Jump to content
ADI Forums
Brothers Vilgalys Spirits

Filtering / Separation of Colloids (Liqueurs)

Recommended Posts

Have a somewhat obscure question for anyone blending liqueurs, absinth, etc who may have to deal with unusual sediments. We're just getting started and are still working out a few kinks with the initial production.

My product is a spiced honey liqueur with some colloidal sediments from the botanicals we use in the spice reduction. Essentially we get a gelatinous mass of pectins and other small solids that eventually settles to the bottom of the tank. I can extract the clear top ~90% of the product with no problem, but I'd like to recover as much as I can from the bottom 'sludge', and I'm curious if anyone else has dealt with a similar issue before.

The main issue is that the sediments are colloidal and will quickly gum up most regular filters, at least for what I've used at home (coffee filters, cheescloth, fine mesh strainers). I'm hesitant to drop money on a plate and frame filter just because I don't know how well one of those would work. I'm also a bit worried about 'over filtering' and stripping out some flavors, because the product is pretty viscous to begin with. I'm afraid I don't know the exact micron size we want to filter at either.

I'm leaning towards using a basket-type centrifuge, although those seem to be either designed for waste veggie oil (and generally not food-safe) or crazy expensive with large-scale beverage processing in mind.

My DIY solution is a centrifugal juicer sealed up with food-grade silicone sealant, so we'll see if that pans out or not. I also bought a cheapo plate filter for homebrewing to test the other options. In any case, if y'all have any thoughts, I'd definitely like to hear them! Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Try a bag filter with a pump. Don't know the volume your doing, but there are some inexpensive plastic housings and micron bags available. I assume your at home filtration through coffee filters, etc. was gravity based. A pump and housing will make a world of difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a whole lot of volume (right now). I'm blending in 30 gallon batches, and after decanting we've got about 5 gallons of sediment and pectins at the bottom.

The plastic plate-filter most definitely did not work, even with a pump pushing it. Under pressure, the pectins turn into a colloidal gel and bind together, and pretty much nothing gets through. Don't know if a wider micron filter would make a difference, it seems like the pectin spreads over everything and just sticks there.

I can look into bag filters though, may as well. Thanks!

Still need to try the centrifuge option. That or I could try pectic enzymes, but those won't work if there's already alcohol in the solution, meaning I'd have to cool my reduction, pitch the enzymes, wait, then heat it up again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pavizonis    0

I make the same spirit up here in MA, and have the same problems. I think the root of it is from the orange/lemon zest - if you get too much of the 'white' it increases the pectins.

I've tried a variety of pump methods with little luck - my last attempt was with a vacuum pump, but the filters get gummed up very quickly. The only thing I've found to work reliably is the same thing you're working with, gravity and time. I've thought of building a low-speed centrifuge (basically a bicycle wheel with a motor with some number of ~gal containers either suspended from or mounted on the rim.

I'm also looking at possible ways of reducing the potential for pectin, though I'm not sure what those are. Also reducing the process to three steps; (1) making the spice reduction and filtering separately, (2) heating the honey and filtering separately, (3) and finally blending. So far changing the process hasn't made much difference, I always end up with the goop in the bottom.

An alternate approach would be to just continue running the way you are, but save the goop (analogous to the 'Queen's Share' in rum making) from contiguous runs which would sit for a much longer period and would likely be the basis for a 'premium' krup.

I'd love to talk to you more about what you guys are up do in Durham... we're just getting started up here.

Pepi

Petas (Pepi) Avizonis, Ph.D.

Dirty Water Distillery

Plymouth, MA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't infuse the citrus. The alcohol is breaking down the piths. Distill the citrus, eliminating your pectin issue as it's left behind in the pot, while still getting the citrus flavor you're looking for....

Just an opinion.

  • reaction_title_1 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Facing some similar issues here with our chokecherry liqueur. We've been able to successfully filter down to 30 microns (in a ghetto cartridge filter setup) but when we try to run it through our plate filter at 27 microns, we get hopelessly plugged up. A very thin slime of what I assume are colloids coats the filter sheets not allowing anything by? We've tried going down to 20 and 15 microns in our cartridge setup but gum those up pretty quick.

Picked up some ultazyme clarification enzyme, but will this not work with alcohol present?

Not much settles out in a bottle and the mouth feel of the liqueur is good, so is 30 micron sufficient filtering for a liqueur?

