Do certain things increase your heads cut

Other discussions for folks new to the wonderful craft of home distilling.

Moderator: Site Moderator

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:50 am

What exactly is the heads cut (as in what's in it that makes it bad)
And is there certain things that will increase the size of it?

For example I have heard that fruit ferments will produce more methanol.
So with that same info in mind is there certain things that will increase the heads cut? Stressed yeast? Fruits? High ABV washes? Certain grains?
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
LWTCS
Site Mod
Posts: 11277
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: North Palm Beach

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by LWTCS » Tue Sep 22, 2020 4:12 am

You've answered your own question no?
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

seabass
Rumrunner
Posts: 615
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:08 am

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by seabass » Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:53 am

Yep. Your answered your own question. Those things will increase your heads cut. That's why everyone here recommends not getting greedy with wash abv. And underpitching yeast or too high fermentation temp will also increase it.

User avatar
Deplorable
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 417
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:10 pm
Location: PNW

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Deplorable » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:12 am

It has been debated that continually adding heads back into your next spirit run will also increase heads on subsequent runs. Save those for an all feints run.
Use all your senses, and its not that hard. You just have to pay attention.

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:21 pm

LWTCS wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 4:12 am
You've answered your own question no?
Not really, I'm putting forward a few ideas but I'm looking for confirmation.
I actually have no idea if these things produce a larger heads cut or not.

Also given I'm wanting to avoid creating large amounts of heads I'm looking for solutions to reducing the heads cut.

I am currently saving everything for an all feints runs but would still prefer to keep as much as i can to avoid having to make too many batches to fill a barrel.
If I can fill a barrel with 2 runs instead of 3 that would be good.
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:22 pm

seabass wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:53 am
That's why everyone here recommends not getting greedy with wash abv. And underpitching yeast or too high fermentation temp will also increase it.
Thanks I will be sure to be liberal with my yeast in future.
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
Demy
Rumrunner
Posts: 531
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:45 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Demy » Wed Sep 23, 2020 1:10 am

Generally some of the things you said will increase them, fruit for example will but not all fruit in the same way, sometimes it can happen that the same fruit can produce slight variations. I don't worry that much because you just have to make good cuts using common sense not quantities. You can decide to use the foreshots as a cleaning alcohol.

User avatar
Yummyrum
Global moderator
Posts: 3163
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 2:23 am
Location: Mid North Coast Aussie

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Yummyrum » Wed Sep 23, 2020 1:51 am

Jayka , while you have dropped the Methanol bomb , its not the only reason we do a heads cut . In fact its been shown in quite a few threads now that Methanol comes across through out the run and simply doing fores/ head cuts won’t remove it .... that being said , Methanol is not that much of a big deal . So long as its consumed with Ethanol , the body happily deals with it .After all , we consume it in Wine .

Now , there are other things in heads that make some of us get thumping head aches ( fortunately I’m not one), such as Acetone and Ethyl Acetate . These are what gives heads that sweet sickly taste .

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Wed Sep 23, 2020 3:27 am

Yeh I wasn't so fussed about the methanol more just trying to minimise how much heads I produce in each run. Also wanting to ensure I don't make large amounts buy doing something wrong.

Like if I could reduce my head's down from 30% of my run down to 10% then I will have more usable product.

Don't get me wrong I currently don't think I am producing any more than what is expected. I just want to know how not to produce more or how I can improve productivity.

Infact I reckon I would be pretty happy with just hitting consistency.

Overall just trying to improve one step at a time.
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
Corsaire
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 978
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:20 pm
Location: Belgium

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Corsaire » Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:52 am

I've never tried to intentionally minimize heads but I think yeast plays a big role.

Get yourself a clean yeast strain, one that doesn't produce a lot of esters. Brewers have lots of notes on yeast strains.
Once you've picked your yeast, keep it happy. Don't push the abv too high. Don't underpitch. Some say keep an eye on ph but I've never used my ph meter. Keep the ferment in the yeast's optimal temp range.

Make sure flies can't get into your ferment. If there's acetic acid (vinegar) in your wash it gets converted to ethyl acetate.

Overall, look up what the funky rum crowd does. And do the complete opposite ;-)

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Wed Sep 23, 2020 2:03 pm

Corsaire wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:52 am
I've never tried to intentionally minimize heads but I think yeast plays a big role.

