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Everything posted by Glenlyon

  1. Glenlyon

    Liqueur Thickening

    What you are looking for is Xanthan Gum I believe, which will remain stable in ethanol. Also you could use Gum Arabic (Acacia) which is not as good in ethanol.
  2. Glenlyon

    Fermenter Explosion

    Yes it is true - but, not with a fermenter. The gentleman in question was trying to aerate some spirit to hasten the aging process - while using a drill. Not so smart in a high hazard area as anyone who has used a drill, knows they do spark.
  3. Glenlyon

    DIY defoamers

    Maybe you just need more headroom in the boiler and let it foam. Its not affecting the taste of the finished product, so why bother worrying about it?
  4. Glenlyon

    DIY defoamers

    Try a few slivers of all natural, no additives or scents, based soap (bars). Have read recently that this is a trick used by old school, larger distillers. However, have not tried it myself.
  5. Glenlyon

    50-60 gallon still realistic?

    I think that the size of the still(s) one might choose is directly tied to what kind of an operation one might be considering. If, for example, you wanted to start a happening place in the heart of a mid or larger sized city, your rent and property taxes are going to be very high (in the case of Vancouver near where I live, PT&R can set you back 300 - 500K a year!) So, clearly you'll need a big operation and lots of customers to survive - therefore, you'll need a big still(s) and a big plan and a big bank account. However, if you are starting a small farm-gate kind of an operation then you could probably get away with a smaller set of equipment. Being a farm gate operation ourselves, we have a 65G still, a 45G still/tun, a 26G still and a 12G still. Every week each one of these bits of equipment sees action and in the case of the two bigger stills we are running them practically everyday. We are able to process about 1250 L of mash a week - which is modest. I have two nearby competitors, both who have 300G stills and the infrastructure to manage them. Both operations have spent an eye watering amount of money on equipment, building mods, rent, etc. After more than a year of trying to get underway, one is still struggling to open and the other is relying on their beer production. So, even though I would dearly love bigger equipment, with my small setup - I'm beating the local competition hands down and I'm making a better product. So size matters, but so does being able to navigate the business environment - so - size yourself appropriately for the audience you intend to serve.
  6. Glenlyon

    Excise tax

    Yes. On the CRA/Gov't of Canada website excise area you can find the actual way to calculate the LAA - (I don't have the url off hand, sorry) but in a nutshell - Your product weight X Specific gravity X ABV = LAA.
  7. Glenlyon

    Excise tax

    The way that the tax is calculated - is for every LAA of product you create - it is subject to a $12.109 (until tomorrow or so) tax. So, you brew up a batch and using your gov't certified thermometer and hydrometers you would figure out that you created - let's say, 10 LAA that, times the aforementioned tax rate equals what you owe. Now there is a catch. You can pay up front for the booze, or you can pay when you move the finished bottled product into the retail enviornment. It is better and general practice to pay the warehouse (up front) - that way all the booze in your warehouse is yours. Just make sure you don't double pay when you move those spirits into your retail spaces.
  8. Glenlyon

    Whey Fermentation

    Actually, I may choose to sell. Let me chat up my partner and I'll PM you later today.
  9. Glenlyon

    Whey Fermentation

    Hi Thatch. Right now that would be a very boring post In a nutshell though, the still was built by J. Dehner, did yow-man service for Wayward on Vancouver Island and now sits ready for action in my distillery and by all accounts will suck through a 1000 L of wash a day. However, sadly - it lacks the critical element of a steady source of the aforementioned 1000 L of wash - hence my interest in this whey thing. I currently use grain - but - to make enough to feed the beast, we'd be overwhelmed by the waste products. I could use honey, but that is very expensive right now - so, the juries out on the best way to proceed. So as a result, the poor wee thing sits idle. I have tasted a couple of whey based products and they taste pretty good actually - although, I do acknowledge it is a difficult thing to achieve. On the other hand, if Mongolian fighters can ferment mare's milk to 5% on the steppes...
  10. Glenlyon

    Mash pH

    On the novazymes spec sheet I have, it suggests sulfuric acid as an adjuster. Is that an option? I seem to have some difficulty with the idea. If sulfuric is an option, I wonder about something like formic acid or oxalic both of which are also natural and poisonous, but are much easier to get and manage. Thoughts?
  11. Glenlyon

    Whey Fermentation

    I would LOVE to know more about this. I've heard of a company in Ontario doing it and I've actually tasted a few examples. I would be dead keen on developing this as a viable concept as I can get the whey and I have a continuous still, which it would suit perfectly.
  12. Glenlyon

