Now that you’ve made the decision that you want to start distilling at home, it’s time to begin the journey!
Whether you need clean water to drink, want fresh oils to extract, or to stock yer’ shed with lawn mower fuel, you’ll need the proper supplies to help get the job done. A great start to the hobby is plenty of research on basic mash preparation and the running of a still. Developing a plan on what it is you want to make and how much, will dictate what equipment you will need to get started. You will need some basic equipment for each of the 3 main stages of the process.
Disclaimer: This list does not cover everything you could ever want, but rather just the basics to get started.
Assuming you need to stock the shed with fuel, like me, I’ll walk you through what I think are some great supplies to get you through your first mash and still run. This first set of supplies you will need for making your mash. Many of these supplies can be found at home, though it does help to have distilling equipment built for this purpose. A great heat source is your very own stove top. Or, if you would rather cook outdoors, check out the propane jet cookers we sell. These will bring your water to a boil in much less time. Another item commonly found at home is a large stainless steel pot. You’ll want a pot big enough to cook your liquids without risk of stirring or boiling the contents over the rim.
Once you have assembled your supplies, you next need materials to mash! Moonshine Distiller is happy to offer 100% Colorado-grown grain for sale, the Rocky Mountain climate gives our grains some unique properties. Especially our rye! We also supply fantastic other material that can be used for a variety of distillations. Once you have decided on the types of material you want in your mash, you might want to consider a look at our line of distilling enzymes, as they will be very helpful for beginners and experts alike!
Next, you’ll need to figure out a way to transfer what you’ve cooked into your fermentation vessel, which could be as simple as a plastic bucket or as advanced as our conical bottomed stainless steel fermenter. You can dump your mash right into the vessel or use a hose to siphon it. I would suggest experimenting to figure out which is the easiest, most effective way for you to transfer without loosing any liquid. Pro-tip: Make sure the vessel is bigger than the volume of mash!
If you are doing an all grain mash, you may opt to strain the grains out before fermentation, as that will help save space inside the fermenter (although it does increase the risk of introducing an infection into your mash). Most people use a strainer or straining bags, but I have heard of creative minds use all kinds of other items! (pillow cases, for instance).
Before you pitch the yeast, I can’t more strongly recommend taking an Original Gravity (OG) so that you have a benchmark (more on that in this blog post about gravity measurements). A trusty triple scale hydrometer will help monitor your fermentation using gravity readings. Some folks ferment open top (resting the lid on top of the container without sealing it) and others with a closed top with the use of an air-lock.
Well, there are a couple different types of stills, and that is a whole different bag of worms. We created a separate blog post covering the differences between various types of stills that we make.