How does distilling liquor work?

I recently read an article about Mead. They mentioned some guy distilling it into a liquor that has 43% alcohol. They also mentioned distilling beer into schnapps. How is it done??

Really curious since I’m just getting into homebrewing.


Distillation works by taking advantage of the lower boiling point of alcohol. The mixture to be distilled is heated, and the alcohol evaporates much faster than the water does. The alcohol vapor is then cooled to condense it, and allowed to drip into a container.

Alcohol distillation is illegal at home (in the U.S.). Unless you want the BATF kicking down your door…don’t do it.

It is legal in some countries (like New Zealand, I think)…so a web search of “home distillation” might satsify any academic curiosity.

Even for my own use???

I’ve heard one can also take advantage of the lower freezing point of alcohol to distill. Lower the temperature of the stuff to be distilled to below that of water but above that of alcohol, and filter out the ice crystals.

Yes, it is illegal to distill alcohol for your own use. It is also illegal to use the freezing method Revtim mentioned. The “revenuers” are still arresting moonshiners, and the moonshiners do face criminal charges. This is federal law, so it applies all over the US. It can also be dangerous, you could make a mistake and end up with methanol and kill yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. But mostly don’t do it because it is illegal.

It is legal to make beer, wine, mead, etc for home use in almost all states in the US. You can make any alcoholic beverage of any potency as long as it is strictly fermented. You can make a very strong mead if you use special high-tolerance yeast, but it isn’t as potent as whiskey or any distilled spirit. The trouble is that alcohol is the waste product of the yeast as it digests the sugar. Once the alcohol percent grows strong enough, it kills the yeast. Some yeast strains are more tolerant, others are weaker, but there is only so strong you can make a fermented beverage. But so what? A typical serving of beer or wine has as much alcohol as a typical shot of spirits. You just have to drink more. And the beer and wine contain a lot of nutrients that will help you recover from the hangover.

Yes. Still illegal

You can’t make methanol accidentally by distilling, but you can make it by fermenting improperly.

I’d like to emphasize that home use info. It is also illegal for homebrewers to sell their homebrew. You can make 50 gallons a year…if there are 2 adults in your house, you can make 100 gallons.

God bless Jimmy Carter

Try here–

Just a bit of help from a Tennessee Pseudo-Hillbilly.

Yee-ha. :stuck_out_tongue: