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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Fermentation issues topic moved from introductions

My name is Thomas Mckenzie. I am an experienced distiller, and I am currently partnering with Brian Mckenzie, on a distilling venture in Hector, New York. I also consult with people who are wanting to start a microdistillery, or need help getting product lines together,etc.
Reply:

Hey Coop,

Just out of curiosity, how much corn is in your mash, and have you already boiled the corn to break down the cell walls and solubilize the starch before adding your barley? Did you take an initial gravity?

just trying to get the whole picture here


Reply:This is coop out in Colorado. We are just starting and seam to be having problems with fermentation. We have a 210 gallon mash kettle, direct steam injection. We are heating up a grain mash of corn, little wheat and malted barley to 150 F then holding that for 2 hours. Then up to 170 F to kill all unwanted bacteria. We cool down immediately to from 85 F to 90 F. Then use the iodine test. We seam to be ok till here. We move the mash to a fermentation room. Cast the yeast. We are using a super start yeast from White labs. It is supposed to be able to take this temp. We are getting little if any conversions after 5 days. We keep the room at 81F at all times. Any suggestions? Coop
Reply:Hey Coop,

Just out of curiosity, how much corn is in your mash, and have you already boiled the corn to break down the cell walls and solubilize the starch before adding your barley? Did you take an initial gravity?

just trying to get the whole picture here


Reply:Hey, first of all, you are over thinking this thing. By conversions are you meaning that you have no fermentation at all, and no alcohol? Even if you are not boiling the corn with that recipe you should have fermentation. There is just one problem with what you are doing. Whiskey mash does not need heating up to 170 degrees. This will kill all of the enzymes. This is not like a beer mash, you want to leave them alive and they will continue converting starch even after fermentation begins, and also get some red star whiskey yeast. Are you adding any backset? What was your starting ph?
Reply:We are getting what i feel is a good fermentation. What we do not have is very much alcohol after distilling. So what you are saying is taking temp up to 170 is killing off the enzymes that convert the starches to sugar. That being the case no wonder we are getting but a little alcohol. We pass the iodine test but only enough sugar to show we passed. No backset as we are just getting started. coop
Reply:A couple things,

-by my calculation if you truly started at 1.2 and it went to 1.1 it should be about 13% abv., however these numbers are extremely high and distilling this with this amount of residual sugar and solids would likely be a nightmare. If I were doing a mash I would want to start at about 1.080 and try to get it down to as close to 1.005 as possible

-40 gal. of water with about 300 lbs of total grain seems nearly impossible to manage in terms of mash consistency--did you add more water?

-If you are working with cracked corn, like I mentioned, you need to boil the corn first to break down cell walls and expose the starch, then you need to cool it to mash temp. (140-150) and add your cracked barley and wheat. The enzymes will then convert all the starch in the barley, wheat, and corn. If you don't boil the corn, it will contribute nothing to the initial gravity.

-I may be missing something here but, with all due respect, you may want to research this type of mashing a little more


Reply:

Hear is what recipe that I suggest, I never go by specific gravity in a mash, also the heaven hill distillery at one time did not boil their corn, so that should be no problem as I have add sucees with no boiling too. By, the way, how much whiskey did you wind uo with? The amount of water you are using is fine as well as the mashbill, what malt are you using? If you are using 280 gallons of water total, put 140 in the kettle first, add say 10 pounds of malt, add your corn slowly and I do recomend

boiling the corn, so take it up to 212 for 30 minutes or so, then drop it to 175 for wheat and down to 145 for malt, and down to 100 to add a good yeast slurry. Be sure your mash water is at 5.6 or so, and next time add backset to get your mash water adjusted and then after mashing add 70 gallons of backset with 70 gallons of water. If you do not wind up with a good yield of fine whiskey then I do not know what to terell you. What kind of still do you have? Also 3 to 4 days should show the mash fermented. I do not depend on a hydrometer because the solids with mess it up. Even if you strain it. Is your water hard enough to feed the yeast?


Reply:Hear is what recipe that I suggest, I never go by specific gravity in a mash, also the heaven hill distillery at one time did not boil their corn, so that should be no problem as I have add sucees with no boiling too. By, the way, how much whiskey did you wind uo with? The amount of water you are using is fine as well as the mashbill, what malt are you using? If you are using 280 gallons of water total, put 140 in the kettle first, add say 10 pounds of malt, add your corn slowly and I do recomend

boiling the corn, so take it up to 212 for 30 minutes or so, then drop it to 175 for wheat and down to 145 for malt, and down to 100 to add a good yeast slurry. Be sure your mash water is at 5.6 or so, and next time add backset to get your mash water adjusted and then after mashing add 70 gallons of backset with 70 gallons of water. If you do not wind up with a good yield of fine whiskey then I do not know what to terell you. What kind of still do you have? Also 3 to 4 days should show the mash fermented. I do not depend on a hydrometer because the solids with mess it up. Even if you strain it. Is your water hard enough to feed the yeast?


Reply:

We use citric acid to adjust pH when starting fresh, but the spent mash has a pH around 4 to 4.3 so I'll be using that when we get into whiskey production. Try a cup of calcium sulfate in the water as well. U.S. Gypsum sells it as food grade Terra Alba. It helps for those of us as they say in Kentucky that are "off the slab".


