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Denver Distiller

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Denver Distiller last won the day on March 20 2016

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About Denver Distiller

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    Denver, CO
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    Working at Leopold Bros. in Colorado.

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  1. Denver Distiller

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    Adding more oxygen will increase the lag phase (the time it takes for the yeast to consume oxygen, create daughter cells, and finally begin fermentation)...the opposite of what he wants to do here. Essentially he'd be adding several hours more for any bacteria to multiply without actively fermenting yeast competing for food. He's using dry yeast. He just needs to activate the yeast properly, and pitch at the proper rate to consume all the available sugars. This isn't brewing, where you're working with a freshly boiled substrate that has a low plate count. What is in his fermenter is loaded with healthy lactobacillus from his malt....if the yeast isn't fermenting, that means the lactobacillus is...... Just trying to help, and just my opinion....
  2. Denver Distiller

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    Ok, that's a red flag. 7 hours is a long time in a mash tun. And it occurred to me: what are you using to heat up your mash? You're moving right through temperature that lactobacillus likes at a very slow speed without yeast competing for food and nutrients. This is giving the lactobacillus a head start. It's really difficult to diagnose this from a computer without seeing and tasting your setup. It could be anything from improperly rinsing out your condenser and leaving chemical in the thing, leading to an off flavor......to what I mentioned before: acrolein (which could be described as band aid/phenolic) from lactobacillus. Acrolein can stick to the inside of your still, ruining batches until all internal surfaces come into contact with the cleaning chemical, and are then rinsed. My advice, for multiple reasons: try cutting your grain bill by 1/3rd. To me, this sounds like the most likely culprit. This will greatly thin the mash, accelerating both heating and cooling, as well as facilitating a quicker fermentation as the yeast has far less sugar to eat, leaving nothing for the lactobacillus. Target a 12 Plato mash. Do you know how to do that? Fight to get in and out of the mash tun as quickly as possible. And then after 72 hours, get that mash into the still. If the problem goes away, then you know that the issue is your mashing protocol. It's also easier to get a far higher lactobacillus count in milled grain. You're basically exposing all that starch and things like lignocellulose to the bacteria, and then putting it in a warm sack...whereas whole grains have an endosperm protecting it from harm until moments before mashing.
  3. Denver Distiller

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    A few pieces of information are missing. As I wrote before, what you are describing is a lactobacillus infection that is creating acrolein in the ferment and distillate 1. describe the stills you are using. Made out of what? Plates? What's your condenser made out of? 2. When you say you cleaned everything, does that include your still and condenser? 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? 4. How long does it take you to cool your mash? 5. How many hours is it from when you cool and add yeast until you put it in the still? 6. Describe your milling process, and what does your grist look like? I'm assuming you don't have sieves. 7. I'm assuming you are double distilling this in two pot stills. Is that right? 8. What are the exact names and brands of enzymes you are using? My first advice is to drop that high starting gravity. You said elsewhere on the thread that your ferment stopped at 3 brix. Likely this is actually >5, correcting for alcohol. What this means is that you are fermenting 75% of your available sugars, leaving the remaining 25% for the lactobacillus to feed on. What's worse is that you're wasting 1/4 of the grain you bought. If I were you, i'd cut my grain bill by 1/3rd, and start there. Your yeast will make quick work of the sugars, and your hydrometer should read below 0 in 72 hours with no problem. It should also deny lactobacillus the food it needs, assuming you are mashing correctly. Cheers
  4. Denver Distiller

    Possible Mash Infection, Need Help

    This is the issue. It's not water (although that needs fixing, too). it's not sanitation. Your customers simply aren't liquifying the corn. It's why the hydrometer isn't dropping to zero. If you're making a bourbon, if you drop a hydrometer ranged 12-0 Plato in the "finished" fermenter and the hydrometer doesn't sink to the bottom of the fermenter after all those enzymes you added...something is wrong. The starch in corn/barley/rye is surrounded by a cell wall made up of proteins, lignins, beta glucans etc. in varying amounts. You need to dissolve the cell walls with heat (gelatinization) before you get to the starch. What you're looking at is a lactobacillus pellicle. All that lactobacillus comes in with the malt, which is rife with lactobacillus. The 90F fermentation you're citing eggs it on. As for the "Super sour, astringent, skunky, medicinal, and also metallic flavor in distillate especially at higher proofs. Sometimes the skunk works it’s way out once we settle into a lower proof, sometimes it stays through the whole run" Here your customer is describing acrolein...also known by industrial vodka producers as "the peppers". Essentially the lactic acid bacteria is metabolizing glycerol in the mash, which yields acrolein in the distillate. Warning: If the level gets to high...they might have to evacuate the shop. Acrolein is a strong irritant that was actually used as an irritant gas in World War I. So your customers need to fix this, pronto.....and, of course, not distill mash that looks like the one pictured. Tell them to add their corn at the higher temperatures listed FIRST to liquify the cell walls, and work their way backwards to the lower temperatures and THEN add the enzymes to saccharify the starch. They are mashing backwards, essentially. Their fermentations are filled with starch, which the lactobacillus is more than happy to consume because the yeast can't eat that starch and therefore isn't competing with the lactobacillus...which is why the infection is happening so fast. If they need to know the gelatinization temperatures of corn, rye, barley....Google. Silk City....good advice, and I like your Bourbon Labels.....
  5. Denver Distiller

