My first still

Many like to post about a first successful ferment (or first all grain mash), or first still built/bought or first good run of the still. Tell us about all of these great times here.
Pics are VERY welcome, we drool over pretty copper 8)

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Ryan17
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My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:40 am

Hello all I'm a brand new member and this is my first real informative (or lack of) post! Although I'm not sure if I'm posting it in the right section. Anyway..

I'm new and I would like to start off as simple but efficient as possible.

I've gone through and read as much as I can for days and I have a good idea of how this works.

Like I said I have a very basic understanding of how this all works, but before I jump in head first I would appreciate some tips and guidance for a build plan and ingredients.

My ingredients list so far consists of;

-5 gallons distilled water
-5lbs sugar
-1 packet of redstar Champlain yeast
-Sweet feed with molasses

As far as a build plan I was planning on going with a 6 gallon all American pressure cooker but this seems a bit pricey for my first go at it. So maybe I should just vice grip a 6 gallon pot to a small upside down pot for a lid and run my copper tubing and thermometer through that? I'm also liking the idea of using a keg but that seems to big for my 5gal idea.Next is what size copper tubing? 3/8"? should I use a "thumper"? Finally I plan to use a normal 5 gallon bucket for a condenser.

Any information tips or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

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still_stirrin
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Re: My first still

Post by still_stirrin » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:19 pm

Welcome Ryan.

Here's a thread which discusses perspectives regarding "size" of boilers: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 16&t=64133 Lots of insight there. I suggest reading a while more before commiting to a size, however. And a pressure cooker probably is not a good choice either.

Since you've already started a ferment, I'm sure you're anxious to get the build done so you can "produce". Relax, the ferment will be OK to wait for you to catch up. There are several things to accomplish before you're ready to run your sweet feed wash.

Starting with fermentation skills is goodness...many here have started with wine or beer brewing to gain understanding of those fundamentals.

For a beginning "builder", I would recommend a stock pot as a boiler. But you'll want a big one...20 quarts, or more, especially if your normal ferment size is 5 gallons. You'll need some "headspace" in the boiler too, so 5 gallons of wash won't fit into a 5 gallon boiler. You need probably 20% headroom in it to reduce "puking" into your potstill & product condenser.

And 3/8" is the absolute minimum tubing size to safely use for vapors...and for a worm, we'd recommend even larger. A 5 gallon bucket for a flake stand will be too small unless you have means to replenish the cooling water in the bucket (don't use ice either).

So much more...so, spend more time reading. I wish it was as easy as driving a car, but this hobby can be dangerous if you're not careful.

Be safe, responsible, and discrete.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
My LM/VM & Potstill: My build thread
Enzyme info: SebStar
All about mashing grains: Braukaiser

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still_stirrin
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Re: My first still

Post by still_stirrin » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:28 pm

Here's a build thread to review: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 2&start=20
And another: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 16&t=57163

In fact, if you go to the Construction forum and do a search for "stock pot build", you'll find many threads with comments and photos to get a better understanding.

If you haven't used the HDGoogle search tool yet, there is a link in my signature which explains how to use it. Help yourself.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
My LM/VM & Potstill: My build thread
Enzyme info: SebStar
All about mashing grains: Braukaiser

Ryan17
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:29 pm

Thank you for the information, this is the exact type of guidance I need! I'll read up on those threads and see what I can come up with. Although I just have one more question, would it really matter if I ran without a thumper starting out? Should I just try and incorporate that in or would that be to much to grasp for my first time? Thanks again!

-Ryan

jb-texshine
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Re: My first still

Post by jb-texshine » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:40 pm

Start with a simple pot still w/o thumper. You can always double or triple distill it.
Remember not to blow yourself up,you only get to forget once!


Deo Vendice

Never eat Mexican food north or east of Dallas tx!

rad14701
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Re: My first still

Post by rad14701 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:50 pm

Pressure cooker... No...!!! You'll learn "why" during your research...
Vise Grips... No...!!! Use a dozen or two "binder clips" instead... You'll learn "why" during your research...
Sweet feed recipe... Follow it to the letter instead of going rogue... You'll learn "why" during your research...

Slow down, do more research, and start out in a manner that will insure that you are safe and successful... You'll come back and more than likely have a chuckle at your first few posts... Your acquired wisdom will pick out all of the deficiencies... And you won't be the first to experience the "What was I thinking?" moment...

