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(NPR)   Although still against federal law, home moonshine making Is on the rise mainly from entrepreneurs seeking to go legit. Just ask your local homebrew supply   (npr.org) divider line 80
    More: Interesting, federal law  
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3420 clicks; posted to Main » on 27 Jan 2014 at 5:10 PM (39 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-27 03:41:01 PM  
Hell there is even a tv show about it.

I wonder how they film stuff like that and not get arrested.
 
2014-01-27 04:20:06 PM  

The Stealth Hippopotamus: Hell there is even a tv show about it.

I wonder how they film stuff like that and not get arrested.


It's all staged ahead of time and well scripted.
 
2014-01-27 04:41:11 PM  

Weaver95: The Stealth Hippopotamus: Hell there is even a tv show about it.

I wonder how they film stuff like that and not get arrested.

It's all staged ahead of time and well scripted.


I want to believe that. But it's just too well written. Not that it is high art or anything, I've just seen what pass for scripted tv and I can believe the writers are that original.
 
2014-01-27 05:12:13 PM  
Most hipster's homebrewed chocolate peach oatmeal truffle stout quintuple IPA is pretty bad, but at least it doesn't have the tendancy to make you go blind like poorly made moonshine.
 
2014-01-27 05:15:28 PM  

The Stealth Hippopotamus: Hell there is even a tv show about it.

I wonder how they film stuff like that and not get arrested.


Your kidding right?  Its reality TV.  The only thing real about reality TV is the profit margin.
 
2014-01-27 05:15:50 PM  

lilplatinum: poorly made moonshine


I've had moonshine so smooth you could probably have served it to children and they'd have enjoyed it.

I've also had moonshine that tasted like it was prepared in a used (rusted, uncleaned) car radiator, the kind of spirits you'd use to strip paint.

I really want more of the former and wish I could forget the latter.
 
2014-01-27 05:16:58 PM  
the 21st amendment completely removed federal control of moonshine and all other booze, but the gargantuan enforcement apparatus (ATF) remains, under the ruse of collecting excise tax. any sane reading of the constituion tells ya that making potato vodka etc, at home, for personal use, is legal. its not that hard to do.
 
2014-01-27 05:20:06 PM  
Back in junior high school, I ran a still out of the school chemistry lab, with the full support of my Jr High chemistry teacher.  Even got written up in the school newspaper for it.  Of course, we could do this legally because the teacher insisted I denature the product afterwards--on the record, we were making "aftershave lotion".

Of course, that didn't keep me from taking a few samples of the raw product home for personal testing.
 
2014-01-27 05:21:12 PM  

TheSwissNavy: the 21st amendment completely removed federal control of moonshine and all other booze, but the gargantuan enforcement apparatus (ATF) remains, under the ruse of collecting excise tax. any sane reading of the constituion tells ya that making potato vodka etc, at home, for personal use, is legal. its not that hard to do.


I don't think the feds have a problem with you making moonshine at home, for personal use. The problem is when you sell it and don't pay the tax that legitimate distillers do. Also the legitimate distillers have stuff like quality control and assurances that they won't kill or blind their consumers.
 
2014-01-27 05:21:48 PM  
Deciding whether I'll sip on some homemade (not by me) berry or mint 'brandy' tonight, so I'm getting a kick

/grandfather and great grandfather were moonshiners and bootleggers
 
2014-01-27 05:22:36 PM  
img.photobucket.com


No comment.
 
2014-01-27 05:24:53 PM  
Please don't catch your kitchen on fire.
 
2014-01-27 05:25:43 PM  
I used distill, but I can afford good rum these days.
 
2014-01-27 05:26:07 PM  
www.a1k9.co.uk

Hooch
 
2014-01-27 05:29:41 PM  
You can buy stills here, they are sold for distilling "fuel, essential oils, etc" wink wink, in reality you can brew shine if you have the ability and inclination and as long as you don't go commercial and start selling it or hold block partys with 50 gallon kegs of homebrew on tap, the ATF wont care.

