Making whiskey legally requires a license, so moonshining remains alive and well. For many moonshiners, ordering a copper pot isn't an option because it is expensive and attracts unwanted attention. A stainless steel beer keg can be used as an improvised distillation kettle.


Drill a hole in the top of the keg near the tapping cap. Use a reciprocating saw and a metal blade to cut around the side of the cap.

Remove the central tube from the keg, which is attached to the top of the keg. Pull it out once you cut it free.

Check to see whether the rubber stopper is the right size for the hole. If the hole is neat, the stopper should be 1.5 inches wide, which will create a tight fit. If the hole is too big, use another stopper.

Drill holes into the rubber stopper and use a pocket knife to whittle openings into it. The tubing and thermometer should be snug. If too much rubber gets cut away, use caulk to seal the gap.

Remove the thermometer and tubing, if they are in the stopper, and stop the top of the keg with the stopper and a rubber mallet.

Push in the thermometer and tubing.

Use an old glass soda bottle as a mold and bend the copper tubing around into a coil. The central 6 feet of tubing needs to be coiled, leaving 1.5 feet of straight tubing on either end. A clamp provides a good grip on the tubing.

Take the cap off a used water carboy and cut a hole sized to fit the copper tubing into it. Replace the cap.

Put the kettle on a campfire stand.

Bend the copper tubing down and fit it into the carboy lid.

Fill the kettle with fermented corn mash and build a fire underneath it.

Maintain a temperature between 172 degrees F and 212 degrees F so the kettle will boil away the alcohol in the mash but not the water. The hot vapor will rise into the copper coil and condense, and the resulting liquid will drain into the carboy.

Items you will need

  • Beer keg

  • Rubber stopper

  • 9 feet of copper tubing

  • Rubber mallet

  • Caulk

  • Clamp

  • Used glass water carboy with cap

  • Campfire stand


  • It takes 5 gallons of fermented corn mash to make 3 quarts of alcohol at 40 percent purity. The standard half keg holds 15.5 gallons of beer, so expect it to yield 12 quarts of 40 percent pure grain moonshine.


  • Alcohol vapor and open fires are an explosive combination. Always use a still of this kind outdoors. Two or three distillations of one mash's output will be needed before a strong moonshine is made.