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Tim-o-tee

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  1. Tim-o-tee

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    This is getting heavy! Bierling: I have tried running slower actually. I've drug a run out about twice as long as normal but that didn't change anything. Maybe even made it worse. Denver Distiller's info does make sense, although the distillery I learned from uses the same type of grains that I do and also very often leave their mash overnight before final cooling and fermenting with no problems at all. Silk City- I am definitely a glutton for punishment, but I am growing increasingly more Lacto intolerant lately. Not sure I want to complicate things any more that they already are. I will try a thinner mash with a lower brix/plato and I believe I can speed up the cooling process a little. I cook mash in a similar vessel to my still which electrically heats water inside a jacket so I just have to rig up a way to drain the hot water from the jacket without making a huge mess. Affordable Distillery Equipment is going to help assess my equipment and make sure there's nothing there to encourage bacterial growth. Before my next run I will perform another comprehensive cleaning and see how that goes. To answer the question about yeast strain, I have mainly just been using generic DADY yeast, but have also tried a couple other commercial AD bread yeasts with the same results. I don't even know if Red Star DADY has a POF+ or - rating, does it? I was hoping to work my way towards White Labs once I get to a point where I can get to taste the full actual flavor profile of my distillate using different strains. If the next run doesn't improve I will definitely be looking for a lab. Can anyone suggest a lab that deals with this situation?
  2. Tim-o-tee

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    Thanks again for the interest. Answers to your questions are below: 1. describe the stills you are using. Made out of what? Plates? What's your condenser made out of? We have electrically heated stainless steel baine-marie style pot stills with water in the jacket as heating medium. Our column is a 4 plate copper whiskey column, non bypassable, and a stainless steel deph and condenser. 2. When you say you cleaned everything, does that include your still and condenser? Yes, I create a loop from the bottom of the still pot up through the condenser and down through the column with my CIP pump. I use the pot to heat water to 180 and run PBW through everything, then rinse with 180 degree water. All of this over several hours. 3. How many minutes are you mashing? In other words, how many minutes from when you first mix water with grain until you're cooled, and have emptied the mash tun? From first adding grain to emptying the mash tun is about 7 hours. 4. How long does it take you to cool your mash? Takes approximately 2 hours to cool from my last rest temp of 150-155 down to 72-74 using a copper immersion chiller. 5. How many hours is it from when you cool and add yeast until you put it in the still? From pitch to spit is about 92 hours. 6. Describe your milling process, and what does your grist look like? I'm assuming you don't have sieves. I purchase milled grain from a large commercial mill that isn't dedicated to the brewing/distilling industry but does serve that market. Our corn is like fine cornmeal, almost flour but not quite. Our rye is definitely flour, it's like moon dust. Malt is just a rough grind. 7. I'm assuming you are double distilling this in two pot stills. Is that right? No this is single run in one still. 8. What are the exact names and brands of enzymes you are using? Bio-Cat Thermostable Amylase HTL, Bio-Cat Cellulase 2XL, Bio-Cat Amyloglucosidase 400L
  3. Tim-o-tee

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    The things I most worry about are my transfer hoses and pump. I don't have a way to soak these huge hoses so I usually rinse them out then blast star san through them with a sprayer, but obviously I can't tell if I've hit every square inch. With the pump I have run star san through it, but lately I've been running some sodium percarbonate throught it and rinsing really well. The distillery I learned from didn't even go that far, they just run hot water through everything between batches. I was hoping that I could also eliminate this cleaning step but I don't know. I remove all removable parts and valves from my equipment and soak them in SP then star san. I have heard that Lacto may be resistant to Hydrogen Peroxide? Does anyone else have any knowledge about that? I was thinking about trying some iodaphor or something like that. Any suggestions for cleaning agents? The only other think that I worry about is that there are some tiny weld porosity pinholes at the bottom of my fermenter in the corners... I usually fill the bottom of the fermenter and add percarbonate and let it soak for a while hoping that if there's anything hiding there then that should take care of it. Should these pinholes be a huge concern?
  4. Tim-o-tee

