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Mountain Brewer

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    Brewer and distiller
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  1. Go afternoon all, We just picked up a new property within the 10 mile radius of our distillery. We are looking into buildings for barrel storage. We do not have the money for a full on rick house. What have people who ball on a budget used or done for a barrel warehouse on an empty plot of land? We have looked into metal quonset huts, possibly metal conex/containers. As we are brainstorming, I figured there are some creative people on here that have made due with some rudimentary buildings or structures. Thanks in advanced.
  2. We run a double retort system for our rum. We do a 50/50 molasses / sugar in the raw, and run it through a 150 gal still into 2x 40 gal retorts. My method is rum beer at approximately 10-12% abv goes into the 150 gal as a prime. We also include the lees to assist in a higher flavor rum. We then take the late tails and prime the 1st retort with those. The late tails have all the "rum oils" and thus deep flavor in them. Do a litter bit of experimenting of when this late tails cut is made. We end up with 2 different tails cuts, an early tails that we don't want in the finally product, and another late tails for the purpose of priming the 1st retort. We then prime the 2nd retort with the heads from the previous run. This high abv from the heads will help produce esterification. We also add in a citric or malic acid to reduce the PH of the 2nd retort thus even more assisting with esterification. When the parrot begins to spit, we do a generous heads cut for the purpose of priming the next retort, but also the majority of the esters are in these heads. Up to 90% of the esters. This creates an interesting flavor profile and a difficult or unique cut into the final product. Too much heads and your rum will be "hot" not enough heads and then you are loosing a lot of those esters. It is also difficult for us to maintain enough heads to prime retort 2 for fallow on runs, and thus creates and interesting game of where to make your cuts for both the retort prime and final spirit. This process took me about 9 months to perfect, but was very rewarding as we just got a double gold for our unaged white rum at SFWSC. Most distilleries will barrel age their "white rum" and then filter out the color. This barrel aging (reacting with oxygen) will assist in breaking down long chain and medium chain esters into short more flavorful sweet esters. We have rum aging on oak now that really is popping with flavor, but we will not filter out the color and keep that as our aged rum. If anyone has anything to add to this, I'm always open for more information from the vast knowledge on here, but this should help and save you a good bit of time. Are you adding dunder to your rum? This helps with a bold flavor rum, but also I recommend barreling any product that was dundered to give the spirit its time to shine. Also the double retort system is a very fun still and has room for a lot of creativity with gins, and other unique products. It is my favorite still set up that we have.
  3. Hey ADI squad, We are using 4" x 3' stainless steel piping filled with fine (approx 1mm) ground coconut activated charcoal to filter our finished spirits. We pack the top of the "filter pipe" with copper mesh to prohibit charcoal passing through into the final product. Each product has its own specific filter to prohibit cross contamination. Process as follows: 1.) Proof down spirit to 10p above final proof 2.) Recirculate RO water through the filter until clear (approx 5-10 minutes) 3.) Filter product (finished whiskey, vodka, gin...ect) We recirculate the product through these filters at about 5 gals per minute. The filtration time is about 30 minutes per 50 gals of spirit. 4.) We pull samples every 15 minutes to get the desired sensory we are looking for on our products. 5.) Finish final proof down, run through final bottling filters (5 micron then 1 or .5 micron) on a Mori 6 head gravity bottler. 6.) After filtration we are leaving a small amount of filtered product in the filters to keep the charcoal moist "simi primed" for the next use (sometimes up to 2-3 months before next use.) We are getting a nice filtration on the spirits. It helps cut some bite out of the product as well as polishes the spirit. I am reaching out to ask others how they are filtering their finished spirits. I'm not sure why the previous SOPs were to use coconut charcoal vs another form of activated charcoal. It is time to replace the charcoal in the filters, after 15-20 uses. Is 15-20 filtration runs to much or can I get more out of it? I have seen an increase in time needed to filter for the outcome that is desired. Thus I believe it is time to swap out the charcoal. I am welcome to any and all advice on product filtration, SOPs or any part of this process. All of the users on here are rock stars so thanks in advanced for the time taken on any and all replies.
