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I've made grappa over the years in my pilot (50 gallon) still. 

I thought I'd give it a go in the production still (1500L) steam-heated still.  It has an 8" cleanout. 

I loaded up about 300 gallons of must as a trial. What an outrageous pain to get the must out afterwards.  

Curious what tools/techniques people employ to make this less painful.  It took about 15 minutes to load the must in and about 4 hours of backbreaking work to get it out, and then huge work to get the still clean afterwards. 

I figure that people that do this more regularly might have some special tools for removal of the must?

8" is plenty large, but the must became like packed mud, and it really stuck to the sides.  The agitator was a constant obstacle in must removal.  

Perhaps a still with a giant grain-out door like a brewery mash tun might be a better path if I want to make this a regular product.  

Thoughts from peope who regularly distill grappa? 



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I've been making grappa for the last 18 years, it's definitely a labor of love.

I wish I had a solution for you, but I think my still is configured differently. I only have a 3" discharge port, however can take the entire top off and we also have a colander like platform onto which I shovel the pomace, so when the run is done, I lift the entire thing out with a forklift.

it's hot, and messy, and I have to use wide ratchet straps to keep the skins from spilling over,but it works for me.

If it's possible for you to construct such an apparatus for your setup, that's what I would recommend. and if you're building one, I recommend putting sides on it to make it a cylinder to trap the skins as you lift out so that it doesn't mushroom top and spill everywhere... 

here's a video of how I do it, but I suppose that's only going to be so useful. (pardon the quality, was shot with my security camera 😆)


best of luck, feel free to DM with any questions if I can be of assistance.

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2 hours ago, jocko said:

Thanks for that!  This is what I'm thinking I'll need if I want to make it regularly.  Shoveling it out took 2 people 4 hours.

I believe it. during grappa season I don't even bother going to the gym (I mean not that I would during any other season but still)

I can run through two half ton macrobins of pomace a day. between using a snow shovel to shovel into the still, and shoveling off of the platform. that's two tons of shoveling a day. 

My gun show looks cracking at the end of the year 😆

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What do you mean when you say must? Must usually means the crushed, unfermented grapes and occasionally the pressed, unfermented grape juice. The solids left after pressing are pomace. To distill pomace in a steam jacketed still, the jacket needs to be on the bottom of the still and not on the sides, there is very little liquid at the side edges of the pomace so it will cook and stick very easily. Was the pomace destemmed? Destemmed pomace is much easier to shovel in and out of the still as it doesn't form irregular masses. 

Much commercial production of pomace spirit is done with steam injection stills with the pomace loaded in baskets, or in small bain marie stills as the weight of too much unsupported/structured pomace will compress the pomace and hinder the evaporation of alcohol from the center of the mass.  

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Perhaps pomace is the correct term.  

It's normal production winery stuff.  Very few stems.  Mostly skins/seeds.

It certainly did stick to sides.  Came of fairly easily, but still a pain. 

My 50 gallon bain marie was quite easy - of course it contained a small fraction of the material.  I think a different still would be in order to do grappa at scale. Something with a basket that could be lifted out like Classick has. 


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