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Silk City Distillers

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  1. EC-1118 is a Lalvin strain, and Lalvin is owned by Lallemand. LS is bayanus and EC-1118 is bayanus, both are champagne isolates. LS is made in Canada, EC-1118 is made in Canada. There are other common bayanus strains in the market, but they are sold by other companies (Red Star, etc). Lallemand does have a history of marketing the same strains differently, and not making that known to the market, likely due to market price differences, or cross competition between sales teams. Same or different?
  2. We had good luck getting a 36” rtd off eBay and using one of the top triclamp ports to get the business end down near the bottom of the tank. It’s near the mixing agitator so we get what we think is a pretty representative measurement. Ive seen plenty of them longer and shorter, so you should be able to find something.
  3. 12" stainless butterfly? She's a rare animal and might cost as much as the still, totally unnecessary too. You don't need a fancy lyne on a stripping still, you need a port and piping to safely take vapor to the product condenser. What I mean by safely is that there should be no risk that you would foam, puke, and plug the vapor piping or product condenser - so taking from the highest point, and if there isn't one, making a highest point (8" spool, 10" spool, welded ferrule on the tun). If you have a vapor tight tank, you are good to go, if not, it's probably cheaper to covert a dairy tank like the captain says.
  4. Glucoamylase is cheap insurance if you have some concern about mash protocol issues. Dosing Alpha amylase and mashing in hot - you’ll create a lot of dextrins, not so much sugar. Distillers typically mash in cooler than brewers. We don’t care about mouthfeel or residual sugar. Cooler mash in results in higher wort fermentability. This is due to creating more favorable conditions for beta amylase. Glucoamylase will chop up any dextrin that remains. Ensuring high levels of saccharification. It will also hydrolyze some of the remaining starch if you are fermenting on grain.
  5. Working with a commercial cream base and adding alcohol is likely the easiest option. Signature Spirits has a base, and if you are looking for the experts, it’s creamy-creation.com.
  6. Dump it on the compost pile, start over. 10 days of bacterial fermentation and a pH of 3.5 has it so chock full of carboxylic acids that the environment will be far too stressful to the yeast to give a good end result, even if you could get it to restart (you probably can't). For giggles - dose lye to increase pH to 5.2, boil it, dose a "rescue" yeast like EC-1118 with a fairly large pitch, rehydrated, ideally with rehydration nutrient. Though, if you do get it to ferment to completion, I suspect it will require a fairly massive heads cut, and will yield a pretty funky distillate. I don't think it's even worth the time.
  7. It's a stainless body with teflon/ptfe seals.
  8. Dayton 4HA31 Stainless and PTFE About 80-90 bucks Painfully slow. Consider storing the drum sideways and using a simple drum spigot.
  9. Reposting... Ethanol vapor would be detectable by odor at about 85-100ppm, and 1000ppm is the OSHA exposure limit. By 5000ppm (15% LEL), ethanol vapor would begin to be uncomfortable, by 10,000 (30% LEL) there would be obvious discomfort, by 15,000 (50% LEL) you would be continuously coughing and tearing. 20,000ppm (70% LEL) is completely intolerable. Previously, 15,000ppm was the NIOSH IDLH limit - Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health. But that's been revised down to 3,300ppm (10% LEL). This is likely the reason an engineer or AHJ would specify 10% LEL alarms - that limit is about people safety, not explosion risk safety. The other factor to keep in mind, is that localized readings might be higher. A still leaking vapor could have a much higher concentration at the still, and might not be so obviously noticeable otherwise. Just being near 15% LEL, would likely be very noticeable to a skilled distiller, you are your own combustible gas detector. But you might not be close enough to notice, until it was too late.
  10. It’s a tricky topic - by our nature craft distillers tend to lean towards being very natural in ingredients used and process. Color starts to really shift into food science, and starts to give us natural distillers real heartburn because we start talking about unnatural additives. Natural colors tend to be very unstable and while artificial colors fix that - it’s about as far away as possible from what we are trying to accomplish. The universe of stable natural colors is small. The techniques to stabilize tend to be difficult or require additional additives. Heck, most of us would even have issues with using a natural color additive. Even then, customers may take issue with the source. Example. A beautiful natural stable red is easy - carmine - except it’s crushed beetles - and some people don’t like that. Proof is in the pudding though. Old Campari still looks great. The colors from fruit or florals we might use? Ticking time bombs. Stopping them from shifting boils down to: Research and journal articles around color stability for your specific botanical or fruit. You aren’t the first person to be ticked off about the color of blueberry. Ensuring the pH is ideal for the color. The pH will accelerate or retard the color shift. Adding antioxidants to prevent oxidation. Religiously preventing oxygen exposure. Purging tanks, purging bottles, even purging oxygen out of liquid. Ensuring filling doesn’t create a massive oxidation problem. Storing the product cooler. Reducing exposure to light. Smaller batch sizes and less total shelf life. Perhaps smaller bottle sizes to ensure quicker consumption (browning will accelerate once customers open the bottle). Research, and befriend a good food scientist (it’s easy, they like food). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5894785/#idm140439363439936title
  11. Moving from roller milled coarse crack corn to hammer milled “coarse flour” increased our product yield by 20%. We expected a chance, but it was a shocking improvement. No other change, our typical SOP is steam injection with a 90 minute hold above 200f. Is your tun heated/jacketed? Do you have the ability to cook? If not, going finer may be your only option. Keeping your barley husk intact will help lautering, but lautering corn is always a nightmare (so don’t bother trying). Also consider fermenting on the grain if you are utilizing glucoamylase. While you won’t see a change in your starting gravity, you will end up with a higher final product yield due to enzymatic starch breakdown.