Sorry to hijack, Brothers, but seemed like a similar problem. Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My suggestion would be to use a Millipore Filter to remove the additional sediment. I've ran into the same problem and here's what I've used to solve it.

http://www.millipore.com/catalogue/item/kvhla10tt1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Natrat    3

How about a pectic enzyme introduced at some point? After that, you may be able to pass the product through a relatively coarse paper filter to remove the gel-causing pectins. It will at least compact your "sludge" bed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beach Time    1

I have a similar issue with my spiced rum and beach-plum infused rum and have not yet perfected a filtering process. Your batch size would fit in one of those homebrew conical tanks which have decanting arms, that might be a way to maximize recovery using gravity. I've tired the capsule filters similar to the Millipore, they work but are expensive and can't handle the particle loading. Working now with 10" canister housings which look promising; if you use a diaphragm pump install the filters on the suction side because the pulsation pressure spike plugs any type filter quickly. Depending on how bright you want your product this might end up being a 3-4 stage process; decanting => filter/strain through 3-5 micron cartridge => proof to final (or near) gauge => Filter through tandem filters 1 micron & 0.47 micron. If you polish filter at abv well above final proof, you might get haze/clouds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Afilters    2

I definitely would NOT pull through a filter.

Putting the filter on the suction side of a pump with net you less gallons through.

Filters are designed to flow one way typically and that is to have the liquid pushed through it.

If anyone needs any help with this, I'd be glad too.

Thanks,

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beach Time    1

Alex, Can you elaborate? what filtration types are best for haze removal? Pressure drop drives the flow in any system, so I don't see how positive or negative pressure relative to atmospheric makes any difference as far as the filter is concerned (of course assuming the filter is oriented in the correct direction). I have experienced much better results with this configuration as compared with conventional discharge side filtering and I believe it is due to the pulsation pressure spike is much less on the suction side. The context of this filtering challenge is batch sizes less than 100 liters, so plate & frame & DE are not viable alternatives and time sacrificed is really not as big an issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Afilters    2

Greg,

By pulling (or suction) on a filter, the particles you are removing with more or less "lay" on the filtration media.

If you push through (pressure) you will get better use of the filtration media as you will force debris to be bound in the media.

Suction causes premature failure of a filter cartridge. Pressure allows more debris to be imbedded into the actual filter media.

If you send me your email, I can forward what I can help with on your haze issue.

Thanks,

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RobertS    10
On 2/9/2016 at 8:03 AM, Beach Time said:

I have a similar issue with my spiced rum and beach-plum infused rum and have not yet perfected a filtering process. Your batch size would fit in one of those homebrew conical tanks which have decanting arms, that might be a way to maximize recovery using gravity. I've tired the capsule filters similar to the Millipore, they work but are expensive and can't handle the particle loading. Working now with 10" canister housings which look promising; if you use a diaphragm pump install the filters on the suction side because the pulsation pressure spike plugs any type filter quickly. Depending on how bright you want your product this might end up being a 3-4 stage process; decanting => filter/strain through 3-5 micron cartridge => proof to final (or near) gauge => Filter through tandem filters 1 micron & 0.47 micron. If you polish filter at abv well above final proof, you might get haze/clouds.

How much loss of flavor or sugars do you experience when doing so? I've polished an unsweetened rum for chill haze on a 1 micron filter, which worked well. However, we're seeing our aged honey liqueur forming some nasty permanent chill haze and I'm worried that it may have important larger flavor molecules and what would happen with the sugar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beach Time    1

I don't add any sugar to my spiced rum.  I don't see any flavor change but the improvement in appearance is dramatic when I get it filtered bright.  I'm currently using a 0.2 micron absolute membrane cartridge, 0.47 doesn't get the job done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Afilters    2

You may have to chill it and filter it in order to get the haze out.

Chilling causes the separation which in turn allows the filter to remove the haze forming particles.

Should not effect any flavors or colors at this stage.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask,

Alex

 

  • reaction_title_1 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RobertS    10

That's reassuring, @Afilters. Was worried to try chill filtering only to lose something in the process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beach Time    1
23 hours ago, Afilters said:

You may have to chill it and filter it in order to get the haze out.

Chilling causes the separation which in turn allows the filter to remove the haze forming particles.

Should not effect any flavors or colors at this stage.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask,

Alex

 

I'll give that a try, how cold should I target?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Afilters    2

Holy crap it's been a year since I have been on here!

Just below freezing like 28 degrees.

Sorry for the delay.

Best way to reach me is alex@findlow-filters.com

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×