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WFox93

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Hmm, nobody in this area. Guess everybody is too nervous about the grey area for home distilling. Here in Missouri, based on all the research I could do, it is perfectly legal for personal consumption up to 5 gallons per person over the age of 21 in the home.

Anyway, I freeze distilled some mead to get honey jack. I was very pleased with the results. Froze 2 pints down to about 6 or 8 ounces and man did it get strong and rich. Best I can figure it is roughly 50 percent now and the honey flavors are more rich than they were in the base honey. Highly recommend doing this.*

*So long as it conforms to your local laws
 

BigEd

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Here in Missouri, based on all the research I could do, it is perfectly legal for personal consumption up to 5 gallons per person over the age of 21 in the home.
No, it's not legal. Even if there is a local law it is Federal statute that prevails and without a Federal commercial permit for alcoholic spirit production any alcohol separation from water is illegal in the US. There may be others but AFAIK New Zealand is the only country where home distillation is legal.

That said, it is highly unlikely that The US Treasury Department is going to spend any resources going after anybody making a few quarts at home. At least I hope so. So as long as you keep a low profile and don't start making 500 gallon runs you should be fine.
 

bernardsmith

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Not a lawyer. Don't even play one on TV (or youtube) but is increasing the alcohol content by removing water by freezing the same thing (legally) as using a still to evaporate off the water? There is no "still" involved. With distillation there is danger of explosion. There is none at all with jacking... With distillation you can presumably hit 80 or 90 proof alcohol. With jacking can you get above 20% ABV?
 

Yooper

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Not a lawyer. Don't even play one on TV (or youtube) but is increasing the alcohol content by removing water by freezing the same thing (legally) as using a still to evaporate off the water? There is no "still" involved. With distillation there is danger of explosion. There is none at all with jacking... With distillation you can presumably hit 80 or 90 proof alcohol. With jacking can you get above 20% ABV?
My understanding is that freeze concentration is legal; distillation may not be.
 
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TTB considers freeze concentration of wine (and by it's definition, mead) to be distillation, and therefore illegal without a permit. At least that's what I've read in multiple places...

Any person who separates alcohol spirits from any fermented substance, as stated in 26 U.S.C. § 5002(a)(4)(c), is known as a distiller; therefore, if you freeze wine or hard cider in an effort to extract water from the alcohol mixture, you are a distiller, and Federal law prohibits operations of a distillery in a residence.
They allow freeze concentration of beer such that not more than 0.5% of the volume is removed during the process.

https://www.ttb.gov/rulings/94-3.htm
 

Grod1

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Lock it up. you guys took down my post on freeze distillation so take down this one...
no point to talk about it even if its legal and a great tool
 
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BigEd

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My understanding is that freeze concentration is legal; distillation may not be.
Nope. There is a certain irony in that the production of alcohol by fermentation (homebrewing & winemaking) is perfectly legal while the separation of said alcohol from its aqueous solution is not.
 

bernardsmith

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Not necessarily any irony - Separation (literally) is not in any obvious way the same as concentration. And I am not arguing that jacking is legal (or illegal)... I am simply asking if there is a legal decision that has been made and which can be pointed to that speaks unequivocally to jacking... Pointing to distilling does not seem to me to address the issue but hey! my first language is Queen's English and not Legalese
 

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@benardsmith. Manglish is my first language. I am after all a rouge naped,sophisticated barbarian.
 

Grod1

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just curious as to why, when i made a similar post asking abuot freeze concentration is was closed within minutes because its illegal.
 

Stake

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I would use caution when using
freeze concentration...
When distilling using a still you remove the first 250ml (1/2 pint) / 5 gallons as this contains methanol and other nasties. When using freeze concentration, methanol and those other harmful chemicals are also collected from freeze distillation.

Just my $.02
 

Stake

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Fellow homebrewers:

Regarding someone's awesome-looking applejack. I decided to contact the TTB to clarify the regulation of freeze distillation, specifically as it relates to homebrewers. I received a reply, and it's not good.

My initial query:

To: TTB Internet Questions

Subject: [EXTERNAL]Request for clarification on freeze distillation of cider, beer or wine for personal use

Hello,

I have been trying to get clarification on the legality of increasing the alcohol content of beer, wine and hard cider for personal consumption (homebrew). I would greatly appreciate any information you can give me that might answer my questions below:

  1. What is the TTB's definition of distillation?

  2. Does freezing a fermented beverage (such as hard cider) and removing the ice, for the express purpose of increasing the alcohol content in the remaining beverage, constitute distillation under that definition (assuming that the beverage is for personal consumption only)?

