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MichaelAtTCW last won the day on March 25

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  1. Sounds like you're looking for a must pump rather than a mash pump. Must pumps are large enough to handle whole fruit. We sell a heck of a lot of must pumps to move grapes in wineries: crushed, destemmed, and even whole grape clusters. Although juniper berries are a bit smaller than grapes, the same principles should apply, so I'll give the same advice I give to folks looking to move grapes. If the berries and botanicals are whole—that is, not mashed and minced to a smoothie-like consistency—you will need to consider how you'll feed material to the pump. Often I speak with people looking for more of a "must vacuum" rather than a pump. Unfortunately there is no such animal. Most must pumps have an auger hopper that moves material directly to the inlet of the pump. So, you will need to ask yourself how you get the berries into the hopper where they can be consistently fed into the pump's inlet. If you can take advantage of gravity—like if the berries are in a tank above ground level, and you can rely on the berries draining out a bottom port—and you use a very short length of hose to the pump inlet, you may be able to forego the hopper. You may still occasionally clog somewhere in the run-up to the pump inlet. A screw pump may work. You don't want to run screw pumps dry, though, so you'd definitely want to monitor the inlet to make sure it isn't clogging if you're not using a hopper to feed the berries. I wrote a whole article about this. It's targeted to wineries, but the same concepts will apply to any solid/semi-solid pump applications. In short, the best solutions are typically large peristaltics or RPD pumps. Less expensive pumps are definitely available, but will have some trade-off: they can't run dry without catastropic failure, they can't reach very high pressures or pump long distances, they are not particularly gentle (if that's a concern), etc.
  2. We normally recommend Butyl or UPE (a.k.a. Distillery Hose) for anything above about 20% alcohol. It's not a hard and fast rule, though. The manufacturer doesn't provide any specific guidance about the alcohol-% cutoff point, but based on ethanol's fair-to-marginal compatibility with PVC, it's a safe number. Still, I completely understand that the price of the Kanaflex/Line hoses is very attractive relative to premium hoses like GlideTech Butyl or Distillery.
  3. I wrote an article on cleaning hoses that may be of some use, and here's a link that outlines different cleaning formulas and typical max temps/concentrations for different hose liner materials. Any time you have an oily product and a non-oily product it's best to keep the hoses separate. Clean the hose, scrub it, and keep it in good shape, but the oil will stick and—depending on what type of oil it is—will typically shorten the hose's lifespan. Some fats and oils are quite aggressive on hose elastomers. Folks that work with both oils and spirits—say, a facility that produces both wine and olive oil—know that cleaning something well enough to prevent cross-contamination is a fool's errand, and just keeping the products completely separate will pay for itself quickly in time spent trying to completely remove all traces of oil. As far as the hose sponges (or "pigs", as some folks call them), they're brilliant. A small air diaphragm pump should push through, though how quickly it will push is a matter of its GPM rating and its max PSI. One customer I spoke with just uses compressed air to push the sponge through a wet hose, so that could work as well. Sponges are best at cleaning stuck-on solids, though I imagine they will have a noticeable effect on oil. Using the sponge after chemical cleaning and just before final rinsing will likely yield best results.
  4. 3 plates is not much surface area for solids, so it does stand to reason that it would load up quickly. Depending on the size of the pads, even a 10" pleated P7 cartridge may have more surface area. We have a few herbal liqueur producers who ended up with our triple column filter housings and say it's been life-changing, as it allows them to run from coarse to fine in a single pass. But they are definitely out of the price range you're looking for. Generally, we advise people with high-solids products to start with bag, lenticular, or plate & frame filtration. They tend to be the friendliest solutions for high-solids filtration. The cheapest option is going to be around $1400 for the Hobby Plate & Frame Filter, though. That said, I think that unit in particular would work pretty well for you if you used it with a crossover plate so that you can use two different filter coarsenesses in a single pass. I think the advice from @Silk City Distillers is on point as far as cheap solutions go. It will be slow-going, but I think it's ultimately be a question of spending more on a setup that does what you want quickly, but is overkill for your batch size, or spending commensurate to your batch size on a more manual process.
  5. A paddle flow meter with a totalizer will work. They work best with pumps that have a smooth flow without much turbulence (flexible impeller, RPD, or centrifugal). You must ensure that there is relatively straight path in the run-up to the meter itself. No elbows or twists. We sell flow meters from Burkert, and include a length of stainless Tri Clamp spool for the entrance and outlet that match the manufacturer's recommendations for straight, hard-piped tubing to the entrance of the meter.
  6. Magnetic flowmeters require the passing liquid to be conductive. Distilled spirits that have been proofed down with RO or otherwise deionized water are typically non-conductive. So while a mag flowmeter may work in some cases, it might be touch-and-go or inaccurate depending on how conductive the liquid is. Just a heads-up.
