Tell us about your mistakes.

This hobby is fun & enjoyable, but it is not tiddlywinks. Be safe!

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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby cuginosgrizzo » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:13 am

During my latest spirit run (an apple brandy) I setup everything as usual and started the gas burner for the heatup. During the heatup I never start the condenser water: I keep it monitored and as soon as the time is right I start the water and lower the flames for the fores collection. My heatup usually lasts from 45 minutes up.
My still house is my garage, so this time I decided to work on my bike, removing the saddlebags and mounting the newly chromed rear guards, while I was waiting.
Well..I guess you imagine it: 30 minutes later I smell something, raise my eyes only to see clouds of hot vapour rushing out of my condenser!

A second later I cut the flames and started the water flow... but what a scare.

Had to change my diapers before starting out again.

Moral: never leave a still unattended, even if you are a few meters away.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby bronctoad » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:11 am

I'm getting ready for a 3rd gen UJ. Got my shells on hand, three gals of backset,
6 or 7 gals of pre-boiled water, 24#'s of inverted sugar in three gals of water cooling to 90ish
fermax nutes, and PH strips to check.

Pulled 2 six gal carboys off my fermentor at .998. put a couple of gals of water on the lees
while waiting for the sugar to cool down. getting ready for "beer day" while waiting.....

FINALY temps down, 90ish. poured it in the fermentor, added water. Mixed with a mortar mixer.
tested PH. between 4.4 and 4.8 (two different strips) so its good. :ebiggrin:
I notice the level lower than before, so I grab my tank of pre boiled water and top it up....
wrapped up the bag and blow off tube. closed up the hot box and turned on the heater.


Then.... :sick:

I see my 3 gal carboy of backset sitting pretty as you please next to the hot box


:evil: S*%$ F^#*P#$$!!!!!!!!! :evil:

well.... we'll see what 3rd gen sweet mash UJ will taste like in a couple of weeks :oops:
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby Cherokee » Wed May 02, 2018 4:30 pm

This isn't as much of a mistake as it is plain stupidity!!!! Got my new still and did a cleaning run that the manufacturer suggested 5 gallon water and a gallon of white vinegar. Ok, no issues. Ran the cleaning run as direct, but used a whole gallon of my wife's white cleaning vinegar, also no biggie. Run my second run ever got 130 proof at the end gathered my jars, left them sit for a day...then went out and bought a gallon of distilled water to do my cut. Figured out what I thought was good and put it all in one jar. Then cut the whole jar, I had the distilled water jug on the table and while I was going back and forth doing stuff my wife came home and she had picked up a gallon jug of white vinegar and put it right next to the gallon jug of distilled water on the table...Anyone want to guess which gallon jug ol' "numbnuts" here picked up and made my cut with????? I only put in like cups in a glass gallon jug and my proof went from 130 to 80 % and since it was the first time I ever did it, I thought, wow...it really don't take much to cut this. Then I tasted it, still not knowing it was vinegar and thought...well I read that the cut brings out the flavor and this must be what it really tastes like (btw it was apple shine) very sour crab apples. Then for some reason I had my hand to my face and smelled vinegar, looked at the table saw 2 (except for the color of the caps) identical plastic jugs still there turn the open one around and sure enough it was the vinegar, distilled water jug was still sealed!!!!

Moral of the story, turn everything around so you can see and read the labels!!!!
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby fizzix » Wed May 02, 2018 5:11 pm

Sorry to hear about that, Cherokee!
..Making the devil's water since 2017... Never bash another distiller. Ever.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby Truckinbutch » Wed May 02, 2018 7:36 pm

At the tail end of a late stilling evening do not leave a half consumed can of beer sitting because you are tired and don't want any more beer .
Why not ? Well , at the start of the next stilling session , while bustling about getting going , you might set down a fresh half can of beer and then pick up that old stale one .
A big gulp of VERY stale beer polluted with dog pecker gnats and other critters produces projectile vomiting . It also kills stilling enthusiasm for the evening .
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby thecroweater » Thu May 03, 2018 3:26 pm

Can vouch for that, for extra volume and distance get some drinking buddies to throw in half a dozen ciggie buts and leave for a few weeks to get a good slimy mould layer growing on top. You will hurl so hard you'll almost need a broom handle to get ya arsehole back down ya throat but likely you'll only fool for it just once. :sick:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Benjamin Franklin
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Thu May 03, 2018 3:36 pm

Oh, and don’t drink coffe working at a table alongside someone who chews tobacco if using similar cups...
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby zapata » Thu May 03, 2018 6:09 pm

