Tests – A quick estimate of the alcoholic strength, or proof, of the distillate (the ratio of alcohol to water) is often achieved by shaking a clear container of the distillate. Large bubbles with a short duration indicate a higher alcohol content, while smaller bubbles that disappear more slowly indicate lower alcohol content.
- 1 What percent alcohol is 100-proof moonshine?
- 2 Why do you put sugar in moonshine?
- 3 What determines the proof of moonshine?
- 4 How can I check my alcohol percentage at home?
How is alcohol concentration determined?
The short answer – People making their own alcoholic beverages often calculate the percentage of alcohol by volume by measuring their density with a hydrometer or their sugar content with a refractometer. These simple instruments cleverly detect how much sugar gets converted into alcohol during the fermentation process.
Larger manufacturers may call upon laboratories that can analyze their beverages with more advanced techniques, including methods known as distillation and gas chromatography. If you’re an adult of legal drinking age, you might occasionally enjoy a glass of wine, a can of beer, or another alcoholic beverage.
And if you’re really into beer or wine, you may make your own. If you’ve opened a bottle of beer or wine recently, you may have noticed the alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage on the label. The ABV tells you the percentage of alcohol (ethyl alcohol, or ethanol) content in an alcoholic beverage. This brewing stage shows the dry hopping process of adding hops, green cone-shaped flowers of the hop plant, which add different flavors and aromas to beer and is commonly done in brewing for pale ales and India pale ales (IPAs). Credit: A. Urbas/NIST Let’s suppose the ABV of a beer is 5%.
That means if you poured the beer into 100 equally sized tiny cups, then five of them would contain alcohol and 95 would contain the other ingredients. Of course, you can’t really split up drinks this way without very fancy chemistry equipment, but maybe this mental picture gives you a better idea of what ABV means.
A standard drink in the U.S contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Different kinds of drinks may contain the same amount of alcohol but have very different ABVs because of their serving sizes.
12 ounces of regular beer = 5% ABV 5 ounces of wine = 12% ABV 8 ounces of malt liquor = 7% ABV 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of hard liquor (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, etc.) = 40% ABV
ABV percentages can vary within a class of alcoholic beverages. For example, red wines tend to have higher ABV, such as a merlot (13%-14%) compared with white wines like pinot grigio (12%-13%). How do manufacturers — and homebrewers — accurately determine the percentage of alcohol in the beverages they make? We’ll look at the different ways of measuring the alcohol percentages in common beverages.
If you’re making your alcoholic beverage in your basement or vineyard, you’ll probably use one of two inexpensive methods for measuring the alcohol content in your final product. One method involves an instrument called a hydrometer, which typically consists of a small weighted tube with a numerical scale on it.
In this method, you submerge the hydrometer tube into a container with a sample of your alcoholic beverage in it. The tube will sink by an amount that depends on how dense your alcoholic liquid is. The density of the alcoholic liquid will change during fermentation, as sugar gets converted into alcohol (and for beer, bubbles of carbon dioxide, too).
- Before fermentation, the liquid (containing sugars that will be converted to alcohol) is denser than alcohol, and because of this, the hydrometer floats more before fermentation.
- After fermentation, the sugars are converted to alcohol, and the hydrometer will sink more after fermentation.
- To measure ABV, you make two measurements with the hydrometer, one before fermentation and one afterward.
With these measurements, you are basically finding out how much sugar in the beverage changed into alcohol during fermentation. By subtracting the first reading from the second one, and then making a simple calculation, you can find out how much alcohol is in there.
To accurately calculate the ABV, a number of important factors need to be taken into account. Temperature can affect the density, as well as the release of carbon dioxide bubbles in the case of beer. Manufacturers of hydrometers provide formulas and charts that make it easier for homebrewers and winemakers to convert their readings into an accurate ABV result.
