Bain Marie vs standard pot still

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Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by udiraz » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:21 am

Hi

I am considering buying a new larger still.
I can choose between standard pot still and bain marie still.

Well, I distill fruits - mostly grapes and apples.
With the bain marie still I will be able to make great real grappa from the grapes leftovers, which is really nice.
I can also do Arak with aniseed inside the still, which is also really nice for me.

My question is - is it possible and practical to distill wine (brandy) with bain marie still ?
I mean - will it be as useful to me as a standard pot still, plus the added value of grappa and other spices that I can put inside ?
I can only assume that the distillation will be slower on plain brandy, is that correct ?

Thanks, Udi.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by still_stirrin » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:46 am

udiraz wrote:...is it possible and practical to distill wine (brandy) with bain marie still ?
Sure. It may take a little longer to come "online" because of the time needed to heat the jacket. But it'll still work for a wine wash. Plus, the double boiler will reduce the liklihood of pomace scorching when you do runs with solids in the boiler.

Go for it.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Odin » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:14 am

Double boiler is great for thick washes, but takes more time and energy to heat-up and run. Changes in speed (more/less power) also take longer reaction times.

On a wine, so not a thick wash, a direct fired still will give you over more taste. The temperature differences reached with direct heating trigger more of the Maillard reaction in the boiler, generating up to 20% more taste in the final drink.

Regards, Odin.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:27 am

To distill a brandy down to less than 30% low wines, it is boiling at very close to the boiling point of water for quite some time, so if you used straight water in the bain marie there would be little temperature difference to give you the heat transfer you need at the end of the run.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by udiraz » Thu Apr 07, 2016 12:34 pm

NZChris wrote:To distill a brandy down to less than 30% low wines, it is boiling at very close to the boiling point of water for quite some time, so if you used straight water in the bain marie there would be little temperature difference to give you the heat transfer you need at the end of the run.
Sorry Chris, I did not understand what you wrote.
My low wines are normally around 35%-40%, with both apples and grapes brandy, so, will the bain marie work for that ? when I say work, I mean work good, not to force it to do what it is not supposed to.

Odin wrote:Double boiler is great for thick washes, but takes more time and energy to heat-up and run. Changes in speed (more/less power) also take longer reaction times.

On a wine, so not a thick wash, a direct fired still will give you over more taste. The temperature differences reached with direct heating trigger more of the Maillard reaction in the boiler, generating up to 20% more taste in the final drink.

Regards, Odin.
About that, I noticed that I have taste and smell of yeast. not at al in bad way, actually, most of the people who tasted it, liked it (although they coukd not tell it was yeasty smelling, since they did not ferment stuff at home :-) ), but I think if I could prevent it, it could be nice. I suspect that a bain marie could actually help e get rid of this yeasty smell, but I am not sure about it.


The plan is to keep my old still (30 litres) and buy a new, 100 liters still, which I will use for sure for the stripping runs, and probably also for spirit runs, but for spirits I will also be able to use the 30 liters, if I will not have enough low wines, but I guess what you wrote about taste applies mostly for the stripping runs and not so much for the spirit runs, am I correct ?

Thank you so much guys !

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:58 pm

udiraz wrote:Sorry Chris, I did not understand what you wrote.
My low wines are normally around 35%-40%, with both apples and grapes brandy, so, will the bain marie work for that ? when I say work, I mean work good, not to force it to do what it is not supposed to.
There is a lot of good flavor to be had out of grapes down below 35% low wines. That is why Cognac distillers distill so low. To get heat transfer from the liquid in the bain marie to the must, you need a difference in temperature between the two. With straight water in the bain marie you are gonna have to spend a long time sitting on your hands. The boiling point of the liquid in the bain marie has to be raised much higher than that of water to get any decent heat transfer at those ABVs, hence the threads querying various chemicals and oils for that purpose.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by yakattack » Sat Apr 09, 2016 3:49 am

Unless you make your baine marie into a hybrid with steam injection also. Shady had a great build thread on this. And pythonshine and myself are woking on mine.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by LWTCS » Sat Apr 09, 2016 4:23 am

Yes if the jacket were what I would call overfilled, the straight water would take a life time to heat up. We are not melting chocolate.