/Amazon.com sells charred oak kegs that are the perfect size for small batch brewing, run some shine, seal it in the cask for at least a year (I have one that has been ageing for 4 years now and has another 16 to go before tapping)
//I would NEVER break a law as necessary and important as keeping people from brewing their own liquor so the states can maintain their sales monopolies...
 
2014-01-27 05:30:04 PM  

uncleacid: [www.a1k9.co.uk image 250x184]

Hooch


What's the Old Man from Pawn Stars got to do with any of this?
 
2014-01-27 05:30:46 PM  

Grote-Man: I don't think the feds have a problem with you making moonshine at home, for personal use.


They most certainly do.
 
2014-01-27 05:32:05 PM  

TheSwissNavy: the 21st amendment completely removed federal control of moonshine and all other booze, but the gargantuan enforcement apparatus (ATF) remains, under the ruse of collecting excise tax. any sane reading of the constituion tells ya that making potato vodka etc, at home, for personal use, is legal. its not that hard to do.


Bullshiat. Bullshiat. Bullshiat.
We actually had a small civil war over the Excise Tax. Remember the Whiskey Rebellion?
It was long before the War of Southern Aggression or Prohibition. It's absolutely constitutional. And one of the reasons it's still on the books is that it's a huge source of revenue.
 
2014-01-27 05:33:47 PM  
Actually, please don't directly ask your local homebrew supply. My local will refuse your business for that just to cover their ass. What they will do is help you along in a *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* sort of way. They've got some of the shiat you need, but they've gotta cover their ass.

Think of saying "moonshine" at a homebrew store like saying "weed" at a head shop. You just don't. You have to dance the dance that keeps what they're selling to you marginally legal.
 
2014-01-27 05:37:44 PM  

lilplatinum: Most hipster's homebrewed chocolate peach oatmeal truffle stout quintuple IPA is pretty bad, but at least it doesn't have the tendancy to make you go blind like poorly made moonshine.


Not exactly. Most of the "going blind and dying from moonshine" is from one of two things.
1) Idiots who run it through a radiator or use lead-soldered fittings
2) The government. During Prohibition denaturants in alcohol went from horrible-tasting to actually deadly by explicit design. There were huge acrimonious debates about it in Congress and the Senate. "Dry" legislators said it served the scofflaws right. And re-purposed industrial alcohol killed or crippled people by the tens of thousands.

If you don't throw away the foreshots, that first awful smelling little bit of the run you can kill yourself. If you leave in too much of the heads and tails you can get quite sick. But it's not rocket science to make decent cuts. And booze that's heavy on the fusel oils and heads smells and tastes awful anyway.
 
2014-01-27 05:38:51 PM  
230 years of everybody trying to make a buck off of sh*t without the government getting their cut.  Not much changed.  You wanna screw the tax man and make billions?  Become a defense contractor with a light bulb division.
 
2014-01-27 05:41:55 PM  
I've talked to a couple dozen small-scale craft distillers. The only ones who didn't start off moonshining were the ones at the McMennamin's distilleries and Clear Creek. Both of them had serious money and formal training first. Most of the moonshiners would like nothing better than to "come in from the cold", pay their taxes and do legitimate business.
 
2014-01-27 05:42:29 PM  

The Stealth Hippopotamus: Hell there is even a tv show about it.

I wonder how they film stuff like that and not get arrested.


Like others have said the show is fake. The ATF also released a statement that confirmed they had no investigations going on.
 
2014-01-27 05:47:01 PM  
The local homebrew shop gets people asking about distilling all the time. Usually, these are people who were inspired by reality TV to make 'shine, None of them so far are terribly bright individuals, and will probably use loads of lead solder in their stills. That, or blow themselves up, burn something down, or make some idiotic wash with loads of impurities in it. Hooray.
 
2014-01-27 05:47:24 PM  
Gather up the pots and the old tin cans,
The mash, the corn, the barley and the bran,
Run like the devil from the excise man,
Keep the smoke from rising, Barney.