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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:09 am

I've done some research touching base on many different things to get me started.i came across a lot of people who said they wished they took the time and built a nice good sized still to begin with. Shortly after I came across the idea of using a ss keg for a boiler. Reading through I couldn't gather to much more information on if a lot of people do this. It seems good sized and good potential for my operation to grow after I do this a few times. Do you guys suggest me going this route? I would still use just a condenser but I will find a bucket as big as the keg to accommodate. Thanks again

jb-texshine
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Re: My first still

Post by jb-texshine » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:26 am

Beer keg is probably the best boiler for hobby scale. Most here use them you'll find.
As cool and nostalgic looking as a worm condenser is a Liebig condenser is cheaper to build ,simpler due to avoiding any spots where puddling may occur,and way easier to clean. Just something to consider.
Jbt
Remember not to blow yourself up,you only get to forget once!


Deo Vendice

Never eat Mexican food north or east of Dallas tx!

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still_stirrin
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Re: My first still

Post by still_stirrin » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:31 am

+1 to JbT's advice.

With a keg boiler and a Liebig product condenser, you've got the foundation for the future ("forward compatible", I call it). Be sure to size the Liebig for your full heat input, as you'll need that capability for stripping. And keep the riser 2" ID until after you turn the 90* to maximize vapor production (without excessive vapor speeds). Be sure to use a copper union between the 90* elbow and your product condenser so that you can separate the two as well as add a thumper (when you're ready to).

And if (and when, because we know you will eventually) you go electric, put a 2" Triclover ferrule as close to the bottom of your keg as possible. Be sure to add a drain in the bottom dish as well, (1" ID is the right size too).

All these comments are accummulated throughout the many, many build and operation threads in these forums.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
My LM/VM & Potstill: My build thread
Enzyme info: SebStar
All about mashing grains: Braukaiser

Ryan17
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:31 am

Thanks for the input. A keg and Liebig still is the direction I will go. After about 5 straight hours of going through this site I've got a pretty good grasp on a build. For my first few runs I will go with a unmodified keg and use a burner but I'm the future I would like to do a drain and maybe cut the top for a easy clean out hole which I've read isn't really necessary. Either way I have a good start. I'll post up my progress when I get to it. Thanks again!

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Re: My first still

Post by Wiz of Oz » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:27 pm

Welcome Ryan to the fascinating and addicting world of this hobby. I've only been at this for 2 1/2 years and it is a great hobby when done correctly and safely.

+1 to what the guys are saying to you. Read, read and more reading. I lurked and read and took notes and read some more for about a year before I joined and did my build. I went with a 52qt stainless stock pot and have a 2" column feeding to my 36" 3/4" over 1/2" liebig and I am more than happy with it. I run it outside on a propane burner. I built my still based of Samhoans pot still design, simple but wonderfully effective for making flavored drinks (whiskey, rum, etc)

Vitally important that you clean that baby, vinegar bathe her and do a sacrificial run before putting in anything you may want to consume.

Another thing is to start with a tried and true recipe, there is a reason they are called that. There is a sweet feed whiskey recipe in there. Read and follow the instructions and you will have a much better product to start out with.

Do lots of reading on cuts too! The HDGoogle search will quickly become your new best friend here and will usually answer most of your questions.

The more you read and understand, the easier things will come to you. Get yourself a notebook and keep track of your progress. For the most part the guys on this forum are absolutely top notch folks who are more than willing to help someone out but they also arent going to hold anyones hand and babysit them. Most of these guys will be able to tell whether or not you have done any reading or researching and if they know you have put in the effort they are more the willing to help you out.

Best of luck and above all be safe!
Cheers
Wiz
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Ryan17
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:49 pm

Well I am about to start. Got my 1/2 keg. So through my research I've come up with a 2' long 2" riser. With a 30" Liebig. With using a propane burner does this sound efficient? Just asking before I start. Thanks

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Fills Jars Slowly
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Re: My first still

Post by Fills Jars Slowly » Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:11 pm

Ryan17 wrote:Well I am about to start. Got my 1/2 keg. So through my research I've come up with a 2' long 2" riser. With a 30" Liebig. With using a propane burner does this sound efficient? Just asking before I start. Thanks
That sounds like a good plan. I started with a rig very similar to that a few years ago and I was happy.

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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:42 am

Well a little update.

