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Crust Formation

Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:45 am

Hi all, Easter bunny helped me make an all grain mash but by the time I blended up all the malted grain it was more of a powder than a cracked grain or course kibble. 2/3 powder & fine kibble & 1/3 cracked grain. Cooked the grain getting a 5% sugar conversion to 30% sugar.
I am not set up for sparging yet so I'm doing a grain ferment & when I did a 24 hr inspection a semi-dry crust had formed above the must crushed up against the lid.
I thought that's not helping if all the grain is high & dry so broke it up & stirred it all back in.
Lucky I had left 4" gap on top in case of foaming.
I will continue to do this every night until the CO2 is not lifting it up any more.
I assume this is the normal practice but when I looked up crust on this forum I found lots of reference to crust forming but no mention of stirring it back into the must. That way getting the source of sugar & flavour back into the ferment.
Is that what every one else does when this happens ?
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:04 pm

It's normal for fruit fermentation like grape wine, only the crust is called a "cap" and it has to be "punched down" or it dries out, infects, and then rots. I'd punch down that crust once a day.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:00 pm

Thanks Bob I thought that would be the normal thing to do when it happens.
I used my Refractometer & the chart in your book when I was doing the cooking of the Grains.
With the conversion rates I was getting I decided not to use Enzymes.
Thank You & CHEERS TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:09 pm

You're welcome, and good work!!
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:32 pm

Hi, I noticed the crust was not as thick or riding as high this morning when I gave it a stir.
The refractometer was reading 14 Brix this morning so it's converting the the sugar at a very good rate.
Was 22 Brix when I added the EC1118 three days ago to the 110L barrel.
!0 kg Pils export malted barley & 5kg of malted Rye with 5 kg Amber liquid malt.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Swedish Pride » Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:20 pm

i leave my cap where is is, it will sink once done, if you just keep the lid on nothing will come in to infect it
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:15 am

Hi, it's bubbling along nicely but after a closer inspection of the crust I've noticed that the grain husks are forming it.
I first thought it was the grains but it seems it's the light weight un-pulverised husks that have separated & been carried up by the CO2.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:46 pm

Hi all, bubbling had stopped when I checked it yesterday so I took a reading & to my surprise 1.020.
So it wasn't as quick as I'd thought it had been.
Added some more EC 1118 yeast & some nutrient ( bread improver )& gave it a good cordless drill powered stir.
I'll check it again tonight & with a bit of luck it will be bubbling again.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby S-Cackalacky » Fri Apr 08, 2016 11:00 pm

You might also check a couple of other common problems - PH and temp. Either of those can cause it to stall. PH can be brought back up with a hand full of oyster shells (or other seashells). The ferment will generate its own heat early in the process and begin dropping as activity decreases. Sometimes just insulating the ferment vessel will prevent it from stalling, but it could be too late for that if the wash has already lost most of its heat. You would need to introduce some external heat source.

Good luck with it.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:26 am

My thoughts too S-C so after no activity I took PH last night, PH 3.6 Temp is about the same it's been all through the ferment 22 C during day dropping down a degree late at night. It was a little higher temp yesterday as I was doing a few stripping runs in the shed & expected if it was temp the bubbles would start from the higher than normal room temp but still sitting there dormant.
The TPW next to it is just starting to show signs of slowing down & that one is a few days younger than the grain wash so I'm thinking Temp may not be the problem.
I think the PH is nothing major to worry about so I'm beginning to think it might be Nutrients for the yeast.
I'm thinking my course of action today will be hydrate a small batch of 1118 yeast and add some nutrients to it ( bread improver) & maybe a pinch of Epsom salt.
I read about using Bread Improver as a Nutrient & A friend of mine that's a Chemist told me that two batches of bread improver will help.
First batch when cooking the grain & it will help with Amylase action, I haven't tried that one out yet.
Second batch added to the ferment as a yeast nutrient, that one I have tried out but only at the start of the ferment & the small amount I added a few days ago.
It's strange how every different recipe batch has it's own different idiosyncrasies attached to it.
Thanks for your help & thoughts S-C,
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby S-Cackalacky » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:55 am

