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Large still small batch

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  • Steve
    I am considering purchasing a larger still (26 gallon), but want to know if I can use this same still to do run of say only 5 gallons.  I want to make the
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 17, 2014
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      I am considering purchasing a larger still (26 gallon), but want to know if I can use this same still to do run of say only 5 gallons.  I want to make the right choice based on how I will use the still, but the money for this one makes it hard to resist. 
    • Douglas French
      Hi ,  I m a professional artisanal distiller. I have all different size stills from 10 gallon to 1000 gallons ( 12 in all). I use the appropiate still for the
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 17, 2014
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        Hi , 
        I'm a professional artisanal distiller. I have all different size stills from 10 gallon to 1000 gallons ( 12 in all). I use the appropiate still for the size of my specialty production .I put a bigger one on line , I never take the smaller one off line. I love it.
        I say , go for it . But I live in a country where it is legal to distill.
        cheers,
         
        Douglas French
        Caballeros, Inc./ Scorpion Mezcal sa de cv
        Oaxaca, Mexico
        Tel: 52-951-516-0654
        Destileria: 951-511-5701
        Cel: 951 508 1030
        www.scorpionmezcal.com
        www.oaxacanstuff.com
        Enviar factura o comprobante de pago a: scorpionfactura@...


        From: "Steve stevelo1k@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
        To: "new_distillers@yahoogroups.com" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:36 PM
        Subject: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

         
        I am considering purchasing a larger still (26 gallon), but want to know if I can use this same still to do run of say only 5 gallons.  I want to make the right choice based on how I will use the still, but the money for this one makes it hard to resist. 


      • RLB
        My advise for you is to learn how to build your own still out of a pressure cooker or pressure caner.  Buying a still will place you on the government s
        Message 3 of 12 , Jul 17, 2014
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          My advise for you is to learn how to build your own still out of a pressure cooker or pressure caner.  Buying a still will place you on the government's list.  The government does not force pressure cooker retailers to record your name and address for them.  If you purchase a pressure cooker with a thermostat you only need to drill one large hole and a few smaller holes to attach the flange bolts.  If you have a welder in the family just have them braze a flange directly to the lid.  Plumbing is easy with threaded or soldered plumbing.  Soldered copper pipes and fittings are reasonably priced, so it's a good idea to learn how to solder copper pipe and fittings.

          Thumper is easy to build out of copper pipes and fitting.

          I am a fan of air cooled condensers rather than worms because you need cool water to lower the temperature.

          Do the research and build your own rather than buying one from a dealer with is force to report your name to the government.  You can buy a pressure cooker or caner in sizes of 1 gallon to 8 gallon very reasonably.

          Robert


          From: "Steve stevelo1k@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
          To: "new_distillers@yahoogroups.com" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2014 9:36 PM
          Subject: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

           
          I am considering purchasing a larger still (26 gallon), but want to know if I can use this same still to do run of say only 5 gallons.  I want to make the right choice based on how I will use the still, but the money for this one makes it hard to resist. 


        • idahomole
          I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don t think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small
          Message 4 of 12 , Aug 8, 2014
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            I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don't think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small to medium size ferments. I would recommend a 5 gallon boiler minimum. A pressure cooker will work but is not optimal IMO. Avoid aluminum at all costs. The acidity of the spent wash will cause pitting and eventual failure.
          • RLB
            They make 32 qt Stainless Steel Pressure Caners that would make great stills with a little modification (Bolt on a 2 Flange or have a welder braze a 2 collar
            Message 5 of 12 , Aug 8, 2014
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              They make 32 qt Stainless Steel Pressure Caners that would make great stills with a little modification (Bolt on a 2" Flange or have a welder braze a 2" collar onto the cover after cutting a hole.)  Just don't tell anyone what you are doing for obvious reasons.

              Would there really be any pitting in aluminum if a person increased ph to 7 just after adding wash to a pot?