Get yourself a clean yeast strain, one that doesn't produce a lot of esters. Brewers have lots of notes on yeast strains.
Once you've picked your yeast, keep it happy. Don't push the abv too high. Don't underpitch. Some say keep an eye on ph but I've never used my ph meter. Keep the ferment in the yeast's optimal temp range.

Make sure flies can't get into your ferment. If there's acetic acid (vinegar) in your wash it gets converted to ethyl acetate.

Overall, look up what the funky rum crowd does. And do the complete opposite ;-)
OK cool, Love your yeast and don't make rum! and thanks for the PH tip, I hear so much about PH and was thinking of investing in a PH meter but everything has been working fine so far so I wasn't sure if i should splash out for one or not.
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
Corsaire
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 978
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:20 pm
Location: Belgium

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Corsaire » Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:00 pm

You can make rum. There's clean rum and there's extremely funky rum, and lots of inbetween. I should have said don't mimic what the high ester rum crowd are doing.

But yeah, be kind to your yeast.

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:29 am

Corsaire wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:52 am
Keep the ferment in the yeast's optimal temp range.
Ok so not even 24 hrs after your advice and I forgot to turn my heater off and my mash is at 30c.

You can lead a horse to water......
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
Corsaire
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 978
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:20 pm
Location: Belgium

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Corsaire » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:34 am

Haha chalk it up to experience.
I've converted an old fridge to a temp controlled fermenting cabinet. There's a couple of threads here about that sort of thing, plus on the brewers forums.

User avatar
Saltbush Bill
Site Mod
Posts: 4012
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 am
Location: Northern NSW Australia

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Saltbush Bill » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:42 am

Nice to see some folk not freaking out over PH readings ..Ive never owned and never will own a PH meter........never checked PH ..never had a crash in hundreds of washes.........Im sure it depends a lot on water used and other factors.
When I first started out stilling PH woes where never mentioned......folk still got by and made some good booze.
Never seen a black n white photo of an old moonshiner with a PH meter in the top pocket of his Bib n Braces yet.

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:59 am

That reminds me. Need to go get a pair of bib n braces!
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

v-child
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 115
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:56 am

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by v-child » Thu Sep 24, 2020 6:14 am

jayka wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:21 pm
LWTCS wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 4:12 am
You've answered your own question no?
Not really, I'm putting forward a few ideas but I'm looking for confirmation.
I actually have no idea if these things produce a larger heads cut or not.

Also given I'm wanting to avoid creating large amounts of heads I'm looking for solutions to reducing the heads cut.

I am currently saving everything for an all feints runs but would still prefer to keep as much as i can to avoid having to make too many batches to fill a barrel.
If I can fill a barrel with 2 runs instead of 3 that would be good.
Old computer adage, "Garbage in- garbage out".

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Thu Sep 24, 2020 5:38 pm

jayka wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:29 am
Corsaire wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:52 am
Keep the ferment in the yeast's optimal temp range.
Ok so not even 24 hrs after your advice and I forgot to turn my heater off and my mash is at 30c.

You can lead a horse to water......
So I turned off heat and removed insulation. Temps over night were 10c but it only dropped from 30c to 29c is there any recommendations for lowering ferment temp? Or is it not worth risking?
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

Sk8brew
Novice
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:32 am

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Sk8brew » Thu Sep 24, 2020 8:42 pm

if you can get your fermentor in a water bath, you can add ice or frozen water bottles to lower the temp. Just do it sloely so the yeast don't get shocked.

OtisT
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 2301
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:59 am
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by OtisT » Thu Sep 24, 2020 8:49 pm

jayka wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 5:38 pm
jayka wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:29 am
Corsaire wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:52 am
Keep the ferment in the yeast's optimal temp range.
Ok so not even 24 hrs after your advice and I forgot to turn my heater off and my mash is at 30c.

You can lead a horse to water......
So I turned off heat and removed insulation. Temps over night were 10c but it only dropped from 30c to 29c is there any recommendations for lowering ferment temp? Or is it not worth risking?
I sometimes use a fan on the ferment barrel (barrel covered) if the air temp is colder than your ferment. A wort chiller is very effective at lowering temp. I wrapped soft copper tubing around a bucket for a nice big coil, spread it out in the barrel then run cold water through it. Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

User avatar
Saltbush Bill
Site Mod
Posts: 4012
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 am
Location: Northern NSW Australia

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Saltbush Bill » Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:21 pm

Whats wrong with leaving it at 29c?

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:33 am

Packet said them range for yeast 15/25 with optimum being 20c.
Or there shouts.