My still is almost done so I was going to make my mash tonight but unfortunately I cannot find the all grain sweet feed with no pellets that the forums say to use. So I'm at a little of a stand still

jb-texshine
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Re: My first still

Post by jb-texshine » Tue Jan 24, 2017 7:28 am

Try asking for "all grain horse and mule feed with molasses"
Same thing,different name.
If you want recipe thats just as simple but is ready to drink within 3 or 4 days of distilling try the ujssm recipe. Its awesome.Sweet feed is good but in my opinion needs time and oak and becomes great. Either one will help learn the basics of fermenting.
Remember not to blow yourself up,you only get to forget once!


Deo Vendice

Never eat Mexican food north or east of Dallas tx!

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Re: My first still

Post by rgreen2002 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:24 am

Just to be sure.....

Did you do the required cleaning of your still before you attempt to make a drinkable product? Remember a manual scrub if possible then steam clean with water. Follow this with a 50/50 mix of vinegar/water and then finally some cheap alcohol for cleaning...and NEVER for drinking. This will clean up dirt/oils/flux residues from fabrication.

Also... for a pot still you will not need a two foot riser....unless its related to your distilling space. The extra riser will just increase production time a little with no benefit. If you NEED it two feet tall...say to get over a table or something then by all means. I don't think it will hurt you very much if you have already finished.

Good luck, be safe.
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Ryan17
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:35 am

jb-texshine wrote:Try asking for "all grain horse and mule feed with molasses"
Same thing,different name.
If you want recipe thats just as simple but is ready to drink within 3 or 4 days of distilling try the ujssm recipe. Its awesome.Sweet feed is good but in my opinion needs time and oak and becomes great. Either one will help learn the basics of fermenting.

I have found a sweet feed that has;

Cracked corn
Oats
Molasses
And barley

They said it doesn't have pellets in it but named a few vitamins it has it it which makes me believe it has small pellets and is considered non pelletized. It's called vitality 14%

Ryan17
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:37 am

rgreen2002 wrote:Just to be sure.....

Did you do the required cleaning of your still before you attempt to make a drinkable product? Remember a manual scrub if possible then steam clean with water. Follow this with a 50/50 mix of vinegar/water and then finally some cheap alcohol for cleaning...and NEVER for drinking. This will clean up dirt/oils/flux residues from fabrication.

Also... for a pot still you will not need a two foot riser....unless its related to your distilling space. The extra riser will just increase production time a little with no benefit. If you NEED it two feet tall...say to get over a table or something then by all means. I don't think it will hurt you very much if you have already finished.

Good luck, be safe.

I have not finished the drain, I need to do one weld and it's done. Probably get to that tomorrow night then do the cleaning processes. I went with a 19" riser. But thank you for your input

jb-texshine
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Re: My first still

Post by jb-texshine » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:38 am

Ryan17 wrote:
jb-texshine wrote:Try asking for "all grain horse and mule feed with molasses"
Same thing,different name.
If you want recipe thats just as simple but is ready to drink within 3 or 4 days of distilling try the ujssm recipe. Its awesome.Sweet feed is good but in my opinion needs time and oak and becomes great. Either one will help learn the basics of fermenting.

I have found a sweet feed that has;

Cracked corn
Oats
Molasses
And barley

They said it doesn't have pellets in it but named a few vitamins it has it it which makes me believe it has small pellets and is considered non pelletized. It's called vitality 14%
If its the nutrena vitality 14% its textured which means pelletized
Remember not to blow yourself up,you only get to forget once!


Deo Vendice

Never eat Mexican food north or east of Dallas tx!

Ryan17
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:04 am

jb-texshine wrote:
Ryan17 wrote:
jb-texshine wrote:Try asking for "all grain horse and mule feed with molasses"
Same thing,different name.
If you want recipe thats just as simple but is ready to drink within 3 or 4 days of distilling try the ujssm recipe. Its awesome.Sweet feed is good but in my opinion needs time and oak and becomes great. Either one will help learn the basics of fermenting.

I have found a sweet feed that has;

Cracked corn
Oats
Molasses
And barley

They said it doesn't have pellets in it but named a few vitamins it has it it which makes me believe it has small pellets and is considered non pelletized. It's called vitality 14%
If its the nutrena vitality 14% its textured which means pelletized


Well that's not good. I've tried every feed store within 1 hour away. Can't come up with anything

Ryan17
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:08 pm

Hoping someone will chime in.