/been happening for centuries
//will go on like this for centuries more
 
2014-01-27 05:50:37 PM  
thurstonxhowell:
Think of saying "moonshine" at a homebrew store like saying "weed" at a head shop. You just don't. You have to dance the dance that keeps what they're selling to you marginally legal.

Pretty much. Well, except in Washington and Colorado :)

The same homebrewing shops that won't sell you a still for potable alcohol will gladly sell you one from New Zealand specifically designed for just that. And distiller's yeast. And a whole library of excellent books on how to distill liquor.

When I was in a local distillery talking old "receipts" and flavor extracts with the head distiller a couple groups came in on a tour. One of the home distillers in the bunch was a local cop. It was...interesting. The impression I get from talking to people in the field is that if you keep your damned mouth shut, don't do other crimes, don't sell it and keep the quantities small for personal use you generally aren't worth the TTB's time and effort. Of course, if you're doing other crimes or are selling it or blow shiat up (a still really is an under-control bomb) or brag you will get what you deserve. Most of the moonshining operations that hit the papers are for people who are also selling drugs or who have warrants out or something else. The booze operation is just icing on the cake and a great photo-op for the local sheriff.
 
2014-01-27 05:53:38 PM  
Rule #1. Know what you are doing.

Distilling is an extraction process, it concentrates whatever is in there, good or bad. Be sure to throw out the beginning and end part of the extraction process, whatever is in there is likely to be bad for you and probably tastes terrible.

I have heard in Russia they have community stills, where you can sign up  for a time to use the stills and make your own vodka. Sounds like fun.

/Sometimes it seems like America is not as free as it should be.
 
2014-01-27 05:57:39 PM  

The Stealth Hippopotamus: Hell there is even a tv show about it.

I wonder how they film stuff like that and not get arrested.


That show was a multi-season ad for Tim's business.
 
2014-01-27 05:57:48 PM  
You can make your own beer and wine at home for personal consumption, but not moonshine.  Probably even more stupid than laws against marijuana.
 
2014-01-27 06:00:26 PM  
Pribar:
/Amazon.com sells charred oak kegs that are the perfect size for small batch brewing, run some shine, seal it in the cask for at least a year (I have one that has been ageing for 4 years now and has another 16 to go before tapping)
//I would NEVER break a law as necessary and important as keeping people from brewing their own liquor so the states can maintain their sales monopolies...


People in the profession have done a LOT of research on cask size. Small barrels tend to produce an over-oaked sub-standard whiskey. There are exceptions. YMMV. But that's the general consensus among people who have a ve$ted intere$t in getting their booze to market as quickly as possible. OTOH, think completely toasted or charred "infusion spirals" and "honeycombs" along with agitation can speed things up tremendously. I think it's because you're getting the effects of the char/toasted oak, not the bulk properties of the wood. And on a very small scale a heating/cooling cycle, bubbling oxygen through the barrel or agitation can move things along. That's impractical if you have a couple hundred barrels, doable with four or five.
 
2014-01-27 06:00:33 PM  

ArcadianRefugee: lilplatinum: poorly made moonshine

I've had moonshine so smooth you could probably have served it to children and they'd have enjoyed it.

I've also had moonshine that tasted like it was prepared in a used (rusted, uncleaned) car radiator, the kind of spirits you'd use to strip paint.

I really want more of the former and wish I could forget the latter.


My kidneys hurt for days. I blame the homemade slivovitz from Balkan in-laws of a coworker
 
2014-01-27 06:00:44 PM  

anuran: thurstonxhowell:
Think of saying "moonshine" at a homebrew store like saying "weed" at a head shop. You just don't. You have to dance the dance that keeps what they're selling to you marginally legal.

Pretty much. Well, except in Washington and Colorado :)

The same homebrewing shops that won't sell you a still for potable alcohol will gladly sell you one from New Zealand specifically designed for just that. And distiller's yeast. And a whole library of excellent books on how to distill liquor.



I haven't found this to be the case here in MN. There may be, but the two biggest homebrew shops we have don't carry them, and won't even vaguely talk about distilling. They'll sell distiller's yeast, though. And have a book or two on distilling, but nothing that could constitute anything like a still or still parts. Although there's a funny story about a moonshine wannabe and a wort-chiller going around.
 
