Moonshine Making: the Right Way
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Hello everyone and welcome to Moonshine Making... the Right Way: The 27 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Making Moonshine.
My name is Steven Shine and over the course of these videos, we’ll cover the top, most-frequently asked questions people ask about making moonshine.
We’ll list each of the 27 top asked questions in the beginning of each video and then we’ll answer them one by one.
We’ll outline exactly what it takes to get started and how to continue on and become truly skilled at this wonderful hobby.
That said, I want to take a step back and give you a little more complete overview of this course, what we’ll cover, and why exactly I’m sharing this information with you.
First off, my name once again is Steven Shine.
I’ve spent the last dozen years learning exactly how to make great tasting home distilled alcohol.
I’ve read every book on the subject. I’ve scoured the internet and read every article, every forum, and I’ve watch every instructional video.
And then I’ve compared it to real life and real, time tested and proven practices. And you know what?
I’ve found that there is tons of misinformation and straight out and out lies being pushed.
I’d say the ratio of bad—and often dangerous—information to good information is around 100 to 1.
And that’s being very conservative!
It seems like in the last few years, there’s been an explosion in interest in making moonshine.
And with that, a complete and utter explosion in misinformation, lies, and terrible and dangerous information being pushed by people who either don’t really know what they’re doing when it comes to making real moonshine… or worse, have an agenda in misleading you.
The truth is you’ve been straight up LIED to.
We’ll expose all of this misinformation and replace it with good information, methods, concepts, and practices.
That said, let me spend a minute talking about who this course is for.
This course is for anyone that has any interest in making moonshine the right way.
It’s for those who may have tried in the past and have failed through no fault of their own, solely because they’ve received bad advice, overly complicated instructions, or have been mislead and lied to about just how to make moonshine the right way.
It’s also for people who want to be prepared in the event that the “you know what” hits the fan.
We live in a dangerous world right now… a world where any number of things can happen that can put you, your family, and your loved ones in harm’s way.
In the event of an emergency, having the ability to distill alcohol cheaply and effectively might just be the most valuable resource you can have.
In such an emergency, your distilled alcohol can become an extremely valuable thing…
Something that can be used for medical supplies, as fuel for transportation and electricity generation, or enjoyed as something that can bring some “normalcy” into your’s or others’ lives.
Moonshine, especially quality moonshine, might just become the most valuable commodity there is.
And this course will show you the right way to make it…
Safely, cheaply, and relatively easily.
So with that… let’s get this course started and answer these top 27 questions.
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|Section 1: Introduction & Course Overview|
Introduction & Course Overview
|Section 2: Starting Out Questions|
Here’s the quick two minute run down of how moonshine is made.
Moonshine is simply home distilled alcohol.
Basically, moonshine starts off as a combination of water, sugar (whether that’s processed table sugar, raw sugar with molasses, or sugar converted from grain), and yeast.
In the process of fermentation, the yeast consume the sugars and produce ethanol and carbon dioxide as a byproduct...
Getting started making moonshine at home is easy.
You probably have enough fermentables in your house right now, just sitting there unused, to make your first couple of runs, at least.
To start off, all you really need is something to ferment your moonshine washes in (could be a food safe plastic bucket from Lowes)…
Some fermentable sugar (table sugar will do the trick), some cracked corn, oats, or other grains for yeast nutrient (even stale cereal can be used for this)…
And some baker’s yeast you can get at pretty much any grocery store on the cheap (you probably already have some in your refrigerator right now… all you need is a little more than a pinch)...
For beginners, it’s honestly not very hard.
If you could combine 5 gallons of warm water, sugar, and some cracked corn with some readily available baker’s yeast and let it sit for 4 days to a week…
…you’re already about halfway toward having some delicious moonshine.
After letting the recipe above fully ferment, if you could adjust a propane burner so that the condensed liquid coming out of a still is the size of a pencil tip or a broken stream, you already have what it takes to make moonshine...
Yes! The answer to that is a resounding yes.
In fact, once you’ve made your first handful of batches or less, you’ll find that the product you’ll be making is superior to the spirits you can buy at the store.
All made at a fraction of the price.
That’s the beauty of this hobby.
One major drawback is that it takes some time to do.
If you don’t have time for a new hobby, then you should probably think twice about getting started in this one.
On the other hand, it really doesn’t take up that much time to do.
Plus, it’s an incredibly enjoyable, fun, and fulfilling hobby.
Another drawback is that this hobby takes up space.
Not a lot of space, but some.
The biggest overall mistake beginning distillers make is “learning” this craft from the wrong sources.
Just because you see something on TV or on YouTube doesn’t mean that it’s correct.