I drank enough cigarettes in college I still subconsciously shake/swirl beer bottles/cans while drinking. Even in a bar I've noticed myself doing it absent mindedly. Took me a while to figure out why I do it, it was the habit of listening for the butts clinking around in there.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby HDNB » Thu May 03, 2018 6:17 pm

zapata wrote:I drank enough cigarettes in college I still subconsciously shake/swirl beer bottles/cans while drinking. Even in a bar I've noticed myself doing it absent mindedly. Took me a while to figure out why I do it, it was the habit of listening for the butts clinking around in there.


har! we played a game called pinky when we were kids. every now and again i see one of my buddies (or catch myself) having a sip with pinky extended. :oops:

on the bright side it did teach me how to drink (a lot) without swearing like a drunk sailor. :twisted:

listening for butts is just self preservation! :sick:
I finally quit drinking for good.

now i drink for evil.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby The Baker » Thu May 03, 2018 10:01 pm

My sister-in-law used to play 'burnies' with her friends.

But that is at the other end of the alimentary canal....

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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby zapata » Thu May 10, 2018 6:47 pm

I just made the perfect daquari.
It starts with a simple syrup of equal parts water and a good demerara sugar.

1/2 measure demerara simple syrup
3/4 measure fresh hand squeezed lime juice
2 measures of good white rum
Shake shake shake with ice, strain and serve with a ribbon of lime zest.

So how is that a mistake? After drinking my perfect daquari I made a 2nd, but accidentally grabbed the bottle of UJ! Not really used to having white rum around here and somehow I didnt notice till the first sip. Lol, can't miss it at that point! Whatever, I'm finishing my drink dude!
Image
TBH it tastes kinda familiar, like maybe I've done this before?
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby Bikes n Booze » Fri May 11, 2018 8:03 pm

Put baking soda in unstripped wash. Ended up with windex for a heads cut.

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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby CatCrap » Tue May 15, 2018 1:04 pm

Ah.. my first post on this thread. What a good one.

Did an UJ spirit run yesterday prepping to fill a barrel (BTW, found a 5 gal Oak barrel (new) for $85 bucks!! plus 20 shipping. That's the cheapest i've seen except that scam website)

All went well. As yall know spirit runs can go pretty long, so it was pretty late when i finished. Maybe 1 am or so. I went to sit on the couch, eat a sandwich, watch a little netflix. So, just yesterday afternoon i was thinking, man, i need to get a new reservoir. The one i have is really dirty, and i've emptied and cleaned it a few times, but i think a lot of that bacteria hides in the plastic. It's a 30 gallon rubbermaid trash can. I modded it a bit, by adding some copper pipe hangers on the side. So, the pump sits in there, runs a hose out which i'll connect to the condenser, and then some pipe hangers are attached for the hot water return. Love it, great reservoir. I keep it on a little wooden dolly with wheels, although i never move it very far, only a couple inches. I've gotten pretty lazy with it though, unfortunately. I had a lot of issues with bacteria growth in it.. so i started putting a healthy amount of PBW in the water. This seemed to help, it kept the bacteria at bay for a little longer, but still, after two weeks, after warming up the water and letting it sit out, it gets pretty gross. Long translucent stringy slimy bacteria started growing on the pump, the hosing, and sides of the bin. Gettig pretty gross. So, yesterday i said, yeah its prolly time to just start fresh. Tomorrow i'll buy a new one, empty this one and chuck it out.

So, 230 AM central standard time. I'm happily dozing off on the couch, watching locked up abroad. I hear an enormous crash and sploosh, and run to the kitchen (the still has been shut down for a few hours now, but the water got very hot. It was right at the edge of where i'd put fresh water in, but this time, i just let it go til the end of the run. But this is hotter than i usually let my res ever get.) Go into the kitchen and the res has buckled in at the side, and tipped over and fallen off the dolly. 30 gallons of hot, disgusting water is EVERYWHERE!!!! Adrenaline rushes, i scramble, looking for the mop. Wtf what am i even going to do with a mop? So i go for towels, all the towels, lots of towels, trying to contain it. Not much success. But, what's this? This noise? It's a smoke detector or something in the hallway?

