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Creating hootch in the backyard has been an American obsession since the prohibition era of the 1920s. Fruit or grains enter; sweet alcohol exits. Craft Distillers may not work out of their home, but they do create alcohol in small batches using many of the same processes perfected by bootleggers. The profession of Craft Distiller mixes small business with artisan spirits.
It takes a large amount of fruit or grain to produce a tiny drop of alcohol. If you’re a Craft Distiller, you buy as much raw material as you can afford during the summer and fall. When those materials arrive, you direct your crew to wash them and then load them into the equipment for fermentation.
As the raw materials ferment, they’re kept moving at a specific temperature. You may check dials and gauges yourself, or you may supervise others who do this work for you. Each day, you drink a sample of the juices. This may not be as exciting as it sounds, and you likely spit out much more than you swallow.
Once you determine that the liquid is ready for distillation, you pump it into a large still and heat it to a fantastically high temperature. The first liquids that come out are discarded, on your direction, and then you attach a hose to the still to capture the booze.
Sometimes, you put the distilled liquids in barrels to age for decades. Other times, you put them right in bottles to sell them. Your taste buds are put to the test as you sample the liquids to determine when they’re ready for sale. This time, you may choose to swallow instead of spit.