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Re: All Malt Grain-In Fermentation Problem

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  • ballard_bootlegger
    Thanks for the ideas! The smell wasn t acetone and I m not sure I know what butanol smells like (if that s the paint thinner smell it did not smell like
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 24, 2010
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      Thanks for the ideas!  The smell wasn't acetone and I'm not sure I know what butanol smells like (if that's the paint thinner smell it did not smell like butanol either), it's hard to explain the smell, it's almost like a mild but rotten vomit smell... So I suppose that is the acid taking hold, and potentially the bacteria mentioned above.  What ever the problem, the biggest mistake was putting it in the still.  My boiler is a converted water heater so it's hard to get thoroughly clean.  After distilling some water though to clean the nastiness I figured it was ready for a nice batch of corn whiskey... Yuck, it came with a little green/yellow coloring and had some seriously strange temp readings for how strong the chemical was being pulled.  

      This morning I loaded about four gallons of vodka feints that I am going to equilibrate in hopes to really clear everything out.  I'll keep you posted!

      Whitney.

      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "azeotech" <azeotech@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi Ballard,
      >
      > Did it smell "acetoney", or reek like butanol? Barley malt (esp homemade) and I've also read somewhere else, Rye malt, or plain rye, can be susceptible to a butrifying bacteria not completely killed by mashing temperatures.
      >
      > It also seems to be able to establish from the air (even just lifing a lid to inspect a wash, and is the "ABE" bacteria (acetone, butaanol, ethanol). I've had several washes contaminated with this bacteria, particularly those with high amounts of malt, esp home-made, and also with high adjuncts of rye (unmalted), and the reek has to be experienced to be beleived, like paint thinners.
      >
      > This is where sparging follwed by a boil may help, particularly if the infection is carried over with the grains.
      >
      > Ove established previously, the spores may well also be "hanging" around ready to infect a nice warm culture of mash, so thorough sterilisation will also be a key.
      >
      > This can be hard to achieve if rousing or aerating the wash with air before pitching yeast, and maybe sterile bottled air or even oxygen may be a bet if available to try an elimination process.
      >
      > Hope this may be of help...
      >
      > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "ballard_bootlegger" meriwetherdistilleries@ wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > Hello fellow artisans of the pot still. This past week I mashed and
      > > fermented a batch of all rye malt for whiskey. The mashing went well
      > > and I had excellent conversion. Using Gert Strand Whiskey Yeast I
      > > pitched at the proper temp at PH~5.4 and within twelve hours had
      > > vigorous fermentation. After about 60 hours the PH started to
      > > dramatically drop. I figured I still had some sugars left to burn so I
      > > adjusted with some calcium carbonate and let it sit. After another day
      > > it just got worse, no more bubbles, and the mash was smelling pretty
      > > horrible. I decided to remove the grains, sparge, regulate the PH, and
      > > re-pitch if necessary. It kept getting worse, so finally I tried to
      > > salvage what was left and tossed it in the still. All I got was a room
      > > full of some noxious-ish gas and a wasted wash. F. I was really
      > > looking forward to that Rye.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Is this due to secondary or lactic fermentation? Maybe something from
      > > the rye hulls was causing the acid. Maybe the mash was done after just
      > > two days...
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > What has been your experience with all malt batches being fermented with
      > > the grains in?
      > >
      >
    • azeotech
      No worries, does sound like a possible lactic or other bacterial infection of some sort. I haven t smelt butanol on it s own, but do know what acetone smells
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 24, 2010
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        No worries, does sound like a possible lactic or other bacterial infection of some sort. I haven't smelt butanol on it's own, but do know what acetone smells like, and the results I've had were some weird mixture of acetone and another sharp, rank alcohol smell that seemed to be able to be blamed on bacteria. Not like vomit though, definitely thinners!

        Yep, can be hard cleaning a still after an event like that.

        The course could be - flush throughly including any column and condensor parts. A vinegar run (or two), followed by a run with water with a small amount of coarse ground rye added (as reccomended by some copper still-makers)could help. A couple of final "sacrificial" sugar washes may also help flush out the taint, and also give a good indication of any remaining hints. The feints sound like a good idea!

        All-grain mashes (but also any mash)can be a bit susceptible to infection soon after primary fermentation. The general rule seems to be to get it in the still as soon as possible before "off-flavours" or infection result (although rum may be an exception).

        If the sugars aren't fully converted, at least the wash could be used as backslop for following runs...

        Asking some questions on home-distiller and artisan distillers (if not already)could be worthwhile too, plenty of experienced 'stillers on both sites... good luck!

        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "ballard_bootlegger" <meriwetherdistilleries@...> wrote:
        >
        > Thanks for the ideas! The smell wasn't acetone and I'm not sure I know
        > what butanol smells like (if that's the paint thinner smell it did not
        > smell like butanol either), it's hard to explain the smell, it's almost
        > like a mild but rotten vomit smell... So I suppose that is the acid
        > taking hold, and potentially the bacteria mentioned above. What ever
        > the problem, the biggest mistake was putting it in the still. My boiler
        > is a converted water heater so it's hard to get thoroughly clean. After
        > distilling some water though to clean the nastiness I figured it was
        > ready for a nice batch of corn whiskey... Yuck, it came with a little
        > green/yellow coloring and had some seriously strange temp readings for
        > how strong the chemical was being pulled.
        > This morning I loaded about four gallons of vodka feints that I am going
        > to equilibrate in hopes to really clear everything out. I'll keep you
        > posted!
        > Whitney.
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