  4. Calwise, Thank you for bringing this post back to life. I have since spoken with yeast and enzyme reps, and done hours of research. I have changed mashing SOPs and enzymes. I know am seeing much higher yields and a more flavorful spirit. The road has been fun and thanks to all of those that shared their knowledge, I am much happier with my spirits and yields. I am getting a 53gal barrel+ off of 600 gal mash at 18-20 brix. The flavor has much more depth as well. I have ran runs down below 10%, and personally it depends on the spirit. Rum I run below 10% to capture the rum oils. Rye I do the same as there are some nice flavors in our Maryland style 95% rye that come out late in the strip.. My Corn whiskey shows its oats late in the strip as well. In my Bourbon, I'm still dialing that in as the first spirit run is in progress as we speak. I'd be interested on others opinion on this as well. My buddy stops at 20% on all his strips regardless of spirit type. Personal preference, time, yield and flavor... Thanks again everyone for all the help and the suggestions!
  5. Is sour mashing the way to go? I can run a sour mash and see if it is the spirit profile I'm looking for. I will do more research on benefits of sour mashing vs non sour mashing. What are others takes on to sour mash or to not sour mash? I need to find a way to store the backset in another container as I run the still and mash the same day. Mashing ends before the still is done stripping so the backset would have to come from the day prior. It's do able, but I'll have to adapt. I have been pumping those oils in with the LWs, figured why not. Are there problems with these oils other than still maintenance? I figured these oils carried flavor and other contributions to the final product. I'm not going to filter prior to barreling anymore, only one barrel has been filtered and that can be my test barrel for the filtering process. On the filtering note, are you suggesting to not use coconut charcoal for filtering even after the product is finished barreling or just on the front end? I'm interpreting that as just on the front end prior to barreling. Thanks for the information Dr.D The esterification in the spirit run. Of course I should have known. The feints will really help with that. I did this with our rum and it turned out great. We run a double retort and the flavor was bold and delicious IMO. I ran my strip yesterday down to below 10 ABV off the parrot, this will give me enough LW to do 600 gal mashes to yield enough for a spirit run rather than 900gal per spirit. That cuts one mash out and 1/3 of the grain build per batch. This will help with yield undoubtably. I'll be doing a spirit run early next week. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes and progression.
  6. Okay, That is enough to get me to spend 100 on knowledge. Thanks. Nice! This has seriously been such an educational thread. Thank you. Give me a few weeks to dial this in and I will revisit it to let you know the results in yield, flavor and profile. Unfortunately it will be years before I reap the benefits of the barrel. Brewing beer had such a fast return, whiskey has been much more complex. Thanks everyone for helping me out, one day I will be passing it down to the next green horn. The next step for me is going to be messing around with different yeast. I'm not dialed in enough for this step quite yet but soon. I would like to have no variable changes other than yeast, so once I'm there, that will be a fun stage.
  7. JustAndy, Thank you for that response, I am stripping now and would have turned my still off at this point but am running it down much lower. I just spoke with the owner and we are changing around a lot of things due to this thread. I was adding water to get my spirit runs down to 40% charge, I will now add in feints and lower the ABV to 30%. I hope this will also get me below the 160p range as my still was hitting 160p right at the start and then dropping to a collect hearts of 140p (spirit runs). I'm very intrigue of the flavor profile change according to the changes made by all those that have added their input in this thread. I am going to reorganize my mash schedule to accommodate the different ratios of strip to feints, as well as more collected on strip runs going down to lower ABVs. I will no longer take any foreshots on my strip runs and those will all now be collected on the spirit runs. I will also no longer filter the rye before barreling in hopes that it will increase the depth of the spirit. Is it better to add feints from the previous runs into the strip runs or the spirit run? I can't imagine much of a difference and when I change this around, still space will most likely be the determining factor. 300 gal ferments with a 150g still means its packed full, but we have a 300 gal still awaiting shipment, thanks CO-VID ...
