Making Fine Spirits author Zymurgy Bob signs books and explains hobby distilling
On Saturday May 11th, at 1:00, Sierra Moonshine Homebrew Supplies, in Grass Valley, Califirnia, will host a lecture, Q&A session, and book signing by Zymurgy Bob, author of Making Fine Spirits, a a book for the beginning hobbyist distiller. Specifically, Bob will explain how to make rums, fruit brandies, grain whiskeys, and other traditional fine liquors, using that traditional tool of old-world liquor craftsmen, the potstill.
Answering the Basic Hobby Distillation Questions
Speaking from the book, Bob will start by addressing the very first questions a prospective hobby liquor distiller should ask.
Is it safe? Is it good? Is it legal?
He’ll explain and dispel most of the fear of the dreaded methanol, and focus safety concerns on the flammability of ethanol. He’ll point out that the best products are often produced by the small-scale craftsman, a principle that also applies to distilled spirits, so the hobbyist can produce liquors of amazing quality. He’ll discuss various aspects of legality and enforcement, and how they are changing.
Bob will explain the most basic principles of simple distillation, especially as applied to potstill distillation, and in the process debunk a lot of commonly-held misconceptions. For those who think they might want to try this hobby but are afraid of major commitment, he shows how to build a small inexpensive “toe-in-the-water” potstill, made of hardware store and thrift shop parts, and then makes a passable brandy from grocery-store wine.
Understanding yeast and the Fermentation
Because the actual alcohol is first created by the action of yeast, Bob describes the life cycle of the yeast critter, what makes it multiply, what makes it turn sugar to alcohol, what makes it happy so your fermentation tastes good, what makes it stop fermenting, and what makes it die. He’ll also point you at tables that will put numbers to yeast behavior, and allow you to design your own fermentation.
Building Your First “Real” Still”
Bob will show you the book’s first really practical still, and explain what materials are safe, easy to work with, and commonly available, and he’ll discuss still designs in general, demonstrating that what liquors you want to make can determine the design of your still.
Recipes and Aging
He’ll tell you of recipes, simple and complicated, for brandies, both thick and thin whiskey washes, rums, gins, and neutral alcohol for adding flavors. He’ll explain how traditional liquor aging techniques work, and how you can duplicate, control, and speed them up in a hobbyist environment.
Bob will describe the functions of the triple-scale hydrometer, the alcoholometer, the refractometer, and the pH meter, tell you when to use each instrument, and when not to, and steer you away from the mistakes commonly made using these instruments.
The Q & A Session