    Fermentation stops @ 50%

    A few things raise red flags here. One, you're not adding beta amylase? Do I have that right? If you're not, there's your culprit. You're forming a ton of dextrins with your alpha amylase enzyme, and those aren't fermentable. HiTempase does the same thing----makes a bunch of dextrins. You could add dextrinase to counter this. And even if you are adding the beta amylase, your temperature rests are too high. You're looking for 144, 145f max to make the most fermentable wort possible. That 155f is going to denature some beta enzymes. 158F, and all your beta amylase will be denatured. So again, you are favoring the production of unfermentable dextrins, without getting the maltose you're looking for. Further, that 150f recommended temperature for beta glucanase is just odd. I mash naturally with malt, so perhaps this is something that's foreign to me, but beta glucanase works best from 113-122 degrees F. In every paper I've ever read, beta glucanse, like most enzymes, is quite temperature sensitive. I can't imagine it working optimally at 150f. Lastly, starch content and beta glucan loading can be all over the place, particularly if you're not working with a farmer that has years of experience with farming grains for beverage production for large plants. In other words: do you know what your starch content is for these specific grains? The fact that harvest just ended sends up another red flag....in other words, this could be an entirely new crop year you're dealing with here.......with completely different moisture content, starch content, beta glucan levels, etc. Have you had this specific batch of grain analyzed? Last time I helped a distiller with this very problem here at ADI forums, the issue was, as I suggested, that the grain he was using didn't have the starch levels he assumed it had. He simply assumed that all grain is the same. As a post script, if I were you, I'd walk a case of booze down the road to the crew at Bell's, and ask if they can help with a mash issue. You've got John Mallet running the show there, as I'd imagine you know, and that man LOVES solving puzzles like this one. He, or one of his brewhouse crew, is likely to spot something in person that you aren't sharing here on the internet. You'd be hard pressed to find more knowledge down the road at Bell's than just about any other brewery/distillery in the world. Mallet is as good as they come.
  6. Denver Distiller

    Fermentation stops @ 50%

    Break down exactly how much of each grain you are using, and where you got them from.....Farmer, Briess, etc.. How do you mill the grains, and have you changed that procedure of late? You haven't mentioned how you are converting starches into sugars anywhere on this thread. Distiller's malt? One post implied that you are using enzymes out of a jug. If this is what you do...which brand, how do you add it and at what temp? And how old is the batch of enzymes? Further, when was the last time you calibrated your mash tun temperature gauges, or that temp probe you are using? What you are describing sounds like a starch conversion issue. Silk City is right....bacteria isn't causing this problem. But I can't tell what the issue is because you aren't being clear on your grain bill or method of adding enzymes to the mash. A little more information will help light the path. BTW, that mash in the picture will distill just fine. You'll have elevated acetic acid in the distillate, which will lead to all sorts of positive esters as the spirit ages.
  7. Denver Distiller

    Boiler sourcing and installation in Northern Colorado

    Can't give you any promises on pricing, as they don't take shortcuts, but Mansfield Boilers can handle your install up that way no problem. They're as good as they come. They'll also lease you a boiler if that's of interest. Tell them Todd Leopold sent you. Best of luck, and happy & safe distilling.
  8. Denver Distiller

    Choosing the right heat exchanger

    You should give Briggs in Burton on Trent a call. They'll help you size the right exchanger, and likely find you a British supplier. http://www.briggsplc.co.uk
  9. Denver Distiller

