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Strange Readings

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  • shedhouse662
    I just fermented a 20L sugar mash using distilled water, Prestige Professional Yeast Blend with AG. It fermented for 7 days as the directions said it would.
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 8, 2011
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      I just fermented a 20L sugar mash using distilled water, Prestige Professional Yeast Blend with AG. It fermented for 7 days as the directions said it would. The readings I got from the mash were
      Ph: 3.7; SG: 1.058 and ABV: 0%. The alcohol meter actually floated above the 0 mark. I have a small reflux still so I ran 10L of it anyway and got an ABV of 74% on the first 400 ML and 64% on the second 400 ML.

      1) Why would I get a 0% ABV reading on the mash when there was clearly alcohol in it?

      2) The column of my still is 8" high. Should I increase the height of the column to get more abv on the first run?

      Thanks. Tom
    • tgfoitwoods
      Tom, The Alcoholometer For any home distiller, the alcoholometer should probably be your first instrument purchase. At its simplest, the alcoholometer is
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 9, 2011
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        Tom,

        "The Alcoholometer

        For any home distiller, the alcoholometer should probably be your first
        instrument purchase. At its simplest, the alcoholometer is simply a
        weighted glass bulb, with a printed scale inside the vertical stem. While it
        is sold to measure ethanol content, what it actually measures is the density
        of a liquid, in grams per milliliter (g/ml), in a range from.794 g/ml to 1.000
        g/ml. This is the density range of an ethanol/water solution, from pure
        ethanol to pure water, so if you have a mixture with only ethanol and water
        in it, you can infer from the density how much ethanol is in your mixture.

        Of course, you don't have to actually read a density in g/ml, and convert
        that to % alcohol (ethanol) by volume (%ABV); the alcoholometer
        manufacturer does that for you, by giving you a scale that reads directly in
        %ABV. "If you can read %ABV directly off the alcoholometer scale", you
        might well ask, "what's all that fuss about density?" The important point
        here is that, unless your mixture is nothing but ethanol and water, the
        reading is meaningless, and that pretty much translates to this: the
        alcoholometer only works on the distillate, liquid that has already been
        vaporized and condensed by the still, and is so close to a pure ethanol/water
        mixture that the density-%ABV translation works.

        As an example, if you drop your alcoholometer into pure propylene glycol,
        commonly used as antifreeze, the instrument will see a density of .965 g/ml
        and tell you that your antifreeze is really 36% ethanol by volume, and that's
        just not true; there's not a drop of ethanol in it. Of course, it would be silly
        to measure the %ABV in pure antifreeze, but it would be equally silly to try
        measuring the %ABV in a fermented (or fermenting) wash, a mixture of
        water, sugars both unfermented and non-fermenting, yeast, gas bubbles,
        and grain or fruit solids. Either way, the alcoholometer is not much help."
        Making Fine Spirits- Zymurgy Bob (should be on the shelves by the end of August)

        I really hope this helps.

        Oh, yeah. Making that column longer won't do much (if anything) to increase the ABV of your distillate.

        Is that 1.058 beginning or ending sg? Either way is probably not what you want.

        Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "shedhouse662" <tocowdrey3@...> wrote:
        >
        > I just fermented a 20L sugar mash using distilled water, Prestige Professional Yeast Blend with AG. It fermented for 7 days as the directions said it would. The readings I got from the mash were
        > Ph: 3.7; SG: 1.058 and ABV: 0%. The alcohol meter actually floated above the 0 mark. I have a small reflux still so I ran 10L of it anyway and got an ABV of 74% on the first 400 ML and 64% on the second 400 ML.
        >
        > 1) Why would I get a 0% ABV reading on the mash when there was clearly alcohol in it?
        >
        > 2) The column of my still is 8" high. Should I increase the height of the column to get more abv on the first run?
        >
        > Thanks. Tom
        >
      • Tom Cowdrey
        Bob, Thanks for the explanation. That helps a lot, however how is one supposed to know what abv wash he is starting with when it goes in the still? I must be
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 10, 2011
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          Bob,

          Thanks for the explanation.  That helps a lot, however how is one supposed to know what abv wash he is starting with when it goes in the still?  I must be missing something.

