Polugar

All styles of whiskey. This is for all-grain mashes.

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Polugar

Post by DSmith78 » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:54 am

Hello all. I've been reading a little about the Russian drink Polugar or bread wine. I'm curious to try making this and I have found a couple of guides but they are a little sparse on detail. Am I missing something or is this just a single malt white whiskey? Does anybody have any experience with this drink?
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Re: Polugar

Post by LWTCS » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:58 am

When most of us think about Russian spirits we think about a very clean "vodka".
My interpretation is a pot stilled vodka? Not much info out there really.

"Pot stilled vodka" you say?? Just run until the spent kettle charge finishes clean/clear like the distillate is what I think of.
Its time consuming and the yeilds are lower compared to column stilling.

I have no idea otherwise beyond the grain bill you mention.
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Re: Polugar

Post by Bushman » Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:46 am

Not having heard the word before it was interesting researching and learning a little more history!

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Re: Polugar

Post by DSmith78 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:07 am

Well it feels good to have shared a little something then! Apparently it tastes like no other spirit yet it seems to be made like many other spirits! Very interesting....
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Re: Polugar

Post by NZChris » Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:50 am

I think I saw a rye bread sugar head method here a few years back. Odin?

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Re: Polugar

Post by LWTCS » Wed Feb 20, 2019 2:28 pm

I reckon the word is colloquial?
Very similar to the "brandy" word and Slivovitz for example
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Re: Polugar

Post by jonnys_spirit » Wed Feb 20, 2019 2:48 pm

As I work towards the end of my HBB runs I'm going to shift focus on a white liquor rye rendering where I'll probably use corn instead of sugar and the thick dense german rye bread roggenbrot as well as some rye malt for conversion and flavour maybe. Odin's rye bread sugarhead thread seems to infer that the flavour the bread imparts is fairly adequate and strong.

I wanted to do it as a white rye like this polugar but not a sugarhead and not a 100% rye. I also seem to remember reading about herbal infusions in the polugar distillate. That might be a thing too.

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Re: Polugar

Post by StillerBoy » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:09 pm

DSmith78 wrote:Am I missing something or is this just a single malt white whiskey? Does anybody have any experience with this drink
When I google "recipe for polugar", this is what I get.. should give you some insight..

https://chzda.ru/en/recipes/recipe-polugar/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Here's the google search which includes other info on Polugar recipe.. but haven't found the method/process for making it..

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1AO ... FVnhvGSvZ0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Mars

Edit: There's some interesting reading in those search..
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Re: Polugar

Post by DSmith78 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:05 am

NZChris wrote:I think I saw a rye bread sugar head method here a few years back. Odin?
Interesting mate, thank you. I'll search that shortly - wonder if it imparts the same bready qualities I read about in Polugar?
LWTCS wrote:I reckon the word is colloquial?
Very similar to the "brandy" word and Slivovitz for example
I make you right on that one!
jonnys_spirit wrote:As I work towards the end of my HBB runs I'm going to shift focus on a white liquor rye rendering where I'll probably use corn instead of sugar and the thick dense german rye bread roggenbrot as well as some rye malt for conversion and flavour maybe. Odin's rye bread sugarhead thread seems to infer that the flavour the bread imparts is fairly adequate and strong.

I wanted to do it as a white rye like this polugar but not a sugarhead and not a 100% rye. I also seem to remember reading about herbal infusions in the polugar distillate. That might be a thing too.

Cheers!
-jonny
Sounds interesting mate - I look forward to seeing the results!
StillerBoy wrote:
DSmith78 wrote:Am I missing something or is this just a single malt white whiskey? Does anybody have any experience with this drink
When I google "recipe for polugar", this is what I get.. should give you some insight..

https://chzda.ru/en/recipes/recipe-polugar/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Here's the google search which includes other info on Polugar recipe.. but haven't found the method/process for making it..

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1AO ... FVnhvGSvZ0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Mars

Edit: There's some interesting reading in those search..
Thank you for that. I actually saw the first recipe link on my own searches. Interesting how it can be made with 3 completely different grains, ranging from wheat (which I associate with vodka) to barley (which I associate with whiskey.) Definitely planning this one in the near future.
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Re: Polugar

Post by jonnys_spirit » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:25 am

Here’s Odin’s rye sugarhead recipe for lotsa good rye flavour.