Should I keep trying to find either producers pride all grain or mannapro hi grain? Or should I ditch the sweetfeed mash idea and look into a different grain recipe? I would like to use one of the apple pie recipes to flavor this batch as a finished product. Help!

Thanks!

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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:40 pm

I think I've got a solution, just going to use the ujssm recipe like jb-texshine mentioned. Finding cracked corn should be easy enough

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Re: My first still

Post by Radek » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:44 am

http://alcofermbrew.com/en/Spirits-and- ... 2c166.html
[img]distilling%20machine.jpg[/img]

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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:54 am

Still is complete mash is fermenting! Not sure how to get pictures to upload from my phone

jb-texshine
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Re: My first still

Post by jb-texshine » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:01 am

Ryan17 wrote:Still is complete mash is fermenting! Not sure how to get pictures to upload from my phone
Download the tapatalk app to your phone and use it for pics. It sucks for browsing but is ok for pics. Just please turn off the tag line that says "sent from tapatalk via suchnsuch mobile device"
Its just annoying as hell. :ewink:
Jb
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GABrew
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Re: My first still

Post by GABrew » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:07 am

How is this going? I'm on almost an exact same journey as you. I have a 1/2 keg, powered by propane. A slightly smaller riser (12" of 2" Type M), and then I used the basic potstill head that's around here somewhere, and have a 36" liebig (3/4" over 1/2") Planning to run a UJSSM through it when I'm done with the build and fermenting my mash (and of course the sacrificial cleaning runs).

Anyway would be interested in your update if you have one. Oh .. also, did you put any kind of union between the takeoff and the liebig? Struggling to figure out what to put there.

Thanks!
GABrew
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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:12 pm

GABrew wrote:How is this going? I'm on almost an exact same journey as you. I have a 1/2 keg, powered by propane. A slightly smaller riser (12" of 2" Type M), and then I used the basic potstill head that's around here somewhere, and have a 36" liebig (3/4" over 1/2") Planning to run a UJSSM through it when I'm done with the build and fermenting my mash (and of course the sacrificial cleaning runs).

Anyway would be interested in your update if you have one. Oh .. also, did you put any kind of union between the takeoff and the liebig? Struggling to figure out what to put there.

Thanks!
GABrew
Well no exciting news from me yet. I am on my 9th day of fermentation and still bubbling every approx 7.5 to 9.5 seconds. Which is much slower then the 2-3 second average i had for the first 5 days so it's hopefully coming to an end. I keep my house 68 degrees so that might be slowing it down.

As for the Liebig joint, yes I do have a 1/2 union between. I haven't done any cleaning runs yet. So again... not much exciting news

On another note I have came up with a at minimum 15 gallon pot for making mash so hopefully I get all this distilling right the first time and I can go big time next time! I hope anyway.

I will post more once the darn thing stops!

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Re: My first still

Post by GABrew » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:36 pm

Thanks for the update Ryan. I am soldering my still up tonight. I have a batch of ujssm fermenting now. I have an old fermenter from a beer making kit. It started out at a SG of 1.055 and a temp of 19c day two was 1.06 and I am using a small heating pad..Brought the temp up to 20c. We'll see how it goes.
I'm trying to follow rule #2. Are you?
http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =35&t=5090

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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:19 pm

GABrew wrote:Thanks for the update Ryan. I am soldering my still up tonight. I have a batch of ujssm fermenting now. I have an old fermenter from a beer making kit. It started out at a SG of 1.055 and a temp of 19c day two was 1.06 and I am using a small heating pad..Brought the temp up to 20c. We'll see how it goes.
Awesome! I hope this is all very rewarding for the both of us! Lol

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Re: My first still

Post by Ryan17 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:10 am

Okay so my ferment has finally just about finished bubbling and I'm a little freed up with work so I'm going to be doing the first initial cleaning runs tonight, then hope to run my wash tomorrow or Saturday.

I'm mentioning all this because i just did some searching around and reading and so far I've gathered I should fill the keg 1/2 way with 50/50 vinegar, run for 20 minutes without water circulating through condenser. Then turn water on and run for 30 minutes. Seems simple. Then I read that the first sacrificial run should be dumped. What can I use for this sacrificial run besides the wash that I have 2 weeks invested in? Thanks for the help!

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