           

          The SG reading was the beginning SG – I put that in case it would help the original issue about the 0% abv.   OK, I still have a problem to solve, 1) So far I have only run sugar washes and the best I can get is 75% abv – it does not matter if I run it as a pot or a reflux, I still get the max of 70/75%.  I might be happy with that if it had no smell and did not bite when tasted – Of course I am not sure what 75% abv sugar wash distillate is supposed to taste like.  The best run I have gotten so far is by using the Vodka yeast with distilled water. It had almost no smell with a minimal bite in the 75% abv range.  I am thinking it is the yeast that makes the difference since the same mixture with Turbo yeast produces the same abv but has a strong smell and needs to be soaked in carbon to make it drinkable.  Recently a respondent to a question about carbon filtering said that the trick is to make ethanol that does not need to be filtered. I agree but I ain’t there yet.  How much does a specific yeast determine the quality of the resulting distillate?  Tom

           

           

           

          From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com [mailto:new_distillers@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of tgfoitwoods
          Sent: Saturday, July 09, 2011 12:04 PM
          To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Strange Readings

           

           

          Tom,

          "The Alcoholometer

          For any home distiller, the alcoholometer should probably be your first
          instrument purchase. At its simplest, the alcoholometer is simply a
          weighted glass bulb, with a printed scale inside the vertical stem. While it
          is sold to measure ethanol content, what it actually measures is the density
          of a liquid, in grams per milliliter (g/ml), in a range from.794 g/ml to 1.000
          g/ml. This is the density range of an ethanol/water solution, from pure
          ethanol to pure water, so if you have a mixture with only ethanol and water
          in it, you can infer from the density how much ethanol is in your mixture.

          Of course, you don't have to actually read a density in g/ml, and convert
          that to % alcohol (ethanol) by volume (%ABV); the alcoholometer
          manufacturer does that for you, by giving you a scale that reads directly in
          %ABV. "If you can read %ABV directly off the alcoholometer scale", you
          might well ask, "what's all that fuss about density?" The important point
          here is that, unless your mixture is nothing but ethanol and water, the
          reading is meaningless, and that pretty much translates to this: the
          alcoholometer only works on the distillate, liquid that has already been
          vaporized and condensed by the still, and is so close to a pure ethanol/water
          mixture that the density-%ABV translation works.

          As an example, if you drop your alcoholometer into pure propylene glycol,
          commonly used as antifreeze, the instrument will see a density of .965 g/ml
          and tell you that your antifreeze is really 36% ethanol by volume, and that's
          just not true; there's not a drop of ethanol in it. Of course, it would be silly
          to measure the %ABV in pure antifreeze, but it would be equally silly to try
          measuring the %ABV in a fermented (or fermenting) wash, a mixture of
          water, sugars both unfermented and non-fermenting, yeast, gas bubbles,
          and grain or fruit solids. Either way, the alcoholometer is not much help."
          Making Fine Spirits- Zymurgy Bob (should be on the shelves by the end of August)

          I really hope this helps.

          Oh, yeah. Making that column longer won't do much (if anything) to increase the ABV of your distillate.

          Is that 1.058 beginning or ending sg? Either way is probably not what you want.

          Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "shedhouse662" <tocowdrey3@...> wrote:
          >
          > I just fermented a 20L sugar mash using distilled water, Prestige Professional Yeast Blend with AG. It fermented for 7 days as the directions said it would. The readings I got from the mash were
          > Ph: 3.7; SG: 1.058 and ABV: 0%. The alcohol meter actually floated above the 0 mark. I have a small reflux still so I ran 10L of it anyway and got an ABV of 74% on the first 400 ML and 64% on the second 400 ML.
          >
          > 1) Why would I get a 0% ABV reading on the mash when there was clearly alcohol in it?
          >
          > 2) The column of my still is 8" high. Should I increase the height of the column to get more abv on the first run?
          >
          > Thanks. Tom
          >

        • tgfoitwoods
          Tom, To make a long story short, use a standard triple-scale hydrometer to read the starting specific gravity (O.G.) of your wash before you pitch yeast, and
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 10, 2011
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            Tom,

            To make a long story short, use a standard triple-scale hydrometer to read the starting specific gravity (O.G.) of your wash before you pitch yeast, and the final specific gravity (F.G.) after fermentation is finished, and ...

            "While the O.G was a rough guess at what we started with, and the F.G. is a
            rougher guess at where we finished, the difference between O.G. and F.G. is
            a pretty accurate measure of how much sugar has been converted to
            alcohol, and that tells us what we really wanted to know all along. To find
            the approximate %ABV of a fermented wash, subtract the F.G. from the
            O.G. and multiply by 131. Using numbers from my favorite strong Scotch
            ale, we get (1.084 - 1.018)(131)= 8.65%ABV, a fairly strong ale."
            Making Fine Spirits, Zymurgy Bob

            As for getting good-tasting washes, and therefore good-tasting  spirit, I have to tell you first that I am not a turbo user, but from answering questions here, it appears that turbos, in the hands of many, can make bad-tasting wash.  Since you pay a lot more for turbos than you do for "regular" yeasts like Lalvin EC-1118, which can easily make  great-tasting wash at 14-15% ABV, with proper nutrition, EC-1118 and no carbon always seemed to make more sense than turbos with carbon.

