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#1 TheGreenOne

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 11:16 AM

From the Food section of the Washington Post

The Scene of the Crime Was an Upscale Suburb

AN HOUR OUTSIDE NEW YORK CITY -- Near here was a grapevine. The vine grew long. Its fruit was plucked. The grapes were crushed. Their seeds and skins were separated. The juice made wine. And later, the seeds and skins were stuffed into garbage bags and dumped in the bed of a pickup truck to travel here to this front yard and, through simple chemistry and patient tending, become something entirely different, something not really legal, something as clear as spring water and flammable as gasoline.

They call this moonshine, but it ain't the stuff made with car radiators in the hillbilly country of the South. It is not for sale, but for personal consumption, and it is carefully handmade in the isolated yard of a home in a well-appointed suburb of New York City. It is part of a mini-renaissance of individual urban and suburban small-batch distillers in back yards, on rooftops, in kitchens and even occasionally here, in a clearing across from a forest.

"There have always been pockets of people who do it in the cities. It was never quashed entirely," says Matthew B. Rowley, author of "Moonshine!" Still, he says, "What you're seeing now is there are more people doing it, and they're also being more open about what they're doing."

It is a trend driven in part by immigrants, such as the Argentine man in Queens who goes to a local market that sells winemaking grapes and heaves home boxes of other people's leftover seeds and skins to ferment for his own grappa in his back yard. And it is driven in part by next-generation foodies forever seeking a more complex and rustic thrill from the homemade, such as a young American-born food blogger who experiments in his Brooklyn kitchen with delicate apple brandy and absinthe from homegrown herbs.

Here in this yard, from noon to nearly midnight on a Sunday last fall, an Armenian immigrant instructs a party of New Yorkers in the art of making a favorite alcohol of his native land and, all the while, drinks it with them.

"It's very strong," says Ashot, the Armenian, who does not give his full name because it against federal law to make liquor without paying taxes and getting permits.

The grape pips and skins have been sitting in a barrel for a month and have become a powerful yellow brew that stinks of ferment. This is the mash, and Ashot dumps a portion of it into a container over a fire.

He works on a homemade still. It is made from a $25 stainless-steel milk can (whose lid is held on with woodworking clamps), a stretch of copper pipe and half-inch copper tubing spiraling through a 55-gallon drum.

The fire burns on hickory wood gathered from the forest. The fire can't burn too hot, Ashot says, or it will put pressure on the mash; that's what causes moonshining disasters, explosions and fires.

As the mash boils, vapor rises into the pipe above. Where the neck of the pipe bends horizontally, the vapor travels through it and cools; where the pipe turns down vertically into a barrel of cold water from a garden hose, inside the pipe the vapor turns liquid. It drips into a waiting cup as spirits.

The first round is bluish in color -- still full of impurities, Ashot says. One woman grimaces as she tastes the first dribs. It must be distilled a second time, perhaps a third.

Ashot calls it vodka, though purists would say that only spirits made from barley, grain or potatoes deserve that name, and elsewhere in the world, people would call Ashot's grape-based brew grappa or aguardiente. It is for Ashot the he-licks-her of alcohols. "This is clear," he demonstrates, holding a cup to the sunshine so the light shines through. "There's no smell. It is pure. You don't get a headache the next day."

Homemade vodka, he says, is a cure for just about any ill. Pour it on children's hands to keep them from getting sick. Rub it on a sick person's body to bring down a fever. And then, of course, some might take a swig to dull emotional or physical pain.

Back in rural Armenia, he would help his parents and grandparents make vodka by carrying wood or fetching a bucket of water from the river. Now he has other reasons to labor for a day to produce a year's supply of liquor. When you make vodka by your own hand, you can have confidence in its ingredients and know it was created with care, says Ashot, who comes from a part of the world where death by alcohol made with perfume, after-shave or cleaning fluids is not uncommon. His homemade brew, he insists, is cheap but good, as good as the premium Russian stuff that costs $70 a bottle.

