How Moonshine Works


Announcer

Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark

Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. There's Chuck Bryant.

Chuck Bryant: Where?

Josh Clark

Right there.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

This is Stuff You Should Know. Chuck, put your cool-guy hat back on. There you go.

Chuck Bryant

Sorry.

Josh Clark

Chuck is wearing one of those newsy caps. It's his newest thing.

Chuck Bryant

The flat cap. They're in style, and I'm a stylish guy.

Josh Clark

He's looking - coming up next is floor-length mink coat.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

I can totally see you in it.

Chuck Bryant

Right, faux mink fink.

Josh Clark

That's right, yeah, because who wants red paint or blood thrown all over them when they walk down the street?

Chuck Bryant

Exactly.

Josh Clark

Chuck, I have an anecdote for you.

Chuck Bryant

I don't wanna know.

Josh Clark

All right. Well, I need to come up with another segue then.

Chuck Bryant

No, go ahead.

Josh Clark

Okay. So back before we knew each other, years and years ago. I had a whole group of friends, good friends. My dad was there. Both of my brothers-in-law were there. And one of my great all-time friends, Tom Scheve, who actually writes for this site!

Chuck Bryant

Oh, yeah. I didn't know that was a friend of yours.

Josh Clark

Yes, yeah, oh, yeah, good friend. He came down from Tennessee. He was living in Johnson City, Tennessee at the time. And Tom brought with him to the party a pint of moonshine.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, yeah.

/>

Josh Clark

Just perfectly crystal-clear moonshine.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, rotgut.

Josh Clark

And there was a - no, no, believe me, whoever made this knew exactly what they were doing. There was a peach in the bottom even.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, nice.

Josh Clark

And one of my friends, who was probably the youngest one at the party, kind of a little punk at the time, just jokingly, you know, grabbed the moonshine and walked over to my dad, who was in his 60s at the time, and said, "Hey, Mel, you wanna do some shots?" And my dad grabbed the pint, and it just went from there. Those two drank the whole thing, and my dad matched a 21-year-old kid shot for shot -

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

- of moonshine.

Chuck Bryant

Man.

Josh Clark

And it gets better. And then, after they were finished, my dad ate the peach.

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

My dad ate the peach, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, and I imagine that thing really had soaked up quite a bit of booze at that point.

Josh Clark

It really had. My dad has no recollection of this event -

Chuck Bryant

Ah, perfect.

Josh Clark

- but it's kind of become around my family this kind of badge of honor. He ate the peach, you know, that kind of thing.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So anytime somebody does something, like, really cool or tough or unexpected, you know, he ate the peach.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

So that was my segue into "How Moonshine Works."

Chuck Bryant

That's good. I like that.

Josh Clark

Yeah?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Have you ever tasted moonshine?

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah, yeah. I've drank it before. I actually lived in Johnson City for a little while.

Chuck Bryant

I knew some people that lived there as well.

Josh Clark

And I gotta tell you, man, it is Appalachia, like, around - I actually lived outside, kind of up on a mountain around the corner from people who lived in school buses with chimneys coming out of them - I'm not kidding -

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

But imagine if you, like, you were into home brewing, and your grandfather taught you how to do it -

Chuck Bryant

Right, exactly.

Josh Clark

- you know that kind of thing. Like, they know exactly what they're doing. They take a bunch of pride in it. And then, you know, you just kind of get it from a friend or something. And it's actually really cheap. It's, like, 10 bucks for a quart or something like that.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I've never paid for it. I've had it quite a few times, too, at various parties. You know, someone, like you said, will just show up out of nowhere with a jar, a Mason jar. And I always kind of befriend that person because I love the taste of moonshine.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

It's really tough to stomach, but there's something about the corn whiskey.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

But I think right now is the point that we should say that it's illegal.

Josh Clark

Very, in any form.

Chuck Bryant

And we do not encourage anyone to go out and build their own still, even though we're going to tell you how to.

Josh Clark

And this is also based on an article that you can find on HowStuffWorks.com in the recipes section, if that doesn't tell you something right there.

Chuck Bryant

Right. I don't know what that says about us, but -

Josh Clark

Yeah. Well, we have recipes for moonshine on our site, that's what it says.