2014-01-27 06:06:43 PM  

thurstonxhowell: Actually, please don't directly ask your local homebrew supply. My local will refuse your business for that just to cover their ass. What they will do is help you along in a *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* sort of way. They've got some of the shiat you need, but they've gotta cover their ass.


This.

"My water supply has some impurities and they make my homemade beers taste 'off'.  I'm looking to put together a small evaporation rig to clean the water I use for homebrew. Wink."
 
2014-01-27 06:11:54 PM  

anuran: lilplatinum: Most hipster's homebrewed chocolate peach oatmeal truffle stout quintuple IPA is pretty bad, but at least it doesn't have the tendancy to make you go blind like poorly made moonshine.

Not exactly. Most of the "going blind and dying from moonshine" is from one of two things.
1) Idiots who run it through a radiator or use lead-soldered fittings
2) The government. During Prohibition denaturants in alcohol went from horrible-tasting to actually deadly by explicit design. There were huge acrimonious debates about it in Congress and the Senate. "Dry" legislators said it served the scofflaws right. And re-purposed industrial alcohol killed or crippled people by the tens of thousands.

If you don't throw away the foreshots, that first awful smelling little bit of the run you can kill yourself. If you leave in too much of the heads and tails you can get quite sick. But it's not rocket science to make decent cuts. And booze that's heavy on the fusel oils and heads smells and tastes awful anyway.


Actually if you use the wrong temperature for distilling the line you draw for head/tail can be way-off, making people very sick at a minimum
 
2014-01-27 06:15:18 PM  

mainsail: anuran: thurstonxhowell:
Think of saying "moonshine" at a homebrew store like saying "weed" at a head shop. You just don't. You have to dance the dance that keeps what they're selling to you marginally legal.

Pretty much. Well, except in Washington and Colorado :)

The same homebrewing shops that won't sell you a still for potable alcohol will gladly sell you one from New Zealand specifically designed for just that. And distiller's yeast. And a whole library of excellent books on how to distill liquor.


I haven't found this to be the case here in MN. There may be, but the two biggest homebrew shops we have don't carry them, and won't even vaguely talk about distilling. They'll sell distiller's yeast, though. And have a book or two on distilling, but nothing that could constitute anything like a still or still parts. Although there's a funny story about a moonshine wannabe and a wort-chiller going around.


Well, I have certain cultural advantages living in Oregon. If you can eat or drink it we make it. The microbrew revolution pretty much started here. There's a very active winery scene, three or four award-winning cider makers and a bunch of small commercial meaderies. There's a good dozen craft distilleries within a half-hour's drive.

That's just the professional operations. And most of the people running them started off as amateurs.
 
2014-01-27 06:15:46 PM  

anuran: Pribar:
/Amazon.com sells charred oak kegs that are the perfect size for small batch brewing, run some shine, seal it in the cask for at least a year (I have one that has been ageing for 4 years now and has another 16 to go before tapping)
//I would NEVER break a law as necessary and important as keeping people from brewing their own liquor so the states can maintain their sales monopolies...

People in the profession have done a LOT of research on cask size. Small barrels tend to produce an over-oaked sub-standard whiskey. There are exceptions. YMMV. But that's the general consensus among people who have a ve$ted intere$t in getting their booze to market as quickly as possible. OTOH, think completely toasted or charred "infusion spirals" and "honeycombs" along with agitation can speed things up tremendously. I think it's because you're getting the effects of the char/toasted oak, not the bulk properties of the wood. And on a very small scale a heating/cooling cycle, bubbling oxygen through the barrel or agitation can move things along. That's impractical if you have a couple hundred barrels, doable with four or five.


I only started about 4 years ago, I have 6 kegs ageing, I let 2 of em age for a year in rotation then open em, so far the results haven't been bad and I plan on buying a couple more to let me begin experimenting, the other 4 I plan to open at 5 year intervals to see what happens when ya let em sit for long periods (IE when will they stop mellowing and start going sour) my still is only a 2 gallon one so after I ditch the firstlings and set aside the tail I can fill a 2 liter keg and have a bit left over for playing around with.