  8. kleclerc, Are you saying leave in the foreshots/methanol cut in the low wines and wait until the spirit run to and fraction it out there? More than one way to skin the cat but I'll try anything twice. I stop the still at +/- 196.8F which puts me at 20% abv 40p here in CO at 7,000 elevation. I was taught that after that there isn't much left given the amount of water coming through the still with the spirit. What advantages are you gaining by going that deep into tails? Flavor, aroma, yields, heavy oils.. Thank you for that resource, I will look at it now. @kleclerc77 I was willing to spend 40 Euros on this, but shipping was double the price (coming from euro?).... Is it worth 80 Euros / $90-$100 after shipping? If it is worth it I will but thats some dough for a book.. I'll look around locally for a copy
  9. Yes, I've read this thread 3 times over to retain what has been said. Just Andy, On strip runs I collect approximately 1-2 gals of the first off the still as a methanol cut. I'm sure that is way to much, but given our small distillery, I would rather be safe than sorry as well as those early heads are not desirable for consumption anyways. I watch the proof drop about 10-15 points, it stabilizes, and then start collecting. Maybe I am mistaking this as methanol when really it is my heads. The smell is very sweet (candy like) and comes off around 65% 130p and then within 5 mins is down to 505 100p (Low Wines). This is what I have always perceived as methanol/early heads. I repeat this same process when doing a spirit run as well, even though I already have done a methanol cut, without a lab to be sure, safer than sorry. I'm aware this is excessive. There is probably very little methanol given its a grain spirit, but being novice and no way to tell for sure, this has been my process. As always I'm open for any and all suggestions. We run a pot still with no plates, strip than spirit run. I've thought about running feints back in... It is nice to run them as another product such as aquavit after refined through a vodka column. If it makes my whiskey better than I would be willing to change this protocol. How much feints are you recycling back in. Rather than running 3 strips and a spirit, I could do 2 strips (100 gal LW) and 50 gal of feints from the previous spirit run. Do these number sound about a good starting point? The filtering prior to barreling is our way of trying to put a spin on the Lincoln County Process given it's a rye. I don't filter our bourbon before barreling. They use sugar maple, we use a mix of coconut charcoal. Again I've filled 2 barrels of rye and am very open to all suggestions. I wondered if the filtering striped some of the flavors. I sampled before and after filtration and it made a better clear spirit, but in the barrel it may come out on the other side better without filtering. These are things I have yet to learn. I'v been reading and researching about the chemistry of the molecules in the barrel aging process. Silk had a great research paper on smaller barrel aging. It was a great read, so thanks for that Silk. It talks about the extraction rates of vanillin and creation of butyric acids and extrication at different times in the barrel aging process. That was one of the reasons I made this post. I'm ALWAYS looking to better myself as a distiller and have a lot to learn so I truly do appreciate all the contributors on this site!
  10. Perfect, SOP CHANGED, on this next run I will be much more diligent on that cut, making sure I use smaller vessels and dial in that cut with more precision. I really appreciate the help here gents. Yes Silk, I was using 5 gals to get that heads cut. Not any more thought. After a spirit run I would have 30+ 5 gals kegs lined up on my floor. Your saying that I shouldn't even get 1 full 5 gal of heads after I take off my methanol cut? My process: Strip run, get a methanol cut, grip it and rip it on the still collecting all into a 55 gal drum. 3 runs fills the still for a spirit run. Low and slow on the spirit run taking another methanol cut to be sure, then fraction in 5 gal kegs, when I get into the head-hearts cut half fills (2.5 gal) then back to full 5's when I'm in hearts. When tails comes along, back to half fills 2.5 gal. Then when I'm in tails, grip it and rip it for the rest of the run. Take the hearts into one vessel, feints into another. Feints get ran through a vodka column to for another hearts cut for specialty products, aquavit, multi grain vodka etc. .
  11. Thanks for the read, Coming from the brewing side, I still have things to learn about the distilling world. This helps no doubt. To me I reflect the spirit safe to the german purity laws. They are different no doubt, but a government regulation to maintain certain protocols or consistency. When I get some down time I'll further educate myself on this. For cuts, I figured the 5 gal was a good method but yes I can go smaller during the transitional time, temps, and proofs on the still. I'll find the middle ground between feasibility and becoming to tedious. When the still is running i'm often juggling 3-4 other tasks. What I'm doing now is rather than taking a full 5 gal during the cuts, I take half fills to help dial it in. I'll try a few different methods and take what works best for me. Thanks.
