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Storm King Distilling Co.

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About Storm King Distilling Co.

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    Montrose, CO

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  1. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Agave

    @Tailwinds and @bluefish_dist thanks for the input. So far we we have been average 15 days. pH seems to be the thing that has the biggest affect on fermentation time, from our records. Keeping the temp at 90-95 seems to help too. We have a regimen of yeast at day 0, and again at day 7. We also do nutrients the same day as the yeast and 48hr after. Trying to get my partner to understand its not about higher yield, but getting it done sooner (our OG have all been 1.07, with only 1 at 1.063), but he is a bigger is better guy, so hoping all the data I am collecting will go to prove that SG point. We are still getting to 1.002 at day 14-15 , so not bad. To keep pH up we have been using sodium bicarbonate, because its cheap and I can get it from the store when I need it. I have had a couple of chances to add calcium carbonate as well, but not as consistently or with the same volume as the sodium. Using the sodium bicarbonate I can get the pH to go up by .10 with 200g in 240gal and stay there for about 2 days. You guys have better luck with any pH adjustment methods...I would love to keep it at 5.0. but right now its a struggle to keep it at 3.8. Agree 100% on the slow distillation, we use a pot and 4-plate column and eek it out. Good flavor, it actually resembles tequila and not just semi-sweet vodka. 3 batches left to complete our first run of the 270gal tote we bought then going blend it all bottle most of it and age some.
  2. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Agave

    @bluefish_dist based on our records things start to slow down around day 5-7 so that's when we have planned to do our addition. If we really monitor the pH I think we can get it to take off after this point (maybe we wont need the second yeast addition if we can keep pH up...batch 4 will let us know). So this time around we did about half the original pitch on day 7.
  3. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Agave

    By way of an update, for those that are interested, we ended up with a 24-day ferment down to 1.002, which would have been awesome had it not taken so long. We felt we learned some things about nutrient additions and adding more yeast so we tried again with our new found knowledge. We started batch #2 on march 1 and went with roughly the same OG, feeling that the correct nutrient and yeast addition regimen would overcome...we were wrong. We started batch #3 on March 7 at a lower OG of 1.065 and followed the same yeast and nutrient regimen. They are both down to 1.03, but batch #3 has done it in half the time. That being said both have had issues of stalling and we are in the strong belief it has to do with pH. At one point the pH of batch #2 got down to 2.5. We have been working to keep the pH of both around 3.5 and the fermentation is visibly more active and the SG drops about 4 points a day instead of 1-2. So batch 4 is going to be the charm, with an OG around 1.065 and monitoring pH daily. Thanks again for all of your input and i hope our experience is helpful to someone else.
  4. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Dephlegmator and Condenser Equilibrium

    Bluefish, exactly. When we went back and looked at the data that we collected, prior to panicking, we had very minor increases in internal kettle temp, then it made a visible jump to roughly 192, then climbed. We suspect that that jump would have been a good "tails" signal. Unfortunately we didn't make that tight cut, but overall flavor seems really good still, so maybe we are ok.
  5. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Dephlegmator and Condenser Equilibrium

    Thank you all for your input, and thank you Paul for taking the time to give me a call. I spoke with Stilldragon as well on Monday and based on volume and the stats I provided we came to the conclusion that the amount of alcohol I collected would be about right, at 160 proof. Basically we were running the dephlegmator without changing the temp so the still was working hard for 4 hours pumping and collecting very high proof spirits and then all the weird stuff started happening because there wasn't much alcohol remaining. Having never run a dephlegmator before I guess I was expecting the temp to gradually change on its own and didn't realize that if we don't reduce water input or decrease outflow, then we can keep that proof coming out very high. Next time we will keep it at that same temp to make the heads cut then increase a little bit because I am not sure that the Agave spirit should be 160. Also, the tails cut was hard to make with everything coming out that high, should be easier if we lower the proof a bit (it went from tasting awesome to 10% and oily in a few seconds, so want to avoid the drastic shift). StillDragon is also sending us a new condenser so props to them for excellent customer service.
  6. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Dephlegmator and Condenser Equilibrium

