My guest today is Victoria Redhed Miller, who joins me for the second part of our conversation on Craft Distilling, this time to talk about the art of the process which turns fermented sugars, whether from grains, fruit, molasses, or honey, into tasty, tasty liquor.
Along the way she tells us about the process of distilling, including watching for our heads, hearts, and tails; the poisonous compounds found and concentrated in distilled alcohol we need to look out for; equipment every distiller should own to keep them and their final product safe; and why we should think twice about making sugar-shine.
If you’d like to hear one of Victoria’s talks on distilling or making bread, attend one of the 2018 Mother Earth News Fairs, there are still several left in the year, including Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Kansas.
If you’re interested in making booze at home, after listening to our first episode together on the legality of this practice and deciding it is worth the concern, I highly recommend her book, Craft Distilling, as you can learn all you need from Victoria’s hands-on, experience-based approach.
If you want to learn more about making beer, wine, or mead as the basis for your at-home still runs, I recommend the following books from my days as a brewer, vintner, and mead maker.
The first of those is Charlie Papazian’s classic The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. This will tell you just about everything, and I do mean everything, about making beer.
From there, on the wine side, one of the favorites that got me started is The Foxfire Book of Winemaking, filled with memories and recipes for wines, juices, and punches based on the traditions of the region I call home, Appalachia.
Finally, when it comes to making mead, though I like The Complete Meadmaker and several others, my go-to is Jereme Zimmerman’s Make Mead Like a Viking. He’ll have you wild fermenting honey in no time, and after a night of drinking with Jereme before an event can say that a honey-based gin is a delightful thing.
At this point, I would like to offer an update in my comment about methanol and damaging the optic nerve. The amount required to do so is 10ml or about 2 teaspoons. To me, that’s not much, but looking into it further the risk of creating and consuming methanol in that quantity from a single batch of alcohol is unlikely. The issue increases, however, through multiple distillations as we combine and concentrate larger amounts of alcohol. Play it safe, use the alcohol refractometer, and make sure you separate your heads, hearts, and tails.
A Patreon exclusive giveaway for Craft Distilling starting on Tuesday, July 10th and open for entries through Thursday, July 19th. Leave a comment in that post and you’ll be entered in the drawing.
Not a Patreon supporter? Check out Patreon.com/permaculturepodcast for the list of rewards and to sign up today.
For her book on bread, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title “Sourdough” to enter that giveaway. I’ll pick the winner for that on Monday, July 30.
What did you think of this episode? Did you learn something new? Are you interested in brewing beer or setting up a still?
Leave a comment below or get in touch. You can use the regular email address, as above, give me a call at 717-827-6266, or drop a letter in the post.
The Permaculture Podcast
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018
At the moment I’m not sure what piece will come out next, but you can expect that by July 20th or earlier.
Until then spend each day learning the skills that help to create the world you want to live and take care of Earth, yourself, and each other.
Victoria Redhed Miller
From No-Knead to Sourdough
New Society Publishers
The Legality of Craft Distilling (Our First Interview)