Bulk grape sellers in Brooklyn and the Bronx will tell you that some of their best customers -- Italians and Argentines, Croatians and Portuguese -- have always supplemented their winemaking -- which is legal -- with a batch of illegal grappa, and they cite the same reasons Ashot does.

Most every place in the world has its homemade hard liquor: Chilean aguardiente, made with almonds and walnuts; Cambodian lao khao, sometimes infused with scorpions; Lebanese arak, with aniseed. And in recent decades, as people from all over have immigrated to American cities, you can bet that in every urban center, some thirsty soul has tried to re-create the alcohol of home.

Another factor has contributed to the rise of the urban and suburban home distillery, and that is the Internet, says Allen Katz, the chairman of the board of Slow Food USA and a mixologist himself. The Internet has been a boon to all kinds of semi-licit activities, enabling people to read and learn in the privacy of their homes and order the materials they need with the click of a mouse, he says.

"We're not talking about building a bomb here," Katz says. "We're talking about a practice that has been done for centuries."

It has spawned a spate of "I'm going to make my own damn hooch" moonshiners, he says, who use a crude sugar wash to get the maximum proof with the minimum work and learn how to do it on Web sites such as Homedistiller.org, based in New Zealand, where home distilleries are legal.

The Internet has also fueled the resurgence of interest in artisanal liquor traditions, an offshoot of the general renaissance in handcrafted food production. The trend attracts a Harvard-educated lawyer here, a Manhattan chef there, people who have lofty ambitions for their product and a notion of the science behind making spirits: the ease or difficulty of distilling a particular grain, the pH and sugar levels in one kind of apple vs. another.

Enter the Brooklyn food blogger, who refuses to give his name for fear of legal repercussions, who mounts his still on top of his kitchen stove to take advantage of its steady gas flame.

He makes apple brandy from apple cider he fermented, distilling it to ramp up the alcohol content to 140 proof. He distills mead he first made from local buckwheat honey.

Hoping to pay back his college loans, he toyed last summer with the idea of making and selling absinthe, the "green fairy" long illegal in the United States, but his plans were stymied when he found out absinthe is now being imported legally.

He wants to make whiskey, but not just average whiskey. He will use heirloom floor-malted Scottish barley: grain that was spread over the floor of a building in Scotland, hosed down, raked periodically until it sprouted, then put in a kiln to dry. The food blogger bought an old cast-iron grain mill to crack the grain himself.

He plans this summer to make slivovitz, from plums, and would also like to try to distill maple syrup.

"I'm a tinkerer," he says. "I want to see how to capture the flavor and the essence of a perfectly ripe apple, or whatever it is I'm using."

And then there is Ashot, who swigs coffee and sucks on cigarettes as he contemplates the fire of his still amid a crowd of New York City artist and media types. By moonrise, the smell of ferment and smoke fills the air. A swallow of fresh vodka burns straight down to the gut. "This is good," Ashot says, smiling.

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#2 Crosby

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 06:53 PM

:yafuck:

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#3 Bognoz

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:03 PM

What's Amerika coming to?
A nation of outlaws, I tell you.

But will legalisation be
a campaign issue come fall?
Pretty animal doesn't trust you,
unless you prepare a great hot chocolate.

#4 Rho

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 04:35 AM

shit, and I'm moving to west by god to find the good stuff. Should have gone to new york city.

#5 G&C

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 05:04 AM

I hear all the best stuff is out west.

Or, soon will be.

"It never was about absinthe anyway" - artemis 1/16/2015


#6 Crosby

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 08:47 AM

Seattle rox!
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#7 Rho

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 10:34 AM

I spent a couple of days in Seattle while I was doing some work with Washington University. I wish I knew then what I now know of the place. Still, a nice city with beautiful scenery. Wify wouldn't have wanted me to go to school out there, though. Tried.

I'm not headed that far west, though. Just West Virginnie (how do you spell that slang?), west by god, almost heaven.