That 3.6 PH could be part of the problem - above 4.0 would be better and 5.0 even better. You can bring it up with seashells, egg shells, calcium carbonate, or even baking soda. Grain washes usually don't require any additional nutrients, but it probably won't hurt. When a ferment stalls out, the yeasts already in the wash usually just go dormant and will pick up again when the prevalent problem is corrected. If the yeast are dead, they are probably the best nutrient for any new yeast that you add.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:38 am

Hi, I ended up adding 3x teaspoons of wine yeast nutrient & a dissolved teaspoon of each vegemite & epsom salts.
Then gave it a good stir with a paint stirrer on the cordless drill & started to get some foam up so I put the lid on to let it sit for an hr thinking problem solved.
One hr later the initial bubbles through airlock had died down so removed the lid & found the crust had formed again a bit thicker on top,tested PH 4.8 so then stirred in one teaspoon of hydrated 1118 yeast to be on the safe side.
Will check it today & fingers crossed I hope to see some action through the airlock.
I'm sure I read some were to add a pinch of epsom salts every few days with high sugar content grain mixes for the first week or so but could not find it when I hunted for it on the forum.
Thanks & Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:39 pm

I think I got a dicky reading from my PH meter because when I checked it yesterday morning it was 3.7.
Changed the batteries just in case & got 3.8 so maybe that wasn't the problem, who knows.
Remembered reading Dr Who's blog about Bi-carb & citric so mixed a teaspoon of each at a time in warm water & added.
It's now up to a PH of 4.3 with a very slow bubble rate so I maybe onto a winner, time will tell I suppose.
I'll keep checking day & night & keep adding a little at a time until I get to a bit above 5 PH & a good bubble rate through the airlock.
Going to be a slow one from here I think.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby S-Cackalacky » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:22 pm

TT, sounds like you're back on track with this one. As I recall, you didn't have far to go to finish it. Congratulations and good luck with your run.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:26 am

That was the frustrating thing S-C, it went off like a fire-rocket to start with for 8 days & I thought I had the quickest batch yet.
1.020 when it stopped, close but not close enough.
Thanks for your contribution, Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby S-Cackalacky » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:02 am

TT, here in the US crushed oyster shells are sold at most feed stores as a dietary supplement for egg laying hens. A handful in a 5 gallon grain wash will act as a PH buffer. The shells are primarily calcium carbonate and will dissolve as the wash becomes more acidic. I've also used whole shells and can remove them after the ferment to be used again. Most any kind of seashell will work.

PH and temperature seem to be the most common problems for stalled ferments. If you check the PH before pitching yeast and it's below 6.0, there's a chance that it will go sub-4.0 before the ferment finishes. If your recipe calls for the addition of an acid, like lemon juice, check the PH and don't add it if the PH is already below 6.0, or so. By adding the crushed oyster shells, it's usually not even necessary to check the PH - it's sort of self-adjusting.

Anyway, glad to hear it all worked out.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:39 pm

Checked it this morning after adding and stirring in more Bi-carb last night & got PH 5.1 & a bubble every 20 seconds through the airlock.
Will check if it's still at that rate tonight & do a Hydrometer reading.
I've had a few cereal based mashes that have finished at the 4.2 area but have still been keen bubblers even when below 1.000 on a hydrometer so that was why at first I thought 3.6 should be OK.
Forgot that 3.6 is 6 times as acidic as 4.2, had forgotten about the times 10 factor with PH.
Didn't take a PH reading at the start only used the Brix meter to monitor starch to sugar conversion rate because I thought it was too thick to rely on the Hydrometer.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:25 am

Hi, it's 5.4 PH & a bubble every 30 seconds but the Hydrometer reading hasn't gone down at all over the weekend.
If anything it appears to have gone up a little bit, strange!
Now the Ph has gone up a little I may hydrate some more 1118 & cross my fingers & toes & give it some sweet words of encouragement & add a submersible heater &tuck it in with a blanket & read it a book each nite.
I was hoping it would be ready to strip before I went overseas but I maybe doing this one when I get back at least I have the TPW next to it to do soon.
The last TPW stalled with Bakers yeast but took off like a rocket when I added 1118 so that was what I was hoping for here.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby bigfoot » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:46 pm

