Tom Lenerz

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Tom Lenerz last won the day on April 20 2016

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  1. Custom Metalcraft for the tank, the head/condenser looks like it could be from Vendome. Vendome does sell the Custom Metalcraft tanks too. Corsair is also pretty open about things, you could probably call them and ask too.
  2. We have done it both ways without any noticeable difference. I could be wrong, but I believe the reasoning is it doesn't make a difference, so why spend the btus and time to heat the rye or wheat if you don't need too. On the small scale I don't know how much of either one could save. Completely contradictory to the article, I read the other day that large Scottish grain whiskey distilleries process wheat at much higher temps than necessary simply because they can, and if they switch to corn because of a change in commodity prices, they don't need to redo their processes. They also can't use enzymes.
  3. You could put a normally closed valve that requires power before the control steam valve, you set up a Johnson style controller that sends power to the valve, opening it, if your condenser water is at an acceptable temp (heat mode, and you set your max allowable). If the water is good temp and you have electricity at your facility it allows steam to your still. If either of those conditions are met, it loses power and springs back closed. Shutting off the boiler is an issue because there could be a lot of steam in your system still, continuing to heat.
  4. AS Silk City said, if you are running glycol in your system you won't want to 'cross the streams' so to speak as you will be diluting the glycol, which can be added back, but is expensive. Perhaps you place a plate exchanger that is on a thermostatic valve to temper your inlet water to your setpoint. Chill loop on one side, city water on the other. The glycol side always runs through, but if it gets over your setpoint, it is chilled again with city water. Another thought, is you could pipe it like we have with our mash cooler. We run a tube and shell with a pair of three way valves. Set both valves in position 'A' and we run well water through the cooler, to be preheated for our next cook, stored in a insulated tank. Once we collect what we need, we switch to Position 'B' which closes the loop, but adds a plate exchanger which is on our chiller loop. We turn on the loop pump and it recirculates the well water between the two exchangers. This way our mash cooler only ever sees potable water, but we can use our chiller loop or well water to chill the cook. You could set something like this up with a thermostatic valve to temper the inlet temperature, but the loop pump would need a bypass. You could also put a manual override on it so you can preheat city water if you need it, and not use the chiller system at all.
  5. You answered your own question here. Vodka is defined as neutral. Having a hotter ferment will create more congeners, congeners you have to get out of your vodka. To make life easier, I would recommend a different fermentation temperature or a different yeast that produces less congeners at high ferm temps.
  6. I know you are unhappy with your spreadsheets, and from talking to people and looking at this post, a lot of other people are as well. However, I'm going to stand here and defend spreadsheets. I have written multiple spreadsheets not only for daily reporting and all the TTB logs, but also for budgetary, production scheduling and sales projections, and while they aren't perfect, I wouldn't describe them as clunky either. People always praise software for it's ability to spit out reports or information as needed. Which spreadsheets are capable of as well. It takes me minutes to do all of my end of month paperwork with this spreadsheet, and I have additional information that I have decided is relevant stored on the report. My raw material spreadsheet will turn a case number into bushels, barrels, blocks of yeast, days of still time, and in minutes I can rearrange our production schedule to drop a products numbers and increase another to make sure we are operating at capacity. I'm not sure how good your Excel-fu is and perhaps your spreadsheets are already great, but not good enough, then in that case ignore me. But I'd like to defend the poor old spreadsheet, and say if you are willing to, there is no reason you can't build spreadsheets custom tailored to your business for a fraction of the cost of buying software. To me this is the key, I know software is getting better and more customizable everyday, but nothing beats the flexibility (and price) of a spreadsheet. I'm no spreadsheet expert by any means, but I have found that armed with a whiteboard and list of what I want to accomplish, I can design what I need in a few hours. I also feel by building the spreadsheet, it helps me understand the logistics of whatever the spreadsheet accomplishes. For example, building my TTB record keeping spreadsheets using the CFR as a guideline helped me become intimately aware of their details, which was important for me as I had no experience with regulations before.
  7. They aren't? Whoops...
  8. It isn't necessarily industry standard, but you could consider filling barrels over a containment pit, to capture leaks or overfills. Other stuff worth looking at is Intrinsically Safe scales and load cells, EXP lighting and other electronics around spirits holding tanks and in use for barrel filling. Also appropriately rated forklift and pump. Check out the DISCUS fire safety manual for details on what is recommended for industry 'best practices'.
  9. You could do your man-way system, and a baffle setup on each side to great a multi pass system that is easy to clean and easy to unplug... Details: far 'u' side has a single vertical divider, product side has horizontal divider and a vertical divider on top. This would be a 4 pass. In top left, flips on left side on the opposite, returns to product side flips on bottom, flips on right side opposite, out top right. Open man ways to 'floss' each tube with a pipe cleaner on a string/stick for thourough cleaning.
