Alcohol?

As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, the active ingre-dient in beer, wine and liqour is ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, which is known colloquially as alcohol.

The process known as fermen-tation produces alcohol. When yeast is fermentated, sugar break down into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Carbon dioxide exits the process through gas bubbles and leaves behind a combination of water and ethanol. The process is precise that if any air is present in the yeast, the result will be ethanoc acid, a chemical found in common vinegar.

Alcohol is basically made from sugar and yeast, but different so-urces of sugar can produce diffe-rent types of alcohol. For insta-nce the sugar from grape pulp is combined with yeast to creat either red or white wine. In case of beer, the sources of sugar is usually barley, but it can also be other grains, such as wheat or rye.

To release the sugars, the grains must be malted, mashed, and boiled. Once the sugars are ready for use, yeast is added and the fermentation process begins. Different liqours are made diffe-rent ways. When it comes to vodka, for example, there is a popular belief that potato is usu-ally the source of sugar, however, the majority of vodka is made from fruit, barley, wheat, sorg-hum or corn.

Alcohol products such as wine, beer and liqour, are made in co-mmercial distilleries, but the process of making DIY alcohol (moonshine) still relies on the ba-sics discussed above. In some parts of the world, such as Scandinarian Europe and Russia, moonshine is a popular and low-cust alternative to commercial alcoholvin some locales. Moon-shine is known for its poteny, which can be dangerous. Moon-shine can be 150-proof, which translates into being 75 per cent alcohol. An added hazard is that it is not created in regulated set-ting, therefore, there are few, if any, quality and safety guara-ntees. Although there is not apr-essing public concern about ram-pant sales of moonshine, there are reports of Americans making DIY alcohol and finding them-selves in legal hot water as a re-sult. For instance 51-year-old man was arrested in Ohio after selling moonshine out of his camper at afair. The mans oste-nsible motive was to make a pro-fit. The Ohio court ordered the moonshine make to pay an $800 penaltycand required him to complete 50 hours of community service.

Making moonshine may sound antiquated to modern ears, but it demonstrates the relative ease wirh which alcohol can be illegaly made. Although some Americans still have prohibition sympathies, the ability to home-produce alcohol serves as a remi-nder that it would be impossible to entirely remove alcohol from the American Landscape.

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