Free the 'Shine! Why it's finally time to legalize liquor

Discuss

81 Responses to “Free the 'Shine! Why it's finally time to legalize liquor”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Reading the comments in this article remind me of all the gif’s of people doing burning everclear shots. The schadenfreude is so great when I watch them. I digress. Now imagine your whole backyard aflame like the faces of the young men who do them. :D

    Won’t be legalized, not because of the safety concerns, which many point out are minor, but because there aren’t that many people who care if it’s legal. If you’ve got a little still in your basement, no one is ever going to know about. It’s not like a grow op or anything like that.

  2. Rider says:

    There are so many crazy laws about alcohol in the US. Not being able to sell alcohol on Sunday is insane. Forcing stores to build separate liquor stores insane.

  3. Anonymous says:

    From what I understand, distilling spirits can be a dangerous activity. Not only can the thing explode, but the product can be contaminated. One should at least have to have a license and be inspected, IMO.

  4. thebelgianpanda says:

    After reading through the linked article about how homebrewing became legal in the US, I have little hope that distilling ever will. Up or down votes in the house and senate? Not gonna happen with something as burned into the American psyche as moonshining. Then again, in 2006 I said I’d eat my hat if Obama was elected (I was just cynical, and now I have one less hat).

  5. publanski says:

    My brother-in-law was making moonshine from fermented potatoes and apples (not mixed) a few years ago when he thought the laws were similar to making home brew, and it was okay to make some for yourself if you didn’t sell it. (Oops) He bought the stuff to make a homemade still on ebay. He was getting some incredibly strong, pure alcohol, especially if he ran it through twice. Really smooth.

    Nothing was better than sitting in his basement on a Saturday night, distilling, sipping, and talking. Unless we augmented the evening with some of my homegrown, which will probably legal before the moonshine.

  6. Mitch says:

    There must be a lot of ignoring of home distilling by authorities. Some web sites sell stills and extracts for flavoring your distilled beverage, as well as yeasts meant specifically for mash that will be distilled.

    • thebelgianpanda says:

      Any store that sells stills, even if legal in the state, is legally required to keep information about the sale in case federal agents need it. I doubt most homebrew shops keep perfect records, and I have never heard of someone being busted because of that, it’s just another risk.

      And my personal mantra? Don’t break the law, don’t be greedy, don’t be stupid. Don’t break the law, don’t be greedy, don’t be stupid. Don’t break the law, don’t be greedy, don’t be stupid. :)

  7. sdmikev says:

    Hell, if BJ and Hawkeye could safely make shine in The Swamp, I’d think just about anyone could.. :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    That lab grade 190 proof CH2-CH2-OH, while tempting to drink would be a bad idea. They spike it with phenolphthalein. This is the chemical they use when going acid/base titrations to see when the pH goes to netrual. The other effect: great laxative. My chem prof told us a story about how they would distill the lab alchohol to get rid of the phenolphthalein. They knew when they didn’t quite get it right :-)

  9. mgfarrelly says:

    Perhaps I’m missing something here, but if Micro-shiners popped up all over, selling their product, wouldn’t that generate tax revenue?

    As opposed to expensive DEA/ATF/FBI investigations and raids that cost the government money?

    Also, if someone really was making something poisonous, they’d be pretty easy to track down. Like the old “razor blades in candy” myth about Halloween.

    I’m a teetotaler, so I don’t have a dog (or a drink) in this fight. Save feeling that people should be free to make and enjoy a drink if they so please. After all, the “Founding Fathers” made their own shine, why can’t we?

  10. Anonymous says:

    A curious thought, however, is this.

    Where is the need? Or more appropriately, why do people want to do this sort of thing?

    Sure, there are some studies saying alcohol has medical benefits. This is somewhat true, in certain cases. A glass of wine every evening can be healthy for a responsible drinker whose heritage has them coming from an alcohol-consuming culture.

    Then again, it might not be anywhere near as healthy if that glass of wine is replaced by a can of beer, or a snifter of brandy, or a shot of moonshine. And it certainly becomes more complex looking at anyone with a genetic heritage which isn’t alcohol tolerant, such as native americans. I’d be curious to see how more diverse study groups would affect findings on the health benefits of alcohol.

