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If boiling and other heat methods cause a deterioration of flavor, What is the fastest way of accelerating the evaporation rate of alcohol in a liquid like beer?

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4 Answers 4

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You could try ice distillation: Stick it in the freezer, and skim off the ice. Keep the ice, discard the liquid and melt the ice.

If you had a freezer that you could precisely control the temperature, I believe there are certain preferred target temperatures, but simply checking on it frequently in a standard freezer should do the trick.

The vacuum based suggestions also sound good, if you have appropriate equipment for that.

Basically, you're asking about distillation in reverse. Traditional distillation is primarily boiling, but there's also a few traditions (applejack, eisbock) involving ice distillation. In ice distillation they're after a higher alcohol product and keeping the liquid (discarding the ice), but I believe if you switch which part you keep you'll get the same results.

Much like any other distillation, you may need to run through the process multiple times to get the desired result.

With beer, the primary flavoring is from compounds extracted from hops, which react with oxygen to produce unpleasant flavors. By "unpleasant" I mean turning the bitter and tangy flavors into something more like wet cardboard. So depending on what you're doing you may also need to protect your beer from exposure to oxygen. I believe with beer the real enemy is oxygen, with heat or light accelerating the undesirable reactions.

Depending on the style of beer, esters and phenols may also be important to the flavor. In styles where those flavors are desired, it's typically a wide mix, and it's quite possible some of them will evaporate easier than alcohol or be harder to freeze.

Note that no distillation method is "perfect", with all distillation methods you'll have water and alcohol in both outputs of the process, you'll just have a greater amount of alcohol in the evaporated or unfrozen part and a lesser amount in the unevaporated or frozen part.

Note also that in the US any process for separating alcohol from something else is illegal at home.

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The only thing I can think of: lower the air pressure in the container it's in. Probably not practical.

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I believe this is how non-alcoholic beer is made. –  Jefromi Dec 24 '11 at 17:16
    
Am correct in assuming surface area contact to moving air accelerates evaporation, and if so, would a closed environment inhibit this aspect of the reaction? –  mfg Dec 25 '11 at 15:12
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Surface area, temperature, air pressure, and air movement all affect evaporation. Put a fan on your beer, and it will evaporate faster, too. (But of course, the water also evaporates) –  Flimzy Dec 25 '11 at 23:27
    
@Jefromi: I believe you're right. Another method is filtering down to water+alcohol+a few other volatiles, boiling to remove alcohol, then mixing the water back in with what was filtered out. Or simply formulating the recipe to be very low in alcohol to start with (less fermentable sugar). –  freiheit Dec 27 '11 at 1:56
    
What you're describing is called vacuum distillation. It's possible that it might be sped up by stirring (or otherwise introducing fresh liquid to the surface), but mostly because the stuff below the surface is at increased pressure (due to the weight of the liquid above it). –  Joe Mar 28 at 14:50
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Let it sit in an open container and let it evaporate. Of course, the water in the liquid will also evaporate. Heat speeds this process.

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Evaporation would work in theory, but unless you have expensive vacuum equipment, it isn't practical. I would look to using non-alcoholic beer, rather than try to remove alcohol by a means other than heating.

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