/or use in the shop to clean brushes, corroded parts, my intestines.....
 
2014-01-27 06:23:29 PM  

ShadowKamui: anuran: lilplatinum: Most hipster's homebrewed chocolate peach oatmeal truffle stout quintuple IPA is pretty bad, but at least it doesn't have the tendancy to make you go blind like poorly made moonshine.

Not exactly. Most of the "going blind and dying from moonshine" is from one of two things.
1) Idiots who run it through a radiator or use lead-soldered fittings
2) The government. During Prohibition denaturants in alcohol went from horrible-tasting to actually deadly by explicit design. There were huge acrimonious debates about it in Congress and the Senate. "Dry" legislators said it served the scofflaws right. And re-purposed industrial alcohol killed or crippled people by the tens of thousands.

If you don't throw away the foreshots, that first awful smelling little bit of the run you can kill yourself. If you leave in too much of the heads and tails you can get quite sick. But it's not rocket science to make decent cuts. And booze that's heavy on the fusel oils and heads smells and tastes awful anyway.

Actually if you use the wrong temperature for distilling the line you draw for head/tail can be way-off, making people very sick at a minimum


We both know what we're talking about, so I'll say "Yes and No" and we'll both nod our heads without getting too deep into the technical discussion, okay? If you are an idiot about where you make your cuts or don't lute your joints or leave a still unattended or a few other things you can make people sick or institute the innovative "Distillery Without Walls" program.

Of course it goes without saying that any well-designed still will have a thermometer just before the condenser so you can watch the temperature stick and rise as the fraction going over changes.
 
2014-01-27 06:29:07 PM  
Pribar:

I only started about 4 years ago, I have 6 kegs ageing, I let 2 of em age for a year in rotation then open em, so far the results haven't been bad and I plan on buying a couple more to let me begin experimenting, the other 4 I plan to open at 5 year intervals to see what happens when ya let em sit for long periods (IE when will they stop mellowing and start going sour) my still is only a 2 gallon one so after I ditch the firstlings and set aside the tail I can fill a 2 liter keg and have a bit left over for playing around with.

/or use in the shop to clean brushes, corroded parts, my intestines.....


You can get decent rye whiskey after just a year or two, adequate bourbon in three, amber rum somewhere in there with the standard 200 liter barrel.

Now, I haven't done this myself, and no, I'm not just saying it to provide a legal fig-leaf, I really am relying on others' experience. A few home-distilling friends have used glass carboys and put in toasted American White Oak chips or those honeycombs I talked about earlier. They shook the hell out of it every week or so and got really good liquor in about a year.
 
2014-01-27 06:32:13 PM  
If any naive individual is considering this; know what you're doing first. There's a wealth of good information here. Site is in new zealand where it is legal and they seem to know what they're doing.
 
2014-01-27 06:34:25 PM  
My fantasy, if I had the money, would be to make applejack. Laird and Company is the very last commercial applejack distiller in North America. And their product is... not great. Near as I can tell it's less than half fruit brandy. The rest is grain neutral spirits and water.

I'm sitting here in the apple capital of the freaking world. There's one distiller in the area who makes a very good un-aged Calvados. There's a growing number of craft cider makers. But nobody is putting out a barrel-aged apple (or cherry or pear) brandy.
 
2014-01-27 06:38:11 PM  

fasahd: If any naive individual is considering this; know what you're doing first. There's a wealth of good information here. Site is in new zealand where it is legal and they seem to know what they're doing.


Here's another one, the Amphora Society. Their books from  The Compleat Distiller to Designing and Building Automatic Stills (OK, that's probably a bit more than the home moonshiner would be interested in) are excellent.
 
2014-01-27 06:39:41 PM  
It's experiencing explosive growth
 
2014-01-27 06:45:19 PM  
My homebrew supply store has a disclaimer on their stills along the lines of the following "For distillation of water or essential oils only.  All those asking for advice on distilling alcohol will be asked to leave the store, as distillation of alcohol spirits is against federal law"  The larger one includes biodiesel as well.