  12. That doesn't meet the standard of brandy in the US.
  13. The bottling line filter should not be final filtration. Final filtration should happen as part of processing. The bottling line filter is simply a last line of defense for any stray dust are particulate which may have found its way in the product in final transfers, tanks, etc I agree with Adam - bottling line filtration should probably last damn near forever.
  14. Not the best shot, but you get a good idea.
  15. We use blue label and print on foil stock for metallics. We don’t emboss yet, but will. We do matte and semi-gloss golds.
  16. Sometimes it helps to alternate acid and caustic cleaners. Especially in the tun or still kettle, where it's easy to start getting build up deposits. Do you have a port for a spray ball and a pump to run it at high enough pressures?
  17. Sure, that's an option, there many commercial gin stills setup in that fashion. The reason for the Carter Head as a device are exactly as you state - ease of operation for vapor-extracted botanicals. Secondary to this, some feel that draining the Carter Head "tea" back to the alcohol in the boiler can cause off-flavors, bitterness, earthiness, astringency (based on the botanical type). Instead, the carter head allows for the draining of that condensate separately. Keep in mind, there is sometimes the need to change baskets multiple times during a run. The carter head facilitates the change out. In your model, it would be very difficult to juggle the hot column, condenser, parrot, etc to swap the basket. Make the basket big enough so that you don't need to change out, problem solved (just don't blow your self up). Suspension of a bag works, but is less efficient than an in-line basket - as vapor is forced through the basket, ensuring high contact, versus in suspension, where it's much more passive contact.
  18. High solids = sugar or sweetners? If so, invest in Alcodens LQ and take the time to do the work up-front, to ensure your final proof is on target. Trial and error proofing (why so many people do this, I don't know) would be an absolute disaster if you are proofing via distillation. Your final proofing should only be a confirmation of the proof you expected out of whatever processing operations you were doing.
  19. By the way, looking at the photos, I don't see what in that would be eligible for patent protection, looks like a fairly typical vacuum setup. There is a tremendous amount of prior art in this area. If you think you've come up with something brand new, the flavor and fragrance crew probably did it 50 years ago.
  20. Was really excited by vacuum distillation for a while. I still rotovap nearly everything when I get a free minute to do it. But, I think people put vacuum distillation up on some kind of pedestal as a pinnacle of distilling engineering, when it's really not the case. Vacuum distillation is just a tool, not necessarily better or worse than atmospheric distillation, just different. It's like the difference between SAE and Metric sockets, flat vs Phillips screwdrivers. They aren't so different, but why you might use one or the other certainly is different. Better to think of it as low pressure distillation, it's a continuum, from very low pressures to very high pressures. The pressure you would use in your low-pressure distillation would be based on what you are trying to accomplish by reducing the pressure. It becomes a little less magic when you realize it's still the exact same process, you are just varying the pressure of the process. The single biggest benefit for us, as beverage distillers, is the potential to reduce thermal decomposition of temperature sensitive compounds. It's the reason I still like using the rotovap to extract botanicals. Reduce the pressure, reduce the boiling point, reduce the vapor temperature, and reduce the impact of thermal decomposition - but only if what you are distilling is temperature sensitive. Also keep in mind that thermal decomposition isn't discriminate. It's just as probable that decomposition impacts bad flavors as well as good ones. So don't automatically jump to the assumption that by distilling in a vacuum, you get a better tasting product. Yes, for the most part, when distilling botanicals, you get a "Truer" extract. But it's not always the case, and it certainly isn't the case when distilling from a fermented wash (as opposed to running straight solvent extracts with neutral alcohol). Also keep in mind thermal decomposition is a factor of temperature and time. Which is the reason that most vacuum distillations are not carried out under periods of long reflux. Good example of this is the short-path distillation technique - the goal being the reduce the time under temperature as well. (Realize this means no columns, no plates). The other factor when it comes to temperature, is that higher temperatures aren't necessarily bad. Consider the fact that under the kinds of distillations we do, they are not straight/pure separations, but are reactive distillations. We are creating new compounds as part of the distillation process, and a major factor of that is heat. You can find lots of examples of products that utilize flame-heated stills in a very beneficial way, Maillard products, etc etc. Esterification of acids in a column or thumpers. Too much to dive in to here, just keep in mind that temperature isn't bad. Take those two factors