Apple Brandy

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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby S-Cackalacky » Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:14 am

Jimbo wrote:
S-Cackalacky wrote: I checked the ABV after combining the 3 quart jars and it was 45% (single run with thumper). Not as high as I would like for aging, but it already has a nice smell with distinctive apple notes coming through.


SC, my 2013 batch came out there too, 45%, and is one of my best, no problems with aging at that strength, lots of caramel and vanilla coming through.

Thanks Jimbo. I was owing it to the low ABV of the wash, but was still a little surprised at how low it was considering I used my thumper. I noticed that one of the three jars smelled a little headsy, but I'm hoping that the blending with the other two jars and the aging will eliminate most of that. I can see now why some are saying that cuts for AB can be a little tricky.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby Bushman » Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:51 pm

I am at a friends property 40 acres will have pictures tomorrow night when I get home.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby MyUncleMo » Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:59 pm

bearriver wrote:
I really wanted to check out the local "you pick farms" this year and rent a press. However life has gotten in the way of that, so it will have to wait till next year.


We had our fill of UPick this season. Today we UPicked Potatoes and Corn. Just wandering through the fields looking at all the messed up veggies laying on the ground and tons of corn still to be picked... thinking likker!!!

The Cellar-Homebrew in Shoreline rents apple grinders and juice presses!
As the season gets closer to the end many upicks sell off the 2nds in bulk - worth checking out in advance and meeting the farmers!

This year we may do an apple brandy (no sugar) after our rum refill project is over.
My Uncke Mo taught me how to make apple Jack when I was in 6th Grade.

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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby cranky » Sat Oct 11, 2014 5:37 pm

Last week I saw an orchard on craigslist (Seattle/Tacoma) advertising that they will let people use their grinder and press for free even on your own apples. I didn't call them because I never have enough apples at once but they may still be advertising. I also told my wife last week that I wouldn't pick any more except the super sweets down the road but next to that one is a HUGE tree with tons of what I think are probably winesaps and I couldn't help myself, when I was done picking her apples I stopped at the other one and picked about 100 pounds that I now need to grind and press :roll: and that hardly put a dent in them. I'm now thinking I may go back and pick even more. I just cant help myself, I like free booze :crazy:
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby Bushman » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:39 am

We built an Apple press and converted a grinder for just over $300 to leave out at Stuart island will have pictures and examples of how to make when I return.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby Jimbo » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:43 am

cranky wrote:Last week I saw an orchard on craigslist (Seattle/Tacoma) advertising that they will let people use their grinder and press for free even on your own apples. I didn't call them because I never have enough apples at once but they may still be advertising. I also told my wife last week that I wouldn't pick any more except the super sweets down the road but next to that one is a HUGE tree with tons of what I think are probably winesaps and I couldn't help myself, when I was done picking her apples I stopped at the other one and picked about 100 pounds that I now need to grind and press :roll: and that hardly put a dent in them. I'm now thinking I may go back and pick even more. I just cant help myself, I like free booze :crazy:


You got that right, when you find free ferment stock its hard to stop. I usually pick 1300-1500 lbs/yr. This year is terrible around here tho, constant -20 last winter zapped all the trees. Of nearly 30 trees I have access to, only 2 have apples. Might be an off year for the AB ugh
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby MyUncleMo » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:48 am

Jimbo - Washington is having a bumper crop this year. Maybe you can get some leftovers ;)
We made pies for the past few weeks with the first 20lbs of Honeycrisp ans Tsugas we picked.
I'm going back to my local orchard to see how I can get my hands on the tree droppings! I also know a guy on Ebey Slough with Asian Pears that really doesn't keep a spiffy orchard- but has lots of fruit that he sells for Cider Making.
No sugar added - Copy THAT!
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby Jimbo » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:01 am

:thumbup: :thumbup: Sounds excellent, scoop em up, season ends before you know it.

Sugar belongs in cookies and cherry pies, not hooch. :problem:
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby S-Cackalacky » Sun Oct 12, 2014 1:37 pm

Congrats Rock. I didn't really sample mine yet, except for doin' cuts. If all goes well, this stuff is promising to be something special.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby TonsOfFun » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:25 am

Good read folks. I have 10 gal of fresh cider that has been fermenting for about 3 weeks now that I will run throught the pot. I have about 6 co workers that have apple trees and they don't use them...ha so I got as many as I could get my hands on. All my fermenters are full at the moment so I peeled and froze about another 100 lbs of apples. For those of you who use fresh apples and don't use a press, how do you extract the juice? With the ten gallons I have now I cut the apples up, liquified them in a blender and then poured the purée in a colander linded with a piece of an old t-shirt and hand squeezed the juice. It took me about six hours to get 10 gallons...very time consuming but when making homemade AB I figured it was worth it, after all it is a labor of love. This is my first time making hard cider/AB. I know when I thaw the frozen apples most of the juice will be released from the apples but I am looking for a more efficient way to extrat the remaining juice without having to drop money on a press.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby S-Cackalacky » Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:14 pm

