Author Topic: Distilling  (Read 10633 times)

Offline capozzoli

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2010, 05:57:45 PM »
I was under the impression that "freeze distillation" or any concentration of alcohol by any means is illegal.

The stories of people going blind and all that are what weaze said. These troubles start in the fermentation. It comes from putting whatever into the mash to raise the alcohol level. Dont want any wood in there. There are several different easy tests to test for methanol. If you have healthy fermentation it is very hard to make methanol. It has nothing to do with the distillation really.

I dont see what the big deal is. Almost any activity can be very dangerous if you dont do it properly. Making cured or fermented meats is more dangerous than distilling.

New Zeland is the model.Its been legal in NZ for several years now and it is a popular hobby. Hasnt been one single incident of sickness (maybe a little projectile vomiting.) blindness or explosions yet.

Its illegal for one reason, and one reason only. It has nothing to do with our safety, if it did a whole lot more things would be illegal.

Licenses, Permits, Equipment inspection? Wow. Thank goodness they dont make us do that for home brew.

It will be legal soon. Just has to go through the layers and layers of BS.

http://homedistiller.org/faq.htm

Here is someone legally distilling in NZ. Check out this set up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LplnDNcpjas

In NZ they call themselves homebrew distillers.





« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 07:21:07 PM by capozzoli »
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Offline akr71

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2010, 07:42:35 PM »
F.Y.I. Methinks distillers malt is 6 row....fwiw

If you say so... I have no idea.  All I was getting at was that you could make some pretty high test homebrew, if you really wanted to - no distillation required.
Andy

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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2010, 08:31:02 PM »
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   
http://www.dogfish.com/forums/the-bar/9606/22/10/2009/success-at-brouwerij-3-fonteinen-after-rebounding-from-tragedy.htm

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.

Mark Tumarkin
Hogtown Brewers
Gainesville, FL

Offline fatdogale

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2010, 08:38:14 PM »

The stories of people going blind and all that are what weaze said. These troubles start in the fermentation. It comes from putting whatever into the mash to raise the alcohol level. Dont want any wood in there. There are several different easy tests to test for methanol. If you have healthy fermentation it is very hard to make methanol. It has nothing to do with the distillation really.

I'm no distiller, but I think I've read the methanol is a product of the distilling process.  I think you're supposed to toss the first runnings (heads) because it contains methanol, collect the middle runnings, and toss the final runnings (tails) because it contains the higher alcohols (nasty tasting fusels).  You'll get methanol from corn squeezin's, cane sugar, malted barley...whatever you're fermentng and distilling.
John Childs

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2010, 10:45:54 PM »
Freeze concentration is essentially considered distilling from a BATF legal perspective. They consider that a no no.
No they don't.  Basic Brewing Radio talked directly to TTB about it, and they said it was cool.  IIRC, no problem for homebrewers, and for pros they need to pay some taxes, that's it.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline MrNate

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2010, 10:55:37 PM »
I officially voice my concern.

Denny's advice, in true fashion, is sound.
“If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception.”

Offline capozzoli

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #36 on: October 17, 2010, 04:49:04 AM »

The stories of people going blind and all that are what weaze said. These troubles start in the fermentation. It comes from putting whatever into the mash to raise the alcohol level. Dont want any wood in there. There are several different easy tests to test for methanol. If you have healthy fermentation it is very hard to make methanol. It has nothing to do with the distillation really.

I'm no distiller, but I think I've read the methanol is a product of the distilling process.  I think you're supposed to toss the first runnings (heads) because it contains methanol, collect the middle runnings, and toss the final runnings (tails) because it contains the higher alcohols (nasty tasting fusels).  You'll get methanol from corn squeezer's, cane sugar, malted barley...whatever you're fermenting and distilling.

True, and to clarify, methanol is not created from the distilling process, only concentrated from the beer. You can get methanol in trace amounts from the husks of the grains and or the pectin in the fruit. Like you and others have said, you just have to discard the first drippins.

But the real danger with producing methanol in high quantities comes from the fermentation.  Very hard to do if you are using good ingredients and not using antifreeze and what not.

The point is that there is this false belief that distilling is very dangerous. Its a myth. A still isnt a "bomb" There are no big giant explosions, houses burning down, people going blind, dying. Its all BS.



« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 06:31:14 AM by capozzoli »
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Offline Mikey

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #37 on: October 17, 2010, 05:53:27 AM »
People went blind because during prohibition they used car radiators, assembled with lead, as heat exchangers. It was the lead that cause the problems. I'm not saying you don't need to be careful even with good equipment, but it's not that hard to do it correctly.

As for blowing up, that could happen if the outlet from the distilling kettle clogged. It would be wise to have an over pressure device on it, like what's installed in pressure cookers.

Offline beerocd

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #38 on: October 17, 2010, 06:58:06 AM »
I officially voice my concern.

The whole thread? There's no "how-to" discussion going on. And the "jacking" method, I heard that podcast last year. The Jamil Show episode on Eisbock. Podcast link Totally legal.
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Offline beerocd

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #39 on: October 17, 2010, 10:12:44 AM »
People went blind because during prohibition they used car radiators, assembled with lead, as heat exchangers. It was the lead that cause the problems. I'm not saying you don't need to be careful even with good equipment, but it's not that hard to do it correctly.

As for blowing up, that could happen if the outlet from the distilling kettle clogged. It would be wise to have an over pressure device on it, like what's installed in pressure cookers.

maybe that's why they seal the holes with a flour paste instead of welding the thing completely airtight? I saw a POPCORN video where he had a handful of dough and he was cramming it into all the joints. Although I think he's blown a few up and started fires during his career. Of course his still would take up a whole garage - he was a pro.
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Offline capozzoli

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2010, 12:45:43 PM »
Blindness is caused by methanol poisoning but obviously you can be poisoned by lead. Methanol can poison the optic nerve to the point where it will die. For this to happen you would have to drink some thing that was nearly 100 percent methanol.

Methanol is created from pectin and cellulose in the beer. Its very unlikely that someone could achieve this useing regular ingredients but even so it is not hard to make sure that the hooch has no methanol. The explosion risk stories come from big giant rigged make shift stills that are fire heated and leaky. These where put together with found objects by moonshiners in the woods.Then they would store the alchol that they made around the still and near the flame. Then leave the still running and unattended.

Todays home distilling equipment has many safety features such as electric heat sources and temp control.

Some of the stuff available in NZ is really neat.

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
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 12:48:19 PM by capozzoli »
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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2010, 01:10:52 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.
Mark Tumarkin
Hogtown Brewers
Gainesville, FL

Offline weazletoe

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2010, 02:30:23 PM »
WOW! I thought I had an imagination!!! My hats off to you, good sir.
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Offline capozzoli

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2010, 03:08:56 PM »
I love it!

Although I am picturing a bunch of sweaty bearded Scots crowded into a steamy hut licking the walls.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Distilling
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2010, 03:18:29 PM »
I like it :)

It might have been more like, "since beer is good to drink, I'll be it will be even better if we cook some meat in it and eat that stew . . . hey wait, why am I still sober after three bowls of the stew?  Where did the fun part go?"  And then your story picks up. :)
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