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Everything posted by bluestar

  1. bluestar

    Wind Hill Distillery, LLC

    Gee, that's straight down US 41 from Chicago, just a couple hours. Might even be able to visit 😉
  2. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    I stand by my comment that 6' packed column might not be enough on its own, but in the configuration Paul (Southernhighlander) describes, combined with 6 plates, that should indeed work. We did the same thing for our 8' packed column, adding 4 plates, just got us over 190. But it was not optimal, and a bit harder to keep stabilized. In the end, we switched over to a 17 plate column of smaller diameter, using, by the way, full disclosure, a SS pot we purchased from Paul. Another advantage of plates, if you can observe them while running, is you can see how the column is stabilizing, and if it is being overdriven or underdriven. Also, if the structured packing is not of good design or packing, you can get non-uniform behavior. That said, a good structured-packing-filled column can make great vodka, and is usually far cheaper than the plated column. A rough rule of thumb for packed columns is the height in feet should be roughly 1.5x the diameter in inches. That was our experience, and is similar to that described by Paul for the Vendome still at Rock Town. But the specific height required will be dependent on the kind of packing used. I also agree with Paul that you don't want to be direct heating high-wines. In addition to the safety issues, the high proof alcohol is more corrosive, and will likely cause even stainless elements to quickly erode and potentially fail. Cleaning wasn't hard for us for a packed column, we just back flushed by circulating hot PBW and back rinsed by circulating hot citric acid, and that will clean in place. You can also remove the column, seal an end, and fill for soak cleaning.
  3. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    Hence the reason I suggested the 20 plate column. A packed column can work as well, although you might need something taller than 6' at 6" wide, depending on the packing material. We found it tough to get above 190 proof with an 8" x 8' packed column, for instance. And the throughput is generally slower. Beyond safety, another reason you won't want to keep redistilling is that each heat-up and cool-down costs you money in energy. You would likely make back again your investment in a higher-plate-count column with the time and energy saved in a reasonably short time.
  4. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    The idea of using the mash tun/stripper for stripping is fine. And if stripped, you can use a direct heat for the final distillation. But if you are going to try to finish the vodka from the stripped low-wines directly, you will need a much higher degree of rectification that you will get with a 6-section still. I would plan on using 20 plates. If you are going to use less than 20 plates, then plan to do a high-wine distillation before the final spirit run.
  5. bluestar

    Rye flakes entering lines when distilling.

    Just keep in mind that rye malt is not rye, for labeling purposes. Fermcap is good for beer fermentation anti-foam, but may not be good enough for distillation. We use Magrabar, which works well for our all malt-rye on-grain distillations.
  6. bluestar

    Hot Dry Weather

    Humidify. In winter, steam humidifiers; in summer, wicking air conditioners. Or, use a misting system similar to what is used in green houses.
  7. bluestar

    Vendome Copper Condensor

    Copper condensers can work fine for certain spirits, but can be poorly suited for others. In particular, anything that produces significant amounts of acetic acid can be a concern (like corn or fruit), since this can attack the copper and form copper acetate, a bluish and bitter salt. That's not a problem on the still side of the lyne arm, since the salt won't carry with the vapor. We knew this, and specified stainless for our Vendome condenser. It was mistakenly manufactured with copper internals, and when bitter, blue contaminant showed up in the distillate from corn beer, examination of the internals revealed it was copper (we had a stainless outer cylinder), which we had remanufactured back to specification, eliminating the problem. Ostensibly, you can get by with a copper condenser, even with these sources, if you keep strip and spirit runs separated from each other (different stills, for example). The idea is that if you take a cut in the strip, to eliminate acetic acid in the low-wines, even if you get some copper acetate in the low wines, they will be left behind in the stillage in the spirit run. Also, if the copper passivates, you will minimize the formation of copper acetate. Also, some source materials produce lower levels of acetic acid, and are less prone to copper acetate formation: barley and cane sugar, for example. Hence, it is sometimes just easier to use stainless. But if you are using well-suited source material and proper methods, copper can function well.
  8. bluestar

    6-Pack Boxes / Partitions

    Can't you use the partitions from the 12-packs in the 6 packs, by cutting them in half? Some labor, but it saves the recycling, and if you are trying to squeeze pennies... Where are you getting the quote from?
  9. bluestar

    Proofing....hydrometer vs Anton Paar

    Ah, how do you get comparable accuracies from analog versus digital readings? Okay, how it works: the assumption is that the digital meter is doing all the correction, interpolation, and averaging FOR you, so that is built into it already. So when you have a 0.01% accurate reading with a 0.01% repeatability, the assumption is that the actual reading could be off by 0.04%. BUT, if you are doing the analog measurement with the IRS hydrometers, they have 0.2 proof (0.1%) divisions. Gee, that is worse, isn't it? Well, the assumption is that you can interpolate more accurately than a division, at least 1/2 of a division, which would be 0.05%, and if you average 3 repeated measurements, you might improve to as much as 0.025%. But then you have to also factor in the accuracy of the analog temperature reading and correction of proof, which might bring you back to about 0.04%. So, that is how a 0.1% division glass hydrometer is considered equivalent to a 0.01% accurate digital meter. At first blush, it doesn't seem possible, but in fact it is, if you are skilled with hydrometers and thermometers (in the way of the old chemists). Admittedly, many of us might not be able to read and correct the analog tools to do any better than a Snap 50!
  10. bluestar

    Prickly ash

    Yes, it was Penn Herb, I have not check to see if they still carry it.
  11. bluestar

    Prickly ash

    You can get prickly ash berries from some of the major botanical providers that serve the herbal remedy market. In particular, I have purchased and used prickly ash in a test gin formulation.
  12. bluestar

    Proofing....hydrometer vs Anton Paar

    Again, so no one is confused, UK and USA rules might be completely different, and we have to use USA in USA. But you can not make any of the cheap density meters meet the requirements by doing more calibration. Calibration corrects systematic errors, it does not improve accuracy. The accuracy is what the manufacturer says it is. The requirement for the TTB is 0.01 % ABV in order to assure the product is in the range of -0.00 and +0.30 of required proof. Sure, you could in principle get by with less accuracy, but the TTB will not consider it an approved method. For sure, if you used a device that has an accuracy of 0.1%, even if you recalibrate it, you will not have the required accuracy for the TTB.
  13. bluestar

    Micro-Distillery in building attached to a residence.

