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Re: More specific newbie questions:

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  • tgfoitwoods
    Hey Damion, --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, damionpseudonym wrote: Back again with another raft of newb questions;
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 20, 2013
      Hey Damion,
      <br>--- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "damionpseudonym" <bloodpuddle@...> wrote:<br>><br>> Back again with another raft of newb questions; fortunately they're much more specific this time. Progress is being made (and I gotta say, it's all down to this list and ZB's book... you're a rockstar dude, seriously...)<br>>

      Thanks(shuffle, blush) I'm glad it's working.

       <br>> Okay, so, I made a "coffeepot" still using an erlenmeyer flask (had some issues with a thermometer since the flask as a much narrower mouth than a coffee pot, but that was taken care of by using an in-oven model). Turns out the much longer lyne arm I built works out a treat for collection and a nice cool output.<br>> <br>> I've done a couple brandy runs using a large amount of red wine I had handy. The first was 1000ml and the next was 1500ml. I got roughly 9 to 11 ounces from each run. Chucked the heads and tails and wound up with 6 ounces kept from the 1000ml run and 8 ounces kept from the 1500ml run. I strongly suspect that I should have tossed more heads, as my results have a definite tang to them that is not something I want to consume.<br>>
      On the wine I distilled in the book, I only reserved 4 ounces out of ~1500 ml.
       <br>> As far as heat went though, when I cranked the burner (electric hotplate, restaurant grade), the temp went straight to 89-90 and hovered there until I was on ounce 5 or 6, then it climbed steadily until it got to about 98 - 99, whereupon I stopped as the distillate was starting to smell and taste like a wet dog. When I would attempt to drop the heat to prevent it hitting 90 so fast, the drip rate would plummet to nil. The wine also stayed at a steady gentle boil. I had no puking since the flask is quite tall, but I'm still concerned about the temp.<br>>
      Your first mistake was trying to control the head temperature by varying the heat input. You just turn the heat on high until you are almost at the boil and then turn it down to where it's just a simmering boil. Its boiling point will be whatever physics and the various liquid condentration in your wash say it will be, unless you turn the heat down so far that heat loss (bad, on this tiny still) stops your wash from boiling, and then head temp plummets. Admittedly, if you have the heat way up, liquid will evaporate faster, and the ABV will change faster, and the head temp will also change faster.
       <br>> So here's the questions:<br>> <br>> 1: What am I doing wrong with temp? More patience? Is it subject to altitude? (NorCal coastal where I am..) The temperature graph in he book was a ramp, mine seems to be more of a cliff with a line.<br>>

      After it starts boiling, just hold it at a simmer and let it take care of its own temperature.
       <br>> 2: Since the temp was so at-variance with what's in ZB's book, how else do I estimate ABV? Should I just go get a hydrometer before I go any further? Kinda leaning that direction, and there's a lovely brew shop nearby that stocks them.<br>>
      Sooner or later, you'll want a "Proof and Traille" hydrometer, specifically for testing the ABV of already-distilled spiirits (it won't work at all on your wash). If you ever get to Redding, find Jay at NorCal Brewing Solutions. He's used to working with distillers and has lots of knowledge and good stuff.
       <br>> 3: My output is VERY harsh. Is this normal? Compared to commercial brandy it's obviously overproof, which is fine, but is the aging what proves all the warmth and mellow tones? At this point I'm assuming I screwed up my cuts and going forward from there. I am also noticing it tastes strongly of raisins, for "brandy" distilled from red wine, is this normal or is the raisin flavor something else entirely?<br>>
      First off, your undiluted spirit is probably 130 proof, and yes, by the sound of it, you have some heads in there. Diluting is not "required" as such, but most people will, just so the spirit is drinkable.
       <br>> 4: I have no intention of diluting at this point, is that step something that is required, or can I collect and start to age without it?<br>> <br>> 5: Can I take what I've got now, put it back in which the wine I have left, and re-distill it to remove the heads I should have removed before? I know I can put the tails back in, but can I do the same with the current product, or is it a writeoff?<br>>
      In distilling, almost nothing is ever a writeoff; you can alsways re-distill. Instead of throwing away the heads and tails, which have lots of ethanol and flavor in them (but still throw away that first sample, the foreshots), save them and combine the outputs of 2 or 3 runs, load all that back into the still, and then do a spirit run. With the increased wash ABV, you'll see longer gentler temperature curves, and you'll have more time to make your cuts. Do yourself a favor and don't try to make the cuts (at first) while the still is running. Air out the distillate and make the cuts the next day or 2.
       <br>> 6: Are my input <--> output ratios normal? I had 1100ml of leftovers from a the 1500ml run.<br>>
      Your output seems to be in the ballpark.
       <br>> Thanks a bunch.<br>> DeePseudo<br>><br>
      You're very welcome. (You'd have had this sooner but the damned Yahoo reply ate the first one)

      Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits

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