Almost is a relative term.

#8 Bognoz

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 10:34 AM

Buncha

hill billies.
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#9 Rho

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 05:26 PM

Aye, they are. Apart from a few professors at the university, I've not seen two neurons spark a connection yet.

The Plan:
Get in,
Get degree,
Get out,
Profit.

#10 jaded prol

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 02:42 AM

What will you be getting a degree in?
Drinking for medicinal reasons.

You may say I'm a drinker
but I'm not the only one.

#11 Rho

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 04:10 AM

Chem Engineering. They have a decent program for that, and should pretty much guarantee a job within an energy market. They do a whole lot of work with the coal industry, but work with the energy department in general. Not really what I've been doing at all, so I may have other options.

I've got an undergrad in chemistry right now, and work in pigment research. If you have any questions about titanium dioxide, let me know.

How many of you are up in Allentown? I've done a bit of work with Air Products, and before deciding to head off to grad school thought hard about sending them an application.

and yeah, I'm throwing out a lot of information right now. Everyone here knows each other, you don't know me. I didn't say much in the introductory post, but you have many of the public puzzle pieces out on the board now.

#12 TheGreenOne

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 06:44 AM

If you have any questions about titanium dioxide, let me know.

What are your views on the scientific merits of ICTA's Citizen Petition before FDA to regulate nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide used in sunscreens under the Food Drug and Cosmeitc Act?

shuck and jive is an important skill

 

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#13 Justin

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 06:56 AM

This is all white noise to me.

#14 Rho

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 08:08 AM

Thank you for the link.

I believe people get very scared very easily. Sometimes the fear is warranted, sometimes it is not. Personally, I’m not very scared of the zinc or titanium oxides in sunscreen. I am more scared of the liquid parts. What are the chemicals they are using to suspend the oxides?

I don’t work in the sunscreen industry at all.

There are two major crystal structures of titanium dioxide (TiO2), anatase and rutile. Most pigments sold in the US are made with rutile, and not anatase. Pigments sold in other countries are more likely to contain anatase. The two structures deal with UV light differently, both adsorb the light though rutile starts at a higher wavelength.

A lot of work is done to make anatase less destructive to the media containing it. It tends to quickly destroy plastics that are exposed to sunlight by creating free radicals. To work around this the anatase (and rutile) is frequently coated with another oxide. Silica, alumina and zinc are frequent coatings of the titania. Some of that is for handling, some of that is for stability. I don’t know if sunscreen’s TiO2 is coated, or how.

If the companies making sunscreens are using anatase TiO2 in their sunscreens, I would be a bit concerned. I assume they use rutile. I would also assume that the companies are making efforts to make sure that the products are safe. There are few better things than TiO2 for reflecting and scattering light. I believe the lead oxides are better, but…

Oh, here is a quick google search of an abstract showing how anatase and rutile are different:
http://www.sciencedi...17cbd321f736d27

One other thing: I have to label every chemical in my lab with HMIS stickers and keep MSDS’s on file. Wet slurries of TiO2 get NO health warnings. Dry powders get a slight inhalation hazard because it makes a dust that, when in the lungs, the body cannot do anything with. If you’ve ever eaten a white breath mint, you’re eating TiO2 (the size of the particles should be ~400nm). Practically, anything that is white has TiO2 in it. Most things that would be clear if they were not made opaque (read plastics) use TiO2 for opacity and dye for color. It’s everywhere. You cannot get away from it. I promise. Print this out, I’m 90% sure you’ll be printing on paper containing TiO2.

#15 TheGreenOne

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 08:41 AM

anything that is white has TiO2 in it. It’s everywhere. You cannot get away from it. I promise.

Now I'm scared.

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#16 Crosby

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 09:33 AM

How many of you are up in Allentown?

At the moment, none.
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#17 Rho

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 11:31 AM

"I'm going to try to see if I can remember as much to make it sound like I'm smart on the subject."

