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Making Moonshine the Simple Way

Making sugar wash moonshine using a simple Sugar wash is a mix of water, sugar, and yeast necessary in the fermentation of alcohol followed by distillation using a moonshine still.  A sugar wash is an affordable and one of the easiest ways to create a wash for fermentation. It can be done with cheap table sugar or dextrose, or brown sugar for more of a rum style wash.  Follow our simple sugar wash recipe.

How Sugars Turn Fermentable:

When a sugar wash comes into contact with a strain of yeast, over time the yeast will start to feed off the sugars and grow. As it grows, the sugars will convert into ethanol and carbon dioxide. When yeast first comes into contact with your sugar, 60 minutes or so should go by with little activity. Soon after, as the yeast colony continues to grow, it will start to feed off the sugars rapidly. When nutrients and sugars are becoming hard to come by for the yeast, and the alcohol percentage rises the fermentation process will end.

The Process:

Start with 5.5 gallons of hot water about 105-110 degrees F which is hot enough to dissolve the sugar. Pour 18 lbs of sugar into the hot water and stir until dissolved. Then put a couple hand fulls of ice in the sugar water to cool it down. You might need to let it sit for an hour or so until the temperatures comes down to around 80F. Then add the Turbo Yeast and stir in really well. Place lid on the fermentation bucket with air lock in place. Fermentation takes approximately 5 days and using the Mile Hi Distilling 48 Hour Turbo Yeast you should get up to 20% ABV (alcohol by volume) in the wash. Keep fermentation bucket in a dark place at 70-75F. If need be, use a Brew Belt to help keep temperature at 75F in cooler places like basements, etc.

Once these steps are done, the yeast will enter its first cycle of “life.”

  1. In this cycle, since the yeast is still trying to adapt to it’s new environment, it will hit a bit of lag in it’s reproduction. One to two hours will go by with little activity. Be patient and give it time.
  2. After this cycle has passed, the yeast will start “feeding” on the sugars in order to sustain in it’s environment without any more oxygen. The yeast will eat fast, and within the first 3 days or so, most of the sugars will be gone. You’ll notice your airlock will be bubbling frequently at this stage, as carbon dioxide expels from the bucket
  3. This cycle is within the last days of fermentation as the yeast has eaten up all sugar and stops thriving. With the airlock now only bubbling every so often, the yeast will fall to the bottom of the bucket as it ends it’s cycles. We recommend Mile Hi Distilling’s Turbo Clear to clear the wash. The Turbo Clear will pull down any suspended yeast and nutrient particulate to the bottom within 24 hours or you can just let the fermenter sit for a couple more days to clear by itself.

Making moonshine process will take 5-7 days with most strains of yeast. Our popular 48-Hour yeast is capable of producing 20% in 5 days, but it’s recommended to wait a full 7 days to have all yeast settle or use Turbo Clear for quicker clearing.

Another good alternative for making moonshine from regular sugar are actually fruits. This is a fun process to do because you can experiment with different fruits to achieve natural flavors in your finished product. A common example of this is using potatoes to make vodka. Apples, plums, pears, and a wide array of berries can also be used to experiment with to make that liquor using a moonshine still.

This process will work differently with fruits. Simply use table sugar and fruit juices collected is what you really want for fermentation. Keep cautious if you choose to skip this step and purchase fruit juice instead. Preservatives in some fruit juices has potential to kill the yeast in your mash. Normally, sugar washes created through this method end up having a lower ABV (Alcohol by Volume) percentage. If this isn’t desired, actual table sugar or dextrose can always be added in.

Now that your sugar mash has been fermented, you can transfer it to your boiler and begin your first run! See our Blog Posts on Your First Run!