BigStickDistillery Posted August 30, 2021 Share Posted August 30, 2021 So I'm working through my first run of distilling and wanted to share my setup, what I've done, and where I'm running into problems. All help is welcomed and I'll try to be as detailed as I can. I've done a lot of research on distilling however with the vast number of options on the internet to read, who knows if its correct. So I recently purchased a 5 gallon 2 pot still. More or less its a big 5 gallon stainless steel pot that has a little condenser pot that sits on top. (Pretty much the first image that pops up when you search "2 pot still") My model does not contain a thumper keg though. Additionally I built a temperature controller that can maintain the temperature on the inside of the pot by a thermocouple feeding back to a PID type controller that then controls a relay powering an electric hotplate (Again, might be more information than needed but I've got to cover all my bases). I've been able to reach and maintain temperatures all the way up to 220 degrees F which was just the highest value I set it to, but more than enough for this process (as I've read). I decided that the first batch I would run would be for a Rum, as that's my favorite. The mixture I went with was a sugar only mash which was 2.5 gallons of water, 4.25 lbs of raw cane sugar and 1/2 a packet of Rum Turbo Yeast (which said it could make up to 6.6 gallons). I heated the water up to 125 F and mixed in the raw sugar until it dissolved. Then I cooled the mix over a couple hours while stirring it for a minute or so every 10-15 minutes until it lowered down to 80 F. Once it reached this temp I added the yeast in and aerated it between multiple containers. I then returned it to the 5 gallon pot and sealed it up. I sealed it with the air lock properly. I let the mash sit for 17 days and checked the air lock regularly for bubbles which it did have for a couple days which would indicate that the yeast was doing its job. Unfortunately with it being a stainless steel pot I am unable to see inside of it for other visual indicators of it working. I pulled it after 17 days when bubbles were no longer accumulating in the air lock valve. I removed the lid and it looked about the same as it did when I sealed it up. Brown water pretty much but it did have a smell as if it was fermented. I sent it through some filtering to remove sediment by sending it through a cheese cloth draped in a wire filter/strainer. Not much sediment needed removed it seemed. I then attempted to take a SG reading with it in my hydrometer which is where I drew my first red flag. I filled my cylinder to nearly the top and dropped my hydrometer in slowly and it quickly sank all the way to the bottom. Confused, I removed it an checked to see if it was broken by replacing the mix in the cylinder with tap water. The hydrometer floated precisely at the level it was supposed to for water. I then replaced the water back with my fermented mix and it again sank to the bottom. I found it odd that it sank lower than it did in water which again was the first alarm. I decided to proceed with the process anyhow and just hope that everything up to this point was done correctly. I sealed it back up and attached the condenser. I set the heat to 175 F initially and waited. it made it to temp and I started to run my condenser by pumping water in at 50 F. Waited and waited for about an hour and a half and didn't get any drips. I steadily began to raise the temperature at 15 min intervals by about 5 degrees. Finally, around 190 F I began to get some liquid dripping out of the condenser. This high temp to start made me think back to my bad hydrometer readings and considered that maybe they're related. I let the still run for some time after and slightly upping the temp about a degree at a time every time the dripping stopped until it started to get close to 210 F to which I killed the process as it produced maybe a cup or two or liquid. I then took this liquid and tested it with the hydrometer and it again sank directly to the bottom (less than the reading I got with tap water). I've since threw the little that was produced back into my original mash and added some more yeast and put it back into fermentation just in case. I'm looking to see if there was any step I missed or anything that pops out as something that's throwing my entire batch off. Why it's not giving me a SG reading and why it didn't start producing until such a high temperature. Also what should I be looking for volume wise for the batch size I was running. I understand I'm not gonna get 2.5 gallons from a 2.5 gallon batch and that the foreshots and heads are going to get pitched but what an estimate liquid volume output for this run? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. I know a lot of people run these processes from just feeling it out but I'm a very technical person so I like to micro-manage the process if possible. I will hear advice from either side though. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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