Hi from SE Melb

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Hi from SE Melb

Postby Truxnell » Sat Jun 26, 2021 9:49 pm

Hi all, been trawling as much of the site as I can in preparation to get into distillation - figured it was time to just drop in and say Hi and just ask!

I have been brewing beer for 10 years (started as most do with coopers tins and a plastic fermented, now full AG beer in a 50L Guten & 3 tap keggerator)
However, I have also finally stopped mixing cheap bourbon & coke and started really enjoying bourbon/whiskey on rocks, or more usually in a Old Fashioned cocktail.

I had some home distilled stuff 10+ years ago, In what i now know was a netural, watered back down to 40% and sweetened with some 'brand name' essences. I was entirely unimpressed and completely ignored home distillation since.
Only recently did the Minister of Finance make a comment she wouldn't mind some gin if we could make it, and encouraged me to research more, did i realise that my experience was not indicative of the hobby and it sounds like its quite possile to make a whiskey as good as the $50 daily sipper stuff (and from what i can tell with experience much, much better than mass-produced store bought)

I'm pretty keen to get into adding my own (decent) whiskey/bourbon to the home lineup, with neutrals not being a primary/immediate goal. My plan is to focus on brown spirits, and be able to make 'OK' gin as a experiment for us to try, but acknowledging she isn't likely to want serious volume/quality day 1. (i.e. my thought process is starting with a modular pot still/bubbler, and doing a few runs to get some OK neutrals, or wait until I inevitably upgrade the modular gear)

I have trawled as much of this site (and other american ones, and reddit) trying to land on what would be my good first option, however searching and reading scattered posts in a forum doesn't give a complete view.

Not sure if i should be putting up a post elsewhere on advice request, but im keen to see the best path stillwise for good quality whiskey (and volume).
I have partner/2 kids so time is a factor - and I admit to be slightly putoff to having to do multiple stripping runs with a pot, then a spirits run. I cant afford to spend a entire day every weekend out for the hobby permantly, so im keen-ish to try and make a initial jump into being able to do reasonable quality single-runs, as this will make it a LOT easier for me to be distilling more regular.

My situation is i have:
50L Guten
25L SS Brewtech fermenter
Temp controlled Fermentation fridge
(Incidental, 3 tap keggerator, 3 co2 bottles, 5 corny kegs, grain mill, homebrew workstation)

I am capable of DIY, but i dont have experience in brazing (just electronic soldering). I'm also more inclined to buy decent quality futureproof these days over trying to do it on the cheap, only to stay with the hobby and have the DIY a sunk cost as i buy the good stuff anyway.

I'm eyeing off the 5SD 4" modular Pot, with the aim to upgrade to a bubbler. I had considered a thumper, but from what I can see a 4 plate column seems to be a good sweet spot for brown spirits.
I'm also keen to just understand what a decent bubbler setup looks like and what it would just to just do it right from the start. Im struggling to understand what that looks like though, and had troulble with the 5SD site to see the selection.

Would i be buying the 4" modular pot, and 'just' squeezing in 4 plates and leaving the pot head on? Or is the final goal to add the 4 plates, a dephlegmator and possibly adjusting the head and running it as a partial/detuned reflux? (I think this starts to look like a CM reflux still, which i believed were more on the pain in the ass end of stills)
Im still keen to keep the entry cost down, but im just not sure what the end goal would be and how much extra $'s it is if i wanted to make the jump to bubblers early/immediately.

I'm also thinking i may prefer a perforated plate over cap plate, as they look a lot easier to keep clean. I do enjoy being able to toss everything in a large fermenter with some brew cleaner and pulling it out shiny.

The rest of my shopping list is starting to look like:
100+L rainwater tank for water recirc (This will be good for chilling mashes anyway, as im currently wasting water)
350w water pump
Glassware for cuts
wood chips for aging
Possibly 5-10l barrels for aging (but starting to wonder if its easier to stick with chips to avoid needing to refresh barrels)
60l fermenter (idea being I do a double-AG mash in my 50L guten to fill it, then i can maxamise single-run volume when i get the hang of it)

Hope this is all appropriate!
Truxnell
 
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby RC Al » Sat Jun 26, 2021 11:18 pm

Welcome aboard

The 5 star site is under maintenance/construction currently, you would think there would be a ton of bubbler pics up here, but no ones put any up recently lols.

