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adw1984

Cane Sugar Fermentation

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Hey all,

 

I'm new to this forum and not a distiller.  I wasn't able to find the answer I'm looking for, although I suspect that may have to do with some of the lingo on this side of the industry.  I am a beer brewer by trade, and have recently been hired by a non-brewery/non-distillery company to do all cane sugar ferments.  I'm not overly familiar with the process, but I assume most of fermentation rules apply.  I've been finding that our ferments with cane sugar are very slow, and will stall out at 25% attenuation.  We are currently using white wine yeast, which I know in some cases can be pH intolerant at lower levels. Our yeast pitch rate is at 1.25 mil/mL/plato,  I've been doing staggered nutrient additions with Fermaid, leaning towards the high end of recommended grams/bbl, but our ferments are still very slow, and producing a lot of acetaldehyde.  We've been aerating, which levels I've tried to increase, but that hasn't seemed to help.  I've been trying to find info on making rum, since that seems to be closest to the kind of fermentation we need to be doing, minus the molasses.

I guess I'm wondering what I can do to speed this fermentation up and clean up off flavors.  I'd like to target no more than 10 days to end of fermentation.  I also need to find a way to buffer the pH so the yeast doesn't stall out.  I don't know if molasses provides that, I've considered using calcium carbonate or baking soda.  Any guidance would be appreciated.  In trouble shooting the production process here, I think we need to mimic rum or vodka fermentation, assuming you can get a clean ferment that way.

 

Thanks All!

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I don't do washes that are exclusively sugar, but do sugar based washes.   

Sugar washes do need something for buffering.  Calcium carbonate works.  You are correct that rum gets some of its buffering from the molasses.   I find with my water if I add citric and cc at equal parts by volume it will get my ph close for pitching.   This allows you to add a lot of cc for buffering if needed.  Ph will drop and even crash if you are not careful.  I pitch at 5.2-5.4 and try and hold it to low 4's when fermenting.  

I also now pitch at higher rates than recommended along with slightly higher nutrient additions.   I am above the top recommended rates for both yeast and nutrients.   I took a couple ferments from 1.01 to .997 by simply adding a little more yeast.   Other ferments needed both more yeast and nutrients.   Really depends on water and mash bill.   My vodka has some grain in it and it uses 1/2-1/3 of what I add to the higher content sugar washes.   It also finishes in 3 days   

Mixing/degassing has been reported to help, but it sounds like you are already doing that.   Personally I have found the right mixes to get full attenuation, but it was a combination of correct ph, for both pitch and fermentation, the right amount of yeast and nutrients.   

 

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We worked through a lot of similar challenges on a small scale and finally got a pure cane sugar to work and complete in four days.  We tried a variety of yeasts and nutrients, and determined that for pure sugar a LOT of nutrient was necessary.  Here is our program - you can scale up from there:

Heat 25 Gallons Water (5.0 pH) to 125*F
Add 75-LBS Sugar
Add additional cold water to cool the wash and bring total volume to 40-gallons
Hydrate 90 Grams Fermentis SafSpirit C-70 yeast at 100*F for 20-minutes
Nutrients - 250 Grams DAP & 250 Grams Fermentis Prop-Aide
Pitch at 95* F and hold ferment at 90*F

On the second day the pH drops to near 4.0 so we need to adjust it back up to 5.5.  Once we get about 1/3 - 1/2 ferment I add additional DAP.

For us, so far so good.  We have done this with and without dunder with the same results.

Good luck!

 

 

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On 3/15/2018 at 1:59 PM, Northern Waters said:

We worked through a lot of similar challenges on a small scale and finally got a pure cane sugar to work and complete in four days.  We tried a variety of yeasts and nutrients, and determined that for pure sugar a LOT of nutrient was necessary.  Here is our program - you can scale up from there:

Heat 25 Gallons Water (5.0 pH) to 125*F
Add 75-LBS Sugar
Add additional cold water to cool the wash and bring total volume to 40-gallons
Hydrate 90 Grams Fermentis SafSpirit C-70 yeast at 100*F for 20-minutes
Nutrients - 250 Grams DAP & 250 Grams Fermentis Prop-Aide
Pitch at 95* F and hold ferment at 90*F

On the second day the pH drops to near 4.0 so we need to adjust it back up to 5.5.  Once we get about 1/3 - 1/2 ferment I add additional DAP.

For us, so far so good.  We have done this with and without dunder with the same results.

Good luck!

