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Everything posted by Patio29Dadio

  1. I got a Race Label machine and it works well enough, but it takes some practice and it is slllllloooooowwwww at one bottle at a time with front and back labels. So I put my design brain and carpentry skills to work and came up with the jig below. Two of them back to back and the labeling is no longer the bottleneck (pun intended) with our semi-automated bottling line. Now my bottling elves can help without needing practice on the Race Label machine. This jig will keep us going until we need a fully automated line. The bottle is a 750ML Tennessee. Let me know if you are interested in a brand new Race Label machine all set up and ready to go. I suggest it for a single label application, or if you don't have the carpentry skills to make a jig.
  2. We have a new DMA35 with the glass meter and it seems to be spot on within its tolerances. We use it for everything... density, proof, brix. After every use we pull in several pumps of RO water to clean out the glass senor/meter. We use it for production and then switch to certified hydrometers and thermometers in a graduated cylinder for proofing before bottling. Frankly, I cannot justify the price of the bench-top Anton Paar density meter and alcoizer. And I like the proofing process with the certified glass pieces and the TTB proofing tables. I trust my hands and eyes more than I do a complex and expensive machine.
  3. Sorry. I did not explain well enough. We have, right outside the tasting room the employee bathroom and then the bottling area which has an ice maker, triple-sink with drainboards, dishwasher, etc. We have a bathroom in the tasting room too. We just purposely did not put any plumbing into the main area of the tasting room area as we were making the case it was a simple tasting room and not a bar. The county said it does not matter... we are a bar by classification and thus need all the equipment required in a bar..., but at the minimum a hand-wash sink. But they compromised in the end...
  4. From my experience, I recommend 2 part epoxy and then 2 part aliphatic urethane over that. You can just do the 2-part aliphatic urethane. Both will require concrete grinding to take off the top surface so that the paints will stick. I did epoxy only and it gets very blotchy with alcohol on it... and you end up with a lot of alcohol on it. 2 part aliphatic is better at not getting blotchy from spills, but it is a thinner finish and you can more easily get scratches and goudges that get to the bare concrete and then peel over time. The other idea is a 1-part urethane concrete sealer (after grinding the concrete well to open the pores) and then a 2-part aliphatic urethane as a top coat. Basically the 2-part are better products because of durability, but straight epoxy only can get splotchy with spills. I used a 1-part epoxy paint in our bottling area, and a commercial floor wax, and it is holding up very well, but we don’t drive the forklift on it very often. I did a 2-part urethane sealer in the areas where the forklift spends a lot of time. That is working very well. The concrete grinding was a pain in the ass though. We had 70 year old floors that were stained from the decades of industrial use, and it seemed like we were grinding for months.
  5. Does anyone with a California Craft Distillery tasting room have any experience with their county health department putting them in a category of "food facility" (basically a restaurant as any retail bar license must also serve food) instead of allowing the same exemptions provided brewery and winery tasting rooms? My county is basically saying that I cannot operate a tasting room unless I am in full compliance with food facility rules which includes a great number of things... some of which we luckily have... but others that we would have to install. And example is specific NSF certified underbar equipment (like handwashing stations) in our tasting room... a tasting room that has no plumbing. I think they are nuts and taking a lazy-ass and onerous position. The 2011 health code changes exempted beer and wine tasting rooms but distillery tasting rooms were only allowed in CA beginning 2015... with some enhancements in 2017. You would think that any half-brained bureaucrat would understand the spirit (pun not intended) and intent of the 2011 code as applied to craft distillery tasting rooms... especially since they are more restricted than beer of wine for what they can serve (1.5 oz per person per day). I have determined that every government employee in the state is committed to making it more difficult to start and run a business in the state. UPDATE... well the inspector came out and was actually quite a nice guy and made some onsite decisions in my favor. And thus I am left with confirmation that is generally the system that is problematic not the people.
  6. SF Herb. My neighbor and landlord. Great products and great service.
  7. Roger - is that a screw-press dewatering system?
  8. 3 cubic yards and about $9k new with freight. That should handle up to a 700 gallon batch. It is a self-dumping hopper. We allow the grain to drain overnight and then take it out back to dump it into bins or a trailer that we will eventually use to have picked up or take to ranches for animal feed, but for now take it to the dump compost area. If I had a farm, I would just make a big compost pile on my land.
  9. It is amazing how simple adjustments can salvage an otherwise failed solution. Just slowing down the pump and spreading out the discharge over a wider area and we are dewatering without much trouble. https://youtu.be/Ap969PXSqfc
  10. Agree with Glenlyon. We are pretty much using the protocol recommended by our enzyme sales guy. My recommendation is for you to do the same. Explain your grain bill, your batch size and your final product you are making, and they should have lots of information to optimize your results. Sales of their enzymes require their customers are happy with their results so they generally are very on point. We are running a 26 gallon mash of 70% corn and getting 19-20 brix at pitch, and 4 days later we are sitting at 2 brix. So 10% mash. Just what we want.