There might be an easier way, but Jimbo has talked about using a mop bucket to wring out his AG grains. It might also work for squeezing apples. I've never priced a mop bucket, so don't know if it would be an affordable alternative.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby Jimbo » Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:26 pm

Mop buckets are about 50 bucks. You could make a hillbilly press for free with 2 2x4's and an old door hinge at one end. Just get creative. Someone on here posted about making an apple grinder with a drill chucked paint stirrer and sharpen the mixer blades at the bottom. Thats pure brilliant. Those are 4 bucks at Menards for the large size one. Where theres a will theres a way. Necessity is the mother of invention. And all that jazz. Cheers friends. I love apples, mother natures easiest hooch maker.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby TonsOfFun » Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:23 am

Hey great ideas, thanks for the insite fellers! I will have to see what I can scrounge up at little to no cost. Cheers!
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby cranky » Wed Oct 22, 2014 4:25 pm

Just thought I would post this here in case there is anybody in the western Wa or northwest Or. wants to do some apples and hasn't had their fill yet, there is a guy in Winlock Wa advertising on craigslist for animal and cider apples for $100 for 1,000 LBS bins. If I had a setup like Jimbo or Bushman I'd be all over that, but of course 1,000 LBS is way too many for me to handle quickly right now but maybe someone else here could benefit.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby NZChris » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:32 pm

Used some of my Balsamic Cider Vinegar today. It's only been four months on oak, but it is superb already.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby MyUncleMo » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:27 pm

My local orchard still has cider and apples left. The cider they keep frozen and not pasteurized. They sell 5 gallons for $25.

Our friends in the Cascades have a special apple tree that they make cider from. Next year we will take the still up to his property and spend a few days with our families and have a nice space to turn that tree into something he can keep in a barrel in his cellar! I'll have to read through Jimbo's Apple stuff again... and again... and...

During my visit this week,I left our friends with a 750ml bottle of the AppleHoney shine (not brandy) I made.
My Uncke Mo taught me how to make apple Jack when I was in 6th Grade.

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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby MyUncleMo » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:50 am

Jimbo wrote:
yes I suppose you could make apple vodka, that'd be interesting, but its a laborious or expensive way to make a mash for vodka. 26-28 lbs of apples per bottle, why would you distill all the flavor out of it and make vodka?


Revisiting this thread AGAIN!

Giving THANKS!

This year I took my family to a UPick in Bellinham WA that had the trees full of the best Honeycrisps you could imagine... and just as many on the ground.
The owners have a distillery on site and produce apple brandy... and Honeycrisp Vodka.

They happen to have all that waste product to use for their neutral.

I am NOT a vodka drinker - or fan, but I did NOT gag on the sample. :crazy: i even bought a bottle for the wife and guests.

Just looked at the price of the fresh Cider at the local orchard and it is not $25 - it's $38 for 5 gallons of delicious pressed cider.
Hmmmm. Maybe a small single 5 gallon sample run is in order?

Thank you Jimbo and HD for the info and inspiration!!!
My Uncke Mo taught me how to make apple Jack when I was in 6th Grade.

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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby OtisT » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:17 am

Hi. Working on my first Apple Brandy and looking for advice on the distillation process using my fractioning still.

I am partnering with a local cider maker on this, who is supplying a barrel of 4.5% ABV light, semi-sweet, apple cider. I am operating a VM fractioning still. 10g, 1500w, 2" column.

One distillation or Two? My main questions revolve around doing one run or two distillation runs. Depending of the answer, there are some specific distillation process questions I have.

My current plan is to do a straight forward double distillation process:
1st run) Remove packing, no reflux, full power, strip it fast and hard. I tested stripping a 4.5% ABV wash at full power and wide open and collected at 22% (average). I stopped when my collection dropped to 5% ABV.
2nd run) Full high quality fractioning (spirit) run, collecting individual factions for blending.

I am really unsure of the second distillation process. I'm concerned that my Spirit run would removing too much flavor/smell. Wondering if I should consider operating my still like a pot still on the second distillation also, or possibly do the fractioning run but do it faster so my collection is not so pure? If you recommend one run, how would you operate the still?

Blending questions:
I am hoping to keep as much of the cider smell/flavor in the product as reasonable for a Brandy. Assuming I do a double distillation, would blending in limited quantities of product I set aside from the Stripping run be a good way to reintroduce some of the flavor/smell removed during the Spirit run? I've not read about anyone doing this, and wondering if others have tried or could recommend for/against doing this as a way to increase the flavor profile?