    I’m all for people being allowed to produce their own goods for their own consumption. But alcohol now exists purely as a recreational drug, and in such cases there are greater factors at play.

    Really, the reason why alcohol is treated so laxly today is that it was grandfathered into western legal systems by its longstanding status in western culture and society. Alcohol was a daily part of survival for many western cultures, providing a replacement for potable water which was largely unavailable for countless centuries. In contrast, newer drugs which are less engrained in the dominant culture and history of the west are treated much more harshly.

    Alcohol is one of the more destructive drugs out there. Just take a look at the numbers available regarding things like driving accidents, domestic abuse, and violent confrontations. Alcohol features significantly.

    Here’s a parallel for you. Tobacco? Disgusting and polluting, but arguably less destructive. Marijuana? Far cleaner and harmful than even tobacco. Yet one is legal and the other is not. Why? Because tobacco has been a major industry for centuries and marijuana is only a recent development. Better the evil you know than the lesser you don’t?

    So let’s consider: suppose we allow people to freely and readily make and consume alcohol. Why, then, don’t we allow them to make and consume heroine or cocaine? Where does one draw the line? How does one quantify or qualify the differences in risk between those substances? Why is a drunkard more socially acceptable than a junky? Simply because we’ve had drunkards around for longer?

    ~D. Walker

  11. Gregory Bloom says:

    For anyone interested in learning about this fine hobby, I strongly recommend “Making Pure Corn Whiskey: A Professional Guide For Amateur And Micro Distillers” by Ian Smiley: http://amzn.to/9vZtcX

    Whipping up a batch of good smooth shine is pretty easy. Making damn fine whiskey is a bit more challenging. This is a hobby that is easy to begin, hard to finish. There’s just always some new tweak to try.

  12. Clifton says:

    Like the 1920s? Consider the military suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion, 1794.

    I think it’s mostly about the power to tax.

    (To be fair, that overstates continuity of policy as the whiskey tax was repealed around 1800 and wasn’t reinstated for a long time.)

  13. ackpht says:

    In college my pre-med roomie brought home 190-proof ethanol to clean the heads on our tape decks. My understanding was that as soon as you opened the bottle it absorbed moisture from the air; that’s what limited the proof number to 190 and not 200. These days I use ethanol to clean laser optics.

    I’ve never had the slightest inclination to drink the stuff, tho.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Distilling your own alcohol is legal in New Zealand. How about that?

  15. luthier58 says:

    Just FYI, the Yahoo “New Distillers” group has over 4000 members. Undoubtedly many are lurkers, but a little reading indicates that a lot of those folks really are doing it. And that’s just Yahoo.

    It’s so tiresome reading the “but why would anyone want to do that?” comments. Why would anyone want to make beer, or wine, or cheese, or sausage, or guitars, or program computers (for fun), or build a boat? You can BUY all that stuff, why bother making your own? For that matter, why would anyone want to cook? There are restaurants everywhere.

    It’s part of what makes us human, the drive to do it ourselves. Maybe it’ll be worse, it could be much better, it can certainly be different (try to find an apricot/kiwi/blackberry eau-de-vie at your local liqour store). Mostly, it’ll be all yours.

  16. Bevatron Repairman says:

    Home brewing wasn’t illegal at the federal level. Rather, it was subject to federal excise tax even in very very small quantities. The tax code was changed during the Carter years to make home brewing for personal use (up to something like 100 gallons per person per household per year) tax free.

  17. jspy777 says:

    Good evening, dear moonshine connoisseurs.

    My name is Julie. I am an animation grad student at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I am doing my Masters Thesis on Moonshine and the Prohibition. I am looking to learn everything I can on this magic elixir. I would much appreciate any suggestions and references you may all have to offer on the subject. With your help, I hope to bring this long outlawed spirit onto ceter stage where he can truly shine. :)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Are you the Beer Baron?

  19. Ingmar says:

    Most countries would just grant a small tax-free batch for personal use (over here it’s the equivalent of 15 liters / 4 gallons of pure alcohol) and tax the rest accordingly.