    I think Conejo148 description is in line with what I posted, as well: if you get permission to do so, you have to do everything necessary to be sure the DSP is not in or attached to your residence, is secure, is separate, and is publicly accessible. Getting separate address, zoning, lease, etc., are all a means to do that. In essence, what he had done is make it into a building that is NOT his residence. He said it is on his residential property, but by changing zoning, leasing, address, etc., that property is actually no longer residential. It may seem to be just semantics, but actually it is a legal matter. I know other nano-distillers who set up in their rural garages or outbuildings by doing something similar.
  14. bluestar

    Proofing....hydrometer vs Anton Paar

    Actually, the accuracy of the eDrometer is not as good as you might think. The latest version is 0.001 SG. But the range of SG for spirits is from 0.787 to 1.0, or about 0.2, so a variation in SG of 0.001 could be a variation in proof of 1, or a variation in ABV of 0.5. Because the range you have to meet is +0.3 to -0.0, you need at least 0.05 to achieve that, but the TTB looks for 0.01. For comparison, the current Anton Parr SNAP 51 does 0.1. Their "hobbyist" EasyDens does 0.5 which I think is comparable to the eDrometer.
  15. bluestar

    Proofing....hydrometer vs Anton Paar

    Sorry, not true for the TTB in USA. You can only use one of the TTB approved electronic density meters for final gauging, or use calibrated and certified floating hygrometers with the TTB described method. I guess one could use an unapproved brand of meter if it was calibrated and certified for high enough accuracy. That accuracy has to include both for density measurement and either temperature control (TTB preferred) or temperature measured and corrected. Often what limits some of the cheaper models is the temperature control or compensation. But if you go rogue, you can always be at risk.
  16. bluestar

    Micro-Distillery in building attached to a residence.

    One thing to consider in wondering if you can pursue this line: the primary motivator in the prohibition is to "secure the revenue", which means a) no easy way to transfer spirits out of bond in or out of a residence and b) full public access and egress to the distillery. This all comes from the concern for revenue agents needing to both keep the product secure in bond and be able to visit the premise for inspection without inhibition. The concern, as regards a residence, is the existence of "castle laws" in many states, which give the right to owners to protect their residences with arms, and at one time that was interpreted by local and state law enforcement to mean you could keep the feds at bay 😉 Just a little historical background...
  17. bluestar

    Impeller for Enoitalia Euro-30

    Javascript is on and is up to date? That looks like a javascript failure, the buttons are likely javascript.
  18. bluestar

    Micro-Distillery in building attached to a residence.

    Our state has a similar prohibition, but it extends to both schools and churches. Plus, you will likely have local meetings for input before you get your local permits and zoning approvals, and stakeholders, like the church, may object.
  19. bluestar

    Impeller for Enoitalia Euro-30

    I checked the buy button with 3 browsers, and all three worked (Safari, Chrome, Firefox). Maybe try another browser, another computer? Make sure cookies are not blocked (it uses cookies for the cart).
  20. bluestar

    Micro-Distillery in building attached to a residence.

    Other than you can not violate local code, TTB does not care about local code. In an urban environment, I have seen it allowed when there is full fire-wall separation with no passages or connections between. But keep something else in mind, you will have to also meet the local municipal fire code requirements that will allow you to have hazardous materials in the same structure. That will probably trigger a 4-hour firewall separation, if they will allow it at all.
  21. bluestar

    TTB regs and a sink in distilling area

    Since you are a food facility, and must register with FDA, eventually you will be under the jurisdiction of a state agency, in most states, tasked with doing the inspections for food agencies. Sometimes that is the state agricultural department. In any case, in most cases, they will be looking for a hand sink and some means to clean and sanitize equipment coming in contact with food stuffs during processing or packaging, which means 3 basin sink or steam cleaning system.
  22. bluestar

    Impeller for Enoitalia Euro-30

    St. Pats still has them, but they are much more expensive, I think $110 plus shipping.
  23. bluestar

    Impeller for Enoitalia Euro-30

    Indeed, they are, and all the Enotalia parts are now listed under their MoreWine web site, for example. Except their impeller is currently listed as out of stock and on back order. This is true for a couple other vendors.
  24. bluestar

    Food in tasting room

    Our tasting room is classified as a bar, as such are considered Illinois class 1 food, which is lowest level. We can not prepare food, although we can prepare cocktails (go figure). Food must be prepackaged. We provide popcorn for free. Since we are using microwave popcorn, and provide a single package serving to a customer, our inspector allows that as prepackaged. We also sell cello-packed corn nuts (those Peruvian big corn kernels). We are thinking of adding a few more cello-packed items. We do a brunch bloody mary that stacks a bunch of edibles on a skewer in the cocktail. Since that is part of the cocktail's garnish, it is not food prep. Keep in mind the rules you will have to observe depend on your state requirements, county requirements, and local municipality.
  25. bluestar

    Aging Options.

    Finished barrels are too low density to ship affordably across the Atlantic. You need to finish cooperage in the UK. Maybe you could strike a deal with a US cooper to make the barrel parts from American oak, ship those, and finish cooperage in UK. Or just have a UK cooper buy the American oak.