Thanks, OtisT
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby Jimbo » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:25 am

I would do 2 pot runs. I agree with your first stripping run, reflux off. But I would do the second run the same way, slowed down and be very careful with the cuts. All the apple comes over early, so if yoiure juggling reflux (where the apple is) draining back into your boiler youre going to have a helluva time hunting for the apple. Ive done all manner of apple runs, single pot, double run pot, plated flute and believe the simple double run pot approach is best to capture the goodness with brandys.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby der wo » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:34 am

Double distillation reduces not the fruit flavors. The fruit flavors are in the first half of distillation and get reduced only if you make a large heads cut.

Generally for using a VM for stripping out all the alcohol, you have to cap the top and remove (or have !always! open) the valve and shut off the reflux coil water. If you only remove packing and open the valve you are wasting energy because the reflux coil sends the half of the vapor back into the boiler. And the shut down effect of a VM will hinder that you can collect all the alcohol.

Semi sweet is not optimal for making spirits. Normally super dry is the best.

IMO I can imagine, that a VM distilled apple brandy tastes well. Either single or double distilled. Double distilling is all in all faster if you have enough cider for four stripping runs.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby cranky » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:19 pm

+1 on what Jimbo said. Run 2 runs in pot mode. Last year I ran mine off with a flute and cuts are just too difficult. I'm back to using a pot this year, doing double or maybe 1.5 runs. It might also help to read Jimbo's apple thread, (link in his signature)
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby OtisT » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:18 pm

Thanks Jimbo, dear wo, and cranky for the advice.

Jimbo, what do you consider slow? I'm a noob with regard to pot still mode other than for stripping. I guess I have some reading to do on this, especially how to take early cuts on a pot still. I want to be sure I remove enough of real nasties. ;-)

Der wo, thanks for the gentle safety warning. (Product valve open before capping the column.). Never enough reminders of the need to operate safely. :-). Yes, to strip fast on my rig I do have to cap the top. Comparing a de-tuned reflux with the product valve wide open versus no reflux and a cap, I get 3x the output from the no reflux/capped column, using about 1/3 the power. For me that max strip rate is 1 full Quart every 25 minutes.

Cranky, I will read Jimbo's thread on apples. Thanks for the tip.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby Jimbo » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:50 pm

OtisT wrote:
Jimbo, what do you consider slow? I'm a noob with regard to pot still mode other than for stripping. I guess I have some reading to do on this, especially how to take early cuts on a pot still. I want to be sure I remove enough of real nasties. ;-)



There's so many variables regarding the rig that I hesitate to answer whats slow and fast. This is slow and fast for my rig: 5500W element in a 15.5g still wih 13gal, 2" column.

4000W to strip = 8 min/quart.
2000W -2500W for spirit = 12-15 min/quart.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby cranky » Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:28 pm

Jimbo wrote:
OtisT wrote:
Jimbo, what do you consider slow? I'm a noob with regard to pot still mode other than for stripping. I guess I have some reading to do on this, especially how to take early cuts on a pot still. I want to be sure I remove enough of real nasties. ;-)



There's so many variables regarding the rig that I hesitate to answer whats slow and fast. This is slow and fast for my rig: 5500W element in a 15.5g still wih 13gal, 2" column.

4000W to strip = 8 min/quart.
2000W -2500W for spirit = 12-15 min/quart.

Good answer Jimbo :thumbup:
Those are about the same numbers I run in pot mode.
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Re: Apple Brandy

Postby OtisT » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:14 pm

Thanks Jimbo. I know each still is different. I enjoy understanding how other setups perform, so thanks for the details.

I just finished my first attempt distilling Brandy. This is just a test run for me, so I am using a few jars of muskat wine distillate I have left over from a previous project.

My rig: 10G Insulated SS Boiler. 1500W hotplate w/7 lb Al heat sink. 2" x 60" VM Column (Insulated, no packing). 1/2" ID Product Condenser. Reflux Removed, top capped.

Stripping Run (4.5% starting ABV, 20% product average)
1350 Watts = 25 min/quart.

Spirit/Slow Run (20% starting ABV, 52% product average)
600 Watts = 10ml/minute or 95 min/quart.

Product started coming off at 70%, and was at 22% when I cut it off. I cheated a bit at the beginning of this run and pulled off the first 60 ml while under reflux before I capped the column. I took three (3) 20ml samples off at a rate of 1 drip/sec (20ml every 10 minutes.) The fourth jar smelled a lot better so I pulled the reflux and capture a few more 20 ml samples before switching to 100 ml samples.

Jimbo, I think I found the cuts I am looking for in my 4th and 5th 20ml sample. Thanks for telling me where to look. I started smelling my collection jars in the middle of the run and worked backwards toward the start. Jar 7 and 6 smelled pretty neutral. 5 and especially 4 smelled very strong, sweet and pleasant. Jar 3 smelled like nail polish and 2 was worse. I need to let these air for a day or to, and cant wait to smell these again for making my final cuts.
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