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Ferementation complete - very low yield?

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Very Weird...

Had 2 bourbon batches done simultaneously, SG 1.075 FG 1.01, same as before. Ran through the column still, usually we get 10-12 gallons of hearts at 80%, this run we ran heads, and it essentially dropped straight to 40% abv, and ran out 10-15 gallons of 40%!!! Usually without any cold water into the dephlemgator we keep the run between 70-80%, but even with cold water we couldn't even fill our plates....never seen this happen before any thoughts????

If the alcohol is present we hypothetically should be able to run a higher abv, just slower?!?!?!?

BTW, 2 changes we made this run

1) Previously we haven't tested PH, (to clarify, we figured our our formula for the correct PH - 25g of Citric acid into 100 gallons of water - we stopped testing, but decided we should perfect our PH reading due to water fluctuation) so this time we were very careful to get PH to 5.75, where in the past we'd add our 25g and keep on mashing...

2) After fermentation, we let it sit for 2 days, as we couldn't run the still...

Could either of these things cause our problem?

Thanks everybody,

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any foaming in the plates? sometimes excess protein will cause foaming which can greatly reduce abv at the parrot

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Hello CD, we had a similar issue and discovered that the vapor was leaving the pot through a cracked seal between the agitator shaft and the still pot. I fixed the seal and everything started working normal again.

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19 hours ago, captnKB said:

any foaming in the plates? sometimes excess protein will cause foaming which can greatly reduce abv at the parrot

The heads stacked unusually high before they ran, but after the heads no foaming in the column...

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9 hours ago, Scalawag said:

Hello CD, we had a similar issue and discovered that the vapor was leaving the pot through a cracked seal between the agitator shaft and the still pot. I fixed the seal and everything started working normal again.

Ok this is my theory....because why else would we get alcohol just at a lower proof? I think I'll go seal by seal and check everything before our next run.

Thanks for the input.

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12 hours ago, 3d0g said:

A scary theory at that. Take a mirror to all your seals / seams next run for sure.

A hand held explosive gas leak detector that works with ethanol would be an even better option. We purchased one from grangier for $100-200. Periodic safety checks are a must. 

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We have lots of ventilation but were able to detect an increase in odor when running the still. I went around sniffing everywhere following my nose till I found the general vicinity and then used a flashlight to locate the intermittent vapor exhaust leak.

 

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Any changes to your ferment?  Any changes in pointers (pH meters, thermometers, etc) or use of enzymes? While the gravity shouldn't be affected, a stalled ferment, or shorter ferment combined with lower yields from the distillation would indicate incomplete starch conversion. 

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Embarrassing to report, but we solved the problem. Unbeknownst to me, the distiller had been running the still (baine Marie oil jacket) at 230F instead of 290F for no good reason....Ran the next batches at 290F and they came off without a hitch.

Thanks for the brainstorm!

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