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Grazin' Spirits

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  1. Grazin' Spirits

    Shut Down/Next Run Procedure Safety Question

    I am a new distiller and am concerned about shutting down at the end of the day, or when switching to a new mash in the kettle. My general take on it was that after shutdown, you wait for all activity at the parrot to stop. I do this but of course when I open the manway the atmosphere rushes in and it begins to run/boil again. All of this is compounded I imagine by the fact that I am running a baine marie with an oil jacket, so it stays hot forever. Running nearly an hour after I turn off the heat. So lets say I run a wash down to 20%, is the vapor then of small enough concentration it is no longer considered explosive and I can just get to switching out for the next mash? 30%? whats the safe limit? Or never safe with vapor at any concentration and I have to let it fully cool, wasting hours like I do now. I'm sorry if this has been addressed before but I was unable to find it. I want to maximize productivity, but I still want to be safe obviously. Your guidance is appreciated. Keith
  2. Grazin' Spirits

    Subbing out production

    The only viable start really small option I saw was the one I am pursuing. Like you I am close to NYC (relatively), so I focus my efforts on farmers markets sales. It opens the p and l to success on the small scale, and allows a chance to build capital to grow as funds allow. if operations are covered via retail sales, any small distribution you get is all money in hand. of course to do that you really do have to be small. I have a 100 gallon still in a 450 square foot building. I have a self built mash ton and chiller. I can only ferment three batches a week, one spirit run. I cook corn in the still I put in about 50 hrs a week to make that work. Its tight, and its a pain. And there are all kinds of inefficiencies in time due to my low investment. But my rent I super super low, and I am well under 100k invested start to now. Not bad since I sold my first cases last weekend. I wouldn't start a different way given my unique situation, but starting small leads to all kinds of headaches and time sinks. so, you really really gotta love making it, and then you also need to love trucking your butt to the city every week and giving the elevator speech hundreds of times a day with the same enthusiasm to people who may or may not dig what you are doing. it also helps if your spouse is awesome, cause you are gonna need some help with logistics and paperwork at a minimum, and you cant afford to pay anyone. also note that my farmers market requires me not only to distill it myself, I also have to be the one that mills it, AND grows it just to be eligible to sell it there. so yeah, its a lot.
  3. Grazin' Spirits

    Proof too high or tails smeared in, can't find the middle ground!

    Got em! Thanks so much Paul
  4. Grazin' Spirits

    Proof too high or tails smeared in, can't find the middle ground!

    got it Bluefish thanks for explaining that. Paul, that is good to hear because that's how I was "skipping" plates. With all plates off and the dephleg on a trickle it was about 170 proof with the cold input. Hoping the warm dephleg input helps lower that. We will find out Monday!
  5. Grazin' Spirits

    Proof too high or tails smeared in, can't find the middle ground!

    Hi guys, Makes sense bluefish. I always hear about those last few points which is why I didn't think I could get there. Had to ask though :} So when you are running two plates, for my edification, do you have a bypass that brings the vapor straight to the top two plates without going through the bottom plates at all, or are the other plates below simply drain valve open with no liquid build up? Paul, Yessssss, duh. Its a plate drain not a bypass. Thanks for pointing that out. No wonder the plates still get a thin layer of fluid on them! This still is only the third or fourth column I have seen in person, so I end up calling things by the wrong name sometimes. Thanks for the offer on the plumbing bypass plan, I definitely plan to put one in. For now I can get by switching the triclamp fittings. But I plan to change that next week. I'll give you a shout if I end up scratching my head for too long. On the vodka, I am a farm distillery in NY so I have to use NY products to distill with. GNS out of Indiana would definitely be a no go, and I'm small enough I can probably do better at the farmers markets with the whiskey from the corn I grow, and brandy from peaches I grow anyway. Just always wanted to give vodka a shot. I can't wait to distill Monday and Tuesday to see if I can control the dephleg better. Walking in this morning to check on my ferments was amazing. A 480 sq foot building with 200 gallons of bubbling corn and barley, sure gives a nice smell to the place.
  6. Grazin' Spirits

    Proof too high or tails smeared in, can't find the middle ground!