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=35893

This is what I want to try but also as mentioned with corn, malt, and enzymes instead of sugar and yes recycling backset and spent mash to concentrate flavours across several runs in a batch.

Strip and spirit run it. Keep it white.

I’ll see if I can find notes about herbal infusions also.

Cheers
-jonny

EDIT:
It’s the caraway and dill infusions that I was thinking about.
https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article ... inal-vodka" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Basically sounds like russian white moonshine made from rye, wheat, barley and then infused with some botanicals depending on what they wanted to make.

Breadwine with a subtle caraway infusion sounds pretty yum. Need to buy some for research this weekend.

Cheers,
Jonny
Last edited by jonnys_spirit on Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Polugar

Post by StillerBoy » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:37 am

From the reading of the articles, from the above links, I take it that Polugar is made in the following way:

Made from either a single malted rye, wheat, or barley based on a 2.2 lbs per gal.
Is mash in the regular method of mashing grains
Is fermented with air lock, and stirred daily
Is fermented over a period on 4 - 16 days
Is triple distilled in copper stills
Clarified with egg whites, and filtered using birch charcoal
Only the body section is used
Age in glass jugs with light cork seal for a few months

Read in one of the articles, that the birch flavour comes across in the likker..

Mars
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Re: Polugar

Post by NZChris » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:52 pm

I would put double distilled heart cut in a mini gin still with the botanical I wanted to flavor it with. Matching a Polugar with each course of a meal sounds like a fantastic project.

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Re: Polugar

Post by LWTCS » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:55 pm

StillerBoy wrote:From the reading of the articles, from the above links, I take it that Polugar is made in the following way:

Made from either a single malted rye, wheat, or barley based on a 2.2 lbs per gal.
Is mash in the regular method of mashing grains
Is fermented with air lock, and stirred daily
Is fermented over a period on 4 - 16 days
Is triple distilled in copper stills
Clarified with egg whites, and filtered using birch charcoal
Only the body section is used
Age in glass jugs with light cork seal for a few months

Read in one of the articles, that the birch flavour comes across in the likker..

Mars

Not to minimize " Polugar", but there really isn't anything there that distinguishes this spirit from other similarly made, well known white whiskey that may or may not be found in any grain based, spirits producing region.
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Re: Polugar

Post by StillerBoy » Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:40 pm

What is somewhat different or may distinguish Polugar is that it's reduced to 38.5% abv, just the body is used, and filtered with birch charcoal..

It's just a slightly different method, if you want.. but triple distill will remove lots flavor..
Need to find or make some birch charcoal, and see what it gives, because that where it seems to make the different.. don't know, but from what I read, some birch flavour or smell is present in the spirit.. will slowly organize to try it out..

Mars
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Re: Polugar

Post by DSmith78 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:12 am

NZChris wrote:I would put double distilled heart cut in a mini gin still with the botanical I wanted to flavor it with. Matching a Polugar with each course of a meal sounds like a fantastic project.
Yes mate, LOVE that idea!
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Re: Polugar

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Wed May 15, 2019 2:49 am

DSmith78 wrote:Does anybody have any experience with this drink?
Still interested in? At worst, it's close to Monongahela (white dog or aged), at best - sorta Canadian whisky mashes. But histoically pot-stilled only.

Bushman wrote:Not having heard the word before it was interesting researching and learning a little more history!
Just another obsolete word. It has to do more with AbV, not technology. Polu-gar is Half-burnt. Long ago the hmm... state quality inspectors had special (sometimes made of silver) bowls with 2 marking lines on them. You put the likker (all-grain, no sugarheads, of course) into the bowl just on a par with the upper line. Then you set it on fire and see how much is burnt before expiring the flame. If you can see a second (lower) line open then the starting AbV was about 38%..40% (or more) and the officials buy your product for the government's goals and reasons. In the course of the nineteenth century it was also practiced to conduct tax calculations throu re-math of any alcohol into the "polugar strength".