I see a lot of disinformation and plain out terribly wrong advice being doled out by people on TV, YouTube, local home brew stores, and other places.
In this video, we'll cover a few more...
|Section 3: General Questions|
It’s almost that simple.
Yeast can’t survive on and process sugar water alone.
Yeast need nutrients.
The great part though is that they really don’t need all that much and you probably have enough sitting in your kitchen cabinet right now to make at least your first few ferments.
Yeast can get their needed nutrients from a number of sources.
Yes! It’s actually the greatest, most fulfilling, and most enjoyable hobby there is, by far. But that’s just my opinion, anyway.
But note the word “hobby.” Because that’s what this is.
If you’re planning on using your newly acquired moonshining skills to make a boatload of money, I have three words for you:
Don’t do it!
Not at all.
It’s actually pretty easy to make, even starting from scratch with no still.
First, let’s talk about the actual making of moonshine and then we can talk stills.
The only equipment you need to get started making moonshine is a 5 gallon or more food safe bucket or otherwise food safe container.
It can be an igloo cooler, a big pot, or even a clean food safe garbage can.
That’s about all the equipment you need to get started making your basic sugarhead moonshine.
There are a ton of benefits to making your own moonshine.
Here’s a quick list:
6. A valuable skill in an emergency
With a little bit of practice, you’ll get better and better at making cuts of the various fractions of your distillate.
Simply put, you’ll be creating better and better quality product—product that is cleaner and that contains less of the heads fraction.
The heads fraction is the one that contains the nasty chemicals like methanol and acetone that cause hangovers.
More heads means more chemicals and more of a chance you’ll get a hangover from drinking.
Less heads means cleaner and purer distillate and less chemicals, giving you much less of a chance of getting a hangover from drinking it.
Odds are, the answer for you is NO.
Unless you happen to live in New Zealand or some other area where home distillation is legal, you probably can’t legally make moonshine at home.
I’m not a lawyer and cannot offer any legal advice.
It would be very smart to find out the laws of your area.
Ignorance of the law is never a good defense.
That said, if you happen to live in an area where home distillation is illegal, you’d be smart to not make it at all.
|Section 4: Recipe & Fermenting Questions|
The biggest mistake I beginners make is in not understanding the process of fermentation or conversion.
Here’s the basic process of all grain whiskey making.
All grain moonshine whiskey is made by a process of converting the starches in the grain into sugar.
This process is called mashing.
The sugar is then consumed by yeast during fermentation.
As a result, the yeast produce ethanol and carbon dioxide.
The problem most beginners have is in the mashing stage.
Before I answer this, I want to say this one thing:
Most beginners find themselves too caught up in recipes and recipe development before they even get an understanding of what it is they are doing.
This is a gigantic mistake.
That said, when you start making your first batches of moonshine, it’s important to pick and use a tried, tested, and proven recipe and then stick with it.
You’d be amazed by how many people can’t do this and wind up failing.
One last word of advice: most of the “recipes” you’ll find on the internet are flat out bad, make terrible tasting distillate, or even worse, are so poorly thought out ingredient-wise, that they won’t ever finish fermenting.
All grain whiskeys, as the name suggests, are made with grain exclusively via the mashing process.
During mashing, malted grain is used to convert the starches in the grain into sugars.
These sugars are then consumed by yeast who process them into ethanol and carbon dioxide during fermentation.
The presence of certain enzymes in the malted grain is what is responsible for conversion of starch to sugar.
“Sugarhead” is a term for a type moonshine made with sugar instead of the sugars produced by malt’s enzymatic conversion.
If you’re making a simple sugarhead “whiskey,” where sugar is used as the main fermentable ingredient for making ethanol, like most beginners start off making, here’s what you’ll need:
For starters, you’ll need some sugar.
Shop around for it. You’ll find different places have different prices and run sales at different times.
|Section 5: Still Questions|
There are more than a few types of stills, but most can be boiled down to being pot stills, reflux stills, or hybrid stills.
Pot stills are the easy stills to make and run.
They produce flavored spirits like whiskey, brandy, and rum.
Reflux stills produce higher proof alcohol and are typically used to make neutral spirits, vodka, and gins.
But don’t worry, you can use a pot still to make vodka or gin and you can use a reflux still to make whiskey, rum, or brandy.
Hybrid stills are hybrids of both pot stills and reflux stills.
Building your first still is not a very hard process.
It’s actually pretty easy, fun, and rewarding to do.
The only equipment you need to build your very own still is a cheap handheld torch and lead-free solder.
By building your own still, you know all the material used in building it, you can build a better, more durable still that’s better suited to your needs, and you can do it for much less money than if you bought it from someone else.
