Premium Dial Distillation Thermometer

Premium Dial Distillation Thermometer

distillation thermometerIn the old days, things could get downright hot for moonshiners when the “revenuer” came calling. For home distillers today, that same heat isn’t an issue, at least as long as they abide by their local ordinances (for more information on distillation laws, click here). But that doesn’t mean heat isn’t a part of the distillation process.

In fact, if there’s no heat, there’s no ‘shine. Distillation requires careful heating of the fermented sour mash held in the pot (also called the vat or boiler). Different boiling points of each component of the sour mash (water, methanol, propanol and our friend, ethanol) allow for the separation of those components, and ultimately, the collection of nearly pure grain alcohol. Proper boil temperature is critical. You want to heat the mash to approximately 173 degrees Fahrenheit, the boiling point of alcohol. Get it much hotter than that and you risk scorching the mash or “belching” mash into the column.

An experienced distiller learns to manage temperature by feel, but for most of us, a good distillation thermometer is an invaluable piece of still equipment. The Hillbilly Stills 3″ Premium Dial Thermometer fits the bill. A precise instrument, it has a 1/2″ threaded connector designed to work with many of our copper still heads. This durable unit allows you to monitor vapor temperature to within +/- 1 degree and will dramatically improve your results. Simply thread the connector into the head and you will know exactly when to dial back the heat to the boiler.

A bi-metal thermometer with a full stainless steel exterior, the Hillbilly is built to last. Double-strength glass crystal and a simple, clean design on the easy-to-read 3″ face makes monitoring a snap. The 2.5” stainless steel stem yields accurate temperature readings all the way from 0 to 250° Fahrenheit. The body and face are hermetically sealed for years of trouble free performance. A finely crafted instrument, the Hillbilly Stills dial thermometer is designed to deliver excellent shock protection.

You take distilling seriously, and you demand top-quality equipment. You shouldn’t ask any less of a thermometer. The careful craftsmanship of the Hillbilly 3″ Premium Dial Thermometer is the perfect addition to your Hillbilly Still.

5 DIY Gifts with Moonshine

5 DIY Gifts with Moonshine

moonshineMoonshiners are the original outlaws of the DIY world. We’re capable of creating distillation spaces, putting together stills, and crafting tasty white lightening with little more than corn, sugar, and yeast. Coming up with a few unique DIY gifts is a piece of cake – you could even make the cake with moonshine.  Below is a list of moonshine recipes and ideas for alcohol gift baskets.

Moonshine BBQ Sauce

Nothing goes better with moonshine than some savory smoked and grilled meats. So why not add a little white lightening to the BBQ sauce? For ages, sauce makers have slipped a little hooch in as a secret ingredient, and now moonshine is one of the more popular options for adding some kick to the ‘cue.

It doesn’t take much before the moonshine overrides the other flavors, so be very conservative by adding just about an ounce or two to a gallon of sauce that’s already been cooked or a half cup prior to cooking the sauce. Keep in mind that if you add the liquor after cooking up the sauce, it will retain its potency.

Moonshiners may be known to fly under the radar, but white lightening BBQ sauce is sure to get attention for its robust taste.

Moonshine Blueberry Pops

Gift recipients can cool off with a delicious moonshine infused treat when you mix up a few white lightening blueberry pops. It’s one of the best DIY alcohol gifts for Memorial Day, July Fourth, or Labor Day parties.

All you have to do is:

  • Whip up some simple syrup by combining five ounces of sugar cane and five ounces of water in a pan over medium-high heat. Stir continuously until the sugar completely dissolves. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool. You should have about 6 ounces.
  • Get about five cups of blueberries and remove any stems before pureeing them. You can do this with a food processor for the smoothest puree or just mash them up by hand real well. This should leave you with about 18 ounces of blueberry puree.
  • Cut yourself up some lemons and squeeze out about an ounce of juice.
  • Pour the puree into a large measuring bowl or cup with a spout. Next, slowly add in the simple syrup and lemon juice until you reach the ideal level of sweetness. (Keep in mind that blueberries may get sweeter after they freeze.)
  • Time to add the ‘shine! Pour about three ounces of moonshine into the mixture and stir it all up.
  • Pour the moonshine mix into popsicle molds leaving a little room at the top. Stick in your sticks then put the tray in the freezer and in about four or five hours you’ll have a delicious DIY moonshine gift.

