80 proof: Moonshining goes mainstream
Can you think of someting that is perfectly legal to buy, own, sell, and consume... but is illegal for anyone to make in their own home? Alcohol is a cash cow for the US government, and so it is criminal to make something as ubiquitous as alcohol.
Home brewing of beer used to be outlawed until President Carter, whose brother was a small-time brewer, legalized the process. But distilling spirits remains as criminal as manufacturing methamphetamine. Hobby distilling is no more dangerous than any other hobby, and is the source of many recent upstart commercial distilleries which have spurred many local economies. Though the history of moonshining conjures up images of the Dukes of Hazard, or Prohibition; the reality is that there is a vast underground world of regular americans who run the risk of huge fines and potential jail time by making better alcohol than can be bought, and do it in their kitchens, garages, or back yards as a fun hobby.
Legislation has surfaced over the years to legalize or de-criminalize small scale hobby distilling. But such efforts have been quickly quashed by alcohol lobbies and safety conscious legislators who operate without the facts. New Zealand legalized hobby distilling a decade ago, and there haven't been any disasters or health issues, and commercial spirits have actually increased sales due to increased interest in quality product.
The dark side of distilling exists with large scale unlicensed operations that distill thousands of gallons of spirits and contribute to profitable counterfiet alcohol scams and substantial tax evasion.
With such a long history in nearly every civilization, and legal status in the US until the 1920's... it would only take a biting documentary to take this underground world into the limelight of modern america.
(I hope someone makes this documentary movie... I don't have the skill or will. Homedistiller.org)