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  1. 5 likes
    Thanks for the kind words, guys. What AC-DC and 3d0g refer to is that we've known each other for years on multiple hobbyist distillation forums. Starting with the old Yahoo Distiller and New Distiller forums (where I may still be a moderator) grown out of New Zealand home-distilling legalization, international hobby distilling forums have been a huge factor in developing and disseminating the theoretical and applied information that all of us now take for granted. Shortly after the turn of the century, there was so much awful, dangerous, and superstitious distillation misinformation running rampant, that it was seriously difficult to get good facts about our science/art. The situation was so bad that I wrote "Making Fine Spirits" (Amphora Society) just to give the beginner some trusted facts and procedures he could build on. While I can't prove it, I'm betting that most of the artisan distillers here started with information, first-, second-, or third-hand, that we hammered the BS out of in the hobby forums. Truth be known, I'm kinda proud of all of our efforts.
  2. 5 likes
    Jeff, Under a given set of conditions, there is an optimum cooking temperature and time to obtain the best quality of distillate and the best alcohol yield. I believe the question you have is about cooking small grains at high temperatures. There are a lot of ways to prepare grains for fermentation, but the simple goal of cooking is to gelatinize the starch granules, to make them available for hydrolysis by enzymes to convert to fermentable sugars but the complicated goal is to efficiently obtain proper gelatinization of starch, properly free up amino acids the yeast require, convert to fermentable sugars, reduce contamination and obtain a flavor extraction from the grains. The infusion mashing process we use, (simply cooking small grains at lower & proper temperatures), here at Wilderness Trail is designed around maximizing flavor first, energy second and time third. You do not have to boil your grains up to 210F and you certainly do not want to cook any of your small grains (wheat, rye, barley, malted barley, etc) in that range, again you can but it will not be the highest quality distillate you can obtain in the end if you do that. You can cook corn to 210F and it doesn't do much more than waste energy cooking it that high, part of the high heat is to sterilize the grains of bacteria and you take care of that around 190F and you only need to cook corn around 190F-185F for proper gelatinization, we cook our corn at 190F, it saves energy from going higher, we convert all of the available sugars and sterilize our grains, that is why you do it. For wheat the actual gelatinization range is 136F-146F but we start adding our wheat around 155-160F. For Rye the actual range is 135F-158F and we add and cook our Rye no higher than 160F for good reasons. Our Malted barley never goes in higher than 145F to preserve the enzymatic activity and to keep the grains intact. Think of it this way, gelatinization is like popping popcorn under water, its a dramatic change in the grains composition.. and throw in some smaller ductile grains like wheat or rye and you blow them apart under the same conditions as well as a lot of protein you don't want to break down. The reasons you do not cook grains beyond their proper gelatinization range is more about flavor than yield because if it is too rigorous, thermal decomposition of grain components will cause objectionable popcorn phenolic odors, yield is more impacted by poor grains, under cooking, poor conversion and yeast conditions. By using the infusion mashing process for small grains, you keep the branched chain amino acids and proteins in place with the grains that the yeast will use to properly make a flavorful result. If you boil your small grains, you are creating unbranched chain amino acids, degrading proteins and frankly blowing apart the flavor you are trying to extract. Small grains also get scorched very easy and there are Maillard effects that create all kinds of new chemicals from the high heat of small grains you don't want, plus why would you, the process doesn't require it. The yeast take these unbranched chain and Maillard effect's and turns them into higher alcohols (fusels) and other chemicals that alter the flavor and result of the beer & distillate. In short summary for our whiskeys, we cook our corn to 190F and hold that for 40 minutes, we cool to 160F by adding some water additions of the overall mashbill and add our wheat or Rye and hold that for 30 minutes, we add more water additions to get to 145F which is when we add our Malted Barley which rest for 30 minutes. We add the rest of our water additions for our ferm set and the chiller takes it down to 90F. We send that to our fermenters, which are set to hold at 85F for three day beer and 78F for 4-5 day beer. By shortening the initial cook of the total water, your initial cook is thicker, for us that is around 18 beer gallons and that allows you to use less energy to heat up the initial cook and reserve the rest of the water for cooling capacity as well as when you add your grains you are also using that to help cool your mash down. For example I mentioned we add our wheat at 160F but after the grains are added the temperature drops to around 150F+ and rest out to a little above 145F. We primarily make a wheated Bourbon but we also make a Rye Whiskey, which again even though the Rye will be the majority of grains, we still cook our smaller amount of Corn up to 190F and then cool it down to 160F before adding the majority of the mashbill of Rye. Infusion mashing is scientifically proven to offer a more flavorful distillate and smoother distillate, mainly for the reasons listed above. Shane Baker Co-Founder, Master Distiller Wilderness Trail Distillery
  3. 3 likes
    Mail merges are a dying art. Only the Nigerians seem to make the effort anymore.
