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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Whats up with the bentonite

Are you adding bentonite before or after fermentation? How much are you using? Is there something else that is more effective?


Reply:

If you are distilling, why would you want to add bentonite? That degree of clarification generally isn't necessary pre-distillation.


Reply:If you are distilling, why would you want to add bentonite? That degree of clarification generally isn't necessary pre-distillation.
Reply:Well that's my question. Is it helpful to add finings to assist in settling the solids, particularly in molasses washes? Hobby distillers are all about settling their washes before distilling. A small craft distiller is just a big hobby distiller with a license, and in a lot of cases, like mine, the hobbyists have many many more years of experience. If clarification is not necessary pre-distillation, why are the hobbyists clarifying?

Do any craft distillers clear their wash before distilling; why/why not?


Reply:

As it has been said. What hobby distillers do doesn't really pertain to commercial distilling. Not only that, but at least 50% of the info tossed around by home distillers is not only untrue, it is actually detrimental. If you are going to run a artisanal distillery you need to develop a completely different mindset about what you are doing. I know I had to. The more I learned about REAL distilling, as opposed to hobby distilling, the more I had to throw away a lot of useless information.

In commercial distilling, as in your case rum, the fast fermentation actually seems to lead to more yeast and solids being thrown off and settling naturally. Then you just put the wash into the still without fining, just keep most of the solids behind. There are even commercial styles of spirits made with the lees. Very different from small home stills where the lees would give off tastes or burn. Commercial stills have agitators or circulation pumps so that you can distill with solids or particulates in the wash/mash. I learned the hard way when I tried experimenting with a home style still and had burn-on of particulates. I then had to build a stripping still that circulated the wash and had no problems.

If you feel you still need to settle out the yeast the best way is with a double wall tank where you can run cold water through the wall to chill out the wash and it will clarify naturally and rapidly itself.


Reply:

A circulating wash is the answer I'm looking for; thank you very much.


Reply:

What type of still do you have? I may have some suggestions on the circulation.

A circulating wash is the answer I'm looking for; thank you very much.
Reply:

I do not have the equipment yet. I was going to get a simple stripper from amphora mounted on a 120 gallon stainless boiler.


Reply:

Someone say stripper? Sorry, couldn't resist.


Reply:

I think with a small hobby still the likelihood of a boil-over through the spirit tube is much higher than on a larger commercial still. This may be the reason for finding ways to get sediment to settle. It's not much of an issue with a larger still as long as you are patient and attentive to the warming process. Some mashes are much more prone to foaming.


Reply:What type of still do you have? I may have some suggestions on the circulation.
Reply:

Basically get a boiler circulation pump. weld a pipe fitting to the bottom of the kettle to take out wash for circulation, weld a concentrator onto the side of the kettle near the bottom (concentrator is basically taking 1.5" pipe down to 3/4" to increase pressure) and pointing alongside the tank to redirect the wash inside to form a whirlpool.

What kind of suggestions do you have for an alembic or pot still for circulation?
Reply:

Jonathan-

I assume the purpose of the circulation is to prevent solids in the beer or wine from burning on the bottom. How did you identify the problem of solids burning (see it, taste it, smell it?)? From time to time I get a bitter taste in my distillate, and it seems to happen if I am distilling wine that has just completed fermentation (and not completely settled or clarified). You have me wondering if it could be from dead yeast cells burning on the bottom.

Tom


Reply:

I did a test of the alcohol level of the wine, which is actually more of a slurry, in the lab still and saw minor burning. I then did a test run in a 7 gl prototype still and had to stop after a short while because you could smell the solids burning. Haven't tried it in the stripper because we are having to rebuild the steam boiler piping to install a condensate sump and pump to relieve excess back pressure.

Jonathan-

I assume the purpose of the circulation is to prevent solids in the beer or wine from burning on the bottom. How did you identify the problem of solids burning (see it, taste it, smell it?)? From time to time I get a bitter taste in my distillate, and it seems to happen if I am distilling wine that has just completed fermentation (and not completely settled or clarified). You have me wondering if it could be from dead yeast cells burning on the bottom.

Tom


Reply:

I am still in the research phase but could you use a plate and frame filter to remove the suspended yeast post fermentation or would this somehow harm the final product?