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Re: Polugar

Post by DSmith78 » Wed May 15, 2019 11:03 pm

VLAGAVULVIN wrote:
DSmith78 wrote:Does anybody have any experience with this drink?
Still interested in? At worst, it's close to Monongahela (white dog or aged), at best - sorta Canadian whisky mashes. But histoically pot-stilled only.

Great information, thank you!!

Yes I'm still bouncing the idea around in my head - I think when my new still is finished this will be the first thing I try.
Bushman wrote:Not having heard the word before it was interesting researching and learning a little more history!
Just another obsolete word. It has to do more with AbV, not technology. Polu-gar is Half-burnt. Long ago the hmm... state quality inspectors had special (sometimes made of silver) bowls with 2 marking lines on them. You put the likker (all-grain, no sugarheads, of course) into the bowl just on a par with the upper line. Then you set it on fire and see how much is burnt before expiring the flame. If you can see a second (lower) line open then the starting AbV was about 38%..40% (or more) and the officials buy your product for the government's goals and reasons. In the course of the nineteenth century it was also practiced to conduct tax calculations throu re-math of any alcohol into the "polugar strength".
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Re: Polugar

Post by NZChris » Thu May 16, 2019 12:33 am

I believe Polugar is a name for a pre-regulation/Establisment drink with a wide variety of flavors made by home distillers and what we now call artisan distillers. Quality and flavors would have ranged from downright nasty to Nectar of the Gods and from plain grain to herbal symphonies.

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Re: Polugar

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Thu May 16, 2019 8:34 am

DSmith78 wrote: Great information, thank you!!

Yes I'm still bouncing the idea around in my head - I think when my new still is finished this will be the first thing I try.
Not at all... and here's my next tale. Centuries ago in Russia the winters were even longer than now and people turned their harvest into a booze little by little. The problem was they had nothing but rye for their purposes at the latitude of Moscow and further to the north. But any 100%-rye beverage is rather harsh, even being made on modern bokakobs. So, they added also some barley. As for wheat — that was a rare guest from south and used mostly for A-grade bread bakery as it wasn't as cheap as now. Normally, the mash was like rye flour + malted barley grist. It was called "bread wine" (the 80 proof stilled product sounds crazy for 'wine', though).

As for the triple distillery methods — they were used for the reasons to get rid of the fusels. And not to lose both nose and mouthfeel. In that way, they could get the hooch quite interesting but not so funky and dangerous just without a column still. So, it was OK in the white dog version, just being rested for a month or less. And it had to do with some customer that had money for the fair amount of wheat. If you wish, I could briefly describe here a couple of techniques... one of them is traditional, the second is kinda modern rethinking of those old classics.

And... if look for the "not bad" mashes, try to google-translate smth. like that: https://alcodistillers.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?id=755" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Good luck :wave:

P.S. A couple of years ago some polugar-named white stuff popped up in our local chain stores. Frankly speaking, it sucks as any commercially reconstructed and flavored profanity. And the one might buy 3-4 bottles of regular vodka instead 1 of that sh!tty swill for hipsters.

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Re: Polugar

Post by DSmith78 » Thu May 16, 2019 9:39 pm

Thank you once again - really interesting read. Love the hipster comment... :clap: :lolno:

I would love a method described here! I found a couple on Google but with mediocre translations. As you are probably aware, information on this drink is somewhat sparse. Ah heck to it - my first AG whiskey has just finished bubbling so I'll make Polugar my next batch.
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Re: Polugar

Post by NZChris » Thu May 16, 2019 10:52 pm

It might be a bit like trying to make Old Tom Gin, nobody has any original recipes or samples so all you can do is gather together as much information as you can find out about it, then make nice drinks that you think fit within the descriptions.

The general protocols for making spirits from the various grains will have been followed for Polugar and methods for flavor additions are well known. We have to write up our own grain & herb bills & protocols to make something we think might fit the descriptions, distil in the most suitable stills we have available, then tweak our methods each time, as we do for anything else we make.

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Re: Polugar

Post by DSmith78 » Fri May 17, 2019 3:52 am

NZChris wrote:It might be a bit like trying to make Old Tom Gin, nobody has any original recipes or samples so all you can do is gather together as much information as you can find out about it, then make nice drinks that you think fit within the descriptions.

