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Zymurgy Bob

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  • in reply to: aerate and pitch the yeast. #4931
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    Deanas, I can’t find a PM function on this forum, so could you email me at zymurgybob@kelleybarts.com?

    in reply to: Making mash #3466
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    That “let it stand for 5-7 days” after fermentation is finished is only to let it “drop clear”, where all the suspended solids fall out of suspension leaving a clear wash. If your still setup is sensitive to scorching, as with a high-density immersed electric element, then that clearing is a good idea. If, on the other hand, you are heating with external propane or electric, you can forget about the clearing part.

    in reply to: Mash too thick? #3455
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    You’ve got a couple of issues to address for your problem. The first is the concept of mashing. Mashing, the conversion of starches to fermentable sugars, is performed by heating the starch-bearing grain, in water, to a temperature of about 150F in the presence of an amylase enzyme. If there is no enzyme present, or if it has been denatured by heating above maybe 160F, there will be no mashing, no starches will be converted, and the cooked-starch thickness will make the mess impossible to work, as you’ve already discovered.

    Brewers and allgrain distillers typically use amylase enzymes from one of two sources, malted grains (often barley malt) or bottled enzymes from your homebrew supply or other sources. http://www.enzymash.com/ is a great source for high-quality enzymes.

    The second issue deals with the physical properties of corn starch, properties not shared by barley starch. Corn starch exists in a crystalline form, in which form it is unavailable to the amylase enzymes for starch-to-sugar conversion. Crystalline corn starch has to be heated closer to boiling (185F, I think) to gelatinize the starch. at which point it can be converted. The problem is that, if you look at the numbers, by the time the corn starch is hot enough to gelatinize, the amylase enzymes are hot enough to be destroyed.

    To get around that, mashing corn involves heating till it turns to goop, and then cooling until the enzymes, either barley malt of bottled, can be added. (Allgrain beer brewers don’t have to do all that silliness, because barley starch is already available for conversion).

    Even that’s a simplification, depending on your corn. If your flaked corn came from a homebrew shop, it is almost certainly “torrefied”, heated to gelatinization temperature during the flaking process, so it needs no additional cooking. If it came from a feedstore, it almost certainly will require cooking/gelatinization.

    in reply to: Spirit run #3443
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    For most of my stilling life, I’d use the classic strip-for-low-wines, collect a few batches of those low wines, and then combine them all for a spirit run. As you’d expect, the spirit run distillate was very clean and smooth, but light on flavor. For the past couple-three years, my spirit runs have been a mixture of low wines and fresh wash/mash, for a total of perhaps 27-30%ABV in the still. Flavor has improved greatly, and my liquor is still very smooth.

    I’d agree with Beverage Commander about how much distillate you’re collecting, which is a direct function of when you consciously decide to stop collecting. He says distill to 10-20% and I distill to a head temperature of 98-99C, which means we’re both doing almost exactly the same thing.

    in reply to: problems with distilling? #3424
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    So you’ll have 15 pounds of sugar in something less than 10 gallons of backset (what we call the spent wash in the boiler after distillation)? That should give you a reasonable sugar concentration in your wash, but since backset is often pretty acidic, you may want to check pH to ensure the yeast can do its job. You’re probably ok with anything pH4.0 or greater.

    in reply to: problems with distilling? #3413
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant
    in reply to: problems with distilling? #3412
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    Not sure why that link didn’t show. Another try.

    in reply to: problems with distilling? #3411
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    First, about the hydrometer. Yes, you can and should use a hydrometer on your mash, or at least some of the liquid from your mash, as long as the hydrometer is a brewer’s/winemaker’s triple-scale hydrometer, designed specifically for fermenting washes and mashes. There is also a different hydrometer, often called an alcoholometer, that is strictly for measuring %ABV in a distillate (not a wash).

    Beverage Commander was pretty clear that the only fermentable sugars in your mash come from the sugar you added. The corn adds nothing but flavor and yeast nutrients, unless you specifically mash it with enzymes at ~150F for an hour or two, and it doesn’t sound as if you did that.

    So that last 20 gallon mash with 15 pounds of sugar was effectively just 12 ounces of sugar per gallon, which (from the table of the following link), if fermented perfectly (and that virtually never happens), would give a wash alcohol percent of about 4.2%, so that in that 10 gallons of wash you distilled, there was maybe .4 gallons. If you had distilled that to a head temperature of 210F, you’d have almost all of the ethanol in you distillate, which, in total might be 50% (ballpark) ethanol, so you’d have maybe .8 gallons of 50% distillate, at the very most. If you distilled until the distillate was 30%, you’d have left some ethanol in the still, but you should still have almost 3 quarts of distillate.

    Without hydrometer readings, it’s hard to say where you’re losing ethanol, but with 2 pounds of sugar (maximum for clean flavor) per gallon of solution, you’d do much better, but it still sounds like you’re losing some, somewhere in the process.

    Oh, and you really don’t need that much corn; it has no effect on your ethanol yield.

    in reply to: mashfeels oily #3407
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    If it actually has a layer of oil floating on top of the aqueous liquid, it’s almost certainly good ol’ corn oil, and completely harmless to fermentation or distillation (as far as I can tell). Evidently the % of oil in the corn varies a lot. Normally with our henscratch mashes I make for bourbon, we don’t see much oil, but the last batch had a lot of oil.

    in reply to: Heads #3396
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    Yes, and that’s a very good plan when you don’t like your cuts. Each tine you do it, though, the flavor will get a bit lighter.

    in reply to: Corn Sugar mash recipie #3386
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    Are you saying that your distillate is coming out with a caramel color?

    in reply to: Corn Sugar mash recipie #3379
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    While corn sugar or corn can be used to replace the sugar that a proper allgrain mash would produce, a simple corn sugar wash will never give you the rich grain flavor that you get from actually mashing corn, so that’s pretty much a matter of taste. Also mashing corn grain (sometimes called a thick mash) is a helluva a lot more work than a thin mash, which is just a sugar wash flavored with grain.

    Also, I agree with everything that Beverage Commander said, except that sometimes I include heads from the stripping run in the spirit run.

    in reply to: aerate and pitch the yeast. #3342
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    I wouldn’t remove the oak cubes until you see the color you want, and then I’d make sure the calvados gets some oxygen once in a while. If your container has some air space, just open the container to get some new oxygen-rich air, the close it again, and shake the hell out of it. For larger containers, I use a stainless airstone and O2 to oxygenate it. After oxygenation, it’ll mellow some in the next month or two.

    in reply to: taste like gas #3333
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    Here’s a couple of links to guides to “Make the Cuts”, the process where you select what part of that distillate to save for drinking.
    http://www.kelleybarts.com/PhotoXfer/ReadMeFirst/MakingTheCuts.html
    http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=13261
    Kiwi’s got some good graphics in that second link.

    in reply to: Run times #3328
    Zymurgy Bob
    Participant

    Ummm, if you have, say, 4 gallons in a 5-gallon still, you can get all 4 gallons as collected distillate, if you do a complete distillation, that is to say, boil off and condense all the liquid. Of course, none of us ever do that, because such a complete distillation would give you the same ethanol concentration you started with, and that loses the whole point of the effort.

    So instead, we all make decisions about when we stop distilling, and that decision is what determines how much distillate we collect. Because the ethanol and other flavorings in tails has value for me (either for making junkahol or for adding back to a stripping run), I generally run to a head temperature of 98C or 99C, which leaves a wash in the boiler of from 2.5% to 1.0 percent (roughly). I’ll accept that I am probably burning more propane than makes sense for the yield, but that’s a personal choice, or maybe just a habit.

    At any rate, if the amount of distillate is your only criterion, just don’t turn off the still until you get whatever amount you feel you need. Most of us use other criteria.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 36 total)