But if you use only enough water to safely cover the electric elements within the jacketed space is used to occupy vapor. With a 1 bar PRV you will be able to achieve jacket temps of 121 celsius.

This would then essentially be a self contained low pressure steam unit.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Fredistiller » Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:18 am

Odin wrote:Double boiler is great for thick washes, but takes more time and energy to heat-up and run. Changes in speed (more/less power) also take longer reaction times.

On a wine, so not a thick wash, a direct fired still will give you over more taste. The temperature differences reached with direct heating trigger more of the Maillard reaction in the boiler, generating up to 20% more taste in the final drink.

Regards, Odin.

20% more taste with direct heating instead of bain marie!! That's a lot!! Where do you find explanation on this please? Not that I don't believe you, I just want to know more as I also plan a new bain marie alembic ...

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Odin » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:30 am

Direct heating leads to temperature differences in the boiler. Slightly higher temperatures create more of the Maillard reaction, the taste cascade that also takes place while grilling a steak or frying (instead of cooking) potatoes.

The way I found out about this was with my own indirect fired stills. When I compared the output of for instance my rye bread whiskey, it was as if something was missing. Compared to a directly fired still used to make rye bread whiskey with. It didn't really ring a bell the first time. I thought that maybe my taste was a bit off or that I had done something different during the fermentation phase. But it happened again. And then I started noticing something else: the stillage after a run on my direct fired stills was significantly more brown (darker) than the stillage I disposed of after a run done with an indirectly fired still. That triggered me, because it suggested something went on inside the boiler that caused more colloration ... and more taste. After more reading, and tests, and talks to a party of Japanese master distillers that flew over for some training ... we figured it out. Maillardization and more taste in direct fired stills ...

Odin.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by udiraz » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:56 am

NZChris wrote:To distill a brandy down to less than 30% low wines, it is boiling at very close to the boiling point of water for quite some time, so if you used straight water in the bain marie there would be little temperature difference to give you the heat transfer you need at the end of the run.
Chris I think I got you now.
Well, on the stripping run I go well below 30% - to about 10%. 35%-40% is the ABV of the entire low wines collected together.

Well, the thing is, I have a chance to order a still until next week (it takes time to come from Portugal to Israel...), and I am a little confused.
My still is too small for the quantities I run. I have 30 litres still, and I run 150 litres of wine in one batch. it means I have to do ~8 stripping runs.
I want to buy a 100 litres still (bain marie or not).

I think I can get the standard one, and to make grappa, I can try to put it in large pot full of water, with stainless still stand or something like that.


Anyway, I think, after reading all of your replies, that a bain marie will not a decent substitute to my old still, and I will not be able to make my brandy with it like direct heat still.
Please correct me if I am wrong.

Grappa is nice to have, but it is definitely not my main stuff.


Thanks

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Sat Apr 09, 2016 1:46 pm

My brandy runs, the charges are boiling at 100C around the time the low wines reach 30%. The alcometer goes in the collection vessel. I don't record the abv of what is coming out of the spout as it's the abv of the total collection I'm targeting. Cognac distillers will go even lower.

Heat loss from the body of the still and riser will cause condensation on the walls and reflux vapor back into the charge, plus the temperature difference constantly diminishes, so production will eventually slow to the point where everything is refluxed and nothing reaches the take off. If this happens earlier than you want, or the last jars are taking so long it's driving you nuts, the only fix is to raise the temperature of the bain marie.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Fredistiller » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:38 am

Odin wrote:Direct heating leads to temperature differences in the boiler. Slightly higher temperatures create more of the Maillard reaction, the taste cascade that also takes place while grilling a steak or frying (instead of cooking) potatoes.

The way I found out about this was with my own indirect fired stills. When I compared the output of for instance my rye bread whiskey, it was as if something was missing. Compared to a directly fired still used to make rye bread whiskey with. It didn't really ring a bell the first time. I thought that maybe my taste was a bit off or that I had done something different during the fermentation phase. But it happened again. And then I started noticing something else: the stillage after a run on my direct fired stills was significantly more brown (darker) than the stillage I disposed of after a run done with an indirectly fired still. That triggered me, because it suggested something went on inside the boiler that caused more colloration ... and more taste. After more reading, and tests, and talks to a party of Japanese master distillers that flew over for some training ... we figured it out. Maillardization and more taste in direct fired stills ...

