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bostonapothecary last won the day on July 29

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  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    Esters form in the still, but they also break apart to reform later during maturation. I'm starting to see some spirits through birectifier analysis that have very significant volatile acid (non-acetic) in the last fractions and the birectifier stillage. This makes me think the producers figured out how to carefully ferment to justify distilling incredibly low so they could capture all that aroma. Unless esters are splitting apart in the birectifier, free fatty acids that meaningfully lower pH may be a defining part of the character of some spirit categories like mezcal or some fine tequilas. Avoiding the negative effects of citric acid is part of the puzzle to justify distilling as low as possible. I think Fahrasmane is concerned with helping new distillers that use no stillage and rely on citric acid because they are afraid of handling sulfuric acid and not aware of any metabolic phenomena.
  10. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    Thanks for commenting MDH. Is it well known from the rum literature or from general biotech literature? I have not seen it described anywhere but some brazilian cachacha literature and the work of the INRA.
  11. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    Can we assume you are also using a high percentage of stillage/dunder? What were your very early experiences before you arrived at your current methodology? Buffers, and their size, don't seem to be well written about, but I did just come across some nice leads in Arroyo's Circular 106 which I recently translated from Spanish. Apparently via Arroyo, and very cryptically described in the old literature, a carefully constructed buffer via plastering can help unlock rum oil.
  12. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    Excellent. What would the initial pH be? Does it stay steady through alcoholic fermentation then take a dive with bacterial growth to hit 2.9? I'm suspecting you have a fairly long fermentation duration.
  13. bostonapothecary

    Citric vs. Sulfuric Acid For Rum Production

    I'm writing on behalf Louis Fahrasmane regarding the use of citric versus sulfuric acid for rum production in new American distilleries. The improper selection of acids to acidify a ferment could be the biggest, easiest to resolve quality setback to new rum producers. Fahrasmane is probably the last surviving rum micro biologist to survey and investigate productions at the end of the last golden era. He expressed interest in writing an article on the topic of acid options to help the American industry. I have collected many of his team's papers and have translated quite a few from French on the blog (go to the bibliography at the end): https://www.bostonapothecary.com/thirty-years-of-rum-technology-at-inra/ This is the next great set of rum research that comes after the work of Arroyo. The INRA team even discovered the last great rum yeast that most people are using. My understanding is that many new American rum producers acidify their ferment primarily with citric acid, but also sometimes malic, tartaric, or even lactic acid. This is done instead of sulfuric acid possibly because of safe handling concerns and the learning curves of new distillers. I think this originates in a few contemporary books aimed at home distillers and not commercial distillers, but it would be great to hear some anecdotes. A 1985 paper from Fahrasmane (last missing page here), shows how citric acid modifies yeast metabolism and produces an abundance of ordinary congeners that have to be cut away thus shrinking the hearts fraction and forcing distillation at a higher proof. I think Fahrasmane did more earlier work on this and it was part of his PhD thesis. Fahrasmane would love to know what people are currently practicing and where the ideas came from if they are from specific texts. It would be great to hear production anecdotes of anyone switching from citric to sulfuric acid. I'm hoping to get an informal survey so feel free to start a discussion in thread or reply privately. I'll be translating all the replies to French and sending them to Fahrasmane. If you are currently using sulfuric, but are aware of citric acid anecdotes, feel free to share what you know. I would love help making this article by Louis Fahrasmane a success and hopefully we can encourage him to keep writing articles for the new rum industry.
  14. bostonapothecary

    Distillery Analysis

    Hello all. A very neglected thing in the new arm of the distilling industry is analysis. Lately, I'm trying to make my focus developing a pragmatic best bang for the buck distillery laboratory. I'm hoping to learn what people are currently practicing and what they would like to take on next, even if they're only growing from a hydrometer and pH meter upwards. Lots of people are buying big ticket u-tube densitometers before they buy other tools like automatic titrators, but is that a good idea? One of my projects is trying to add pycnometry to my analysis tool set as a stepping stone before a u-tube densitometer. It is no walk in the park, but I'm getting there. The big tool that is looking like the foundation for any distillery lab is Arroyo's birectifier lab still. It can tell us incredible things about spirits and allow us to intimately compare them. As far as time goes, when manually operated it can take 2.5 hours to operate and then perhaps 20 minutes to assess the output. Is that too long for many people's busy schedules? We are hoping with automation to dramatically slash the active time it takes to operate so it can run twice a day unattended. My consulting work is showing that it can significantly shorten product development time and expense for products like gin, paying for itself quite quickly. The birectifier also allows a priceless education in the inner workings of role models and competitors. Is anyone currently using automatic titration? I'm looking at buying a model that is about $3500 from Hanna Instruments. I want to investigate the concept of Δ acidity for working with ferments that have large buffers. This is an idea first brought to my attention by Michel de Miniac in a French paper I translated. The Δ, as opposed to the pH, can imply how many acids beyond the norm of your yeast were created by bacteria. This can either be used to tell when clean spirits go dirty or perhaps when intentionally dirty products like heavy rums become a run away train. Within anyone's current experiences, would that tool pay for itself quickly? or are the learning curves of integrating the equipment another large barrier? Is there any interest in other titrations such as for fusel oil or esters and has anyone priced them out? It is surprising me that ester obsessed people are not investing in counting esters or perhaps I'm just not aware of it. Some analysis such as ester contents seem like it can be woven into marketing. Has anyone tried the exhaustive test which is a low cost rudimentary alternative to titration that works in a variety of scenarios? The Germans developed a variety of organoleptic techniques that seem really useful before shelling out the money for chemical analysis equipment. Is anyone interested in botanical assay? I have the lost Seagram procedures that I haven't done much with. They cost about $3000-$4000 to fully implement (half of that is an analytical balance). The tools required can also help perform a bunch of other tasks such as measuring barrel solid obscuration by the TTB evaporation method. Seagram used two specialty pieces of lab glass and I may start producing one of them (a modern day optimized Clevenger apparatus). Some gins are getting really successful. I'm suspecting the cost to accurately standardize botanical charges has to becoming viable for many. What are the biggest micros performing? I would love to start some discussion here, but if anyone want to discuss very specific things privately, feel free to DM me.
  15. bostonapothecary

    Damson plums

    I suspect that the future of fruit eau-de-vie's and premium fruit liqueurs is extremely bright, but very narrow and exclusive. They are increasingly only going to work for farms with agro tourism programs that can sell pretty much their entire batch capturing the full retail mark up. I bet the opportunities for a lot of regular distillers will just be consulting and equipment lending for the much smaller true farmer-distillers.