  4. 3 likes
    Yes. But... We must always guard against the danger of getting lost in the romanticism of nostalgia. We can respect the old ways and be thankful that we have the ability to stand on the shoulders of giants, but that doesn't mean that we should not push the limits, leveraging new technologies and new techniques, to create new, unique, and better products than our elders had before us. Just because they are the old ways, do not mean that they are the best ways. Don't mistake my words, I'm not saying that a new way is better because it's new, or that an old way isn't the best way. Just like our elders had the responsibility of growing and enriching their craft, so do we. If it means an old way must go, it must go. I believe the old artisans would approve. I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads this article as being condescending. I'm sure it wasn't written to come off as condescending, but it is nonetheless. I admit, it's nice to look back on the good old days. Everything was better back then, wasn't it? Men were men, honesty was a virtue, and someone's word actually meant something. Having studied neuroscience and cognitive psychology for many years, with a focus on emotion, memory, and cognitive bias, I can't help but read these kinds of nostalgic pieces and imagine how much of that retrospection was clouded by biases and flaws (or omissions) in our memories. There is a well known cognitive bias called Rosy Retrospection. Despite the cute name, it's the basis for those feelings of romantic nostalgia we have for the past. However, it also means that perhaps the past was not how we remember. I still remember the taste of the champagne that I sipped after toasting with my wife at our wedding reception, or the taste of that whiskey me and the boys sipped when getting the news that there was a little one on the way, god it was so good. The reality of it is, the good old days weren't. I'm not complaining that our brains have a propensity to fade unpleasant memories, and retain (and even embellish) the good ones. Life would be awful otherwise, wouldn't it? But, the old stories come together, and history is written with these biases. So when we look back, we need to understand that the negatives were probably omitted, and the positives are certainly more positive than they were. So, now we get to the truth, let's be realistic here. Commercial producers, even small ones, have been producing awful spirits for as long as people have been drinking them. You would be remiss to simply assume just because some producer produced something seventy five years ago, it was absolutely fantastic, magical, unparalleled in quality and without compare. Because, you know what, most of it was probably pretty bad. Craft was probably the last thing in many of their minds. Losing a batch to a raging bacterial infection meant your kids going hungry, so they produced it anyway. I've tasted lots of very old product, you know, the kind with fancy scores and reviews, when people fawn over names, and was amazed that after dozens of years your could still taste the fact that they didn't bother to take much of a heads cut, hell, any cut at all. The raw distillate was probably so god awful that it needed 25 years on oak just to be remotely drinkable. What I don't understand is, why make these overly broad, sweeping assumptions about the new breed of craft producers? Yet at the same time paying some kind of religious homage to those who came before? Frankly, neither deserve it.
  5. 2 likes
    urea is a precursor to ethyl carbamate, a known carcinogen. you can boil bakers yeast (as the homedistiller forum suggest, yeast hulls don't provide nitrogen but thats also not the point of using hulls) for amino acids. DAP is also better than urea because it has a N base (diammonium) and P (phosphate), the two macros that you'll likely be deficient in. You need to ensure that all of the nutrients (or at least the DAP addition) is metabolized before the finish of fermentation because residual N will affect flavor. This is one of the reasons why you add at the beginning of fermentation or after 1/3 of the sugars have been depleted. For my current use, I add it at the start of fermentation and after 12-16 hrs depending on ferment speed and lag time - but I'm doing fresh pressed sugarcane (agricole-style) which is an entirely different beast than most of y'all
  6. 2 likes
    The first thing I want to lay out is that in no way, shape or form do I consider myself a know it all. But due to some recent postings on this forum, and just people who have approached me in my local area about opening a distillery, I figure I'll do us all a favor and throw down some info based on my experiences over the past few years. Take them for what they are. If you disagree, feel free to post. If you want to open your own distillery, this is what I suggest. In my case, I don't come from money and didn't have the opportunity/ability to get a bunch of well-endowed folks to throw down a shipload of cash. I got a bank loan and used my personal funds that I had set aside during my time in the military. I won't go very far into how much I had, but the total allowed me to do some work on our site to set it up (those figures will obviously vary based on your individual circumstances), get some bargain equipment (total was about 20K) and then make it all work with almost daily trips to LOWE's (not being paid by them) over several months. So, if you have 500,000 dollars or more and don't need to start seeing a return for quite a while, then more power to you. But if you're on a limited budget and enjoy working 18 hour days, here's what I did: ***IMPORTANT STARTING NOTE: In 2007 (when I started to work on our business plan) there were very few options out there as far as educational opportunities for those interested in smaller scale distilling aside from books, the internet, and visiting working operations. However, there are now many, many options ranging from 1 or 2-day courses that may cost a few hundred dollars all the way up to full blown internships that are in the thousands. Case in point, I personally hold a 1-day workshop a few times a year (Camp Distillery, info on our website at www.mbrdistillery.com, and we fill up several weeks in advance). We specifically do this to help those seriously thinking about getting into the business that don't have a full week to spend on a course. I don't do it for the money, I do it because I literally have individuals wanting to stop by and meet with me on the matter at least every 2 weeks and I just honestly don't have time to entertain that many people for free. I can obviously vouch for our course that I teach, as I have had nothing but positive responses on the quality of instruction from those that have attended. Before you do get knee deep in a business plan, look into AT LEAST a one or two day workshop and attend it. The few hundred dollars you'll spend will save you either 1. At least tens of thousands of dollars in avoided mistakes or 2. You'll learn that getting into this business may not be for you BEFORE you start spending too much time and money. The longer I'm in this business, the more I honestly believe that there's really nothing quite like it, even beer and wine are usually very different from the spirits business both on the production and marketing sides. Plus, the amount of regulation and taxes we, as small-scale operations, pay is like the NFL compared to college or high school football. 