Reply:This is coop out in Colorado. We are just starting and seam to be having problems with fermentation. We have a 210 gallon mash kettle, direct steam injection. We are heating up a grain mash of corn, little wheat and malted barley to 150 F then holding that for 2 hours. Then up to 170 F to kill all unwanted bacteria. We cool down immediately to from 85 F to 90 F. Then use the iodine test. We seam to be ok till here. We move the mash to a fermentation room. Cast the yeast. We are using a super start yeast from White labs. It is supposed to be able to take this temp. We are getting little if any conversions after 5 days. We keep the room at 81F at all times. Any suggestions? Coop
Reply:Sorry if I'm misunderstanding and stating the obvious, but you say you keep the fermentation room at 81F, but do you have a thermometer in the mash itself? Any idea how warm the mash is getting?
Reply:We have an infared heat gun to check temp of mash. At first the temp of mash rises a few degrees but this I think is common.
Reply:Right now the temp of the mash is a nice 75.6 F. This run looks as if it may be working much better than the last. I reduced the temp of the room to 70F maybe this will not stress the yeast as much as the higher temp? Coop
Reply:Coop,

We pitch our yeast when our mash is between 85 and 90 degrees. We're using a different yeast than you so ours may have a higher temperature tolerance. But, once we pitch the yeast the mash quickly becomes active and generates quite a bit of heat. Our fermenters are glycol jacketed and our chiller runs quite frequently to keep the temp under 90 deg F. If you're not generating much heat you're probably not getting much fermentation.

Let us know how this batch turns out.


Reply:I agree with everything that my cousin who cannot spell his last name, and his partner in crime say. I think that you should also try a new yeast, along with what they added.
Reply:I agree with everything that my cousin who cannot spell his last name, and his partner in crime say. I think that you should also try a new yeast, along with what they added.
Reply:

how did this run turn out? are you putting solids and all in the still?


Reply:how did this run turn out? are you putting solids and all in the still?
Reply:how did this run turn out? are you putting solids and all in the still?
Reply:

Coop- I'm no expert but have been doing some intense research. If anyone catches any errors please correct me. thanks

I've been looking in to what yeasts to use for whiskey myself.

Super Start is primarily a fuel alcohol yeast. It can be used for neutral spirits but isn't recommended for it. It sounds like you are going for a whiskey.

You may want to try this from White labs

WLP050 Tennessee Whiskey Yeast

This yeast is famous for creating rich, smooth flavors. Clean and dry fermenting yeast. Will tolerate high alcohol concentrations (15%), and ester production is low.

Attenuation: >80%

Flocculation: Medium.

Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 60-90°F

Here's a link: http://www.whitelabs.com/distilling/yeast.html

Or you may want to try this brand. Ian Smiley thinks it's great

http://www.whiskeyyeast.com/

And I've heard good things about the turbo that The Colonel sells. http://www.coppermoonshinestills.com/id39.html

Are you running your still wide open for making whiskey? All plates turned off to get as little reflux as possible, to get as close to a pot still effect as you can with that still?

When mashing grains I was given the following info from Alexander Plank of Christian Carle Stills

1/5 grains:4/5 water

Liquify the mash for 30 minutes at 70-85C

Saccharify for 30 minutes at 55C while adding some B-Amylase to get full enzyme conversion

drop to 30-32C and pitch yeast

Should be about a 4 day ferment

Does this sound right to any of you folks?

This is coop out in Colorado. We are just starting and seam to be having problems with fermentation. We have a 210 gallon mash kettle, direct steam injection. We are heating up a grain mash of corn, little wheat and malted barley to 150 F then holding that for 2 hours. Then up to 170 F to kill all unwanted bacteria. We cool down immediately to from 85 F to 90 F. Then use the iodine test. We seam to be ok till here. We move the mash to a fermentation room. Cast the yeast. We are using a super start yeast from White labs. It is supposed to be able to take this temp. We are getting little if any conversions after 5 days. We keep the room at 81F at all times. Any suggestions? Coop
Reply:with that size batch you should get at least 20 gallons of whiskey at 100 proof when it is cut. Put every single bit of grain in the still, some people will disagree, but that is key, think of the alcohol contained in those fermented grain, and throw that yeast strain out the window.
Reply:Coop- I'm no expert but have been doing some intense research. If anyone catches any errors please correct me. thanks

I've been looking in to what yeasts to use for whiskey myself.

Super Start is primarily a fuel alcohol yeast. It can be used for neutral spirits but isn't recommended for it. It sounds like you are going for a whiskey.

You may want to try this from White labs

WLP050 Tennessee Whiskey Yeast

This yeast is famous for creating rich, smooth flavors. Clean and dry fermenting yeast. Will tolerate high alcohol concentrations (15%), and ester production is low.

Attenuation: >80%

Flocculation: Medium.

Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 60-90°F

Here's a link: http://www.whitelabs.com/distilling/yeast.html

Or you may want to try this brand. Ian Smiley thinks it's great

http://www.whiskeyyeast.com/

And I've heard good things about the turbo that The Colonel sells. http://www.coppermoonshinestills.com/id39.html

Are you running your still wide open for making whiskey? All plates turned off to get as little reflux as possible, to get as close to a pot still effect as you can with that still?

When mashing grains I was given the following info from Alexander Plank of Christian Carle Stills

1/5 grains:4/5 water

Liquify the mash for 30 minutes at 70-85C

Saccharify for 30 minutes at 55C while adding some B-Amylase to get full enzyme conversion

drop to 30-32C and pitch yeast

Should be about a 4 day ferment

Does this sound right to any of you folks?


Reply:When I called and talked to the sale person at White Labs he recomended the super start. Could not talk to the lab tech as she was not their. Sales men cannot live with them, cannot live without them. New strain of yeast coming out. Coop
Reply:I will bet a lot of your problem is from no solids, also Alexander knows his stuff, but mash is a little thicker.