  20. Atomboy says:

    It’s funny to consider that this is a law put in place after the 1790′s when farmers launched a “Whiskey Rebellion” over taxation of finished product. Distillation allowed transportation of a corn product over long distances on a crude transportation infrastructure. Innovation on the part of yeoman farmers crushed by larger government entities.

  21. mdh says:

    It looks like that home distillation rig could get dozens and dozens of non-tax-paying customers properly liver-cirossing drunk every day. I think that’s quite a bit different from the 50 beers I can churn out every 5 weeks.

  22. Camp Freddie says:

    It’ll never be allowed due to health and safety concerns, even assuming that the methanol myth is busted and that the majority of the populace supported home-distilling.

    Pressure isn’t an issue, but generating highly flammable vapours is a big problem. It’d be illegal for the same reason that only professionals are allowed to install gas boilers (I assume that’s the case in the USA, I’m British).
    Sure, it can be done safely, but it’s far more dangerous than a jar of slightly warm yeast/sugar solution.
    Ideally you’d be able to get a home-distilling licence by passing some basic test and demonstrating that you had the space/equipment to do it safely (old car radiator + terrace-house basement = do not want), but I don’t think there’s any political will to do it.

  23. AGC says:

    In northern climates more lake water evaporation happens in the winter than the summer because of the differences between the lake’s water temperature and the temp of the air – less energy is needed to change states. I’m wondering if it would be cheaper to produce ethanol in very cold climates.

    Also the last post on boingboing about food was how to make ginger ale, with a warning posted that leaving the concoction too long to ferment will produce a high alcohol content. So to skip along to the natural conclusion of this boingboing fixation this might be easiest still to make http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/moon1.html let me know how it goes.

  24. cmuwriter says:

    A few comments mentioned people actually having quart jars of moonshine. I am just wondering, how much does one pay for a quart of this stuff? Is it a lot cheaper to buy (illegally of course) than a regular quart or fifth bottle of spirits?

  25. Andrea James says:

    You never come back from Copperhead Road!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvaEJzoaYZk

  26. nutbastard says:

    Hermes: “Yah Mon! You got to legalize it!”

    Leela: “…We’re talking about home distilling.”

    Hermes: “We’re talking about lots of things!”

  27. fantasygoat says:

    Once again I’m ahead of the curve on hipster cool – I was distilling my own ‘shine years ago. The really fun part comes from aging the raw ethanol – turning throat-searing 95% swill into sweet whiskey by using white oak.

    I looked into opening a legal distillery here in Canada and the laws are written in such a way that you’d need hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for permits, etc. Definitely not for the hobbyist.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Once again I’m ahead of the hipster curve” — nope, you’re right where you’re supposed to be, you hipster.

  28. StDoodle says:

    Well, I can understand not treating homebrew liquor exactly the same as homebrew beer, as there really are significantly higher risks for creating something innocuously deadly. But that SHOULD just mean that more regulation / safety requirements are required, NOT outright illegality. But then, what kind of country would this be if our laws regarding any kind of drug were sane?

    • danfan says:

      That’s actually a myth. I’ve talked to a number of craft distillers about this subject, and the truth is that it’s very hard to make something that can actually do you harm.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Distilling Moonshine = illegal
    Distilling Alternative Fuel = legal

    Anybody care to help me evaluate my alternative fuel?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s still very difficult to do legally, and even if you do manage to open up your own little ethanol factory you have to add 2-5% gasoline immediately to denature it.

  30. Aloisius says:

    Oh how I wish we could make brandy of the level of cognac by allowing individual winemakers to make their own brandy and then blending it.

    Free the distillate!

  31. AlanJCastonguay says:

    Somebody in this sounds like Joshua Jackson?

  32. Antinous / Moderator says:

    No spirits allowed beyond this point

    I hate the living.

  33. jtf says:

    Some years ago I took a look at my lab’s storage room (this was during undergrad) and found a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL 8-foot tall 10 tray glass column. I took a look at the producer’s specs and did some quick calculations and figured out that I could pretty much hook it up to my radiator to provide the heat necessary for evaporating the liquid.

    Never did work up the guts to take it for a spin, but I’ve been interested in homebrew for some time and yearn to apply my chemical engineering education to something that I can, ah, enjoy more tangibly.

