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Silk City Distillers

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Everything posted by Silk City Distillers

  1. Silk City Distillers

    grain/liquid separation

    Keep in mind these guys are talking about separating mash or beer, not stillage (post-distillation), so they can't pump it into totes. Separating corn or rye mash, right after mashing, pre-fermentation -> this is the absolute most difficult separation. Not only is the liquid the most viscous it will even be, it needs to be done in a sanitary manner. Even worse, if it's been cooled already, now it's impossible. I really wish people wouldn't sell stills with immersion elements to people who even remotely hint about making whiskey. Sure, the still is 1/3rd of the price of a jacket or bain marie, but now you've got to deal with the impossibility of lautering corn and rye mash.
  2. Silk City Distillers

    grain/liquid separation

    @Avak - Don't waste your time, it doesn't work. I have tried everything in an attempt to not need to buy a very expensive machine from Russell Finex, Kason, or Vincent. I'll tell you this, static presses do not work, period. Don't waste your time and money. The screens will occlude, the system will clog, and the mash will remain completely wet. You will not be able to safely build the pressure necessary using any kind of simple tank. The closest approach to this is a filter press, and unless it's a filter press that either has air injection or bladders, your plate sections will simply fill with wet mash. Those machines are expensive because they do work. These wiper/screw presses are fairly simple conceptually, but realize that you need to find the absolute perfect balance of screw taper, screen, wiper, back pressure, feed rate. In many cases, you are paying for the expertise needed to provide a system that works, not the specific parts. You could easily spend $20,000 trying to build a similar machine that doesn't work. The reasons that rotary screw presses and decanter centrifuges work is that they are self-cleaning and do not clog easily. They can handle variable particle sizes and significant differences in types of particles. A small bit of corn is a very different animal from a barley husk. Once you accept this, you will realize that no static filter press could ever work. That said, we use a screen, a squeegee, and a scoop. It's incredibly low tech, but is exactly how a wiper/screw press works. Squeegee is necessary to keep the screen clean and to unclog it. The trick is, never allow the tank to fill, this is bad. You need to squeegee and scoop, never allowing the screen to fill. Just like the machines work. And do it as hot as possible, the higher the temperature, the easier it is to separate. You'll need to find a balance, larger screens are easier/faster to work with, but will allow more solids through.
  3. Silk City Distillers

    New startup question about setting up

    Even if I had 3 phase I’d still run though a VFD - and I’d have one that has over current monitoring and protection. Slow start, motor protection, reversing, speed control - VFD is always the way to go. For what you get for a few hundred bucks, worth every penny.
  4. Silk City Distillers

    Continuous Columns: Where do I start??

    Hey @indyspirits - please share your thoughts after you spend some time talking with the vendors.
  5. Silk City Distillers


    David Dunbar
  6. Silk City Distillers

    Condensation Inside Spirit Bottles

    Also consider, now that it's summer, someone with a bottle in a hot car, bringing it inside, will see reverse-condensation on the bottle neck due to the glass cooling before the liquid. Or, a warm delivery truck, and a cool store, where a bottle might be sitting undisturbed on a shelf.
  7. Silk City Distillers

    Sourcing Molasses

    No, but you'd need to sit down and do the math to determine what the breakeven looks like on a holding tank. I bet saving $0.10 a pound on molasses (after shipping) might pay back the holding tank in one delivery.
  8. Silk City Distillers

    Filtering Through Limestone

    I thought the genesis of the "limestone water" and whiskey linkage had to do with mashing, and not proofing. Limestone water is higher in Calcium and has higher Carbonate Alkalinity. Calcium deficiency results in poor enzymatic conversion of starch to sugar, specifically, calcium ions make amylase more resistant to temperature and pH. To an extent, more calcium, more sugar, higher yield. Higher carbonate alkalinity means the water has higher buffering potential, so that pH doesn't crash. This would directly impact yeast efficacy, especially in a situation where they would be in competition with bacteria. Bacterial competition means lower yield, so better buffering potential means potentially higher yield (faster fermentations). This all assumes the alternative is water deficient in calcium with poor buffering ability. Reverse osmosis, even very poor RO (on purpose), is still going to yield something like a 90% reduction in these ions.
  9. Silk City Distillers