The general protocols for making spirits from the various grains will have been followed for Polugar and methods for flavor additions are well known. We have to write up our own grain & herb bills & protocols to make something we think might fit the descriptions, distil in the most suitable stills we have available, then tweak our methods each time, as we do for anything else we make.
Completely agree. All the time we're making spirits that taste great, does it really matter? And more importantly, unless I get hold of some traditionally made Polugar, what basis for comparison do I have?!
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Re: Polugar

Post by Odin » Fri May 17, 2019 4:13 am

I think polugar is Russian bread wine. Take old bread, crumble it and ferment it. Let the ferment sit outside and freeze distill it, do this three times ... and that's how the original vodka was sorta invented. And bread may well have been rye bread, since that is/was the staple in Russia.

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Re: Polugar

Post by Sharks_n_danger » Fri May 17, 2019 9:57 am

My in-laws are Russian so I’ll ask more into it, but my understanding is that Полугар (Polugar) is to самогон (samogon) or самогонка (samogonka) as Poitín or Corn Liquor is to Moonshine. Based on that I think Odin’s Thinking makes a lot of sense. Hopefully one of the in-laws can tell me more this weekend.

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Re: Polugar

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Fri May 17, 2019 10:16 am

Odin wrote:I think polugar is Russian bread wine. Take old bread, crumble it and ferment it. Let the ferment sit outside and freeze distill it, do this three times ... and that's how the original vodka was sorta invented. And bread may well have been rye bread, since that is/was the staple in Russia.
Rye: commonly, yes. Sometimes also OK for draining down the frozen iron sheet (deep countryside, cheapest versions). On the other hand, the aquavitae technology was known in Russia at least since the sixteenth century. Reach nobles / officials preferred distillates and not "applejacks".

As for bread... just imagine you are a lazy fella with a long beard that eager to get some fast alcohol. Why the hell should you waste your time for baking the bread (including all those egg proteins and vegetable oil in it) if you know everything about malting? Seems like I know the root of that confusion. The "bread" was also a collective term for all the cereals available (thus, even nowadays in Russian "taking the bread away [from the field]" means just "harvesting"). Kvass (Kinderbier) was made of malt, too. But we call it "bread kvass" due to its fermented malt is mostly made of rye grain. There's actually a slight difference between kvass (fermented by both yeast and lactobacter) and beer (more non-fermented malt and more time, but yeast only as starter).

NZChris wrote:It might be a bit like trying to make Old Tom Gin, nobody has any original recipes or samples so all you can do is gather together as much information as you can find out about it, then make nice drinks that you think fit within the descriptions.
It's like yeh & neh ;) Vodka became a neutral spirit (as we used to know it) a bit more than a century ago, really. So, I have a great deal of scanned old books and can easily read but the most of them are as useful and funny as the Chaucer's poetry... And the word "vodka" itself (closely related to "aquavitae") is way more ancient than "reflux column". How about the technology then: some frozen poleaxe?

NZChris wrote:The general protocols for making spirits from the various grains will have been followed for Polugar and methods for flavor additions are well known.
Hellyeah! The multigrain flakes as below are quite good (and a bit expensive, though).
kasha
kasha
Just add up to 30% of malted barley... or 15% of barley malt +15% of any other malt. As for flavoring — oriental aniseed for nobles, local herbs for plebs. Barrel aging was used on quite rare occasions.

And hellno to all those bread loaf mashes, "filtered thru valenok", lol. You may drop some rye crackers into your low wines! But using the loaf as a base of your mash sounds like the true rot'n'roll orgy...

DSmith78 wrote:I would love a method described here!
I hope to do it the soonest, too. And do hope none of the hipsters are getting mad at me now... and sorry for all those "hells" as above.

Sharks_n_danger wrote:My in-laws are Russian so I’ll ask more into it, but my understanding is that Полугар (Polugar) is to самогон (samogon) or самогонка (samogonka) as Poitín or Corn Liquor is to Moonshine. Based on that I think Odin’s Thinking makes a lot of sense. Hopefully one of the in-laws can tell me more this weekend.
The first half is definitely true. And can you check my versions with your in-laws, too?
Last edited by VLAGAVULVIN on Sat May 18, 2019 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Polugar

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Sat May 18, 2019 4:53 am

Let's beat about the "classics" first...

