Don't say I never did nothin' for you because I'm about to provide you with a valuable service. The recent Apple Pie Moonshine Post has raised a lot of questions. Number one being "How do I get some of that?"
Yeah, right, like I'm going to tell you that.
Another question has been "How do you know if you've got good 'shine?"
That I can share a little bit about. Not that I'm an expert by any means, but I will tell you what I know.
There are a few different tests concerning both the quality and the safety of your moonshine.
First we'll deal with safety. Wouldn't want to go blind, now would we? A common folk test for the quality of moonshine was to pour a small quantity of it into a spoon and set it alight. The theory was that a safe distillate burns with a blue flame, but a tainted distillate burns with a yellow flame. This has to do with the type of coils used in the distillation process and whether or not it contains lead. I know no one wants to set good moonshine on fire, but if you don't know your source so well it might be worth a try.
Another trick using fire is to pour a small amount of gun powder into a dish with a relatively equal amount of your moonshine. Light with a (long) match. If the mixture burns then it is "proofed". All this proves, however, is that the moonshine contains plenty of alcohol to burn (at least 57%) and there is no way to know just exactly how much your particular moonshine contains.
Now for the quality, which you may or may not be concerned with. Though I'm guessing if you're reading this then you are not interested in drinking glorified floor stripper. Note: this test is only usable for clear 'shine and will not work on flavored varieties such as the aforementioned Apple Pie (for the quality of that you'll have to use your taste buds) For this test I want you to think about a very good bottle of vodka. If you were to shake it up, what would happen? Would it foam up? Bubble? Of course not. Just as it should be with a high quality moonshine. This is called the bead test.
You have to look at your 'shine in a clear glass container with a lid like a, I don't know, Mason Jar. Shake it for a couple of seconds. Then hold it up to the light. The finer the bubbles (or bead) and the quicker they disappear the better the quality of moonshine. This one could take some practice if you don't know what you're looking for. Just know that the bubbles should be smaller than those in a glass of Coke and should disappear within just a few seconds.
So there you go, people. You learn something new everyday. Now you can confidently go forth and drink good quality moonshine and not even lose your eyesight over it. A valuable public service indeed.