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Ross Topliff

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    Newburgh, New York
  • Interests
    distilling, safety, environmental protection, cost reduction, waste reuse/reduction, engineering

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  1. Greetings. I am unable to attend yet am very interested in this topic. Can I access this information without attending the conference? I also work in this arena and had a presentation at the 2017 ADI conference.
  2. A group seeking to build a distillery in Birmingham, AL discovered that they are in the city fire district that specifically adopted Appendix D of the IBC prohibiting facilities from handling flammable liquids above 120 gallons. We are wondering if anyone else ran into a similar situation and how they were able to work around it. The building and fire officials are seeking to work with them, so we need some supporting examples from a similar situation. All assistance will be greatly appreciated.
  3. Hans - Each of the spaces you need are crucial, including the distillery. A better question might be whether it is less expensive to renovate the current spaces for storage, etc. and build new for the distillery, or vice versa. Since it looks like the stable space is pretty open and accessible, it looks like this can be renovated to either function easily. If you will allow visitors into the distillery area, the "charm" of the old stable will probably create a nice ambiance. Good luck with your efforts! Ross Topliff
  4. TzuZen - I love your choice of a handle on this forum. Quite original. I am replying not so much because I can help in your search, but because you might be able to help with another quest. If you go to the "General Discussion" forum, you will find a discussion regarding the use and "Disposal of Fusel Oil" from distilling brandy, etc. I spent some time in the flavor industry and worked with fusel oil in trying to recover some flavor components from that. I thought that since you are a certified flavor chemist, you might be able to suggest some flavor houses/manufacturers who would be interested in purchasing fusel oil for use in creating unique flavors. I suspect that since small craft distillers use some unique blends of ingredients in their brews, that the composition of their fusel oil would also be unique. From my limited knowledge of the brewing/distilling business - most people use oak casks that have been "fired" on the inside to produce the smoky/burnt notes. Aging varies from a few months to several years at room temperature depending on the degree of flavor development the brewer wants and how long they can wait before seeing revenue from the sale of the beverage. I believe that the vast majority of testing and blending the spirits is through mixing and tasting the blend. As you will well know, the human palate is much more sensitive than all but the finest GC/LC machines for determining what is pleasing. I suspect that knowledgeable "flavorists" can taste the individual spirits and get a good idea of who to blend them together for the desired effect. Welcome to this exciting world. Ross Topliff
  5. As Nabtastic stated, the pay scale will vary a lot depending on location, experience, local labor market, and actual duties. The $10/hr on the low end seems a bit low to me, although if the location is very rural and experience minimal, that may be a realistic rate. I am thinking that starting at around $15/hr would be reasonable. I must admit that my experience is based around industrial personnel, rather than craft beverage firms. For tasting room staff, I believe that would be equivalent to restaurant staff. If you want good personnel who will relate well to your customers, hire the best people you can afford and do everything you can to keep them happy.
  6. Non-sprinklered buildings have a maximum allowable quantity of 120 gallons of class 1B flammable liquid (ethanol) per control area. If you go over the maximum allowable quantity, then you're classified as H-3, which requires sprinklers and adequate ventilation. Even though the International Fire Code (IFC) says there's a exception for alcohol in barrels, that exception does not exist in the International building code (IBC), thus the rule holds. The 2015 IBC, section 307.1 states that "Hazardous occupancies are classified in Groups H-1 ... and shall be in accordance with this section, the requirements of section 415, and the International Fire Code." My reading and others I have spoken to about this agree that the wooden barrel exemption is included here as this wording incorporates the IFC. Has anyone been given a different interpretation?
  7. As crazy as it sounds, you may be able to sell it to a flavor company. A firm I worked for years ago used fusel oil as a starting material for a number of flavor ingredients. In order to sell as something like starter fluid, you will probably need a very consistent product in terms of component profile, etc. Then there are all the regulations for creating, marketing, and shipping a flammable product. If you can sell it locally and privately you might be OK.
  8. I am a business consultant with a PE in chemical engineering. I became interested in this industry after realizing that many of the code enforcement officers dealing with the many new, small distilleries have little or no background in dealing with this type of business.I put together a two-hour training program for them and will present it three times in NY by the end of March, 2017. I also will present a slight variation on it at the 2017 ADI Conference in April. I also have 40 years of experience dealing with facility design, construction, building codes, distillation, mixing, and much more. You can check me out at www.topsengineering.com or on Facebook. Have a safe and enjoyable day! Ross Topliff. PE
  9. iskiebaydistillery has the right idea. By using negative pressure ventilation, you prevent any flammable ethanol vapors from traveling from the origin to other parts of the building that are not designed for the hazardous location - primarily electrical. If your distillery is in a separate building, positive pressure ventilation will definitely work and save the cost of the XP fan.
  10. Actually, this is not entirely correct. The hot vapors rise in the still because the condenser creates a lower pressure (slight vacuum) and the vapors travel from the higher pressure where the vapors are generated in the pot to the top. Even at 200'F (above its atmospheric boiling point) ethanol vapors are 20% heavier than air. Ethanol vapors will fairly quickly mix with air, although they will still tend to seek the floor.
  11. I agree that costs seems excessive, although it may include travel time and training to become qualified to approve the panel. Unfortunately, some people will charge whatever the traffic will bear, with little connection to actual costs.
  12. Did the official provide a rationale for this sink? Was this in your tasting room or where those utensils are washed?
  13. I was speaking with Bill Owens recently and he mentioned that he has seen some strange requests from officials in order to "comply" with the local building and fire codes. I am working in this area and am interested in collecting information on some of these unusual requests. What have you been asked to do that seemed excessive or was well beyond what the written code required? Maybe we can help others avoid your situation.
  14. The DISCUS manual is excellent and covers the topic well. Be aware, however that it is intended more for large facilities so the recommendations may be well in excess of what you need depending on the size of your distillery.
  15. Bluefish_dist is correct with one important addition - the 120 gallon limit only applies to liquids containing more than about 20 vol % alcohol. Below the concentration, it is considered non-flammable and is exempt. Also, once the high proof alcohol is in wooden barrels, it is exempt from this limit.
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