first thing that you have to ensure is the sterility of your equipments such as the water containers, mixing spoon, airlock, fermenter’s lid and the fermenter itself. This can be accomplished by soaking all of these in a regular bleach preferably unscented mixed water in a rate of 1 cup per 60 liters of water. This should last for about 30 minutes. But if you are using a sterilizing compound bought from a home brewer supplier, following the dilution instruction on its packaging will be most helpful. Also, it will greatly contribute if you will take a wash as well in order to get rid of impurities in your body that may cause a negative outcome on your spirit.
In essence, appropriate hygiene is essential when creating moonshine because sanitation is very crucial in the fermentation process. This is due to the fact that this is the stage where your wash becomes attractive to bacteria and yeasts. Thus, contaminating your wash with impurities can create fee food that harmful organisms simply cannot ignore. With this, infection can result and this affects the taste of your final product. In some cases, the infection results to lower alcohol yield.
Fortunately, sugar wash is convenient to prepare because it can be prepared straight in the fermenter which is a plus point. So, once all your apparatus has been soaked in the sterilizing compound for a given period of time, you must wash if thoroughly with flowing water and let it dry for a few minutes. You must be mindful with these equipments and avoid putting it down in dirty and unsterilized areas because it can be easily infected. As much as possible, you can also sterilize a bucket or a small container where you can put small items such as airlocks, mixing spoons and fermentar taps so that you can protect it from dirty surfaces.
In order to save time, you can start preparing your wash while the rest of your tools are draining. You can boil at least 2 liters of water so that you can make the mixing of sugar into the water easier and more manageable. In essence, any amount that your kettle can accommodate is enough to create the mixture unless your water supply is so cold or it is winter season. Adding too much hot water can somewhat affect the temperature of your wash. It must be noted that the wash temperature must not exceed 25 degrees Celsius and if so, you need to have it cooled into acceptable temperature before adding the yeast. However, it is also important not to put in the yeast in the cold mixture. If the water is colder than 18 degrees Celsius, you should add hot water into the mixture in order to adjust the temperature closest to 25 degrees.
One good example of a very affordable sugar wash us the mixture of 8 kilograms raw or white sugar and 25 liters of plain water. The yeast should be of good quality such as turbo yeast which has a very high tolerance to alcohol. Good brands of turbo yeast include Still Spirits and Samuel Willards. In the absence of turbo yeast, all you have to do is to reduce the quantity of sugar you used in your wash. This will help you end up with a sugar wash that has 20% alcohol strength once all the sugars have undergone the fermentation process.
Once you are done with the measurements, all you have to do is to add the 2 liters of boiling water directly to the fermenter and then pour additional 2 liters tap water. After which, you can place your bags of sugar into the mixture and stir it after putting each bag. You may use 4 bags of 2kg raw sugar or ingredient of your choice. If you follow this recipe, you will observe that the wash will be a little bit thick once you have poured in the last bag of sugar. What you have to do nest is to fill the fermenter with water until it reached the 25 liter mark. You also have to stir it for 15 seconds just to make sure that everything is even.
If you want to experiment with this technique using different ingredients, you may also try molasses or brown sugar. These ingredients can be used to prepare sugar wash the same fashion with white or raw sugar. In some writings, boiling molasses is suggested in order to eradicate the wild yeast that may be present in the substance. Although the yeast is not active, this practice is highly recommended in order to avoid competition between the wild yeast and the turbo yeast. Also, diluting the mixture properly can help in eliminating the wild yeast so you have to make sure to dilute your molasses into hot water before pouring it in the mixture. Once all mixed up and the fermenter has been filled up to the 25 liter mark, you can now proceed with the fermentation process.
Using Grains to Make Moonshine
Using grain as the main ingredient in distilling moonshine can be a lot more complicated and trickier compared to using sugar as the base for the wash due to the additional steps needed in order to complete fermentation. This is due to the fact that grains contain great amount of starches that should be converted to sugars that are ready for fermentation. This process is referred to as saccharification and this is very essential before you subject your wash to the fermentation process that must be observed with outmost care or else you will not be able to achieve a wash that was able to yield a significant amount of alcohol. The entire process of converting the starch into fermentable sugars can be found in the Fermenting and Distilling Basics if this website that tackles on Preparing a Grain Wash page. Reading this section will help you understand the basics of preparing a grain wash by focusing on the importance of mashing and how it should be done.