    Recommended fabricator for firebox

    I'm pretty sure they have out grown that system now as they have relocated and expanded substantially in the last few years. I've always thought it would be fun to have a built in small outdoor wood fired still has part of a farm based 'outdoor kitchen experience' for the guests. Fire it up once or twice a year and have an event wherein everyone would come, enjoy a distillers pig roast and stand around watching some alcohol drip - do some sampling in a moonshiny kinda way. Could be a great fundraiser for some local charity.
  13. Thank you. Yes, your observations are correct - as the barrels stack up quickly and so does the investment within. Each barrel is worth a considerable sum in its realizable value and in its cost to produce. That cost is even higher than you think, because it also includes the mistakes made along the way. You can't plan for those mistakes in the business plan other than defining them vaguely as 'contingency' because you never know what's going to bite you. It is great to have all the cash up front to pay for all that and the infrastructure, etc., thus making the journey easier. However, there are some (as I've discovered) unseen challenges to that. We went that route and paid for everything up front so our business would have a low overhead. Ha! Lesson here - operating capital is as important upfront as the cost of buying the still or whatever. Predictably, by the time we opened, we were forced to get a line of credit and with the operating expenses being what they are, we are quickly gobbling it up at an alarming rate. In the winter, nobody buys craft booze, so expect very low cash flow from January to April. Thank goodness we do have a low overhead though. I would not want to be covering big equipment loans right now. Before you leave the confines of the distillery you are lending a hand at, make sure you spend more time with the official paperwork than you do with the distilling. Although, seemingly innocent at the beginning, paperwork quickly snowballs into a blizzard of unhappiness. (He says bleakly looking at spending the day resolving seven months of paperwork for year end requirements. OMG!!!!) It gets harder when all those barrels start to stack up - did I mention the mistakes? I'll bet every single distiller here has paid more in taxes then intended somewhere along the way. Most of the time, you just have to eat it and hope you don't make that mistake again. Well, I can procrastinate no longer, where is that snow shovel? Must...keep...going....
  14. More of what to expect... After seven months of operation our little distillery has just come through our first Christmas season. After so many busy days, today seems very very quiet. For those considering the small distillery experience here are a few random thoughts that have been rummaging around my mind. Time flies... One of the things that has turned out to be very important for us is the ability to frequent the local farmer’s and crafter’s markets. So, way back in October all the markets we were booking seemed so far away, we didn’t give them a second thought. I couldn’t believe how fast they were on us. We worked flat out from early November through to Christmas eve and were behind all the way. We sold out several times and crawled across the finish line. Lesson - Pre-stock your Christmas season! You don’t want to be trying to produce last minute in the heat of battle! Ancillary products are important... While the beverages are selling well, we quickly discovered you want other things to sell as well. In our case we have honey from our bees. I’ve never sold so much honey! Now we have some other carefully curated products and they are starting to sell rather well. Lesson - give people things to buy and they will! But, make sure your products fit your story - and - your ability to consistently supply them. Once people get a taste for something, they expect it to be available . Quality matters... Even though my place is really out of the way, I have local competitors - I even find myself competing against distilleries in the nearby city of Vancouver. Our guests who have visited other distilleries during their travels, think nothing of discussing their experiences in front of you. You can bet when they are somewhere else, they are talking about you in return. What do they talk about? The quality of the comparable beverages and experiences hands down. So, its very important to deliver so that inevitable conversation reflects well on your products and experiences. Lesson - Quality over quantity is the way, especially, if you are a small operation. The customer’s experience is very important... I popped into one of my competitors and the servers seemed kinda morose, even though the general vibe seemed OK. But, I could clearly see the server’s weren't 100% in the game. Outside of buying their drinks, there was no way to meet the distiller or arrange a backstage tour. So, in the end there was nothing really special about their establishment. Lesson - You and your staff and your collective presentation matters at lot! Make sure everyone can answer the basic questions if the distiller isn’t around. Spirit drinkers/buyers are not the same as other consumers... When the beer drinkers show up, it only takes a moment before they are gone. Spirit drinkers on the other hand, want to know. Your story, history, art, the experience, cocktail ideas, they are keen. Lesson - Building a loyal audience and getting the juicy sales takes time and you have to relax into the moment, all the while knowing in the back of your mind you have to get that damn mash moving! Running a distillery is a lot of work... This has been said so many times! Why say it again? A lot of idealism comes through the door! I love the work and I wouldn’t trade it for another job. But, I’m also working 10 - 12 hours a day, everyday and it does wear. Lesson - Expect to work hard but strive to find a better work / life balance as soon as possible into the lifestyle. If possible. Happy new year. Cheers, Glen
  15. Glenlyon

    Discussion on Sale of Distillery

    A hip replacement is recoverable. My mother has had both knees replaced twice! Sure she isn't going skiing and she does have to be careful, but the results are remarkable. If you intend to keep going, now is the time to bring some young blood in and start being more shifter of information and less a shifter of stuff. I run my place with a nasty case of Rheumatoid Arthritis and some days its hard to get started. But, it does beat sitting around.
  16. Glenlyon

    Distillery in Canada, can you make your own still?