(Creating these formulas and charts requires lots of good chemistry and physics measurements too.) A hydrometer is a tubelike instrument brewers can use to help calculate the alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage of their beers. Credit: Shutterstock/BDoss928 An alternative to using the hydrometer is a refractometer, another simple instrument that can be used to measure concentration of substances dissolved in a liquid.
When light hits a liquid, it changes direction, a phenomenon known as refraction, Refractometers measure the degree to which the light changes direction. In an alcoholic beverage, the amount of sugar as well as alcohol greatly affects how light refracts in the liquid. Homebrewers, whiskey makers, wine makers and even wine grape growers (vignerons) use the refractometer to measure the concentrations of sugar in the wort — the liquid extracted from the mashing process when brewing beer and whiskey.
Within the instrument is a measurement scale (usually one called the Brix scale, or the similar Plato scale) that is used to indicate the concentration of sugar. Once yeast is added to the wort, it ferments, converting the sugar in the wort to alcohol.
- To calculate the ABV, brewers need to measure the sugar concentration of the wort before it ferments, and afterward once fermentation stops.
- Other factors, such as temperature, the amount of alcohol produced, and other components extracted from ingredients such as barley in beer, will change the amount of refraction that occurs throughout the fermentation process.
So, to get an accurate ABV, numerous factors must be taken into account to make a good calculation. Refractometers are commonly used to measure the starting sugar concentration before fermentation and less so afterward because it requires more extensive corrections compared with hydrometer measurements and is less precise at this point.
Larger wineries and manufacturers may call upon laboratories that have more advanced methods for measuring ABV in alcohol. Two common methods they can use are distillation and gas chromatography. Distillation refers to the process of separating alcohol from the rest of the liquid by boiling and condensation using specialty glassware.
The second method, gas chromatography, is considered the most accurate method for measuring alcohol content. It involves separating and analyzing compounds by turning the mixture into a gas. The gas then moves through a column containing a solid or thick (viscous) liquid substance known as the “stationary phase” that is able to separate components based on their physical and chemical properties.
- These separated components can then be detected and quantified using a detector.
- Measurements are important in not only understanding how laboratories get specific percentages and numbers but also how they relate to us every day.
- Standards for making accurate measurements go hand in hand with the measurements themselves because they validate the results we see and enable us to trust them.
So, next time you pick up a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer, you’ll know how the ABV percentage is measured and what it means.
What makes moonshine stronger?
How Is Moonshine Made? – Making alcohol revolves around two processes: fermentation and distillation, Fermentation is a chemical reaction that occurs when the yeast breaks down the sugar. One result of that reaction is alcohol. Distillation is the process of evaporating the alcohol (which boils at a lower temperature than water) and collecting the steam before condensing it back into liquid form.
- The corn is ground into meal. Traditional recipes take cracked, dry yellow corn (aka field corn) and create a coarse grind. You can also use chicken or horse feed.
- The corn meal is soaked in hot water, Sometimes sugar is added (or even used instead of grain), but traditional moonshiners added malted barley to convert the starch in the corn meal into sugar. Then the yeast is put in, which starts the fermentation process. This mixture, called mash, is stirred thoroughly and heated for a set amount of time in the still. The still and all the metal piping used are made of copper, which conducts heat well and doesn’t leech into the alcohol.
- The stone furnace beneath the still is brought up to about 172 degrees Fahrenheit (78 C). Wood, coal and even steam have been used in the past to heat the still, but most moonshiners started using propane decades ago.
- The alcohol evaporates, As pressure builds in the still, the alcohol steam is forced through the cap arm, a pipe that leads out of the top of the still.
- Some moonshiners use a thump keg, which is simply a heated barrel into which the steam is forced. The distilled alcohol condenses in the bottom of the thump keg, and it’s the sound of the vapor and alcohol periodically bursting out of the pipe that gave the thump keg its name. The hot vapor distills the alcohol a second time, which results in a higher-proof moonshine. If a moonshiner wants to make their alcohol extra potent, they might charge the thump keg, which is adding undistilled mash or a few gallons of alcohol into the keg so the steam picks up extra alcohol vapor on its way to the worm box.
