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Water well throughput


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Hi there,


We are eyeing a place that has water well as source water. We've had the water analysed by a lab and it is turned out to be really good purity. Yesterday we've had the well throughput tested. results were a little disappointing, 180 gallon per hour. 

Not set in stone, but our setup would consist of a 340 Gallons still and 2 equally sized fermenters. We would also have a 800 Gallons water tank chilled by a 10HP chiller in closed loop to chill the still and the fermenters. We won't be mashing at first. Mainly we'll do gin with GNS and rum to start. Is 180GPH is enough considering we will have a closed loop for our cooling need? Is there a way to calculate all the water needed in distillery operation?


Thank you in advance,

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Hi Birster,


  Generally you do not need a chiller if you have a well that puts out water at 60F or colder.  In a 4 hr run you would use 2.5 gpm max  in one of my stills of that size so your well should have enough output for your still's condenser.

You will need water for mashing in and cleaning.  Your stills condenser is a hot water heater that puts out free hot water.  Run 1/2 of it into  a plastic storage tank for your next mashing in and run the other 1/2 into another plastic storage tank for cleaning and other hot water needs.  wrap the storage tanks with blanket insulation and they will keep that water hot for a couple of days or more.


Since your well has such a low output you should use the 800 gallon water tank.  If water in the tank will stay below 60F then you do not need the chiller unless you will be crash cooling mash.  If you will be crash cooling 300 gallons of corn mash then you will certainly need a chiller but only because of your wells low output.

I had a customer not to long ago who had some environmental engineers help design his distillery.  What a bunch of idiots.  This guy had a great well with 54F water and lots of it and these people had him put in a huge chiller.  If he had went without the chiller and just used his well water, a great deal less energy would be used and the distillery would have been a great deal more environmental, however I'm sure the engineering firm and their suppliers would have made less money.

How deep is your well?  Do you have a creek on your property close to the distillery?  One of my customers uses a heat exchanger in a creek to cool his condenser water before it loops back into hise chilled water tank.  He has one of my 800 gallon Ultra Pro Vodka stills.  I have another customer in Kentucky who uses a pond in the same way.  Good old Hillbilly ingenuity can really make a difference, however most people do not have ponds or creeks that they can do this with.

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If it were me I would start filling the cool water tank 5 hrs before the run.  I would also insulate the tank and if the humidity is low in the building I would run a fan to pass air over the top of the water in the tank if the tank is open top.  If it is cold outside then you can set ip a fan and heat exchanger and pump coolant through the heat exchanger with the fan on and create your own chiller that works off ambient air temp that will work very well in the winter. 

If you don't want to deal with any of this and you don't mind the costs of a chiller then by all means get yourself a chiller.  If you get a chiller make sure that you get one with the outdoor set up that passes cold air through a heat exchanger and that way in the winter the chiller will use very little energy.  I can't remember what this chiller accessory is called.

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