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bostonapothecary

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  1. bostonapothecary

    Culture growing in my bottled rum?

    To be honest, I was trying to be a little bit of a humorous troll. Quite a few years back many rum enthusiasts were discussing the myth of raw meat in Guyana rum noted by Peter Valaer in the 1937 IRS survey of rums. Raw meat was very likely responsible for the "micro organism of faulty rum". Quite the strange and improbable rum story. I don't completely believe the saponification idea because I keep surveying spirits with the birectifier that have very significant non acetic volatile acidity. Acidity is far more important to grander sipping spirits than is commonly thought. Turbidity that comes and goes however is very common. I was just given a bottle of Hawaiian rum that has something gnarly floating in it. My guess is that there was a well distributed extremely thin collection of plaque like stuff on the insides of the bottle that was not rinsed and it slowly de-laminated and gathered into a wispy mass. Of course I'll still drink it.
  2. bostonapothecary

    Culture growing in my bottled rum?

    The Micro Organism of Faulty Rum, a cautionary tale.
  3. bostonapothecary

    Re-purposing heads into usable alcohol

    The only thing I'd caution about using this technique is that it may mess up your ability to make optimal heads cuts in full flavored spirits. This is because the technique targets aldehydes but the limiter for most spirits is ethyl acetate. In the opening paragraph he does mention it can reduce ethyl acetate to a degree. You could totally tackle these challenges, but you'd absolutely need an analysis solution to get you there. Every new American spirit I analyze with the birectifier has wacky first fractions relative to established role models. Most are too light on ethyl acetate. The birectifier gives a pretty clear organoleptic way to assess ethyl acetate without performing a titration. You can even take the first fraction where the majority of it collects and perform an exhaustive test of systematic dilutions to weight it. If you could tackle that, the technique may be a meaningful piece of the puzzle of reducing ordinary congeners. A lot of the Arroyo advice adds up to making better spirits if ordinary congeners are reduced in the ferment so you can distill much lower and cut away less.
  4. bostonapothecary

    Re-purposing heads into usable alcohol

    Its really awesome to see this brought to life. I'll be sure to get that second paper in case there is something helpful in it. MIT computers have quick access to anything hosted by the American Chemical Society so if anyone comes across a paper they need, him me up. My understanding is that UC Davis has special collection of Guymon's papers and I always wondered if there was anything especially cool in there. I have his 1970's course syllabus which includes a lot of hand outs. UC Davis uploaded videos of all his distilling course lectures on youtube and I have a bunch annotated somewhere but I never found time to write up a post. It appears the Davis distilling course got high jacked by the petroleum industry. They strayed from fine spirits production and went theory heavy so the petro industry could poach smart students. There are still some absolute gems in the series and I remember a guest lecturer gave a pretty amazing talk on how distillers malts differ from brewers malts. There are some great recollections of just after prohibition as well as the war years, red wood trunk wooden stills, etc.
  5. bostonapothecary

    Odin on Gin

    The birectifier is a good cheap way to analyze small samples if you have 100 ml of absolute alcohol. A gin that louches in the first fraction may not be properly cut and there may be an excess of ordinary terpenes. Proper cutting can create the phenomenon of contrast enhancement and will make all your botanicals pop a little more. The best way to learn this is by deconstructing role models and examining their fractions. The cuts made for gin may also help to clean up the neutral spirit to a degree. I suspect a problem that some distillers may face is that their gin is sharing a still with another product and in the beginning of their gin run they are inheriting tails from the run of a previous spirit.
  6. bostonapothecary

    Re-purposing heads into usable alcohol

    James Guymon - Some results of processing heads by fermentation (PDF) This link is for his original pilot plant article, but there is also another later one published by the American Chemical Society that I'll grab next time I'm at MIT. The Elie Skofis interview is available here where I index the beverage industry parts of the California Oral History Project. Skofis also delivered a really informative James Guymon lecture in 1983 and I've digitized it here. With the birectifier, in the first fraction of finished spirits, you don't really notice acetaldehyde because in spirits that are cut well, ethyl acetate dominates on a sensory level. However, I just started analyzing vermouths and on Noilly Prat, wow was there some nasty acetaldehyde. This was probably because of how they torture their wine by madeirizing it. The interesting thing is how all the other features allow our attention to metabolize it and it is not dissonant and gnarly. Many dessert wines hid scary amounts of acetaldehyde. The oral history of Antonio Perelli-Minetti is a thriller with him even sitting down to have lunch with Poncho Villa. A technique he used as a hustling wine maker was to buy spoiled wines, presumably oxidized with high acetaldehyde, and then to referment them in volumes of new wine which somewhat rehabilitated them. I think that is where Guymon got the idea. There was a known folk wisdom about the concept.
  7. bostonapothecary