    Silk, thanks for the response, yes the plates have a small amount of action. Generally empty but there are some small bubbles coming through when the plates are bypassed, on liquid maybe 1 mm thick or less. I think the 10" column has so much area the vapor wants to go through, vs the 1" bypass it just puts too much through the bubbler area regardless of it all being open. The dephlag I had completely off, it was direct plumbed, easy to shut off. No trickle I have now changed it to come off of the product condenser as Paul instructed me to do. Can't wait to see if that helps. But for sure, passive reflux is happening. Stumpy, I am using precision IRS hydrometers from nova tech, and I am temp correcting with an expensive certified thermometer. I know its nuts, I can't believe it either. Makes me want to try and run it slow to see if I can get it to make vodka. Paul, I'm glad you have the class to warn the vendor, but since I haven't heard back from him on any of my questions, concerns, and issues since I installed it, ill just go ahead and say I bought the still from Olympic distillers out of Washington. To be fair I have received advice from the factory in china, but to be candid the language barrier makes things too difficult. And its always a three day delay or so to get an answer. That doesn't help when your electrician is standing there wondering what to do, getting paid by the hour. Still Holler, I think It might be big. To be honest I don't know. When I ran a 15 gallon pot I had 2 " column, so the jump made sense to me moving to a 100 gallon pot, but maybe I am mistaken. Does anyone think given the problems I am having keeping the ABV down that vodka is a possibility with this pot? Run all six plates, run it three times to clean the flavor. Pot Charge of 30-35% for final run? I never thought I could do vodka on this still, but from mash I'm hitting 92% on the fores, 87 through the hearts. Thanks Guys! Keith
  7. Grazin' Spirits

    Anyone have experience w/ Affordable Distillery Equipment LLC??

    I have only been operational for about three weeks. Paul has been invaluable in getting me going. I reached out to him sheepishly because I had bought a still from another vendor, and could get no support, no wiring diagrams, no returned calls......it was a nightmare. Paul and Jerimy walked me through a ton of stuff right off the bat just because I asked. Helped me wire up a bunch of stuff I bought from other people, amazing. They also saved me from creating a bad pressure situation in the oil jacket. I was so happy I sent them steaks from my farm! Since then I have purchased a few items from them, new bigger paddles for my agitator, a vacuum relief and vent for my oil jacket. He also walked me through the way his family distilled bourbon today for many generations, because I called him with a question unrelated to a sale in any way. Really down to earth, nice guy. If I sound like a fan boy I'm sorry, but he has put me well ahead of where I would have been without calling him, and he saved me from a seriously dangerous situation. I'm not sure when I will be upgrading to a bigger still and bigger DSP, but when I do, it will be through Paul Top notch.
  8. Grazin' Spirits

    Proof too high or tails smeared in, can't find the middle ground!

    Thanks Guys, It looks like that is the option. I had a long talk with Paul at A D E , and he had the same thing to say about what I should do. He also suggested that I do go from product condenser to dephlag with my warmer water to dephlag, but that to get what I really want I need to strip and rerun. I'll report back when I have the spirit run done, which for my little distillery will be in two weeks sadly. Here I thought by getting the hybrid still I could knock it out in one run Never dreamed too high of proof was going to be an issue I appreciate the help! Best Keith
  9. Hello, My Name is Keith. I'm a newbie to commercial distilling. I have distilled on small pot stills quite a bit, and I do understand cuts by flavor and aroma. That is where my knowledge ends though. My new still is a 400L Bain Marie oil jacket, 10" column with six plates (non-removable), a dephleg (cooled by well water via hose bib), a well oversized condenser, the still is powered by 3 heating elements. My Issue is one of proof. No matter what I do I can't get my distillate to come out under 80% and taste good. If I run it in pot mode (No plates engaged and no dephleg), the proof is low enough but I can taste tails in the entire run, even when I only run it on 1 element, which is as slow as I can go. If I run it with all plates open but the dephleg on the lowest trickle possible, I hit 86% ABV avg through the hearts. If I load any number of plates the same issue only gets worse. All six plates loaded brings me through the hearts around 88%. Even with all three elements on trying to push through faster the ABV is too high. This issue is happening running my mash, which is only at 7% , and some feints added from the prior run but we are talking about starting ABV of less than 10%. I have had the same issue on a 7% run. I love the flavor I am getting running the dephleg, but I want to make Bourbon so the proof has to come down. Any suggestions? My Remaining ideas: 1. Warm the Dephleg water with a valve off the product condenser , maybe the well water is just too cold and Rejecting too much even though it is leaving hot? My input is into the bottom with well water, out the top. Flow controlled on the input side. 2. Take some of the oil out of the jacket, hopefully lowering the temp of what one element is, but of course that will probably cost me heat up time (which is already 2 hours). I'm stumped, and appreciate you taking the time to read this. Best, Keith