I live in a 4 unit building. I'm in the upper rear. There's lower front, lower rear, etc etc. I go into the hallway, and still hear the alarm.. strange... i hear water running? Is it raining? No, i open the front door, it's not raining. Where is this water running? Rush to the basement, and water is just fucking pouring down from a spot in the ceiling, right over a smoke detector. So i yank the detector down (it's 230 AM, i do NOT want my neighbors up and asking questions. Now my heart is really racing... is this something really serious? Am i about to get fucking arrested or something? My apartment is basically a distillery. There's no hiding it, not in a few minutes time. I'd be hard pressed to hide everything in a few days time.. there's just too much to explain.) So, i look at the water.. thinking.. did a pipe burst? Somehow? God i hope not... So, i figure it must just be leaking from my apartment somehow. It must have been too much water and had to go somewhere. So, the basement is pretty disgusting anyway, i'm not too worried about this. Back upstairs. My apartment kitchen has a goood 2 inches of water fucking everywhere. The bathroom, under the stove, the still platform, just fucking everywhere.

So, using many many towels, and an hour or two, i manage to sop it all up. Mess cleaned up, crisis sort of averted. What a disaster. This is way way worse than the pot full of backset overflowing the other day.

I'll still be shopping a new reservoir today!! I'll look for something sturdier.. i guess. My thought was, i need to empty this thing more often. So, i'll rig something up. My plan is this... a bucket in the bathtub, with a pump in it. This bucket gets filled by the bathtub faucet, the pump has a long long hose running to the kitchen to the reservoir. That way i can empty the res with ease, and i can refill it with out lugging buckets. Should make it much less of a chore to have to empty and refill it. it won't get so hot, and it won't get so gross.

Lesson hopefully learned.

Funny thing is, it literally crossed my mind YESTERDAY. What if this reservoir fell over? Man.. what a mess that would be. :clap: :clap: :clap:

I'm enjoying a Rum Fire daiquiri right now. I've earned it.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby jonnys_spirit » Tue May 15, 2018 2:07 pm

(it's 230 AM, i do NOT want my neighbors up and asking questions. Now my heart is really racing... is this something really serious? Am i about to get fucking arrested or something? My apartment is basically a distillery. There's no hiding it, not in a few minutes time. I'd be hard pressed to hide everything in a few days time.. there's just too much to explain.)

Wow! I was sweatin it for ya!

-j
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby zapata » Tue May 15, 2018 7:56 pm

Wow bro, that is scary! In various living situations I've been in I've put some thought to hiding shit quickly. To some degree it isn't too hard to just get shit out of obvious sight. 3 sided boxes work great. I'd go to appliance shops and get large cardboard boxes, and cut them to size for a fermenter, a boiler or whatever. With the box folded and stored nearby, in 3 seconds you go from having a boiler in the middle of the room, to having a box. Of course that wouldn't hold up with a foot of water on the floor! But in an apartment setting it may well be worth considering. You aren't always entirely in control in an apartment.

In my case it was more a matter of being able to toss a box over the boiler while it cooled so it just wouldn't be obvious if a neighbor stooped by or a roommates friends or whatever. Even had one to go on the column so it could cool down assembled. I had a shelf with fermenter, they pretty much had their boxes on 24/7. But with no backs they slid right out and were not inconvenient at all. But it made the fermenter all but invisible...the smell and sound of airlocks on the other hand...
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby pfshine » Tue May 15, 2018 10:33 pm

Why even have a reservoir? It's just more stuff cluttering up the place, just waiting to cover all your other stuff in 30 gallons of snot. It's just too easy and cheap to run from a tap than to fuss with pumps, water temp and, a barrel of mucous like fluid.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby zapata » Wed May 16, 2018 8:11 am

Some setups do better with a reservoir. A liebig is pretty easy to just turn down the tap so the waste is hot and you can still conserve water, I run my pot still off the tap. My crossflow condenser on the other hand, it has such a short coolant path so if I turn down flow so the waste is warm-hot, I get escaping vapors. No real surprise since the condenser was designed to be used with a reservoir so that is how I use it. It shines with a radiator for the coolant, but even just changing res water when it gets warm uses a lot less water than just running from the tap.

I think reservoirs are holdovers from a time when most stills (and reservoirs) were small kitchen affairs, or a place (aussie) where many people relied on expensive water (sometimes trucked in) or limited rain water reservoirs for their home sypply. For most people outside of deserts tap cooling is probably a cheap and easy solution. And no pump to fail mid run either!
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby pfshine » Wed May 16, 2018 8:41 am

I live in the desert so I do like to conserve water, at one point I had a kick ass reservoir with evap cooling and auto fill and bypasses lots of fun stuff. Well one day my sump pump died mid run and created a very dangerous situation with vapor and distillate shooting from the top of a boka. At that point I ditched the res and went to the tap. I would rather spend a dollar on water than burn my house down. I now either run the waste water to trees and plants or use it to start another mash to save water and power. To each their own but for me it's not even close to worth it.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby cranky » Wed May 16, 2018 9:33 am

Personally I prefer to use a reservoir, actually 2 one for the PC and another for the RC but I also have a backup pump in case one or both fail. Of course to each his own and I have had a few mishaps that have resulted in big messes.