  3. If the answer to #2 is that it does not constitute distillation, are there any limits on this process?

  4. If the answer to #2 is that it does not constitute distillation, how should the beverage be counted in terms of the 100 gallon annual limit on personal production of alcoholic beverages?

  5. Is there any official documentation or guidelines I can refer to that answer these questions, or may have more information?
Thank you for your time. I appreciate any assistance you can give me.

This is the TTBs response

Thank you for your questions regarding freezing homemade wine, beer, and/or cider. As I understand it you have four separate questions.

1) What is the definition of distillation?

TTB does not have a definition of distillation, however the Internal Revenue Code section 5002(a)(4) defines distiller to include “any person who produces distilled spirits from any source or substance or who by any process separates alcoholic spirits from any fermented substance.”

2) Does freezing a fermented beverage and removing the ice, for the express purpose of increasing the alcohol content in the remaining beverage, constitute distillation?

This answer depends entirely on the type of beverage. In regards to Beer, in 1994, ATF considered the question of whether freezing beer was distillation and, in addition, whether removal of water (or ice) produced a beer concentrate. According to ATF Ruling 94-3 (http://www.ttb.gov/rulings/94-3.htm), the process of brewing ice beer begins when the beer is cooled to below freezing causing the formation of ice crystals. It is then subject to filtration or other processes that remove a portion of the ice crystals from the beer. The resulting product contains slightly less volume than the beer which entered the process. After this freezing process, brewers restore to the beer at least the volume of water lost when ice crystals are removed. The basic character of beer remains unchanged during the removal of small amounts of ice crystals, and the ice beer does not resemble a concentrate made from beer. A removal of up to 0.5 percent of the volume of beer through the removal of ice crystals, a customary industry practice at the time, results in the product which may be considered beer. Further, ATF concluded that the removal of ice crystals is a traditional production method, which results in a product that is beer. Although ATF Ruling 94-3 and 27 CFR 25.55 require that brewers submit a statement of process (formula) for ice beer, this requirement does not apply to the persons who produce beer at home under the personal and family use exemption, which is explained in greater detail below.

However, wine and cider may not be frozen for the express purpose of increasing the alcohol content. TTB has previously held that freezing a mixture of alcohol and aqueous fermented material, like wine, causes some water to freeze and separate from the alcohol mixture. The resultant mixture has higher alcohol content than the original and is called a “high alcohol content wine fraction” and any person who separates alcoholic spirits from any fermented substance is known as a distiller. Because Federal law requires a permit to operate as a distiller and prohibits the operation of a distillery in a residence, in order to freeze wine or cider you will have to file an application with TTB and follow our regulations regarding the manufacturing processes approved for making distilled spirits.

3) If it is not distillation, are there any limits?

See above for limitations and prohibitions.

4) If it does not constitute distillation, how should the beverage be counted in terms of the 100 gallon annual limit on personal production of alcoholic beverages?

Since this is only permissible for beer, you must follow the personal and family use exemption at 27 CFR 25.205 which provides that:

Here they provided an inline image of the text of this section, describing the limit on production to 100 gallons for person consumption, or 200 gallons in a multi-adult household

If you have any further questions please contact REDACTED at REDACTED or by email at REDACTED.

I responded for further clarification:

Thank you very much for your response. I want to be certain that my understanding of your response is correct:

  1. For the purpose of making Ice Beer for personal consumption, freezing the beer and removing a portion of the water is legal so long as the volume of water removed does not exceed 0.5% of the total volume of the beer. Removing more than 0.5% of the water is not legal.

  2. No alcoholic beverage except beer can be frozen and a portion of the water removed, whether or not the beverage is for personal consumption.
Their final response:

Yes- your statements are correct.

You can't legally freeze cider or wine and remove the ice. It's considered distilling. You can only remove 0.5% of the total volume of beer by freezing and removing the ice.
 
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BitterSweetBrews

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Thanks for asking for the information and posting the response. That pretty much settles it.

As was mentioned before, I doubt the ATF would waste time and money going after a home brewer doing this for personal use. Consider that pot is legal in 8 states and DC and they aren't going after any body there (yet).
 

rmyurick

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Thanks for asking for the information and posting the response. That pretty much settles it.

As was mentioned before, I doubt the ATF would waste time and money going after a home brewer doing this for personal use. Consider that pot is legal in 8 states and DC and they aren't going after any body there (yet).
Even if they "came after" you, how would they know how much ice had been removed from a batch?
 

Stake

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I suppose it's kinda like, The feds can bust you for a still is if they find it, and can prove it's yours, and that it has been used to distill alcohol...This is true, because owning any size still in the USA is legal, no matter the size, but it must be registered, (so they know where to send the Christmas cards.) It is not illegal to distill water, essential oils, etc. etc. It is even legal to produce mash, so long as it's less than 100 gallons/person over 21 in the household, with a max limit of 200 gallons/household ... per year.

