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Messages - tumarkin

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The Pub / Re: Distilling
« on: October 20, 2010, 12:46:47 PM »
ok, so let's take this in a more 'pc' & socially acceptable direction for a bit..... apparently there are a bunch of us who love distilled products. what's your favorite(s)?

My favorites are the types that would come out of a pot-still as opposed to those from a fractionating column.
Slivovic for example is a very clean drink, but has lots of flavor. Vodka, is TOO clean and flavorless for me.

I don't think you'll get much disagreement on that. Flavor is why most of us brew our own beer. While my taste in liquor is pretty eclectic; my favorite, by far, is single malt whisky. Hard to narrow that down to a favorite, but Talisker ranks pretty high (as does Springbank, Highland Park, The Macallan, Ardbeg and many others). Really depends on my mood & the time/place.

The Pub / Re: Distilling
« on: October 20, 2010, 11:22:21 AM »
ok, so let's take this in a more 'pc' & socially acceptable direction for a bit..... apparently there are a bunch of us who love distilled products. what's your favorite(s)?

The Pub / Re: Distilling
« on: October 19, 2010, 06:30:44 PM »
And not adding to the myth that homebrewers are up to anythnig shady.

Well, if'n I was a moonshiner, I'd want to set my still up in the shade.

All jokes aside, I certainly understand the AHA concern about the discussion of distilling (from a hands-on technical viewpoint) and in regard to possible efforts to legalize distilling. Our mission & purpose are about beer and brewing, not distillation, wine-making, etc. I can see where some might think it's not in the interest of the organization, or even might be bad for our primary interests, to consider efforts to legalize home distillation.

On the other hand, there is a strong and direct tie in between beer and whisky distillation, not to mention cross-fertillization with whisky barrels being used to age beer and even in some cases beer barrels being used to age whisky. I firmly believe that if we homebrewers had the freedom to learn to safely distill at home, our creativity, experimentation and willingness to explore & push the limits would benefit the craft brewing industry and their ventures in distillation.

While this currently may be a minority opinion and interest, I'd like to see us continue our discussions here rather than take it to a distillation forum in the hopes that more home brewers may become interested in making home distillation legal. It may be a while before that would gain enough traction to become a goal of the AHA but we have to start somewhere. Its both an issue of freedom (and I think most home brewers are in favor of that) but also of huge p[otential benefit to our interest in alcoholic beverages. If I had a brewery, I'd like the freedom to brew, distill, make a mead or a wine, blend all of 'em (or some of /em) together - in short to follow my creativity and taste wherever it might lead.

That is not currently possible with our laws today, but I can dream about the time when it might be possible. If enough of us share that dream we can make it happen. If we discuss it, we might find that more share that dream in our organization than we suspect... and if not, then maybe we'll convince them that we have a viable plan, but only if we continue to discuss and build interest & consensus.

(how's that for diplomaticly stating the postition?)

Equipment and Software / Re: Better Bottle Stoppers and Dry Traps
« on: October 19, 2010, 02:59:37 PM »
Since y'all are obviously using Better Bottles, let me shift the thread a bit. I've been thinking about starting to use them, but one thing concerns me. Some of my older carboys have scratch marks right at the top (where the stopper goes) from the handles of wire carboy brushes. I solved that problem by sliding plastic tubing over the handle to protect against scratches. This became a non-issue for me after I started using PBW to soak carboys.

Do y'all have any issues with scratches (from whatever source) in the Better Bottles? I love that they're non-breakable, & thus solve the safety issues of glass carboys. But what about scratching or other long-term issues?

The Pub / Re: Distilling
« on: October 18, 2010, 11:10:01 PM »

   I may be taking his post the wrong way, but I think this was the line of reasoning.

I don't think you're taking his post the wrong way. I understand the line of reasoning. I just don't agree with it.

The Pub / Re: Distilling
« on: October 18, 2010, 10:46:49 PM »
After much discussion, this thread will allowed to continue as long as the content doesn't stray into the distillation process.  This corresponds with the trend of breweries getting involved with distillation.  We've put a lot of effort into disproving the notion that homebrewers are moonshiners and don't feel that the organization as a whole benefits from discussions that confuse that effort.

I don't necessarily agree with this line of thinking. I'm not a moonshiner, I don't distill (yet). But learning about and discussing the distillation process helps further my understanding & appreciation of single malt whisky - it doesn't mean that I'm moving to the hills and getting a fast car to outrun the revenooers.

