First distillation run complete (but with problems.) What now?

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BangladeshBrewer

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I brewed 21 litres of beer mash (4 kg of barley malt / 1 kg oats), using glucoamylese to get more alcohol, and let it ferment with US-05 yeast for 20 days. The beer was delicious.

I heated it to 70c but had to stop (real world intervened) and then came back to it in a couple of days. I would not do this by choice.

Yesterday I went through the run. Firstly I should mention that I subsequently noticed that the thermometer on my vapor chamber is not reading right. I checked it afterwards and found it shows boiling water at 92c. So the following readings are given using the temperature I now know is wrong.

Going up to the 78-80c I expected to get ethylene at I tossed about 300ml. I *guess* that this means all the methaleye is gone, plus some of the ethylene. [PART 1 - tossed - it burned with a blue flame]

On my gas stove the temperature stayed in the range 79-82 on its own. I kept it there for about 5-6 hours and then decided I had to increase the temperature to finish.

Part 2 - 2 litres, which is 41.5% ABV on my alcohol meter (10 degrees C here now, adjusting from reading of 37 on an alcohol meter calibrated for 20c)

Once I increased the temperature, up to 92-94c (so in reality at 100c because my thermometer was broke) I collected three jars of approx 600ml

Part 3 (first little jar) - 11.4% ABV

Part 4 (second little jar) - 9.1% ABV

Part 5 (third little jar) - 6.5% ABV

About half of the volume of original mash was left in the kettle.

I would not have done it this way if I'd known what the actual temperatures were.

How to proceed now? Toss part 3, 4, 5 and treat part 2 as a stripping run and then do a distillation with just part 2 once I have a working thermometer?
 

Abhishek Dewan

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I don’t do cuts with thermometer as temperature will mislead you in many ways. Just read more on it. I rely on taste and smell and distiller’s hydrometer. In all grain mash: negligible methyl alcohol is formed. So what you evaporated were perhaps heads. Put them all together and add some fresh beer without hops and do final run and make cuts as per senses. Pungent and burning sensation stuff can be used as fire starters. Flame test is unreliable, I’ll advise against it. With grain bill you mentioned, you might have made about 6 percent ABV beer. I don’t know what still you are using so please take my advise as reference only. You have collected very little to make something to last a bit but it is still something. Best thing would be to save it, make a new batch and throw them in while doing final run.
 
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BangladeshBrewer

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I don’t do cuts with thermometer as temperature will mislead you in many ways. Just read more on it. I rely on taste and smell and distiller’s hydrometer. In all grain mash: negligible methyl alcohol is formed. So what you evaporated were perhaps heads. Put them all together and add some fresh beer without hops and do final run and make cuts as per senses. Pungent and burning sensation stuff can be used as fire starters. Flame test is unreliable, I’ll advise against it. With grain bill you mentioned, you might have made about 6 percent ABV beer. I don’t know what still you are using so please take my advise as reference only. You have collected very little to make something to last a bit but it is still something. Best thing would be to save it, make a new batch and throw them in while doing final run.

Thanks for your post.

There is 2 liters at 41.5% ABV and then a total of another 1.5 liters approximately at much lesser ABV. So, about 3.5 liters all told.

I think it was 6% ABV beer that I started with as you suggest. I forgot to aerate the mixture before pitching the yeast and pitched it too high. It is a lesson for next time.

For the second run, if I just use these 3.5 liters, I don't need to think about methyl alcohol?

I am sure I threw away a lot of good ethyl alcohol but I wanted to be safe.
 

Abhishek Dewan

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When we all start as rookies, first thing we're worried about is alcohol poisoining, going blind etc. Those things in news are right except, the unfortunate victims consumed spurious alcohol mixed with "spirit" or denatured alcohol. Most methanol is formed in wine/brandy but to die from it, you need to drink as much as an elephant can drinks perhaps. I'm more worried about heads (give headache). They smell like nailpolish remover. Tails smell like wet cardboard & you can see oil floating at fag end of distillation, so now you know what you can discard. Usually when I distill 23-25 litres of mash, I end up getting 2-3L of 43% good stuff. US05 is very robust yeast (do save it from last batch) & can very well handle mash capable of 8% ABV, which is what I usually target. Roughly, every KG of malt gives you 4L of distillers' beer. So you can dial up malt/grains a bit. I guess from what you have, you can get a bottle to drink. Next step for you is how you mature it. Keep it with a lose lid on for 1-2 days, it'll evaporate nasty stuff (after final distillation). You can also add some flavouring stuff like oak chips or Acacia wood, mango wood or a teaspoon of tea leaves (given you're from Bangladesh). I use masala chai ingredients quite often. Good luck, let us know how it turned out.
 