- The steam travels into the worm, a coiled length of pipe that winds down the inside of the worm box. The worm box is a crate or barrel that has cold water, usually diverted from a nearby creek, flowing into the top and then back out the bottom. This keeps the worm bathed in constantly circulating cold water, which condenses the alcohol steam into liquid.
- A spout, tap or hose leads from the end of the worm into a bucket, usually through one last filter. (The XXX you sometimes see on bottles of moonshine mean it’s been filtered three times.)
- The resulting clear liquid is ready to be bottled and sold.
What percent alcohol is 100-proof moonshine?
It’s handcrafted in small batches, made from American corn and tripled distilled for a clean tasting 100 Proof ( 50% ALC./VOL.) spirit.
Does more yeast mean more alcohol?
Adding sugar for high alcohol content – Many high alcohol wine recipes require A LOT of sugar, upwards of 2 to 3 pounds per gallon. This is in addition to the sugar the fruits and berries you use provide naturally. Be careful when adding sugar during fermentation as it can prove quite difficult As you know by now, sugar is what the yeast uses and turns into alcohol.
As said earlier, you can’t simply dump sugar into your batch and expect enormous alcohol percentages. There is a good reason most wines have somewhat low alcohol content. Making high alcohol wine is not only difficult, but also more expensive. You need a lot of sugar and extra ingredients to not ruin your wine.
Making high alcohol wine is a delicate process, here are some bullet points when making high alcohol wine:
Add the extra sugar gradually. Dumping all your sugar at once can outright ruin your batch since your yeast becomes “overloaded” and might die out. Use a hydrometer or similar to monitor the sugar content of your batch during fermentation. Track both sugar and alcohol levels to see if you are on the right trackChange the temperature compared to normal wine brewing. When making high alcohol wine its recommended fermenting at a higher temperature. Keep your wine at 74-78F rather than the normal 70-72F.Adding extra yeast will help your wine reach the high alcohol levels. As mentioned earlier, your yeast can die if it gets overloaded by too much sugar. Adding extra yeast will help your fermenting process and turn more sugar into alcohol.
Experimenting with alcohol percentages is something many homebrewers want to do, but it does take a bit more finesse and time than usual brewing. If you are just starting, diving straight into brewing high alcohol wine is probably something you should save for when you are a bit more seasoned in the craft.
If you want to get into winemaking a good recommendation is to buy a beginner kit, Many beginner kits have all the equipment and ingredients you need, all you have to do is follow the instructions provided. To sum up, sugar does increase the alcohol content, but only when used in the fermenting process.
The process of making your own homemade high alcohol beverages is not easy, and you should understand how to correctly handle the process before diving into it. Start off slow if you are a beginner, and get to know your equipment and how the science behind it all works.
What proof is 5% alcohol?
12 ounces of beer per serving, 10 proof or 5 percent ABV.1.5 ounces of liquor or spirits per shot, 80 proof or 40 percent ABV.
How strong is actual moonshine?
Pot still – A pot still is a type of distillation apparatus or still used to distill flavored liquors such as whisky or cognac, but not rectified spirit because they are poor at separating congeners, Pot stills operate on a batch distillation basis (as opposed to a Coffey or column stills, which operate on a continuous basis).
Why do you put sugar in moonshine?
How Commercial Brewers Flavor Spirits – Commercially produced spirits are usually stored in wooden casks or to enhance the taste of the spirits. Some commercial brewers allow their products to sit for a minimum of one year where others may choose to age their products for many years which increase both the taste and price of the product.
- The type of wood you use for aging your spirits can also affect its taste.
- For instance, scotch whiskey is usually kept in sherry cask to combine the different flavors of sherry, sugars present in the wood as well as the distinct flavor of the whiskey.
- The resulting product is quite unique and more flavorful.
If you will take a look at commercial whiskey products, you will find that the age is about three to eight years and even twelve. You may also begin to wonder why your spirit soaked with oak chips to achieve aging takes only a few days instead of years.
