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Micro 26G (100L) Setup


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This is the beginning, and I know I will outgrow this setup very quickly because using 26G means if I use a reflux tower I wont be able to expect more than 3.25G (12.3L) at 160 proof a run (if I am lucky). When I am bottling at .75L thats roughly 16 Bottles. 16 Bottles a week. That’s not going to be enough to be sustainable, and too much work. I may buy a second fermenter and then I can get up to around 30 bottles a week (I have a day job so weekends only).
But in terms of investment its pretty low risk and if I can grow this will become my experimental rig. This to me is the absolute minimum you can have to start, while also doing it right. Stainless makes it easy to clean and keeps the whole thing simple to maintain and connect using tri-clamps.
I would love to get your feedback on any of this equipment, or if I can do better for less money. I also comment at length on my blog.


Mash Tun
STOUT MT30TW-RF (475) 30 Gallon Mash Tun with Thermowell, Thermometer and Recirculating Fitting Price: $589.00
STOUT CF27TW-WH (245) 27 Gallon Conical Fermenter with Thermowell and Wheels Price: $859.00
Moonshine Distiller 26 gallon stainless steel milk can distilling boiler with a 4″ tri-clamp connection. Price: $479.99
Moonshine Distiller 4″ 4 Plate Modular Copper Bubble Plate Still Tower. Price: $1299.99
Distillation Heat Source
220v 30 amp SSR Controller w/ 5500 watt heating element. Price $350.00
Mashing Heat Source
Bayou Classic Single Burner Patio Stove. Price: $47.99
Reverse Osmosis
GE Reverse Osmosis Filtration System Model # GXRM10RBL Price: $149.99
Liquid Storage
(8) 55 Gallon Blue Plastic Barrels FOOD GRADE, NEW & FREE SHIPPING. Price $632.00
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Consider adding a second 5500W heating element wired directly to a 240 volt power cord. For a $30 element and the cost of welding a second heater flange to the tank you will cut heat up time in half. (Start a run with both elements at 5500W and shut off this full power element as the wort approaches distilling temperature and adjust the distilling temperature with the variable control.)

The heat controller pictured on you web site uses a short heating element (High energy density). This element will be more likely to scorch your wort (and the suspended solids) than a system using a longer element (low energy density). (e.g. the Camco 02962/02963 5500W Heater Element available on Amazon.com)

How often do you plan to run the still? I would expect to run at least 5 to 10 still runs a week.

You have only one fermenter to feed the still so you will be limited to one or possibly 2 runs a week. For a minimal equipment package skip the stainless conical fermenter and ferment in plastic barrels. You could use 30 or 55 gallon open head drums or food grade trash cans (e.g. Rubbermaid Brute). With 10 drums you can feed the still.

If you want the stainless bling consider a larger fermenter which will hold 3 or more still charges.

Look for the 55 gallon drums locally. Almost every city will have a drum recycler who can sell you once used food grade barrels for a small fraction of the price you quoted. (I recently purchased some 20 gallon barrels, used to ship salt, for $15 each. I would expect to find 55 gallon drums for between $10 and $55 each)

Direct heat for mashing will be labor intensive. You will need to stir continuously to avoid burning the mash at the bottom.

Consider steam injection mashing. You can use your still pot and connect pipes to the bottom of the mash vessel to inject LOW PRESSURE steam into the mash. (Of course this needs a 5 or 10 psi pressure relief valve to prevent excess pressure!)

If you will ferment on the grain you can mash in the fermentation vessel.

A Google search for steam injection mashing will give many references.

Edited because I can't spell.

Edited by EdInNH
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Sounds like we're using a very similar setup. However, in my opinion, you are going to definitely want a larger fermenter. I have the same size boiler but ferment my wash in 275 gallon totes (~235-250 gallons of wash). Only takes 10 days to strip the entire tank and another day or two to spirit distill. So, with that in mind, get a larger fermenter. I have more than one so while I'm stripping down the first I can start fermenting another to be ready when the first is done. Course we've got lots of tanks for our winery operation too.

Also, I filter out most of any solids so I don't have any scorching going on. Little extra expense but for a direct heat setup it is worth it.

Best of luck!

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Go to "usedstainlesssteelbarrel.com" and get a 55 gallon barrel for your boiler.

The size your saying is so small to even be worth it.

For the money that your pay for your small boiler you could get a 55 gallon stainless drum and modify it.

Think that a normal charge is 80% of full capacity.

That's my two cents.

I started my distillery with only $28,000 and $12,000 of that went to pay my rent.

I am a master at shaving cost. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...


>system using a longer element

great point. correcting, I will also update the post with the new element as soon as I get it.

>skip the stainless conical fermenter

noted, agreed. I am talking to more and more distillers using plastic. Temperature control is an issue I want to make sure is handled though.

>Consider steam injection mashing.

never considered this. I think this deserves an entire blog post on its own if I get this working.

>Look for the 55 gallon drums locally.

looking, everyone else says this too. I will probably note something like this on the post.



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  • 2 weeks later...

We'll, we're a little biased in this regard. If we pointed you towards the vendor and systems we prefer, it would undoubtedly be considered a commercial post and I suspect the forum gods wouldn't like us advertising our business or products here!


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If we stick to the technical issues for a minute, here are some things that caught my eye:

At 77F and 60 PSI that system will produce only 11 gallons in 24 hrs. There are RO membranes that produce water just as pure much faster, and at 50 psi rather than 60 psi.

Looked thru the instructions - the system only has one prefilter - a combination sediment filter and carbon filter. Looks like the same cartridge is used as the post filter. You can do much better than this configuration. No spec's provided on this cartridge.

No pressure gauge

No TDS meter

It uses old fashioned Jaco style fittings.

No consideration for feeding an atmospheric tank rather than a pressure tank.

Etc, etc.


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  • 1 month later...

I agree with a lot of what has been said so far. If you can only run 2 days a week, having a larger boiler is a must. A used Stainless 55 gallon barrel is a great start.

Buying used 55 gallon shipping is a great money saver too. You can get from for much less and you can modify them to have a spout near the bottom. Not as sexy as a stainless steel conical, but still viable.


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I personally think this can be done, but have a couple suggestions-

Fermenter is too small. Also, if money is an issue, a conical fermenter is just an added expense you don't need. Invest in a simple 100L SS fermenter. They run about $400.

Mash Tun too small- With grains and everything, you won't get enough to really fill your 25 gallon still.. Also, there are a lot of creative ways you can make or use a "mash tun" and much much cheaper.

Also, although cheap, the RO water system is unnecessary and I personally think you will find that one is too small. Tap water in fine for the bake, and with this small setup I would recommend buying water for the first dilution, see what your needs are then reevaluate.

Also, I saw something about steam injection mashing- Yeah that's ideal and great, but maybe down the road. You will need a boiler and all equipment is more expensive, plus local codes and licensing is a bit tougher.

The biggest thing when starting is always asking yourself - "Is this a need or a want?" We all want to splurge, have the nice equipment. It's always "just a little more" for the next size, one more option, I'll need it down the road, etc. but capital is king when starting.

That's what I do, hope it helps.


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