Preparing for first run

Putting older posts here. Going to try to keep the novice forum pruned about 90 days work. The 'good' old stuff is going to be put into appropriate forums.

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Neone
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Preparing for first run

Post by Neone » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:22 pm

Hi there - just wanted to get the input from the community before I get cracking on my first few runs.

I have the following:


A 5G SS milk can, fitted with a removable bokabob inline fractioning head (the condenser sits on top of the packing column and reflux is returned to the column via a T-joint that's about 1/4" off the floor of the condenser). The column is 3" copper tube that is 2ft tall - packed with copper mesh. There's a thermometer at the top of the packing, just below where the vapor enters the condenser.

A submersible pump to circulate cooling water.

A 900W industrial bucket heating belt and a propane turkey fryer. The belt seems safer, as it's not an open flame, but 900W seems a bit underpowered. So I'm going to try both.


My plan is as follows:

First - run water to check for leaks.

Second - run a water/vodka mix to practice separating.

Third - run a batch of beer. I have it on hand and have read about Beer Brandy (Beirschnapps) and think it sounds interesting. The beer I have is hopped, but it's a winter lager, and relatively sweet - so I'm hoping it might be palatable.


My goal is for the Beer Brandy to come out at around 40%ABV. The Beer right now is about 6%ABV.

Should I do a stripping run, then a more controlled run? My still is set up so that I can run it like a pot still, or run it like a fractioning still (but I haven't run it like any still as of yet.) Should I try to bring it to 40% in one run?

If I run it through and it comes out at a much higher ABV than I want, would I dilute with water, or with wash?

If I follow what I've read and start collecting at around 172F, and stop around 194F does that sound about right?

I know - a lot of these are "try it and see" questions. But If any of you have suggestions or thoughts, I'm all ears.

Thanks!

Neone
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Post by Neone » Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:26 pm

Correction:

The bucket warming belt is 550W with a variable temperature control with a max temp of 400F.

CoopsOz
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Post by CoopsOz » Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:55 pm

Run it in pot mode, for ease of instruction, set aside anything before 65% as heads and anything after 55% as tails. I don't think the belt would provide sufficient heating so I'd suggest using the propane. Dilute the hearts with water. If you are making a schnapps you may need to sweeten and thicken with glucose or corn syrup.
It is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, that he is disguised in liquor; for, on the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety. ~Thomas de Quincy, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, 1856

Neone
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Post by Neone » Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:05 pm

I was thinking I'd sweeten with honey to balance the hops.

I only have a wine/beer hydrometer for now. Ordered an alcometer off the internet and it arrived crushed, so now I'm waiting for the replacement. So I'm gonna have to go by temp.

CoopsOz
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Post by CoopsOz » Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:13 pm

be careful with honey, it often is way to sweet and doesn't always dissolve properly. It is a real shame when you get out one of the bottles and it has floaties. BTW, I edited out the hops reference in my previous post because I figure beer schnappes is probably supposed to taste like beer. :D
It is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, that he is disguised in liquor; for, on the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety. ~Thomas de Quincy, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, 1856

Neone
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Post by Neone » Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:39 pm

Corn syrup it is then. Excellent tip.

Thanks!

Time to try out the water run.

mtnwalker2
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Post by mtnwalker2 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:05 pm

Forget the corn syrup. There are as many honeys and their individual flavors as there are whiskeys. More different than scotch is to bourbon, to rye. Even to comparison to rums. Most like compareing a sweet tangerine, to a navel orange to a grapefruit, to a persian lime to a lemon to a key lime, to a calamondine, to a kumquate. Choose your honey of choice, cut with hot water and dissolve for the reduction in proof.

Let it marry and get happy for a while. Enjoy their enjoyments.

Maple and Birch syrups are good additions also, and with the same strictures. Vast difference in syrups. I mean really major. Choose a good one.

Sorry to rant for so long, but quality of product has reallly taken a nose dive. Honey's, juices, sorgum, maple syrurp, cane syrup etc.

Get the best, and enjoy!
> "You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event - it is a
>habit" Aristotle

Neone
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Post by Neone » Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:11 pm

Well, my father-in-law raises bees - so I figure I have a good source for it....ultimately, once I'm better at this, I'd like to make mead-brandy.