    You can. However, most of the stuff I built when I started the distillery has either worn out too quickly or didn't have what it took to get the job done in an industrial fashion. So, unless you are really, really good and qualified, your money and time are better spent on other areas, probably more important to the ultimate success of the venture.
  17. Glenlyon

    Dewatering on the cheap.

    I've struggled quite a bit with the grain issue. I hate handling the stuff hot and so I've taken to removing it just before distillation. I tried all kinds of ideas, to no avail - until, I stumbled onto an old hand crank apple press. It worked great but was not feasible for day to day use. But, taking it's lessons to heart, I bought a 160L bladder press. It works great - most of the time. Unfortunately, it dosen't work that great with a slurry, so we've had to develop a few techniques along the way. Generally though, it works the best for the least amount of money - assuming labor is part of the equation anyway. If I had the cash, I would buy a real system in a heartbeat.
  18. Glenlyon

    Gin flowers

    Did not know that - Thanks!
  19. Glenlyon

    Gin flowers

    I would bet against flowers as part of distilling generally, although there are probably some notable exceptions. Some flavors just don't translate well. I've had similar failures trying to get flavors out of some types of exotic mushrooms I work with. If though, you are trying to recreate the purple gin that changes to pink - what you need are purple pea flowers - readily available through mail order from Thailand. The purple pea flowers also have some color fastness to them which tends to be a rare commodity with flower based coloration.
  20. Glenlyon

    Ultimate New Distillery Guide

    This rather simplifies a complex business. Great for the fantasy. Don't forget the parts about working 10 hour days seven days a week and the constant cleaning which you'll have to do unless you have labor, which is another whole discussion.
  21. Glenlyon

    Events in Tasting Room

    We haven't done any specific events per say - however to drive traffic to the tasting room, we've found being at the various farmer's markets and craft fairs selling our product and telling people about the distillery works wonders. The best $100 in marketing money we've spent, that has brought in a LOT of people is our two sandwich boards. I used to wonder why people used them, never paying any attention to them myself. But wow, will they deliver!
  22. Glenlyon

    Mitigate against the risk of fire and explosion

    I spent quite a lot of money guarding against fire and explosion, but what I really worry about is electrocution. I notice people don't think too much about that, but there is a lot of free water in and around a distillery and it would be easy to have an errant extension cord or something come into contact with it. So, I tend to be cautious about everything.
  23. Glenlyon


    Yeah, so do I!!! Right now I have resorted to a 160 L bladder press. Works great, but rather labor intensive. This looks like the way to go! Sp simple, so elegant!
  24. The way my closed loop system works is the coolant (a mix of water and 20% denatured ethanol) pumps continuously through all of my stills and my heat exchange. Once the hot water leaves the condenser or dephlugmator or exchange, it is sent through the tasting room floor to provide radiant heat before continuing under the distillery on the journey of hope out to a pond behind the distillery. The pond is roughly the dimensions of a normal household swimming pool. The water travels through 400' of 1" water pipe before returning to the distillery as cold water ready to repeat the trip. The water travels through the system at about four gallons a minute so the hot water leaving the stills really doesn't stand much of a chance staying warm for long. In fact, the system is so efficient, I can have everything running full tilt in the middle of summer with the pond half empty and it doesn't break a sweat. So, there is loads of room to grow. I can turn on or off any part of the system or re-route as required using a series of preset valves. The pump is automatic and will deliver less or more water depending on the demand created by the mix of open and closed valves. Close all the valves and the pump will stop. Open them all and the system runs full out. All the cooling pipe is neatly exposed on the wall feeding each part of the system and looks deceptively simple over all. I designed the system on paper and my plumber figured out the technical and functional aspects. Total cost about $5K CND. I do not use this system for cooling fermenters.
  25. Glenlyon

    Cleaning columns and bubble plates

    More often that I would have imagined. Cleaning the column and the plates arn't so bad, especially if you have CIP. However, I have found that CIP may not thoroughly get under the caps in all cases. There you will find plenty of crud that builds up surprisingly fast. I think that often goes overlooked. It takes taking everything apart and cleaning each part by itself to really get it clean. I try and do a deep cleaning every two months or so. My system has two bubble plates then a six foot SS tube that I have filled with 20 pounds of raschig rings, topped with two more bubble plates. Kind of a funky system, but pretty good for making vodka