    Re-purposing heads into usable alcohol

    I have James Guymon's paper somewhere if you want it. It is a very cool technique and supposedly created a 2% economy on vodka production that may have been worth startling money over the years.
  8. bostonapothecary

    Birectifier for gin development

    I added a few relevant case studies: The first was birectifier examination of a historic gin. The gin was Hiram Walker 5 0'Clock gin from the early 1940's. This was made under the tenure of Herman Willkie and Paul Kolachov. The second was a look at 1970's Cointreau. A fascinating part of this case study was seeing the auxiliary botanicals show up in fraction 5 very much like gin. You get an idea of how much weight they should have. The orange aroma gets spread out across fractions better than I thought making it practical to assess organoleptically. There was no detectable louching in the first fractoin which shows they took terpene removal seriously. Sugars did not interfere with the process at all if the 8th fraction went uncollected. Next up more gins and green chartreuse?
  9. bostonapothecary

    Canned Cocktails?

    Bomb shelter implies a set of techniques and rules of thumb if you try to learn from classically trained formulators and their textbooks. A lot of doors open when you consider a different shelf life and supply chain. I would consider drinks I've made craft because they overcame the citrus barrier, harnessing a novel de-aeration technique, and consciously incorporated enzymatic bittering as a feature. They also had a pretty amazing shelf life and I was able to age them for over a year. My craft techniques could scale up, but would not be economically viable at wholesale. My drinks were also craft for other reasons. Its probably safer to say that my drinks were fine, and I was getting high fives from the Michelin folk. I had champagne bottles you could saber! I had dissolved gas levels so high they were truly flute worthy and beyond any non-wine product on the market. I often used enchanted spirits like Fortaleza tequila and I had heirloom cultivars of raspberries that hadn't been grown in the U.S. in 90 years (and my product was economically viable). What I guess I would encourage is for producers to maximize what they can do on the small scale at the retail and tasting room level. Startlingly beautiful things are viable and you will enhance the rest of your brand when you transcend craft, hit fine and start running with the Michelin crowd.
  10. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    True, but as they accumulate, they still bleed further into run and shrink your hearts fractions because you can only justify having so many. Increases in ordinary congeners decrease the ability to capture extraordinary congeners. Even at extremely high distillation proof, such as with birectifier distillation, if a spirit is ladden with ethyl acetate you don't exactly get a massive accumulation in fraction 1, where the vast majority is collected, you get a bleeding into fraction 2 and 3. If the distillation proof is much lower, such as with a normal production, you can just imagine how far across the run they spread. The same is true of fusel oil on the other end and desirable aromas such as long chain esters and bizarro terpenes are less volatile than fusel oil so walking that line becomes critical. What I've been observing through analysis is that new distillers don't nail their cuts ideally and are often pretty far off of role models. This all gets complicated by Maturation. Analysis to be better execute cuts would probably improve new American spirits a lot. You'll be able to distill at the maximum potential of your ferments.
  11. bostonapothecary

    Canned Cocktails?

