Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Still's Boiler

The boiler for a still is made out of sheet copper that is riveted together to form the body of the boiler. How smooth the boiler is depends on your skill with using sheet copper. The bottom of the still is also made out of sheet copper that is riveted to the body of the still. The joints in your boiler can be soldered using silver solder to seal them so that your boiler doesn't leak.

The size of a boiler depends upon how large your still is going to be. The usual size of the still boiler is one that will accommodate 55 gallons, about four gallons of finished product. This is large enough to yield a fair amount of alcohol when it is being operated. This size still is about the size of a 55 gallon oil drum, in fact you can take the dimensions off of one of these drums and transfer it to the size of your boiler.

Once you have finished the bottom half of your boiler you are now ready to build the top. The simplest way is to make a big cone with a four inch hole in the center. This has to be attached to the bottom of the boiler in such a way that you can remove it from the boiler. This is by having mating lips on both parts so they can be pasted together. There also should be an oval hole in the cover for pouring in fresh distiller's beer. This is covered with a copper cover that is also pasted on in such a way that the cover will blow off if too much pressure builds up in the boiler while you are distilling a batch.

The last part of the boiler that you have too make is the elbow. This fits over the hole in the cover, and in use is pasted onto the cover. It also has a bend that brings the elbow a few degrees from parallel to the boiler pointing downwards. This is mde like a long funnel from sheet copper so that its small end will fit onto the worm where the alcohol condenses. The worm also passes through the waterjacket of the still array.

In practice a 55 gallon slug of distiller's beer should produce about 4 gallons of alcohol. When the first distillate comes out of the worm it is charged with several dangerous organic chemicals that are part of the fermentation process and should be discarded. A normal run of alcohol comes out of the still looking cloudy and slightly tea colored. You test for good alcohol by splashing a few drops onto an open flame. If it burns it is worth saving. When it quits burning the alcoholic content is too low. The remaining gallon of distillate should be saved, and run through the still with the next batch.

You can do this five times, then you have to tear the whole still array down for a thorough cleaning. Remember in the distilling business cleanliness is next to godliness.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to make Wine

Making Wine
One of the funniest things I ever watched in my life was a drunken Billy Goat who got cocked from eating fermented wind dropped apples. The poor billy goat was staggering around in the apple orchard, and kept falling over, but he kept eating those fermented apples that made him even drunker. What was even funnier was that he was in a bad mood and kept locking horns with the trunks of the apple trees.
Although we get a different drink from apples called cider the principle is about the same as it is for making wine. The juice from certain fruits are collected then fermented. The same thing can be said for some flowers although in this case what is fermented is a sweetened infusion made from the blossoms. However there are various wines made from different fruits most wine is made from varieties of grapes. The taste of these wines depend on the variety of grape they are made from and the way in which they are fermented.
Wine came from the middle east, and this is probably how it was invented . . . Some caveman had a wild grape vine growing outside his cave, and one day he was outside the cave eating the fermented grapes that had fallen off the vine when his wife said, “Henry, why don't you squeeze those grapes into a pot and drink the juice?”
He replied, “Yes Myrtle.” and he proceeded to squeeze the grapes between his thumb and forefinger. As usual his wife was right, the grape juice alone did taste better then rotten grapes. He had more grape juice then he could drink at once so he put the pot into the cave, and his wife had another Honey-Do for him. He forgot the grape juice and several months later he found the pot that contained the grape juice. By this time it had finished fermenting and had aged for several months that greatly improved its taste, so he guzzled down the rest. Afterwards Henry gave some of the juice to some of his neighbors, they brainstormed how to make more of it next fall. These early vintners had the whole process worked out by the following fall. This just goes to show that man's ingenuity knows no bounds when it comes to getting something to drink.
The process of making wine is pretty simple, but it can become extremely complicated when you want different flavors of wine. The simple part of the process is getting the juice out of the grapes. It takes yeast to ferment the juice and fortunately grapes come with a built in supply of yeast. Thats what the bloom is on the grapes themselves a natural yeast. After the juice has been pressed out of the grapes it is filtered and placed into wooden barrels and allowed to ferment. The bung of the barrel is left open during the fermentation phase of wine making. You can tell when the fermentation process is finished because there are no longer a string of bubbles resembling a snake that comes out of the bung hole of the barrel. When this no longer comes forth the fermentation process is complete, and it is time for you to drive the bung home into the bung hole.
To a great extent the flavor and color of the wine is controlled by how you deal with the grape juice when you press the grapes. If you immediately remove the skins from the juice you wind up with a white wine. If you leave the skins in the juice for a short time you wind up with a rose wine, and if you leave the skins in the wine while it is fermenting you wind up with a red wine.
Naturally fermented wine develops an alcoholic content of about 12%, if you want a stronger wine you have to fortify the wine with brandy that is nothing more then distilled wine. Different types of grapes produce different types of wine.
You can study the art of wine making for years, but you will probably get as good results on your first try. The only thing your additional knowledge is apt to produce are better wines.