Chuck Bryant

I guess so.

Josh Clark

All right. So, Chuck, let's talk about moonshine a little bit. Where should we start?

Chuck Bryant

Well, I think we should travel back in time a bit to Great Britain, to the UK.

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah. Where does the word come from? Great thinking!

Chuck Bryant

Right. The word, "moonshine" actually comes from England. Originally, the term started from a verb, "moonshining," which referred to any job that you did late at night, like, the midnight shift was moonshining.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

And it eventually just kind of morphed into making illegal booze because they did it at night, you know, under cover of the night.

Josh Clark

Well, not only did they make it, they also ran it, which is a different word, "bootlegging."

Chuck Bryant

Bootlegging, right.

Josh Clark

It was smuggled at night.

Chuck Bryant

Right. And that, if you wanna know -

Josh Clark

I do.

Chuck Bryant

- the word there is from they would stick it in their high boots, the bottles, in their high boots.

Josh Clark

Their riding boots, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, their riding boots.

Josh Clark

Yeah, that's how they smuggled it, so bootleggers.

Chuck Bryant

I really choked that out there, didn't I? That was smooth.

Josh Clark

This is during colonial times, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Okay. So these are distinct words. Like, a moonshiner and a bootlegger may be one and the same, but it depends on the activity they're engaged in at any given time, right?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So the moonshiner actually makes the stuff. The bootlegger smuggles it.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And there's a third one actually, too: a rumrunner.

Chuck Bryant

Which is by sea, right?

Josh Clark

It's a bootlegger who smuggles by sea.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

It's all very, like -

Chuck Bryant

Very cool.

Josh Clark

- yes, this wonderful, hazy past of smuggling ships and riding horses with boots filled with whiskey.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Let's try not to romanticize it, huh?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, you're right. I think though I'm gonna set you up here because I know this is your favorite part of this whole podcast. In the 1940s and '50s, in the United States, they started doing this by car, started filling up their trunk with moonshine and bootlegging, high-speed chases, and go.

Josh Clark

And actually, these people would tinker with their cars. You've got these kind of backwoods mechanics who learned to take, like, a Ford V8 and turn it into this supercharged, turbo-boosted, wonderfully suspended car that could outrun any cop in the Georgia mountains or whatever.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Think of the Dukes of Hazzard, that kind of thing.

Josh Clark

And these guys actually kind of became gear heads, and they started challenging one another to races, and out of that came NASCAR.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

NASCAR is directly descended from bootlegging.

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and actually, the first guy - I love this - I love this fact - the first guy to win an official NASCAR race, his name was Glenn Dunaway, and he won the first official race on December 12, 1948 in Daytona, Florida. He won the race but was disqualified because it's stockcar racing. You're not supposed to have a modified. And he had an illegal wedge for handling, right?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So he was disqualified, but he actually won the first race. The reason he had the wedge was because he'd used that car to smuggle a bunch of whiskey the week earlier in North Carolina.

Chuck Bryant

Right, same car.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

I know that's your favorite - you should just end it right now because it doesn't get any better than that.

Josh Clark

Yeah, I'm just gonna go to sleep. Can you take the rest of the podcast?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I'll take it from here.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

So, yeah, you talked about rumrunning, which is by sea. And bootlegging - or I'm sorry, moonshine is made of corn generally.

Josh Clark

In the US, it's almost exclusively made of corn, but it can be made of any grain, right?

Chuck Bryant

Correct, but -

Josh Clark

Or fruit.

Chuck Bryant

True.

Josh Clark

Anything that has starches in it.

Chuck Bryant

Right. But it's generally in the US made - you hear it referred to as corn whiskey. So you need cornmeal, sugar, yeast and water. Every alcoholic beverage, I think, needs yeast. Is that true?

Josh Clark

I don't know.

Chuck Bryant

I know beer does.

Josh Clark

You've really put me on the spot here.

Chuck Bryant

I know. Someone's gonna write in and tell us.

Josh Clark

Well, actually, I've got so

mething for you. Part of the process of making whiskey involves the same process as you use to make beer, right?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

That's fermentation.

Chuck Bryant

Exactly.