The thing I don't understand is this
CatCrap wrote: My plan is this... a bucket in the bathtub, with a pump in it. This bucket gets filled by the bathtub faucet, the pump has a long long hose running to the kitchen to the reservoir. That way i can empty the res with ease, and i can refill it with out lugging buckets. Should make it much less of a chore to have to empty and refill it. it won't get so hot, and it won't get so gross.

Does your kitchen not have a sink? Because if it does why not just use that as a refill/drain reservoir or put the bucket in that instead of the bathtub? The way I drain my reservoir when needed is just to run the pump, either through the condenser or disconnect the hose before the connector then run it to a drain. Seems like it would be much easier to put a valve in the system that allows you to divert the return water to the sink drain while using the faucet or bucket or pump to refill the reservoir.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby CatCrap » Wed May 16, 2018 1:13 pm

Ok.. here's the thing. My set up is close to the kitchen sink, and i have a bathroom right next to it. THe kitchen sink is painfully slow and low pressure. I found out a long time ago (6 months :ewink: ) that it's wayyyyyyy faster to refill or get any water period using the bathtub. It probably fills 20X faster easily. So, when i do want to empty the reservoir, i have a little rig that i put in my dish drying rack that holds the hose from the reservoir, where i always have pump in it, to empty it. I could bail it, but the sink doesn't drain real fast so
i have to go slow, and sit there, and draining by hose is hands free. But, if i just try to lay the hose in there... not gonna happen. The pressure is too much for the small SD hose and it will whip around wildly. So, hence the rig to keep it in place.

I have several reasons for a res, most of all probably is so i can use the kitchen sink while running, ofter for several hours. I can wash the dozens of things that go along with distilling and fermenting etc etc. I can cook dinner and wash dishes. I also am not sure my faucet can hook up to a hose. Also, when i do a reflux run, i use 2 pumps in the res to run to each condenser. If i hooked that up to my faucet, it would not have enough pressure and lift for the condensers. ALso i can get really really cold water from the bathtub in big quantities, so if i need to fresh up the res and cool it down for a long run, it's pretty simple. I think a faucet is pretty limiting.. you just don't have the control you would on a reservoir, and a pump is pretty easy to manage. Yes, i have a back up. The Brewhaus 20$ pumps are outstanding, especially at that price. My setup works pretty well for me, i've been cranking out liquor of all kinds. Mashing 4X25L of Booner's today, getting close to enough to fill that bad ass 5 Gallons of oak. But, to me, it's just simpler to have a res.

Cranky, my bathroom is right next to the kitchen, by the sink and still. So, to fil the reservoir i can do 12qt cambros in the sink, which takes about 10 min to fill one, or use the bathtub which comes out much quicker, probably a 22qt cambro in 2 minutes. So, my point, is that instead of lugging bucket by bucket to refill the res, i have put a bucket under the faucet in the tub, with a pump in it, and some 3/4" ID braided hose, 12 feet, to the res to refill. It's just a small step to save some time n sweat. That was my only intention with that.

I have kind of an odd set up apartment. But it works very well for my needs. 2 extra bedrooms comes in vera handy. Barrels!!! LOL, sorry i'm pumped because i found a barrel for 85 plus shipping.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby zapata » Thu May 17, 2018 11:27 am

No way your water supply doesn't have enough lift. If your faucet is slow it's probably just a clogged aerator, it's the screen thing that screws right into the end, and where a hose adaptor would screw on if you went that route. Might want to clean that aerator just for normal kitchen use! Side note, but they usually plug from plastic bits from a faulty dip tubes in water heaters. There was an epidemic of dip tubes disintegrating 10-15 years ago, look at the crud in the aerator, if it dissolves in vinegar it's just hard water minerals, if it doesn't it's plastic, that ends up in your food and water and everything else you use the kitchen sink for...