For those reasons, most home distillers choose to build their own stills.
Yes! You really can.
That is if you have a little bit of patience or a small amount skill.
Making a still can be easy, especially if you’re starting off by making a simple pot still.
To build a pot still all you really need is some copper pipes and fittings, some lead-free solder, and a cheap handheld torch you can get at most hardware stores inexpensively....
This one is pretty simple.
But first, let’s talk about the supplies you need to build a simple pot still.
For one, you need a boiler.
This can be a large stainless steel stock pot, one of those old fashioned stainless steel milk cans, a stainless steel keg, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make a boiler yourself from a sheet of copper or stainless steel.
You can get these pretty much anywhere.
Packing is something used in a fractioning still to cause multiple distillations occur while the alcohol is being refluxed.
It is not needed and produces no desirable results in a pot still.
It will not and cannot give you higher proof moonshine.
Many people who begin this great hobby of making moonshine find themselves under the wrongheaded misconception that packing will give them higher proof alcohol coming off of their pot still.
|Section 6: Questions About Common Misconceptions|
This is a very common misconception and completely unfounded nonsense.
If you made moonshine yourself, using some combination of water, grains, sugar, and yeast for fermentation…
…then running it through a still made with copper or stainless steel and lead free solder, then you have absolutely no risk of going blind.
This is kind of a trick question.
And here’s why…
To produce ethanol, there are two major components needed: sugar and yeast.
Yeast is the thing that converts the sugar into ethanol and CO2.
Without yeast, there’s nothing to turn that sugar into alcohol.
Now I know what you might be saying right now:
“The guy on TV said I don’t need yeast, that yeast is what gives you hangovers, and that all you need to malted corn.”
And that’s misleading on many levels.
Unless you want to make fuel—and even then—turbo yeast should be avoided.
Most people that get started in making moonshine don’t understand the basic principles behind making good drinking liquor.
There’s no shame in that; we’ve all been there.
The problem is that the people looking to make money off of your beginner status know this too.
So with that, they try to maximize the amount of money they can extract from your wallet by selling you things you don’t need–like turbo yeast.
When you’re making moonshine of any kind, whether that’s whiskey, brandy, or rum, proper cuts need to be made to ensure you end up with the best possible tasting finished product.
Contrary to what some beginners (and sadly some “experienced” stillers) may think, not everything that comes off the still is fit for consumption or makes as good drink.
When making moonshine, there are four distinct fractions that come off the still.
In order, they are: Foreshots, Heads, Hearts, Tails
Making cuts is what separates these fractions from each other, giving you the best possible tasting liquor.
Is it safe?
That depends on your definition of safe.
There’s physical safety and legal safety.
And as with anything in life, there are some risks.
Such is the nature of living.
However you see that these risks are very small, especially if you do things properly.
Upfront, your still will not blow up if it is built properly, with an opening to the atmosphere outside of the still and no pressure building up.
You should never have any pressure build up at all in your still.
You do not need a thermometer for your pot still and using one can cause some major problems and headaches and will be of very limited to no use for you.
The biggest mistake I see beginning distillers make is trying to run a pot still by temperature.
This is completely wrong and will produce terrible results.
Pot stills are properly run by heat input, not temperature.
If you want the distillate to come out faster, then turn up the heat on your heating source.
If you want it to come out slower, then turn down the heat.
It’s really that simple.
|Section 7: Conclusion & Course Wrap-up|
Congratulations on finishing this course on Moonshine Making!
Thank you being here and following through.
If you’ve gone through this course on the 27 most frequently asked questions about making moonshine, you now have what it takes to make great tasting, inexpensive moonshine… the right way.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to drop me a line or start a discussion in the course dashboard.
As well, if you can please find the time, I’d greatly appreciate any feedback you might have and an honest review of the course.
I’ll be here, closely monitoring this course and answering any and all questions you may have.
Just remember, there really are no stupid questions.
If you have any… just ask.
Once again, thank you for taking this course.
I hope you’ve enjoyed it even halfway as much as I have making it.
And really… if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate and fire away.
This has been Moonshine Making: The 27 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Making Moonshine.
I’m Steven Shine and thanks for being here.
My name is Steven Shine and for the past dozen or so years I've had one thing on my mind more than anything else...
And that's making the finest quality distilled liquor you can find anywhere.
You see, making moonshine is not just an art; it's a science.
And like with all sciences, "experiments" made in moonshining can be repeated and tested further.
Anyone can make great tasting moonshine, and everyone can make liquor that's better tasting than what you'll find in a store.
It's my job to teach you exactly how.
And if you have an open ear and are ready to throw out all the things you may have heard in the past... that is exactly what you'll be doing in no time flat!