If you think that pre-dissolving the honey will work...heck, I guess I'll try out several solutions and report back with what does and what doesn't.

Meanwhile, the water is on the boil up. Somehow it feels like it's taking longer to get to a boil than when I make beer - but I bet that's just because I'm checking everything every 10 seconds.

HookLine
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Post by HookLine » Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:22 pm

kumquat

My favourite word. :mrgreen:
Be safe.
Be discreet.
And have fun.

CoopsOz
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Post by CoopsOz » Sat Dec 08, 2007 5:01 pm

mtnwalker2 wrote:Forget the corn syrup. There are as many honeys and their individual flavors as there are whiskeys.
I retract, I'm only speaking of personal experiences with store bought pasteurized honey. I have no clue how the natural variety would fair.
It is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, that he is disguised in liquor; for, on the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety. ~Thomas de Quincy, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, 1856

Neone
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Post by Neone » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:51 pm

Ok -

Water run, check.

Vodka run, check.

I threw a 1.75L bottle of incredibly cheap vodka into the water left over form the water run, probably 3L. I brought the temp back up - at about 110F, the temp started moving fast and was at 160 before I knew it, I turned on the pump for the condenser, and opened up the valve. I collected about 100ml, and put it aside, then collected in 50ml breaks.

I figured, the vodka was 40% - so there was a total of .7L of alcohol in the pot. I collected until I hit about 800ml and cut off. The temp was hovering at about 200F

Honestly, I can't tell the difference between the foreshots, the heart or the tails - in viscosity, smell or look. The foreshots are possibly a bit more oily and pungent.

I took half an ounce from right in the middle and mixed it with half an ounce of water - chilled, and did a comparison taste test against a shot of equally chilled Smirnoff. (note that the vodka that I distilled was NOT Smirnoff, but bottom shelf, plastic jug vodka).

They taste almost identical. Pride makes me think mine was a touch smoother, but that could be that mine was a little more diluted as well since I had to eyeball the alcohol volume. I even got my wife to test them, and she agreed. Her nose is a lot better than mine.



So - good runs - tomorrow, I strip and run the beer.

Neone
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Post by Neone » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:58 pm

I assume that there's not much detectable difference in my splits because I'm distilling from a pre-distilled neutral vodka, so there wasn't much in there to begin with.

HookLine
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Post by HookLine » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:03 pm

Neone wrote:I assume that there's not much detectable difference in my splits because I'm distilling from a pre-distilled neutral vodka, so there wasn't much in there to begin with.
Bingo.
Be safe.
Be discreet.
And have fun.

Neone
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Post by Neone » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:22 pm

Beer-run, check!

Running my column as a pot still (with some inevitable reflux due to the inline-head design) - I successfully ran three batches of beer. I'd planned on doing two, but worried about the foaming and split it into three. Glad I did.

I used a holiday-style lager - spiced, deep amber with relatively low hops - and after one boil-up on the first run, was able to pull jars of clear spirit, about 2 pints per 7L run.

The first run, like I said, had a bit of a boil-up in the beginning, so I got some color coming through in the beginning. I discarded the heads from each run and combined the rest. I'm a bit bummed that the end product isn't crystal clear - but it's not unattractive.

As I'm waiting on my alcometer, my best guess is that the combined spirits are somewhere hovering in the mid 40%ABV range. The distillate flares but doesn't burn.

It's smooth as silk, and the hops, though pronounced - isn't too sharp...if anything, it leaves a clean aftertaste. The spices definitely come through and all in all, I'm pretty happy with my Holiday Spiced Beer Brandy.

Thanks for all of your help!

CoopsOz
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Post by CoopsOz » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:41 pm

If it's not crystal clear then something is up, I'd say the boiler puked....try a little less heat and/or put less in the boiler next time.
It is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, that he is disguised in liquor; for, on the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety. ~Thomas de Quincy, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, 1856

Neone
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Post by Neone » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:17 am

Boiler definitely puked.

My thinking is that the beer foamed up (It was already keg-conditioned and carbonated) and the foam made it partially into the condenser.

The first run, the overflow was a lot heavier, but as I learned to control the temperature, it got to where it was running clear by the 10mL mark.

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