    Kegged craft cocktails originated on my blog about ten years ago. Crappy margaritas on the gun existed, but no one had done anything with quality ingredients. I continuously learned more and updated a lot of the ideas. One of the big ones is reflux de-aeration to remove oxygen and the idea that you can un-couple enzymatic bittering of citrus from citrus oxidation. I ended up with formulations bottled in champagne magnums for more than 12 months. Reflux de-aeration is a really old imprecise term, but it basically uses the rule of partial pressures to show that dissolves co2 in a liquid can force oxygen out of solution. You can prototype formulate products with pre-bittered citrus (non-oxidized) to predict how they will evolve, but the hole thing is really just a tease. When you get to large scale products sold at wholesale margins, the ideas just aren't that viable. You cannot purchase bulk citrus juice properly processed to my knowledge. For prototyping and work for my restaurant's inhouse sales I developed a Champagne bottle manifold, a manifold style keg to champagne bottle version and then two different very affordable full enclosure systems. One is for small bottles and one is for larger sizes. They use quick disconnects and can be operated in an array of multiple units. The counter pressure designs allow the hitting dissolved gas levels well past 7g/l which is coca cola to 9g/l which is prosecco and beyond where true Champagne is sometimes 12g/l of dissolved gas. These last two products were designed for far flung resorts that needed tools to bottle carbonated products in whatever bottles they could get their hands on because they could not purchase idealized new bottles. I've shipped the tools around the world, from pro formulators to eco hotels and from Michelin starred wine programs to the top bar programs internationally. Adding to the ideas was the concept that you can measure dissolved gas with a kitchen scale so you can rapidly create progressive series for tasting panels. This makes carbonation more independent of the pressure/temp methodology and easier to make comparisons. You can work in reverse with the concept and start analyzing competitors and role models for patterns that may dictate what equipment you need. Weigh things, then de-gas, then measure liquid volume. Another formulation idea to consider is the notion of delle units for stability. Many products will want to be at the minimum of alcohol content for stability. Professor delle's concept states that units of sugar can trade for units of alcohol in contributing to stability and best bets exist. This goes further and dissolved CO2 can also participate. This is used in some really smart products on the market, but formal best bets are not known. For distillers, I recommend people start producing products for their tasting room which becomes a great focus group. A lot can be viable for those retail prices and you can learn a ton of skill sets to scale up. Weddings and general catering can be a not insignificant market. You may be working with distillates, but consider your shelf life to be that of fragile beer with a drink by date. Many formulation ideas are for bomb shelter products. A lot can be learned there, but it is not craft. Dream to make something you're truly proud of. The market is flooded with junk. People are getting paid, but I cannot imagine anyone is truly proud of some of the new carbonated canned cocktail products. Too many compromises get made when fruit juice is forced into the bomb shelter. My personal bunker has nothing but whiskey and rum.
  12. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    I'll ask him to clarify that so we know whether it is accessible or not because of other congeners produced that will need cut away. It is interesting to examine the relationship between micro biologists and the practical work of the distillery.
  13. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    When many of us started investigating rum from a drinkers perspective with little chemistry and biology experience, it was thought for a while that low initial pH ferments were for full flavored rums which just isn't the case at all. Stressfully low pH can make an S. pombe yeast dominant, but not exactly produce a full flavored rum. I suspect the thing to learn about is the size of the buffer and its relationship to quality. Since there is little interest in citric acid, we should probably figure out what else people are curious about that we can get Fahrasmane to answer.
  14. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    It is not the clearest in that paper, and that is the zoomed in perspective a micro biologist and not a distiller concerned with beauty, but I think it is better described in his thesis which I've only seen a couple pages of. I think the problem is that even if those extraordinary congeners are produced, they are inaccessible because of the surplus of ordinary stuff that needs cut away. In the Brazilian papers, citric acid is used as a yeast starter at the beginning of the season because of how it accelerates the creation of yeast biomass.
  15. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    I think the Arroyo idea you are talking about is the Simultaneous production of light and heavy rums (from the same beer...). I would not confuse that with birectifier analysis though it was clearly inspired by it. No one knows anything practical about the simultaneous production idea and it may never have been practiced. It may finally be viable now that we have accessible automation ideas like iStills. The birectifier and distilling slowly at very high reflux just sorts things and in doing that gives a magnified look that allows you to make a useful assessments organoleptically. The significance is how delineated the fractions are. It doesn't matter if you distill a tequila slow and low at 55% or a rum higher at say 75%. If you want to translate any of the fractions to evolving your own production you have to extrapolate and it is not hard to do, but don't confuse it with the above linked Arroyo idea which not much is known about. The way this relates to citric acid and ferments is that we don't know enough about what makes a spirit worth distilling incredibly low versus high. We also don't know enough about comparisons across spirit categories. Tequila and Mezcal producers seem to have a far easier time distilling low than rum producers. Longer chain esters and rum oil may even allow a spirit to contain more of other basic congeners while still being harmonious, but that is just an emerging theory after looking at lots of role models across categories. My other rough theory after looking at tequila and mezcal is that it may not matter that you got the complete ester formed in the still and into the spirit. It may just be enough that you got the fatty acid into the spirit by being able to justify distilling very low. During maturation it may form an ester or it may be valuable by itself.
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