Mason Jar Wine Glasses

Redneck wine glasses, as they are often referred to, are a great way to incorporate traditional moonshining style into enjoying other refreshments. All you need is:

  • Mason jars (2-6 recommended)
  • Glass candlesticks (2-6 recommended)
  • Epoxy
  • Sandpaper

The process:

  • Use the sand paper to scuff up the rim of the candlesticks so it adheres better. Wash and dry the candlesticks after the sanding so dust doesn’t get in the way.
  • One at a time, flip the mason jars upside down and put a fair amount of epoxy on the bottom of the jar. Carefully place the candlestick on the bottom of the jar and press the two pieces of glass together for the recommended amount of time.
  • Let the jars sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours before wrapping them up.

A Moonshine Watermelon

Watermelons are a sweet staple of summer get-togethers, and this one will make the party even more fun! Better yet is that it’s really simple to make if you already have the moonshine.

Just cut a hole with a 2-3 inch diameter in the top of the watermelon and keep the piece you cut out. Slowly pour in a cup or so of moonshine. Put the cut out piece back in place and clear a space in the fridge for the watermelon to chill for 24 hours.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Have a baking enthusiast on your gift list? A high-content alcohol like moonshine is the perfect base for homemade vanilla extract. All you need is the ‘shine and vanilla beans for this concoction, but there will be a long “fermentation” process, so now is the perfect time to start your extract for Christmas.

All you have to do is get yourself some vanilla beans (we suggest Madagascar or Mexican bean, which can be ordered online) and bottle up some of your moonshine.  Add several bean pods to begin with and let it sit. Keep adding beans every now and then and in about six months you should have some awesome extract to share with friends and family. For an added touch of class, pour the extract into a mason jar or other decorative bottle and top it off with a bow.

Product Highlight: Hillbilly Stills Sparkolloid Clearing Agent

Product Highlight: Hillbilly Stills Sparkolloid Clearing Agent

Hillbilly Stills Clears Up The Washing Process
In the interest of refining a home brew product for clarity, color, and sparkle, Hillbilly Stills recommends using a clearing wash before “putting it to bed” to simmer. Washing works wonders and helps make for a fantastic final brew.

After fermentation of the homemade mash is complete, a clearing wash should be stirred gently into the mix so that the “clouds” that are present at that time will settle at the bottom, leaving at the top a blend that results in a fine, smooth flavor.

Before adding the clearing wash, pour the mixture into another container. The product will be cloudy, waiting to receive a “wash job” for further improvement of quality, look, and taste. A clearing agent allows for separation of the cloudy stuff that will settle at the bottom while leaving a clearer product remaining above the sediment. After the first “settling” and “washing”, let the mixture stand for a short period of time to make sure no sediment remains. If it does, repeat the process a second time. Let the clearing wash work its magic.

Imagine the transparent, sparkling, liquid refreshment that will be ready for sipping pleasure!

And while we are speaking of transparency and sparkle, we recommend using a clearing agent that is by far the best in clearing washes.

Hillbilly Stills Sparkolloid Powder (a hot mix formula) is the one to use to clarify high pH alcobases, and as one customer says: “a good rye whiskey is a clear rye whiskey.”

Sparkolloid is the clearing wash that quickly settles the sediment in the mash, leaving behind the quality of liquid that is necessary for clear color and great taste.

Check out Sparkolloid! Find out what other enthusiastic distillers have to say about this great product. Get acquainted with the guys involved in its creation. Meet all the folks at Hillbilly Stills who are as passionate about the distillation of home brew as everyone else who practices brewing liquors.  To view our entire inventory of distillation products and accessories, visit www.hillbillystills.com.

Beer Can Chicken Cooker Review

Beer Can Chicken Cooker Review

If you haven’t already tried Beer Can Chicken, you don’t know what you’re missing. Not only is it easy to prepare, but it’s moist, tender, and so flavorful that you’ll want to have it for dinner every night. Beer Can Chicken requires two simple ingredients. You guessed it, just a can of your favorite beer and one whole chicken. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, since the recipe involves sitting the chicken upright overtop of the beer can, it can actually come along with a couple of dilemmas. Many Beer Can Chicken lovers have a hard time keeping the chicken from toppling over. Not only is that frustrating, but it is also unsafe.