1. Make yourself a REALISTIC business plan, then make several alternates in case you can't do it the way you want. I had plans A, B and C. I ended up going with plan C due to lack of funding. If you don't know accounting, teach yourself or find someone that can produce good financials for you if you're going to present things to either the bank or investors (or even just yourself). However, even if you have someone else produce them, you or they need to be able to explain them in detail if you're going to ask anyone for cash. Those two items (business plan and financials) are your foundation. You need to live and breath them and know them left, right, up and down. Working on those were pretty much my only hobby while I still had a day job, I spent the better part of 18 months on mine and it paid off because my numbers were almost dead on, and that was quite impressive when the bank or investors were trying to take me seriously about the business. 2. Start researching the art of distilling. Get books, go on sites, talk to other distillers, but don't expect to learn how to distill by reading. If getting hands on experience means visiting several distilleries, see below. Go to TTB.GOV and start reading, the regs are there. You can't know the regs well enough. I'm not lying when I say that I go on that site probably once a week or more to lookup info or just to go over things to ensure that they're fresh in my mind. When you get licensed and you produce a product, you are swearing under law that you are making that specific product according to the federal (and your state) regs. Your state may have some additional regs (mine does) that add to the federal regs, look them up as well. In essence, you are getting into a socialized business. It doesn't matter how much money you make (even if it isn't enough to keep the lights on), if you sell product, you pay the man. In most cases you have to "ask" the fed govt for permission to do certain things and, even if they're wrong, they're right. You can argue with them all you want, but you could be heading down a slippery slope to do so. IMHO, the only way that I would ever challenge the feds is if they were TRULY mistaken about something and (hopefully) I really won't upset anyone. In most businesses you don't have to ask the govt permission to make a product a certain way, to increase your production amount, or to change the setup of your facilities. In this business you do. 3. Go visit SEVERAL distilleries in different states. When you do so, call ahead and make an appointment to meet with the actual distiller and/or manager. Take into account my initial statement about time with regards to those individuals. If they're busy, just take note of their setup during your visit. But, in general, get in and get out and realize that they're not there to be your personal consultant for 2 hours or more. In total, I toured about 20 craft distilleries prior to making the first move to get ours going. Different states have different licensing requirements and different distilleries will have different techniques. During those visits I also met several people that I can call (or they can call me) if I have a question about something. I won't mention some of the guys that have helped me out and probably will still call (maybe they don't want the publicity cause I'm sure they're as busy as me), but they have helped make our business to some degree (FYI, I still owe most of them a free bottle or two and a whole lot of appreciation). I would also add that it helps to go talk to folks that aren't across the street (and preferably are a state or two away) because common sense will tell you that they won't really see you as a direct threat to their business. I'm not saying not to tour any nearby locations, but I didn't spend too much time questioning them about too many things because they may see me as direct competition, particularly for their local distribution business. My biggest trip included a tour of 9 craft distilleries, lasted 5 days, was several thousand miles of driving, went from KY to NY and cost me a grand total of 500 dollars in gas, budget hotels, and food (pack an ice chest to really save). That being said, I do have a Honda Civic that gets 40 mpg on the highway. Also, there are the distilling workshops and the ADI conferences, but I still recommend you hit as many small-scale craft distilleries as possible to broaden your understanding of the business and to get as many points of view as possible. Even if you go to a workshop with several distillers there, it's not the same as seeing them at their location with their equipment and in full business mode. The small-scale distilling industry isn't near as well-developed as the wine-making or brewing business, you'll see some very interesting things at different operations. 4. Get your site (and if you don't know yet, YOU CAN'T HAVE A FEDERALLY LICENSED DISTILLERY AT YOUR HOUSE without a property subdivision of some sort, this ain't a winery or brewery kids, the law is gonna tax you and tax you again, they don't want you makin stuff in your basement), refer to CFR Title 27, Part 19, Subpart F, 19.131. And, just for some fun, go lookup the federal tax rate on spirits compared to wine and beer, it's about three times as much, and that's not even taking into account that small-scale wineries & brewers pay a fraction of that 1/3. Now, back to the whole distilling at home thing, you can subdivide property, put up a fence, or tell the feds that you have a "force field" separating the "house" from the "distillery" to get around that. But, BOTTOM LINE, you MUST GET FEDERAL APPROVAL FROM THE TTB, go talk to them because they only give that appproval on a case by case basis and don't expect them to snap to and give you an answer overnight. Furthermore, you have to deal with local zoning first and foremost because the feds WILL ask you about that. For all planning, I recommend you start locally, then go state-level, then federal. The feds EXPECT that you are in complete compliance with all local and state regs and will ask you about it when they interview you. Bare in mind that your location is one of your biggest factors that will allow your business to be successful. First thing is that the environment (city vs. country) will make a huge difference in the local requirements that can add tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars difference to your startup cost. Second, state (and even local) laws will determine if you can sell your products from your gift shop/tasting room. You make up to three times the profit when you sell a bottle from your gift shop vs. to a distributor. Finally, if you are off the beaten path, how many folks will venture to come and see you? All of those factors are important to consider for your location, so setting up shop in one state that may allow tastings and product sale out of your facility vs. another state where you can only sell t-shirts can make the difference between needing to sell 500 cases or 2500 cases your first year. 5. Once you have a place that you can legally set up and is zoned appropriately and the townsfolk won't come at you with pitchforks and torches, set it up for distilling. What does that mean? Well, either you can hire a consultant (there are many out there) or you can do it yourself. We have started with some pretty bare bones stuff and when we are able to move along, we'll buy (or make) the "nice" equipment. Cost is up to you on all of this, but you are going to need at least SOME money, more power to you if you can make your own equipment. 