How to Proof Moonshine

So you have brewed a great batch of moonshine and now want to know how much alcohol is in it. Unlike store bought alcoholic beverages, there’s no alcohol by volume (ABV) label on your homemade liquor.  Whether you’re a making moonshine for the first time or you have been doing it for a long time, you need to perform a simple test to ascertain the amount of alcohol in your moonshine.

The production of moonshine without proper permits is illegal. Remember to check your state laws when distilling any alcohols.

Proofing Moonshine

One method that experienced moonshiners used to determine the proof of their drink was to shake their mason jar and observe the bubbles. Large bubbles that dissolve very quickly mean that the shine has a high alcohol content. On the other hand, small bubbles that move slowly mean a low alcohol content. This is known as the Shake Test. This test has been used for more than a century to proof moonshine or alcohol and it’s commonly used even today.

However, people can make moonshine quickly and with great accuracy by using a few tools. Here, you’ll learn how to proof moonshine using a copper proofing parrot and a hydrometer.

Alcohol Proof Vs Alcohol by Volume (ABV)

ABV is the measurement of the content of alcohol in an alcoholic drink. In the United States, alcohol proof is said to be twice the percentage of alcohol by volume. For instance, moonshine that has a proof of 120 contains 60% ABV.

Hydrometer

A hydrometer is a tool that is used to determine the density of a liquid in relation to water. It allows distillers to determine the potential alcohol content as well as the actual alcohol content.

It is important to point out here that there are two different types of hydrometers: a brewing hydrometer and a proofing hydrometer (also known as a spirit hydrometer).

Corn Moonshine Proofing

When preparing corn whiskey, you can use a brewing hydrometer to determine either the potential alcohol content or alcohol content by measuring its specific gravity. This allows you to check the progress of the fermentation process. On the other hand, you can use a proofing hydrometer to determine the final alcohol content. Unlike brewing hydrometers that can measure up to a moonshine mash with a 20% potential ABV, a proofing hydrometer can measure up to 100% ABV or 200 proof. To learn more about brewing hydrometers, be sure to check out our recent posts.

It’s really pretty easy to use a proofing hydrometer. Simply fill the parrot or test jar with the moonshine and immerse the hydrometer into the parrot/jar. Give your hydrometer a gentle spin to ensure there are no air bubbles on the sides of the device. Once your hydrometer has finally settled, take the specific gravity reading at the surface level of the moonshine.

A Copper Proofing Parrot

You can use a hydrometer and copper proofing parrot to measure or check the proof of your final product.

Simply immerse your proofing hydrometer into your copper parrot to ensure the drip part from your moonshine or spirit drips into your parrot. The moonshine fills up in the parrot, thereby floating the hydrometer. The hydrometer will indicate the proof of the moonshine dripping out of the still.

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