              Robert 


              From: "idahomole@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
              To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 10:47 PM
              Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

               
              I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don't think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small to medium size ferments. I would recommend a 5 gallon boiler minimum. A pressure cooker will work but is not optimal IMO. Avoid aluminum at all costs. The acidity of the spent wash will cause pitting and eventual failure.


            • Bob
              I believe that the aluminum leaches into the wort and that is not healthy. bobc From: mailto:new_distillers@yahoogroups.com Sent: Friday, August 08, 2014 11:37
              Message 6 of 12 , Aug 8, 2014
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                I believe that the aluminum leaches into the wort and that is not healthy.
                bobc
                 
                Sent: Friday, August 08, 2014 11:37 PM
                Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                 


                They make 32 qt Stainless Steel Pressure Caners that would make great stills with a little modification (Bolt on a 2" Flange or have a welder braze a 2" collar onto the cover after cutting a hole.)  Just don't tell anyone what you are doing for obvious reasons.

                Would there really be any pitting in aluminum if a person increased ph to 7 just after adding wash to a pot?

                Robert 
                 

                From: "idahomole@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 10:47 PM
                Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                 
                 
                I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don't think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small to medium size ferments. I would recommend a 5 gallon boiler minimum. A pressure cooker will work but is not optimal IMO. Avoid aluminum at all costs. The acidity of the spent wash will cause pitting and eventual failure.


              • Robert Hubble
                I ve been using 5-gallon aluminum pressure cooker stills and making them for friends, for 40 years, and I ve never seen one come close to failing because of
                Message 7 of 12 , Aug 9, 2014
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                  I've been using 5-gallon aluminum pressure cooker stills and making them for friends, for 40 years, and I've never seen one come close to failing because of corrosion. For that matter, visual evidence of corrosion is almost non-existent.

                  I'll admit there's a good possibility of getting small quantities of non-volatile aluminum compounds in your wash (the only volatile aluminum compounds I've found in research are hard-to-make lab curiosities), but because distillation is all about condensing the vapors of volatile compounds, you won't see aluminum compounds in your distillate (unless, of course, you're running in puke mode). My spirits have won a few tasting contests, so flavor is not (and should not be) an issue.

                  Having said that, I'd never brew beer in aluminum, although the world's been cooking in aluminum pots for more than a century. I suspect that most folks that have had trouble with aluminum were using stock pots, which can be very thin (read sensitive to minor corrosion) and flimsy. Aluminum pressure cookers, on the other hand, are quite sturdy.

                  Admittedly, my most-used current still is a stainless keg, but stainless is way harder to machine, expensive to weld, and I've never found a 15.5-gallon pressure cooker I could afford.

                  Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller


                  From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                  To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                  Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2014 23:43:18 -0500
                  Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

                   

                  I believe that the aluminum leaches into the wort and that is not healthy.
                  bobc
                   
                  Sent: Friday, August 08, 2014 11:37 PM
                  Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                   


                  They make 32 qt Stainless Steel Pressure Caners that would make great stills with a little modification (Bolt on a 2" Flange or have a welder braze a 2" collar onto the cover after cutting a hole.)  Just don't tell anyone what you are doing for obvious reasons.

                  Would there really be any pitting in aluminum if a person increased ph to 7 just after adding wash to a pot?

                  Robert 
                   

                  From: "idahomole@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                  To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 10:47 PM
                  Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                   
                   
                  I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don't think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small to medium size ferments. I would recommend a 5 gallon boiler minimum. A pressure cooker will work but is not optimal IMO. Avoid aluminum at all costs. The acidity of the spent wash will cause pitting and eventual failure.



                • rkruse3825
                  Why not use a stainless stock pot and some small clamps on the lid to make a seal?? Ray On 8/9/2014 2:54 PM, Robert Hubble zymurgybob@hotmail.com ... -- Molon
                  Message 8 of 12 , Aug 9, 2014
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                    Why not use a stainless stock pot and some small clamps on the lid to make a seal??

                    Ray
                    On 8/9/2014 2:54 PM, Robert Hubble zymurgybob@... [new_distillers] wrote:
                     

                    I've been using 5-gallon aluminum pressure cooker stills and making them for friends, for 40 years, and I've never seen one come close to failing because of corrosion. For that matter, visual evidence of corrosion is almost non-existent.