Odin.

Thanks for the explanation! It s really great!!

Do you think that the maillard reaction would take place in a fruit wash? And have influence on the taste? When I look at videos of "bouilleurs de cru" in france making fruit brandy. They always use bain marie. Do this make sence?

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Odin » Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:03 am

Fruit brandy is often aple sauce thick and has limited (unfermentable) sugars, so the benefits would be lower than what I see happening on grain distillation.

Regards, Odin.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by udiraz » Sun Apr 10, 2016 6:37 am

NZChris wrote:My brandy runs, the charges are boiling at 100C around the time the low wines reach 30%. The alcometer goes in the collection vessel. I don't record the abv of what is coming out of the spout as it's the abv of the total collection I'm targeting. Cognac distillers will go even lower.

Heat loss from the body of the still and riser will cause condensation on the walls and reflux vapor back into the charge, plus the temperature difference constantly diminishes, so production will eventually slow to the point where everything is refluxed and nothing reaches the take off. If this happens earlier than you want, or the last jars are taking so long it's driving you nuts, the only fix is to raise the temperature of the bain marie.
So Chris, if I get you right:
If I don't want to use chemicals like glycol or other oils or whatever to raise the water temp in the bain marie - it is not so practical for fruit brandies, in which you want to get low ABV low wines. is that correct ?
As I said, grapes and apple brandies (especially grapes, though) are my "bread and butter". I don't do any grains or stuff like that (yet ?). only brandies.
So, as an experienced brandy distiller, you are advicing me to get a standard direct heat pot still, and not a bain marie. is it ?

Thanks, and sorry for the bother. I really am a little confused with this...

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Fredistiller » Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:18 am

Odin wrote:Fruit brandy is often aple sauce thick and has limited (unfermentable) sugars, so the benefits would be lower than what I see happening on grain distillation.

Regards, Odin.
Thank you! :D

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Sun Apr 10, 2016 1:56 pm

udiraz wrote:So, as an experienced brandy distiller, you are advicing me to get a standard direct heat pot still, and not a bain marie. is it ?
Not at all. I'm only trying to explain the physics involved so that you can make informed decisions.

I've always pressed my grape musts and heated with internal elements, so my brandy experience has been limited to that. This year will be the first time I run that still with pomace in the boiler, and it will be with the pomace separated from the elements by a basket.
I haven't had any problem with burn on in my small experimental still that runs on a stove top element with an SCR power controller. Before charging it with steeped or fermented fruit, I make sure the bottom is dry, then wipe it with butter. I borrowed this idea from several sources and it hasn't failed me yet. The advice from distillers that use this method is to never let the fire go out as it needs to maintain a rolling boil.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:01 pm

Another trick to consider is a sleeve over the element.

http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =2&t=56722

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by udiraz » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:54 am

NZChris wrote:Another trick to consider is a sleeve over the element.

http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =2&t=56722

I run my still on gas stove, so it is open fire... so this probably not apply to my case.

I am "digging" in this subject so much, because I am really short in time, and the still is not cheap, so, if I buy another one, it must suit me perfectly. I cannot afford to make a mistake...
That's why I think that going with direct heat still, like I have now, will not be a mistake, but I also thought maybe bain marie could be better and more versatile, if I can also do the same brandy I do now.
From what the guys here write, except this post:
still_stirrin wrote:
udiraz wrote:...is it possible and practical to distill wine (brandy) with bain marie still ?
Sure. It may take a little longer to come "online" because of the time needed to heat the jacket. But it'll still work for a wine wash. Plus, the double boiler will reduce the liklihood of pomace scorching when you do runs with solids in the boiler.

Go for it.
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It seems that the answer is NO. I will not be able to do what I am doing now without using chemicals that I don't want, or waiting for very long time for the distillation to finish. and the reason I buy a new bigger still is to save time...
So, after all that, I am not really sure that bain marie will not suit me, but I don't want to risk buying a still that I will not be able to use comfortably.


One thing I wonder - all the responses here, were they based on hands-on experience ? I mean, still_stirrin wrote that it will be just fine, and other guys wrote about losing tastes, and taking forever to distill...
Did you actually tried bain marie VS direct heat ?

Thanks a lot guys !