  11. We inspected the top of the 2000+ lb supersack and of course paid attention to the milling process... but our process is a bit closed (for dust containment) and thus did not see what was in the middle and bottom. But this isn't musty... it is a subtle rancid smell. I have the grain supplier coming out and will let him get a wiff of those low wines and tell me what he thinks. I am really convinced that there was a very decomposed rodent in the middle of the grain that we missed. The hammer mill would have made it impossible to detect at the back end.
  12. We have about 100 gallons of low wines from a recent run that has a weird... almost foul... odor. Almost like a rodent died months ago... very subtle but off-putting. But then the next wiff smells like good corn-based low wines. We previously noticed a similar "dead rodent lite" smell around the grain super sacks. We could not find a source and getting closer to the sacks it would smell completely of grain and not of anything bad. But walking by a certain area of the storage area it would hit. We looked everywhere and could not find a thing. The ferment was weird... had some more yellow oily substance on the edges of the grist cap. The ferment got a bit hot... close to 100F. Forgot to put water in the fermenter tank jacket overnight the first night. Thinking about just tossing it, but also wondering if I am hyper-sensitive and almost imagining that we milled a dead rodent that was mixed in the grain sack. Or we had too hot of a ferment and produced some bad compounds. Also thinking about doing a finishing run to see if it clears up, but afraid of corrupting the still. Thoughts?
  13. Using neoprene impellers and food-grade silicone spray. Not running dry. Not reversing when hot. Letting mash cool to at least 140 before moving. All of this and we have had the same impeller for about a week now.
  14. I need to quit typing advise instead of advice!
  15. You have asked a question that I have thought about writing a book to answer. Having started a few small businesses in my life, this has proven to be the most complex. There are endless details and problems to solve, and there is a very small community available to help (although most in the community are very generous in giving advice, etc.). Investor capture work is worth a chapter of two. Start very early in your business plan process and you will spend a lot of time with little results... but those results are generally more valuable as initial capital is the hardest to come by. However, it will also be more costly capital as you will need to give away more ownership to attract the investor at that point (all you have are ideas on paper without any proof you can actually execute on a plan). There are three types of investors: 1 - those that know you and like you and want to help you. 2 - Those that want to play a role in the business. 3 - Those that will only invest based on anticipated probability of a certain level of ROI. #1 should be your first target early. One idea there is to come up with an offering but include a convertible shareholder note vehicle. Let's say Uncle Joe likes you and wants to help. He has a bit of savings he isn't afraid of losing, and more that he would invest if he has some security behind it. One idea is to have Uncle Joe buy-in with some, and then maybe does a convertible note for some of the equipment where he holds title to the equipment. The payments for the equipment can be deferred, but interests accumulates. At some date in the future the principle and interest would be payable to Joe, or he can chose to convert some or all of it to shares in the business. If the business is not doing well, then Joe can take his equipment and sell it to at least partially recover his losses. However if the business is doing well, it can secure a loan to pay off what Joe is owned, and use the equipment for collateral, or Joe can convert all or some of what he is owed into ownership shares. #2 is a partner. Be careful. It is like getting married without the benefit of sleeping together. #3 is the hard one. Be careful here too. Read about Balcones. Better to push this off into the future when you are open and have some proof of concept that you can pour and sell. Note that if you are not an attorney, and you will have investors, you will need to hire an attorney. I will not tell you how much I have spent on attorneys because it makes me cry. The sequencing of steps will look like a mess, and there are many irreconcilable conflicts that you just have to deal with. For example, my building official wanted county health department sign off before he issued the C of O and the county health department wanted the C of O before they would do any inspection. You just have to negotiate your way to some successful conclusion. You will need an address and floor-plan and list of equipment before you can get TTB approval and state approval. I know of one distillery where the owner leased a very small facility to store all his equipment and supplies he was going to use for his final address, and used that smaller address to get his TTB and state approval for his DSP, and then did some DSP-to-DSP transfers of spirit in barrels that aged in this small warehouse space while he worked on finding and building his final space. He submitted and was approved for the changes, and when he finally opened he had 4-year old whiskey to sell on day one. Very smart! That was not me. The very first thing you need is a fully fleshed out business plan. This is very important as it contains all the big picture thinking that answers a lot of the questions for what steps are needed and in what sequence. You need to put a number of hours into just sitting down and thinking and writing it down. You need to think about how big of an operation and how much you think you can sell, and capture all the money in and money out flows in projected financial reports. I have a 6-year cash flow spreadsheet backed by all the assumptions about costs of good sold and sales that updates everything when I make a change. That way I can play with the assumptions as I develop a better confidence and understanding in how the business will operate. Frankly, you should never talk to any investor without having done this first. I will open this next month. It has been over 4 years since I first sat down to start writing the plan, and three years since I started paying for things related to this business. I will have my first sales revenue in July 2019. My last bit of advice.... making beer is a lot easier and quicker.
