|My recomendation: contact Rick at Brewhaus
Here's a brief description of the basic equipment you will need
for doing basic distillation. If you can't find it locally in a
homebrew or winemaking shop, try contacting the commercial suppliers in New Zealand
like Spirits Unlimited
in the States. See my
page for more listings. International postage
is quite cheap these days, and you should a good rate against the NZ dollar (approx NZ$2 = US$1 at present).
You will need several thermometers. One for the fermenter, and one for the still.
The one on the fermenter doesn't need to be too accurate; it's only a guideline. It
should show between about 10 C and 40 C. I simply use one of those stick-on types
as used on tropical fishtanks (about NZ$5). Using a thermometer with the fermenter means
you can keep your yeast happy - keep it in its ideal range; without one you may get it too
cold (yeast goes dormant and you'll be waiting forever), or too hot (yeast dies).
You want a reasonably good thermometer for the head of the still - say from 40 C to 105 C.
Mine cost NZ$15. The longer the thermometer, with the more space between the markings, the more
accurate it will be. You can always check its accuracy - an ice/water slurry should give 0 C, and
boiling water 100 C (at sea-level). If it is out by more than a couple of degrees, adjust
your reading accordingly, or get a replacement. Using a thermometer to track the vapour temperature
at the head of the still will allow you to know how the purity of the run is going, and when
the tails are starting to come over (when the temperature starts to increase at the end of the run).
I've just bought a cheap digital thermometer from "Dick Smith Electronics" (http://www.dse.co.nz
) (sorta like
RadioShack ?) for NZ$28. Really accurate (to within 0.1 °C), and battery life of 1500 hours. It has a 4 inch
stem on it. Highly recommend it.
I just bought a new digital thermometer and it is great. It is a Taylor
9878 Digital Pocket Thermometer. It cost @$25 US, it is accurate to less
then +/-1.5, reads in either C or F, has a wide -50 to 260 C (-58 to 500 F)
temp. range, can be recalibrated, has a 5" stainless steel probe, easy to
read face, and received an A+ mark from Cuisine Magazine at
http://www.cuisinemagazine.com but don't take my
word for it check it out yourself. I bought mine from http://www.knifemerchant.com
but they don't have a picture. A picture can be found at
http://www.benmeadows.com/ and it can be purchased there as well.
Again, you will need two of these; one for the wort, and one for the spirit. Each is about NZ$15. These work by
measuring the density of the liquid. If the liquid is dense (eg water with sugar in it), they will
float up high in the liquid; if the density is low (eg half the liquid is alcohol), they will
float lower in the liquid. Its that prinicple of Archimedese' which got him running naked through the street, etc.
Why two of them ? The one for the wash is the standard hydrometer used by beer or wine-makers, good
for specific gravities of 1.100 to about 0.970. You use this to work out how far the wash
has fermented, and therefore how much alcohol you have in the wash. The one for the spirit is made for
much lighter specific gravities. It is usually made with the scale reading between 0 and 100% alcohol, so
it saves you having to do any maths. This is the one that is pretty important. It takes all the
guesswork out of the distilling. Measure the % purity as you go, and you'll be fully confident
that you've got a good product. None of this sniffing/shaking/holding a bead business.
Hydrometers are designed for use at a particular temperature. If the liquid is hotter (or colder) it
will give a false reading. There is usually a conversion table supplied with them to help correct readings by.
The instructions which came with my hydrometer advise the following corrections to the final specific gravity reading ...
|10° C ||-0.002
|15° C ||-0.001
|20° C || none
|25° C ||+0.001
|30° C ||+0.003
|35° C ||+0.004
This is just a clean bucket or tub or barrel. Just go to a homebrew-beer shop, and buy a ready
made beer-fermentor kit (about NZ$50). See - two hobbies in one - you also get the opportunity
to learn how to make decent beer for yourself, at about 50c a bottle.