6. Once your equipment is in place and your site is ready, send in your federal paperwork (the feds require that your equipment is in place prior to licensing). Again, if you have money, you can hire someone to do this part for you. The paperwork itself isn't rocket surgery. But, if you mess it up, it very likely can slow things down. For example, I had something on our permit changed, it took 3 months to add two words on our already existing permit. Plan for a 3-6 month wait, hope for less of course. I can't tell you about your state requirements, that's up to you to figure out cause each state does it their own way. 7. Once you're licensed, make some hooch and sell it (probably to a distributor, or the state if you're in a "control state"), and start beating feet to get it on shelves. If you're not a natural or can't play the part of salesman/diplomat, find someone who can do a good job for you. Even if you can start up your operation on a very, very slim budget, you're going to need a few bucks for this part. I would plan for at least six months of not selling jack through distributors. These distributors manage many, many products and you are just one piece of their usually very large pie. You're going to have to make an effort to build a quality relationship with these guys and work around their schedules. Anything that seems like it should be easy with them WILL NOT BE. If you happen to be setting up on a location that will garner loads of tourist traffic, that's always a plus. But, even then, you're going to have do some sort of marketing (may not cost you a bunch of money, but some of it will) to get the word out that "there's a local distill'ry here" (so come and visit so we can keep the lights on). During this entire process you also need to keep your lights on at home on. In my case I have a wife that kept her day job for our first 4 years of business, so we were able to support ourselves with her income alone until the business could afford to pay us. When you start producing product, you need enough cash to run your business and your home expenses for six months or more. Basic business expenses will include but are not limited to the following: lease/rent, insurance, utilities, payroll (if applicable), raw material costs (grain, molasses/sugar, yeast/nutrients, packaging, etc.), MARKETING (everything from signs and ads to travel brochures for nearby locations), EXCISE TAXES for product that you sell, items for your gift shop (if you have one), and some buffer for the honorable Mr. Murphy (he WILL pay you a visit at least once in your first few months, so be ready to throw some cash down for when he comes). A very realistic rule of thumb is to take your budget and cut it in half. Use half for your facility and equipment, then the other half for your initial production costs and unappropriated costs. But I'd say that advice is still marginal at best. Finally, another important thing to think about is your workforce. I was the only full-time employee for our operation for our first 2 years. I served as distiller, bottler, tasting bartender, cashier, tour guide, sales rep (on the road to stores/on premises accts), accountant, handyman, groundskeeper, and whatever else needs to get done. Until we were able to begin hiring full-time employees, we had friends and family help us out with many different things. I'm sure that this experience is somewhat normal for many small businesses, but it seemed to take a while before we were able to truly afford standard employees. Again, this is just my experience, but that's something to think about. NOTE: This forum has a wealth of information, so do other forums when it comes to techniques (homedistiller.org). I recommend that you read through it and others extensively prior to posting and, when you post, attack a single issue at a time. Don't ask something like, "How do you distill???" or "how do I start a distillery?" Look through the postings, get Bill's book (not being paid for that either), and any other references prior to posting. But, bottom line, be specific when you post so people don't have to write a book IF they do decide to respond. If you don't get much feedback, bank on the fact that you asked a question that already has an answer on the forum. If you really, really don't know anything about distilling or setting up a distillery, refer to steps 1-3. But, just because you can make a product, does not mean you can run a business that profits from that product. I know quite a few folks who can do some good things that they could turn into a business, but they don't want to or can't start a new business for whatever reason. Even when I was the only employee, I spent 75% of my work time NOT MAKING HOOCH. In most cases you are going to have to work at it to make some cash. But, know this, no matter what, the feds (and your state) WILL PROFIT IMMEDIATELY, but that does not mean that you will. From idea to an actual working distillery making hooch, my timeline lasted about 3 years. We're now beginning our 5th year in business and we have 6 full-time employees (including myself), and 6 part-time employees. I still drive a Honda Civic, but I work for MB Roland (consequently that's my wife's maiden name ). Good luck and I hope this serves as a good reference and starting point for those who need guidance on this topic.
  7. 2 likes
    It's very difficult to identify the specific bacterial strain from a pellicle photo, it could be a half dozen different bacteria. Can you describe the smell? Is it more acetic than usual? Do you smell any rancid, butter, body odor, or vomit? Any slime or ropiness if you stir closely below the surface? Just keep an eye on it and see if it begins to appear to be a mold, in which case remove it. I intentionally pitch specific strains of non-yeast bacteria in my rum fermentations to encourage specific ester formation, and I'm starting to work on mixed culture whiskey fermentations, with very good results. There are a handful of lactobacillus strains that I absolutely adore in whiskey and rum. Yes, I said that, and yes I intentionally "infect" fermentations. Every whiskey fermentation that doesn't boil after mashing is "infected" with numerous strains of bacteria. Grain is incredibly filthy from a microbiological perspective. Even some strains of Streptococcus can survive lower-temperature cereal mashes. Same for the rum distilleries, just a different set of bugs. In addition, you'll develop your own mix of strains that define your house/colonial bacteria profile. What I do is force a specific profile to match the outcome I am looking for. Let it ferment out, run it, it may be the most interesting rum you've made. Here are two of my favorite papers on the prevalence of specific bacterial strains in whiskey distilleries: http://www.microbiologyresearch.org/docserver/fulltext/micro/147/4/1471007a.pdf?expires=1483011394&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=3F2159A77F8BCEB870E570C224754586 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC126549/ And Rum: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1046/j.1365-2672.1998.00380.x/asset/j.1365-2672.1998.00380.x.pdf?v=1&t=ixabpopp&s=5841ec634998983c0b050add5b2dbeba52bd555c
  8. 2 likes