beer can chicken cooker

The Stainless Steel Beer Can Chicken Cooker, also known as Cajun ChickCan rack resolves that problem in seconds. It’s so simple and easy to use that it’ll quickly become your favorite grilling accessory. It is custom made to hold any can, while its strong, sturdy frame holds the chicken firmly in place. In fact, it’s so sturdy that it will continue to keep the bird upright as you’re carving it! The frame itself draws in steam which helps to add moisture and flavor. All you have to do is grab a beer can that’s 3/4 full, season your chicken, and prop it on top. Next, you can cut a potato, and use it to block the neck cavity. This will further lock in that moisture, resulting in a fall-off-the bone chicken that’s more tender than anything you have ever eaten in a restaurant. Remember, you don’t have to stop at chicken. Duck and turkey are great options as well. You can also use canned soda in place of beer, and if you prefer using your oven instead of the grill, Beer Can Chicken tastes great when it’s baked as well. There are lots of possibilities for you to experiment with your Beer Can Chicken Cooker.

The Beer Can Chicken Cooker is crafted with stainless steel, making it easy to clean. It is durable, making it the only one you ever have to purchase. It’s no surprise that it was featured on both Live! With Regis & Kelly and The Today Show. Everybody enjoys a delicious roasted chicken, but it tastes even better knowing how easy and quick it was to prepare.

The Process of Alcohol Distillation

The Process of Alcohol Distillation

Alcohol Distillation Happens During the Moonshine Process

The primary chemical process that actually produces alcoholic byproduct during distilling is known as alcohol distillation. In short, it’s the process of separating Ethanol (the drinkable byproduct of brewing certain grains) from your mash, water, and other unwanted by products like methanol. There are many different steps that you need to go through while you’re distilling moonshine in order to get a great batch of moonshine.

Once your mash and fermentation processes are complete, there’s just one more process before fractional distillation is needed to separate the ethanol (alcohol) from the water in the fermented mash. That separation is accomplished by using specific levels of heat. When done properly, this process of alcohol distillation will create a spirit that’s high in alcohol content and has a pure, clean kick to it, leaving you with magnificent moonshine that is ready to ingest.

This type of alcohol distillation technique has been used for hundreds of years to make moonshine and other types of “hooch”, which in turn can be flavored and aged in different ways to make different types of spirits.

Pot Still HeadThe Steps to Alcohol Distillation

Here’s how you take malt, sugar, and water and turn it into moonshine right at home.

Step 1. Make your mash and ferment it

There is a lot to this process. So much that we spent an entire post about it. If you’re not familiar with this aspect of distilling, read the previous post, before moving on to the next step.

Step 2. Heat the wash in the pot

The wash from the fermenter is pumped into the pot portion of the still so that the mixture can be heated. Once heated the wash generates alcoholic steam and vapor. That steam is pumped into sleeve around the pot still to slowly heat the wash up to 173° F EXACTLY to separate the ethanol from the water.

Step 3. The ethanol vapor goes through the distillation column

After being heated, the ethanol/water vapor moves up to a cool copper distillation column. As the vapor condenses, some of it will fall back in the pot while the vapor with the highest alcohol content will continue on all the way to the top of the column.

Step 4. The vapor turns to liquid in the condenser

After passing through the lyne arm, the vapor enters the condenser. It’s a chamber that has a pipe that the vapor funnels into, which is surrounded by a pipe with cool water. This cools the vapor, which is condensed into liquid ethanol.

Step 5. Collect the moonshine mixture

The liquid ethanol drips from the condenser into a collection vessel positioned to catch it. It’s important to note that what comes out of the condenser has some variation.

  • The first little bit, called the foreshot, contains a high level of harsh chemicals like acetone and methanol. You should dump that down the drain. Consuming the early portion of your distilled alcohol can cause health problems and even make you go blind. Methanol has a lower boiling point than ethanol, so be sure to dump your first 5 – 10%.
  • The ethanol liquid that comes next, the heart, is the high-content alcohol that’s used to make the base of moonshine and hard liquor.
  • The last bit is a lower-content alcohol called the tails.

Step 6. Mix up the moonshine.

Many moonshiners will mix a very small amount of the foreshots with the hearts to make their mixture a little bit harsher, something called “white lightening.” This will give it just the right amount of kick without being too abrasive.

Now it’s time for the best step of all – enjoying your moonshine! If you prefer a little something different, you can age the mixture in barrels to create whiskey or bourbon. You can also make gin by putting a botanical mixture in the pot and re-distilling the moonshine.

What Exactly Happens When You’re Distilling Alcohol?

To the distilling newbie, the process of alcohol distillation might be a little confusing. How is it different than making beer or wine? What different ingredients might be used?

