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Lets talk Arroyo and clostridium saccharobutyricum...

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In 2018 we've committed to take a serious look at our entire spirits portfolio. First up: rum.  Our rum is not great; simply put it's too clean, even following best-practices (ph control, use of backset, appropriate nutrients, step-fractioning of tails, controlled ferm temp,  -- except no heating, ) and it's one of the most expensive products we make.  It's time to shit or get off the pot.

I've read, re-read, and re-re-read most papers on rum and have focused on Arroyo's 1943 patent filing "Production of Heavy Rums".  A few questions before I dive in. First, where can I source clostridium saccharobutyricum? I've found a commercial lab but it seem expensive ($350 / approx 6ml) but more importantly propagation seems complex (see attached).   Our ferments are 600 gallons which means our bacteria culture would need to be (as per Arroyo) 30 gallons. Wow.  Also, Arroyo alludes the the fact that the intent is to age this rum:

Quote

It has been found that three-year old rum manufactured by the aforesaid method has compared favorably with eight-year old heavy rums of the most famous Jamaica brands.

Although we do age our rums, a good portion of it is produced as white. Does this method lend itself to new make spirit and, if so, how would that effect the cuts? Is anyone using clostridium saccharobutyricu? If so, how are you growing the required volume in your distillery?

 

 

860.pdf

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I believe you me and silk city seem to be the ones diving into trying to produce the highest quality rums with the help of Arroyo's papers. I have not heard much others talk much about it. In fact, I just got back from Portland and met with several distilleries. House Spirits produce a Rum in house as well as a Rum that they produce in Guatemala and bring in. Both are just fermented sugar cane and the their team didn't know much about the "rum oils" we are seeking. Similarly I spoke with New Deal who are actually giving a seminar on Rum at ADI, but did not know about Aroyyo or the rum oils. To my knowledge, there are not any distilleries in Denver that are producing rum and when I ask around i get the same answer or either not caring or not knowing. 

I have recently been playing around with clostridium saccharobutyricum and have decided to now work with it any longer. It is resilient bacteria that grows well in many conditions. The only way that I have found to store it is in dirt, all other mediums do nothing to keep it dormant. I am afraid that if I let it into he distillery it will create a house flavor. My research has led me to understand that it is not the bacteria we need, but the esters that it creates thus giving rum oils. There are many esters that are favorable and the one that I chose (and is also a product of clostridium saccharobutyricum) is Ethyl Butyrate. Ethyl Butyrate is the product of the esterification of Butyric Acid. Form there I had to make a choice on what bacteria I could use that will produce Butyric Acid. Luckily with the advancement of fermentation science, I know that there are several strains of Bacteria that produce Butyric Acid. The one I have chosen is a strain of Brettanomyces that I have sought out for its characteristics of forming light funk, heavy pineapple and guava, has an attention of 70-85, ferments at 85 deg F and an alcohol tolerance of around 12%. Its a great bacteria and is used in a single, primary fermentation. I have not run it through the still yet, as I have not run a large enough batch. My current hold up is actually sourcing a quality sugar cane. I have been trying to source panela since it is the highest quality and has not gone through any processing that separates the argricol (molasses). The only source I have found can only import a full container, which is not practical. Once I get the proper sugar cane sourced I will start the distillation process, which in theory will be separating the methanol, collecting the ethanol and then taking several smaller cuts once the esters start coming and going very deep with with a lower temp (much like a quality tequila distillery does to collect the esters). I can then create 3 products, a light rum that is majority ethanol, a heavy rum that is ethanol with portions of the ether cuts and a dark that rum with the rest of the ethanol and ester that will be barrel aged to break down the long chain alcohols and hopefully create some nice tannins. 

Anyways, just wanted to share my thoughts and where the Arayyo papers have taken me. I love rum,  I am very passionate about it and I want to create what will hopefully be one of the best quality Rums in the world. There are plenty of people making really great whiskeys, but very few that are creating unique, high flavor rums. To me it is not just a fermented Sugar Cane product.  