- The answer greatly depends on the surface area of the oak wood chips that come in contact with a certain amount of spirit.
- Essentially, the surface area of the oak chips is greater than that of the barrel which makes the exchange of flavor more rapid.
- Using Fresh Wood Chips Is Ideal For Enhancing Taste New wood can age spirit more than old wood does.
It is recommended to use fresh wood chips rather than the old one because your spirit can have a woody taste if the chips are very old and this can negatively affect the flavor of your finished product Sweet Bourbon Essence Can Also Enhance Your Flavor To intensify the taste, even more, you can filter it in a muslin cloth and include the sweet bourbon essence into it.
After this, you can proceed with bottling the product into 700g bottles which should be stored in a cool dark place for one month or more. With this, you can achieve bourbon that is smooth and mellow to drink. Avoid Using a Carbon Filter You must not filter it using a carbon filter to remove wood chips because it will only remove much of its flavor which makes you lose all your efforts.
Using a muslin or tea towel is highly recommended in this case so that you can retain all the flavors that you would like to keep. You may also try a coffee filter which may take slowly compared to muslin, but it is really quite effective too. Adding sugar can also adjust the taste of your moonshine To add final touches, you can add 5 teaspoons of caramelized raw or white sugar per liter of your spirit.
Is there 180 proof moonshine?
We do moonshine the right way and it makes all the difference. – When most people hear the word “moonshine”, they think of a clear liquor that is 180 proof, which isn’t the case at all. Grandaddy Mimm’s makes moonshine from 40 proof all the way to 140 proof to appeal to all drinkers. Sure, there’s a bit of a burn on the heavy stuff, but it’s nothing too different from the warm tingle you get from a nice bourbon. The truth is, most women on our team can outdrink the men on staff and will show you if you ask. Our girls can throw down and our customers range in age, gender, sports fandom (GO DAWGS), and preference of drinking shine straight up, making a mixed drink, or taking a favorite shot.
- Shine is meant to bring people together and most of the time it does.
- The goal isn’t to prove something, it’s to sit back and drink something you enjoy.
- Did you know that most any drink that you mix with rum, vodka, or whiskey, you can sub with shine!?! Moonshine is called moonshine because, during Prohibition, it used to be made secretly at night only by the light of the moon.
When it was made illegally, there were no government regulations, and the same guy who married his sister could be in charge of cooking up your cocktail. This meant that people were drinking 180+ proof stuff and let’s just say there were definite health risks.
What determines the proof of moonshine?
What determines moonshine proof? – While moonshine is generally considered to be a type of whiskey, moonshine taste and proof can vary from one batch to another for a few reasons. The first is the ingredients used to make the moonshine. In general, moonshine can be made from grain or fruit.
That is why there are so many different flavors and combinations available! The ingredients used to make moonshine will significantly affect the taste. So, make sure you are drinking moonshine made from stuff you like – you will be able to taste it. Moonshine proof is determined by the alcohol content or concentration in the final product, typically measured using a hydrometer, which measures the specific gravity of the liquid.
The higher the alcohol content, the higher the proof and the more the liquid will deviate from the specific gravity of water. The most common measurement used to determine the proof of alcohol is the alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage, which is usually expressed as a number on a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being 100% alcohol. Image Source: Brent Hofacker /Shutterstock
How do you measure moonshine?
Alcoholometer – Of course, you’ll need a more technical method to accurately identify the alcohol content in moonshine. The shake test is great for a quick test, but it’s rudimentary at best. If you want a more accurate reading of the alcohol content in your moonshine, it’s recommended that you invest in a small device called an alcoholometer.
How can I check my alcohol percentage at home?
All we need is a digital thermometer (accuracy 0.1OC or higher). Measure the difference in boiling point of wine (or beer) as compared to that of deionized water. Higher the alcohol content, lower the boiling point is. Use a degree ebulliometer reference table to compute the alcohol percentage.