The fermenter has to be able to be easily cleaned and sterilised. It should
have a good lid on it to keep out dust and bugs, and also an airlock. The airlock is usually about NZ$2, and is
a "S" shaped bit of tubing that holds some water in it - outgoing gases can bubble out through the liquid, but
nothing tends to find its way in. A simple alternative is to just run a tube from the top of the
fermentor, ending in a jar half filled with water. Why the airlock ? Once the yeast is off and
running, you want there to be no oxygen in the system, or else the yeast will forget about making
alcohol, and just make more yeast. So don't have it breezy. But you don't want it airtight, or else the carbon dioxide (CO2
made by the yeast will build up in pressure and blow the lid off. You also want a tap near the base
of the fermentor, so that you can easily run off the wash once it has finished fermenting. Mine has
a wee do-hiky on the inside of the tap, which is basically a wee bit of slotted tube. This causes it
to suck from the top side, and not draw in any of the yeast which has settled down below the tap.
You also need to be able to keep the fermentor warm. You can use immersion heaters, or have
heating elements or pads on the outside of it (warp around, or sit it on them). You may also want
to have some form of stirring in there too.
See the pages Purchasing a Still
and Making a Still
The bought ones range from about NZ$100 second hand / NZ$300 new to NZ$700 ??
That's really about all you need. You should be able to set up for around NZ$400-500. Now that
you're making your liquor for about $1 alcohol + $5 flavour, you are saving about $20 a bottle.
This means you'll have it paid off after about your 25th bottle. How long is that going to take you ?
There are a number of further gadgets you can also buy ... wall mounted carbon filtering
systems, water purifiers, measuring spoons, oaks, essences, casks, etc, but you only do these
as you feel inclined .
(note that the comments aren't mine, but those of their customers)
|The Brewers Barn - Pete Sayers
291 Dee St, Invercargill, NZ
email : email@example.com
|Stills & accessories, yeasts, carbon, essences.
Winemaking & brewing supplies too.
|Gary Gluyas Professional Business Systems Ltd
Mill-Ford Lodge Homebrew Shop - Gary Gluyas
125 - 127 Allens Rd, Allenton,Ashburton
Web : http://www.pbsltd.co.nz
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone +64-3-308-7519 Fax +64-3-308-7517
|Winemaking & distilling supplies and equipment. World-wide mail order service.
|Spirits Unlimited - Malcom Willmot
Glamorgan St, Moeraki, RD 2, Palmerston, East Otago, NZ
Web : http://www.spiritsunlimited.co.nz/
email : email@example.com
|Stills & accessories, yeasts, carbon, essences.
World-wide mail order service
|Moonshine Supplies - Ray Toms
PO Box 1094, Taupo, New Zealand
Web : http://moonshine.co.nz/
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
|Stills & accessories, yeasts, carbon, essences.
115 Mt Barker Rd, Verdun SA 5154
Ph +61-8-8188-1133 Fx: +61-8-8188-1190
Web : http://www.grumpys.com.au
email : email@example.com
|Yeast, Essences, Carbon, Equipment.
|Eureka Home Brew and Gifts - Sue
1/3 Ungrer Street, North Mackay, Queensland. ph 49533829
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Calgary, AB Telephone: 1-888-388-9463 Fax: (403) 201-9815
email : email@example.com
Canadian distributor for Brewhaus (America) Inc.
Distribution / wholesale / retail.
|yeasts, distilling supplies, carbons, essences (Gert Strand products)
|Brewhaus (America) Inc..
Fort Worth, TX Telephone: 817-271-8041
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
North American importer and distributor for Gert Strand.
Manufacturer of the Essential Extractor (our stainless reflux still).
Sell to wholesalers, retailers, and at a mail order level.
|stills, yeasts, distilling supplies, carbons, essences
|Mile High Distilling
Mike builds and sells high quality stainless steel distillers, and also sell all the distilling supplies such as yeast, essences, activated carbons, etc.
Web : http://brewsupplies.com
I have used this one for many things. They are quick and courteous.