The area of Distilling Moonshine can direct you to the step by step process on how to ferment, mass as well as distill bourbon. With this, it is highly important to take note of the initial step which is gelatinizing the grains like rye, barley, wheat as well as corn which has a high gelatinization temperature. Yet, this step is optional and need to be done only if it is required. One instance where gelatinization is not needed is when you are creating a malted barley whiskey. This is because the enzymes that are present in malted barley can be deactivated by high temperatures. If this happens, your whiskey will be a big flop because the enzyme needed to convert the starch to sugar will become inactive. If you will take a look at the moonshine recipes section, you will be able to see which grains are required to undergo the gelatinization process before it can be mashed. But as a general rule, you must never add the malted seeds to the mash in case the mash temperature is over 67 degrees Celsius or 143 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a classic bourbon recipe, the ingredients are readily available and can be easily purchased in any store. Or just in case, you can go to home brewer shop and expect to find all of the essential ingredients in making bourbon. In order to create this spirit, you will need the following:
- 4 kilograms cracked corn
- 2 kilograms cracked and malted barley
- 1 kilogram cracked rye (malted or not malted )
- 20 liters plain water
Basically, rye and barley can be bought easily and these are very affordable. For one stop shopping, you can visit your home brew supplier and see what grains are available for you to purchase. But most likely, you will find everything that you need here. In making beer, barley is a requirement while rye is sometimes required in some kinds of beer. If you are in need of cracked corn, you can go ahead and check at pet food stores suppliers. But then, you have to ascertain that the cracked corn you are buying has not been exposed to anti-fungal agents because this can have negative effects on the flavor of your bourbon. Aside from that, it can become contaminated and not fit for human consumption.
More than that, your water should also be clean and safe for drinking and as much as possible free from chemicals like fluoride and chlorine. In fact, you may also run the water that you will use through the stills in order to make it pure as possible. You also have the choice to purchase bottled mineral water from any local store for more convenience. You must know that the taste of the spirit greatly depends on the type of ingredients that you are using. For instance, scotch can contain a distinct flavor due to the spring water as well as the peat malted barley that are imported from Scotland being used to make this product. But then, this can be quite impossible if you are not from Scotland or you are located far away from this land so why not create your own unique blend?
Learning how to make spirits from grain washes can be a little bit difficult than using sugar washes which is why you need to learn each step very carefully before you get started. You have to take note of all the equipments and processes needed and make sure to step back in case that you forgot something. Also, it is recommended to try preparing sugar wash before proceeding to using grain washes so that it can be easier. If you do not succeed at first trial, you do not have to despair because not all gets it perfectly the first time around. It takes a lot of time and practice in order to learn this step completely.
The Role of Fermentation in Distilling Moonshine
Distilling moonshine is a crucial process of mixing your ingredients all together in a still and playing with the heat in order to produce a magnificent alcoholic beverage that you can enjoy in the comforts of your home. In essence, you need to have a liquid with alcohol content so that you can begin with the distillation process. Distillation concentrates and purifies the alcohol that is in the liquid. So, if the liquid has no alcohol content at all, the process will not actually go through.
Initially, you have to come up with a liquid that has the alcohol content. The reason behind it is that this liquid will be subjected to fermentation. This is an essential process when it comes to distilling moonshine. Fermentation is described as the natural process of converting sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. In this process, the yeasts eat sugar and transform these into cellular energy and end up with ethanol and CO2 as the main metabolic waste products. Hence, the more sugar content you have on your liquid, the more alcohol can be produced which can reach up to 20% proof depending in the type of yeasts that you use because various yeasts have its own alcohol tolerance.
