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first run questions…


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    • #4368

      I have a 5gal still from clawhammer supply. I made my mash from 5 gal fresh pressed apple cider and 6 lbs brown sugar and a packet of lalvin wine yeast ec-1118. I let it sit in a dark room for about 2 1/2 weeks. When it was ready to run I put my still in a large bucket of water and heated the water up to 208 degrees. After multiple issues and 27 hours later I had about 5 pints of product @160-170 proof. I had to shut the still down because i was exhausted. Its been a couple days since i did the run. My question is can i start the still up again or is the wash now trash? Also How do i make the cuts? When i started the run i threw away the first 200ml and then labeled the jars 1-5 so i didn’t get them mixed up. Last question… How do I get the proof down to a “drinkable” 80-100 proof.

    • #4372

      I run a 10 gallon clawhammer still- I often run it with 5 gallons of wash. I can run a 5 gallon wash in around 6-8 hours depending on fast (how hot I run it) I run my still with a 1500 watt hot water heater element- I installed a copper bung that the element screws into and control it with an electric controller. A 1500 watt electric hot plate or propane will also work. It sounds like your heating method is not going to work very well- unless you can control the heat of the water that is in the bucket.

      This is how I run my still- Set the controller to manual mode- 100% power until it starts producing. Once it starts producing I turn the power down to around 70% (or whatever amount of power is need to get 4-8 drips a second) I run my still pretty slow- I like to see individual drips. I recommend buying a hot plate or element and heating the still that way. A propane turkey fryer will also work- but I don’t like a flame near my still incase there is a vapor leak or some other crazy accident.

      I never re-run a still as I’ve never found myself in a situation where I did not finish the run. I have no idea how it would taste.. if you ran it that long most of the alcohol should have been removed- what is left should mostly be water.

      The easiest way to learn to make cuts is to use the smallest jars you can find- label them starting at 1- and go up from there. Dip your finger in and taste each jar— the hottest should be the first and the last should be the least strong. As you do more runs you can do cuts by taste and feel–I often find myself putting my finger under the output to feel the product as well as take a taste. I still use mason jars and label them- but I always start a new jar when the hearts start and remove whatever jar the hearts finish in. I collect all of the tails in a new jar. It is part art part science- the only way to make good cuts is to practice- but small jars really help in the beginning- then let your taste buds and fingers do the rest.

      I proof my product with distilled water- I’ve found tap water has too many minerals and can cause some haze. Get a proofing hydrometer so you know the proof you are starting at.

      I only keep the hearts and re-run the heads and tails.

      This is a good writeup as well:

      • #4379

        Thanks for the info.. What brand of hot plate do you use?(i don’t want to buy a crappy one that blows up after the second use).
        What size jars do you recommend i get for making cuts? I thought i was going to get a gallon or two so i purchased the pint jars. Do you know approx how much product i should get off a normal 5 gal run?

        I took your advice about dipping my finger in each jar… the first jar was strong and had an oily taste and the next three jars were smoother tasting with hints of apple(no oily taste) and that’s all i got off the run because i had to shut it down. I will put the first jar aside and add it to the next run i do. But what do i do with the other 3 jars? would jar #2 be the heads and jars #3 & #4 be the hearts? and the tails were left in the still?

    • #4380

      But what do i do with the other 3 jars? would jar #2 be the heads and jars #3 & #4 be the hearts? and the tails were left in the still?

      Jar 1 is the going to be heads – if the other jars taste good I’d keep em. You can mix them together and then proof them as needed.

      I recommend the broil king 1500 watt hot plate ($99 bucks online)

      What size jars do you recommend i get for making cuts?

      I use 8 ounce jars

      Do you know approx how much product i should get off a normal 5 gal run?

      on a full run- going deep into the tails. I run until the proof drops to about 10% ABV (20 proof) I collect around 1.5 gallons . I usually start with a mash around 8-10% abv

      • #4383

        Last Questions… for now… What do you use to clean your still? Any special tools or tips that you use to make your life easier? Cleansers?
        Proofing… I know i should use distilled water but how much? Is there a procedure for doing this? or a formula/equation for example.. 100ml water to 300mls of 170 proof = 120proof or is it just trial and error….

    • #4384

      I use PWB-
      As soon as I’m done with the run I out on a pair of oven gloves and break the flour seal on the still. I’ve found the rye flour is the best to use- way easier to clean at the end of the day.
      Break the seal- put the column and condenser on the ground.

      Pickup the still – it will be extremely hot – and tilt it over. I dump it where I distill and have not noticed any issues with my grass- but my backyard is mostly trees. so my grass is not great looking.. Rinse the still really well with clean water. I also use a toilet scrubbing brush I only use on my stills to lightly scrub the still. I also use PBW (pro brewery wash) you can buy it at any homebrew shop or amazon- follow the directions on the container- it is a great cleaner. I use a carboy brush on the column- it is a perfect fit in the column- rinse it well and scrub. Any homebrew shop or amazon sells those as well- they are cheap.

      I am sure there is a formula or calculator— I just pour everything into a large glass container- (I think it was originally for iced tea) it is 1 gallon- I fill it with my hearts from the run- drop in my hydrometer and add distilled water until I’m happy with the proof. It is simple- but will only work if you have enough liquid to make the hydrometer float- If you don’t have enough liquid just use a small glass jar.

      You can also boil a gallon of vinegar in the still for an hour or so and rinse it off well.

      Always dry the still and store it in a dry safe location

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