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BangladeshBrewer

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I got some oak chips which I am going to roast and add to the liquid for flavour as it matures.

With what I have (part 2 - 2 litres 41.5% abv), and the three little bottles with another 1.5 litres 11.4% down to 6.5% abv), do I run that through the still again?

Or am I done and, if so, what do I keep/mix together.

I made this from a beer mash for flavour. Where is that flavour now? I don't want to accidentally dump that fraction and end up with ethanol I could have bought from a scientific supply shop.
 

CleanEmUpIves

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What do parts 3, 4 and 5 smell like?

You need to be able to judge the heads, hearts and tails.

You seem to have tossed the heads so now you need to make a judgement call on the tails.

1.) Just keep part 2 - toss parts 3, 4, 5
2.) Combine parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 - do another run
3.) Mix part 2 with one or more of parts 3, 4, 5 as judged appropriate - keeping the result

The distilled spirit won't necessarily taste like the beer.
 
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BangladeshBrewer

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I left the top off these bottles as suggested.

Everything smells like moonshine to me, from having had local brewed stuff in the mountains of Nepal.

Part 2 smells like quite a clean spirit

Part 3,4,5 are strongly pungent. The smell from 3,4,5 sticks to my fingers. They smell like they would be really strong, rough, spirits. Although they are only 11.4% ABV down to 6.5% ABV. Would it make sense to take just parts 3 and 4 (11.4% abv and 9.1% abv) and do a little run with them to collect whatever comes off up to the ethanol range? (I am assuming I no longer need to worry about methanol). I could add this to part 2.

When I fresh there was oily stuff on top of 3,4,5 which I don't see anymore. Perhaps that evaporated off.

I just tasted number 2 and it is really nice. Looking at it in daylight, in the glass demijohn bottle it looks a little bit cloudy. But perhaps that is the bottle.
 
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Abhishek Dewan

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Cloudy usually means tails have gotten in. Not necessarily a bad thing, some people add a little. Oily stuff again is likely tails. Plus one to CleanEmUpIves. Low strength stuff is mostly tails or feints. If I like them, I keep them for next batch addition in the still. I don’t collect anything below 10 ABV.
 
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BangladeshBrewer

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I did a run on parts 3,4,5 (tails). I got out about 300ml (part 6) of which I dumped the first 50ml (probably the best) because I let the temperature go too high temporarily. I'm still waiting for an alcohol meter to see how that worked out. I broke my original alcoholmeter.

Leaving these spirits open to the air for a few days makes a big difference in the smell. It smells much more healthy and pleasant.

A week ago I put toasted oak chips in part 2 and it has started changing the colour. I will probably add part 6 to part 2 once I determine it's ABV.

I am very pleased with this first effort. Thanks for all your help.
 
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My condensation tap drips into a jug. As I watch the temps change, I swap the jug and give it a good sniff. Only if the temperature is in the correct band AND if my nose says it is good then and only then do I start filling my finished jug.
 

bernardsmith

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Certainly no expert when it comes to distilling but I would wonder the value of distilling beer you make at around 4-6%ABV compared to a "barley wine" which would be around 12 -14%. Twelve percent of 1 US gallon is about 1 pint. And that pint is likely to measure about 65-70 % ABV (130 -140 proof) before tails are evident Six percent ABV will give you about a half pint (8 fl oz or about 250 ml) at about the same proof.
 

doug293cz

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I am concerned about the low alcohol percentages.

My still has never produced anything below 180 proof [90%ABV].
Depends on whether you have a column still or pot still. A good column will usually give you 90% or better, no matter what the feed ABV. With a pot, the output ABV varies with the feed ABV much more.

Brew on :mug:
 

doug293cz

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Certainly no expert when it comes to distilling but I would wonder the value of distilling beer you make at around 4-6%ABV compared to a "barley wine" which would be around 12 -14%. Twelve percent of 1 US gallon is about 1 pint. And that pint is likely to measure about 65-70 % ABV (130 -140 proof) before tails are evident Six percent ABV will give you about a half pint (8 fl oz or about 250 ml) at about the same proof.
I wouldn’t make a 4-6% wash just for distilling, but what if you happen to have 15 - 20 gal of swill beer? You at least get a rayon purse from the pig‘s ear.

Brew on :mug:
 
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Depends on whether you have a column still or pot still. A good column will usually give you 90% or better, no matter what the feed ABV. With a pot, the output ABV varies with the feed ABV much more.

Brew on :mug:

I use a 2" column still. my neighbor uses a pot still. We both run 5%ABV corn mash. I normally produce 90+% ABV, and he routinely produces 70 - 80% ABV.
 
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