I'm glad that there is recognition somewhere up the line that our discussions are in line with "the trend of breweries getting involved with distillation." As I'd pointed out previously, a lot of the creativity in the craft brewing industry can be traced to brewers who learned their craft at home and then went professional. Unfortunately, there's no legal way to mirror this in distillation. No legal way for brewers to become home distillers and experiment and develop their chops or try something new. That can and should be changed.

I firmly believe it's possible, no desirable, for us to bring the discussion of home distillation out of the shadows and start to lobby for it to become legal. I understand that there are those in the anti-liquor, neo-prohibitionist, right wing that will be appalled by any such efforts, not to mention that the big liquor lobbyists would be up in arms...... but the discussion has to start somewhere.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: fermentation woes - chlorine?
« on: October 18, 2010, 07:57:37 PM »
fill the tub so that it comes as high up the side of the carboy as you can without causing it to float. obviously, your tub has to be deep enough to accommodate that. you don't want the tub too big though (width & length), as more water makes it harder for the frozen jug to drop the temp enough. you can also try covering the carboy with a tshirt. as the water wicks up & evaporates it will have a cooling effect also. these solutions work, though obviously not anywhere near as well as a fridge & temp controller.

dont worry about the residual star san.... it's truly not a problem, you'll never taste it from what's left by the foam.

The Pub / Re: Finally arriving!
« on: October 18, 2010, 07:52:50 PM »
So the event was quite a success. We ended up having to have the distributor pick up more beer about 2 hours after the event started. I knew they hadn't ordered enough beer.  ;) Already have a few local restaurants requesting kegs.

And so it Begins.....

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer in the Bible
« on: October 18, 2010, 07:29:34 PM »
My favorite quote out of the Bible is:

"But Beer was lonely. So God created Pretzels. And it was good."

Guinessess 5:20

couldn't find that in mine, what version do you have, the Saint Gambrinus version?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: fermentation woes - chlorine?
« on: October 18, 2010, 07:15:06 PM »
as you're aware, making a starter is certainly advisable, but not absolutely necessary. you obviously got fermentation, but not enough to lower to target fg. take home lesson.... make starters in the future. on the dry yeast, as mentioned there have been a couple of recalls recently. certainly possible you got a bad sachet, thus no surprise on it not helping.

you mention using  Zephyr Hills water..... are you using their spring water or their distilled? There are a number of things that can limit fermentations. minerals are certainly one, and if you're using distilled (probably not, but....) then that could be an issue. certainly more of an issue with an extract batch than with all grain.

your higher temps would lead to a faster, more complete fermentation, but also one with potential off flavors - but that's not the source of this particular problem. for the future, it is possible to get cooler ferm temps without a dedicated brewing fridge. put the fermenter in a large tub of water. fill two gallon jugs about 3/4 full and put in your freezer. put one in the tub in the morning when you go to work, swap it out for the other when you get home in the evening. low tech but effective temp control. given your ambient temps, you may not get as low as you like, but should help considerably.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Midnight Sun Brewing!
« on: October 17, 2010, 08:15:09 PM »
hmmmm...... if they're available in Virginia, they might be available in Atlanta. Whenever I get up that way, Green's is always one of my stops. They're a great liquor store with an extensive selection of both beers and single malts (other stuff too, but that's what floats my boat). Certainly, they've got a lot of things that aren't available down here in Gainesville, FL. I'll have to see if they've got anything from Midnight Sun next time I'm there.

The Pub / Re: Distilling
« on: October 17, 2010, 08:10:52 PM »
I hope that the laws change here because we should have the right to make what we want as long as it does not hurt anyone else.

After all, it is only taking beer to the next level...right?  ;D

If this were in the bible thread, I'd say "Amen, brother!"

as to taking beer to the next level, I've been known to refer to distilled product as 'Beer that got too close to the fire.'

That comes from a little fantasy scenario that came from the deep recesses of my twisted brain after I'd read about very early distillation in Scotland. I'm not saying it happened this way.... but it could'a in a mythopoetic sorta way, maybe??

The early Pictish peoples in Scotland built arched stone houses, shaped somewhat like a bee hive. They were accomplished brewers (see stories of early heather beers). So give me a bit of suspended disbelief for a moment, and imagine a group of those early Picts somewhat in their cups from a night of drinking round the fire. They drank their ale from shallow bowls. Imagine that one of them set down his bowl 'too close to the fire.' Close enough that, given a bit of time, it started to steam. That steam rose up, hit the colder stone ceiling, condensed and dripped in a runnel down the wall. Now imagine that one of those happily inebriated fellows noticed that dripping, running stream.