    The Slow Distillation Movement Hubert Germain-Robin Being an aficionado of the Slow Food Movement since the beginning, I would like to add another antidote to the tyranny of the fast food industry and the frenzied pace of modern culture. Slow Distillation By using ancestral methods of distillation, when time was not such a pressing issue, one would conduct the distillation at a slow pace to be able to separate with precision the different components, to make clean cuts and to respect the temperature during the gathering of the distillates. With today’s hurried approach, many of these parameters are undervalued or even ignored by craft distillers. For centuries, distillers passed down to successive generations the nuances of creating flavors from the materials available. These artisans created good spirits before thermometers were invented, not understanding the molecular difference between methanol and ethanol or even knowing the names and vapor temperatures of any of the compounds they were separating. Distillers must listen to a spirit coming off the still in order to understand how much time in the barrel it will take for flavors to blossom and come to full beauty. Little thought or teaching is currently given to the understanding of how to ferment and distill a spirit when one intends to age it for 4, 12, or even 20 years. The rapidly made products often seen today have a limited appeal to consumers who pay attention to what they are drinking. This commodity approach to spirits production may produce a few small fortunes, but will no doubt produce many more inferior products that will need the presence of a bartender to bring to full flavor. Slow Maturation: By learning from the experience of generations of cellar masters, one realizes that time and patience are factors you cannot fully control, except by having proper levels of humidity and temperature in your cellar. Forcing the aging process by raising temperatures and using smaller barrels (which are usually made of wood of lesser quality) to obtain faster extraction often results in harsh and excessive tannins, which will take many years for the spirit to digest. Balance and harmony are reached by knowing the pace of transformations occurring in the barrels through the periods of oxidation and of rest. This is necessary and elementary to have a quality product. In the modern distillery age, the distiller is more likely to be flooded with information about saturating their spirit quickly with wood extract to make it marketable than they are presented with information about how to slowly nurture barrels into producing a supple, round, full flavor from the depth of years. Consequently, today’s distiller is more likely to toss their precious water of life into barrels and forget about it for two years, or for six years, and with little regard to maintaining proper maturation conditions, whatever the recipe, like a cake baking in the oven for whatever amount of time. By making abstraction of, or simply ignoring, either slow distillation or slow maturation, these craftsmen limit themselves in creating true artisan products. The consequences are not always obvious in the short term but appear later, resulting in regrets and disappointments. Remember: In this long journey, you cannot go back in time; you have to live with your decisions—good or bad. Can a rum or whiskey, after being stored in a barrel for only a year, truly be called mature or aged when, at the same time, a brandy, Cognac, Calvados or Scotch (and many other spirits) have to rest at least 2.5 years in oak (which is still quite young) to get the due appellation? I urge the distiller to slow down, take a mindful approach and join in the sharing of small details that, when combined together, have the effect of creating a spirit that can be savored. At the beginning of this revolution—which will go on for years, decades and centuries—the foundation can be laid so that craft will become the designation of quality. Rules should be put in place—by the craft distilling industry itself—to establish control over the declaration and on the labels for the consumer’s good. The Europeans have put a strict system in place that could be used as an example to make designations fair for everyone. Such a system will also serve to elevate quality, and reinforce appellations and sub-appellations, that will be created in the near future. For more information, email: Hubert Germain-Robin hubertgermainrobin@gmail.com Nancy Fraley nancylfraley@yahoo.com Andrew Faulkner drew@distilling.com
  9. 2 likes
    Producing Green Rye Malt (Laundromat method) ( the most photographed part of my distillery) I no longer use the bucket or floor methods because I have built an automatic system using an old commercial clothes dryer. I can do about 40 Kg ?? pounds at a time. The drum is lined with fine stainless mesh because the original holes are too large. There is a small plastic microjet garden sprinkler fitted through the door to keep grain moist. Motor gearing has been changed so drum turns slowly. It is also on a timer so it switches on about every hour and gives the grain a squirt of water. Drum is loaded with dry grain and timer switched on. I return 2 days later in summer (4 days in winter) and it is finished. (I sometimes pre-soak the grain if I need to get more batches out per week) If I need to peat smoke the grain I light some peat in the space below the drum. When I malt barley I dry it by turning on HEAT and speed up the drum. I am currently building a larger drum to do about half ton batches.
  10. 1 like
    Besides taste, a red oak barrel would be empty by morning. Red oak cannot hold liquids.
  11. 1 like
    That bottle is something special, nice work.
  12. 1 like
    that is a really nice bottle , very eye catching hope it pays off for you . who makes your bottles .
  13. 1 like
    Packaging looks great guys!
  14. 1 like
    We just went through the startup process or could be considered still going through it. Our Kannuk vodka should be in LCBO stores this May 2017. We are based in Niagara Region of Canada. Any Canucks (or non-Canucks as well) feel free to reach out to us as by PM or email info@kannuk.ca Here is a pic of our bottle which we designed and custom made and the wooden top we make ourselves in-house, eh?
  15. 1 like
    That is amazing how many barrels you can fit in that small space. I watched for about 1 minute and saw 6 roll in and they hardly took up any room
  16. 1 like
    Hi Rachael, as Foreshot mentioned above, the pallet stackers are perfect solutions for those of us who don't have room to operate a fork lift. We build our own 3 level barrel racks and use the pallet stacker to load/unload from the top two rows. Here's a link to an Instagram video we recently posted that shows a barrel being offloaded onto our racks. These are 15 gallon barrels.
  17. 1 like
    an inexpensive glass still and the required thermometer and hydrometer are what's needed. the procedure is in the gauging manual in 27cfr 30.32(c). in the process, distillation is used to remove the sugars (that are more dense than water and will push your hydrometer up making the amount of alcohol seem lower) with water. then you measure the proof in the usual way. let me say it again: replace the sugars with the amount of water the sugars displace. the trouble is that while you are making the batch, you actually can do the weights and arithmetic quite accurately, and your results will be spot-on, but when gauging for tax, you are required to use the prescribed method noted above. you might as well spring for the glass still now.
  18. 1 like
    Meerkat who wrote Alcodens is a regular contributor to this forum. He is working on a calculator for that problem. My suggestion for the moment is to record by mass exactly what you add, then add, then add until you get the correct proof. Next time you make a similar batch you should be very close first time.
  19. 1 like
    Wigle in Pittsburgh is hiring: https://www.wiglewhiskey.com/our-story/jobs I'm not associated with them, I just happened to see the listing.
  20. 1 like
    The manually operated lift forks are great in a small space. I have one similar to the link above. Also good for lifting drums to syphon out.
  21. 1 like
    Just wanted to share that after paying rent since October 2015, we finally opened to the public this past weekend! Happy to say there wasn't a dry glass in the tasting room from 1PM to 10PM. Even had a local supporter that we didn't know, stop by with a nice big custom sign for us. We're still not 100% through the local governmental muck, so I'm stuck using disposable glasses for the time being but no one really seemed to mind. We still have a lot of work to do streamlining our set up and adapting more equipment, but at least we finally have some income!
