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Tom Lenerz

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Tom Lenerz last won the day on December 19 2018

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About Tom Lenerz

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  1. Yes this is true (in part) as Glenlyon mentioned, not a fermentor but a spirit tank. Using a drill not an appropriate agitator for mixing. There have been several incidents (over 5 I can think of off the top of my head) at various small distilleries with various causes in the last 5 years that resulted in either a person being hurt, property damage, and even death. Discussions on many can be found on these forums.
  2. I'm definitely not an expert, but my understanding is ergot is dangerous and should be avoided. The USDA defines "ergoty rye" as having over .3% ergot (https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/standards/810rye.pdf). I imagine most, if not all food processing plants would reject ergoty rye, and I would bet this includes large distilleries. We look for it, screen for it, and would not purchase grain with significant amounts of it. We work with farmers that clean their grain. Cleaning the grain should remove most, if not all ergot, which is why we rarely even see it. Halfway down there is a section on distillation concentrating ergot: http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/ergot/
  3. A couple thoughts, after a brief skimming... a) After 45 days they saw 500 ppb worth of DO, which is low, but also not 0. 45 days is a very short period of time, and in the paper they stated 9 months was half the O2 as a year, so these numbers seem to increase greater than linearly (I won't say exponentially). b) French oak and American oak are cut differently for barrel manufacturing, I am guessing as a result, American oak is slightly more porous. (Just a guess) c) The oak itself may not be very porous, but barrels are, I conducted a scientific experiment yesterday by walking into a barrel room and I smelled whiskey. Papers like this are interesting, but I always struggle with what I am supposed to take away from it. I'm not going to stop aging brandy and whiskey in oak barrels any time soon. Nor am I going to start doing micro-ox on finished spirits.
  4. I think the reasonable thing is what does your production need to be minimum to make this thing work and where do you want to be in production and sales. Figure out the cases, the $/case in rev and the $/case in SGP. Figure out your operating costs on a barebone operation and figure out how many cases that is. Ideally, if you are trying to work another job while doing this you'd want this to be one day a week or less on your still. That gives you one other weekend day, and all the weeknights to do the rest of the stuff running a distillery requires. Also when you are ready to take the jump to doing this full time, now you can go to 2 or 3 days a week and double or triple capacity while keeping a few days to do the other stuff. Still going good? Hire a production person and now you can have them do production 5 days a week and you are making 5 times what you were when you started. For us, we scaled our cooker to be twice the size of our still, and have ferementors 3 times the size of our cooker. This was for the future, our boiler, chiller and processing equipment are all set to add in a much larger still, and over night we can over quadruple capacity. Just add some more fermentors. Having the cooker twice the size of the still is nice as well if you are the only production employee or only have one production employee. This allows you to alternate days between cooking and doing barreling or bottling type work. Don't forget everything costs twice as much as you expect and takes twice as long, and at the end of the day you'll make half as much as you were hoping!
  5. Its 2019, not 2009. Starting with a small still, or an army of small stills is destined to fail in the current market. Heating stills with electricity is riddled with limitations, not to mention the cost of electricity vs. natural gas. I always tell anyone who comes to my place to look around and talk about starting a distillery that they should plan on 500 gallons or more for a still. Its all about the operational efficiency, unless you plan on being in business for a short period of time, you should be investing more in your equipment to lower the amount of labor and utilities needed to make your products to improve your margin.
  6. Silly question, is that valve on the condensate return line, midway up the tank open?
  7. It was scaled based off of what we are doing here in-house for our 30 gallon beer, but we run direct steam so I added in the volume of water added by steam. It's pretty close to the 2 lbs per gallon, so you can use that number if you want, but that thickness won't scale up.
  8. I'm at Wollersheim just north of Madison, WI 30 minutes or so. We have been making wine for over 45 years and distilling since 2010. https://www.wollersheim.com/distillery/
  9. To test if there is any starches you can do an iodine test, but it won't tell you quantity. There should be a way to figure out quantities with a UV Spec, maybe other methods. ASBC appears to have a method for testing dextrins, but I'm not a member so I don't know what it all entails.
  10. There is no value for field corn in these calculators because it varies, and it can vary by a lot. Again, I stand by my recommendations above. You may want a 10% abv mash, but start thinner and see if your equipment handles it OK before committing to a thick mash that could plug your pumps, valves, HEX and not stir well with your agitators. And if it doesn't ferment out all the way so you are throwing money away anyway. If you want higher yields, but are limited by thickness, look for higher bulk density/test weight/bushel weight grain. We use a corn that averages 61 or 62 pounds per bushel versus the average 56, that's a full 10% more weight (and therefore starch and alcohol) than we had with the 56 pound bushels. Yet the thickness of the mash is the same, and therefore my equipment is unaffected.
  11. We use 1.5 inch for spirit and 2 inch for mash/wine. This is partially because the mash is thicker, but also so we don't get sticky grain or wine in hoses used for finished product. Yes we clean them, but it's nice peace of mind knowing they are separate uses. We move anywhere from 250 gallons to 500 gallons of mash at a time, and right now we are moving 4800 gallons of wine, through 700 feet of 2 inch hose. We only use three inch hose for grape must at the crusher and press or for tanker trucks when we are doing 5400 gallons at a time.
  12. I am not familiar with one, but the math isn't that hard. I'd recommend starting with the thickness I suggested and see how well your equipment handles the thickness. If it handles it fine, then you can try thicker, just lower the number of your beer gallons, maybe by increments of 2. So try a 28 gallon beer (600/28 ~ 21.5 bushels) and if that is OK up the thickness. Keeping in mind, what you "want" and what you "can do" might be different things. For us, especially with rye, 30 gallon beer is plenty thick. In addition to being more difficult to move, a lot of thick beers might have a hard time converting or fermenting out, leaving you to loss of yield. We see this with high gravity rum washes on the forum all the time. People have really high starting gravities and struggle to finish, have long fermentations or stress their yeast.
  13. The cararye is malted to have sugar that is non-fermentable, so your fermentation is probably complete. Most beers with caramel malts finish higher than 1.007. If this is about making alcohol and increasing yield, swap the cararye for something cheaper that converts. If you are happy with the flavor you are getting, note that it probably will have an impact on that.
  14. The supplier should have pressure tested it for you before it was sent to you. It should have pressure ratings listed on the jacket and on the pot, if it is rated. If you are talking about testing your vacuum breakers and pressure relief valves, I have heard of people getting a second set to swap out and sending them out. At the brewery I used to work at, the owner would tear apart, clean and inspect the stainless PRVs we had. He would then hook just the valve up to a manifold with a calibrated pressure gauge and compressed air, and slowly ramp up the pressure to see at what PSI it popped at. He then recorded it and kept a log of all the different tests.
  15. Check out Fustis on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Eagle-WE722-Stainless-Fusti-Silver/dp/B01HRCP0VM/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1542655633&sr=8-6&keywords=fusti Or you can pull stems out of half barrels, tougher to clean, but they are a handy size to have.
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