Josh Clark

And technically, apparently, among the distilleries, the word that they use for the fermented alcohol before it's distilled is beer. So apparently, any alcohol that goes through a fermentation process is technically called beer.

Chuck Bryant

I did not know that.

Josh Clark

So wine would technically be beer.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Isn't that weird?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Okay. But that's just Step 1, and the fermentation process is basically just adding yeast to whatever grain there is, and the yeast goes to town on it. They're very simple plants actually. They ingest this stuff, and as a byproduct, they put out carbon dioxide and alcohol. And what that stuff's called is mash.

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

So this fermented stuff is called mash, and you take the mash, and now we get into the distilling process.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Well, then you heat it up to about 172º Fahrenheit, and wood coal - you can use anything. Basically, you want - you can even use steam to heat it up.

Josh Clark

Sure. Now they use propane, I understand.

Chuck Bryant

Sure, because, you know, you would figure. And what happens is, from there, the alcohol evaporates. Pressure builds up, and the alcohol steam is forced through an arm, which is a cap arm, which is a pipe that leads out of the top of the still. So you have this evaporation going on, and then it goes into a - what they call a thump keg!

Josh Clark

Right. And it's so named because it catches - sometimes some of this mash comes along with the alcohol vapor, and when it comes into this hollow keg and hits the bottom, it makes a thumping sound.

Chuck Bryant

Exactly.

Josh Clark

So this thump keg is intended to further separate the mash from the alcohol vapor.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Can you imagine, like, inhaling alcohol vapor? What would that do to you?

Chuck Bryant

I don't know. It's probably not very good.

Josh Clark

No. Okay. So we're in the thump keg now. Can you hear us? [Knocking sound].

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Okay. We're in the thump keg. Can you hear us?

Chuck Bryant

We are, sour mash, mash.

Josh Clark

Nice, nice. So, okay, Chuck, what's going on in here?

Chuck Bryant

Well, in the thump keg, like you said, the bits of mash drop inside of here where we are, and then it re-evaporates the alcohol and filters out the mash because you don't want the mash. What you want is a clear liquid.

Josh Clark

Okay. So up we go, out of the thump keg. And where are we now?

Chuck Bryant

Up and out of the thump keg, and now we travel into the worm as steam.

Josh Clark

Yes. Now, this is the most fun part of the ride because the worm is actually basically just a pipe that coils around, so if we were actually able to go through it, it'd probably be kind of like a fun waterslide.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And this worm actually - this coiled pipe actually is just going through cold water, which cools the alcohol from it's gaseous state back into its liquid state. And guess where that arm comes out?

Chuck Bryant

Well, it comes out eventually into a little jar or whatever you wanna put it in.

Josh Clark

Yeah, that's the spigot, and then you bottle it right from there.

Chuck Bryant

Right. And I said Mason jar because many times - I don't know if it's tradition or not - but they put it in Mason jars.

Josh Clark

I've never seen it in anything but a Mason jar.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, me, too.

Josh Clark

Maybe a Ball jar, that's about it.

Chuck Bryant

Right. And what happens is now you've got a clear liquid, and that brings us to - the difference between moonshine and regular whiskey that you would get that's brown or light-colored is the aging process. Moonshine is not aged, and that's why it remains clear. Your Jack Daniels that you love -

Josh Clark

Um hm.

Chuck Bryant

- that is the same thing for a little while, but then it's aged for years in oak barrels, charred oak barrels.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and I looked into the charring part. The reason they char the inside of the oak barrels, they're actually caramelizing the starches -

Chuck Bryant

Interesting.

Josh Clark

- which makes it sweeter, so the bourbon - this is part of the bourbon-making process - the bourbon actually absorbs the sugars more, which gives it a sweeter taste and mellows it even further.

Chuck Bryant

Right, because -

Josh Clark

It also gives it its brown color.

Chuck Bryant

Right, because moonshine is known for - they call it the kick.

Josh Cla

rk

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

And both of us can attest, it is a very harsh-tasting whiskey.

Josh Clark

Yeah, it really is. It definitely has a kick.

Chuck Bryant

And it tastes like nothing else that you've had.