Moving forward, you have to take note that the liquid produced by the process of fermentation is called the wash. This is the liquid that will be used to come up with a distilled beverage. The process of distillation purifies and separates the alcohol content from the wash, and eradicates all the unnecessary ingredients. In actuality, there are two types of wash being used in the process namely: sugar wash and grain wash. Out of these two, Sugar Washes are easier to use because it only involve the mixture of water and sugar that is ready to use for the fermentation process. Thus, the yeast can be added without any additional preparation required. On the other hand, Grain Washes are the type of mixture that requires additional process before the sugar that is contained in the grains can be transformed into a form that is consumable by the yeasts. If these additional processes were not performed, adding the yeast to initiate fermentation will be pointless at all because no alcohol will be produced.
Now, if you are wondering how a sugar wash is made. It is simply a mixture of water and white or raw sugar. This type of wash is the ideal wash to use if you are planning to add essences to create your spirits. Using this type of mixture is the best method to come up with your base spirit. When it comes to measurements, the ideal ratio of water to sugar is 25 liters of water or 6 US gallons mixed with 8 kilograms which is equivalent to 17.5 lbs. of white or raw sugar. This will result to a sugar wash mixture so yeasts can be added right away to start the fermentation process. After adding the yeast, all you have to do is to seal the container and wait for at least 7 days while the process is taking place. In this regard, using turbo yeast of good quality would be ideal because this variety is capable of producing up to 18-20% alcohol content. Using commercially available yeast is not appropriate because it has the risk to die reaching this alcohol strength.
The process can be a little more complicated if you will be using a grain wash. Extra steps and preparations are needed to come up with the distilled beverage. One example of distilled beverage made from grain mixture is your favorite whiskey. It is distilled from a grain wash using barley. Barley is the most common type of grain that is used in the process of making alcoholic beverages. As mentioned, using a grain wash requires more steps because the grain must be converted into a form that can be consumed by the yeasts. In essence, grains are seeds that contain sugars that take the form of starch. The start content of the grain is not fermentable so the yeast cannot convert these to alcohol. In turn, seed germination must be initiated so that enzymes will be released to convert the starches into sugars that can be used to start the fermentation process. The germinated grains undergo a process called malting which hinder its growth. These grains are heated in water at specific temperatures in order to speed up the process of starch conversion to sugar. The grains are then separated from the liquid that is rich in sugar from the malted grains. This is the final wash where yeast will be added to begin with the fermentation process.
Hence, if you want to become skilled in distilling moonshine, you have to try using sugar wash first before you proceed with the more complex grain wash. A well prepared wash is the key to producing a quality distilled beverage so you have to master the use of each type of wash for better results. The yeast also plays a big role in the outcome of the process so you have to use suitable yeast product such as turbo yeast or distillers yeast that can be purchased over the counter or online.
How to Prepare Grain Wash
Using grain wash in distilling moonshine is a more complicated process than using sugar wash. This is due to the fact that grain wash requires additional steps in order to transform it in a form that can be consumed by the yeast. In actuality, there is a wide array of grains that can be used in making moonshine. Most of these grains are also the ones that are used to produce commercial alcoholic beverages. Some of the most widely used grains are rye, barley, rice, corn and wheat. The combination of wheat and barley are most popular among distillers.
In essence, grains are also called seeds. It is usually formed by parent plant so that it can reproduce. It has the appearance that resembles a food wrapped in a protective coat while some seeds hold an embryo. In the fermentation process, it is usually the food reserve that is in target. Yet, in grains, the food reserve is enclosed within the seed and takes the form of starch. Starch is a form that cannot be consumed by yeast. This is because the food reserve enclosed in the grain is stored in a form that stops bacteria and yeast from eating it. And in the process of germination, the food reserve such as starch cannot be used by the plant embryo so enzymes are released in order to aid the process. The enzyme that s released by the germinated seed functions to convert the starch into fermentable sugar such as maltose. This sugar is then used to come up with a liquid that is rich in sugar content ready for fermenting.