To be exact, the process for distilling alcohol starts out in much the same way as brewing beer or making wine: You  utilize yeast to breakdown sugars and create an alcohol byproduct. But in the first step of the distilling process, your yeast can only consume so much sugar from your mash. At a certain point, the amount of alcohol in the mixture can become toxic to the yeast halting the breakdown process. That line is somewhere around 11 – 18% ABV.

But moonshine and spirits are usually around the 40% ABV level, so how do you get there?

Once you’ve got the byproducts of CO2 and alcohol, you need to start the distillation process to get to the harder stuff. This is where boiling the mash comes in.

The process of distilling alcohol is using a heat source to separate the alcohol from the rest of your mash, condensing it into a tube and then converting it back into a liquid be cooling it down, completely separated from your mash.

Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water so distillers can easily separate the alcohol from the water by maintaining a consistent temperature of 173.1 degree Farenheit. Water has a boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Make Sure You Distilled Alcohol Properly

Safety first. The process of home distilling isn’t a simply one. The best way to ensure that you’re distilling your alcohol properly is to make sure you’ve got the proper equipment, all of which can be found over at Hillbilly Stills.

Things like using a electric heater that keeps your mash at an even temp, and using an appropriate distillation column will help ensure that you’re getting the right alcoholic mixture. There are also a couple tests you can perform to make sure that your mixture doesn’t have too much methanol.

  1. Smell your run. If it has a smell of ammonia, it’s not safe to drink.
  2. Methanol tends to burn yellow when lit, so you can gather a sample of your run and see what color flame it produces. NOTE: you should do this in an open environment, far away from the rest of your mixture.
  3. Test it with sodium dichromate. Not everyone will have the tools to do this, but it’s a surefire way to make sure that you’re not consuming harmful methanol. We got this description on how to test methanol from Science.com. “To do so, mix 8 mL of a sodium dichromate solution with 4 mL of sulfuric acid. Swirl gently to mix, then add 10 drops of the mixed solution to a test tube or other small container containing the alcohol. Swirl this container gently a few times, then waft the air from the mouth of the container towards your nose by fanning the air toward you with a hand, with the container placed roughly 8-12 inches from your face. Take note of the scent: If it is pungent and irritating, methanol is present in the alcohol. If the scent is dominating and fruity, only ethanol is present, and the beverage is safe.”

If you have any more questions about the process of alcohol distillation and how to make sure that you’re getting a great batch of moonshine, get in touch with Hillbilly Stills today!

Bayou Classic Deep Fryer, 2.5 Gallons Review

Bayou Classic Deep Fryer, 2.5 Gallons Review

Bayou Classic Deep Fryer, 2.5 GallonsWith 2.5 gallons of oil, you can cook a whole lot of fish! The Bayou Stainless Steel Deep Fryer has a unique shape with a “V” bottom, which keeps the oil rolling. This allows the cleanest oil to circulate around your food and makes the cooking almost foolproof. It is also economical, as the same oil will last much longer. You will save on propane due to an optimal heat distribution, and the cooler oil down in the “V” will keep the oil from overheating and scorching. With this deep fryer, blooming onions will be tastier than ever and your family will be clamoring for more.

The fryer unit comes with one stainless steel basket featuring a cool-touch handle, a thermometer, drain valve, high-pressure regulator, and stainless steel braided hose. Made for durability and functionality, the Bayou Deep Fryer is a well thought out design and had a soft sound unlike other fryers. There are two leg styles to choose from. If you choose table-top version, you will find it easily portable. Or you can choose the free-standing unit which is almost 33” high, and will be a proud addition to any patio, but still easy to move around.

Outdoor cooking is more than a fad; it is a way of life. It is a luxury available to anyone with an outdoor space. Who wants to cook in an overheated kitchen, with trapped smells and mess? Bring the deep fryer outside and enjoy the cool breeze and birdsong. Throw in some potato wedges with chicken pieces and some battered veggies, and you’ll have a tasty meal soon. The wonderful smell may bring in the neighbors, so make extra. You can be assured because of their reputation for quality equipment and great customer service, Hillbilly Stills will continue to bring innovative outdoor cooking items to the people who love them best. If you need a larger capacity unit, check out the 4 gallon-2 basket units, or the 9 gallon-3 basket units. Hillbilly Stills believes the Bayou Classic line of Deep Fryers is the only line of fryers on the market today that meets their high standards.