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Thread: Distillation

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    I'm still (lol) researching this, but surely there must be a way to make it less hands on?
    On my urn based alembic pot still, I'm there to catch the methanol and then I dump everything into a drum for the stripping run and even the second run. I don't sit and watch it, the reverse chiller on the lyne arm simply does its job.

    I only bother with heads tails and hearts on the 3rd distillation.

    If I use the T500, I constantly have to sit and tune that bloody water supply for the cooling jacket, you can't walk away.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    I saw some of those theoretical automation mentioned in online. Thinking about not constantly turning temp or flow up / down.

    If all goes according to plan, my alembic will arrive soon. Pressure is on to get knowledgeable... Planning to kick a few double brew days to keep the kegs filled, then attempt a single grain whiskey, perhaps Vienna or Marris Otter.

    Do you need recipes or just seat of the pants? Thinking to do a reiterated mash to hit high as possible OG. Voss kveik and perhaps enzymes to turn the mash into wash in double time

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    Plain old Anchor yeast from the grocery store. Anything else is wasting money.

  3. #13
    That does sound easier, I would be able to tune the GF temp which would affect the distillation process and adjust for volume loss and drop the temp accordingly. Do you need temp control though? Also, I understand that multiple runs increase ABV and clears the spirit - do you lose a lot of the malt flavor each run? I'm not too worried about hitting a high ABV on the first run - 70% is perfectly okay with me, not too worried about end volume. Have you ever done a single run, dumping the ethanol and heads, hearts, tail blending from there?

    Quote Originally Posted by jakeslouw View Post
    On my urn based alembic pot still, I'm there to catch the methanol and then I dump everything into a drum for the stripping run and even the second run. I don't sit and watch it, the reverse chiller on the lyne arm simply does its job.

    I only bother with heads tails and hearts on the 3rd distillation.

    If I use the T500, I constantly have to sit and tune that bloody water supply for the cooling jacket, you can't walk away.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    That does sound easier, I would be able to tune the GF temp which would affect the distillation process and adjust for volume loss and drop the temp accordingly. Do you need temp control though? Also, I understand that multiple runs increase ABV and clears the spirit - do you lose a lot of the malt flavor each run? I'm not too worried about hitting a high ABV on the first run - 70% is perfectly okay with me, not too worried about end volume. Have you ever done a single run, dumping the ethanol and heads, hearts, tail blending from there?
    1) temp control is needed for purity
    2) yes, multiple runs increase ABV, and the first stripping run always removes most flavours and aromas
    3) first run @ 70 is optimistic, I'd say around 55-60% unless you have a high ABV beer/mash
    4) yes, when I do something like mampoer, I stay with one run and split off every 200ml into individual bottles and then taste and smell everything once it is all cooled down

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by jakeslouw View Post
    1) temp control is needed for purity
    2) yes, multiple runs increase ABV, and the first stripping run always removes most flavours and aromas
    3) first run @ 70 is optimistic, I'd say around 55-60% unless you have a high ABV beer/mash
    4) yes, when I do something like mampoer, I stay with one run and split off every 200ml into individual bottles and then taste and smell everything once it is all cooled down
    Thanks for your knowledge sharing @jakeslouw !

    How high (OG) do you usually start your typical mash/wash? Would you supplement with DME / sucrose if the OG is too low and would that have an effect later on (thinning out the taste using more sucrose than maltose?)

    I'm thinking I can get a 1.1 or thereabout from a double/reiterated 10kg mash and possibly drop this down to an FG of 1.008 or lower if enzymes are involved. 12% to 13% ABV

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    @TheFlyingBrew Would using the alembic copper still not impart more grain flavor? I'd be keen to attempt a rye, a smoked malt and a "vienna single malt" whisky and barrel age for at least a year. I do get the impression it's quite an art, I need to do more research.
    Hi Groenspookasem, probably best to follow Jakes' advice as he has much more hands on experience in this. My understanding is that the extra flavour you get from the potstill is not always a plus and might make it more difficult when making whiskey, especially for someone starting with distillation. I wouldn't know about the cooling issues with the T500 and it's a pity to hear this because I was thinking to some day go that route. Things like yeast selection doesn't really seem to get through in the final product so I'd agree with jakes and not go for any fancy beer yeast. At most i'd go for something like turbo yeast to reach a higher abv than what I can get from beer yeast, which could help if you have a relatively small still. Even grain selection doesn't really come through as much as you might think so I wouldn't splash for expensive marris otter. SAB malt should be fine to start with. Could even add some simple sugar to boost abv. We did some with wheat but didn't try rye.