                    I'll admit there's a good possibility of getting small quantities of non-volatile aluminum compounds in your wash (the only volatile aluminum compounds I've found in research are hard-to-make lab curiosities), but because distillation is all about condensing the vapors of volatile compounds, you won't see aluminum compounds in your distillate (unless, of course, you're running in puke mode). My spirits have won a few tasting contests, so flavor is not (and should not be) an issue.

                    Having said that, I'd never brew beer in aluminum, although the world's been cooking in aluminum pots for more than a century. I suspect that most folks that have had trouble with aluminum were using stock pots, which can be very thin (read sensitive to minor corrosion) and flimsy. Aluminum pressure cookers, on the other hand, are quite sturdy.

                    Admittedly, my most-used current still is a stainless keg, but stainless is way harder to machine, expensive to weld, and I've never found a 15.5-gallon pressure cooker I could afford.

                    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller


                    From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2014 23:43:18 -0500
                    Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

                     

                    I believe that the aluminum leaches into the wort and that is not healthy.
                    bobc
                     
                    Sent: Friday, August 08, 2014 11:37 PM
                    Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                     


                    They make 32 qt Stainless Steel Pressure Caners that would make great stills with a little modification (Bolt on a 2" Flange or have a welder braze a 2" collar onto the cover after cutting a hole.)  Just don't tell anyone what you are doing for obvious reasons.

                    Would there really be any pitting in aluminum if a person increased ph to 7 just after adding wash to a pot?

                    Robert 
                     

                    From: "idahomole@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                    To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 10:47 PM
                    Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                     
                     
                    I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don't think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small to medium size ferments. I would recommend a 5 gallon boiler minimum. A pressure cooker will work but is not optimal IMO. Avoid aluminum at all costs. The acidity of the spent wash will cause pitting and eventual failure.




                    -- 
                    Molon labe.
                    I will not comply.
                    
                  • Robert Hubble
                    That can work pretty well if your still head s center of mass is more or less over the center of the pot lid like many reflux stills, but if you hang a 30
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 9, 2014
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                      That can work pretty well if your still head's center of mass is more or less over the center of the pot lid like many reflux stills, but if you hang a 30" half-in-three-quarters Liebig off the side of your riser, you'll be applying gobs of torque to a flimsy lid (and perhaps also a flimsy or small riser connection), especially when the water jacket is full. That can bend lids and pop clips, as well as distorting the seal that must be made to seal the lid to the pot (Mike McCaw at Amphora Society is very good at making those needed seals from silicone RTV, but I'm sure it's an acquired skill).

                      Also, when I started building my 5-gallon stills, stainless stock pots in that size were both expensive and scarce, while you could almost always find 5-gallon pressure cookers in the free-to-5-buck range.

                      With the pressure cooker, you don't need to make a seal, the lids are way too hurky to distort so you don't have to cobble on a force-distributing device (plywood seems to be common) even with a long, off-center Liebig, and turn the lid maybe 45 degrees, and the whole thing comes off. Why mess with all that fiddly stuff?

                      Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller


                      To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                      From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Sat, 9 Aug 2014 16:33:44 -0400
                      Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

                       
                      Why not use a stainless stock pot and some small clamps on the lid to make a seal??

                      Ray

                      On 8/9/2014 2:54 PM, Robert Hubble zymurgybob@... [new_distillers] wrote:
                       

                      I've been using 5-gallon aluminum pressure cooker stills and making them for friends, for 40 years, and I've never seen one come close to failing because of corrosion. For that matter, visual evidence of corrosion is almost non-existent.

                      I'll admit there's a good possibility of getting small quantities of non-volatile aluminum compounds in your wash (the only volatile aluminum compounds I've found in research are hard-to-make lab curiosities), but because distillation is all about condensing the vapors of volatile compounds, you won't see aluminum compounds in your distillate (unless, of course, you're running in puke mode). My spirits have won a few tasting contests, so flavor is not (and should not be) an issue.

