This Is How You Make Moonshine in Brooklyn
Lauren Shockey A homemade still, for some homegrown moonshine
In this week's Voice, I wrote about the underground moonshine scene that's quietly been emerging in New York City over the past several months. During that time, I met with professional moonshiners (like those at Kings County Distillery) as well as those who make the 'shine at home, which is strictly against the law. The threat of arrest isn't stopping these renegade imbibers, however. And in the course of my research, I got to watch actual moonshine being made in a Brooklyn apartment. While most of the distillers I met used actual stills, one moonshiner, Lance, proved that you can make damn good hooch with everyday kitchen equipment. Here's what he does. Caveat -- don't try this at home. Caveat -- if you do try it, don't say we told you to. Making moonshine at home is a full-on felony.
Yet if one hypothetically wanted to make moonshine, he'd need to start with a mash, which is prepared by combining cracked corn (plus wheat, rye, or barley) and water and bringing it to a boil. Yeast -- often a turbo yeast -- is then added, which will convert the sugars to alcohol. Then let it sit in a nice cool place for about a week or two.
OK, now you're ready to get cooking. To distill his moonshine, Lance uses a regular pot and a Crock-Pot top that's been fitted with a rubber gasket. From the gasket emerges a copper coil. This is so that when you heat the mash in the pot, the alcohol vapors will travel through the coil, leaving only water in place since alcohol evaporates faster than water.
Lauren Shockey Make sure your paste only covers the outside of the pot.
Lance covers the rim of the pot and edge of the lid with a paste made from flour and water. This will ensure that no steam (i.e., precious alcohol vapor) seeps out. Lance also suggests using whole-wheat flour, which is sturdier and won't cause as many leaks.
After all is set up, you'd want to bring your mash to a rolling boil.