They ship UPS or USPS if the rate is cheaper. They accept credit
card and other online payment methods. They are informative as to
your order. You get a confirmation by email when it is recieved,
when it is filled by warehouse people, when it is shipped, and also
the UPS shipping confirmation and tracking service. I am happy with
I have bought malted grains, regular grains, (they grind and crack
for free) gypsum, acids, PH papers, enzymes, glass test equipment,
fermenting buckets (from 5 to 50 gallon), corks, rubber stoppers,
airlocks ..... ect ect they also have a large selection of
downloadable brewing and fermenting software. much more there than I
can list here in a few words. They have a "specials" section. You
can search the site for what you need if you cant locate it thru
their drop down menus... I just bought a refractometer from them.
$114. What a cool instrument!
|Brewing supplies & equipment.
Web : Lab glassware
They give volume discounts. If you
buy a box or case of the item, then the price is roughly half. They
ship more than the ordered count to make sure broken in shipment is
replaced. **** Buy quality, no frills science educational supplies on-
line 100% Uncompromised Privacy, Secure On-Line Ordering™ **** This
is printed on top of the page.
|Lab glassware & equipment
Web : http://www.brooklynthermometer.com
|Digital & glass thermometers
|McMaster-Carr Supply Company
Web : http://www.mcmaster.com/
These people sell just
about any fitting and pipe or hardware item that you can think of. If you type "copper fittings" or "copper pipe" in the "Find Products" box, you will find them.
The prices are sky high. I have not bought
anything from them. I use the site to plan out modifications as to
what fittings are available. Then I locate a local supplier and buy
it in copper.
|fittings, pipe & hardware
http://www.omega.com/ North America This place has
some high end computer interface equipment. They also have electrical immersion heaters and temperature sensors
and controllers. They make the senders and indicators for temps at various places in a still head. These are even
internet communication capable. Say you want to control still head temps by computer. They also have hand test
equipment. They accept most major brands of cards.
|controllers and sensors
||ph meters, thermometers etc
|Eagle Stainless Containers
Web : http://www.eaglestainless.com/
Expensive ($US350) but good quality.
|Stainless steel boilers etc
Web : http://yankeecontainers.com/buckets/#ssteel
|Stainless steel buckets
|American Science and Surplus|
|all kinds of cheap labware
|The Original Homebrew Outlet
5528 Auburn Blvd. #1, Sacramento, Ca. 95841 Ph#(916) 348-6322
They ship all orders in 24 hours via UPS. They accept Visa, Mastercard,
American Express, and Discover. Ordering online is a tax free order. They
carry about every grain (milled for free) and hop you can name, along with
premade beer kits, Whitelabs liquid yeast, wine concentrate kits,
refractometers, proof hydrometers, as well as the standard tubing, airlocks,
stoppers, buckets, carboys, demijohns as well as all chemicals needed for
homebrewing/winemaking. They also now carry the Top Shelf and Classic
Flavors brands of flavor essences by Still Spirits. The malt syrup they
carry is the Alexander's brand (no watered down/ half sugar syrup stuff) and
they carry the pale, amber, dark, wheat, and Munich syrups, along with local
wildflower honey, all at $1.65US per pound.
The staff has a combined total of about 27 years of brewing/wine- mead, and
sake- making experience- along with a few college degrees related to food
science and fermentation- so any questions can be answered
|brewing supplies and distilling essences
|Vendome Copper & Brass Works, Inc
Custom fabricator and manufacture stills of all sizes and shapes in all different price ranges
in addition to this 100 gallon still. There are stills from 5 gallon up
to 5000 gallon in our picture gallery.
Factory-Direct Supplier of pH, ORP, Conductivity, CO2, Dissolved Oxygen, Ion Selective and Titration Electrodes, Meters, and Monitors for the laboratory, process, and biotechnology industries.
Web : http://www.swedishconnections.co.uk
email : RespMarketing@aol.co.uk
Supplier of Gert Strand's products.
|Finest quality essences, turbo yeast, carbon,
measuring equipment, cleaning agents etc
email : email@example.com
|Portuguese Copper Alembic Stills - size range from 0,2 to 750 L.