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I'm looking for a little help getting started. I own a microbrewery that is currently upsizing from our 3bbl start-up size to a 15bbl system. That leaves me with 4x 3.5 bbl fermenters, a 150 gallon mash tun and a 150 gallon kettle that needs something to do - so I thought I'd try my hand here.

Never distilled before, and just want to get my feet wet, so not looking to be profitable out of the gate - just educate myself initially. I would like to learn to make, rum, bourbon, gin and vodka. I already have access to malts, cooperage and brewing supplies.

The kettle is heated by open flame propane burner, but we have the ability to control the flame with a PID controller to a solenoid gas valve for precise temperature control from a feedback loop from anywhere in the system we can insert a temperature probe.

1. The kettle has a flat sealable lid, that should take pressure that has a triclamp. However, I could cut the lip off and have a dome welded to it with a tri-clamp for a column and put a man way in it. Is a flat top OK or should I change this?

2. Can I use the type of clamp-on column available from places like milehidistilling.com for this size of kettle?

3. I can't find any reference as to how long it should take to distill 100 gallons of wash -

4. What else does anyone feel they should share with me?



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1. Flat top could be OK as long as you have enough space inside for foaming. Antifoam is your friend.

2. for a 100 gallon charge, these types of columns will be woefully undersized. You can do it, but it will b the choke point of your system, requiring a much longer (4x or more) distillation time.

3. this very much depends on your system, with a properly designed still you should expect approximately 1 hour for warm up and 4 hours distillation time for whiskey or flavored spirits, as much as double that for vodka.

doing separate strip and spirit runs will yield better efficiency and much better extraction of alcohol.

4. as a beer maker you have a whole lot of the process down already, attend a distilling school, or visit some working distilleries near you to help you wrap your mind around the distilling side.

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