            I understand not everyone shares my opinion on that matter, but many do. One of the best non-turbo recipes is the MUM wash. Go to :
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/new_distillers/files/Mason%20Jar%20Dixon%20-%20Rye%20Junkie/
            and open the MUM wash file. Waldo's GEM wash is a similar but probably faster sugar wash, also (I'm told) with great flavor.

            Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

            --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Cowdrey" <tocowdrey3@...> wrote:
            >
            > Bob,
            >
            > Thanks for the explanation. That helps a lot, however how is one supposed
            > to know what abv wash he is starting with when it goes in the still? I must
            > be missing something.
            >
            >
            >
            > The SG reading was the beginning SG - I put that in case it would help the
            > original issue about the 0% abv. OK, I still have a problem to solve, 1)
            > So far I have only run sugar washes and the best I can get is 75% abv - it
            > does not matter if I run it as a pot or a reflux, I still get the max of
            > 70/75%. I might be happy with that if it had no smell and did not bite when
            > tasted - Of course I am not sure what 75% abv sugar wash distillate is
            > supposed to taste like. The best run I have gotten so far is by using the
            > Vodka yeast with distilled water. It had almost no smell with a minimal bite
            > in the 75% abv range. I am thinking it is the yeast that makes the
            > difference since the same mixture with Turbo yeast produces the same abv but
            > has a strong smell and needs to be soaked in carbon to make it drinkable.
            > Recently a respondent to a question about carbon filtering said that the
            > trick is to make ethanol that does not need to be filtered. I agree but I
            > ain't there yet. How much does a specific yeast determine the quality of
            > the resulting distillate? Tom
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > From: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com [mailto:new_distillers@yahoogroups.com]
            > On Behalf Of tgfoitwoods
            > Sent: Saturday, July 09, 2011 12:04 PM
            > To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Strange Readings
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Tom,
            >
            > "The Alcoholometer
            >
            > For any home distiller, the alcoholometer should probably be your first
            > instrument purchase. At its simplest, the alcoholometer is simply a
            > weighted glass bulb, with a printed scale inside the vertical stem. While it
            > is sold to measure ethanol content, what it actually measures is the density
            > of a liquid, in grams per milliliter (g/ml), in a range from.794 g/ml to
            > 1.000
            > g/ml. This is the density range of an ethanol/water solution, from pure
            > ethanol to pure water, so if you have a mixture with only ethanol and water
            > in it, you can infer from the density how much ethanol is in your mixture.
            >
            > Of course, you don't have to actually read a density in g/ml, and convert
            > that to % alcohol (ethanol) by volume (%ABV); the alcoholometer
            > manufacturer does that for you, by giving you a scale that reads directly in
            > %ABV. "If you can read %ABV directly off the alcoholometer scale", you
            > might well ask, "what's all that fuss about density?" The important point
            > here is that, unless your mixture is nothing but ethanol and water, the
            > reading is meaningless, and that pretty much translates to this: the
            > alcoholometer only works on the distillate, liquid that has already been
            > vaporized and condensed by the still, and is so close to a pure
            > ethanol/water
            > mixture that the density-%ABV translation works.
            >
            > As an example, if you drop your alcoholometer into pure propylene glycol,
            > commonly used as antifreeze, the instrument will see a density of .965 g/ml
            > and tell you that your antifreeze is really 36% ethanol by volume, and
            > that's
            > just not true; there's not a drop of ethanol in it. Of course, it would be
            > silly
            > to measure the %ABV in pure antifreeze, but it would be equally silly to try
            > measuring the %ABV in a fermented (or fermenting) wash, a mixture of
            > water, sugars both unfermented and non-fermenting, yeast, gas bubbles,
            > and grain or fruit solids. Either way, the alcoholometer is not much help."
            > Making Fine Spirits- Zymurgy Bob (should be on the shelves by the end of
            > August)
            >
            > I really hope this helps.
            >
            > Oh, yeah. Making that column longer won't do much (if anything) to increase
            > the ABV of your distillate.
            >
            > Is that 1.058 beginning or ending sg? Either way is probably not what you
            > want.
            >
            > Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller
            >
            > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "shedhouse662" tocowdrey3@
            > wrote:
            > >
            > > I just fermented a 20L sugar mash using distilled water, Prestige
            > Professional Yeast Blend with AG. It fermented for 7 days as the directions
            > said it would. The readings I got from the mash were
            > > Ph: 3.7; SG: 1.058 and ABV: 0%. The alcohol meter actually floated above
            > the 0 mark. I have a small reflux still so I ran 10L of it anyway and got an
            > ABV of 74% on the first 400 ML and 64% on the second 400 ML.
            > >
            > > 1) Why would I get a 0% ABV reading on the mash when there was clearly
            > alcohol in it?
            > >
            > > 2) The column of my still is 8" high. Should I increase the height of the
            > column to get more abv on the first run?
            > >
            > > Thanks. Tom
            > >
            >
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