Due to this, using grain to make moonshine can take much effort on your part. Yet, learning how to do this makes us more skilled in beverage making. As mentioned, enzymes are released in the germination process which converts the starch in grain into consumable sugar. One example of this enzyme is called Amylase. It takes two forms namely: Alpha- Amylase and Beta-Amylase. Out of these two, Alpha- Amylase is more beneficial because it is the enzyme that is produced once the germination has commenced. This enzyme together with protease acts to make the conversion of starch to sugar possible. Read more…
These enzymes can be produced by natural means, but there are also commercially available enzymes that you can use. It can be bought through a brew supplier in your locality in extensive stock if needed. In some countries, home distillers make use of peptic blend that contains high amounts of amylase. It is a product that is widely used as a digestive aid. However, most home brewer chooses to malt and mash the grain which is the natural way to extract the enzyme that will convert the starch into fermentable sugar.
Tools Used in Moonshine Making
It is a given fact that once one learns how to moonshine they are able to easily save much more than they would in buying commercially prepared spirits. It is thus considered to be one of the best methods of preparing either whisky or the good old rotgut where there are both resource saving and an easy enjoyable process that is very ideal for passing of any extra time that one may have. It however requires that one has all the facts in place including the kind of equipment that they should use and that they require for the best and desired results. The good thing about all these is that the equipment required are not used in this process only but are required for other home activities such as the preparation of home brew beer, making of cider and grain beer brewing. It is thus an economical process that will enable one to easily save as they obtain more than one home requirement. Read history of moonshine
The ideal thing about these equipments is that they are easily made at home where some of them are actually available at the homes only that one does not know of their existence. Improvising is one of the best ways to ensure that the economics are manageable and that one does not spend much more than they would have by simply buying the need product. There are those equipments however that one will find easier to buy rather than making them. This is because they are cheaper this way as compared to the making process. A still is one of such equipments that would give one such a big headache as they figure out how to make. It involves complicated processes such as soldiering which would involve a lot of technical know-how. It is however very much easier and cheaper if one just decided to purchase it from local store and get on with the preparation process. Some of the equipments on the other hand can be made but have adverse effects on the moonshine such that it is toxic and harmful for consumption. It is therefore wise to buy those equipments that one finds complicated to find or make.
There are different types of equipment require for making different types of spirits. The equipment used here thus greatly depends on the type of drink one intends to make and hence the type of additives also depends on the drink one intends to make. Additives such as essences are a good way of making mimic spirits that largely are similar to particular types of spirits. The trick here however is that one does not make a particular type of spirit but rather to make a neutral one that he is able to easily flavor and produce a drink mimicking a particular type of spirit or drink such as bourbon, rum, whiskey, scotch, vodka, schnapps, brandy and many more. The trick is that one does not make these spirits but rather makes neutral spirits that he adds essences to mimic or give the drink a similar taste to a particular type of drink. It is thus a nice way of making different types of spirits that taste similar to a particular drink that one finds attractive yet at the same time it is not the particular spirit.
That said the process is a very simple one that will require very simple to get equipment. For the manufacture of a neutral spirit one would thus require very few equipment that they can easily find. These include a fermented and a still which are the major ones. A still can be that of pot, fractionating or reflux. Other equipments required include a mixing spoon, some buckets to transfer water into, a few glass demijohns about three of them to catch your moonshine and an Alco meter. With these items one can easily begin the process which they would find very simple and quite efficient.
However, for the making of specific types of spirits such as real whiskey, bourbon or anything else that has grains such as malted barley, rye, wheat then there is an extra step required to be undertaken and which would involve finding some extra equipment. These specific spirits require a mashing step that ensures that the starch contained in the wheat is unlocked to fermentable sugar that can easily be fermented into the required drink. This step thus requires that one finds a good picnic cooler or Esky which will make the work pretty easy. Mashing using this equipment is very easy since all that one has to do is put all the substances in the required parts and the process is simplified. There are however different ways of going about the process but for a detailed description one can find further assistance by reading on the distilling basics section where they can decide what process to use and hence which equipment to use.
There are other equipments that one may find useful though not really a must have for the process. A hygrometer is one such equipment without which one can still go about the process very easily. However other equipment such as an Alco meter are a must have since without them one cannot be able to tell the strength of their spirit which can be very risky. It is thus advisable that one finds the equipment that works and most importantly that works best for them such that they are able to easily obtain whatever drink they are preparing.