  34. Guairdean says:

    The chances for making a dangerous product do exist, but it all depends on the person making the “moonshine”. The fear that you’ll make wood alcohol (methanol) instead of grain alcohol (ethanol) is somewhat unfounded. Fermentation doesn’t produce toxic amounts of methanol, and most of those are removed during distillation but still exist in beer and wine. The most common unwanted product of home distillation is fusel alcohol. That’s what gives you a bad hangover. The next largest problem are the additives (including pure methanol if the moonshiner is unscrupulous) that are used to flavor the end product. These can release unintended compounds. Careful home distillation will produce a relatively safe product, but it’s also a product that can’t be taxed. That’s the real reason it’s illegal.

    • danfan says:

      Hit the nail right on the head. It’s all about the loss of tax revenue.

    • noah django says:

      As far as pure chemistry is concerned, I defer to your authority. In practical terms, the easiest, cheapest, and most readily available way for a hillbilly distiller to condense the shine was to run it through an old car radiator, which begat plenty lead poisoning and god knows what-all else. Probably more than a few psycho-redneck stories could be attributed to this, I bet. Not quite ancient Rome, but who knows?

      Anyway, living in Knoxville through the 90s, it was not so uncommon to see a mason jar of shine on top of the fridge in many an apartment. It’s a fun, crazy drunk, but a single shot pretty much puts you over your limit without you realizing it. From there on it is a descent into madness. But then again, so what?

      I’m sure home distillers would make some awesome craft spirits that would be a little more stable if given the chance. Let ‘em, I say!

  35. ultranaut says:

    I used to live with some guys who made moonshine pretty regularly. They weren’t quite hipsters, but they definitely weren’t hicks.

  36. nutbastard says:

    @DWalker:

    Sigh.

    “Where is the need?” – Where is the need to show need? Where is the need for skydiving or skateboards? Where is the need for Gourmet dining or amusement parks?

    “it might not be anywhere near as healthy if that glass of wine is replaced by a can of beer, or a snifter of brandy, or a shot of moonshine”

    Ethanol is ethanol is ethanol. If you want to impose healthiness on people, then you want to ban cheeseburgers and bacon, and I will in fact kill you, sir, if you try to take such things from me.

    “I’m all for people being allowed to produce their own goods for their own consumption. But alcohol now exists purely as a recreational drug, and in such cases there are greater factors at play.”

    Your vaguey scariness is vaguely scary.

    “Really, the reason why alcohol is treated so laxly today is that it was grandfathered into western legal systems”

    Alcohol is treated ‘laxly’ because it’s entirely impossible to prohibit in anything less than an Orwellian society. Fruit rots. Rotting fruit contains alcohol. Ta-da! You don’t want to ban fruit, do you??

    “In contrast, newer drugs which are less engrained in the dominant culture and history of the west are treated much more harshly.”

    Marijuana use dates back thousands of years, as does the use of mushrooms, DMT (ayahuasca) cocaine, opium… the only ‘new’ recreational drugs under the sun are synthetic amphetamines, tranquilizers and psychedelics.

    “Tobacco… Marijuana… Yet one is legal and the other is not. Why? Because tobacco has been a major industry for centuries and marijuana is only a recent development.”

    I can’t even fucking reply to this one. Oh wait:

    “what you have just said is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    “suppose we allow people to freely and readily make and consume alcohol. Why, then, don’t we allow them to make and consume heroine or cocaine?”

    HOLY CHRIST FINALLY YOU’VE SAID SOMETHING THAT MAKES SENSE!

    …except you were being facetious. Damn.

    • noah django says:

      Seconding everything you said. Thank you, sir.

      also, any attempt to cheat–especially with my wife… who is a dirty, dirty tramp–and I am just gonna snap.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Legalization’s not going to happen — not in our lifetime — for a whole variety of practical reasons. It would be a violation of every international trade agreement that we have. The U.S. would turn into an enormous moonshine still. There’d be people pouring in from all over the world to buy moonshine here to take to their countries to sell illegally, so we’d be ostracized by every other country in the world. That’s not going to work. You might say, “What if everyone in the world legalized all at once?” But what are the chances of that happening?