#18 absinthist

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 12:19 PM

Zinc oxide is so-so. Titanium dioxide is overrated. Basic lead carbonate is the real deal™ white. Am I right, and we are talkin' about pigments?

Edited by absinthist, 08 June 2008 - 12:24 PM.

"therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge"

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N. Machiavelli

#19 Rho

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 01:46 PM

you got it. Lead is the heavyweight. And then you get to sue when your kid turns into leadbelly, bonus!

#20 GreyBoy2

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 05:16 PM

I would be very happy if'n my kid was half as talented as Leadbelly.
They're to keep out witches!

#21 GreyBoy2

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 05:16 PM

Of course,
I would have to have a kid I didn't kill first.
They're to keep out witches!

#22 Rho

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 05:54 AM

Thank you for keeping your xit out of our pool, the waters are plenty muddy already. Oh wait, that's a different shade of blues.

#23 absinthist

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 09:29 AM

you got it. Lead is the heavyweight. And then you get to sue when your kid turns into leadbelly, bonus!

The UE-engineered bullxit concernin' lead pigments toxicity is as overrated as that of wormwood's and tansy's butt we are gettin' over it.
"therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge"

"Men’s hatreds generally spring from fear or envy"


N. Machiavelli

#24 Bognoz

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 10:43 AM

May I offer the Master
another chip?
Pretty animal doesn't trust you,
unless you prepare a great hot chocolate.

#25 absinthist

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 12:32 PM

Ya may. Or not™.
"therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge"

"Men’s hatreds generally spring from fear or envy"


N. Machiavelli

#26 Rho

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 02:16 PM

you still get to sue

#27 Crosby

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 07:41 PM

Poland, leading the green movement since 1945.

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#28 Bognoz

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 08:53 PM

Isn't that the
Opona reef?
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#29 GreyBoy2

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 09:12 PM

Thank you for keeping your xit out of our pool,

Hey, no problem.

Sometimes I wish my parents were as considerate.
They're to keep out witches!

#30 Crosby

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 09:35 PM

I think many of us share that feeling. :blbl:
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#31 TheGreenOne

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 07:35 AM

Large illegal moonshine operation uncovered in Hancock County (MS)

 

KILN, MS (WLOX) -One of the largest moonshine busts in the Magnolia State in many years happened on Tuesday in Hancock County.

 

If you drove all the way to the dead end of Hubert Dedeaux Road in the Kiln, you would see an unassuming shed sitting next to some bales of hay and various vehicles. Upon further inspection, Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents found that it was one of the largest, most sophisticated illegal moonshine operations discovered in the state of Mississippi in several years.

 

***

 

So far, there have been no arrests, but agents do have a person of interest that they are questioning. Possession of untaxed whiskey is a misdemeanor. Distilling is a felony.

17547721_G.jpg?auto=webp&disable=upscale

 

17547724_G.jpg?auto=webp&disable=upscale

 

17547727_G.jpg?auto=webp&disable=upscale

 

17547732_G.jpg?auto=webp&disable=upscale

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#32 Kirk

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 08:59 AM

That is one nasty looking still


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#33 jaded prol

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 10:46 AM

Probably indicative of the product.


Drinking for medicinal reasons.

You may say I'm a drinker
but I'm not the only one.

#34 TheGreenOne

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:59 AM

That is a true service to the public health that the ax-wielding officer is performing.


shuck and jive is an important skill

 

I cannot play music on an infinite keyboard.


#35 Bognoz

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 02:28 AM

It's Mississippi.

'nuff said.


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unless you prepare a great hot chocolate.

#36 artemis

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:59 AM

https://thelastdrive...d-horror-films/
You might be surprised how well old goat sausages are able to stand up to the heat.

#37 Absinthe_1900

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Posted 08 September 2018 - 02:14 PM

Attached File  here at the rock.jpg   41.62K   0 downloads


Remember, an armed TXLF is a polite TXLF




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