 

 

Thanks for the advice!  I've never used the C-70, does that ferment out neutral at that temp, or do you get off flavors?  We are not distilling this product, so I probably wouldn't be fermenting higher than 80 degrees to avoid that with our yeast.  This will probably make it take longer than 4 days.  Are you using calcium carbonate to adjust that pH after day 2?  And what is dunder.  Thanks!

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On 3/15/2018 at 1:51 PM, bluefish_dist said:

I don't do washes that are exclusively sugar, but do sugar based washes.   

Sugar washes do need something for buffering.  Calcium carbonate works.  You are correct that rum gets some of its buffering from the molasses.   I find with my water if I add citric and cc at equal parts by volume it will get my ph close for pitching.   This allows you to add a lot of cc for buffering if needed.  Ph will drop and even crash if you are not careful.  I pitch at 5.2-5.4 and try and hold it to low 4's when fermenting.  

I also now pitch at higher rates than recommended along with slightly higher nutrient additions.   I am above the top recommended rates for both yeast and nutrients.   I took a couple ferments from 1.01 to .997 by simply adding a little more yeast.   Other ferments needed both more yeast and nutrients.   Really depends on water and mash bill.   My vodka has some grain in it and it uses 1/2-1/3 of what I add to the higher content sugar washes.   It also finishes in 3 days   

Mixing/degassing has been reported to help, but it sounds like you are already doing that.   Personally I have found the right mixes to get full attenuation, but it was a combination of correct ph, for both pitch and fermentation, the right amount of yeast and nutrients.   

 

Appreciated!  What kind of pitch rate are you usually looking at?

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For granulated sugar types you'll need a lot of nutrient and you will need to constantly adjust the pH.  We use a little over 1 gram of DAP per liter, and go above the beer brewing nutrient dosage for yeast nutrient. Remember that beer typically has grains with nutrients, and they only ferment to about 4-6 percent ABV whereas sugar has almost no nutrient and you'll probably be fermenting to 10-15 percent ABV.

We use molasses in ours and typically have to adjust the pH one time only after the initial crash, and after that it stays fairly solid. With pure granulated and an overdose of yeast you will probably need to adjust every 12 hours for the first day or two, if not more often depending on activity.

You should be able to ferment dry within 3-4 days. There are a lot of variables with plain sugar washes, what end product you are making, and how you want that product to taste. You'll have to play with it and figure out what works best for you.

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34 minutes ago, adw1984 said:

Appreciated!  What kind of pitch rate are you usually looking at?

Really depends on the yeast.  I run a couple different ones and pitch slightly above what is recommended.  Ie if it's a 2-4lb/1000gal I pitch at say 5lb/1000 gal.   You will have to experiment to find what works for your yeast.  Just don't be afraid to bump it up a little. 

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1 hour ago, adw1984 said:

Thanks for the advice!  I've never used the C-70, does that ferment out neutral at that temp, or do you get off flavors?  We are not distilling this product, so I probably wouldn't be fermenting higher than 80 degrees to avoid that with our yeast.  This will probably make it take longer than 4 days.  Are you using calcium carbonate to adjust that pH after day 2?  And what is dunder.  Thanks!

The C-70 sells itself as a fairly versatile yeast although this is the only thing I have ever used it for.  It definitely is a pretty clean flavor although that is generally what we prefer.  Even after two distillations the warm buttery sugar flavor remains so we have been very happy with it so far.

Yes, calcium carbonate can get the pH back up.  I also find that adding the DAP also bumps the pH too.  Another thing to play with!

Dunder is what is left over in the still after distilling your rum ferment.  It is often referred to as backset in whiskey production, just that dunder is specific to rum.  Dunder contributes to the flavor profile and also helps to lower the pH of the wash.

 

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On 3/15/2018 at 10:51 AM, bluefish_dist said:

I don't do washes that are exclusively sugar, but do sugar based washes.   

Sugar washes do need something for buffering.  Calcium carbonate works.  You are correct that rum gets some of its buffering from the molasses.   I find with my water if I add citric and cc at equal parts by volume it will get my ph close for pitching.   This allows you to add a lot of cc for buffering if needed.  Ph will drop and even crash if you are not careful.  I pitch at 5.2-5.4 and try and hold it to low 4's when fermenting.  

I also now pitch at higher rates than recommended along with slightly higher nutrient additions.   I am above the top recommended rates for both yeast and nutrients.   I took a couple ferments from 1.01 to .997 by simply adding a little more yeast.   Other ferments needed both more yeast and nutrients.   Really depends on water and mash bill.   My vodka has some grain in it and it uses 1/2-1/3 of what I add to the higher content sugar washes.   It also finishes in 3 days   

Mixing/degassing has been reported to help, but it sounds like you are already doing that.   Personally I have found the right mixes to get full attenuation, but it was a combination of correct ph, for both pitch and fermentation, the right amount of yeast and nutrients.   