together, and you can see how it's not necessarily a better/worse process anymore, but different. Now, also consider the fact that as your reduce pressure, vapor speed in the column begins to increase significantly. Column diameter needs to increase significantly to compensate for the high vapor speed. Plates begin to become less effective, because the higher differential pressures make it difficult for reflux to drain through the downcomers. Typically why you only see packed columns used for low-pressure distillations. I'll post the math once I have some time to show it, but you end up in a situation where the vapor speeds are so high that entrainment and flooding become major issues. You begin to require some fairly massively sized columns to reduce vapor speed. As you reduce pressure, control issues start to become big problems. Bumping, surging, stability of vacuum control, etc. The lower the pressure, the faster and easier it is to upset the system. For example, completely vaporizing all the held-up liquid in the column, puking up the boiler contents through the column in about 1 second time. As you reduce pressure, the equipment begins to get very expensive as the design pressures and material thicknesses increase. It's fairly easy to spend a small fortune building a system that has absolutely zero benefit over an atmospheric system. Love it for gin, I rotovap gin components all the time. You want a beautiful cucumber flavor? Vacuum distillation all the way. Sorry, but distilling cucumber at atmospheric, the end result is stewed sh!t in comparison. You want to emphasize light, delicate aromas? Flowers? Totally. Love big gin? Don't bother, heavy flavors act like a sledgehammer to your taste buds, you'll never taste the difference. Solvent extractions of botanicals are where low-pressure distillation really shines. Want to talk really low pressure distillation? I have the dry ice bath condenser for my Buchi. I can run acetone and dry ice in the condenser at about -70c. I've got a pretty wicked three stage lab pump that can pull single digit torr, and a really good vacuum controller than can hold it there without disaster. I've done botanical extractions as low as 10 torr. That's boiling at room temperature. No water bath at all, just heated by the air in the room. Just breathing on the boiling flask is enough to almost make it surge out. Super cool stuff, being able to extract the aroma of a flower at a temperature no greater than it would see on a warm spring day. I can distill even cooler, but it's a pain in the ass, since you need to cool the boiling flask, immerse it in cool water, and hope it doesn't warm up faster than you can finish the distillation. Sound awesome? Yeah, it makes great marketing, but really, the end result even distilled warmer is the same. Wah wah. As much as I love this stuff, I've played around with it to know that it's just a tool, not better, not worse, but can certainly yield a product better, or worse, depending on the situation. Can you rebuild a european motor using only SAE tools? Maybe, but it's going to suck.
  21. I feel like there is enough drift on the handheld Anton Paar units that you need to recalibrate with distilled water every day. Wondering if anyone else has had the same experience. We use the DMA35 for quick, intermediate measurements, and we use Alcodens for all proofing/dilution calculations. More than once I've gone through proofing (which may extend more than a day) with Alcodens only to realize the DMA35 was off by a few tenths. Alcodens calcs are always laser precise, the density meter, not so much. Nearly every time when the measured proof had a deviation from the calc, it's just that the meter was off. Glass rules. If you are working with sugar additions (honey), start honing your lab skills, a digital density meter is not going to save you any material amount of time.
  22. We find that from a flavor perspective, batch to batch consistency is improved by recycling heads and early tails. Single pass whiskey on plates. We don’t commingle distillate from numerous batch runs before barreling, but lay down barrels on a run-by-run basis. We did a number of barrels without prior run feints, and they tend to have a wider flavor variance and are generally less complex than the barrels that immediately follow, which do have feints. We are incredibly obsessive about following process, so there is typically very little other variation introduced. For a stretch, we did not recycle, the flavor profile of that finished product is significantly less complex. It’s good, makes a wonderful barrel strength, but proofed down, it’s pretty “basic”. But, Devil in the details, and there are lots of details for those devils to hide in.
  23. Sounds fun. Lavender oil is traditionally produced via steam distillation - where your outputs are lavender oil and lavender hydrosol. You will need the ability to pass steam through a large volume of lavender plants. The condense the vapor, and depart the oils fro the water (hydrosol). Lavender extracts can be produced by solvent extraction, but the process is very different.
  24. Rinnai has done a nice job partnering up to meet brewers needs. I'm not talking about big setups either, but the little guys. So you know it's cost effective. https://www.rinnai.us/sites/default/files/marketing_materials/R-CSWH-E-29.pdf
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