                      Having said that, I'd never brew beer in aluminum, although the world's been cooking in aluminum pots for more than a century. I suspect that most folks that have had trouble with aluminum were using stock pots, which can be very thin (read sensitive to minor corrosion) and flimsy. Aluminum pressure cookers, on the other hand, are quite sturdy.

                      Admittedly, my most-used current still is a stainless keg, but stainless is way harder to machine, expensive to weld, and I've never found a 15.5-gallon pressure cooker I could afford.

                      Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller


                      From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                      To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2014 23:43:18 -0500
                      Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

                       

                      I believe that the aluminum leaches into the wort and that is not healthy.
                      bobc
                       
                      Sent: Friday, August 08, 2014 11:37 PM
                      Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                       


                      They make 32 qt Stainless Steel Pressure Caners that would make great stills with a little modification (Bolt on a 2" Flange or have a welder braze a 2" collar onto the cover after cutting a hole.)  Just don't tell anyone what you are doing for obvious reasons.

                      Would there really be any pitting in aluminum if a person increased ph to 7 just after adding wash to a pot?

                      Robert 
                       

                      From: "idahomole@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                      To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 10:47 PM
                      Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                       
                       
                      I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don't think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small to medium size ferments. I would recommend a 5 gallon boiler minimum. A pressure cooker will work but is not optimal IMO. Avoid aluminum at all costs. The acidity of the spent wash will cause pitting and eventual failure.




                      -- 
                      Molon labe.
                      I will not comply.
                      

                    • d2327
                      Hold on I will add you Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone
                      Message 10 of 12 , Aug 11, 2014
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                        Hold on I will add you

                        Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


                        From: Robert Hubble zymurgybob@... [new_distillers] <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>;
                        To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>;
                        Subject: RE: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                        Sent: Sun, Aug 10, 2014 5:50:30 AM

                         

                        That can work pretty well if your still head's center of mass is more or less over the center of the pot lid like many reflux stills, but if you hang a 30" half-in-three-quarters Liebig off the side of your riser, you'll be applying gobs of torque to a flimsy lid (and perhaps also a flimsy or small riser connection), especially when the water jacket is full. That can bend lids and pop clips, as well as distorting the seal that must be made to seal the lid to the pot (Mike McCaw at Amphora Society is very good at making those needed seals from silicone RTV, but I'm sure it's an acquired skill).

                        Also, when I started building my 5-gallon stills, stainless stock pots in that size were both expensive and scarce, while you could almost always find 5-gallon pressure cookers in the free-to-5-buck range.

                        With the pressure cooker, you don't need to make a seal, the lids are way too hurky to distort so you don't have to cobble on a force-distributing device (plywood seems to be common) even with a long, off-center Liebig, and turn the lid maybe 45 degrees, and the whole thing comes off. Why mess with all that fiddly stuff?

                        Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller


                        To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                        From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Sat, 9 Aug 2014 16:33:44 -0400
                        Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

                         
                        Why not use a stainless stock pot and some small clamps on the lid to make a seal??

                        Ray

                        On 8/9/2014 2:54 PM, Robert Hubblezymurgybob@... [new_distillers] wrote:
                         

                        I've been using 5-gallon aluminum pressure cooker stills and making them for friends, for 40 years, and I've never seen one come close to failing because of corrosion. For that matter, visual evidence of corrosion is almost non-existent.

                        I'll admit there's a good possibility of getting small quantities of non-volatile aluminum compounds in your wash (the only volatile aluminum compounds I've found in research are hard-to-make lab curiosities), but because distillation is all about condensing the vapors of volatile compounds, you won't see aluminum compounds in your distillate (unless, of course, you're running in puke mode). My spirits have won a few tasting contests, so flavor is not (and should not be) an issue.

                        Having said that, I'd never brew beer in aluminum, although the world's been cooking in aluminum pots for more than a century. I suspect that most folks that have had trouble with aluminum were using stock pots, which can be very thin (read sensitive to minor corrosion) and flimsy. Aluminum pressure cookers, on the other hand, are quite sturdy.

