Best hybrid still

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BillPeet
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Best hybrid still

Post by BillPeet » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:38 pm

G'day guys,

Complete noob here looking at building my first still.
My aim is flavoured spirits - whiskey, bourbons, rum etc., however I'm wondering if I need to start with neutral spirits first - is that easier for a beginner?
If so, I'll need some sort of hybrid still, that can run in reflux but also as a proper pot still.

My first question is - am I better off just building a straight pot still, or building a Boka/VM/CCVM style reflux still that can run in pot still mode? Is there any disadvantage in using a reflux still without padding over against a straight pot still?
I like the look of a CCVM as it's basically a pot still that you can add a reflux condenser into if you want to, but I'd be interested in people's thoughts.

Second question - is there any disadvantage in using stainless pipe for everything, rather than copper? I've noticed some bought stills (e.g. T500) have a stainless column, but very few of the DIY ones do.

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still_stirrin
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by still_stirrin » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:10 pm

This is my $0.02....build a modular potstill. Got access to a used 1/2 barrel beer keg (Sanke tap)? Then, a 2” potstill is easy to build with reasonably priced materials. And with tri-clover (T/C) joints, you can change configuration and add features easily in the future.

Since flavored spirits are your desire, then why not start with something to do that? Sure, there will be a learning curve to any type of spirit you try to make, so why not gain the experience producing something that you ultimately desire? It is no more complicated (nor less complicated) to make a whiskey or rum than it is to make a vodka....just different.

A potstill will help you with the very basics: stripping a wash and making cuts. Plus, you’ll learn the physics of the distillation process, ie - separating alcohol from water.

Your question regarding the advantages of copper in a still, or whether it is better than stainless steel has been asked by nearly every new hobbiest. There are many, many threads with compendiums of discussion for the advantages or disadvantages of either material. So, rather than duplicate that discussion here, I would suggest a search using the HDGoogle search tool and read up.

OK, maybe that was a nickel’s worth of advice....keep the change.
ss
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by StillerBoy » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:21 pm

still_stirrin wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:10 pm
A potstill will help you with the very basics: stripping a wash and making cuts. Plus, you’ll learn the physics of the distillation process, ie - separating alcohol from water.
A well design and built pot is the basic and required setup for all, as express by SS..

Once you have done some basic runs and develop some experience, then start to learn what would be the best setup for future needs or produce you have an interest in..

There are many column design, all will give good result, but some are better suited, but it is premature to start with one, unless you have someone of experience to guide you in there usage..

Mars
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– Albert Einstein

BillPeet
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by BillPeet » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:39 pm

Sweet, thanks for your help guys.
still_stirrin wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:10 pm
This is my $0.02....build a modular potstill. Got access to a used 1/2 barrel beer keg (Sanke tap)? Then, a 2” potstill is easy to build with reasonably priced materials. And with tri-clover (T/C) joints, you can change configuration and add features easily in the future.
Sounds like a plan. If everything's held together with tri-clover clips I can add/replace whichever part I need, e.g. adding a reflux condenser.
still_stirrin wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:10 pm
Since flavored spirits are your desire, then why not start with something to do that? Sure, there will be a learning curve to any type of spirit you try to make, so why not gain the experience producing something that you ultimately desire? It is no more complicated (nor less complicated) to make a whiskey or rum than it is to make a vodka....just different.
Good to hear, that's what I thought - running a straight pot still run sounds easier to me than controlling reflux ratio anyway.
still_stirrin wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:10 pm
Your question regarding the advantages of copper in a still, or whether it is better than stainless steel has been asked by nearly every new hobbiest. There are many, many threads with compendiums of discussion for the advantages or disadvantages of either material. So, rather than duplicate that discussion here, I would suggest a search using the HDGoogle search tool and read up.
I know, but everything you read contradicts the last thing you read :( Seems there's heated arguments on the HD forum about the subject.
Anyway, the gist I've got is that you need some amount of copper in the vapour path for clearing impurities (either copper column or some copper in a stainless column), so I might just go for a copper still.

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shadylane
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by shadylane » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:40 pm

No matter what still head is used
First you'll need a boiler that can be easily filled, emptied and attached to the column
My preference is a CM rig. It has the widest range of reflux ratio.
Any thing from potstill mode, to 100% reflux is possible.
You might consider some copper mesh in the lower part of the column.
Personally, I put a handful of copper mesh in my SS boiler
Last edited by shadylane on Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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NZChris
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by NZChris » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:51 pm

For flavored products like you want to make, a pot still is all you need. Reflux stills can be used, but they come with both advantages and disadvantages, so do your homework. Start with what you want to make and in what quantities, then work out what still is best for the job.