 

 

 
 

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Is that a can of worms I hear opening? :)

Lots of stuff in Arroyo. BostonApothecary.com is a great resource. He dives way deep into Arroyo and related subjects.  Are you interested in ester production in general or just following Arroyo 's methods?

How long are you fermenting for? Open/closed ferment? What yeast are you using? Something rum specific or DADY?

For rum Privateer Rum or Maggies' Farm are great examples of high funk rums. I know Maggie's Farm products pretty well as I live a couple minutes from the distillery. He open ferments turbinado sugar at ~100f. I don't know how long he ferments for, but I think it is a week or more. He uses dunder but I'm not sure if it's fresh or infected (Sorry SCD, I know you hate that word). He runs a pair of alembic still with worm tubes. 

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First off Arroyo was so ahead of his time, he didn't realize it.  What he was doing 60-70 years ago, we're just rediscovering now.  Accelerated/artificial maturation, mixed culture fermentation, you name it he probably wrote about it.  I would be so bold as to say that Arroyo should be considered one of the fathers of modern distilling, period.  We stand on the shoulders of giants.

Secondly, the work Boston Apothecary has done on pulling together PDFs and Translating Arroyos work is instrumental.  Stephen Sheltenberger probably has more insight into Arroyo that anyone left on this planet, including the distillers in the Caribbean.  Why he isn't a regular here, who knows.

We don't funk in our white rum, and I don't think Arroyo would have ever recommended that.  He did publish a protocol on straight white rum, and its LIGHT YEARS different from his treatise on the funk.  Clarified molasses, sterilized mash (reduced ester formation), no mixed culture co-fermentation (reduced ester formation), strict fermentation temperature control (reduced ester formation), high yeast pitch rates (reduced ester formation), agitated fermenters (reduced ester formation), low starting pH (reduced ester formation), extremely short fermentations (reduced ester formation), centrifuged wash prior to distillation (reduced ester/acid), no extended reflux periods (reduced ester formation).  Are you noticing a trend yet?  These are all factors that drive low ester production and make for what is a generally a very clean white rum.  @indyspirits - Suspect Arroyo might be very happy with your white rum.

Where his approach to straight white rum comes together is when you keep in mind that Arroyo was vehement on the fact that diluting distillate was detrimental to the quality of the spirit, and the spirit needs to be distilled at as low a proof was possible.  You can make a clean white rum by distilling it at 180-190 proof, regardless of the starting rum beer, funk or not.  But then you face massive dilution.  I feel that Arroyo's focus was on how to make the cleanest white rum possible, to distill it at as low a proof as possible, and to add as little water as possible, to preserve the flavor compounds created during distillation. 

New make funk is very pungent with non-esterified carboxylics, butyric and propionic, it takes a while for these two to settle down and esterify during maturation.  If you haven't yet purchased samples of butyric acid and propionic acid for your own organoleptic training, email me and I can ship you out vials.  You can't learn to love the funk if you don't know the funk.

A couple of other things to keep in mind.  Arroyo was very focused on clarifying/processing his molasses feedstock.  I think you need to put this into the context of his time and the arenas he worked in.  Starting with very high quality high test or first strike, fancy, etc molasses, generally is not going to require the types of processing that Arroyo spent so much time on.  This is only my opinion.  If you are working with low-grade modern blackstrap, feed grade or otherwise, it probably pays to pay very close attention to this part of his work, if you are working with high-quality molasses, going through the clarification process is probably counterproductive and will reduce yield.

The other thing to keep in mind is the wildly confusing nature of Arroyos "fractions", he was very focused on simultaneous production of light and heavy rums, a lot of the highly confusing nature of his "this fraction goes here, this goes there" has to do with simultaneous production.  There are other papers that do a much better job of describing his fractions in better detail than the Heavy Rum patent.  I'll write up something on this topic to make it easier to understand.  But rum oils are nothing but late tails.

 

 

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One more note.  You are concerned about using Clostridium in the distillery for fear of systemic infection, but will use Brettanomyces?