1. I don't think the people in the medieval Russia made wort for their bread wines... and they did hardly have the US-5 strain or alike. So let's use any bakery yeast. And let's make some allgrain wash that you like or just experienced in. For instance, 1/3 of barley malt (as grist), 1/3 of rye malt (as grist) and 1/3 of unmalted wheat (like groats or flakes). You may add some buckwheat — either malted or not (it's a very Russian cereal up till now... but it's commonly toasted now, though). Don't use any flour — it's maybe closer to the roots but it would 'kill' the bottom of your pot if you don't use any steam distillation stuff. And don't use any maize (as it was totally unknown till the middle Soviet period). So, the mash bill that we have is more or less the Irish one... or Canadian, right? Wut? Temp breaks? Just as you got used to!..

2. Devil in detail (of stilling). They did not have any thermometer (except.hands) and had no idea of vapor liquid equilibria or relative volatility. But they had some experience, nevertheless. Well, let's filter our braga thru some loosy cloth. And let's use the easiest potstill (no thumpers, no vertical tube).
2.1. We started to heat it and got foreshots / poured in the sink (not sure they had sinks, okay: drop them in your valenki to kill feet bacteria). And we take about 1/3 of the stripping run into the Jar #1. Wut again? Okay-okay, for about 200..205F (or about 95 in centigrade) at your pot's thermometer (that you shouldn't have yet). And other 2/3 we place into a Jar (carboy?) #2 — till "water only" appears from the outlet.
2.2. Let's dilute the Jar #1 down to 20% AbV (and the lower — the better, you might already understand why... anyways, I made a hint above there). And we run this diluted Jar #1 as follows: the first half of this run we grant to the Lavatory's Gods (or better keep for the later bokakob reflux workouts). The second half we add to the Jar #2. Here we got the "blend".
2.3. Let's make the spirit run now. Heads: about 2% of the blend's volume. Hearts: about 20% (or up to your own taste). Tails? Lavatory's share or reflux it! Never heard of the feints redistillation in old Russia (but who knows...).

3. Use some charcoal (the birch coal effect has no difference from made of coconut shells). Don't use it too much and/or too long! Proof down to 38.5% AbV (77 US-proof) and let it rest for a week at room temp. Serve chilled. Try to enjoy as shots or sipping. The herbs were optional (used mostly for masking some funky remains).

Well, the next time I would tell about a modern method of getting "bready" home distillate. I used it 2 or 3 times and I like its effect (but not my labor costs)...

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Re: Polugar

Post by Sharks_n_danger » Tue May 21, 2019 9:29 am

None of the in-laws have heard of it. I’ll check with the extended side next time I see them.

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Re: Polugar

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Tue May 21, 2019 10:33 am

Sharks_n_danger wrote:None of the in-laws have heard of it. I’ll check with the extended side next time I see them.
There's not much known about the famous amongst those Russians wine of bread :roll:

Meanwhile, I'm getting encouraged to start a new thread for describing the second method of creating that bread-ish substance...

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Re: Polugar

Post by RimaNTSS » Tue May 21, 2019 11:45 am

Some people in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries have heard name "Полугар". Till the end of 18th century everybody new that name, as it was main drink before vodka. Then government (czar and later communists) replaced polugar with mixture of ethanol and water. Making polugar become illegal, however some did it anyway.
In translation word "polugar" means half-burning, that was the method to test the quality of polugar- they poured certain amount of polugar in special pot (made of silver), burned it and when there was only water left in the pot they measured amount of water. If water was 1/2 of the tested polugar than quality was OK. Usually polugar was ~38%.
They made polugar from malt (barley, rye or wheat).
Usually double distilling was used to make this drink.
P.S. I can speak Russian, so can help to translate some stuff.

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Re: Polugar

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Tue May 21, 2019 7:38 pm

RimaNTSS wrote:Then government (czar and later communists) replaced polugar with mixture of ethanol and water.
Circa 1894-1913 (the Witte's monopoly)... :egeek:

Never make banana brandy. And never ferment potatoes: better make banana brandy... Oct.20, 2019


Watching your run is making me lazy (c) James LaBrie

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