So basically trying not stress out my yeast.
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
Yummyrum
Global moderator
Posts: 3163
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 2:23 am
Location: Mid North Coast Aussie

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Yummyrum » Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:02 am

Saltbush Bill wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:21 pm
Whats wrong with leaving it at 29c?
I agree , a drop overnight from 30-29 sounds good to me . If it keeps dropping naturally at that rate , it should finish nicely . A bit of warmth at the start of fermentation is a good thing for getting it all cracking . After that , just let it cruise .

If on the other hand , it was climbing , yeah , maybe look at pulling it back .

I’d be more concerned about over cooling it and the fermentation temp dropping too quickly and it drqgging out too long or getting stuck .

I prefer a higher temp for fermentation .... get it over and done .

If my head cut is a bit bigger , I don’t care .

User avatar
Saltbush Bill
Site Mod
Posts: 4012
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 am
Location: Northern NSW Australia

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Saltbush Bill » Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:17 am

Yummyrum wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:02 am
I’d be more concerned about over cooling it and the fermentation temp dropping too quickly and it drqgging out too long or getting stuck .
Thats exactly what im thinking Yummy. :thumbup: .... .nother 48 hours and that thing will need a blanket or other insulation on it to help maintain its own heat is my guess.
After that it may even need help if its in a cool enough environment.

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:20 am

Yummyrum wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:02 am
Saltbush Bill wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:21 pm
Whats wrong with leaving it at 29c?
I agree , a drop overnight from 30-29 sounds good to me . If it keeps dropping naturally at that rate , it should finish nicely . A bit of warmth at the start of fermentation is a good thing for getting it all cracking . After that , just let it cruise .

If on the other hand , it was climbing , yeah , maybe look at pulling it back .

I’d be more concerned about over cooling it and the fermentation temp dropping too quickly and it drqgging out too long or getting stuck .

I prefer a higher temp for fermentation .... get it over and done .

If my head cut is a bit bigger , I don’t care .
That sounds good to me. I'll probably wrap it up tomorrow to hold it steady.
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:24 am

Saltbush Bill wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:17 am
Yummyrum wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:02 am
I’d be more concerned about over cooling it and the fermentation temp dropping too quickly and it drqgging out too long or getting stuck .
Thats exactly what im thinking Yummy. :thumbup: .... .nother 48 hours and that thing will need a blanket or other insulation on it to help maintain its own heat is my guess.
After that it may even need help if its in a cool enough environment.
Good to know I'm thinking along the right track.
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

User avatar
Saltbush Bill
Site Mod
Posts: 4012
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 am
Location: Northern NSW Australia

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by Saltbush Bill » Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:46 am

I didnt realises it was some fancy yeast with a specific temp range that low.

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:42 am

Saltbush Bill wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:46 am
I didnt realises it was some fancy yeast with a specific temp range that low.
Off the top of my head it was just a safale hi ABV beer yeast
I didn't really look at the temp range until I was about to pitch and thought wow. It's pretty specific!
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

tombombadil
Swill Maker
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:55 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by tombombadil » Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:29 pm

When fermenting beer and mead, I've noticed that it always comes out hotter when I let the fermentation temperature get too high. Getting fermentation temperatures under control was the biggest single contributor to improving the drinkability of my beers and meads.

Whatever is in heads is hotter than ethanol. At least according to my palette it is, even when properly diluted for a fair comparison.

So my theory is that keeping fermentation temperatures under control should reduce the heads cut.

It really depends on the yeast though. For distilling I've been using ale yeasts and managing the fermentations like I would with a beer. Start at the low end of the range, let it rise 5 degrees or so per day until it's at the high end of the range, keep it there until fermentation is complete plus a couple more days for good luck (or until I have time to run it).

Maybe I'll find out in a few years that im wasting time and money but so far I'm enjoying what I've been able to produce and don't make huge heads cuts. :D

User avatar
jayka
Swill Maker
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:25 pm

Re: Do certain things increase your heads cut

Post by jayka » Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:17 pm

jayka wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:29 am
Corsaire wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:52 am
Keep the ferment in the yeast's optimal temp range.
Ok so not even 24 hrs after your advice and I forgot to turn my heater off and my mash is at 30c.

You can lead a horse to water......
Well it may not have been optimal but that yeast has ripped through 65lt of 10% mash in 4.5 days. I don't know yet whether that's a good thing but definitely has given me some wiggle room for when I strip!
Sooner or later the people who run the planet all end up choosing one drink....

Post Reply