Image by Rüdiger from Pixabay

12 Reasons to Not Try Your Hand at Making Moonshine

When you hear the word moonshine, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Do you imagine shadowed figures huddled around a home distillery in the backwoods? Or maybe you instantly picture gangsters and speakeasies during the Prohibition era? 

Whatever the case, even today, moonshine still carries a mixed reputation. Despite a colorful history and reputation, many professional distillers don’t shy away from brewing delicious, high-quality moonshine. So you can avoid the learning curve needed to craft the perfect batch of hooch. Don’t believe us? We listed more than a few reasons to reconsider making moonshine at home. Grab a glass and saddle up.

1. Legal Issues

Believe it or not, some things don’t change regarding legislation surrounding alcohol and making your own liquor and spirits at home. Yes, even if you plan on distilling moonshine at home for personal consumption, it’s still illegal. There are inherent risks if you have your heart set on brewing some hooch to enjoy at home. You need sufficient space with good ventilation and professional distillery equipment and ingredients. The average home is not an ideal space to brew volatile alcohol.

You can try your luck to skirt legislation and gather licenses to brew if you are going to become a professional distiller. But the laws that cover making alcohol vary from state to state. Usually, brewing liquor and spirits is only allowed if you are a professional with valid paperwork. Even if you think yesteryear’s bootleggers during the Prohibition era are your kindred spirits, Johnny Law won’t take kindly to you brewing moonshine at home.

2. Finding Quality Supplies

If you are serious about brewing moonshine at home, be prepared to invest considerable cash into the endeavor. You will have to do your homework and find reputable sources to purchase home distillation equipment. Also, you’ll need different containers to hold your liquor during fermentation, proofing, thermometers, and protective gear. Consider that you’ll need to get the following to get started making moonshine:

  • A fermentation vessel
  • A pot or still
  • A heat source
  • Hydrometer
  • Thermometer
  • Mash ingredients
  • Yeast
  • Water

It’s critical to work in a space with good ventilation and consider how temperature control and humidity will affect the outcome of your moonshine. Don’t be cheap or risk a bad batch of hooch because you took shortcuts with equipment and the setup.

3. Risk Of Explosions

Making moonshine at home is a dangerous business. If you don’t know what you are doing, or even if you do, the risk of an explosion or a fire is real. You can’t rush the process of brewing alcohol. During different stages of making moonshine, you will handle some volatile materials and need to know how to manage them safely.

Err on the side of caution. Take all necessary measures to work safely to prevent fires, explosions, and a visit from the local authorities if you are going to make moonshine. Or better yet, let the professional distillers handle producing moonshine instead of trying to play brewmaster.

4. Choosing Grains For Mash

Indeed, grains are a gift from the gods to humankind. And this is especially so because most whisky has a foundation of a single grain or combination. Traditional brews will stick to a base of corn, rye, barley, or wheat. Creating moonshine using a mix of two types of grain will add to the flavor and depth, improving the drinking experience. However, adventurous distillers might be interested in using alternative grains to create their mash. 

Be advised that working with non-traditional grains may yield tasty, intriguing, or disastrous results. Try your luck making moonshine using oat, millet, or even quinoa. However, the grains you choose to build your mash and foundation for your brew will influence everything about your homemade liquor.

5. Risk Of Botulism

What connoisseur of fine liquors and spirits doesn’t like to walk on the wild side now and then? However, there’s a fine line between living dangerously and seriously risking death. Unfortunately, explosions and fires aren’t the only risks if you plan on making moonshine at home. Homemade moonshine might come with a side of botulism if you aren’t careful.

What’s botulism, and why should you be concerned? If your moonshine has a severe buildup of Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium butyricum, or Clostridium baratii bacteria, it creates dangerous toxins. The toxins produced by these different bacteria can attack your body’s nervous system, causing muscle paralysis, challenges breathing, or even death. You’ll need to test your spirits and follow protocol to prevent the risk of drinking a lethal brew.

6. Methanol Is Not For Drinking

When it comes to drinking alcohol and brewing your own batch of hooch, you only want the good stuff. Methanol is not something to mess around with and could be a novice brewer’s end. At specific points during the process of making moonshine, methanol might be present at dangerously high levels. 

When you use hydrolysis to produce a traditional fermented alcoholic drink like moonshine, during fermentation, methanol is a byproduct. There is usually a small amount of this simple alcohol in liquor and spirits, but it is hazardous in large amounts. If too much methanol is present, your alcohol will likely have an intense chemical odor that is off-putting.

