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Brewing - Undistilled Mash and Beer, what's the difference?

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by 8BitX, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. 8BitX

    8BitX Silver Member

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    So I've been curious about this for several years now. As most of us know, when fermenting alcohol they yeast consumes the sugar and excretes mostly ethanol and trace amounts of methanol. But unlike ethanol, methanol is extremely toxic once metabolized by the liver. So the question here is, would drinking fermented moonshine mash have any possible risk? I don't know the exact process of fermenting beer but I know for a fact that it isn't distilled so the methanol is still in the mixture.
     
  2. rawbeer

    rawbeer Titanium Member

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    I think the danger of distilled methanol is that it's so concentrated. When you're drinking dilute amounts it's much less toxic - just like ethanol, which is pretty hard to kill yourself with when it's in beer form.

    But the main difference is that "beer" is brewed with flavor in mind but mash is brewed with ethanol alone. It has no hops or flavoring. Having said that distillers do sometimes refer to their mash as "beer".

    To answer your question I think the main danger would be that the mash probably wouldn't taste good. Unless there's a missing piece here I don't know about. But I'm pretty sure mash and beer are in many ways the same thing. Distilling (of ethanol) was invented to condense wine for shipping, creating brandy (from the Dutch "burnt wine"). Whisky is just what people who brewed grain instead of vinting wine did when they learned to distill - they distilled beer.
     
  3. 8BitX

    8BitX Silver Member

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    I also found that ethanol cancels out a big percentage of the methanol that is consumed because the ethanol bind to the receptors faster and make it so that less methanol is metabolized. I want to try this one day, I'm guessing you would have to be careful and make sure that there is enough alcohol to kill off the yeast?
     
  4. rawbeer

    rawbeer Titanium Member

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    Sorry, I know it's been a while...I didn't really think of yeast, or bacteria for that matter. Brewers must ensure that their beer is free of contamination but I guess distillers don't need to be as careful as the distilling process would kill any microorganisms. I would guess most skilled distillers are probably picky enough about their mash to make it sterile, if for no other reason than to prevent off-flavors. But I'm not so sure backwoods moonshiners would give a shit!

    I have heard that if one consumes methanol the antidote is to immediately consume ethanol - the liver cannot produce the enzymes to digest methanol with only methanol passing through it. However feed that liver some ethanol and it will produce said enzymes, or so it was explained to me, thus allowing both alcohols to be metabolized.
     
  5. happy_cofee

    happy_cofee Titanium Member

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    Yeast (brewer's yeast and baker's yeast) cannot create methanol. It only creates ethanol. Methanol appears at higher temperatures, when pectin and certain enzymes are combined. Even then, under normal beer brewing (or wine, for that matter) conditions, the amount of methanol present is very small, if non existent. Distillation however is a different thing entirely and this is why you should be certain about your moonshine's source. Poor practices can create a dangerous drink.
    Here is what I was able to find with a google search
    http://homedistiller.org/intro/methanol/methanol

    Now regarding the moonshine mash. It is important to know the starting material (ie, how the mash was made), the yeast used and the alcohol content. I would say that if it was made by fermenting table sugar (or perhaps brown sugar, honey and so on) with baker's yeast (or brewer's yeast) and kept at a content around 10% or lower, it should be completely safe. But my bet is that the taste will be horrible, to say the least.