Originally By Tony Ackland
MolassesTo find large quantities of molasses, try farm stock feed dealers. They will sell black strap molasses for horse or cattle feed supplements. Different types of molasses have different sugar contents. (See http://www.syrupmakers.com/ for different kinds of molasses and the mills and plants / procedures that go into making them.) It therefore pays to measure the specific gravity (SG), until you get the desired concentration. Due to its high osmotic pressure, it needs to be diluted to less than 25 Brix (weight % sugar), or else the yeast wont be able to get started on it. Unfortunately, due to it sometimes only having around 46% sugar, this means you only get a sugar content of 14%, and a final alcohol of around only 6-7%. To get around this, you may need to feed the molasses to the wash in several stages.
In response to some questions about using molasses ..
Somebody suggested that you can add corn steep liquor (CSL) - does anybody have experience of this and what ratio of molasses (at 49% sucrose) to CSL would you use? Or is there a better alternative.
One of the problems with molasses is that it often dosnt have the sugar content that the seller claims and it therefore will not produce as much alcohol. There is often a lot of unfermentable material as well. A standard 44 imperial gallon drum (US 55 gallons) contains something like 260 to 280 kg of molasses. This contains a lot of inert material. If buying and using molasses for this purpose one needs to constantly monitor and check the brix level so you get what you are paying for. Note: not the theoretical or claimed level but the actual level.
The addition of CSL will generally improve the fermentability but you will probably need the addition of enzymes and this adds to cost. Note that CSL generally has much better starch levels than molasses. Molasses is invert sugar which still has a fair amount of the sugar content remaining but from which a lot of the easily extractable sugar has been removed. A lot of the sugar remaining is in the form of more complex starches so it is all not utilisable. Again the use of enzymes can help remarkably. Hope this is some help.
One thing to keep in mind though is that you wil need to gently stir the fermentation buckets daily to keep the syrup in suspension.