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sdrake

Trying to Understand Fermentation

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Yesterday I was watching some videos on how to distill alcohol.  I'm not going to do it, but I was just interested in the process.  In one of the videos, the person heated the fermented corn and sugar to 170F to distill out the wood alcohol first so that it could be discarded because it's poisonous to consume.  Then the person heated it to 185F to then evaporate out and distill the good alcohol.

 

My question is this...  If yeast, corn and sugar produces the bad wood alcohol, wouldn't our beer fermentation also be producing some of the bad wood alcohol also?  Or is it in such small quantities because we're not distilling it that it doesn't matter?

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Distilling and Fermentation are diferent processes.

 

Distilling involves mashing corn or rice etc.. to extract all sugars prior to forming alcohol. It is ileagle in most places.

 

Fermenting is the process of yeast eating all consumable sugars in the vat of wort. The byproduct of waste from the yeast is alcohol. Other chemicals are produced in both processes.

 

The beer and wine yeast are least likely to get you sick. Mashing Grain alcohol requires some diligent still fabrication, beyond the scope of the forum.

 

E-bay lists them but buyer beware, You could go blind and to jail with the unknown still.

 

Cheers

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But distilling the alcohol is simply a step in addition to how we make beer.  In both instances, yeast is added to fermentable sugars.  In our case, we bottle it up and call it beer without distilling it.  For the person making moonshine, they're doing the same fermenting we're doing, but doing the additional step of heating it up to distill out the alcohol.  Since the person making moonshine must remove the wood alcohol first because it's poisonous, it means that his fermented wort contains the dangerous alcohol.  Wouldn't our beer also contain some of the dangerous alcohol since we're doing the same thing?  sugars plus yeast = the same fermentation.

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Distilling and Fermentation are diferent processes.

 

Distilling involves mashing corn or rice etc.. to extract all sugars prior to forming alcohol. It is ileagle in most places.

 

Fermenting is the process of yeast eating all consumable sugars in the vat of wort. The byproduct of waste from the yeast is alcohol. Other chemicals are produced in both processes.

 

The beer and wine yeast are least likely to get you sick. Mashing Grain alcohol requires some diligent still fabrication, beyond the scope of the forum.

 

E-bay lists them but buyer beware, You could go blind and to jail with the unknown still.

Cheers

My only argument with this is. There is no amount of distilled alcohol legal any where in the U.S.

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My only argument with this is. There is no amount of distilled alcohol legal any where in the U.S.

You just need to get a Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit.

http://www.clawhammersupply.com/blogs/moonshine-still-blog/7155304-is-making-moonshine-legal

We distilled wine we made as part of my high school chemistry class.  The teacher was an ex army sergeant, I doubt he would have broken the law.  ;)

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My question is this...  If yeast, corn and sugar produces the bad wood alcohol, wouldn't our beer fermentation also be producing some of the bad wood alcohol also?  Or is it in such small quantities because we're not distilling it that it doesn't matter?

"Wood alcohol" is methanol and is not much is made during the type of fermentation that beer brewers implement. It can be created by anaerobic bacterial fermentation.

http://homedistiller.org/intro/methanol/methanol

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I didn't start this thread to discuss the legality of distilling moonshine.  I started this thread to understand whether we have wood alcohol (methanol) when we ferment to make beer.

 

Beer:  various sugars & yeast = fermentation.  No distilling.

Moonshine:  various sugars & yeast = fermentation.  Distilling to concentrate the alcohol.

 

Now if moonshine has methanol in it that must be removed because it's poisonous, how come our beer doesn't have some methanol in it?  Or does it?

 

Or are different sugars used to make moonshine that produces methanol while our beer ingredients don't produce methanol?

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The link I posted suggests there is methanol in our beer, wine and apple juice.  Just not enough to warrant concern.

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"Wood alcohol" is methanol and is not much is made during the type of fermentation that beer brewers implement. It can be created by anaerobic bacterial fermentation.

http://homedistiller.org/intro/methanol/methanol

 

Thanks.  From reading this, I gather that any methanol we produce when making beer is extremely small because we aren't using fruit and we're using a low fermentation temperature.  I gather with moonshine the risk is because you're distilling it, you're concentrating the alcohol and any methanol that you concentrate risks too high a concentration, especially if you fermented the wrong stuff at the wrong temperatures.