    • Anonymous says:

      Home distillation is legal in New Zealand, where I live, and nothing of the sort has happened. Most people that do it are hobbyists and don’t sell it because people interested in home liquor tend to be hobbyists who, unsurprisingly, also make it themselves.

    • Itsumishi says:

      Your hypothesis is absurd.

      Most countries have strict limits on how much alcohol you are allowed to travel with without having an import permit. These laws would still apply if you tried bringing in 5 Litres of home-made whisky as much as if you were trying to bring in 5 litres of Jack Daniels.

      Also how would it break free trade agreements? I’m not from the U.S. but I assume that it is perfectly illegal to produce home brew, but illegal to sell it (that’s the law in Australia at least). Therefore no money exchanges hands, no trade agreements broken. There are also numerous countries where it is legal to distil home-made alcohol, including Italy, Austria and New Zealand.

      I don’t hear too many stories of Aussies heading over to NZ with the intention of smuggling back some shine.

      • El Mariachi says:

        Pretty sure Anon was sardonically making a sideways point about marijuana criminalization, since that’s verbatim an argument for maintaining it. (The point being that it clearly sounds absurd when applied to moonshine, so it should sound just as absurd when applied to pot.)

  38. mzed says:

    Here’s an interesting link:
    http://www.moonshine-still.com/

    I’ve run into a couple of stills like this, and they seem to work well.

    While I agree that some “personal use” amount should be legal, I don’t see this as a law to get worked up about. It is legal to make and own a still to distill water or alternative fuels or the like. One would have to be caught red handed to get in trouble for mis-using a still.

    Also, it is very hard to make a good product at home. More so than beer, the most direct path to a tasty liquor is the store.

    • nutbastard says:

      mzed:

      “While I agree that some “personal use” amount should be legal, I don’t see this as a law to get worked up about. It is legal to make and own a still to distill water or alternative fuels or the like. One would have to be caught red handed to get in trouble for mis-using a still.”

      I think you’re missing the entire point of laws, and the inherent ethical deficit that is the idea of the unjust, yet unenforced law.

      Just because you can easily get away with it isn’t reason to keep an unjust law on the books. Its very existence on the books is repugnant and an affront to all decent law.

      SOMEONE is in jail RIGHT NOW for home distilling, I guarantee it. Tell THEM that this stupid law isn’t a big enough deal for free men to bother to repeal.

      • mzed says:

        @nutbastard

        You are completely correct: unjust laws are an injury to us all and should be attacked.

        I should clarify what I meant by “not getting worked up” about distilling. In the Pantheon of unjust laws, there is a continuum from some that are doing tremendous damage and others (In MA, I think it’s still illegal to serve lobster to your servants more than three times a week.) that are currently inert. Currently, my state (CA) is wasting millions of dollars pursuing and incarcerating non-violent drug offenders who should be treated medically (at much less expense) or left alone (for free!). I’m worked up about this. Home distilling laws are philosophically odious, but further down my todo list for fixing the world.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Is this really an issue? 800,000+ people are getting busted a year for pot smoking. Support Prop 19 in California!!

    • jjasper says:

      Get back to me when you learn to walk and chew gum at the same time. The rest of us can manage *both*. We can support marijuana deregulation and ending the ban on home distilling.

  40. the_headless_rabbit says:

    According to my father, the reason for hard liquor being illegal (in Canada at least) is because distilling the stuff requires the use of a pressurized vessel, something that it is illegal for anyone to use for any reason, unless they have the right qualifications. Engineers have qualifications to legally use high pressurized devices.
    My dad is an engineer.

    • Pantograph says:

      A pressurized vessel? You mean like a pressure cooker? Are those illegal to operate in Canada as well?

      Distilling in contrast works at near atmospheric pressure and can be done in thin walled lab glass.

    • Anonymous says:

      All the stills I have seen have been low pressure vessels and not really much of a danger in terms of pressure.

      The danger of escaping alcohol vapour in an enclosed space is far more dangerous.

    • sonipitts says:

      WTF? You mean you can’t can up garden veggies at home in Canada?

    • discontinuuity says:

      A stove-top pressure cooker has many times more pressure than a typical still. I think maybe the problem here is that alcohol vapor is flammable and could cause an explosion?