I don't think I have ever seen a ph level above 4.0 in any of my washes - I've had some going nuts with a ph of 2.6...
I always thought from research that a ph between 3.5 and 4.5 would be ideal for the majority(not all) washes...
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby kimbodious » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:06 pm

Can you check/ calibrate your hydrometer? pH meters too are untrustworthy critters - I'd go with test strips for pH. I used to manage laboratories for a living. I can assure you that not all test equipment is built to be equal and that even the best pH probes have to be replenished and eventually replaced. In other words check that it is not what you are measuring with that is your issue.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:21 am

Measures 6.4 in bottled water, I expected to see a bit higher closer to 7.
I'll have to hunt down the case it came in for the fine tune instructions.
Hydroponic shops carry fine tune solutions for PH meters, I bought mine from one years ago after I started stilling & the guy calibrated it before I left.
Some one moving interstate gave me a small box of things & said I might find a use for the contents.
There's a C/F or PPM meter in there that looks just like my PH meter but different colour but I've no idea if it is any use to me when fermenting mixes.
I'll have to go through that box again to see it there's any other bits in there.
Get's frustrating when it just sits there at 1.025 with no bubbles through the airlock.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby kimbodious » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:19 pm

more info than you really need to know here Calibrate Your Hydrometer and Fermenter: Techniques
I am tipping the paper tube with the scale on it in the stem of your hydrometer has come unglued from it's proper position

The probes on pH meters "wear out" over time, either the membrane gets blocked or the bulb loses its charge of KCl fluid. We used to wash down the probes thoroughly after each use, with distilled water, to keep the membrane as clear as possible. We would leave the probe sitting in a .33M solution of KCl to stop the bulb from leaching out it's charge. You can't beat pH test strips for old school effectiveness and simplicity.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:22 am

Thanks kimbo an interesting read. I have noticed a different between the chart in Zymurgy Bobs book & the Brix & hydrometer readings I'm getting.
Checked the Brix meter with still bottled water at 0 over the w'end & all OK there.
12.5 Brix should be SG 1.050 in Bobs book not 1.025 ish I've been getting.
I'll take my Beer Hydrometer out to the stilling shed & compare the readings. I'll have a look through the box of bits for PH strips & if I can't find any buy some to compare to the Ph meter as well.
I have a fish-tank heater I plan to fit to the lid today because the last few days I've noticed the temp has dropped down to the 16-17 C level.
Not going to waste any more yeast until I know all my meter readings are correct & the heater gets the temp up above 22 C, PH in the 5 area.
Going to cover all bases this time around & get to the bottom of what went wrong here.
Thanks & Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:18 pm

G'day all, well I checked the two Hydrometers & got 1.025 from both so I'm thinking that they couldn't both be out by the same amount.
Didn't have time to get to any of the shops that would be likely to sell the PH strips today so can't check the calibration on that yet.
I've got a rubber grommet & a rubber bung to see which fits the lid thickness for the heater lead, I'll have to cut the plug off to get the lead through but I'll decide which one to use before I fit the new plug I think. It's 18 C at the moment & a bubble every 30-40 secs with no change except up in SG in a week.
Will fill you all in when some thing exciting starts to happen.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby kimbodious » Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:00 pm

What effect are the temperature corrections making on the SG final readings. Are you filtering the fluid on to your refractometer, what effect are the temperature corrections making on the final refractometer reading? More info here to fill your head right up https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brix
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby bigfoot » Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:53 pm

kimbodious wrote:Can you check/ calibrate your hydrometer? pH meters too are untrustworthy critters - I'd go with test strips for pH. I used to manage laboratories for a living. I can assure you that not all test equipment is built to be equal and that even the best pH probes have to be replenished and eventually replaced. In other words check that it is not what you are measuring with that is your issue.


I've always washed my ph meter after each use and then checked straight water on the meter - always 6.8-7.2 for water.
Using that same meter, all my washes have been rather acidic...and seem to get to or below 1.00 on hydro meter.

