Friday, January 20, 2012

Obtaining Spirits from Grains: Distilling and Brewing

The formation of liquor is founded upon a faculty peculiar to grains, which the learned French chemist, Fourcroy, has called saccharine fermentation. Sugar itself does not exist in gramineous substances; they only contain its elements, or first principles, which produce it. The saccharine fermentation converts those elements into sugar, or at least into a saccharine matter; and when this is developed, it yields the eminent principle of fermentation, without which there exists no wine, and consequently no spirit.

Grains yield two kinds of vinous liquors, of which the distiller makes spirit, and the brewer a sort of wine, called beer. From a comparison of the processes employed to obtain these two results, it will be found that the brewer's art has attained a higher degree of perfection than that of the distiller. They both have for their object to obtain a vinous liquor; but that of the brewer is, in reality, a sort of wine to which he gives, at pleasure, different degrees of strength; while that of the distiller is scarcely vinous, and cannot be made richer.

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