  22. 1 like
    Taste and nose the spirit regularly. Get the cubes/chips out when you think it has enough. Time taken will vary with temperature, variations in temperature and even air pressure to a small extent. If you think it has become over oaked then add some spirit. If you have some spirit that has been off the still for some time that would be better as spirit does mellow even without oak. Also if you are trying to rapid age I suggest you take a much larger heads cut. Those highly volatile compounds you remove are similar to the "angels share" that barrels lose over time. ie. the angels share is mostly volatiles you don't want, they get the trash.
  23. 1 like
    Welcome Rachael. Some of the other people here use manual pallet stackers - http://www.globalindustrial.com/g/material-handling/lift-trucks/manual-lift/big-joe-manual-push-hand-operated-lift-stacker For racks: http://barrelsandracks.com/racks/ - There's large number of suppliers out there, including used as Hedgebird. Maybe some of the other guys can post their suppliers. What area of the country are you in?
  24. 1 like
    Congrats! I saw the write ups in the Erie & Pgh papers. I hope you get through the paperwork quickly. I have family in Erie so next time we're up we'll stop by.
  25. 1 like
    Lots of companies selling used barrel racks. We stack three high (so six total barrels on a rack set) and can still push them around with a pallet jack. Fill then in place on the rack, pump empty while they are still on the rack. Disadvantage is you cant really harvest the bottom ones until you get the top ones off. We also use a chain hoist to lift barrels, but can only do that on the bottom or middle rack as the third barrel up is too high to get under the hoist.
  26. 1 like
    We have a simple suggestion for utilizing your heads and tails from your whiskey and other spirit runs. These can be re-distilled in our automated GENIO still, which will give you above 190 proof neutral spirit for subsequent use for VODKAS or GINS. Our stills come with an activated carbon filter and you can select to automatically pass your re-distilled spirit through the filter to remove further aroma and flavor from it. Our GENIO Still 250 (66 gallons) is only about USD $10.1K and shipping to anywhere in the US or Canada is $1.3K, so for about $11.4K you can have a standalone plug and play automated distillation system that can produce on average 10L of above 190 proof neutral spirit per hour. With average electrical power use of 10kW per hour, it will be about 1kWh of electricity cost per liter of 190 proof of spirit. In the US, average kWh costs $0.12, so for $0.45 you can have a gallon of 190 proof neutral spirit, which is likely significantly less than purchased NGS from industrial sources and it would also be made from your ingredients, therefore still "Artisan" and not pretend "Artisan" like NGS is generally considered. Since you already have heads and tails, you might as well use them for something useful as opposed to disposing of it (in a safe manner of course). Our stills have a small footprint, are efficient, affordable and also automated using touchscreen controls therefore other than pouring your heads and tails into the pot and diluting it to less than 60 proof, you don't need to watch over it to ensure it hits 190 proof. Great addition to any existing copper whiskey still or a great standalone workhorse for any distillery. You can also make WHISKY, BRANDY, RUM and any other spirit you want with it, but its competitive advantage is the automated feature in reaching 190 proof. It comes with a GIN basket, which will also save you time from cleaning your other still's column from juniper oils if you want to have this as your standalone Neutral spirit still and Gin still. For additional information, feel free to visit our website or email our US representative at usa@g-still.com or Canada at ca@g-still.com Cheers, Team GENIO g-still.com
  27. 1 like
    Regarding fermaid-K... Google is your friend
  28. 1 like
    Greeting from the Atlas Barrel Company! Cooperage in Minneapolis that makes 30 & 53-gallon barrels with our local MN oak. Just wanted to introduce ourselves to the growing distillers market. Excited to have joined the industry in 2014, and looking forward to partnering with distilleries to make better spirits together for years to come! Check us out if you have spirits that need a temporary home. We have thirsty barrels that happily await the day to meet your barrel houses. Cheers! http://atlasbarrel.com/
  29. 1 like
    Anyone got a hot lead on 55 gal stainless barrels besides the usual suspects (Bubba's, JDP)?
  30. 1 like
    I do molasses/sugar fermentations using Fermaid yeast supplements, DAP, and a calcium Buffer against pH crashing. I do a second supplement/DAP/calcium/molasses/sugar/water addition at 1/3 sugar depletion of the original start. My fermentations will finish in 3-4 days at 90f, 4-5 days at 80f. You really shouldn't need or want to aerate after fermentation begins as oxygen introduced will reduce your yield because the yeast will use that for other efforts than ethanol production. I would be curious as to what the pH is now, and the quality of the supplements as a sugar wash is nutrient poor.
  31. 1 like
    The reason for the difference between adding water and sugar is that proof is based on volume and a given mass of sugar has a different volume from the same mass of water. For example. if you have 10 gallons of 100 proof spirit and you add 10 lbs of water the volume will increase to 11.169 gallons. But if you added 10 lbs of sugar to 10 gallons of 100 proof spirit the volume would increase to only 10.749 gallons. In both examples no additional alcohol is added, so both contain the same amount of alcohol after dilution. Adding the water would lower the proof from 100 to 89.54, but adding the sugar would lower it to only 93.03 because the volume has increased by a smaller amount. If you used a standard proof hydrometer to determine the proof of the sample with the sugar added it would read about 30.4 proof because the sugar would have significantly increased the density of the sample and the hydrometer is not calibrated for that.
  32. 1 like
    Experiment, experiment, experiment. Who knows what really went into the grain bill. The end product is absolutely not important. What's important is the marketing story around it. Remember, you're not in the distilling business, you're in a marketing business whose product is a distilled beverage. You've got a great story. Go with it.
