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Jake Norris

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  1. I have used systems in the past which utilize a glycol chiller cooling a water reservoir that in turn cools production. Spec the BTU you need cooled and then size your water tank to that, add a buffer for thermal ballast. This can be a cheap poly tank or whatever you can find cheap, the bigger the tank you can afford or accommodate the better. The water from that tank circulates through cooling condensers and fermenters and back into the tank. This works with any cooling technology, glycol, ammonia, etc, the extra size creates a built in buffer if your chiller trips off or is temporarily interrupted. Insulate your reservoir and delivery pipes for efficiency. Over time you will def get bio build up in the cooling water, so you will need to look at treating the water with chem that is neutral to your equipment, just ask your boiler water treatment guy. good luck
  2. The developer went out of business and it was going to cost too much money to keep it up... so it fell to the side.
  3. Hi Jake Norris here, I am available for consulting on your distillery project. I specialize in whiskey, but can help with distillery design, equipment selection, process flow, recipe development, marketing and most things distillery related. Please drop me an email and introduce yourself. DistillerJakeNorris@gmail.com Jake
  4. Hiring a brewery has it advantages and disadvantages. You really need to be able to trust your provider because you will be dependent on them. I started paying someone else to do our fermentation but ended up taking over fermentation for consistency and control. A brewery will always make their beer production their first priority, as they should. If you have a trusted partner then go for it, but in the end I like to hold the keys to my own fortune. Contracting wash got us big enough to buy our own equipment, so I cant complain, just make sure it is right for your situation.
  5. Cutting proof can be a real bear... and I know nothing is worse than over cutting and having to go harvest more spirit to bring you proof back up to the desired level. To avoid this issue I go slow! I start cutting early to provide plenty of time to cut with out rushing. I make proof measurements on the cask strength, adjusting for temperature, and do the math to cut to desired proof and then cut to 80% of my target proof. Let it marry for a day or so, and then remeasure and repeat. I make sure that I have strong circulation in the tank and I have even built a bubble screen to cause extreme agitation. Alcohol absorbs water (hygroscopic reaction) during marrying as well as create heat(exothermic reaction), so I make sure to take new readings of volume, proof and temp each time I effect the spirit. I don't add more water until I get the same proof reading 3 times in a row. Some fun cliches I like..... - Measure twice cut once. - Haste makes waste. - When in doubt leave it out.
  6. I have to agree with Porter, you need more information to make accurate projections. What is the turn around on your product? Vodka is ready to sell as soon as it is bottled, however a straight whiskey has a minimum of 2 years in barrels before you get paid. What is your beginning production schedule? Your utilities? Your manpower? Materials? All of these things factor in. I like to think of a distillery as a hamburger stand in which you don't get paid for your "happy meal" for 2 years. Lights, gas, grain, salary, repairs, rent.... all deferred until you sell that bottle. I know it sounds scary, and it should be, but it can pay off, you just need to plan properly. Good luck!
  7. Having read everyone's contribution, I have to agree that infection alone should not account for such considerable loss of alcohol. I would look for errors in process as well. I am a big fan of the old "idiot check". Does the drain valve on your still leak? If you can, borrow a FLUER look at your still and see if you have unexplained thermal venting that would indicate a leak? Is your condensed product cool enough that it is not volatilizing and evaporating in to the air? Are your helpers somehow losing product? Retrain and reconfirm SOPs. I call it an idiot check, but sometimes we cant see the forest for the trees. I was noticing a loss in production and found the culprit to be a leaky butterfly valve at the bottom of my spirit still. Because of a worn out $20 gasket, I was literally letting my hard work and profits leak down the drain. Another time, I watched an assistant let the alcohol between gaskets fall on the floor when disconnecting hoses. I had to explain to him that those 'pennies' will make or break a small distillery and he is to use a drip pan. Try to look at your process with someone-elses eyes and look for the things that you are too familiar to see with your own eyes. Maybe ask a local friend in the industry to come and look? I dealt with a nasty infection a while ago and to finally beat it we had to go nuclear. I pumped live steam through every single vessel and piece of equipment that has contact with any part the process. I replaced each and every gasket, took apart my heat exchange and sterilized all parts replaced any serviceable parts. It was expensive- and a pain, but we finally beat the infection, and in the end that is cheaper than compromising your product. I am also a fan of regular sanitation as part of your process, all of our fermentation and holding equipment undergoes brewery style caustic, acid, and sani CIP on a regular basis. You are on the right track, just apply the scientific process and eliminate one factor at a time. I think in the end you will find that it was a number of small culprits conspiring to create one big problem. Do a few plates to see what you are dealing with, that should speed things up. Good luck!
  8. Founding partner, head distiller of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey

  9. I have been using "Stillhouse" from Distillery Solutions ever day for almost two years here at Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. I can't say enough about it. It takes all the headache out of running a small distillery. It tracks incoming orders all the way through to invoicing the customer, reminds me when to reorder materials based on depletion from inventory. It tracks my entire production from grain to bottle to help me pinpoint waste and loss. I can send memos to all employees in one key stroke, I can assign tasks to individuals. Employees even log their hours worked on Stillhouse. I really can’t say enough about this program. The time is saves in tax preparation more than pays for itself every month. I can’t imagine trying to run a distillery without it. Jake Norris- Head Distiller Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey
  10. I recommend food grade stainless steel pipe. It is more expensive, but PVC will dissolve and poison your spirit. It would be a shame to ruin all of your hard work trying to save a few bucks.
  11. I auger the spent grain out the side of the building right next to my brew house into a hydrolic dumpster the farmer provided. Nightly he comes around in his big dump truck and loads up the spent grain and takes it to his livestock. I charge him nothing to take it- he charges nothing to take it away. Good arrangement.
  12. Some local farmer would love all that free feed. A dairy farmer takes ours.
  13. I cant speak to the legality of your situation, but I can say that I have some experience burning alcohol in engines. Be cautious that your vehicle is set up to burn alcohol. Alcohol burns at a higher temperature than gas and can warp aluminum heads. To convert an old small block you need braided stainless steel fuel lines, a proper gas tank that will not corrode, a cooler thermostat and larger jets in the carb. Modern flexfuel cars come with the proper running gear and the computer adjusts the fuel air mixture to compensate- but they are also running E85. I would be careful before I added heads to my new car. There are great resources online for making your own fuel at home, I do recommend drying the alcohol before blending it with gas. Until then heads do make a doozy of a window cleaner and sanitizer.
  14. How'd you get to be so rad?

  15. Hi maggie. Hope it is a nice day in Ca. Nice and over cast here. Good seeing you this last visit.

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