The std bubbler set up is a CM, but there is no reason not to use the other types, on my workbench there is a 3/4 built ccvm head that i plan to use on my plater and reflux still. The plates wont work without reflux from a defleg or similar.

Perf can run faster than caps, but the caps have the capability to run much slower, making them more versatile, not a biggie as most people run thier 4"ers at more or less max speed anyways, options are always nice. Dont stress the cleaning, either way a rinse after the run is all that is required.

Add a zero to your water reservoir size, 100L will not come close to cutting the mustard for a 4" rig.

Dont bother with barrels untill you know what your doing better with the stilling & recipe side of things.

IMHO a high powered (6kw+) pot still strip x3 and long spirit run isnt as far behind time wise vs a bubbler as many may think when you look at the qty produced per hour.
RC Al
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Wellsy » Sun Jun 27, 2021 7:41 am

Welcome aboard truxwell
I went the way you are looking and it suits me perfectly, albeit I waited almost a year before adding the bubble plates and am still learning how it works.
I wanted brown spirits hence the pot option, I wanted upgrade path hence the 4 inch. It will do everything you want it too in relation to brown spirit.
For your Gin however the 50 litre boiler is too big as the elements are exposed so you need 10 litres to keep the bottom element covered. I solved this with a 30 litre digiboil boiler with an adapter to plug my condenser onto. This allows smaller runs.
This hobby takes time and stripping runs become your friend as you do them quickly and low wines don’t go off.then you just pick a day that suits for the spirit runs.
Talk to Andrew at 5 star, he will not push you into anything, just give you quality advice.
Take your time and keep asking questions.
I think I forgot some of your questions mate. Plus one to the cooling water comment you will need bigger
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Wellsy » Sun Jun 27, 2021 7:42 am

Here is my baby
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Wellsy » Sun Jun 27, 2021 7:44 am

Clearer pic needed
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby BigRig » Sun Jun 27, 2021 11:56 am

Here is the mac 4 ssg on 50L boiler

20210627_114729.jpg


20210627_114718.jpg
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby iOnaBender » Sun Jun 27, 2021 7:05 pm

Welocome Truxnell,

Each to there own suppose, I started with a T500 copper reflux and it was over before I really begun :laughing-rolling:

I wanted to be able to do a bit of everything. Going Wellsys route would of been great to get my toes wet and learn, I was in your position and thought if I go the 4" modular the upgrade may never come. So I dived right in with a FSD 4" Mac 4/Neutralizer custom that Andrew was more than happy to mix and match for me. It's an absolute beast of a rig and i'm glad I made the purchase. Andrew's after sales service and advice is second to none.

**WARNING** SS still porn incoming!

Image

Also as others mentioned, adding a 0 to your recirc tank will set you straight. 1000ltr IBC is the go if you have the room, approx $100

Image

A wise man once said "It's better to be looking at it, than looking for it!"

Cheers
Last edited by iOnaBender on Sun Jun 27, 2021 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Truxnell » Sun Jun 27, 2021 10:41 pm

Much appreciate all, especially for the SS porn!

@RC Al Thanks, Ill look more at perf vs bubbler when I need to make that call, not sure id run it that slow but when starting out versatility is pretty golden. I hadn't noted in my travels that decent powered pods could be fast - but that said i would still expect multiple strips + spirits would usually be over multiple days.

@Wally glad to hear it and that your obviously enjoying it. That's a nice rig, loved the photo, you must have been happy to get that upgrade kit. Are you still happily doing stripping runs even with the bubblers? Ill keep that in mind when i turn to a bit of gin. Any reason you went for the open glass sphere sight glass over the more common... er, ill say 'old divers helmet' face design - or was that simply the p0rn factor of being able to see everything?

@bigrig thanks for the pic, makes it a lot clearer to see what people setup is like.

@bender I thought T500 was a bit of a swear word around here? I might be in your shoes a bit, as i saw a comment around here 'any money on gear not spent toward bubblers is a waste) It is tempting to just look at the cost of getting a setup like that and knowing ill never want again (yeah right). Is that a column for (potential) packing for reflux above the bubblers?