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    Hey everyone, Thanks again for the input, I'll try to answer all of these. 1. My fermented mash looks good, just has a slight plastic-y smell. I was researching pellicles and it seems like not much is known about the formation of them. One theory suggested that pellicles form after exposure to oxygen. I would say that is probably true since when I started covering my fermenters the pellicle would not form anymore. That didn't eliminate the infection just inhibited the pellicle. But when I allow the pellicle to form then things really get nasty and smelly in there! 2. I am new at this so I wouldn't know what Sulphur would taste like coming out of the still. It doesn't smell like Sulphur, and I don't have a Sulphur smell in the fermenter (although I have experienced that before). It doesn't have much of a smell coming off the still, it's more about the taste and then the smell on your breath after sampling. It's definitely a solvent/Band-Aid smell on your breath. That's what was making me lean towards excessive phenol production somehow. From research it seemed to me that a likely source of that would be wild Brett, and I figured PH and temperature control would regulate that. 3. I have tried mashing with tap water only with the same results. As far as the PH goes, I knew it should drop but from reading things on these forums I thought 3.7 to 3.9 might be too low. It it ok? I thought maybe the PH drop would kill yeast before they were finished? 4. I would love to not overthink this. I've pitched at 85 before and the fermenter gets to 95 or above, and from what I've read here it doesn't seem like that's a good thing either. I'd love to be carefree about all this. The strange thing is that the distillery that I learned from is as carefree as it gets. They've never had any infections, they pitch at 80 or above in open fermenters with no temp or PH regulation and they produce thousands of gallons of great whiskey every year. I once asked the guy "do you check your PH?" and he basically looked at me like "what's that got to do with anything?". 5. I have tried different grain sources as well. 3 to be exact. All with similar results. I've tried different pitching rates and procedures too. Right now i'm pitching about 2.5g per gallon but have gone as high as 5X that. I've pitched ADY directly into the mash, and have taken the time to rehydrate, both with the same result. I don't have a way to test the oxygen content at the moment, but I splash fill my fermenters and it seems to get pretty bubbly from doing that. Do you think that's good enough? Is it too much oxygen? Seems like there might be a fine line but I don't know. I thought I read that Brett likes a lot of oxygen so I don't try to aerate by any method other than that. I wondering if anyone can tell me what the off-flavors taste like in a Lacto infected batch? or wild Brett? Can you guys tell me what is absolutely critical that you do cleaning wise between every cook and ferment? (that isn't obvious of course) I'm still plugging away... Regulating fermentation temps I think has made a slight improvement, but hasn't eliminated it completely. I'm still afraid to leave the cover off of my fermenters because if that pellicle does come back I'll definitely have to scrap the batch. Thank you guys for your insights, or at least humoring me...
  5. Tim-o-tee

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    Hello All, I'm the guy with the possible mash infection, and have been reading, researching, experimenting, re-adjusting and upgrading over the last month to try and solve this... to almost no avail... At first I was thinking wild Brett producing tons of phenols, now I might be thinking an abundance of Lacto because of my significant PH drop during fermentation. Maybe both? Regardless, I can't seem to do anything to change the outcome of the distillate, which has a strange skunkiness. It's very prominent in the late heads/early hearts. I can't really describe the taste other than it's quite bitter, and leaves your breath smelling like a Band-Aid. This flavor comes through in both bourbon mashes and 100% corn mashes. Sorry for the book but everyone here has provided great info and insight and I'm just hoping to get one more take on this situation. Ok... Since this was last discussed I've: Installed a UV "Air Scrubber" on my HVAC system Installed a UV light on my RO water system Installed a cooling system on my fermenters Installed a CIP system on my mash tun Cleaned the entire distillery top to bottom Scrubbed, soaked, rinsed and sanitized every piece of equipment I own Adjusted my mash protocol to as follows: Bourbon Mash- about 2.3 lb/gallon 1. Add Silk City's suggested amounts of the various mineral supplements to RO water (Magnesium Sulfate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Calcium Sulfate, Calcium Chloride, and a bit of Calcium Carbonate just because..) 2. Add corn and rye at 125F, let rest for 20 mins (PH at this point is usually around 6) 3. Add high temp amylase and heat to 180-190F for 90 mins (mash stays nice and liquefied) 4. Cool to 150F, add malted 6-row, cellulase and amyloglucosidase, rest for 90 mins 5. Cool to 72-74F, re-hydrate yeast (tried 3 different types of ADY) in room temp spring water (BRIX is usually 19-20) 6. Adjust mash PH to 5-5.2 using citric acid (afraid of using backset until I figure this out) 7. Pump to fermenter, add hydrated yeast slurry, and set cooling to not allow ferm temp to get above 77F Ferments look and smell great, fairly vigorous. I have been covering my open fermenters with plexiglass which seems to inhibit the formation of a pellicle. Ferments seem to go for about 3-4 days. I'm usually ending up with a 2-3 BRIX and a PH of 3.7-3.9. I can only assume that something is causing PH to drop and killing off yeast? I can smell a slight off odor at this point which is pretty much indescribable, other that just slightly chemical. I can't compare this smell to anything else I've ever smelled. It's not overwhelming, just smells like beer with a weird twinge. Kinda plastic-y. Diminishes slightly when I leave the distillate sit in a stainless barrel for a few days, but returns tremendously when proofing water is added (RO). I have brand new yeast, grains, AND enzymes. I've been trying to adjust protocol in order to reduce the chances of wild Brett with lower fermentation PH and temp, but that hasn't helped. Been trying to keep everything as clean and sanitized as possible to reduce any bacteria but that hasn't helped. I once cooked all of my grains at 200F for 90 minutes to try to eliminate bacteria from there but that hasn't helped. Everything I've done has resulted in almost 0 change in distillate flavor. Kinda strange since I'm coming from no ferm temp or PH control, and no minerals added to RO water, and no good mash protocol. I clean with PBW, Sodium Percarbonate, and sanitize with Star-San. Thought of using caustic, but I have open fermenters so i'd have to have caustic sloshing around in there while I scrub, so I just stick with the safe stuff. I run PBW through my mash tun at 180F for a couple of hours, then rinse with 180F water for an hour. Can anyone think of any other way I can reduce the chances of wild yeast/bacteria? Any info is greatly appreciated... and put to use! Thanks guys.
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