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Odin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:41 am

I did.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:36 am

If it is time and money you want to save, look at the Charentaise method. Probably not great if you want to run with solids in the boiler, but if you have pressed the must, the time and energy savings are huge and it cuts down on cooling requirements. The cost of the build is only a preheater the same size as your existing still plus mounting and plumbing.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:58 am

udiraz wrote:Did you actually tried bain marie VS direct heat ?
My research (pre-internet) told me it wasn't going to work for my purposes, therefore my building one would have been a mistake.

It may work for your purposes. Doing research and getting an understanding of the physics involved by using university libraries rather than relying on opinions on internet forums will get you better answers than you will get here.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by udiraz » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:37 am

Thanks Odin and Chris.
Odin - I did notice that you wrote from experience.

Chris - Theoretical physics is still somewhat theoretical, and not always practical. I always like to talk to people with hands on experience, because they know how things work in reality, and not only in the books.
That's why I asked about hands on experience, and not only opinions.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by LWTCS » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:47 am

Malting and roasting of malt as well as the grain cooking will generate more impact to distillate than malliard reactions in the still. Some brewers even describe how not all elements of Malliard reaction are desirable.
A "20% more taste" in flavor seems like a lot.

Malliard making for tasty food might not be the same for distillate, as not everything created is volatile. Major Malliard components in distillate are furfural and pyrazines - flavor would be bready and nutty.

I don't know what the impact on a fruit wash would be? And I don't really understand how the classic Malliard (bready/nutty) profile translates to fruit?

But anyone that has scorched on an open flame would very likely much rather run with the jacket...IMO.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Odin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:03 pm

LWTCS wrote:Malting and roasting of malt as well as the grain cooking will generate more impact to distillate than mallard reactions in the still. Some brewers even describe how not all elements of Malliard reaction are desirable.
A "20% more taste" in flavor seems like a lot.

Malliard making for tasty food might not be the same for distillate, as not everything created is volatile. Major Malliard components in distillate are furfural and pyrazines - flavor would be bready and nutty.

I don't know what the impact on a fruit wash would be? And I don't really understand how the classic Malliard (bready/nutty) profile translates to fruit?

But anyone that has scorched on an open flame would very likely much rather run with the jacket...IMO.

I have no dog in this hunt. I sell both.
I have no dog in this hunt either. We made both, direct and indirect, but we choose for direct heating for the above reason. And I think I am with you, LWTCS, it is the rums and whiskies where the Maillard reactions has more influence. Much more than in fruit brandies, that are more late heads rather than early tails oriented.

Regards, Odin.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by NZChris » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:00 pm

My 'hands on' with a bain marie is using one to make cheese two or three times a month. It's a 12l SS pan for the milk in a preserving pan for the bain marie. When I first put the milk in there is a large temperature difference and the milk heats quickly. What I have found is that, if I heat the water as much above the desired temperature as the milk is below it, eventually they will reach the target temperature without me fiddling about other than giving them the occasional stir and twiddling my thumbs.

When the temperatures get within a few degrees of each other, it's like watching grass grow. The last degree seems to take forever, even with regular agitation. There is very little heat transfer at that point.
If I'm in a hurry, I keep the bain marie temperature much higher, then when the milk reaches the target, take the pan out while I adjust the temperature in the bain marie, then put it back.

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by udiraz » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:01 am

Thanks you guys !
I really appreciate your efforts and help :thumbup:

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Fredistiller » Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:42 am

I was asking myself, is an Bain Marie still more difficult to run? I mean is the control of the power input not an issue? Because of the delay between when you give more power and when this power is warming your mash.

And during a stripping run, you can run resonably fast in the heads, then slowing donwn in the hearts, and faster again in the tails. Is it possible to do that with an Bain Marie?

Or do you have to be really careful and running at the same pace all along the run?

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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Odin » Sat Apr 16, 2016 12:40 pm

Au bain, Marie!-stills in general use 2 1/2 times more material, so response time lags.

Regards, Odin.
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Re: Bain Marie vs standard pot still

Post by Fredistiller » Sat Apr 16, 2016 12:43 pm

Odin wrote:Au bain, Marie!-stills in general use 2 1/2 times more material, so response time lags.

Regards, Odin.
Sorry, but what do you mean by 2 1/2 more materials? I don t understand....

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