      And #11, I think the video is advocating legalizing moonshine for home consumption, not for sale. They also seem to be in favor of loosening regulations to allow for small distilleries. I don’t think either policy will result in the anarchy you described.

    • thebelgianpanda says:

      Vapor management stills like the bokakob are not under pressure. Neither are cooling management stills. They are completely open to the air, and operate at atmospheric pressure.

      Pot stills can be under a little bit of pressure, but it’s waaay less than 5psi. In fact the biggest danger pressure-wise is if you are using what’s called a Graham condenser that has inner tubing that’s too small, and something clogs it. Then, during cooldown, you can indeed cause your boiler and column to implode–but that also takes very specific circumstances.

      The single biggest danger is that you are producing a liquid that is at least as flammable as gasoline. 95% ethanol, nearing the upper limit attainable due to some chemistry I don’t understand, can catch fire pretty quick. Add that to the fact there is almost always ethanol consumption and either open flame or 1500+ watt burners (or even 4500 watt 220 elements), then it is simply lack of diligence that’s the most common cause of accidents.

      Here is a youtube vid of a CM (cooling management) style still: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vJn0lp-IP0

      And here is an idiot running a bokakob inside his home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deVexRNZdWI

  41. Marshall says:

    In terms of how seriously local authorities take home distilling, when I worked at a homebrewing supply store/brewing non-profit a few years back, the one and only customer we had who was a major home distiller was a homicide detective.

  42. Anonymous says:

    A late, great uncle of mine was mentioned in the Foxfire books for his refined methods of moonshine distillation. Nowadays, Buck Carver’s methods aren’t all that remarkable, but as noah django said @17, it was common to use car radiators for distillation in the old days, among other unhealthy equipment and methods. Buck popularized some cleaner methods and equipment, at least in northeast Georgia.

    Anyway, the point is simply that I’m proud of him for his skill at moonshining, despite the constant threat of prosecution. His choice to use cleaner and more refined methods and equipment helped move moonshining out of the dark, so to speak.

    Buck passed away when I was just a little kid, but I did get to sample some of his stock years later. It was extremely smooth and mellow. I couldn’t tell you the percentage of ethanol, but I’d suppose it was somewhere around 100 proof. Strong, yes, but not overpowering.

    I’d love to see liquor distillation made legal in the US. I tried home brewing beer and found it boring, as I’m not much of a beer drinker. But I do know my whiskey relatively well and would enjoy a chance to try making a bit of it. It would be a very meditative sort of project, I think.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Wait, guys, it is possible to screw up moonshine in a bad way.

    Since Methanol is more volatile it should come off the distilling column first ( I think ? ), so its possible to essentially refine out the stuff that makes you go blind if you use the wrong temperatures.

    That said, there are lots of other ways to kill yourself at home, and if the person is even vaguely competent this isn’t going to happen.

    • thebelgianpanda says:

      You *cannot* get enough methanol out of a fermentation to cause you any ill effects–except perhaps a bad hangover. It just isn’t reasonably possible, and by reasonable I mean it would take several hundred gallons of ‘wash’ (the stuff you put in the boiler) to extract enough methanol to harm you. And by that time you’d be dead from a fried liver :D

  44. fantasygoat says:

    My still is made from a European keg (smaller than the giant ones used over here), a water heater element (120V) and a copper pipe column.

    It operates at atmospheric pressure and uses the column distillation principle (the column is packed with copper scrubbing pads to increase surface area) to produce 95% pure ethanol in a few hours of heating. No need to double distill, it comes out of the spout as clean as it’ll ever be.

    Using a digital oven thermometer to watch vapor temps, you just switch out containers once you get pure ethanol coming out. I use 250mL mason jars and number them to keep track of where in the process they’re from. You can then blend later, or in my case, save the methanol for cleaning stuff and just dump the fusel oils.

    A 25L bucket of mash using turbo yeast produces about 2L of pure ethanol. Mixed down to 65% for aging, it yields about 3L of prime whiskey. Total cost per liter is about $1 including electricity, and that’s buying grocery store sugar in 2kg bags.

