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Old 05-23-2010, 12:07 AM   #1
Scottatron
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Default Different types of alcohol

Both of my brothers are chemists and when I told them that I wanted to start homebrewing, they said to be careful to produce the right kind of alcohol but did not give me any more information than that. Ethanol is the alcohol in beer. Is there any chance to produce methanol (the bad one) in homebrewing? I don't know much about this stuff.

Any input is appreciated.

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Old 05-23-2010, 12:25 AM   #2
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Methanol can be found in beer and wine at really low levels. So low that it is not worth worrying about. If you are distilling, then you need to be aware of certain practices of discarding the methanol. Short answer is that fermenting beer won't make you go blind and you are not at risk of creating something that will be seriously dangerous to you.

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Old 05-23-2010, 12:26 AM   #3
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"higher" or "fusel" alcohols are a byproduct of fermentations. At higher fermentation temperatures fusels can be produced in excess and then they are considered a flaw or an off flavor in most styles. They produce the "hot" sensation or flavor you sometimes hear referred to.

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Old 05-23-2010, 12:31 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by jmo88 View Post
Methanol can be found in beer and wine at really low levels. So low that it is not worth worrying about. If you are distilling, then you need to be aware of certain practices of discarding the methanol. Short answer is that fermenting beer won't make you go blind and you are not at risk of creating something that will be seriously dangerous to you.
Yeah I thought it would be an issue if I was brewing spirits. Thanks for the answer.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:00 AM   #5
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The worst thing that will happen is your beer won't taste right and you might get a slight headache.

Brewing is safe no worries

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Old 05-23-2010, 01:46 AM   #6
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Yeah I thought it would be an issue if I was brewing spirits. Thanks for the answer.
Wood alcohol was a popular prohibition spirit and is pure methanol. So cheap moonshine might be iffy.....no one has gone blind from homebrewed beer: even the cheapest type might use cane sugar, which diminishes the taste but does not increase any hazards.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:29 PM   #7
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Methanol was never a 'popular spirit', it is in fact quite poisonous!

Perhaps your reference to methanol & prohibition stems from the use of methanol as a denaturing agent? It was often added to industrial ethanol products to render them poisonous, aka 'de-natured'. Thus folks couldn't buy industrial or medical grade ethanol and drink it!

...of course this didn't stop less-than-smart people from trying to remove the methanol from industrial grade ETOH - often times toxic quantities would remain in the their sauce, thus the stories of people going blind or getting themselves dead.

"Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols...by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people."
http://www.slate.com/id/2245188/

Check out wiki on Jake Leg if you're interested in more stories of unpalatable alcohol gone wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica_ginger

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Old 10-30-2013, 03:08 PM   #8
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"Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols...by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people."
http://www.slate.com/id/2245188/

extremely interesting, and unfortunately believable. i can't stand people giving me uninformed little warnings when they hear that i homebrew and make fermented beverages. anyone who does is totally uninformed about this topic (either it has "bacteria" in it or it will produce methanol) the 20th century was a grim time for people's freedom to make alcohol. in japan it's STILL illegal to brew beer or rice wine.
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Old 10-30-2013, 05:00 PM   #9
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worthless post
Almost as worthless at this.

^^ and that one.

But seriously, to beat a dead horse a little more.. RDWHAHB. Keep your fermentation temp under control, your yeast happy, and them maybe pretend to go blind just to mess with your brothers.
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Old 10-30-2013, 05:27 PM   #10
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Almost as worthless at this.

^^ and that one.

But seriously, to beat a dead horse a little more.. RDWHAHB. Keep your fermentation temp under control, your yeast happy, and them maybe pretend to go blind just to mess with your brothers.
+1 to all of this. Most important things to pay attention to early on are: sanitation, pitching the right amount of yeast, fermentation temperature, and patience.
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