 

Hi, new to distilling, but long time home brewer.  However, I'm having hard time understanding the buffering solution here.  my third sugar wash has been fermenting for 15 days and still at 1.064 (OG=1.094)as a brewer i used calcium chloride in my mash to drop PH and counter balance the water hardness (AKA residual alkalinity), in here I feel that it is used to maintain PH as a buffer while lemon juice is used to drop initial PH.    

can any one explain the role of Calcium Chloride, not in chemistry lesson way, but just in how to add it? just drop it in the wash? can I add it on the 15th day?

Can I ad DAP now as well will this help my situation?

Thanks

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24 minutes ago, Geoman said:

Hi, new to distilling, but long time home brewer.  However, I'm having hard time understanding the buffering solution here.  my third sugar wash has been fermenting for 15 days and still at 1.064 (OG=1.094)as a brewer i used calcium chloride in my mash to drop PH and counter balance the water hardness (AKA residual alkalinity), in here I feel that it is used to maintain PH as a buffer while lemon juice is used to drop initial PH.    

can any one explain the role of Calcium Chloride, not in chemistry lesson way, but just in how to add it? just drop it in the wash? can I add it on the 15th day?

Can I ad DAP now as well will this help my situation?

Thanks

Calcium carbonate, not chloride.  The calcium carbonate is a slight base and it will raise the ph if added by itself.  I found if you add it in equal parts by volume with citric acid, it becomes a buffer.  The cc dissolves in acid and by adding both I think it creates a liquid with more dissolved calcium than you would get by just adding cc as powder.  

You can add cc as a solid, shells, eggshells and it will dissolve slowly and in my experience won’t correct a ph crash as it’s too slow to react.  You can also buy it as a powder which reacts quickly and can be added at any time during the fermentation.  The trick is knowing how much to add.  I would add 1/2 to 1 cup at a time to 110 gallons if it was a sugar based wash with little buffering.  Less for grain based fermentations.  

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Hi to all,

I guess the question I have, have not been discussed. granted in a commercial setting you need to attenuate your wash to get the most bang for your buck.  But for me I'm wondering what is the draw down for distilling a not completely attenuated wash?

100% cane sugar wash. OG=1.094, bread yeast, stuck at 1.036 (7.6% alcohol).   What is the disadvantage in running it as is? beside the cost Vs yield, can I get some neutral ethanol from it.   

Thanks

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19 hours ago, Geoman said:

Hi to all,

I guess the question I have, have not been discussed. granted in a commercial setting you need to attenuate your wash to get the most bang for your buck.  But for me I'm wondering what is the draw down for distilling a not completely attenuated wash?

100% cane sugar wash. OG=1.094, bread yeast, stuck at 1.036 (7.6% alcohol).   What is the disadvantage in running it as is? beside the cost Vs yield, can I get some neutral ethanol from it.   

Thanks

Depending on what kind of still you are running, there is a risk of scorching. 

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1 hour ago, CountySeat said:

Depending on what kind of still you are running, there is a risk of scorching. 

It is a 26 gallons small direct fire. Are you saying the risk is scorching the remaining sugar or suspending yeast??

my main concern is, will this mostly have fussel alcohol and aldehyde because it was a sluggish fermentation?

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Potential scorching issues with both. You may be able to filter out the yeast with some filters that fit over 5 Gallon Buckets. The non-fermented sugar will be there though. I used to run a similar system with a replacement low wattage element without major issues but you may have that risk if the ferment is not completed. 

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The OP says that he's not going to distill this, just brewing it to drink.  

I've never had a pure sugar fermentation that I really wanted to drink.  If it ferments out dry it is unpleasant and acidic, even with carbonate additions to keep the pH from crashing so low that the yeast stop working.  It also often has a lot of apple character which the OP says is acetaldehyde.  Probably correctly.

I'm not sure that any amount of DAP or Fermaid or yeast strain or crushed B vitamin or calcium carbonate or oyster shells or whatever will make a pure sugar wash pleasant to drink out of the fermenter.   

Just my 2c.

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Is this a beverage being made for consumption?

Some of the high nutrient sugar wash techniques that are distilling-focused might not yield an ideal "beer".  Absolutely none of the techniques we're talking about yield an intermediate "beer" that anyone would want to drink.

 

 

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