• Oct 27, 2020
  • by Moonshiner


You want to know everything about the Still but we're afraid to stick around our human hair? We cover initially what you needed for your basic equipment for making beer, wine, whiskey cider, that's all the same. It's just what do you do with that liquid that you converted from sugar water, for lack of better words into alcohol. It's what you do with the alcohol. So it's totally up to you. And we're going to focus more on distilling because that's what this is all about.

So what do we absolutely need, we need to still we need to be able to do the separation because all we're going to do is we're going to separate alcohol from water. That's primarily all we're going to do. So once we discuss a principle or a facet of distilling, and we use science to describe that there is no way around that. It works the way we described it, and you're not going to shortcut it. 

I have two examples here of small stills, and either really good beginner stills or introductory stills, they run about the same price somewhere around the 498 to $500 range. Don't let that scare you off. Because there are a lot cheaper models specially in American Copper still there is a lot of affordable available here. So just make your choice. 

I hate this because you're going to need heat, he increases the temperature of the contents which start to rise and vaporize. And then they'll come across and when they get into this condensing tube, you'll condense them with cold water, and then liquid comes out, but that liquid that comes out will be high proof, alcohol. That's how that works. It's that simple. If you love copper, get a copper still they work very well.

You have many, many heat sources available and you can use either fire you can use a hot plate or you can use a heater element. Or if you can adapt your steel stick the heater element inside. You can also do an oil jacketed, which means that and those are much more expensive Of course, that means that you'd have this kettle and you'd have a jacket that goes around it. That is also sealed but it's filled with oil and then you heat that oil and that oil heats everything in here without ever mixing.

Okay, it's an oil jacket, it's still there more in line with being able to put the mash, which is what you put in here. 

I call it a mash. You mash everything together. But you can put a little bit less glen lee because we always clarify and separate all the solids before we put them in a still. But in that case, if you had an oil-jacketed, you could actually put a lot of grains and things inside the steel itself and it wouldn't scorch, because that's the fear. So those are your heating options. Now let's talk specifically about what the distilling process is and what it is not. 

First of all, distilling is not making alcohol, okay? The distilling is taking alcohol that is already present and separating that from others what we would call constituents and or compounds that are in your bucket for lack of better words, your fermenter and remember we talked about this yesterday and we use buckets for on a regular basis you can use carboys you can use the fast Furman you as long as remember you're the mash is what you're fermenting has no content and doesn't care what it's saying as long as it'll hold it.

So this has got a little double bubble vent on top of it and it will ferment up to a point to where it's finished, which means that a percentage of whatever is in here is already ethyl alcohol. And the rest of it is going to be water and byproducts. Now the same thing with beer, the same thing with wine, and the same thing with cider. You're going to firm it in a certain percentage is always going to be ethyl alcohol. Now there are tolerance levels. 

For yeasts, using the proper yeast will help you along the way, but almost any yeast will work, even Fleischmanns bread yeast. It's not reliable, and it's not recommended, but will it work? Absolutely. I won't use it because I just know better, but just keep that in mind. 

So, in most cases in a five-gallon batch, we'll use five gallons throughout this entire series as the basis of our data point for our discussions. I can't anticipate that when I ferment. I'll wind up with a 10% alcohol by volume 10% ABV. 

And well what is 10% of five gallons? Exactly, so half a gallon I've got point five gallons of if I was able to separate it would be 100% ethanol. Now, you know we're not going to get 100% ethanol, you need to know that upfront, you're 94 95.6 is the cutoff for a lot of different reasons. I know that I've got that much alcohol. But what I need to do is I need to separate this from this.

And that's how we make whiskey or rum or gin, or bourbon, or whose we make all of those things exactly the same way through the distillation process. Let's use a pressure cooker. That's a good idea to go down to your goodwill and grab a pressure cooker that has a sealed lid on it, which is necessary because you don't want any of that vapors to escape it for two reasons one, you're losing alcohol and two, you're creating a dangerous environment because it still is flammable.

 And we'll talk about safety in just a second. But on the very top it almost always has a port and exit port where they lead to wait for pressure to be released. If you can just adopt a coil of copper tubing to that and place this in a bucket of cold water. You'll get the same results. Almost the equivalent depending on how you run this as you would in any of our commercial stills that you buy, and you're into this for whatever it costs you a good wolf or an old pressure cooker because what we'll do is we'll heat this up, the vapor will escape for us to go through here, it'll condense, it'll come out as a liquid. That's the process. 

So what do we need in order to run Still, we only need some really basic ingredients or basic items. One is we need a still. However, you buy that whatever type you have, you need to be able to control it. You'll need a mash and that will be a combination of grains, sugars, water, and then, of course you're going to need yeast and your yeast will convert your mash into alcohol and then you're gonna need a thermometer.

 And you're gonna need some jars to collect it. And you're going to need a heat source doesn't matter if it's butane if it's wood, firewood, gas. There are many different ones, or you're going to use a hot plate, some kind of electric cooker you're gonna have an electric element, but some means use the stove in the kitchen, your needs, so mean in order to heat this up, you're going to need some either running cold water or with the one we just drew, you're going to need a bucket of water with ice in it. And those are the basic things that you need in order to put together the necessity. The necessary items in order to start a distillation process. 

Now we've made that very, very simple and our dirt all there's a lot of information that we could cover to make it a little bit easier to explain or to understand. But simply, if you took the basic principle that we've just described by making your combination your mash is normally a mash when you're using grains. It's a wash when you're using just regular water and sugar, which is also acceptable. And a good rule of thumb is two pounds of sugar per gallon of water. 

So you got five gallons of water, 10 pounds of sugar and about 12 pounds in there. And we'll get to the measuring portion and all that but that seems to be a really good starting point. Two pounds per gallon those unused there. You allow that to ferment. You're doing everything right so far you're clean, you’re sanitizing and don't go nuts.

Once that's finished, you've got to still it's clean and it's ready to go. You add your mash or wash to the still hook up your water source, however, you're going to cool that steam. Start your heat source and track the temperature. And we'll get to the temperatures here in very real short order because that's going to be part of the next one. 

I hope I've clarified and opened up the world about distilling itself in the equipment, basic equipment necessary and some principles. Primarily there's probably oodles and oodles of them but we have what's known as a pot still and then we have reflux still is the quickest, easiest description is our pot stills like old granddad still in the woods. 

Okay, it's a pot and it's still and it will make about both 130 250 proof alcohol has a lot of flavors and a lot of character has all that stuff okay? Now that's just a simple one still, and then you have reflux still in a republic still Is this a little bit more intense because it has a pre condensing chamber and a condenser and what that does is it will strip all the flavor out, but it will also boost the alcohol content, not content the alcohol percentage in your collected distillate up to somewhere near 180 proof hundred and 90% It will be what we call a neutral spirit at that point, no flavor but really, really high in alcohol by volume. 

And last but not least, remember, make alcohol, if it's still okay, or not. They'll make the same amount of alcohol. They'll make different volumes because of their percentage, but they make the same amount of alcohol. all they're doing is separating what you already have from the wall.