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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Yeild of Alcohol

After 3 years of operation something strange has happened. In the last month my yield of alcohol decreased by 50%. Using same formula, same yeast, same grain sources. I received a new supply of corn at the same time my yield dropped. Brix reading is the same after each mash run and after fermentation checked again brix reading is the same as usual but alcohol volume is down. Could their be something wrong with the new grain? Coop


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Easiest first thing typically is to add a Nitrogen nutrient and see if it corrects


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Easiest first thing typically is to add a Nitrogen nutrient and see if it corrects


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After 3 years of operation something strange has happened. In the last month my yield of alcohol decreased by 50%. Using same formula, same yeast, same grain sources. I received a new supply of corn at the same time my yield dropped. Brix reading is the same after each mash run and after fermentation checked again brix reading is the same as usual but alcohol volume is down. Could their be something wrong with the new grain? Coop


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Personally, the first thing I would do is clean my equipment. A bacterial infection can at times affect your yield and before you mess with recipes or buy anything, just give your equipment a solid and THOROUGH cleaning, especially joints. then go with N supplementation.

good luck


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Haha yes, good advice. Thought that was kind of a given


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Yes it is a given, we run a bleach/water mix through everything once a month. But that does not mean something is on the grain. Maybe a preservative that is effecting it? Coop


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how's your liquifaction and sacchrification?

did you test the yeast? is it kickin'?


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how's your liquifaction and sacchrification?

did you test the yeast? is it kickin'?


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Hello Will, fresh yeast and it takes off within 2 to 3 hours, tank gets a little warmer from the reaction and by first thing in the morning I will have a 2 to 3 inch head on top. Fermentation works just like all the earlier ones. Fermentation takes about 4 to 6 days, brix goes from 15 down to 5. Coop


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Seems to me that if you are getting the same starting brix and ending brix that a huge difference of 50% would be from something in the still as Chip suggests. I would think bacterial infection would create a much smaller change than 50%.


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reading from the original post, you were not getting complete attenuation prior, right? were you satisfied with 5 brix? (for those playing along at home, that should be about 1060 to 1020 - not good attenuation in my world). that would suggest something else is wrong. your short chains are not breaking-down or something else.

are you controlling fermentation temp? is it possible that the little bugs are committing seppuku?

bacteria can be a big problem - are you making acid?

...and yes, make sure you're still is not spillin'


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reading from the original post, you were not getting complete attenuation prior, right? were you satisfied with 5 brix? (for those playing along at home, that should be about 1060 to 1020 - not good attenuation in my world). that would suggest something else is wrong. your short chains are not breaking-down or something else.

are you controlling fermentation temp? is it possible that the little bugs are committing seppuku?

bacteria can be a big problem - are you making acid?

...and yes, make sure you're still is not spillin'


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If you don't mind me adding, coop, don't ever use bleach. Without getting into what it can do to various metals, residual bleach can be one issue that's sticking it to your yeast. Iodophor will do the same thing, and it's safe to use with stainless. It rinses free, can can be left to drip dry, depending on the manufacturer.

Will's right, finishing at 5 plato is not a good sign, and that's for your "usual" run.

1st and easiest thing to do is to check calibration of all instruments involved. All of them. 2nd is to check the alcohol content of your stillage.


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Sorry, I didn't read the other post, just his first.

Todd helped me find an error (or lack of one) regarding brix. I was originally checking brix on a refractometer, but it doesn't work for finishing brix since the solution contains alcohol. I thought I had a stuck fermentation, but once I switched to brix hydrometers, I found out I was getting to zero. So instrumentation can quickly lead you in the wrong direction. Just thought I would add my $.02.


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Folks,

A lot of great thinking and debate going on here. I have to agree on the mechanical loss possibility. its a consistent amount each batch. even a small vapor leak can drain your profits. I also would be looking at the ABV of the spent wash. just to see. It does seem a bit of a short Brix swing. that would only give you 5% ABV right? I have heard that the Brix should end down around 2-3. It will be hard to bubble test the system while its hot. boiling liquid will look like a leak.

Good luck Coop,

Jes


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Sorry, I didn't read the other post, just his first.

Todd helped me find an error (or lack of one) regarding brix. I was originally checking brix on a refractometer, but it doesn't work for finishing brix since the solution contains alcohol. I thought I had a stuck fermentation, but once I switched to brix hydrometers, I found out I was getting to zero. So instrumentation can quickly lead you in the wrong direction. Just thought I would add my $.02.


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I would like to reinforce what JohninWV said about Brix and refractometers.

A Brix reading on a refractometer is measuring the amount of bending of light, caused by whatever is dissolved in the water. It is measuring what you see when you poke a stick in the water.

The "light bending" of a brix 15 is MAINLY caused by sugars, the final brix 5 is caused MAINLY by alcohol. During fermentation the refraction (bending) is caused by a mixture of sugar and alcohol.

Some time ago I made up a 10% ABV solution of distilled alcohol and water, and from memory it read around 5 Brix.

Coop's final Brix 5 could be measuring alcohol, but the 5 could also include sugars vinegar or other nasties caused by infections.

A hydrometer has exactly the same issues.

One definitive way to measure the wash alcohol is with a "Thorpe's still", a small glass one for bench top.


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All help we get and give here is greatly appreciated and Todd you can tell me anything you want to. Todd where can I get what you are using? Lodophor?

A refractometer is what I am using also. So with that, is why I never get to 0. I will check with my hydrometers to confirm complete conversions.

Todd by "Stillage" do you mean spent grains? Or platform hight? coop


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great problem solving here guys. A true community! Thanks for the contributions.


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Yes it is a given, we run a bleach/water mix through everything once a month. But that does not mean something is on the grain. Maybe a preservative that is effecting it? Coop


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If the rest of your fermentation is normal (normal meaning what you've experience for three years)..... same number of days, same temp (confirm your calibration), same starting and finishing gravity, you can rest assured that there's no way that bacteria could possibly consume so much sugar that your low wine yield could be cut in half. Not in less than a week, and not if you're telling us that the fermentation looks visually normal.

You need confidence in your instruments before we can attack the problem. I'm particularly interested in your finishing gravity in Plato.

Have a nice weekend


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All help we get and give here is greatly appreciated and Todd you can tell me anything you want to. Todd where can I get what you are using? Lodophor?

A refractometer is what I am using also. So with that, is why I never get to 0. I will check with my hydrometers to confirm complete conversions.

Todd by "Stillage" do you mean spent grains? Or platform hight? coop


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My guess is that you have an LAB infection. It has gotten warmer and all other factors except grain are being ruled out.....your end point pH seems to be the same but the LAB may be consuming your ethanol as it is made instead of adding the flavor you want. Get some high resolution pH strips an monitor your fermentation over the 1st couple days. Chew on a few kernels of corn and see if your saliva is converting the starch....if it taste ok probably LAB and at 85F the LAB will be quite active....


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Lactic Acid Bacteria.