Hell, this is my dream; so let's imagine that it was the brewer of that heather ale. He notices the dripping stream, and curiosity causes him to reach out his finger and touch the dripping liquid. It's only human nature to then stick that wet finger into his mouth. Wow!!!! Can you imagine his reaction? He's the brewer, so he's obviously one of the brighter guys in the clan and he puts an empty bowl beneath the runnel to catch the drips. He collects a bit more in the bowl and passes it around the circle. Wahooo!! it's party time, with maybe some significant, shamanistic back story that develops over time.

Well, it could have happened that way....... as I said, it's my mythopoetic fantasy so enjoy it, or ignore it.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Midnight Sun Brewing!
« on: October 17, 2010, 04:05:51 PM »
The house beer at Humpy's in Anchorage is one that I drank in large amounts.  Turned out it was made by Midnight Sun.
Midnight Sun Humpy’s Sockeye Red.  The limited amount of their other beer that I had was very good.

You got a special treat there in Florida!

Definitely a treat. Jim's tastings are not to be missed.
From the Midnight Sun website, it looks like the Sockeye Red is one of their regular beers. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to try it.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Midnight Sun Brewing!
« on: October 17, 2010, 01:23:08 PM »
Midnight Sun Brewing!

Friday night I had the opportunity to attend a tasting of Midnight Sun beers. One of our club members, Jim Ritchhart, had been in Alaska and came back with a wide selection of their beers, mostly from their specialty & one-off series. The selection we had was strongly slanted towards their Belgian style brews; not a surprise if you know Jim.

Unfortunately, I left my notes at Jim's, so I'll probably miss some, but we tried Monk's Mistress, and the earlier version of it called La Maitresse du Moine, Panty Peeler Triple, Artic Devil Barleywine, TREAT (Imp punkin porter), Jupiter, Descent, Anchor (Brett wit), Pride (Brett Pale Ale), Because, and maybe one or two others.

I was very impressed. Consistently clean & well brewed (except where they wanted some wild funk), creative & experimental. Also had some standout art on their labels, as well as some entertaining creative writing in their descriptions. There was a discussion of label design in another thread. Midnight Sun has some very unique & attractive labels.... and their beer delivers on any promises made by those labels.

Anyway, try 'em if you can. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more of their fine beers. Probably won't show up often here in Florida, but you never know.

The Pub / Re: Distilling
« on: October 17, 2010, 03:31:02 AM »
Why not do a big mash and ferment with wyeast 4347 Eau de Vie.  Its got an reported alcohol tolerance of 21% ABV.  You might want to start with a regular beer yeast first to get some esters and yeast character in there.  Maybe 2row with a good dose of peated malt.

At the end of all that, freeze concentrate it like a Eisenbock.  Absolutely no distilling necessary and its nice and legal.  ;)

If you can get a 5 gallon batch to 15% with the 4347 and freeze out 1/3 of the water, you are up to 25%ABV, half the water and you are upto 30%ABV.

Freeze concentration is essentially considered distilling from a BATF legal perspective. They consider that a no no.

But in regards to Eau de Vie........The other night, I had a chance to taste Armand' Spirit, an Eau de Vie made from Olde Geuze by 3 Fonteinen. Check out the following link

Apparently a warehouse thermostat failure caused a warehouse of gueze to way overheat. They decided they wouldn't put it out on the market & came up with the creative idea of fermenting it.

On the subject of methanol & going blind..... mostly a myth. Very little reality there. Most incidences were in regards to illegal bootleggers adding cheap s*** to moonshine, making it with lead from old car radiator copper, etc. You're not going to get any or much methanol in a reasonably managed home distillation.

The reality is that the methanol volatilizes first. Then the alcohol is next. You discard the feints from the first and last runnings, and keep the middle of the run. Heads, Hearts, Tails. The skill is in knowing when to start saving the hearts, and when to start discarding the tails. Actually, they generally don't discard it but rather throw it into the next distillation batch to be cleaned up. You don't want any of the cogeners in a vodka, just neutral spirits. But in a whisky, you do want just the right amount as that's where the flavor comes in. Too much and you get headaches, just right and you taste heaven. Apparently the distinction is made by watching the temperature changes, and also by sniffing/tasting as you go. Nothing we couldn't learn if it was legal and we could play with the process.

Fuel distillation's another deal, you want to get as close to 100% alcohol as possible. I'm more interested in pot still distillation. Don't know that I could ever achieve the nectar they produce in Scotland, but I'd sure like to try.

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