Moonshine is the black sheep of alcohol as it makes drinking even naughtier. What more could you want? Moonshine is by nature illegal, creating the same intrigue and thrill you experienced from drinking before the legal age of 21. It also has a reputation for potential dangers such as blindness, feeblemindedness, and death: In short, fun!
Whether you want to try moonshine for the illicit factor or you just take the Duke Boys way too seriously, you can find moonshine if you like to walk on the dangerous side. If the Discovery Channel can find moonshiners and create a show about the making of the illicit brew, then you should be able to find them as well.
What is Moonshine?
Moonshine is essentially any hard liquor that is made without a license. In the U.S., you must have a permit license to distill liquor for consumption. Moonshine is all forms of hard alcohol that are created outside of the purview of the U.S. government, and Uncle Sam don’t like missin’ out on his cut of the profits.
Generally, moonshine is closely aligned with whiskey, but rum is also common as well; making one wonder if moonshiners are catering to just cowboys and pirates. However, as there are no quality controls on moonshine, you really don’t know what you will be getting. If a beverage is referred to as rotgut, panther’s breath, tiger’s sweat, or popskull, then you should kind of get the idea that there are no guarantees.
Generally, moonshiners use a copper distillery to create hard liquor from a mixture of corn, sugar, yeast, and water, though other ingredients can be used. Moonshine is known for its harsh bite, and it is usually pretty potent stuff. Most moonshine is around 150 proof.
Most spirits sold in liquor stores are around 80 proof or less; that means the liquid is 40% alcohol. There are a few legal liquors with a higher alcohol content, but 150 proof – or 75% alcohol – is enough to knock a bear on his ass.
Moonshine certainly has the possibility of threatening your health, either through the strength of the alcohol or through impurities that find their way into the liquor from sloppy brewing. There are a lot of dangers associated with moonshine, so only proceed if you don’t value your life all that much.
What is the History of Moonshine?
The popularity of illicit moonshine arose in the U.S. during of the Prohibition era when the country went dry for a total of 13 years. While mankind has brewed ales, wines, and spirits for as long as can be remembered, Prohibition made home-brewing really profitable, as many people will sell their grandmothers for a drink.
Regardless of the Prohibition Era’s wisdom or utter folly, it was illegal for anyone to make any kind of alcohol at all. Moonshiners brewed their spirits in secret—by the shine of the moon—to meet the demand for illegal drink.
The Federal Government took as kindly to moonshiners as it took to Communism in the 1950s. Not only were moonshiners breaking the law, they were also screwing the government out of profits from taxes and fees.
As law enforcement authorities began cracking down on the illegal alcohol created by moonshiners, illicit brewers turned to fast cars to outrun the coppers. Those cars gave rise to the popularity of hotrod modifications as well as NASCAR, neither of which retains any connection to alcohol to this day.
These days, moonshiners are in business to make money, thumb their noses at authority, and to make more money. If you search out moonshine, then you will need to find the moonshiners.
What about Bubba?
Moonshiners are an interesting bunch. They are most likely found brewing out in the countryside; urban legend maintains that the more redneck and seemingly illiterate a place is, the more likely you are to find moonshiners. The Appalachian Mountains and West Virginia are the butt of many back-woods jokes and thus, likely have a high contingent of moonshiners. However, all states have some redneck population out brewing white lightning for fun and profit.
Moonshining is still very illegal, so illicit brewers are sort of like drug dealers, but with fewer teeth. It is not recommended to go traipsing through the woods looking for them and their stills unless you want to be shot or possibly made to squeal like a pig.
The best course of action is to find Bubba. By some strange twist of redneck fate, every moonshine operation employs a man named Bubba somewhere in the process, if not two or more. If you know a Bubba, then ask him. Likely as not, he will be able to procure you some first-rate rotgut.
If you are unacquainted with any such-named person, you must find and befriend a Bubba. Trust in this operation is key. If Bubba doesn’t trust you, then he’s not going to help you in your quest for moonshine. You may need to spend some time with Bubba to build trust and prove your worthiness. You may need to go hunting, fishing, gigging for frogs, and possibly cow tipping, so be prepared. The eating of mountain oysters might also be involved.
Once your friendship with Bubba is flourishing, you can bring up the topic of moonshine. Then you are well on your way to possible blindness, death, and a whole lot of other fun activities!