    Filtering Through Limestone

    You are right but don’t let the marketers know, it’ll ruin the story.
  10. Silk City Distillers

    Filtering Through Limestone

    Marketers love limestone.
  11. Silk City Distillers

    Filtering Through Limestone

    It'll certainly change the pH. Maybe there is a marketing angle in that, pH Neutral Vodka.
  12. Silk City Distillers

    Lessons in Barrel Aging

    Couple points. I think you'll find rum in used barrels is more characteristic of the typical flavor profile of an aged rum rather than in new barrels. Color on the new barrels is fantastic, but like you say, the oak can be very forward, especially on a 5 gallon barrel. I've tasted some nice rums that were aged in a mix of new and used oak that I thought were very good, so it's possible. Likewise, probably doable in a larger format barrel, where you can better control extraction vs. maturation. Which brings me to the next point, extraction vs maturation. On a 5 gallon barrel, extraction will outpace maturation significantly. 10g is better. 15g is better than 10g. 25/30g better yet. If you must work with small barrels, consider cutting the time in oak, transferring to a tank, and finish maturation in glass or stainless (yes, maturation reactions will continue). Realize there are age-statement implications.
  13. Silk City Distillers

    Continuous Columns: Where do I start??

    The problem isn't when things fail in the way that we anticipate that they will fail, these scenarios are trivial and easy to manage. It's when things fail in ways that we never expected them to fail. This is where a human can recognize a problem and react accordingly, and this is exactly where a system will fail. You don't think a primary and backup relay can fail? You don't think a primary and backup solenoid can both stick open or closed? You don't think tubing or metal can fatigue and break? I never said that automation was bad, I made that very clear Richard. In all the cases you mention, those additional safety mechanisms improve the overall safety of the system. Great, I'm all for it. However, they do not create an environment where the system is safe to run unattended, period. This is not up for discussion, we don't run stills unattended, period. Anyone who advocates for this, or builds systems that allow this, is wrong, period. Is that enough periods?
  14. Silk City Distillers

    HAZ EX/OP Area - Mobile/ Cell Phones

    The battery problem they cite has to do with old mobile phones, which had user replaceable batteries (think old Nokia), where if you dropped one, the back cover and battery would pop off. Given that most modern phones are entirely sealed, no batteries, it would seem that even their negligible risk is no longer a problem. That said, they still go out of their way to CYA (Cover Your Ass) saying that the rules are the rules.
  15. Silk City Distillers

    HAZ EX/OP Area - Mobile/ Cell Phones

    https://www.engworks.ca/uploads/1/0/0/4/100477408/cellphoneshazardouslocations.pdf Cell phones are commonly used in petrochemical operations however; government regulations and company policies strictly limit the use of cell phones in hazardous locations. The representative sample of cell phones subjected to the ISA RP12.12.03-2002 design and performance criteria failed to pass the requirements for a PEP 2 device. This would imply that all cell phones in the test group posed an ignition risk in hazardous location. Further testing and analysis indicated the greatest risk was associated with dropping a cell phone on a hard surface. The impact caused the battery to disconnect in the majority of cases and could potentially create an impact spark under ideal conditions. All other potential ignition risks were deemed negligible. The Monte Carlo model simulation results estimated the probability of a fire or explosion resulting from the use of a commercial grade cellular phone in a Class I Division 2/Zone 2 hazardous location as negligible. This conclusion concurs with several previous studies where cell phones were deemed a negligible hazard in gasoline pumping operations. While the research and conclusions of this paper indicate the probability of a cell causing an ignition in a Class I, Division/Zone 2 location are minimal, the authors do not suggest the potential hazard can be ignored. Mobile communication devices that are third party listed for use in htm hazardous locations are commercially available and serve to eliminate the risk of ignition. In all case, appropriate safety measures in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) regulations, electrical codes and other regulations must be observed.
  16. Silk City Distillers