If you want to make moonshine, you are going to have to take things nice and slow. Test your beverage as it develops, don’t rush the process or be too eager to drink your brew too soon. You could pay the ultimate price if you consume a glassful of methanol.

7. Troubleshooting Testing Your Hooch

Brewing alcohol and spirits is a fine art requiring knowledge, experience, and finesse that might appear ridiculously easy. However, if you are new to brewing moonshine and are cutting corners, you might run into problems testing your batch. Why is it essential to test your alcohol? If you want a quality moonshine fit to drink, you want to ensure it has a particular Alcohol By Volume or ABV and a desirable proof. Another concern for distillers is that your homemade spirits might contain hazards that can make you sick or worse.

Why is it essential to understand ABV and the proof as a home distiller? The ABV is the percentage of alcohol spread throughout your liquid beverage. The proof is two times the amount of the ABV. So, if you have a liquor or spirit that is 50% ABV, it should be 100 proof. The higher the proof, the flavor profile should be bolder than a lower-proof beverage.

8. Proper Storage

Unlike scotch whisky or bourbons left to age in wooden barrels, you have to think about the type of containers you’ll need to hold moonshine. Sought-after spirits have that depth of flavor and beauty on your taste buds because of the mash and the storage containers it sits in while it develops. Sorry, but if you are brewing moonshine at home, you might be short on space and might take shortcuts to store your homemade liquor.

Use sterile containers and keep track of the temperature, humidity levels, and the time your moonshine sits around between different stages. The containers and home distillery equipment you use to craft moonshine will impact how it develops and tastes. If you are not methodical or careful when making moonshine, you could end up with a batch that’s unfit to drink.

9. Temperature Control

When producing moonshine at home, you have to create the ideal environment and climate. There are specific temperatures that you need to reach when making alcohol. It’s essential to control the temperature during fermentation, when storing alcohol, and to help it along during various chemical changes. Maintaining a consistent and desirable temperature is a critical element to your success. You’ll want to invest in the proper equipment to monitor temperature and humidity and reduce undesirable conditions that will ruin your moonshine.

10. Patience Is A Virtue

Don’t risk ruining your homemade moonshine, and work smoothly and carefully. Making a tasty alcoholic beverage such as moonshine requires careful deliberation, solid ingredients for your mash, and a lot of patience. If you move too soon to try to drink your libation, you might end up with a swig of methanol, botulism, or another unwanted ingredient. 

Prepare to wait a minimum of three weeks before your moonshine is ready to drink at the earliest. The fermentation process might take four to five days, up to a week, depending on the type of yeast you use. Fortune favors the patient in the business of distilling spirits. Good things take time to develop, and moonshine is no exemption.

11. Risk Of A Bad Batch

Some people venturing into making their own alcohol might have beginner’s luck, but it’s not likely. When you start making your own moonshine, expect a lot of trial and error, and you can’t expect your first batch to be perfect. So, what does this mean? If there’s one reason to pass on building a home distillery to make moonshine, it’s because of all the bad batches. You will likely have to throw out most of your homemade alcohol as you learn the ropes.

You will likely make mistakes during the fermentation stage, with temperature control, or skip steps, thinking it will help speed things along. It’s also possible to follow a careful process, and things still go awry, and you have to throw out your hooch. Avoid the stress and heartache caused by brewing a bad batch, and enjoy a glass of moonshine brewed by the pros.

12. Quality & Taste

After investing considerable time, money, and effort into brewing a batch of moonshine at home, you hope it’s all worth it. There’s nothing worse than pouring a glass of moonshine to discover it’s pure swill and undrinkable. The quality and taste of your moonshine will be affected by the following, so take care:

  • Add ingredients that enhance the flavor profile, such as caramelizing your sugar before distillation.
  • Use more than one grain to develop your mash.
  • Add some fruit to increase the proof of your alcohol.
  • Be mindful of your storage container and the elapsed time to age your moonshine properly.

Any discerning drinker worth their salt might pass on trying to brew alcohol at home and let the pros focus on crafting moonshine instead. Respect the art and craft of distilling spirits, as it takes years to become a master distiller and brewmaster.

To Wrap Things Up Nice & Neat

We provided more than a few reasons to hold off if you had any reservations about whether it is dangerous to make your own moonshine at home. You might be able to pull off a miracle and craft a delicious, intense batch of homemade whisky. But there are some serious risks attached to distilling homemade liquor. 

If you’re not careful, you could become gravely ill or end up on the wrong side of the law because of your homemade moonshine. Leave the making of liquor and spirits to the experts. More than enough dedicated, professional distilleries brew excellent, high-quality moonshine to satisfy your thirst.

Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.