  12. Dr. D, You brought up valid points and I consciously think of most of these when doing cuts, the others I will start. I run the spirit through a coconut husk charcoal filter, but my cuts are already made prior to filtration, given I fraction out my cuts in 2.5-5gal fractions. I am monitoring the temp of each fraction as well as proof. My main source for making cuts is sensory. Smell, taste, burn on the front or back or even back sides or more burn on the gums or lips. I let the spirit sit open overnight and make my cuts in the morning where all I've had prior is coffee and a chew. That part is fairly consistent ha. Heads I get a burn on the lips and gums and front of the pallet and sides of the tongue, I proof to 40% everytime but I do add water and right after the spirit is "shocked" with water I sample. This part I will change after reading your response. Thank you for that. Hearts have a nice nuance flavor of the sub straight and yeast. The flavor really pops and ill take into the "heads" even if these aren't there depending on burn and other sensory and previous runs (proof, temp, sensory). I'll make the cuts and then if the owner (the only other distiller) is there then he will help chime in, but he has a business to run. "Think about this one. How did the guys of old do cuts when they had no access to the spirit (no smell, no taste) but only had a spirit safe to work with using spirit and water? Do you know how they determined cuts? What did they look for on heads and tails?" This has me scratching my head. If you could elaborate on this I think I could learn a thing or two. Or point me to a place to start research, I'm not looking for all the answers but at least a place to start always helps. Tails are fairly easily detected with the heavy rougher spirit. Smell, heavy oils, astringency... they differ from spirit to spirit and in rum I'll go deeper into the tails. I wonder how these play after the spirit is aged in a barrel for 4 years in Colorado mountain dry climate. We have large temp deltas and humidity is low causing a rise in proof over time in the barrel. Silk, I have read many of your responses on this forum so thanks for replying. Your mealiness bullsnit is my gold ha. I agrees with a lot of what you said. I do believe I need to go wider in the "heads" fraction. You are correct that distillation is a continuum and there is no distinct line and that the molecules that make heads, hearts and tails are blending together throughout the distillation and are found to be in higher concentrations in different time, temp, and proofs of the run. Being a young inspiring distiller I'm trying to make the proper fractioning without the ability to taste any of my spirits that have aged to maturation yet. This makes it difficult for me to determine the proper cuts that makes the labor or love end spirit that I want and picture. As far as yields go I'm working on getting a 3.9 pg per bushel up to a 4.5-5. Ive added more steps in my mash, different yeast and enzyme game. I'll get there in due time. I'm already seeing a good steady increase in yields as I'm dialing in, this is why this post is here. The end cut I believe is where I'm making to narrow of a cut out of fear of an inadequate end spirit. I need to take off the white gloves and widen my cut into the "heads" fraction more. The tails is not where I'm going to expand into in a whiskey, I'll save that for my rum. Thanks for the insight, it is truly appreciated.
  13. Hey all, I've been running a 150 gal pot still, soon upgrading to a 300gal. Whenever I have down time I find myself on here trying to further educate myself. When putting a product into a barrel, I'm reading that a bit of heads and or tails helps with the chemistry or the full flavor of a barreled spirit. I fill mainly 53's thus many years of maturation. It takes me 3x 300gal ferments to fill +/- a 53gal barrel. I do my cuts in 5 gal Korny Kegs. I then make my hearts cut, filter and cut to X proof (right now rye at 113p) and fill the barrel. My hearts cut is clean and if heads or tails are present I usually don't add em. Clear it taste fantastic. In your opinion how much heads/tails would you include in your cut? Is this adding to the mouthfeel, more flavor depth or what? If there are any links or books I could further educate myself with please include them. Thanks everyone, y'all rock!
  14. Alright gents, On the spirit run... I got 243 lbs at 78% 156p = 52.37 PG hearts... I got in touch with an enzyme guy and we changed my rest and mashing procedures. I research that about 5 pg per bushel is a good goal. I'm unsure if that is 5 pg of hearts per bushel or 5 pg of ethanol. Theoretical for a 5 pg per bushel = 56lbs per bushel of rye. Theoretical: (750 lbs / 56lbs =13.4 bushels * 5 pg per bushel = 66.9 PG). Actual: 52.37pg hearts / 13.4 bushels = 3.9 PG hearts per bushel..... It is Friday so I hope my brain is working correctly with my math... There is room for a yield improvement but after this next run I think my yields will increase. Not to mention this rye is delicious. Strawberry floral sweetness up front with a little hidden spice. After a few years in a 53g I think it will be a nice rye. Our feints we run through a vodka column and make a nice refined spirit, I'll probably be turning it into a Aquavit ran through a Gin Basket. I know a lot of people run their feints back into the next batch. That would probably help my yields, but being craft we enjoy putting out new products. Thanks everyone for the input on this it really helped me dial it all in.
  15. Barrel Entry Proof... 100-110 for more water soluble wood sugars VS 115-125 for economics and more tannins... Char also plays a huge factor and if anyone would like to throw in their input on favorite char #s. I'm running a 95 rye at the moment, but will soon move on to bourbon (45 wheat), and then malt whiskey. I know there are a lot of factors at play here and if anyone has any good readings on this or a way for me to better educate myself on this subject I'm all ears. Thanks
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