Moonshining for Beginners using our 20 gallon still!
15 lbs of cracked or whole corn
30 lbs of sugar
2 packages of 135 gram Alcotec 48-hour Turbo Yeast
19 gallons of water
Misc. Items to get:
1 hydrometer test tube kit
Yeast and hydrometer with test tube (Can be purchased from Northern Brewer Co or Midwest Supply)
1 – 6” funnel
1 – 32 gallon trash can
Banjo Burner with stand (Look online, they are easy to find – should cost about $99 with stand)
Get a clean 5 gallon bucket
Get 2 garden water hoses long enough to reach from where your water source will be, and long enough to reach where you’re gonna drain your water discharge after running it through your worm
Get 1 empty five gallon water cooler jug. Home Depot has them lying around as returns. Ask for one and they’ll probably give it to you for free
Get a couple of cases of 1 quart mason jars (Cabela’s has them for about $1.25 ea.)
Get a gallon or two of distilled or spring water to cut your high proof shine
Make sure you’re going to be fermenting your mash in an environment that will maintain at least 75 degrees or it won’t work. It’s ok to run your still in a cold weather, but it has to be warm when making your mash.
Take your 32 gallon trash can (make sure it’s completely clean)
Empty your corn and sugar into it, and add about 5 gallons of hot water
Stir it repeatedly until your sugar is completely dissolved
Let sit for 24 hours. This will help to soften the corn so the yeast can metabolize the sugar
After 24 hours add an additional 14 gallons of water.
Get a 24oz. container of hot water and mix in 2 packages of yeast
Let it sit for 20 minutes, then pour it in mash and stir it good
Put the lid on the trash can and let it sit
Do not stir it anymore
It should start bubbling in about 24 hours or less
Leave it alone until it stops bubbling. It’s ok to open and close it to take a look.
Once it stops bubbling let it sit for 3 more days. It won’t hurt it if you let it sit for up to about 2 weeks after it’s done bubbling, so don’t worry about it going bad.
Now you are ready to cook!
Place your still and the worm on their stands, with your heat source underneath your still.
Take your 5 gallon water cooler jug with the funnel in it, and place it under the worm discharge valve to collect your shine.
Take your clean 5 gallon bucket and dip it into your trash can and fill your 20 gallon still about 3 inches from the top and close it up.
Attach your water hoses to your still but don’t turn your water on yet.
Now turn your heat on and turn it up as high as it will go. You can’t get your heat too hot so don’t worry.
Depending on what temperature you’re working in will decide how long it will take to heat your shine, but rule of thumb is about 1 hour in normal summer conditions.
Pay attention to your vapor gauge and when it gets to about 150 degrees, go ahead and turn your water on. You don’t have to blast your water, just a slow even flow starting out.
As your temp comes up to about 165 degrees you will start seeing a slow drip. Now cut your heat back down to about half and continue to slowly adjust it down as your temp comes up to 178 – 180/185 degrees. Your drip is going to pick up to a steady flow as your temp raises to the 178. The early liquid that’s produced between the two temps of 165 and 178 is your Methanol. It should only be a couple of ounces. Take it away somewhere safe and get rid of it.
By now you should have a nice steady flow of shine and your heat should be turned all the way back to a low simmer.
If your discharge hose starts puffing steam and your shine feels too hot, don’t panic, your mash is still cooling from the initial heat up. Just increase your water flow and monitor it and it will begin to even out. Now you you’re in business.
Continue to feel the flow with your finger. (Take a taste from your finger. It’s like sweet mothers milk!) If it still feels too warm or even hot, continue to slowly increase your water flow, and slowly lower your heat until you feel a cool to slightly warm liquid temp. Every still is different. As you get to know your still, you will learn to adjust your water/heat ratios to find the sweet spot.
If you’re running a 20 gallon batch it should run about a gallon an hour. So you should expect to spend about 3 to 3.5 hours with your machine in operation.
Your first gallon or so (The Front) should test out to about 160 – 165 proof. Pour off a little in your test tube and see what you got! Your next 2 gallons will be (The Heart) of your run. It should test out to about 130 proof, and then the last gallon or so will taper down to about 100, and those are (The Tails).
You can run your still down to about 80 proof but it will start to get cloudy and start to taste watered down. The best way to determine how to shut your still down, is when your vapor temp hits about 195 – 200 degrees. It’s done.
Congrats! Now you’ve got your first run completed.
You can test your blend to see what your final proof is. Decide by taste what you want your final proof to be by adding some distilled water as you fill your mason jars.
Some advice. Nothing tastes good if it’s too hot to drink. Everyone wants to brag about having some wicked strong shine, but shine can be delicious but not at 130 proof! Don’t be afraid to cut it to about 70 – 80 proof. What’s the fun of creating your masterpiece, if all you do is fall asleep because… well you know why! Take your time and enjoy. You earned it!