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The link I posted suggests there is ethanol in our beer, wine and apple juice.  Just not enough to warrant concern.

 

You mean methanol.

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There is very little methanol in beer, if any at all. There is only methanol in distilled grains because of crude mashing techniques and certain yeast strains used. Many of the yeast strains used for distillation will also ferment cellulose in addition to sugars. Like pectin, cellulose will break down during the fermentation resulting in methanol production. Wine has more methanol than beer because of the methanol produced by the breakdown of pectin. Beer yeast creates a more simple fermentation that doesn't break down the cellulose in the grains. Distiller's yeast such as Turbo Yeast will produce much more methanol than beer yeast.

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Distillation is a physical process in chemistry and biochemistry, of heating a liquid mixture, boiling the liquid and then condensing the vapor and collecting the purified product leaving other substances behind. Methanol, can be made by a "destructive" heating process, then by distillation, collect the purified product. The enzymes found in yeast for fermentation basically do not produce methanol, which is good for us and the yeast, as it is very toxic. I'm not sure about the methanol content of moonshine, but even a little can have some very bad effects on your health. Hope this was informative.

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Along with what Brian has stated, and the others this is a home brew beer forum.

 

Most of us have probably drank moon and even witnessed a southeastern still, but could not answer your question completely unless you find a chemistry engineer listening in. All possible

 

When I was much younger I had an interest in it but it never went beyond reading the Firefox novels of the woods/mountain men. Havent purchased a bottle of whisky for personal use in 15 years. I would find a publication on it before getting your hands dirty though.

 

Cheers

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You just need to get a Federal Fuel Alcohol Permit.

http://www.clawhammersupply.com/blogs/moonshine-still-blog/7155304-is-making-moonshine-legal

We distilled wine we made as part of my high school chemistry class.  The teacher was an ex army sergeant, I doubt he would have broken the law.  ;)

You don't distill wine it ferments just like beer. So your teacher wasn't breaking the law

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You don't distill wine it ferments just like beer. So your teacher wasn't breaking the law

No we distilled it to pure alcohol after we fermented it.

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Yesterday I was watching some videos on how to distill alcohol.  I'm not going to do it, but I was just interested in the process.  In one of the videos, the person heated the fermented corn and sugar to 170F to distill out the wood alcohol first so that it could be discarded because it's poisonous to consume.  Then the person heated it to 185F to then evaporate out and distill the good alcohol.

 

My question is this...  If yeast, corn and sugar produces the bad wood alcohol, wouldn't our beer fermentation also be producing some of the bad wood alcohol also?  Or is it in such small quantities because we're not distilling it that it doesn't matter?

This topic was fun to research and refresh my organic chemistry memory.  Beer and wine may contain trace quantities of methanol, but they are not distilled.  Distilled spirits can contain the most methanol due to the yeast, the fermentables, and the distillation process.  Distillation is used to concentrate the alcohol.  Methanol boils at a lower temperature than ethanol so the alcohol from the first volume of the distillation will contain the concentrated methanol.  This is called the forerun and is typically discarded. 

 

In terms of methanol toxicity, beer is one of the safest alcoholic beverages (particularly all malt beer) because it has the lowest levels of methanol.   Don’t forget that ethanol (the good alcohol) is also toxic so moderation should be practiced.  Something I really like about brewing my own beer with some of the Mr. Beer standard refills is that you get excellent beer flavor without so much alcohol.

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On a different continent with different laws - in High School Chemistry we also did ferment and distil to demonstrate the industrial and chemical processes.

But we just used cane sugar and baker's yeast - I got a small amount of alcohol from it. Added to orange juice it tasted like vodka & orange from what I remember. (Legal drinking for me was age 18,although I did not attain that until college - lol.)

 

The deal with the methanol is that when distilling, because the methanol boils at a lower temp than ethanol, all the methanol comes out first then the ethanol.

That means that  distillers eager to taste the first fruits of their work, especially amateurs who do not monitor the temp, get all the methanol to taste.  And they probably thought the first stuff was going to be the best too . Oops.

Not a great idea.

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