As for the IBC - I would love to do that (used to them having a food manufacturing background and $100 is a no brainer for a IBC) - i have plenty of space but im not sure i can 'hide' a IBC somewhere that wont piss off the Minister of Finance. I was going to put water storage in behind the shed but im not sure ill fit a IBC, (just measured it in the dark) ive only got 700mm to play with behind the shed so thats out, and any other area i put a IBC will be heavily frowned upon.
Last edited by Truxnell on Sun Jun 27, 2021 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Wellsy » Mon Jun 28, 2021 6:23 am

Gidday truxnell
I went the glass route simply because of the look mate. Any money spent not a bubbler is not a waste of money. I went that path simply because my needs changed. I still love my pot still and it produces great brown spirits. I will try a single run next time a do a whiskey or Bourbon wash to see how it goes. I will still do stripping runs for my vodka , white dog projects as I ferment them in the 200 litre barrels so it is quicker to strip wash than to do 5 spirit runs back to back. I have a 2000 litre low profile rain water tank that I use for cooling, minister of finance might approve that as you will be getting it to enable garden watering lol.
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby iOnaBender » Mon Jun 28, 2021 12:21 pm

Truxnell wrote:Much appreciate all, especially for the SS porn!

@bender I thought T500 was a bit of a swear word around here? I might be in your shoes a bit, as i saw a comment around here 'any money on gear not spent toward bubblers is a waste) It is tempting to just look at the cost of getting a setup like that and knowing ill never want again (yeah right). Is that a column for (potential) packing for reflux above the bubblers?

As for the IBC - I would love to do that (used to them having a food manufacturing background and $100 is a no brainer for a IBC) - i have plenty of space but im not sure i can 'hide' a IBC somewhere that wont piss off the Minister of Finance. I was going to put water storage in behind the shed but im not sure ill fit a IBC, (just measured it in the dark) ive only got 700mm to play with behind the shed so thats out, and any other area i put a IBC will be heavily frowned upon.


Hi Truxnell,

Yes, you're right about the T500. I usually do a fair bit of research into certain ventures/larger purchases. It's amazing how convincing a mate can be whilst your 3 parts cut and he's plying you with his rocket fuel off said still! I didn't know any better until I joined this forum, only regret was not finding it earlier and putting the original $750-800 outlay into this rig.
Each to their own and we all need to live within our means to a certain extent.

That picture shows it in "Neutralizer mode" with 5 bubble plates and 500mm packed section (2 x 500gm wads of copper mesh & 2mtr SS mesh). I can remove 500mm section, parrot extension and 1 bubble plate to run a flavoured wash like CFW. Wellsy prefers to strip to save time, however these rigs can do it all in one pass if run correctly (and i'm still learning how to do that! :laughing-rolling: ) i.e. Less f%$king around and i'm all for that. I can also break it down to a pot still which I intend to do in a couple of weeks for my first gin run

My other theory was get frowned upon and put "up on blocks" once rather that for each upgrade :laughing-rolling:

I have also thought of wrapping and screwing some corrigated colour bond around IBC for aesthetic reasons

Cheers
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Clickeral » Mon Jun 28, 2021 2:35 pm

RC Al wrote:Welcome aboard

The std bubbler set up is a CM, but there is no reason not to use the other types, on my workbench there is a 3/4 built ccvm head that i plan to use on my plater and reflux still. The plates wont work without reflux from a defleg or similar.

I always get some passive reflux (no RC) when I run my column in pot still mode ie 2 plates with caps and 2 plates with caps removed so that I have some copper in the vapor path
Pot still.jpg


Perf can run faster than caps, but the caps have the capability to run much slower, making them more versatile, not a biggie as most people run thier 4"ers at more or less max speed anyways, options are always nice. Dont stress the cleaning, either way a rinse after the run is all that is required.

Depends on what caps your running, my main plates don't flood but my perf plates limit me when I am fully setup

IMHO a high powered (6kw+) pot still strip x3 and long spirit run isnt as far behind time wise vs a bubbler as many may think when you look at the qty produced per hour. agree with this but depends on how you run and what you want to achieve, I have stripped at 8LPH in a couple of different configurations with 4800w


@truxwell where in Melbourne are you located, if your close happy to do a run on my gear for a brown spirit so you can see what might work for you, can potentially even send you home with some product. I think i've probably got enough wash left to do a single 4plate pass for some all grain bourbon at the moment, would just need to sort out a weekend

iOnaBender wrote:Welocome Truxnell,

**WARNING** SS still porn incoming!

Image

Cheers


Agree 4" setup is the go too in my mind,

Also that's not a neutral setup

This is a neutral setup ;)

