Foreword

Worldwide, there is a growing interest in distillation by those who enjoy making alcoholic beverages, essential oils, botanical extracts and perfumes. We have read books that purport to describe how distillation works, but got it wrong in whole or in part, and some that detail how to build a particular type of still and operate it, but which are based more on myth than sound scientific and engineering knowledge. We came to the conclusion that there was a crying need for a book that gives a detailed account of the entire subject, avoiding old wives' tales and dealing entirely in verifiable facts.

Our book describes the science and the principles behind distillation, the practice of small scale distillation, and several designs for different kinds of stills, all thoroughly tested. We fervently hope that our readers develop a thorough understanding of the process, which can only broaden and deepen their enjoyment of this activity. Following this philosophy, every subject introduced begins with "how does this work?" and progresses to "how can I do this?".

We must stress that this book is NOT an incitement to those who live in countries where distillation of alcohol is illegal to rush out and break the law. Home distillation of alcohol is an ancient and honored tradition in many parts of the world, and is completely illegal in others. The wisdom (or lack of wisdom) of the laws prohibiting small scale distillation are not a subject for this book. If you live where this enjoyable activity is prohibited, you are free to read about it, but not to actually do it. If you feel that these laws are misguided, contact your representatives and make the case for changing the laws, do not break them.

Even where distilling alcohol is prohibited, it is legal to distill with water. However, some countries regulate the size of water stills! You must check carefully on your local regulations before engaging in this activity. Using water to steam distill the essential oils and fragrances from herbs, spices and other botanical materials is a fast growing hobby in its own right, and we devote a whole chapter to this subject. These techniques are as interesting and useful to cooks and perfumiers as they are to people who want to make liqueurs.

We have also included a chapter on workshop techniques, tips, and tricks that can be useful in building stills and many other kinds of equipment. This is not like a book that teaches you how to fly -- it's like a book that also tells you how to make your own airplane - and not just the airplane design of our choosing, but one that you yourself can learn to design, and which may well fly better!

In this vein, we also describe distillation techniques and designs that we have only recently developed and which have never before been published, and encourage readers to carry the torch further by using their own ingenuity.

One of the authors used an old industrial vacuum cleaner as his first boiler, and later investigated the possibilities of using jam jars to make a glass column. This provoked much mirth and not a little scorn from those who considered themselves 'experts', who considered anything new to be heresy . However, a great deal was learned about the properties of materials and techniques to handle them, knowledge that later proved invaluable. When you read this book, you will see what can be accomplished if you dare to step outside the frame and question preconceived notions of what can be done, and how. All you need is a good understanding of basic principles and a willingness to challenge old, ossified ideas. Home distillation is a fascinating hobby, and one which is fertile ground for those who enjoy exercising their ingenuity. It's challenging, and it's fun!

In Chapter 8, we draw back the curtain on the science behind distillation, a fascinating subject in itself. No myths. No half-baked notions of what we "think" may be going on. Just facts. Facts proven by centuries of hard work and discovery by skilled artisans, scientists and engineers.

Paraphrasing the words of Isaak Walton, the author of "The Compleat Angler", and from whom we have respectfully borrowed for the title of this book:

Brew Your Own Beer

Brew Your Own Beer

Discover How To Become Your Own Brew Master, With Brew Your Own Beer. It takes more than a recipe to make a great beer. Just using the right ingredients doesn't mean your beer will taste like it was meant to. Most of the time it’s the way a beer is made and served that makes it either an exceptional beer or one that gets dumped into the nearest flower pot.

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