Clostridium Butyricum is a pH sensitive oxygen tolerant obligate anaerobe whereas Brett will will very happily ferment in an aerobic environment.  It is far more probable that Brett would become a "house strain" than any Clostridium would.  There are actually very few Clostridium strains that are oxygen tolerant, butyricum/saccharobutyricum being one of them, so it's no surprise.  Look at all the effort Arroyo need to go through to mixed ferment with Clostridium, and the pitch sizes needed, the focus on keeping pH high enough to keep the bacteria active.  We pitch multiple 5 gallon bacterial cultures into a 530g dark rum fermentation, this is a tremendous amount.  Modern sanitizers and the fact that we're working with small-scale equipment (no pipelines, etc), means this is easily managed.

Also keep in mind that Brettanomyces was referred to as Dekkera yeast for decades, so not surprisingly, this is nothing new in the rum world.

Here is a good recent paper discussing the use of Brett in Cachaca.

 

yea3051.pdf

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5 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

One more note.  You are concerned about using Clostridium in the distillery for fear of systemic infection, but will use Brettanomyces?

Clostridium Butyricum is a pH sensitive oxygen tolerant obligate anaerobe whereas Brett will will very happily ferment in an aerobic environment.  It is far more probable that Brett would become a "house strain" than any Clostridium would.  There are actually very few Clostridium strains that are oxygen tolerant, butyricum/saccharobutyricum being one of them, so it's no surprise.  Look at all the effort Arroyo need to go through to mixed ferment with Clostridium, and the pitch sizes needed, the focus on keeping pH high enough to keep the bacteria active.  We pitch multiple 5 gallon bacterial cultures into a 530g dark rum fermentation, this is a tremendous amount.  Modern sanitizers and the fact that we're working with small-scale equipment (no pipelines, etc), means this is easily managed.

Also keep in mind that Brettanomyces was referred to as Dekkera yeast for decades, so not surprisingly, this is nothing new in the rum world.

Here is a good recent paper discussing the use of Brett in Cachaca.

 

yea3051.pdf

Love these conversations and the opportunity it gives to share and receive new information. 

Thanks for sharing this paper. I had no idea that Bekkera was used in the rum world although it is only the teleomorph version of Brett? It does not have quite the same characteristics as Brett and can be very bad for your product. Notable hydroxycinnamic acids and other undesirable components. 

As far as the Clostridium vs. Brett, the strain of Clostridium (c. butyricum) we had was very resilient because of its endospores. The report from CSU (where the lab work was done) was very strict to say that in a sterile environment, with the right conditions of the medium (pH, sugar content, lack of oxygen) the spore will come out of dormancy and infect the medium. Brett on the other hand does not work well in a sterile environment and can easily be eliminated by adding dimethyl bicarbonate to the medium. I have worked with Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus in the beer industry and the only one I had trouble with was Pediococcus, a gram-positive anaerobic like Clostridium. I guess it was just the lab results coupled with concerns from my experience that led me to my conclusion. 

Based on your thought on the matter, maybe I should look back into clostridium or mixed cultures. I was just trying to come up with another approach to creating the flavors (from esters) that I found in the papers. I guess I need to read more/re-read the "scriptures" of Aroyyo and try to get a better understanding. You seem to have a pretty good grasp on what he is saying. Its back to the drawing board for me, oh darn. 

Cheers!

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So, I've also been looking into producing a rum product, but until two months ago I had never done a sugar or sugar-byproduct fermentation before.... I found that my first ferments were just too...clean and uninteresting, which lead me down the Arroyo/high-ester rum rabbit hole.

At first I was just adding back stillage to my ferments at approximately 25% of their volume, which also made very clean ferments. Luckily I live in the land of sugar, and I had some leftover agricole juice (no treatment, it started naturally fermenting within hours of picking it up from the mill) that I had pitched with Brett dregs. I've been keeping this culture of natural yeast, lacto  and brett to reinoculate my stillage before I actually set up my ferments.

Much like fermenting sugar I've never kept stillage before, and I don't know what best practices exist to encourage the right fatty acids to form and then to keep until I am ready for the next ferment, but here's where I am in my line of inquiry for making rum ferments more interesting based on what I've read from Arroyo and Boston Apothecary. It is a very loose regimen, and I am playing with a lot of the parameters. These experiments seem to multiply:

1) Stop your ferment so there is some sugar left in your stillage (~1.010) for your Brett to eat.