Josh Clark

No, it tastes like God pulling your throat out. You kind of see a white light, and there's just, like, a sudden blinding flash of pain, and that's the kick.

Chuck Bryant

Wow. That's a great way to describe it.

Josh Clark

Oh, thanks.

Chuck Bryant

Wouldn't have thought of that.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

It's good. It's also very potent. I think moonshine usually is in the neighborhood of 120 to 150 proof.

Josh Clark

Which is a lot?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, that's a lot, because what is it, 80 proof or 90 proof is what -

Josh Clark

150 proof would be 75 percent alcohol.

Chuck Bryant

Right. But your average, like, bottle of bourbon is 90 proof, correct?

Josh Clark

Yeah, 80 or 90.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Yeah, because, I mean, Wild Turkeys, they have a special 100, so, yeah, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

True.

Josh Clark

Probably 80.

Chuck Bryant

Josh, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that you imbibe with an alcohol beverage from time to time.

Josh Clark

No, I just pay attention.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

That's all.

Chuck Bryant

Good. So they make the moonshine, and one of the problems with moonshine - I guess we need to talk about the downside - is that it can be dangerous if someone doesn't know what they're doing.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Here's the big problem. This is why all of you shouldn't run out and make your own still, as Chuck said earlier, because -

Chuck Bryant

Because it's illegal.

Josh Clark

That's No. 1. It is illegal. One of the reasons it's illegal is because it's so thoroughly unsafe, so, I mean, like, when you make beer or wine at home, which you can legally because you're mak

ing it in small batches; but, No. 2, it's not nearly as dangerous. Whenever you make any kind of alcohol, you have a risk of their being impurities in your batch, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And these impurities can be dangerous in beer or wine, but it's much less likely when compared to spirits like whiskey. And these impurities are called the congeners, right?

Chuck Bryant

Um hm.

Josh Clark

And what those are, it's just a catchall name for any impurity that's a complex compound, like a polyphenol or a histamine. You know those things that give you allergic reactions?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

These can easily end up in your batch, and this is why people often die from drinking moonshine. It's not just from alcohol poisoning or anything like that. It's these impurities get in there and wreak havoc on your body.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I would say not as much anymore, I mean, not that it's a huge business or anything, but during prohibition, I know there were a lot of people that were dying because it was in such demand because alcohol was illegal that they were mixing it too fast, and the operation sped up and -

Josh Clark

And they actually sometimes purposely put impurities in there to give it that kick -

Chuck Bryant

True, yeah.

Josh Clark

- like, bleach was often found in moonshine during prohibition.

Chuck Bryant

Right. This always - it's funny we mentioned that it was called mash. It always reminds me of the TV show, "MASH," one of my favorite shows growing up because they had their still in their - what was the name of their - the swamp, in their tent.

Josh Clark

Yeah, they had a gin distillery, didn't they?

Chuck Bryant

Well, they called it gin, but looking back now - this is before I ever had moonshine when I watched MASH - but it was probably just corn whiskey. I doubt if they were able to make, like, nice gin.

Josh Clark

I always took it as gin.

Chuck Bryant

No, I bet it was moonshine.

Josh Clark

I don't know, man. They were sipping it like it was gin.

Chuck Bryant

All right. Alan Alda needs to get in touch with us.

Josh Clark

Yes, please, or the guy who played B.J. or Trapper, any of them really.

Chuck Bryant

Sure, just no Radar.

Josh Clark

No Radar. I was about to say the same thing.

Chuck Bryant

Do not call us.

Josh Clark

So, Chuck, you know, moonshine has actually a really long history with the US, so much so, it's so engrained that it's had this kind of symbiotic effect on our cultural legacy.

Chuck Bryant

True.

Josh Clark

When you start looking into moonshine, like NASCAR coming out of moonshine, or the term, "bootlegger" that's used world-round, came from the United States and our smuggling, right?

Chuck Bryant

Uh huh.

Josh Clark

But when you really start to look into the history of moonshine and how it helped shape America, we used to be a nation of crazy gun-slinging nut jobs.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

I mean, we used to be wild -

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, oh, yeah.