    A large part of the whole whiskey thing is not so much the yeast and grain selection but rather the use of back-set from previous distillation in next, knowing how to do your cuts (which is an experience thing), knowing how to oak or age it appropriately and having the required patience. And yes, you certainly can over-oak a spirit. Most of this comes with experience and doing it often enough. It is a bit of an art that you can't really learn in a text book because every setup is a bit different and I'm not sure what volume of a kettle is really required to make all of this a feasible/enjoyable hobby. Still hope to do more of it some day though. When I do, I'll probably go for a reflux still and first hone my skills on doing a really clean spirit that doesn't need as much aging time. Something like schnaps or mampoer. Once I'm comfortable with all of that, I'd be more willing to invest the time into making a Whiskey.

  7. #17
    I agree, I'm hanging on Jake's knowledge here. I'm a complete noob and a bit out of my depth with distilling. Bulk Marris isn't that expensive, not sure if what you guys upcountry pay though, under R20 a kg here. SAB is cheaper though and if it doesn't matter, then why waste money right! I'm planning to do a few double brew days to have beer waiting on kegs, so I can devote some time on the distillation experience

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  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    Thanks for your knowledge sharing @jakeslouw !

    How high (OG) do you usually start your typical mash/wash? Would you supplement with DME / sucrose if the OG is too low and would that have an effect later on (thinning out the taste using more sucrose than maltose?)

    I'm thinking I can get a 1.1 or thereabout from a double/reiterated 10kg mash and possibly drop this down to an FG of 1.008 or lower if enzymes are involved. 12% to 13% ABV
    I was actually more interested in mead and distilling before I started brewing beer. As such, I read up A LOT about stills, how they work and what you need to keep in mind. Now, the things I read up on (no experience) matches exactly with what Jakeslouw said above. To clarify on what he said:

    1. Temp control is CRUCIAL. It's not only nice and whatnot, but the different alcohols evaporate (boil) at different temperatures. The alcohols you don't want (the heads) are boiled off first, at a certain temperature. I can't remember the exact temperature, but you will see a decrease in the still's output if you keep the top of the column (where you take the temperature) at that specific temperature. It is one way of knowing roughly where to cut from your heads into your hearts. To boot, a good temperature control gives you a lot cleaner and more pure run. I went hunting on a farm the other day where the farmer is popular in the area for making mampoer. Now I'm talking on SCALE. He could take on some commercial places, I'm certain. Anyway, he gets 70% ABV from his first run, because he closely controls the temperature. IT also means a lot of the flavour he's brewed is sticking in his mampoer, and after he waters it down slightly to 65% ABV you can really take a sip and go "wow, this is mango" or "can definitely taste the lemon in here".
    2. I agree. The more times you run it, the more flavour you'll lose. Alcohol doesn't have a flavour.
    3. I agree. If you're distilling a botched batch of beer, you should be happy with a very low ABV in the first run, specially if you're still learning your still and getting your temperatures right.
    4. It's a good way if you can't control the column temp accurately enough.

    Now, if you just want to make alcohol, or actually something drinkable, I would HIGHLY recommend starting off with Rum. In all my research it seems to be the easiest and cheapest choice for a beginner. Spiced rums are popular, make great gifts and are cheap to make. Essentially you have a wash of sugar and molasses. You don't even need to buy that expensive molasses from the supermarket - you buy those 5l bottles for horsefeed at you local co-op.

    You mix it to a high gravity (around 1.14), get a distilling yeast (or any yeast with a very high ABV tolerance, around the 18% ABV mark), distill it (no need to be too clean about it, and don't put it in a fermenter with an airlock if you use turbo yeasts). Rums don't need too much aging in oak, so you can ferment, get a decent distilling yield because of the high ABV and age it for a few months with oak chips or blocks, even in the bottle. Spice if you want to (after distilling, before aging) using a hop bag to keep it clear and enjoy. It's a coarse and rough method, but man I want to try it one day. I've even got a pressure cooker already that I want to convert into a still sometime soon. Sounds like a December project for me.

  9. #19
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    I should be getting my 100L pot still back soon.

    Maybe we should do an exBeeriment?

    As for whiskey and other grain-based products: I wouldn't use expensive malts to boost my ABV.

    Use the cheapest you can find. Boost with plain sugar.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    I agree, I'm hanging on Jake's knowledge here. I'm a complete noob and a bit out of my depth with distilling. Bulk Marris isn't that expensive, not sure if what you guys upcountry pay though, under R20 a kg here. SAB is cheaper though and if it doesn't matter, then why waste money right! I'm planning to do a few double brew days to have beer waiting on kegs, so I can devote some time on the distillation experience

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    Where exactly is this at that nice price?
    The Problem With The World Is That Everyone Is A Few Drinks Behind.!


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