                        Admittedly, my most-used current still is a stainless keg, but stainless is way harder to machine, expensive to weld, and I've never found a 15.5-gallon pressure cooker I could afford.

                        Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller


                        From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                        To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2014 23:43:18 -0500
                        Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch

                         

                        I believe that the aluminum leaches into the wort and that is not healthy.
                        bobc
                         
                        Sent: Friday, August 08, 2014 11:37 PM
                        Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                         


                        They make 32 qt Stainless Steel Pressure Caners that would make great stills with a little modification (Bolt on a 2" Flange or have a welder braze a 2" collar onto the cover after cutting a hole.)  Just don't tell anyone what you are doing for obvious reasons.

                        Would there really be any pitting in aluminum if a person increased ph to 7 just after adding wash to a pot?

                        Robert 
                         

                        From:"idahomole@... [new_distillers]" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                        To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 10:47 PM
                        Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Large still small batch
                         
                         
                        I would like to have a 26 gallon still however I don't think it would be practical for what I do on a hobby scale. A 15.5 gallon keg works very well for small to medium size ferments. I would recommend a 5 gallon boiler minimum. A pressure cooker will work but is not optimal IMO. Avoid aluminum at all costs. The acidityof the spent wash will cause pitting and eventual failure.




                        --
                        Molon labe.
                        I will not comply.
                        

                      • Zapata Vive
                        I d just like to comment that a 26 gallon still isn t ridiculously large. You should fill it no more than 3/4 full, that s 19.5 gallons which will strip to
                        Message 11 of 12 , Aug 11, 2014
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                          I'd just like to comment that a 26 gallon still isn't ridiculously large.  You should fill it no more than 3/4 full, that's 19.5 gallons which will strip to about 5 or 6 gallons of low wines. Collect 3 of those and you'll have a good sized spirit run, hopefully enough to let some age and get delicious before you drink it all.  Nothing sucks worse than making a delicious batch just to find out you drank it all way too fast to really appreciate it's potential after a year or three.  And if it's a particularly foamy/pukey recipe, half full is safer, but that's just a 13 gallon still charge.

                          I'd think a 26 gallon still would match well with a 32 gallon brute trash can fermenter for sour mash corn, all grain whisk(e)y or rum.

                          Stock pots and pressure cookers are fun and perfectly practical, but there is a very practical economy that I think for the home distiller is in the 25-40 gallon range.  The fermenters are still conveniently sized and readily available, the cost of batches is still reasonable, and while the runs obviously take longer, they share the same ferment, cleaning, setting up, organizing etc work time. 

                          That's for flavored spirits, for neutral, most still designs will take a long time iindeed to run off 20 gallons of low wines.  Do-able, and still within reason for a home setup, just a much longer run.
                        • Zapata Vive
                          I guess I didn t actually answer the original question, can you run a 5-gallon batch in a 26 gallon still? The answer depends on how the still is heated. If
                          Message 12 of 12 , Aug 11, 2014
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                            I guess I didn't actually answer the original question, can you run a 5-gallon batch in a 26 gallon still?  The answer depends on how the still is heated.  If it's an external heat source like a gas burner, then yes.  If it's an internal element, you will have to carefully measure what it takes to keep the element covered AT THE END OF THE RUN.  It's a little tricky to figure that out if you're a new distiller, but I personally wouldn't even come close to exposing an internal element.  http://homedistiller.org/distill/dtw/collect will give you a rough idea of how much will be left in the pot at the end.

                            That being said, and as I mention above, why bother?  I'm going to arbitrarily say you are using 1500 watts, a 20 gallon stripping run will take about 8 hours to heat up and boil over.  And surely you've got something else to do in the shed for 8 hours on a Saturday while that happens, right?  A 10 gallon batch will take about 5, meaning you can get setup, tinker, take your time, cleanup, and still be done in a day in the shed.  Why would you bother with 5 gallon batches if you could do bigger (up to a reasonable point, IMHO being abour your potential 26 gallon still)?
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