    HAZ EX/OP Area - Mobile/ Cell Phones

    This is covered by ATEX and IEC/UL/FM - Mobile Phones are not considered intrinsically safe by default, and are not permitted in classified environments without specifically being certified for it. If they are holding you to the letter of the law, this is the case, as silly as it sounds. Realize that this applies to desk calculators, electric thermometers, computers, laptops, flashlights, electrical tools, etc etc etc. Hell, even Anton Paar makes an intrinsically safe approved version of the DMA35. Hearing aid? Yep, that's included too - and yes, Siemens makes an intrinsically safe hearing aid with ATEX approvals. Realistically - the risk of accident due to operator distraction is probably 1000x higher than the risk of ignition by a mobile phone. There are manufacturers of explosion proof and intrinsically safe mobile phones - these are primarily targeted at the oil and gas industry - think oil rigs where safety is of absolutely paramount importance, or refineries where a fire or explosion would be absolutely catastrophic. Or probably most realistic, where the risk of lawsuit liability is highest. There are even manufacturers of mobile phone CASES that carry the intrinsically safe approvals necessary. They cost big $$$ ($500-1000). The case itself if probably worth $10, it's the approvals and paperwork that cost the rest.
  17. Silk City Distillers

    Continuous Columns: Where do I start??

    Frankly, there should be zero tolerance here for unattended distillation, including unattended still pre-heating. Sorry, but accidents impact all of us with additional regulatory burden, scrutiny, and avoidable overhead. I'm all for automation that helps an operator focus on the more important tasks, but I feel I must speak out on the topic. It's a bad idea, someone will get hurt, someone will die, and it will hurt all of us. Anyone condoning this is being reckless.
  18. Silk City Distillers

    Looking for Used Bottle Filler

    Interested, ping me when it comes up.
  19. Silk City Distillers

    Bostonapothecary signing in

    I have a man crush on you I think. If you ever want to come down to NJ to distill let me know. I have Pombe, and a double retort is in the works.
  20. Silk City Distillers

    Sourcing Molasses

    Freight is really the killer when it comes to blackstrap especially. Wondered if there were enough of us in close proximity in the Northeast to roll a 9000 gallon tanker from Lu-west and split the costs.
  21. Silk City Distillers

    Sourcing Molasses

    International Molasses isn't distributing out of NJ anymore, meaning it's all coming out of Ohio now. We were picking up in Garfield, NJ - but that's no longer an option as they've closed that location. Golden Barrel is the next closest. Depending on where you are, they do deliver on their own trucks so the freight charges are much lower than LTL.
  22. Silk City Distillers

    Damson plums

    Also in NJ and went down this road. Coming from a Polish background I thought, why not? Except something like 95% of the plums in this country are grown on the west coast, and nearly all of it are Asian varietals. Anyone growing around here demands fairly high prices - they are selling at a premium at farmers markets. I never found a way to get the numbers to work, would need to get $75-100 a bottle at retail for it to even begin to make sense. Might be easier to find someone willing to plant an acre for you, especially if you are looking for European varietals common in distilling. I’d love to do grappa as well, but also the wrong coast.
  23. Silk City Distillers

    Whiskey Filtering

    It’s likely not an absolute filter so you are passing particulate larger than 3um. To really get sparking clear you need to get sub-micron, 0.22um is pretty common. Arguable that this is not necessary in a brown spirit, but it does make a difference visually.
  24. Silk City Distillers

    Whiskey Filtering

    What micron cartridge?
  25. Silk City Distillers

    Pre bottling filter recommendation.

    I typically run RO through my spirit filters and lines first. Then drain any water and filter the spirit to the final (bottling) tank. I will then purge with RO to remove any remaining spirit in the lines and filter housings to the tank. In the final tank, I'll take a gauge, proof to bottle strength, and then do the final gauge. The bottling process itself only has a small filter cartridge to catch any stray dust or particulate that may have been in the bottling tank (rare), I don't consider it final filtration. I hate product losses, especially since I bottle smaller batches. Leaving a proof gallon in the cartridges, filters, and lines seems silly to me, that's real money. Sure, it's a couple of extra steps to reduce those losses, but the payback is significant.