9 Plates and a stainless steel packed section

Neutral.jpg

Just to show how versatile and modular this kit is, 30L charge at 40% azotrope (95.7%) temp corrected the whole run till my output speed dropped, was running this at 1.5LPH 3000w for the first 2hrs and then sped it up to 2.5LPH 3600w, towards the end was running at 4.5LPH(4800w just reduced the RC water as I had almost flooded my top plate) Started stripping at the end to finish off at 8LPH with no reflux
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby iOnaBender » Mon Jun 28, 2021 7:29 pm

Clickeral wrote:
RC Al wrote:Welcome aboard

iOnaBender wrote:Welocome Truxnell,

**WARNING** SS still porn incoming!

Image

Cheers


Agree 4" setup is the go too in my mind,

Also that's not a neutral setup

This is a neutral setup ;)

9 Plates and a stainless steel packed section

Neutral.jpg

Just to show how versatile and modular this kit is, 30L charge at 40% azotrope (95.7%) temp corrected the whole run till my output speed dropped, was running this at 1.5LPH 3000w for the first 2hrs and then sped it up to 2.5LPH 3600w, towards the end was running at 4.5LPH(4800w just reduced the RC water as I had almost flooded my top plate) Started stripping at the end to finish off at 8LPH with no reflux


Fukkin' show off! :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling:
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Truxnell » Mon Jul 05, 2021 8:44 pm

Shit has it been a week? Came down crook, baby loves to bring home anything she can from daycare... and we seem to always get the adult sized version.

I didn't realise i'd start a pissing contest honestly, but I probably should have known better.

@bender - I prefer to do things once and done and do it well - Ive done a lot of DIY in the past and really enjoy it - but for something like this I think im better going once and buying something that will work, work well and work forever. Oh and a bit of versatiity doesnt go astray. I may have to think about a low-prof water tank, but they aren't cheap and i did come across some analysis showing the pump for a hour aint that much cheaper than the water for the hour - so i might defer that cost. Im not a fan of wasting water though, so its not simply a $$$ call.

@Clickeral - Not sure if that is a still of a fledgling ICBM project to compete with North Korea? Its a f--king beast. Im down the Mornington peninsula, not far off Frankston. Im not against a drive but i dont expect you to change plans just for a random. That said, I wish id had facetime with people while I was getting on my feet with beer - so much better when you have people to absorb knowedge from/bounce ideas off.
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby iOnaBender » Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:02 pm

Hi Truxnell,

I hope you and the family are feeling better?

Na, no pissing contest here mate. :naughty: I've never been the biggest swinging dick, but I've always said "where it can't reach it can spit" :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling:
We have what we have and if it makes a drop or two of what you're looking for all the better.

I'm just off franky town myself, get your posts up to 10+ so we can PM and maybe we can get together with Clickeral to both learn the craft. I'm a hands on type of guy so seeing, touching and feeling it is my preferred learning.

Cheers
Last edited by iOnaBender on Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Truxnell » Tue Jul 06, 2021 8:35 pm

Yeah family is OK now after a few VERY quiet days. Whatever is going around this year leaves a really lingering lethargy...
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Truxnell » Tue Jul 06, 2021 8:37 pm

I do joke, the homebrew beer community is super friendly and helpful, and I expect the same here. However, it is AUSSIE distillers so I expect people stirring the pot before helping out.
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Truxnell » Tue Jul 06, 2021 8:40 pm

Fair call, I forgot about the 10+ PM deal, I guess ill find a way to get my post count up :techie-typing: . If Clickeral is up for it we can organise a visit in the not too distant future.

I'm used to a hour drive to work so I'm not afraid of a trip, as long hes not in Baccahus Marsh or something.
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby The Stig » Tue Jul 06, 2021 9:27 pm

Feel free to call into Brisbane :laughing-rolling:
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Truxnell » Tue Jul 06, 2021 9:41 pm

You lot have had enough problems with us Melbournites driving through NSW to hit up Brissy without me adding to your woes!

It would also be a very dangerous trip for my wallet 8-}
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Re: Hi from SE Melb

Postby Wellsy » Wed Jul 07, 2021 6:04 am

Truxnell wrote:
It would also be a very dangerous trip for my wallet 8-}


Now that would have to be in the top 10 smartest things ever said on this forum. If anybody plans on visiting Andrew you better leave your wallet home or take the missus with you :laughing-rolling:
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