Sugar wash and distillation adventure 15/11/2012

So here it comes again. After trying several months ago with help from more experienced brewers and distillers, I decided to “take the things into my hands”. Being blessed with full access to a very well equipped fermentation laboratory, having a budget for ingredients and finally also time, well there were no excuses which would allow me to further postpone this adventure to, at least for me, to the new realms of fermentation. The last note actually did not turned to be completely true. During this journey I have experienced flashbacks of my childhood and teenage years and my frequent visits of my grandfather. The smell which I’m now experiencing when distilling, “the head, the tail” and the potent product just show me that I’m certainly not the first one on this road. At least my grandpa wandered far far away in these fields bringing back some true treasures which rarely had less than 60% of alcohol content. It took my ankle many years of intensive tasting to take care about the heritage which ranged from cognacs, whiskeys, rums, gins and vodkas to more experimental ones like for example “propolisovice” high spirited miracle made from propolis (well most people possessed substances of this type “for external uses only” well I do not believe that my grandpa ever tried something “so foolish and wasteful”). Also the memory of family relicts especially like the ones left behind by my grandfather’s father came to me now. Unsurprisingly most of them were actually in an active service of my grandpa for the same noble cause with the only difference that his father was “fully officially certified” and allowed to make the spirits and sell them in his shop. Well the times changed and moving to illegality become the way as many other moonshiners know just too well from their own experience.

Anyway lets not get lost in the past and move to the lovely presence where we can legally brew and distill, at least here in Seoul, for experimental and educational purposes 🙂 For this brew I decided to use turbo yeast because of the high tolerance to alcohol stress (claiming up to 18% of alcohol per volume, but reaching more likely around 16%). However they are suppose to produce more ethyl acetate than the more slowly fermenting yeast. Also the yeast used in “turbo yeast brand” (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) probably it’s strain EC-1118 is suppose to be highly hybridized which results in quite fast mutations and changes in their behavior, which of course affects their fermentation properties. Anyway I decided to try them out because they were already available. So below is what I have done and what were the results. I’m fully aware that there are lots of things which should be done better if not omitted at all but well one learns from mistakes, at least should try …

  • Sugar wash preparation

final culture volume – approximately 15 l
3 kg (20%(w/v)) of white sugar
1 kg (6.67 %(w/v)) of dark brown sugar
70 g (0.47% (w/v/)) of turbo yeast (with nutrition included)
purified water (??? what type of purification)

20 l fermentation stainless steel container with sealable lid – for fermentation of the brew
air lock – to release the carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation
10 l stainless steel bowl – to hold and dissolve the sugar
water kettle – to boil the water for dissolving the sugar
weight boat – to weight yeast
small 1-2 l bowl – to dissolve the sugar in warm water to activate the yeast
stainless spoon – to mix ingredients
incubator – to keep the brew at dedicated temperature
bleach or strong detergent – to sanitize the equipment

– sanitize all the equipment which you are going to use, especially the fermentation vessel with water mixed with bleach or strong detergent, rinse several times thoroughly!
– take one or two spoons (2-4 g) of sugar and dissolve in approximately 150-200 ml of warm water
– weight 70 g of yeast into weight boat, transfer to the bowl with sugary solution (around 30°C) and mix till the yeast is dissolved, let the yeast to activate at 30°C for half an hour or hour
– start to bring the water to the boil in the water kettle, around 4 l in total
– in the meanwhile weight 3 kg of white sugar and 1 kg of dark rich brown sugar into the big stainless steel bowl and start to stir the mixture dissolving the sugar
– once the sugar is dissolved, transfer the mix into the sanitized fermentation vessel and add water (cold or room temperature) up to 80% of the final volume (approximately 12 l) (keep in mind that oxygenation of the water helps the yeast to prolifer so shaking intensively the water half on half with air in some sealable container for several mintues helps)
– start to add hot water aiming for 30°C, keep under the final volume so around 14 l
– once the brew (sugar wash or growing medium) is at 30°C add the primed yeast and stir well for few minutes
– add the rest of the water bringing the final volume to 15 l keeping in mind that the temperature should be around 30°C
– close the fermentation vessel and install the air lock
– transfer the vessel into the incubator and let to ferment at 30°C for the start, if you do not have the incubator, wrap the vessel by some insulation material
– keep at 30°C till you see the fermentation to take off, the air lock starts to bubble because of the escaping carbon dioxide which is being produced

