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Patio29Dadio

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Patio29Dadio last won the day on April 29

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  1. Had my visit and learned that the problem was bad controller settings and also learned that I needed a big lesson on steam boiler control settings. This is a 1.2MBTU (30 HP) Aldrich boiler with a Riello burner. The burner has a 1-5 turndown capability that works off a pressure sensor. My problem was that the process value and the high mark were both set at 12 PSI... thus hitting and alarming the max setting at the same time, and stopping the system. Then at the bottom it was set to zero which meant it fell all the way down before it reset and started back up again. This controller has a self-learning mode, so we tried that while going through a run and it set a number of control parameters that we saved. The last run was very smooth. The steam boiler did stop at one point during the run, but kept in the 25%-50% modulation for most of it. Went out to time the gas meter and the consumption was much, much less than I had seen the prior days. So feeling good at this point that the steam boiler is dialed in. Next up... insulating all my steam and condensate return plumbing. That will likely require some more tweaking of control parameters once done. Related to high pressure, 15 PSI steam is 250 degrees. 100 PSI steam is 340 degrees. Hi pressure steam is scary stuff IMO.
  2. Thanks. I think both vsaks and Sudzie are on to something for me. I have the boiler vendor coming out tomorrow to help with the differential settings. It has a 5-1 turndown capability, but it is still cycling to 100% modulation and then will shut off. That isn't helping our consistent heat. That is what I thought and debated it with the boiler company, but in the end agreed that the Flow-tek v-port valve was a great choice. At least that was the conclusion from research. In operation maybe I am convinced otherwise.
  3. We just turned on our 1.2MM Btu steam boiler and have been very happy with our hot and fast stripping runs, but we are struggling to control still boiler temp for our finishing runs. We have a very good Bray Flow-Tek v-port ball valve for steam to the jacket, but thinking we are going to need a thermostat-controlled servo on top of that valve. I was hoping we could find a manual valve position that does the trick, but we are seeing too much variable boil as the boiler control keeps ramping up and down to deliver steam. Just interested in other distillers experience and solutions here. I am going to talk to the boiler company too.
  4. Does anybody have experience with Black Water Barrels? Great website. Great prices. Great barrels?
  5. Depends on where you live. What will kill you in CA is the cost of space and the cost of improvements to get the property to code. Cost of utilities. Cost of labor. You might find a crappy industrial warehouse out in the sticks, but without much hope for any tasting room retail sales. Even then you will have CA Title-24 regulations, CA health depart, CA extreme code compliance, etc. Your improvement costs will be a killer. Are you paying yourself a salary, or are your working for free? You will need at least a $60k per year salary to barely survive in most cities in CA. Your employees will also need to make close to that or will not have any (good) employees. Are you heating with electric (hyper expensive) or gas (less expensive but then add the high cost of purchasing and installing a steam boiler). What are you selling before you have any aged product ready? What will your average monthly burn rate be while you are getting ready to open and sell, and then until you turn a profit? $25k would be a dream. Plan on it being more. Now you should have more customers to sell to, but you will probably spend $2MM - $3MM before you break even... depending on the location. The most common reason that new businesses fail is lack of capital to carry them through to break even. I would not advise anyone to try to start a CA distillery business without $2M - $3M in the bank depending on location. However, there are a number of micro-craft breweries that can go into a 1200 sq ft space where they are basically a taproom and restaurant. They make their own beer. Sell pints onsite and growlers to go. But they don't ever plan to go on the shelf. This is a business model that works depending on location and it can be started for $1M. I am sure things are a lot different in MO. I guess that is why we should not make general statements about costs, as we do live in a diverse republic where the local economies are quite different.