  33. 1 like
    Lets not discount temp swings. We age in a non climate controlled warehouse and here in missouri it gets hot in the summer. I see a lot of people aging inside their distillery building. I would think it would take additional time when you don't get the temp changes, particularly the heat of summer. Everyone has a different answer which really depends on their location, where they age, proof they put in the barrel, how tight they cut, etc so this question cannot really be answered with any degree of certainty but its nice to see how others are doing it. I had a 5 gallon barrel when we started I had forgotten about. I found it on the back of a shelf after it had been sitting about 2 1/2 years. New barrel filled with bourbon. I had several others I had dumped at 8 months. By what everyone believes it should have been way over oaked and not good. That was not the case. It was outstanding! Made me realize I don't know anything! lol
  34. 1 like
    In spite of better judgment, perhaps, we went ahead and prototyped up a Clean In-Place system for the Mori Filler. It actually came out pretty well, if I do say so myself! Here's a normal, no-frills Six-Spout Mori Filler: Now we'll attach the first half of the clean in place system to the right-hand nozzles: As you can see, it's basically a stainless steel manifold that locks the nozzles open. While the nozzles are locked open, liquid flows freely. Now let's attach the other half: The two halves clamp together. Now all the nozzles are locked open, so liquid can flow freely through them. As you can see, both ends have standard tri clamp ferrule connections. One end will be closed off with an end cap or valve until you're ready to drain the cleaning solution. The other end will connect directly to the inlet of the Mori Filler's pump that feeds the reservoir. When you're done filling and ready to clean, you can just disconnect your supply tank, connect to the clean in-place system, and add some cleaning product to your reservoir. It will keep recycling the cleaning product through the system for as long as you want. Pretty neat!
  35. 1 like
    Yeah definitely sterilize a few containers and keep samples, if the result is great you are going to kick yourself for not attempting to culture it. I think there are lots of clues on the specific bacteria in the late heads. Typical acetic strains will just result in a larger than usual heads cut, nothing particularly interesting. But strains that generate higher amounts of butyric and propionic acid esters are where it's at - you'll get these in the late heads. Propionic and butyric esters - tropical fruit, bubble gum, rummy, pineapple, strawberry, apple, etc. Low acetic lacto strains are harder to pick out, slightly pineapple in the late heads, but without the juicy-fruit gum, slightly buttery early tails - but broadly contribute to the buttery/rich descriptor, absolutely - creamy, caramel, buttery, nutty.
  36. 1 like
    You are welcome Ryefarmer, thank you for the compliment. Navonjohnson please email me paul@distillery-equipment.com Happy Holidays!
  37. 1 like
    I also thank you Paul. You show great class. We will certainly put your company at the top of the list for our needs.
  38. 1 like
    1-400 gallon (500 max) stripping still with vertical stripping condenser 1 200 gallon (300max)finishing still with vertical finishing condenser 2-350gallon totes 1-Steall epoxy coated platform All new seals and ready for deliver. Shipping, handling and installation are the sole responsibility of purchaser; As Is, Where Is. Used equipment: 3 years Price: $225,000.00 contact: Greg at jgdklew@mac.com. Serious inquires only! Vendome Stills for sale.pdf
  39. 1 like
    I used mostly .093 copper plate on my build. The steam kettle itself was stainless, but the dome walls, column and top condenser where all rolled copper pieces tig welded together. The spun dome top was .125 thick. It took a very large slip-roller to roll the .093 plate into a 4' long x 11" diameter tube that became the main column. Using .125 plate would have been better but was not really practical for the machinery I had access to at the time. If I recall I purchased "half hard" plate as well. I am currently considering building a 300 gallon still myself and will probably try to go with .125 plate.
  40. 1 like
    Ah! "but not the chemistry behind how they interact once mixed.".... Along similar lines to "What is the meaning of Life, The Universe, and Everything?" As the Japanese distillers have pursued (to their definite and large advantage), modern chemistry allows PRECISE discovery of "what is in it?" for any liquid. Down to parts-per-billion precision and with total knowledge of component identification. There are NO components in - for example - a Great malt whisky which cannot be acquired in pure form so that a duplicate "recipe" of ingredients can be made. The Great Mystery is how these form over time in the environment inside an ageing barrel. And even that is no longer much of a mystery to the Chemistry Detectives. Techniques have been available for DECADES to relatively mundane laboratories not only to identify and quantify ALL such components, and to also to TRACK whence they came. Time-spanned repeat studies even show up "intermediates" along the way. So, the scientifically inclined follow their path, sometimes with a quiet chuckle for the Traditionalists who insist that a good malt only develops if the right number of old bones are thrown into the air, at the right height and with the correct incantation....... And the Traditionalists laugh in (near) total disbelief at the complete analysis of the Big Picture suggested by their opponents. The big question is who, over time, makes the best product in terms of Customer acceptance AND preparedness to pay. And PROFIT of course! Which US Distilleries get $100 per 70cl bottle of single malt made on a COFFEY STILL (and know that even some in Scotland have done for many decades....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Nevis_distillery )? How many posters herein are actively and currently discussing and debating such progressive options to Process Improvement, compared to those promoting "same old" methodologies? Sure ALL distilleries have seen gradual incorporation of newer ideas and technologies over the centuries. What many seem to fail to grasp is the rate of ACCELERATION of such adoptions, and the rapid demise of those failing to see the "train" heading their way in their tunnel! Cast your minds back to how impregnable DEC seemed with their super-mini computers in 1985. Or Compaq did with their PC's in 1995. Both GONE. Extinct as the dinosaurs. And all they did was to fall behind "the Curve" SET BY THEIR CUSTOMERS' NEEDS. They both thought they owned their market. Both were seriously mistaken! Just my $0.02
  41. 1 like
    hi! If still for sale can you me call with price and electrical info. 5187420620 Thanks Bernie
  42. 1 like
    The good 'ol days - when creosote and turpentine and sulfuric acid were the short cuts. Not that I'm in favor of short cuts, but this whipper-snapper would strongly lean towards the modern restrictions on ethyl carbamate and leave the coloring to caramels instead creosote (I assume it was for color?).. Feels like we are getting a little off-track. I believe the OP was just selling his story, same as the rest of us. Financial restriction is not valid excuse for circumventing excellence but lets be honest, not everybody affords a Ferrari or an Aperilia. The takeaway? Stand behind your goods with pride whether its Ecco or Dolce and don't pretend it's something it's not - there is a market for both and you've got to plan accordingly. Fireball isn't $50 a fifth but they sure make hella money off of it.