    Pre-barreling dilution water

    You aren't overestimating anything, Lenny. The whole "Rocky Mountain Spring Water" thing is just marketing nonsense. Head over to Coors, and ask them where their water treatment plant is----it's the size of a city block. Larger plants-----meaning Breck, New Belgium, the Bud plant up in FoCo, etc. takes water, strips it of salts (Ca, Mg, etc.), and add salts back in to their own specs. Water salt concentrations change from day to day. These larger plants need consistent yeast performance, and can't accept having one day with a Calcium concentration that's in spec, and then the next day it's low by 20%----leading to poor fermentation performance. They need the same water every time. So they all strip to nothing, and add back in to their spec....many plants even have different water specs for different beer styles. As for what you're doing, and I know this is unasked-for advice, might I suggest that you start with a 5 micron filter on your supply, followed by a carbon filter, followed by a final tight paper filtration that will catch any stray bits of carbon, as well as the odd aroma that can sneak in (you can find these on McMaster-Carr). Connect those three filters with your deionizer, and you'll prolong the life of the deionizer, as well as the upstream filters, and I'd suspect knock out the last of your haze. Pop open those filters at least once a month and check for off-aromas or accumulation of solids. Always taste the filters and your water. From there be sure to give a final clean of all tanks, fillers, hoses, tools, etc. that come into contact with your finished spirit with warm citric acid, and a good rinsing with your DI water, to flush away any accumulation of salts. Also, FYI, heavy metals can throw hazes. Don't know if there were any operating mines near your water supply, but even a few ppm can cause issues. Cheers.
  10. Denver Distiller

    Open Wooden Fermenter Opinions

    I was responding to your comment "why leave it up to chance", and simply pointing out that unless you boil your substrate the way, say, Stranahan's does, you are already "leaving it up to chance". Your fermenter, made of whatever material, will already be riddled with bacteria. There are newer distillers reading this thread who are looking to purchase tanks, and I'm just trying to give my opinion regarding wooden fermenters . I don't mean any offense.
  11. Denver Distiller

    Open Wooden Fermenter Opinions

    IMHO, it's not chance. It takes skill and experience to know how to guide the bacteria in the directions that you want. But nearly every single whisk(e)y distillery in the world is working with bacteria, simply because the wort in the case of the UK and Japan, or the malt in the case of major US Bourbon producers is never boiled. And this bacterial loading is exponentially higher than the surface area you see in a wooden fermenter. Obviously, you have whisk(e)y distilleries that have been using these methods for, in some cases, a couple hundred years, and of those that've been around that long, they're making world class whisk(e)y....or they would have never stayed in business for that long. Even if you use a stainless fermenter, you've got a whole mess of bacterial loading upstream. Open your mill, and take a swab and plate it. And if you have one, your grain silo. And your grist case. And do you have an auger or two? They're swimming in bacteria, and as you know, they never completely empty of solids. Mash tuns, especially if you have lauter plates, are nowhere near sterile. That's why I asked if you are boiling your wort/mash. If you and Mr. Dehner don't do that, from a bacterial loading perspective, the tiny surface area of a wooden fermenter is the least of your worries. All that will happen with wooden fermenters is that as the years and decades roll by, a small amount of unique bacteria will consume a tiny amount of substrate in each fermentation, leading to organic acids and other compounds that will oxidize into unique esters after the whisk(e)y has been in the barrel for years. But that little bit of work that the bacteria does on the surfaces of your equipment is difference between good whiskey, and great, IMHO, and my opinion only. I've enjoyed this conversation with you.
  12. Denver Distiller

    Open Wooden Fermenter Opinions

    Actually, I know. I attended Siebel in 1995 with the St. Louis Budweiser head brewer. They are steamed. However, he told us that they are a QC nightmare. The steaming reduced bacteria counts, but he process isn't perfect. And yet they cling to this outdated method because they believe that it wouldn't be Budweiser if they stopped krausening and chipping their tanks. And how about let's just say that you and I got off on the wrong foot, and move on.
  13. Denver Distiller

    Open Wooden Fermenter Opinions

    Well, that certainly explains why Budweiser puts those porous Beechwood chips directly into their fermenters, leaving them in direct contact with their beer for full three weeks.
  14. Denver Distiller

    Open Wooden Fermenter Opinions

    I'm assuming that you mean "like sanitizer on stainless". Just to be clear, you can't use sanitizer on a wooden fermenter. With that in mind, no, the 20% abv won't sanitize the fermenter. The wood is porous, and hides bacteria. Steam won't do it either....the steam won't get the heat to all of the nooks and crannies. The reason I add that alcohol to the water I use to fill the fermenters is to make sure I don't let other bacteria go to work on the standing water. It's something we only do maybe once a year when we shut down for vacation etc. The rest of the time, we have fresh mash in there the same day we empty them...with fresh healthy yeast.
  15. Denver Distiller

    Open Wooden Fermenter Opinions

    Are you boiling your wort before adding the specific strains of bacteria, jamesbednar? I find your approach very interesting.
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