Back to your question,
Even if they "came after" you, how would they know how much ice had been removed from a batch?
some strains, such as the "Super High Gravity Ale Yeast" by WyLabs, which can handle up to 25% freezing the beer to create a more concentrated product, which have been used to get up to 60+%. In this case, alcohol is not added, but rather, water is removed, altering your ABV. That's quite a bit more than 0.5%

I do know they can tell If it's really Jack Daniels, or Wild Turkey in that there bottle. They could test for the chemical makeup... Personally I wouldn't want to have to pay all those court costs if they decided to go that far in their pursuit. Basically it comes down to how far or how cost effective it would be to make an example of you


I my opinion and since Prohibition has been repealed... I suppose as long as you don't give the feds a reason to be suspicious, like selling your booze, or bragging to your "friends" or upsetting the nosey neighbors... Then like Ben Franklin stated..."Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead" You probably will get away with distilling, or freeze concentration.

I do not condone breaking the law, but I do believe that we should exercise our rights that what was once our freedoms, to petition, and appeal those laws... Until then.
I like a homebrew beer. Which is now legal, because In 1978, Then President Jimmy Carter signed into law a bill allowing brewing of home beers,
 

rmyurick

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Good points, Stake--when I read the OP, I guess I kind of skimmed over the "50%" part. You can't get there with yeast alone. I guess the Chemical Engineer in me kind of reacts to the phrase "freeze distillation", since there is no such thing. It's actually a crystallization process.
 

Craven

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How can Amazon and EBay sell alcohol stills, if it's illegal to make distill alcohol? I didn't know it was illegal! I bought small still off Amazon. No where did it say it was illegal to make distill alcohol or even that you need a license or permit.
 
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WFox93

WFox93

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Same reason its perfectly legal to sell "Tobacco" pipes, or cigarette rolling papers
 

charger

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How can Amazon and EBay sell alcohol stills, if it's illegal to make distill alcohol? I didn't know it was illegal! I bought small still off Amazon. No where did it say it was illegal to make distill alcohol or even that you need a license or permit.
As stated earlier, distillation of water, essential oil, etc. is legal, just alcohol is regulated. A still does not become an alcohol still until alcohol is distilled in it. So any new still is legal, it’s the act by the distiller that makes it illegal.

It’s also not the responsibility of an Amazon or eBay seller to disclose the legalities of using the product they may sell, especially if it has legal purposes.
 

Craven

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If it wasn't for this thread, i wouldn't have know any difference. It was advertised as a alcohol still, so I thought it was another part of home brewing. I'll be sending it back next week. Thank you. Don
 

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AppleJack_sm.png

An applejack I made a few years back. It has mellowed a lot since it was first made.

Bear in mind that your average deep freeze is going to produce a finished product of around 30% which results in an out of balance mouth feel. Not quite a spirit, but too strong for a fortified wine.

You need colder temperatures. Like around -30 Celsius (-22F). And it needs to be sustained cold because it takes time for successive freezes.

The first freeze I find I get a solid block like a giant ice cube. Not ideal because most of the alcohol is trapped in there. You need to mix it periodically as it freezes so that you get large flaky ice crystals forming.

As the alcohol content gets higher, these crystals form by themselves and you no longer need to be minding it, so the process gets much easier.

If done properly, you end up with an intensely flavored finished product and without too much wastage. Now, because you're not distilling, and sugars etc remain in the finished product. I started with a dry apple wine (made with sour juicing / cooking apples) that I brewed with a champagne yeast. Initially it was pretty out of balance and reminiscent of paint stripper as a friend described it. 2 years in the bottle has changed all that and it's now a very pleasant drink.
 

TGFV

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A good trick is for the first freeze to make a hole or path in the middle of the container using a thick straw/tube so the alcohol which melts first has a direct path to run down.

As well, a salad spinner works wonders as the friction breaks up the large ice chunks freeing the alcohol to come out the drains.
 

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Are there any methanol concerns with freeze concentrating products from wine yeasts? I would imagine it’s still dilute enough to not be a concern if you’re just bumping up the abv 10-20% as opposed to creating white lightning with a heated still. I also read that some wine yeast strains have been selected to produce low amounts of methanol and volatile oils - is there info on this anywhere? Asking for a friend.
 