  10. We use a shell and tube system picked out by our thermo engineer to meet process requirements (500 gallons from 212 to ~150 in 30 minutes with 400 gallons of well water preheated to at least 110 for the next cook. Followed by a 150 to Ferm temp drop in less than an hour done with the chiller) Our shell and tube utilizes 1 inch in and outs for product flow, but the tubes are even smaller 3/4 or maybe 1/2 inch. Shell and tube are generally more efficient than the tube and tube you are describing or jackets for cooling. However they are more difficult to clean and there is the potential to plug. Since we had our cooker fabricated we weighed the cost of adding a jacket to the tank to the cost and flexibility of an external exchanger. While the exchanger cost more than the jacket, we know it works for our process and we have the option for using it for other purposes too. However if I had a mash cooker with a jacket installed I would weigh the labor costs of utilizing the jacket (hrs per cook needed to cool) to that of a properly sized exchanger purchased in addition. If you can save an hour with the exchanger great, but how many cooks does it take to pay for itself and do you use it for anything else? Per the tube and tube you are talking about, my understanding is, the outside tube you want as tight to the inner as possible to maximize exchange rate, narrower inner tubes and increased length increase surface area, increasing but exchange. Tube in tube is typically more expensive and larger than the equivalent shell and tube, but they are easier to clean.
  11. I don't have a Mori, but the few places I have worked have done basically the same procedure to varying extents. Rinse, hot clean, rinse and drain to sit. Sanitize before use comes from the wine/beer world, flush the system with gns at the bottling proof of your spirit to rinse out the water as to not affect proof. Drain gns, then filll to bottle. At the brewery I worked at we ran cases through the machine with out caps in to flush cleaner through the system. Here our rotary has a cleaning tray that catches cleaning solution from the heads and runs it to the drain. Not sure what the mori looks like, but the above modified to the machine specifics should work.
  12. If you don't have multiple small fermentors I don't see how having 4 small stills allows for flexibility. I'm also not arguing for smaller fermentors either though as if you need to upgrade your stills you would be looking at replacing it all. For me, it seems like you would be better off getting a 120 gallon still, but I guess it would depend on the prices. Typically twice the tank or twice the still is significantly less than twice the price. Also with smaller stills the variability of where you makes cut will be greater because you have less spirit per run to make those cuts. You also have the issue of 4 times the equipment to operate, clean and maintain, meaning less time you could spend focusing on other parts of your business. You do have the right idea though with larger mash tun and fermentor, because instead of a bunch of little tanks to clean you only have the two.
  13. To be honest, I forgot about staggered starts, and yes the situation you described obviously works. We do stagger some of our equipment, in some situations, but we often run one of our stills twice a day, and cook twice a day, twice a week so things often overlap for us here. It is still worth mentioning though their could be increased labor if you run into standing around because of waiting for one item to finish while starting the other. It is also worth mentioning not having extra capacity for more stills or equipment and having to replace the whole thing in the future if/when the time to expand comes. It would be one thing if you are sizing a boiler just right if the stills are quite large, however 600 liters is not a large still and if things go well it is likely a significantly larger one may be needed.
  14. This is very true. Keep in mind the savings on skimping on boiler size will be lost immediately when you take into account the cost of additional labor required to only mash or distill at one time. Assuming you are running the still once per shift, with your equipment you are looking at 2 days of cooking to fill both fermentors and 4 days of distilling to empty them. This is a 6 day work week, instead of a 4 day, which could have been done if your boiler was bigger. So let's say your labor is only $100 a day, you are talking about spending $200 extra a week because you have a smaller boiler, which means if you saved $3000 on the smaller boiler your break even is 15 weeks.
  15. I am no expert in fabrication by any means, but this post reads to me something along the lines of 'I want to build a house, what kind of lumber should I use?'. Your question is a question of engineering not of fabrication. Beyond the quality and thickness of the copper, the construction of a safe and proper designed still is done after proper engineering is done on the drawing board. We do a lot of custom designed tanks here and while it is rough sketches I submit to the fabricator, they have an engineer trained in these things actually draft and engineer the things. They make sure that the quality and gauge is appropriate to the application and the physical stress of the situation. They also ensure proper venting and relief valves for the system. I'm sure some will disagree with this, and give examples of what you need to use, but I argue for your safety, the safety of your employees and customers that you hire a professional to design and build your still. I'm not saying it can't be built in house by qualified fabricators, but I am saying it should be engineered by someone who is qualified as well.