  6. That is dreamy. I was born in that state... Columbia... but it all went downhill from there.
  7. I ordered this. Have not used it yet. https://envirosupply.net/products/20x50-prewashed-coal-activated-carbon-for-liquid-filtration-1-lb-20-lbs?variant=14052584751139
  8. Great topic and comments... Not where I live... not by a long-shot. Start a craft brewery for $1MM. Start a craft distillery for $3MM. Anything less and you are fooling yourself, IMO. Agree with this. But a problem is that there are too few craft distilleries and too many are not really that interested in or willing to do the work to collaborate and push the legislation forward. There is strength in numbers and strength in money. The craft distilling industry is struggling with both and hence falling behind. I would expand on this a bit. I think being a good distiller is not that difficult for many people to learn. Not all, but many. You have to have a multi-discipline, problem-solving type brain and personality, and great interest to learn and get better at a craft. How have to have a passion for producing great things. I think being a great distiller is an order of magnitude more difficult and takes almost a life-time to accomplish. But I think the market is such that most consumers don't even know the difference between a great spirit and a good spirit. Do you know how many people I know that tell me Fireball is their favorite whiskey!? I agree that you will fail if you don't become a good distiller. And when we say distiller, that means distillery operator. You need to be good at all the process steps to get a final product that is good... better than average preferably. But I think there are many people out there with the stuff required to become a good distiller. And then the rest is business. And there is where the real challenges are, IMO. If you don't have a business brain, experience, contacts, etc... it is going to be very, very difficult to have a sustainable and successful craft distillery business... unless you get lucky creating some product that sells itself. The actual business target is to grow a brand or brands. The world is filled full of people that loaded up on expensive shiny things to do something they had a passion for but that never amounted to much business success... because the business acumen/talent was not there. I think if you are passionate on the making side and not the business side, you better have a partner that fills the gaps. If you suck at making things, then get real in your plans to hire a professional distiller and find something else to do in the business. Trust me, there will be plenty to pick from.
  9. That is an interesting question. I recently had a conversation with someone about this... does vodka have a taste? Certainly there must be some variation give the number of vodka products on the shelf. We know that 80% of what we describe as taste is actually olfactory sensory input. I can certainly identify my finished lower-proof make of different raw material. But I can identify our GNS. I can identify our grain neutral spirits over bourbon and rye make, and rum make. But if real vodka, I am blending a neutral spirit (95% pure ethanol) with water. So the question is does a neutral spirit have a discernible flavor (smell). And I would say it does... I can identify it in a blind test. But back to the questions posted above... I cannot really "taste" a material difference between a neutral grain spirit and any neutral spirit made from another substrate like cane products. The difference is so subtle that the testing is easily corrupted by external influence. And then there is the water used to proof down the neutral spirit to become 80 proof vodka. Yes, water can have a taste. So, I would say that vodka has a distinct taste and so does a neutral spirit, but there is no material difference in taste between vodka or neutral spirit made from different raw materials. I know some people will disagree... and I do admit to different mouthfeel, etc for vodka from different substrate. But vodka flavor differentiation should be almost 100% water and other factors other than any difference in the base neutral spirit used. My guess is that these other "neutral cane" products are not really neutral but high-proof make that retains character of the base raw cane material. If you were to add true neutral spirits to something that was distilled at a lower proof, I think it would taste more like vodka. Maybe the use of "vodka" here is a replacement for a true neutral (95% ethanol) spirit.
  10. Nothing in the fire code that I am aware of. Although the fire code does not definitively cover wood barrels. There is a general interpretation that wood barrels are outside of the MAQ code for containers holding spirits (the 240 gallon limit for a sprinklered control room when container is closed). In some jurisdictions they demand that the barrel storage be included and thus force the expensive C1D1 code compliance instead of the C1D2 that all craft distilleries should strive for. The thinking is that a wooden barrel would collapse from fire before it would become a bomb like would a stainless steel vessel... thus keeping the wooden barrel out of the MAQ. Now, I there is a high-piled combustible stacking code that might play a part in determining barrel size (class 1B and 1C flammable liquid). Each jurisdiction might vary and it matters if sprinklered or not, but it is a general limit of two standard 53 G barrels on racks stacked horizontal... maybe three if sprinklered. Also depends on the roof height. So a larger barrel might be an issue there.
  11. Nice concrete and corrugated bar!
  12. Go to Automation Direct. I am using Prosense RTD temp probes. These are NEMA 4x and generate so little current that they are explosion-proof without needing the certification. They measure changes in resistance between a high-conductivity wire and a ceramic core. They don't get any power other than what they generate. The wire is expensive.... about $1.20 per ft. The probes are about $80-$100 each. Now the next step is a digital display. Those can vary but expect at least $100 each. And you will need an enclosure with all the wiring, etc. So your analog temp gage replacement just became an expensive move.
  13. I am building my 3-tank system right now. 1600 gallon stainless tank to receive hot water from condenser and pre-condenser output. Let sit over night to cool. Pump to 1600 gallon poly tank in the morning. Now the stainless tank is empty and ready for another run. Other 1600 insulated poly tank is chilled to 60 degrees constant by my 6-ton portable chiller. After day of run, pump water from non-insulated poly tank to refill the insulated tank and let chiller do its thing overnight. Might add a cooling tower in the future. Most days my process uses 1000 - 1200 gallons of chilled water, so I have plenty of capacity in these 1600 gallon tanks. I use some of the hot water from the stainless tank for cleaning. The plumbing runs to all the chilling needs (stills, mash tun, fermenters, crash chiller, etc.) have a three-way valve to use city water when needed. And of course a big back-flow preventer to keep the process water out of my potable water. The next steps are to hard plumb and automate the water transfer and have the chiller pull in make-up water for the 1600 gallon insulated tank using an adjustable float valve. Never want to run out of chilled water!!!!! The city water is a bit over 60 degrees most of the year. If water were cheap and plentiful I would probably not worry about sending it down the drain. Even so, the cost of chilling and pumping might end up costing me more in energy than the water would otherwise cost. But we get to point out the environmental benefits with a closed-water cooling system.
  14. Interesting. Just make sure you hire a certified valuation analyst to figure out what your business should sell for. Starting a distillery is a 4-5 year effort for most, and that should be part of the valuation. I am sure the buyers are coming to you for that reason. And a established distillery with revenue adds another level. I think there are different paths to brand development... all taking money and depending on your business model there may be better paths than this one. However, I would vet every real offer as just another business plan assessment.
  15. Latest... they are fighting the “blend” part because the two allowed/recognized blend types are: 1. Straight whiskeys from the same state. (No formula required) 2. A product that is a blend of at least 51% straight whiskey/s plus GNS (even though the description does not require GNS, that is the intent of this type... a product with other stuff blended to the straight whiskey.) A formula is required for this. My approach was to apply for #2 but just skip adding any of the other stuff... something that seems to be allowed in the specification of the type Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskey. But when my formula is only multiple straight bourbon whiskeys they put it as a type Type Whiskey/Bourbon... basically negating the need for a formula. They want me to remove the world “Blend” and “blended” from all the parts of the label, because, they say, that they don’t want the consumer to be confused. And I tell them if I label it Straight Bourbon Whiskey while it is a blend of more than one Stright Bourbon Whiskeys from different states, that seems to: 1. Be misleading to the consumer as the consumer will naturally assume it is one bourbon. 2. Eliminate a key description of the uniqueness of the product... being a blend of different straight bourbons and not a single expression. I have a name of a specialist to talk to and will try to reach him next week to talk this through. From my perspective, they should allow it to be a Straight Bourbon Whiskey but accept the fanciful name “Capital Blend Bourbon Whiskey” as long as I remove “Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskey” from the label. Otherwise I have to call it Capital Straight Bourbon Whiskey... and that misses the point. Learning that there are number of COLA gray areas and undocumented standards known by the TTB agent and not otherwise documented in any definitive way. And I have A LOT of experience dealing with federal regulations.
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