  43. 1 like
    Producing Green Rye Malt (floor malting) Soak (steep) the rye grain for 8 hours in buckets or a larger vessel. Drain and leave 8-12 hours. Soak with water again for another 5 or so hours then drain and spread about 3 inches deep on floor. Keep moist with water spray. Cover with burlap = best, or loose fitting plastic can help keep the top moist. Turn the grain with a shovel (or hands if small quantity) every 12 hours until it gets warm then turn and spray more regularly as it warms up. (Rye has no husk so it soaks up water quicker than barley, but it also dries out quickly so it is important to keep up the water spray) Grind it up when the average acrospires are almost same length as the grain. (Floor malting probably produces better quality malt because it is easier to control the temperature but the bucket method is so easy especially if you have limited space and only need a small quantity)
  44. 1 like
    Producing Green Rye Malt (bucket method) ( a fresh batch of green malt needs to be done for each mashing) I do 20% of my grain but I expect that 15% or even 10% would do if malted under ideal conditions, but I am being cautious. A very easy way is to almost fill (2 inches from top) enough plastic buckets with the required amount of grain. Fill the buckets to top with water and leave for about 8 hours, no longer than 12. Use a bucket lid with holes drilled in it (or some other type of strainer) to empty all the water. Keep in a reasonably cool area. High quality rye malt is produced at about 10 deg C but it works OK at higher temps. leave another 12 hours then get another empty bucket and tip the wet grain into new bucket so grain from top of bucket ends up in bottom of next bucket. Wet grain from the bottom of the original bucket will end up on the top and a little water will permeate the dryer grain below. Repeat this every 8 to 12 hours. Add a very small amount of water if there is none in the bottom of a bucket when you tip it. After about 24 hours you should see the first signs of the rye sprouting. The grain will swell with water and again when the roots and acrospires start emerging. You will eventually need 3 times the original buckets . The grain will start to get warm after about day 2 so if convenient it would be better to tip more regularly to disperse the heat. Repeat for about 3-4 days or until the average acrospires (yellow-green fat sprout) are almost the same length of the grain. (take no notice of the length of the thinner white roots) Grind the malt, roots and all, in a meat grinder, or some type of wet mill. My roller mill is not suitable for wet milling. Use the malt within a few hours or it will start to ferment. (I occasionally bag up the finished un-ground malt and put in freezer for a day or so if I get the timing wrong)
  45. 1 like
    For sale-Recently custom built by VENDOME: COOLING COILS for fermentation tanks (can be used in wood or stainless tanks). Specs below. We had these made but due to changes in other equipment, we do not require them. Never used, recently shipped to us from Vendome. All paperwork still in hand and Gordon Lung at Vendome can confirm. Original cost $2500. per coil. Two available at $2000.00 each. Can be shipped or picked up. (PA) Coils are 1 inch Sch. 10 304 Stainless Steel Pipe Removable or permanent placement in tanks Each coil has 4 Rounds @ 36" centerline (est 13 square ft surface area Coil stays (3 on each) constructed from 10gauge 304 stainless steel formed plate Coils attached to stays with stainless steel Ubolts CALL if interested please: 610.326.8151
  46. 1 like
    We use these -- they are fantastic tanks -- and the folks at Grand Teton are excellent to deal with.
  47. 1 like
    Since Will provided the number for easy reference, here is the full text for further detail: § 19.356 Alcohol content and fill. (a) General. At representative intervals during bottling operations, a proprietor must examine and test bottled spirits to determine whether the alcohol content and quantity (fill) of those spirits agree with what is stated on the label or the bottle. A proprietor’s test procedures must be adequate to ensure accuracy of labels on the bottled product. Proprietors must record the results of all tests of alcohol content and quantity (fill) in the record required by § 19.600. ( Variations in fill. Quantity (fill) must be kept as close to 100 percent fill as the equipment and bottles in use will permit. There must be approximately the same number of overfills and underfills for each lot bottled. In no case will the quantity contained in a bottle vary from the quantity stated on the label or bottle by more than plus or minus: (1) 1.5 percent for bottles 1.0 liter and above; (2) 2.0 percent for bottles 999 mL through 376 mL; (3) 3.0 percent for bottles 375 mL through 101 mL; or (4) 4.5 percent for bottles 100 mL and below. © Variations in alcohol content. Variations in alcohol content, subject to a normal drop that may occur during bottling, must not exceed: (1) 0.25 percent alcohol by volume for products containing solids in excess of 600 mg per 100 ml; (2) 0.25 percent alcohol by volume for all spirits products bottled in 50 or 100 ml size bottles; or (3) 0.15 percent alcohol by volume for all other spirits and bottle sizes. (d) Example. Under paragraph © of this section, a product with a solids content of less than 600 mg per 100 ml, labeled as containing 40 percent alcohol by volume and bottled in a 750 ml bottle, would be acceptable if the test for alcohol content found that it contained 39.85 percent alcohol by volume. (26 U.S.C. 5201, 5301)