  16. I have a couple of Letina 1200 liter variable lid jacketed forklift tanks. They get a lot of use in the distillery. Getting ready for our first chill-filtering and just realized that I am not quite sure about the connections. There are two 3/4" male FTP ports at the top of the jacket, and one 1/2". My plan was/is to run glycol from my chiller output to one of the top ports and then output from the second 3/4" port on the tank back to the input of the chiller loop. The bottom is just a drain. The problem is that we use these tanks for production and don't really want to use them with glycol in the jacket. I also do not want to just dump it as it is expensive. How do others deal with this? Do you actually drain off the glycol in the jacket into a container to pour back into the chiller glycol tank? Seems like a pain. What I am I missing?
  17. Cool! Never heard of a belt press. Where do you get one of those?
  18. So the way we are getting this process to work for is... use the hard rubber squeegee to keep the screens clear. We just hit it a few times every five or ten minutes for a couple of hours while we are doing other work around the distillery. Now we have a nice semi-dry grain bed from the stillage that will dry some more over night. Then we can shovel it into a bin. The process is too labor intensive when we scale up production in the future, but for now it works. I can get ranchers to take this stuff as still wet stillage without having to go through all the FDA hoops for real dried distillers grain feed.
  19. In our case we are doing the reverse... planning on all sales through the tasting room and staying away from long-term big distributor relationships until we develop our local and regional brand following. You need to do a business plan with proforma financials that are projected out and include your assumptions. The margins on onsite sales are worth exploring as an option, but you will then be looking at a much larger investment than for a farm distilling operation. I think it is Tree House Brewing that is a mega-successful New England brewery on a farm and has people stacked for miles when they open to buy their beer. As an alternative to building a new tasting room, consider what it would take and return to make your farm distillery a destination. Where I live don't consider opening a distillery with a tasting room in any urban area without a $3M nest egg. My friend and distilling training class mate at Edwin Coe I think is doing a rural distillery tasting room and seems to be doing well.
  20. What about this idea? A lautering mash tun with a rake and plow used as a dewatering device for ongrain stillage? I envision a process where the rake and plow clear the screen well enough to allow water to drain enough that the remaining material in the tank can be shoveled out. This is confirmed a bit by our manual process of using a hard-rubber squeegee on the screens of our dewatering hopper noting significant increase in water flow drainage from the bottom of the hopper. The benefit of this type of process being supported by the mash tun with the rake and plow is that it does not require manual labor to squeegee, and we would have a mash tun for malt whiskey production.
  21. Turns out that a dewatering hopper is not a good choice for dewatering grain stillage. Good news is that I have other uses for the hopper. Bad news is that I have to come up with another process.... one that is likely to require another piece of expensive equipment. Either that or need to find that pig rancher quickly! Sigh. Interesting in what others are doing here.
  22. One change that we did not foresee is fine temperature control. With electric you generally dial in the boil temperature or at least have a rheostat to give some reasonable control. With steam from a steam boiler, you have generally have a manual valve to regulate the steam coming into the jacket and some control over the output pressure of the steam boiler. Without a servo steam valve controlled by a thermocouple you are left having to keep adjusting both the steam boiler pressure output and the still jacket input flow to estimate the heating level in the pot. This is one difference that you should plan for if you are used to fine control with your electric heating.
  23. It is EDPM impellers that are getting wasted. Sounds like I need neoprene impellers. I am going to give that a try along with the other recommendations above. Thanks team!
  24. Have a Jabsco flexible impeller mash pump that keeps eating impellers. Put a new impeller (not cheap) on yesterday and pumped 140 degree mash through a 2" tube-in-tube heat exchange (took about 2 hours to get to pitching temp) and then pumped to the fermenter from the mash tun. Using 2 inch distillery hose. 10' hose from the mash tun drain to the pump input, 10' hose to the input of the heat exchanger, and 20' up into the manhole of the mash tun. Pump is 1.5" connections so have reducers on the pump input and output. Running the pump at half speed. Running a 28-gallon mash. Using exogenous enzymes and the consistency seems plenty thin. Grain is milled through a 1/8" sieve. Mash bill is 70% corn, 20% rye, 5% wheat and 5% barley. 1.065+ SG obtained. Fermentation is very happy. But lost three fins on the new impeller. We could hear them go pretty early in the beginning of the pumping start. This won't work. Any thoughts and ideas would be welcome. Also working with the dealer to get advice.
  25. “so what if there is a few ounces of water left in the jacket, How does the FDA feel about that ? “ I’m confused. Why would the FDA care about water in any jacket?
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