– I did not sanitized the equipment as well as I should but it worked out, there doesn’t seem to be any contamination
– I decided to make 15 l of the sugar wash because the distillation still which I wanted to use has around 12 l of working volume so it left me with around 3 l of the wash for my own non distillation use, being able to do just one distillation run with the rest
– Instead of 30°C for the fermentation I brought the temperature up to 35°C within first six hours and kept it for first two days at that – it was unintended and it is not recommended because higher temperature of fermentation results in creation of more undesired compounds
– it took around two days for the brew to start to ferment (judged by the bubbles in the air lock)
– on third day I removed the brew from the incubator and let it ferment at approximately 20°C till the distillation
– on third day I tasted the sugar wash which was very sweet with a hint of alcohol
– on the fourth day the alcohol content started to rise – tested by taste buds and by smell 🙂
– on fifth day the alcoholic smell became quite strong but still the brew was happily fermenting, the taste was quite potent
–  I started the brew on 1st of November and distill it on 12th of November, with last few days not noticing any active fermentation, so with roughly 10 days interval in total

  • Distillation

12 l of sugar wash

distillation still – to carry out the distillation
condenser – to condensate the evaporating alcohol (and other substances) produced in the still
glass beakers – to capture the condensed alcohol
foil – to cover the beakers with alcohol to prevent evaporation
hydrometer – to measure alcohol content

– clean up thoroughly the distillation still, condenser and the glass beakers used for collection of the alcohol
– transfer 12 l of the sugar wash into the distillation still bowl
– connect the condenser, make sure that the water used for cooling the condenser is running and being disposed properly into the sink
– prepare sufficient amount of beakers of appropriate sizes and label them in advance (on the side where it is unlikely that the alcohol will spill and erase the markings)
– close the still making sure it is well sealed and start to heat the sugar wash
– in the meanwhile start the water flow into the condenser and set up the first beaker to capture the head, 100 ml recommended
– the liquid fractions collected at the beginning  of the fermentation are called singlings and contain volatile oil contaminants and are of higher alcohol percentage
– the liquid fractions collected towards the end are called low wine and are of lower alcohol percentage
– repeat with another 100 ml of distillate and move for 250 ml beaker and later on to 500 ml
– keep collecting the distillate and in the meanwhile
– measure the alcohol content of the first 100 ml of distillate by transferring part of it into the 100 ml measuring cylinder and use the hydrometer to measure the alcohol content
– repeat the process with other distillates which you collected until the alcohol volume drops below 20% per volume. At that time you should start to smell ??? the volatile compounds in the “tail”
– stop the distillation
– decide how much of your brew is “head” and how much is “tail” and dispose it
– pool together the rest of the distillate and measure the final volume and alcohol concentration
– clean the still and equipment and prepare for second run

– I started the distillation switching on the heating of the still at 10:15 with 12 l of sugar wash
– at 11:00 I got the temperature to 50°C
– at 11:20 I got the first 700 ml of distillate captured in the “receiving flasks” respectively beakers
– I collected first two fractions in separate 100 ml beakers and disposed them as a head
– I captured 500 ml in third beaker (700 ml total) and so on till number nine (3700 ml from the start)
– I measured the alcohol content of all fractions and tasted them
– fractions – 1 = 100 ml, 75%; 2 = 100 ml, 69%; 3 = 500 ml, 67%; 4 = 500 ml, 62%; 5 = 500, 56%; 6 = 500 ml, 50%; 7 = 500 ml, 38%; 8 = 500 ml, 26% and 9 = 500 ml, 13%
– I stopped distillation at 12:30, therefore after two hours and 15 minutes
– the fraction eight and nine smelled strongly of some ethers or higher alcohols so I disposed them
– I decided to pull together fractions three to seven, resulting in 2.5 l of 54% alcohol which I distilled again to purify them farther

  • Second distillation/run

– I transferred 2.5 l of 54% alcohol to the distillation still and started to distill at 13:45
– all distillation was done at 14:30, therefore within 45 minutes
– I collected following fractions measuring their volume and alcohol content: 1 = 100 ml, 82%; 2 = 100 ml, 85%; 3 = 250 ml, 83%; 4 = 500 ml, 83%; 5 = 250 ml, 81%; 6 = 250 ml, 72%; 7 = 250 ml, 49%; 8 = 250 ml, 5%
– I disposed faction number one and eight
– I pulled together fractions two to seven, resulting in 1500 ml of 75% alcohol
– I kept the distillate in a glass beaker, covered by plastic foil at 20°C ready for the third distillation

  • Some Links  Home Distillation of Alcohol  yeast strains overview

~ by algoldor on November 21, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: