I worked for several months with a fuel distillery and sugar beet farmers in Idaho.
We identified several problems with working beets down to a fermentable mash and then fermentation and distillation.
1. Toughness, You will need to find or develop a good stainless steel grinder/pulper to cut the beets down.
They are much harder than potatoes, but the equipment used to cut potatoes into shredded hash brown type pulp works. Larger motors and reinforced bearings for the shredders are needed.
We found that shreading worked best to prepare the beets for cooking and liquification of the sugar.
High temperature steam was agreed to be the best method. Pressure cookers.
You want to introduce as little extra water as possible to keep sugar concentration high >15%
2.During fermentation if you keep the beet pulp in the mash is that troublesome cap that develops on top of the fermentation.
the pulp lifts with the CO2 and floats on top. Eventually it get so thick it blocks the co2 venting.
a near constant stirring or a beater to break the cap down into the liquid is required.
3. The pulp trouble continues in the still. Can the still handle heavy pulp mash?
If you remove the pulp prior to fermentation you loose sugars. Maybe not alot. Analysis will have to tell you how much and if it's worth it.
Or remove the pulp prior to distilling, but loose some alcohol.
But cutting the beet into a fine pulp will be best for overall results.
High horsepower shredders are required.
--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "erikandruscarpentry" <erikandruscarpentry@...> wrote:
> Hi all,
> New to this forum.
> I'm a farmer working with a new licensed distillery in Vermont, still under construction. Anybody have any experience working with beets for distilling?
> We've done quite a bit of research already. Sugar beets are used quite a bit in large scale ethanol but we've found few models for how to set things up for small scale production. With just a few tons of beets on hand for this season, the equipment we are going to be using is kind of neither fish nor fowl, too big for home-scale methods but too small for a real commercial operation. We're doing the best we can to improvise processes.
> The beets we're working with (mangels, actually) seem to have around 5% potential alcohol and are all sugar, no starch.
> For trial runs we're looking to pulp and cook them in 200-250 gallon batches. We'd love to contact anyone with related experience.
> Best, Erik Andrus