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July 31, 2008 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find good information about making hard alcohol at home?

I live in a smallish apartment and would like to try my hand and making small batches of hard alcohol. I'm not too worried about legal issues (I'm not going to be selling anything and it would be very small scale), but I am worried about making a huge mess. I've never tried making beer before, it just seemed like too much work for the results, but for some reason making moonshine sounds like it could be fun. Has anyone tried it? Is there a good website for finding more information? At the very least where is a good source for parts/literature? My online searches have gone nowhere, but that could be because I'm not actually sure what the search for.
posted by aspo to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1 - 10 of about 380,000
posted by pompomtom at 10:06 PM on July 31, 2008

Some people use a counter top water distiller from Sears. Distilled beer is whisky, distilled wine is brandy,a second distillation increases proof.
posted by hortense at 10:17 PM on July 31, 2008

pompomtom: wow I feel stupid. I thought I searched on that!
posted by aspo at 10:19 PM on July 31, 2008

Never forget that ethanol is flammable, and that you're basically dealing with a lot of ethanol vapor that, if all goes well, will recondense where you want it to. Keep an eye on stuff & keep a fire extinguisher around. Be especially careful with 2nd & 3rd distillations, because you're heating up something that's already pretty flammable.

Honestly, though, beer's a lot of fun, and not nearly as legally or physically dangerous. You should really give it a try, since you'll have to have basically all the equipment anyway for the wort/mash.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:29 PM on July 31, 2008

Do you understand that unlicensed distillation of spirits is illegal everywhere in the United States?
posted by nanojath at 11:05 PM on July 31, 2008

(Sorry, I guess you do... I would review the actual penalties even so. It only takes one unforeseen event to render the question non-theoretical, although I supposed that the odds of getting busted for countertop scale distillation are quite low).
posted by nanojath at 11:07 PM on July 31, 2008

posted by hortense at 11:56 PM on July 31, 2008

posted by dforemsky at 2:24 AM on August 1, 2008

There are some good links in this Wired article from a few weeks back.
posted by sanko at 6:10 AM on August 1, 2008

The Home Distiller forums, also mentioned in that Wired article, are full of knowledgeable folks.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:23 AM on August 1, 2008

Distilled beer is whisky

In what universe?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:15 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

In what universe?

This one.

"Whiskey is essentially distilled beer," Krogstad says. "That's an oversimplification, but basically, it's true."

"Whiskey is distilled beer. Without the hops, obviously," he says. "You make a mash and you ferment it and instead of drinking it down as beer, you distill it."

"For the first two days of processing, beer and whisky are identical."

"Their product is made with malt and other grains (usually corn or rye), producing a beer that is distilled to make a whiskey of 80 percent alcohol content by volume."

More on topic, you can try freeze-distillation as an easy entry point. I did some with a nasty batch of homebrew hard cider, and I managed to get a jelly jar full of Applejack out of a gallon of frozen cider. It smelled like Apples and rubbing alcohol, but I didn't get to drink it, as when I attempted to filter it through my brita, it picked up all kinds of nastiness from the filter. I've considered just buying a case of cheap beer and freeze-distilling it, just for grins. I think it'd make you one nasty whiskey, but it'd be fun.
posted by god hates math at 8:33 AM on August 1, 2008

[few comments removed - fighty nomenclature arguments go to metatalk or email, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:00 AM on August 1, 2008

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