Look under your sink, should be a shutoff valve for the sink. Usually with flexible tube from there to the faucet. If so, it's the perfect place for you to attach a new supply line. If you are into the hobby as much as it sounds, you will benefit immensely. Shut off the valve, attach a matching T and a shut off valve, and reattach the faucet supply. Or 2 Tees and 2 valves to run both your condensers. The undersink valves should just be 1/4 turn shut off valves, somewhere more convenient near or on the still should be your control valves, ball or needle (I get by mostly with ball, needle is much easier to control)
That's probably $20-30 in hardware, no permanent changes to the apartment. You can store your hoses attached and coiled under the sink, or add quick or push connects if you need that space for other storage.
No reservoirs to have in the way or to leak! No risk of failed pumps. No cords for the pumps going everywhere. No trips to the bathtub. Dude, it'd pay off in the first week.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby jonnys_spirit » Thu May 17, 2018 11:53 am

No pesky neighbors questioning 2am fire alarms and standing water in the hallway!

Cheers,
-j
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun May 20, 2018 9:46 am

How about the time the DEA raided my pad....
Of course I maintain a small lab in my home that's primarily geared for working with herbs and organic chemistry. I produce a variety of products and run kooky experiments all the time. Now it had so happened that I'd left a single 500 ml flask sitting on my kitchen counter one day because I'd used it to make some coffee with a funnel. I forgot to put it back and I went to work. Well, I get a phone call at about noon from my land lord (he knew I was an herbalist and what I did) telling me that the bug spray guy had come in, seen the flask and called the authorities. I got home just in time to see 3 unmarked white vehicles roll up with 7 or 8 big guys in vests and packing heat climbing out of them. I walked over to them, introduced myself and let them into the house. I took them into the room where all the equipment was set up, showed them my degree hanging on the wall, let them search the place and calmly explained everything they were looking at which for the most part seemed to baffle them. They looked for tincture of iodine which of course I don't keep on hand, they assumed I was making Meth. They looked directly at a variety of things that probably could have gotten me a felony or worse but they had no idea what was in all the funny colored potions and were completely oblivious to the obvious distillation equipment. After they were satisfied I wasn't making meth they left apologizing and one even asked me what his wife could take for her allergies. They promised they'd never bother me again and they haven't. Distilling in my state isn't illegal outright as long as you're not making booze but even if I had been at the time I doubt the would have snapped. Makes for a memorable story for sure. I just about crapped my pants no lie.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby pfshine » Sun May 20, 2018 10:34 am

Ruining that bug guys life would be my new hobby. His wife would "win" a fantastic cruise, then after she left I would bury a skeleton in his backyard at night making sure noises and shadows would be observed by neighbors. Then in the morning call about a loud fight a "missing" woman and strange digging in the middle of the night. That should keep the bug guy busy for a couple days.
All hypothetical of course.

Nosey bastard.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun May 20, 2018 1:20 pm

Right? Spread tincture of poison Ivy all over his car handles....
As long as I lived there no one who entered the place ever said a word, just him. Any more these days the lab is kept locked and the shining rig in particular is kept broken down completely until I use it....which is to say it's usually fully assembled :D .
My living circumstances have changed since then too so there's little risk. I just loved how confused the investigators looked as they left, they had no idea what to make of it all.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby zapata » Sun May 20, 2018 3:42 pm

It is a sad fact that the vast majority of our citizens know so little about science as to A) not recognize basic scientific apparatus or B) have any context for it beyond Breaking Bad if they do. Every home should have the equivalent of a high school science lab...

I have a legit fear of this ever happening to me. Of course I have tincture of iodine around, how else you gonna do a starch test? Various acids, bases, solvents? Duh. Precursors? Probably, though obviously not for that reason or in that quantity. But in all honesty it's probably enough to force me into a guilty plea if I couldn't afford the lawyer...freedom....yay...
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun May 20, 2018 4:55 pm

Well in defense of both the bug spray guy and the DEA they do have good reason to be suspicious. The place I live has been dubbed the Meth capital of the world and breaking bad was mostly filmed in the city I call home. In my years I've known a number of cooks and I even did some collaboration with an ex cook on a series of projects involving specific plant extracts. We taught each other a few crazy tricks. My lab is too neat and tidy for most Meth cooks, much better equipment and controls. I don't cook Meth but if I did it'd be done correctly.
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby 6 Row Joe » Mon May 21, 2018 1:53 pm

Just a quick one, I got in a hurry and poured hot backset in my sour mash mix and probably killed the yeast. I did have a gallon of room temp water and what liquid was left in the corn. I will add the sugar, a little yeast and aerate tomorrow and watch for action in the next day or so. It's one of those slap the forehead deals. Dang, I can't believe I did that!
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby jb-texshine » Mon May 21, 2018 11:31 pm

I got married to my ex wife...does that count as a mistake?
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Re: Tell us about your mistakes.

Postby ShineonCrazyDiamond » Tue May 22, 2018 3:31 am

Doh!!!
"Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond."
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ShineonCrazyDiamond
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