2)Pitch your bug culture into your cool stillage and let sit for a week or more before you need to set up your ferments. I have not been adjusting pH at this point even though my stillage pH sits between 2.91-3.3. I am currently in the middle of a line of experiments and I will be adjusting pH at this point in the future, however I usually see activity on the surface within a day or two.

3) Add bugged stillage to your new ferments at a 25% rate and adjust pH to 5.2. I also add a "normal" yeast at this point.

This method needs serious refinement, but the results are really interesting. It's still far less funky than my goal, and it has raised more questions than it has answered (common lore is that untreated agricole juice goes sour/bad a few hours after the cane is cut, but if it's immediately fermented, how long can you keep your cane beer?). I may not be heading in the right direction, but they are all interesting unknowns.

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On 1/28/2018 at 8:10 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

He did publish a protocol on straight white rum

Is this one the scanned original article with his picture on the first page? Can you post that here? For the life of me I can't find my copy. I thought it was on bostonapothocary but cant find it.

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On 1/27/2018 at 9:14 PM, Foreshot said:

How long are you fermenting for? Open/closed ferment? What yeast are you using? Something rum specific or DADY?

Our process is basically this:  Fill mash cooker with AC filtered water (75%) and backset (25%) , warm to about 100 F. Add KMeta at a rate of  9 milligrams per liter. Start agitator, Add molasses by weight (we use 70% TSAI molasses) to observed brix of 17. Stir. Like. Hell.  Toward the end we use our FIP and "pump over" to ensure thorough mixing.  We add our house nutrient recipe which is DAP, B complex vitamins, mag sulfate, deactivated yeast) and  yeast (we use lallemand distilamax rm pitched at a rate of .25 g / liter) rehydrated as per instructions.  We pump from the mash cooker to a closed fermenter and set the temp to 92F.  This goes dry in about 6 days. 

Problems:

  1. I want an agitator on the fermenter.
  2. Temp starts to drop after a few days. I'd like a way to maintain heat. Going to try an 800W Finnex aquarium heater.

 

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On 1/28/2018 at 8:10 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

 I feel that Arroyo's focus was on how to make the cleanest white rum possible, to distill it at as low a proof as possible, and to add as little water as possible, to preserve the flavor compounds created during distillation. 

I agree!  We're going to stop using any trays (previously we did all sorts of heads compression with our 4-tray column) at all and run it as a single pass. Maybe it's not more flavor but rather depth/richness to what we have.  

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On 1/28/2018 at 8:10 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

 If you are working with low-grade modern blackstrap, feed grade or otherwise, it probably pays to pay very close attention to this part of his work, if you are working with high-quality molasses, going through the clarification process is probably counterproductive and will reduce yield.

I wish I had time to do a trial of  70% TSAI non-clarified  vs 45% TSAI  non-clarified and 45% clarified. Only so many hours in the day.  FWIW, we use 70% TSAI and don't clarify. 

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All that said, we find that even white rum benefits from aging on oak.  Our white rum is aged on ex-bourbon oak for 6-9 months and then decolorized.

 

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53 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

 Our white rum is aged on ex-bourbon oak for 6-9 months and then decolorized

What size AC do yo use for this? 

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Powder.

The filtration is not a trivial matter.  Nothing else works nearly as good, not even $500/50lb bags of granular Norit/Cabot designed for decolorization.

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1 hour ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Powder

Ouch. Slow? Do you source it through Cabot? Did you develop your decolorizeation protocol? 

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Through a local firm that works with some of the rum distilleries in the Caribbean.

You need to tailor the process for what you are decolorizing.  It comes down to trials to determine the appropriate dosage (grams/liter) and the treatment time for the specific product.  You want the lowest dose and shortest contact time that gets you to the desired color, or you risk flavor impacts.  Treatment involves turning the product into a slurry, not passing it through carbon (which does not work).

I made clear bourbon once, talk about screwing with your head.

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