TT - I'm not sure chasing ph is your answer here. Temps have drastically fallen in your area over past 3-4 weeks and I'd be inclined to consider hibernating yeasties as a problem. I'd throw some heat at it.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby kimbodious » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:10 pm

Deionised water may have a pH of 7, but it is so poorly buffered you'll have trouble getting a stable reading. Who knows what you'll get pH-wise from your local tapwater! The only way you can accurately calibrate a pH meter is with those sachets of pink blue and green buffers/ standards - go for the old-school paper test strips!
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:49 am

Will get Strips to day but fitted & turned on fish tank heater last night.

Kimbodious, I tried to reply to your PM & the replies are stuck in the outbox & each time I've sent a new one it ends up in the outbox.
Don't know much about computers, probably understand womens Idiosyncrasies far better.
So in other words no bloody Idea at all.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby kimbodious » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:00 am

I am thinking about yeast. Is it valid to add x times as much yeast if your drum is x times larger? Could it be that all that yeast outcompetes for resources or something before it fully completes the fermentation? Maybe next time a trial could be to inoculate with less yeast?
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:54 am

There's a distillery I know of that puts a 500g pack of yeast on 70kg of malted rye &120kg of cracked rye after cooking and sparging to make up a 700 or800L batch and it seems to work like clockwork for him. I think I got those numbers right.
Nice drop it is too.
Trying out my tablet to send this one.
CheersTT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:34 pm

Just called into hydroponic shop to get some pH strips but the guy re-calibrated my meter for me.
6.6 so it was reading 4 times more acidic than buffer7 showed, so bought a bottle of buffer 7 off him for$12.50.
He also said to put a damp cloth or cotton wool in the cap to keep the probes damp.
Also had fish tank heaters for $25 100 watt, $10 cheaper than I paid for one yesterday.
He said one watt per litre is the normal
Bought two 200 watt ones of e-bay earlier in the week for my larger drums for$8 each but don't expect them untill next week some time.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:52 pm

Well well it must have been the temp, slowly climbing up but now at 22 degrees C and bubbling every 5 seconds this morning.
PH is 5.8, so I'm guessing between the low PH & 2-3 deg C under 20 deg C that's what caused the stall.
Now I'll keep a closer eye on temp & turn on heaters if temp gets down to 20 deg C.
Still wearing shorts but maybe that's not an accurate enough temp measuring method.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:53 am

Been bubbling a few days & SG is down to 1.020 with a bubble every 6-7 seconds so I'm expecting it to finish in the next week.
Funny thing the two 60L barrels of TPW either side of it with no heating were at 22 Deg C midday yesterday.
They started bubbling like crazy before I had a chance to fit the heater lids so just let them go.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby bigfoot » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:03 pm

I have personally found that around 18-20 degs C is the generally the temp that the yeast seem to head south for the winter...(bakers yeast). I've found as you, bump it even 1 or 2 degs and they wake up again.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:31 am

The bubble rate has seemed to have slowed down a little but the SG rate is slower going down.
The unheated TPW's are still going off & that's the frustrating thing about it.
I sure hope my finished product is worth the head aches that have come with it !
No real drama though, life would be boring if the leaning curve stops suddenly.
If life was a straight road imagine the panic when you reach a speed hump or sharp corner ?
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Sun May 01, 2016 9:16 am

Bubble rate is slow & it's just crept down to SG of 1.018, not long to go I hope.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Fri May 06, 2016 3:51 pm

Well isn't that the strangest thing.
After almost a week of a slow bubble rate, when I checked it this morning it's going off.
A bubble every 3 to 4 seconds is the quickest it's been for quite some time.
Temp is still 24 C nothing's changed.
At this rate I expect it to be done in a few days time.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Sun May 08, 2016 11:55 am

Bubble rate it going great but the SG rate has hardly changed.
Perseverance, the distiller's best friend it seems.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:12 am