    Guys, confirmed likely pin hole leak in the condenser, only leaves water when under pressure. Have a call in to Still dragon to provide a fix. As for our boiler, I will take a look and report but I believe we have our high fire coming on only if it gets below 2psi and then we have the actual cut off at 7or8psi +/- 2psi. Our internal kettle temp is about 10 inches of the bottom so no issue with that temp. The digital thermometers read 64 and 65 (one is about a foot higher than the other) under normal day time conditions, which is about the air temp in the distillery. The werid thing for us was that we had everything dialed in and 160proof juice was flowing for 4 hours, and then everything started going up and down. What we think happened was that because we left the flow through the dephlegmator untouched was that we sucked all easy ethanol out and then when the bouncing started it was because the still was working so hard to produce enough ethanol that it would build it up then finally release it in a surge. Yesterday when we went to finish the run it was doing this surge thing for.a.few hours then went from 90 proof to straight up tails at 20 proof in no time.
  7. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Dephlegmator and Condenser Equilibrium

    Yeah, the hydrometer will bounce around a lot then settle...you can feel air pushing through the vents that our parrot has when this happens. One thing we just thought of is that our charge in the still was not large enough. We had to ferment in our still for our first batch because our pump has been delayed, we went a little low to make sure we didn't have any of the ferment bubble up into the helmet. So the still is a 1000L and we made a batch of 200gal, so we are about 65 gallons short. Also, the last time we turned the water on and restricted flow out on the condenser (putting pressure on the water inside) our proof dropped to near 0. We suspect there is a pinhole leak in the condenser (not sure how that would create two temps that are 30 degrees off from each other and only 4ft apart). If there is a leak it is extremely small because there is no apparent drop in proof if water is in the condenser, but without pressure.
  8. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Dephlegmator and Condenser Equilibrium

    Also, all day today the alcohol coming out of the parrot has been doing so in fairly big bursts with little temperature changes on dephlegmator and top of the condenser. The still is staying constant at around 192F and everything looks normal inside. No pressure buildup in the system that we can see or tell.
  9. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Dephlegmator and Condenser Equilibrium

    Guys, Attached are a pic of our setup and our current reflux (nothing looks flooded). You can see the digital thermometers on top of the dephlegmator and the top of the condenser (this is basically the vapor temp after making two turns out of the dephlegmator). The two temps are currently 30 degrees different. Again, yesterday for most of our run they were within a few degrees of each other and we were collecting about 1qt every 2.5mins at 70-80% abv. The kettle temp was reading an analog thermometer and it was roughly 82-85 for a long time. We collected roughly 27 gallons.
  10. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Dephlegmator and Condenser Equilibrium

    Yesterday we fired up our still for the first time (200gal of 9.5% fermented agave) and went to work. For nearly 5 hours the kettle temp (182F), the dephlegmator temp (164.8F) and the condenser temp (162.5F) all held constant. Then out of no where a weird thing started happening. The still temp rose to 190F and then held there. When that happened our dephlegmator and condenser started to do this dance where the temp on the condenser would go up to 170F, but the dephlegmator temp would be in the mid 160s. THen the condensor temp would start to fall and the dephlegmator temp would rise. This continued until we stopped operation for the evening, about 2 hours. Any one have an idea as to why? We made no adjustments to anything when this started...soon as we noticed it we tried adjusting input and output on the dephlegmator to try and get the temps to settle, this just made the swings worse. After about an hour of messing with it, we put everything back to where it was and this little rhythm started and was very predictible, just not what we thought was supposed to happen. We have a pot still with 4 plate column on a stand next to the still, and then condenser next to that, all in line. This is our first time using a column and dephlegmator so we are sure we may not be controlling it correctly. We assumed that once we set everything so that we were getting a constant flow and stable temps, that it would work like a pot still, where the temp gradually increases and the proof decreases over time, without any adjustments to heat or cooling (this is what all our previous experiences with a pot still were like). Any feedback or insights would be greatly appreciated. Oh yeah, we are 100% manual control now. No automation at all.
  11. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Agave