Then on another wall they have distillation books "For historical research only".

//There is a similar disclaimer regarding marijuana cultivation at the hydroponics/aquarium store
 
2014-01-27 06:49:37 PM  
Home brewing is a great idea - ie, wine and beer. Maybe minus the weird types of wine made from fruit with a high pectin content. Home distilling - aka "moonshine" is a mugs game.

Fark the taxes, it's about the difference between ethyl alcohol and methyl alcohol.

I brew my beer, 60 litres at a time. Pretty small scale but I get top quality for a quarter of the price of the commercial shiat. Maybe 1/6 the price of the boutique stuff that is actually worth drinking.
 
2014-01-27 06:50:27 PM  

anuran: My fantasy, if I had the money, would be to make applejack. Laird and Company is the very last commercial applejack distiller in North America. And their product is... not great. Near as I can tell it's less than half fruit brandy. The rest is grain neutral spirits and water.

I'm sitting here in the apple capital of the freaking world. There's one distiller in the area who makes a very good un-aged Calvados. There's a growing number of craft cider makers. But nobody is putting out a barrel-aged apple (or cherry or pear) brandy.


You need colder winters.  Old school New England Applejack was made by freezing.  Make hard cider and bury it in the snow for six months. As the water freezes, the alcohol content increases.

That's still legal, right?
 
2014-01-27 06:53:35 PM  

DrunkWithImpotence: anuran: My fantasy, if I had the money, would be to make applejack. Laird and Company is the very last commercial applejack distiller in North America. And their product is... not great. Near as I can tell it's less than half fruit brandy. The rest is grain neutral spirits and water.

I'm sitting here in the apple capital of the freaking world. There's one distiller in the area who makes a very good un-aged Calvados. There's a growing number of craft cider makers. But nobody is putting out a barrel-aged apple (or cherry or pear) brandy.

You need colder winters.  Old school New England Applejack was made by freezing.  Make hard cider and bury it in the snow for six months. As the water freezes, the alcohol content increases.

That's still legal, right?


Nope. Freeze distilling is still distilling and illegal without the usual permits. It also concentrates a bunch of the nasty stuff along with the alcohol. Besides, freeze distilling was mostly for home use. Commercial applejack was always distilled the conventional way.
 
2014-01-27 07:38:50 PM  

anuran: People in the profession have done a LOT of research on cask size. Small barrels tend to produce an over-oaked sub-standard whiskey. There are exceptions. YMMV. But that's the general consensus among people who have a ve$ted intere$t in getting their booze to market as quickly as possible. OTOH, think completely toasted or charred "infusion spirals" and "honeycombs" along with agitation can speed things up tremendously. I think it's because you're getting the effects of the char/toasted oak, not the bulk properties of the wood. And on a very small scale a heating/cooling cycle, bubbling oxygen through the barrel or agitation can move things along. That's impractical if you have a couple hundred barrels, doable with four or five.


Several craft distillers I know started with small barrels just to raise the capital needed to stay in business.  Once they got their quality control up and had some money in the bank, they started graduating to larger and larger barrels.

Another I know started with larger barrels, releasing young whiskey (only a year or two of aging) just to stay in business.
 
2014-01-27 07:53:37 PM  
I've wanted to try my hand at distilling ever since I got my hands on a copy of The Foxfire Book

2.bp.blogspot.com

anuran: Nope. Freeze distilling is still distilling and illegal without the usual permits.


Whelp. Guess I'm a felon, then!
 
2014-01-27 07:57:21 PM  

Mein Fuhrer I Can Walk: I've wanted to try my hand at distilling ever since I got my hands on a copy of The Foxfire Book



anuran: Nope. Freeze distilling is still distilling and illegal without the usual permits.

Whelp. Guess I'm a felon, then!


Breaking the law breaking the law.
 
2014-01-27 08:04:47 PM  
Anyone who claims "you'll go blind if you make your own moonshine" is a good source of disinformation.

/Can't really make methanol if you're fermenting sugar.
 
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