  7. We sell a ton of filtration products for distilleries: Lenticular Bag Cartridge Filtration Plate & Frame And the pumps too. Give us a call if you have any questions: 707-963-9681
  8. There is no question that it is an international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
  9. Assuming you're in the US, Tri Clamp will be way cheaper, and way the heck more common. Hoses, valves, pumps, etc., will all be tri clamp by default, and you'll have to search or adapt to DIN, and pay more in the process. DIN is nice in that you can put it on one handed (till you have to tighten it down), but in all other senses doesn't make much sense. Again, assuming you are based in the US. If you're in Europe, perhaps it's more common.
  10. The elements that contribute to the flavor and color of your product are typically in solution, and won't be removed with barrier filtration unless that filtration is very, very, very fine. Whiskey and spirits are very low-solids products. Most of my filter customers can go a long time on a single set of filters. Months or more depending on how they take care of them. All that being said, the difference between 1 micron and 1.2 microns is extremely minute for most spirits. I would be very surprised if changing from a filter size of 1.0 vs 1.2 microns had any perceptible effect whatsoever, either on the colo(u)r or flavo(u)r. I'm sure the claim is being made in good faith, but it sounds a bit exaggerated. Filters are a "sticky" product. Once a customer has found the filter that works for them, the cost of switching to another brand is pretty high relative to the benefit of sticking with tried and true—even if they do save a few bucks on a per-filter basis. That being the case, I've heard more than a few exaggerated claims from filter salespeople in order to bring them into their ecosystem (Bear in mind the source of this claim, of course. TCW also sells filters). So, the 1.0 vs 1.2 micron distinction sounds like FUD to me. Your apprehensions are very common. New distillers are worried about taking out too much (e.g. "removing flavor") or not enough (e.g. ending up with haze). Removing "too much" with standard, nominally-rated barrier filters—which is 90% of what we sell to distillers—is not easy to do. Staying from 1-5 microns should have no practical effect on your final product, unless fine carbon dust and bits of char are part of your brand. The "not enough" side is tougher. Haze removal has been discussed quite a few times on this board. The short answer is there's no magic bullet. If your product ends up with haze, you may wind up needing to make changes to the final product to remove the haze (or educating customers regarding why haze is a "good thing"). The changes don't necessarily mean that the product will be harmed or diminished, but it may be altered. If you're wary of chill filtering you can try filtering at normal temps with a more highly charged filter media that contains diatomaceous earth, or borosilicate glass. That may be enough.
  11. Sounds like the question is whether leaving the cardboard and dust in the spirits would have any deleterious effects on quality. I'll leave that question to the taste testers. But if the goal is to lower the cost of the rinser, I don't think removing the keg and filter would have the desired effect. The keg and the filter aren't big factors in the overall cost of the unit, and since you'd have to add a second pump downstream to pump it'd pretty much be a wash (no pun intended). That said, I've been thinking about it and may have some ideas on things we could do for an economy version…
  12. That's it. Keep in mind that the crud coming out of your rinsed bottles would be headed back to your product tank. If it's closed loop and recirculating, you'll need a filter somewhere in the mix. Otherwise you're rinsing with dirty liquid (or sending dirty product back to the tank). If I were to make a lower-cost version of the MiniMax, I would probably leave off the pump and let users connect their own AODD. The pump is the biggest single line-item on the bill of materials, and I'm guessing many distilleries have an AODD they could use. We could also remove the pneumatic timer, and only rinse while the bottles are being held down, but I think long-term that's not as nice for ergonomics and consistency. It would make it quite a bit cheaper, though.
  13. McFinn makes a few models of pump. Is it a US-FIP? No suction of liquid could indicate an air leak somewhere, which would typically be fixed by changing o-rings & seals until the culprit is found. If it is a flexible impeller pump I would try introducing some head pressure by partially closing a valve somewhere downstream. Try this in both directions if possible. This assumes you can get liquid to the pump inlet somehow. If it can pump at all and you introduce pressure downstream, any leaks may become visible. If possible, use different hoses, gaskets, valves, etc. so that the source of the issue can be narrowed down to just the pump head. We're not in NY, but let me know if we can help getting you a new pump. We sell a lot of pumps to distilleries. Good luck.
  14. $2,795 for the Four Head.
  15. For those who'd rather outsource tool building so they can focus on their product, we make a ready-to-use automatic recirculating rinser that's in tons of distilleries: The MiniMax. We just finished work on a four head version, by popular demand. The top and bottom sets of heads operate completely independently—they each rinse on their own timed cycles. This allows the user to get a good rinsing rhythm going for bottling. Two bottles rinse while the others are being taken off and a new set of bottles is put on. Two bottles on, two bottles off, two bottles on…
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