Josh Clark

- especially, like, in the 19th century. Bootleggers used to - the whole reason bootlegging was ever around in the US was because of basically right after we formed our nation, our second government, the one we have now, the constitutional government, they started imposing taxes -

Chuck Bryant

Right, on liquor.

Josh Clark

- on liquor. And everybody just said, "Well, wait a minute. We just got out from under the thumb of a king who used to tax us. We're not paying any taxes."

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, and they didn't.

Josh Clark

No, they didn't. And actually, they would attack revenuers, tax collectors. They would tar and feather them, which it sounds kind of funny now because we're so removed from it. That was actually apparently an extremely excruciating process.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, I'm sure.

Josh Clark

You had hot tar poured on you.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, it's not -

Josh Clark

And then, you know, the feathers were probably nothing but a relief.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

But you're walking around, and imagine trying to get cooled tar off of your skin.

Chuck Bryant

No, thanks.

Josh Clark

Yeah. So I imagine being tarred and feathered wasn't that much fun. But even beyond that, they actually formed an armed uprising called, "The Whiskey Rebellion."

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, in 1794.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and that was Washington's first big "wow" as president.

Chuck Bryant

Right, like, "Holy crap. I'm president, and they just took over Pittsburgh."

Josh Clark

And it was, like, people from a lot of states. There were thousands of them, and they were armed, and they were mad. They did not want to pay money for taxes on the liquor they were producing.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And it was actually the first use of a presidential pardon to overturn conviction was from The Whiskey Rebellion.

Chuck Bryant

Did not know that.

Josh Clark

It is true.

Chuck Bryant

So what G.W. did, which is George Washington, of course, he got together a militia of about 13,000 dudes, and he basically quelled and dispersed the mob, captured its leaders, and it was, like, you said, forever known as The Whiskey Rebellion.

Josh Clark

But there was nothing - nothing was actually resolved.

Chuck Bryant

Well, right.

Josh Clark

That's the government and bootleggers, they'd go side by side, and every once in a while, usually when war funding is needed, the government attacks bootlegging to try to increase its tax revenues. So, basically, the federal government went its way, and the bootleggers went their way, and they maintained the status quo basically. We kept having bootlegging. No one really had a problem with it until the Klan got involved, and any American knows that in the United States, you can do whatever you want, as long as you're not hurting anybody and you're not affiliated with the Klan.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Everybody hates the Klan here. I think that's something that -

Chuck Bryant

That's the Ku Klux Klan, just to clarify.

Josh Clark

Yeah, the Ku Klux Klan. I think that's something that people, you know, maybe some of our Norwegian or Dutch listeners might not understand. Americans hate the Klan.

Chuck Bryant

We do.

Josh Clark

And this actually kind of led to this outlaw view of bootleggers that we have now. They were getting into shootouts and killing IRS auditors and collectors and intimidating families and locals even who knew, like, where a still was.

Chuck Bryant

Well, bootleggers joined forces and made the mistake, the big mistake, of joining up with the Klan.

Josh Clark

Right. That's what I mean. So that turned the tide of public opinion. All of a sudden, bootleggers aren't just, you know, so harmless any more. They're in with the Klan.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So that actually gave the temperance movement even more of a foothold. The temperance movement is my worst nightmare.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

It is basically there's no alcohol produced or imported into the United States. Imagine the entire country dry. This is the point of the temperance movement, and they weren't just, you know, crackpots. They were actually - they had identified alcohol as an agent of moral decay, social decay. It was a problem. So rather than - and this is before rehab, too.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark

Rather than having alcoholics go dry out or take care of their problem, their addiction, they said, "We have a social responsibility to not tempt our alcoholics. We have to put them above the rest of us because the rest of us aren't alcoholics, so we don't need a drink. So let's just get rid of alcohol altogether so our alcoholics can be good people."

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, bad idea.

Josh Clark

Yeah, well, it actually happened. They finally got prohibition pushed through -

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, in 1920.

Josh Clark

- in 1920, the day the earth stood still. And it lasted from 1920 to 1934, and it actually turned out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to bootlegging.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, because all of a sudden, people - there was one thing that they learned from prohibition is you can try and take away the alcohol, but the people want it, and they're gonna get it. And I would liken it to the war on drugs.