    No complaints on my product yet.

  45. GetItOffMe says:

    It’s illegal because it’s dangerous. You can’t really bugger up a homebrew too bad but with distilling you’re risking bad product, your still exploding or catching fire and producing rocket-fuel brew stronger than anything you can get off the shelf.

    • thebelgianpanda says:

      Many dangerous things are legal, and home distillation–while not a ride in the park with puppies and unicorns–isn’t inherently more dangerous than other activities.

      I’d just love to see more accessible craft distillery licenses. There can be a bit of bureaucracy and a regulation, but the amount of paperwork, bonds, taxes, etc. required means that your head distiller doesn’t distill–he/she is a proxy employee for (three letter govt acronym escapes me).

    • skeletoncityrepeater says:

      Everclear and Bacardi 151 are available in most places. These are legal, cheap and plentiful. We have hardware stores and stuff – no reason to use car parts to make the equipment. Permits could be taken care of as a side job for an existing bureaucratic entity. I’m sure the distilling law remaining is a combination of no political action behind it, no lobbying, and minor safety concerns that would stop it from becoming a rider on a bigger bill. And mainly the huge tax revenue from multiple sources.

    • retchdog says:

      I can only talk to the last point, and say that azeotropic alcohol (=190 proof) is legal to buy for consumption in all US states except CA, FL, HI, IA, ME, MA, MI, MN, NV, NH, NY, OH, VA and WA. It’s impossible to get stronger than that with standard distillation (you need to do phase transition tricks to bypass the triple point and/or use volatile chemicals like acetone (?) to dry out the excess water).

      I also think the dangers of distillery are overstated. After all it’s (theoretically) legal to do chemistry experiments at home as long as they don’t bust you for buying beakers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Quick way to make 200 proof from 190 proof is to add plaster of paris, stir, and let it settle. Make sure to decant into another container*. The anhydrous plaster will absorb the water but is insoluble in alcohol. The worst that can happen is you don’t let it settle completely and get a little extra calcium in your diet.

        * No point in getting totally hammered and drinking plaster sludge. That IS dangerous.

  46. Anonymous says:

    All this talk about home distilling and pot legalising, why has no one floated the idea of whiskey made from pot? Okay, from what I gather, the active ingredients of pot aren’t water soluble, but is that the only pleasurable sensation from it?

    I don’t drink or smoke, I’m just interested in why this idea hasn’t come up. My only concern is the liberties aspect. I’m in favour of a motorbike test for danger: if there’s no proof the activity would shorten your life by more than regular motorbike riding, you should at least be able to do it with a license.

  47. Anonymous says:

    I could TOTALLY read the plate on that Mustang!
    Feds are coming, buddy!

  48. Teller says:

    Were it not for moonshine, we wouldn’t have NASCAR. That may not bother some of you – but it’s a good business. What has illegal pot done for the country? Nothing like that. It’s for underachievers, that’s why. Yet, I still love it so.

    • Brainspore says:

      What has illegal pot done for the country? Nothing like that.

      Do we need to start listing all the genres of music fueled by pipe-weed? That’s a multi-billion dollar business right there!

    • mdh says:

      turning left for 500 miles is an achievement?

      • Teller says:

        I agree that turning left achieves very little.

        Brain: a multi-billion dollar business whose product, left to certain unnamed pot smokers in the online community, would be disseminated for free! As far as musicians inspired by pipe-weed, we mustn’t insult liquor, hash, coke, acid, crack, meth, shrooms, peyote and heroin with such sweeping generalizations.

    • nutbastard says:

      Oh and I say ‘free men’ because those convicted are now felons, and likely have lost their right to participate in elections.

      That’s right – get raped by the federal government, tossed in a cage for a couple of few, and when you get out, any power (however little) you once had to end the cycle of abuse has been stripped from you!

  49. Anonymous says:

    nobody has any imagination, you don’t need a still to make liquor. a very cold freezer will freeze the water in an unhopped beer, or wine, leaving the alcohol in liquid form. there is apparently a brewer in new zealand that makes a 110 proof “beer”, does it by this method. safer and less conspicuous. you could probably run a respectable batch in a deep freeze, if you gave thought as to how to set it up.

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