Hi all, I couldn't believe it !
I was fairly confident that the SG readings would have come down low enough to do a stripping run after all this time.
So you can imagine my surprise when I did a Hydrometer reading at the weekend to find it had not changed since the reading on the 1st of May 1.018.
During May it bubbled flat out so I thought it should be done by now, I even had a friend keep an eye on the bubble rate for me while I was over-seas & she said it had slowed down to virtually nothing happening( one a minute) so she turned the heater off a few days before I returned home for me.
I was so confident that I'd beaten the stalled wash & kicked it's ass I didn't check it when I'd first came back only to find this result now.
I now have the heater back on with blankets around the barrel & have even got some EC 1118 hydrating if I don't see any bubbles through the airlock after the Temp rises, in it goes.
PH had crept back down to 4.4 but I thought I'll wait & see what happens once the heat rises to 25 C before I adjust that if extra yeast is needed to excite it up again.
Meanwhile the un-heated TPW's either side of it that I started early May are done & in the process of being Pot stripped before a Reflux spirit run.
Catching up with a friend later this week who owns a boutique brewery to discuss my drama & go over my records to see if he can shed any light on the subject. Also will get some advise/help with sparging for the next batch I do.
I'm in two minds whether to just strip this batch & start again from the beginning or to keep at it & beat this BEAST.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby S-Cackalacky » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:46 pm

Maybe it's finished and it simply has some unfermentable sugar in the wash. Did you invert the sugar you used in the recipe? Sometimes that can produce unfermentables. Or, maybe your hydrometer is out of kilter. Do you have a second hydrometer you can check it against?
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:59 am

S-Cackalacky wrote:Do you have a second hydrometer you can check it against?

I've questioned mine a couple of times. Just drop it in water, and if it says "1.000", you're golden.
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and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:06 am

Thanks guys, I've been using two Hydrometers to check the results with this batch since I've started having problems.
I always use a teaspoon of lemon juice to invert the sugar I use, but I didn't add any sugar to this batch I just relied on the starch /sugar conversion of the grain to provide the sugar content.
I could have put a squirt of lemon juice in out of habit & not recorded it in my records but it was Easter nearly 5 months ago when I made this batch up so I can not recall if I did.
Will re-check it all today to see if the heater has started any bubble action yet.
Thanks &Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby bigfoot » Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:30 pm

What are your methods used for inverting the sugar?
Bf
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:10 am

No bubble action yet at 22 C, found a packet of Stillspirits whiskey yeast in my yeast Eski earlier in the week & thought why not so tossed it in.
Yesterday I was getting a bubble rate of about one every 40 seconds, I sure hope it picks up so I can finish this stalled wash.
Thinking if no improvement in next week or two strip it & start again.
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:31 pm

A few days later it's now bubbling constantly, You Beuty.
Hope to get it down below the 1.000 SG when it stops this time around.
I think I've kept better records on this post than I have in my record book, think I'll copy them out into my book tonight.
Thanks to all who have given help & advice on this over the last few months.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:28 pm

Well the bubble rate is starting to slow down so I'll wait until it stops completely before I check the final SG.
Fingers crossed it will be in the 0.990 area & I can start my stripping runs.
Then I'll start another batch that I hope wont take 4+ months to ferment.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Tue Aug 09, 2016 4:39 pm

Hi all, I got a final specific gravity reading of 1.005 and thought I'll give it a go so did a stripping run last Saturday.
After dealing with stall after stall I thought I'll give it a go at that after 4 1/2 months of waiting.
Tried a few drips in a teaspoon at the half way mark & thought it has potential.
If I have time this weekend I will do a second stripping run & with a bit of luck I will have enough for a slow spirit run.
Cheers TT
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Re: Crust Formation

Postby Tassie Tiger » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:24 pm

Finally starting to take on a character,
I eventually did a slow spirit run & it's been sitting on oak chips for a few months so far.
I intend to leave it a bit longer !
Nearly have my HERMs system ready for it's virgin run & have 25kg of Ale Malt that's chaffing at the bit ready to go.
Leave town soon for a few months work then returning for lower back surgery in the new year so it may end up being part of my rehab time before I start a batch with the new system.
I would dearly love it to be fermenting while I'm away but reality holds us all back some times.
Bf I know I spoke to you about it But to invert the sugar to yeast compatibles I put a squirt of lemon in my dissolving sugar, white or raw. Tea spoon'ish depending on the volume. I just thought I'd try a squirt in this as well.
Cheers TT
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