Josh Clark

Yeah, oh, it's the exact same thing. Anytime you prohibit anything, No. 1, it makes it - it gives it kind of a forbidden feel, which makes it all the more desirable.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

But, I mean, think about how many people wouldn't or don't drink now just because it's there. How many more would if you simply couldn't?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And, yeah, if prohibition proved anything, it's that when there's a will, organized crime finds a way.

Chuck Bryant

True.

Josh Clark

So we've got speakeasies, we've got gangland murders, we've got -

Chuck Bryant

Uh huh, bootlegging still.

Josh Clark

- moonshine that's being put out - it's being overproduced and watered down and with bleach added. And then, all of a sudden, prohibition goes away.

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

And almost at the same time, so does moonshining, almost entirely.

Chuck Bryant

Well, drastically reduced.

Josh Clark

Sure.

Chuck Bryant

But it made a big - well, I don't know about a big comeback, but it made a comeback, as we talked about, later on with the whole NASCAR thing, and then in the 1970s, '60s and '70s, they thought it was sort of a problem again, but they didn't really do a lot about it. Like, there's very few court cases about it, unless it has to do with [inaudible], like, money laundering, tax evasion.

Josh Clark

Yeah, now they go after them using money laundering laws, which are way, way worse than moonshining, being convicted of moonshining.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And with that, moonshining is becoming a dying art.

Chuck Bryant

Right. But they still do it. And in the 1970s, they made it legal to make your own wine and beer with home brew enthusiasts, but it's not the same thing.

Josh Clark

Still, you can't make your own whiskey.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, you still can't

make your own whiskey.

Josh Clark

I mean, you can, but it's illegal.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

We'll say it one more time, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

It's illegal.

Josh Clark

It is.

Chuck Bryant

I'm kind of surprised actually. If they allow home brewing, it's sort of a - maybe because it's more dangerous is the reason.

Josh Clark

That's the impression I have -

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

- is it's strictly because it's more dangerous because I don't think they levy taxes any higher on beer or wine than they do on liquor, do they?

Chuck Bryant

Don't know. I'm sure we'll have someone write in and tell us though.

Josh Clark

I'm quite sure, too. Well, you can find out even more about "How Moonshine Works" by typing that into our handy search bar at HowStuffWorks.com. It'll bring up a fine, fine article written by our colleague Ed Grabianowski.

Chuck Bryant

The Grabster.

Josh Clark

Yes, indeed. And, Chuck, I believe you have some listener mail.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, listener mail time. Okay, Josh, I do have an email, and I will file this under exceptional fan mail because it's one of my favorites. It's from our old friend Molly in Manchester, Connecticut.

Josh Clark

Hey, Molly.

Chuck Bryant

Hey, Molly. And Molly may not be hearing this right away though, and this is the reason why.

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Molly writes in, says she loves the podcast, and she is actually going to West Africa to serve in the Peace Corps for two years, which is a great thing to do.

Josh Clark

Yes, it is.

Chuck Bryant

We're very proud of Molly for that. And she's told that there isn't much hope of having a continuous wireless Internet in her mud hut. So she says she gets a thrill from listening to our cast, and so she's actually gonna save them up for a period of many months, and so when she gets to Africa in the Peace Corps, she can listen to them one after the other on her little iPod. And she says, "I know it seems a little extreme." I don't think so, Molly. I think it's a great idea.

Josh Clark

Seriously.

Chuck Bryant

"And I think that the hours and hours of new stuff I should know to listen to when I'm feeling in the need of intelligent, humorous banter might be worth the sacrifice." So I've actually corresponded with Molly a couple of times by email.

Josh Clark

Oh, yeah?

< h5>Chuck BryantYeah, wished her luck and told her to send us some updates from the Peace Corps and let us know how things are going.

Josh Clark

Yeah, good luck, Molly.

Chuck Bryant

So that's exceptional fan mail today.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Well, if you want to send us some fan mail, no matter whether you're in the Peace Corps or just, you know, some working schlub, we don't care, we make no judgments, we love all of you.

Chuck Bryant

We're working schlubs.

Josh Clark

Exactly. You can send that to stuffpodcast@howstuffworks.com.

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