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WFox93

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Are there any methanol concerns with freeze concentrating products from wine yeasts? I would imagine it’s still dilute enough to not be a concern if you’re just bumping up the abv 10-20% as opposed to creating white lightning with a heated still. I also read that some wine yeast strains have been selected to produce low amounts of methanol and volatile oils - is there info on this anywhere? Asking for a friend.

Think about it like this. ***VERY simplified numbers based on no science and used only to exhibit my point.

A bottle of wine is 750ml. 500ml of that is water, 100ml are the various non toxic alcohols, 50ml scary methanol

after freeze "distillation"
200ml water, 100ml various non toxic alcohols, 50ml scary methanol

You are not changing the amount of alcohol, only the concentration of said alcohol in the water.

So say you concentrated one bottle of wine into the volume of one red solo cup. Each solo cup you drink will be like drinking one bottle of wine. Any methanol concerns you have with wine consumption equal those of freeze distilling.
 

IslandLizard

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Think about it like this. ***VERY simplified numbers based on no science and used only to exhibit my point.

A bottle of wine is 750ml. 500ml of that is water, 100ml are the various non toxic alcohols, 50ml scary methanol

after freeze "distillation"
200ml water, 100ml various non toxic alcohols, 50ml scary methanol

You are not changing the amount of alcohol, only the concentration of said alcohol in the water.

So say you concentrated one bottle of wine into the volume of one red solo cup. Each solo cup you drink will be like drinking one bottle of wine. Any methanol concerns you have with wine consumption equal those of freeze distilling.
First, there's 100ml missing from your equation.

Second, where did you get the 50ml methanol number from? Wine typically contains a maximum of around 300-400 ppm of methanol, or 0.3 ml per 750 ml bottle.
 
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WFox93

WFox93

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First, there's 100ml missing from your equation.

Second, where did you get the 50ml methanol number from? Wine typically contains a maximum of around 300-400 ppm of methanol, or 0.3 ml per 750 ml bottle.
Lol there is 100 missing but either way. To answer your second point I will reference back to my original reply.
***VERY simplified numbers based on no science and used only to exhibit my point.
I don't know the actual numbers but I know that freeze "distillation" only changes the amount of water, not the amount of alcohol and I was trying to illustrate that point using over simplified numbers.
 

IslandLizard

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Think about it like this. ***VERY simplified numbers based on no science and used only to exhibit my point.
Understood, but since you mentioned a "bottle of wine" as a reference in your "simplified" example, it seems to point to that, which is very inaccurate. Back in the 70s we did a small research project on methanol content in various beverages. In (French) wine the maximum levels of Methanol we found were around 300-400 ppm, not the average as I had mentioned. So we can relax a bit more and enjoy that glass of wine.

So I looked for some more evidence. This recent paper claims the mean value to be around 170 ppm for red and 60 ppm for white (Australian) wines.
I don't know the actual numbers but I know that freeze "distillation" only changes the amount of water, not the amount of alcohol and I was trying to illustrate that point using over simplified numbers.
Mostly, yes. :mug:
 
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Gmyster61

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Understood, but since you mentioned a "bottle of wine" as a reference in your "simplified" example, it seems to point to that, which is very inaccurate. Back in the 70s we did a small research project on methanol content in various beverages. In (French) wine the maximum levels of Methanol we found were around 300-400 ppm, not the average as I had mentioned. So we can relax a bit more and enjoy that glass of wine.

So I looked for some more evidence. This recent paper claims the mean value to be around 170 ppm for red and 60 ppm for white (Australian) wines.
As of right now I’m fermenting a 6 gallon batch of boysenberry berry wines/champagne yeast 20% or so, if I was to freeze say 2 gallons remove the ice, the ice will have alcohol in it? what about the remaining wine % how much will it be boosted?
 
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Scott Morris

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Hmm, nobody in this area. Guess everybody is too nervous about the grey area for home distilling. Here in Missouri, based on all the research I could do, it is perfectly legal for personal consumption up to 5 gallons per person over the age of 21 in the home.

Anyway, I freeze distilled some mead to get honey jack. I was very pleased with the results. Froze 2 pints down to about 6 or 8 ounces and man did it get strong and rich. Best I can figure it is roughly 50 percent now and the honey flavors are more rich than they were in the base honey. Highly recommend doing this.*

*So long as it conforms to your local laws
 

Scott Morris

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Hello, to anyone who gets this.
This is my first reply/response. I highly recommend this form of alchohol. Keep everything sterile without fail. It was a fun process . It's too bad 4 gallon fermentation only yeilded 3/4th of a gallon. Some was lost due to me not knowing xactly what and how to do this. I did this from memory. A gentleman who made muskadine wine with his own grapes showed me. The only regret I have is I do not have a freezer large enough, and mother nature has not made it cold enough at this time .
 
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