Copper research: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 0450.x/pdf

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Tummydoc » Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:32 pm

A stainless column will be cheaper than copper usually, and you can put a few copper scrub pads in the column to get the benefits of copper in the vapor path. A pot still on a keg boiler is an easy build, and if modular is easily reconfigured to a CCVM. Start with a pot still for whiskey or rum, save your heads and tails to later do a reflux run for a neutral spirit. I only do 2-3 reflux runs yearly but a pot run every 2-3 weeks.

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Saveing heads and tails

Post by Markthebuilder » Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:14 am

Little gems like that are why I’m reading all this

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Euphoria » Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:58 am

IMO, modular construction is more versatile and cost effective. I have a 26 gal, a 13 gal, and an 8 gal. boiler, a Lyne Arm, a Plated Column, and a Thumper lid, and I can "mix and match" any and all of it in whatever configuration I want to run. Just makes sense to be able get more than one use from any components.
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Saltbush Bill
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Saltbush Bill » Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:06 pm

If you build your own still , copper is really easy to work with......stainless is a bitch imo. Horrible, hard ,unforgiving stuff.

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by CoogeeBoy » Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:16 pm

Tummydoc wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:32 pm
....I only do 2-3 reflux runs yearly but a pot run every 2-3 weeks.
Mate, you must have a lot of ferments going!

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Tummydoc » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:17 pm

CoogeeBoy wrote:
Tummydoc wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:32 pm
....I only do 2-3 reflux runs yearly but a pot run every 2-3 weeks.
Mate, you must have a lot of ferments going!
Two 32 gallon brutes that are rarely empty

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by CoogeeBoy » Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:33 am

Tummydoc wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:17 pm
CoogeeBoy wrote:
Tummydoc wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:32 pm
....I only do 2-3 reflux runs yearly but a pot run every 2-3 weeks.
Mate, you must have a lot of ferments going!
Two 32 gallon brutes that are rarely empty
Hoooo Wee!
Makes my 2x30l fermenters look like pimples on an elephants backside, and I only ever get one going at any one time unfortunately, my still is too small and takes too long to reflux those in a reasonable amount of time.

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Swedish Pride » Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:58 am

Saltbush Bill wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:06 pm
If you build your own still , copper is really easy to work with......stainless is a bitch imo. Horrible, hard ,unforgiving stuff.
you have to be at one with the staino.
Don't be a dick

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by shadylane » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:47 pm

BillPeet wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:38 pm
is there any disadvantage in using stainless pipe for everything, rather than copper? I've noticed some bought stills (e.g. T500) have a stainless column, but very few of the DIY ones do.
For making a packed column, Stainless steel spools are hard to beat
Their cheaper and more durable than copper and already have the tri-clamp ferrules welded on :ewink:

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Tummydoc » Wed Jul 08, 2020 5:03 pm

Yup, what shady says. But a copper scrubber in the vapor path really helps get rid of sulfur compounds. I know NZChris advocates copper in the boiler. Dont know if that negates the need for copper in the column.

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by jonnys_spirit » Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:56 pm

I had a stainless milk can boiler with 3” copper riser “pot still” and got a slightly larger copper boiler with more ports for filling, draining, cleaning, and dual elements. Glad I did that and have all copper now but I haven’t wired the second element yet. I can make many flavored spirits. I purchased parts for a CCVM column which is stainless and will change it to copper as well - so I can make the best clean neutral before I even consider AC filtering. If you have the budget I’d go with a good sized copper boiler with a 3” riser and 48” liebig, 5k5W electric fired if not two 5k5’s for a quicker heatup. I use this for whiskies, bourbons, grappa, agave, honey shine, brandy, and the like. Estimate 3-4 stripping runs to fill the boiler for a spirit run. Lots of folks use a keg which is about the same size as my 16gallon copper boiler but I rest easy and like the patina inside and out. Also recommend an agristore grinder so you can turn a 50# sack of grains to flour for mash-in and a couple latge fermenters and maybe several carboys.

How much barrel strength do you want to produce in one spirit run?

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water into whiskey into water
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Beerswimmer » Wed Jul 08, 2020 8:18 pm

I had a hybrid still for a while. Now I only have a potstill. I like to sip flavored spirits, so I have no reason to use my time for neutrals. I use my time for whiskey and rum now. I just want bigger boilers now to make better use of my time.
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Roki
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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by Roki » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:00 am

Tummydoc wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 5:03 pm
Yup, what shady says. But a copper scrubber in the vapor path really helps get rid of sulfur compounds. I know NZChris advocates copper in the boiler. Dont know if that negates the need for copper in the column.
Does it?

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Re: Best hybrid still

Post by seabass » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:34 am

The color of the copper mesh I use in pot mode says it's doing something.

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