    Keep you posted on ours as far as FG goes. From BSG, the agave has: 80-84% Fructose 13-15% Dextrose 2-4% Sucrose So not sure what other yeast would tolerate the high furfural environment, but maybe something that is better at the Dextrose and Sucrose?
  12. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Agave

    @bluefish_dist it is tough to go against that mindset of having something that theoretically could get you 12%-14% ABV, and instead go for 7%. We actually knew that going in, but messed up on our calculations and figured what the heck lets shoot for that 10%. In the end the time required doesn't make it worth it and so next time we will shoot for that lower OG. @EZdrinking if our plan of multiple yeast additions doesn't work then we may look into the yeast strain option. One of the issues with that might be temperature. This Safteq Blue yeast is straight from Jalisco and likes it hot, 89-90F, which is way warmer than what I have been used to with other yeasts. The other issue, from what I have heard is the high furfural content of agave is hard on most yeasts...i think that is some of the fun of starting this endeavor is the trial and error, figuring s*** out. I just wish it didn't cost so dang much.
  13. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Agave

    I know the thread is a few months old, but I wanted to jump in and give you all an insight into our experience with Agave (it is our first batch that we have worked on, we got a great deal on a tote of Agave Nectar and couldn't say no). We took recommendations and our notes from the Downslope distilling course and went to work (they had success with agave and similar to us, hadn't planned on making it but lucked into some). So the non-scientific version of what happens with Agave, as we have been told, is that the yeast are like a fat guy given a pizza, they gorge themselves and then lay around on the proverbial couch (not dead, just not eating). We knew this going in and decided to have a lot of nutrient on hand to get them refocused. Despite the yeast being a Blue Agave specific one (Safteq Blue Tequila yeast), the nutrient wasn't enough and after day 12, SG stopped dropping. pH was in the low 4s/high 3s, which is where Agave will end up, temps were good but SG went from 1.074 to 1.035 and stopped in its tracks, no visible signs of fermentation either (no carbon dioxide, no fizzing, completely still). We decided to pitch fresh yeast and we are now at day 20 and SG is down to 1.014! So we still have about 4 batches left to make and we will now be pitching half the yeast at startup and half on day 7, keeping everything else the same and we think we can avoid the crash and cut the time back to 14 days or less. We also will try to go a little lower on our OG, maybe 1.065. It tastes amazing, great esters coming through, all around great profile. Let's hope we can get the distillation part of this dialed in and we might have something.
  14. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Gauging, bottling, and tank records

    I just started messing around with the trial version of AlcoDens and realized that you can print the Volume temperature correction worksheet and the blending worksheets. Is anyone using these as their records for meeting TTB gauging, bottling, and tank record keeping requirements. It prints out with date and reference numbers that you can populate. It seems as though this would check the box. I have been trying to find a format that keeps this record keeping as simple as possible, while still adhering to the CFR requirements. AlcoDens seems to cover those requirements with these print outs. Any one doing this or am I missing something? Does the TTB want to see your "work" as far as doing the calculations? This would save me more excel time as i am trying to develop our record keeping procedures.
  15. Storm King Distilling Co.

    Stainless steel barrels for temporary holding tanks

    RobertS, thanks for the info. We are about to get our state license, which was the only thing we were waiting for and I realized we are not prepared form a record keeping standpoint. I had a minor freakout this weekend, when I realized that doing all this through excel seems daunting, having re-read the CFR. As much as we'd love to have software I think the excel approach is a better way to understand our own operations, and the regulations. Just trying to figure out the best way to get everything lined up.
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