Many of us know the basics of distillation, but only a few know the true science. Today, we’re joined by Tripp Stimson of Barrell Bourbon and we ask all the hard questions on distillation that we’ve always wanted to know. This is really for the geeks at heart because it goes into pH levels, yeast strains, malting processes, and so much more. Listen close to the expert because it’s definitely one show where you will learn something new about the distillation process.
- You can now buy Barrell Craft Spirits products online and have them shipped right to your door. Visit BarrellBourbon.com and click Buy Now.
- Receive $25 off your first order at RackHouse Whiskey Club with code “Pursuit”. Visit RackhouseWhiskeyClub.com.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about bourbon in the movies.
- What are your goals for the year?
- Tell us about your background.
- Let’s talk about grains.
- Does it matter where the grain comes from?
- What happens after getting the grain?
- Does the size of the mash tub matter?
- What is the percentage of mash to water?
- What’s the best way to mix the mash?
- How long is the process?
- How do you know the mash is ready?
- What grain do you add in first?
- Talk about malted grain.
- What happens next?
- What is the consistency of the product when going from the mash tub to the fermentation tank?
- Let’s talk about yeast.
- What about a mash rest?
- What is the chemical breakdown during fermentation?
- Why do some people do closed vs. open fermentation?
- What determines the number of days for fermentation?
- Do different grains change the process?
- What is sour mash?
- Let’s talk about the pH of the water.
- Is the flavor more consistent in a sour mash process vs. sweet mash?
- Do you use a bourbon backset in a rye mash?
- What happens after fermentation?
- Talk about the shape of stills.
- After the still where does it go?
- What happens in the doubler?
- What are heads, hearts and tails?
- What are the health risks of the process?
- What’s the difference between the column still and pot still?
- When do you get the waste out?
- How do you control the proof coming off the still?
- What is the argument for a low entry proof?
- Does it have to be the exact proof listed on the label?
- How do you get a final proof when using multiple barrels?
- How do you clean the equipment?
- Does an older still produce a different flavor?
- What are you looking for when picking rum?
Let’s give folks a reintroduction of like your background and where you got in to the industry and how are you qualified to teach us about this?
Let’s go ahead like where’s your degree here? I was the only one you could get to sit down.
He’s only one answer call.
This was Episode 263 of bourbon pursuit podcast featuring news reviews and interviews with people making the bourbon whiskey industry happen. Before we start the podcast, here’s your weekly bourbon news update. Last week, we revealed the news first on social media that a demolition permit has been submitted to take down the 130 year old national distillers Rick house in Louisville, Kentucky. The building has been deemed unsafe by structural engineers. There’s a partial collapse of the roof and the interior support being
are deteriorating with significant amount of moldy buildup. It’s sad to see this historic building be torn down after all the years of neglect since it was never being used. Now on a bourbon release news, the 2020 edition of Yellowstone limited edition Kentucky straight bourbon will be on shelves in September, featuring a seven year old straight bourbon finished in French Armagnac barrels. Approximately 5000 cases of this bourbon are being produced at limestone branch distillery, bottled at 101 proof, it will have a suggested retail price of $99 and 99 cents. In bourbon pursuit news. We’re continuing to select more and more barrels for our private bourbon club. This week, we selected two more barrels at four roses and oh ESB and an OB sq. Both 10 and a half years old. This is going to make 22 barrels selected so far this year, and we’re not done yet. So if you want to see how you can support this podcast, and get access to some great private barrels, along with
First access to pursuit series. Join us patreon.com slash bourbon pursuit. This is one podcast. We were super excited to record. Way back on episode 88. We did a back to basics about bourbon. And now we’re going deep dive into the distillation process. It’s all the hard questions on distillation that we’ve wanted to know. And we’ve got Tripp Simpson from barrel bourbon here to go all scientific on us. Listen close to the expert because it’s definitely one of those shows, where you’re going to learn something new about the distillation process, bourbon pursuits UP FOR A People’s Choice Award for podcasts and we need your help. Go to podcast awards, calm and register to vote as a listener. I know registering sucks, but please vote for us and the People’s Choice and the arts category. It would be really awesome to win this thing. Now do you want to get some awesome bourbon rye and rums shipped straight to your door? barrel bourbon now has online ordering you can get
award winning products right now. Go to barrel bourbon calm and click the Buy Now button. With that, enjoy today’s episode. Here’s Fred Minnick with above the char.
I’m Fred Minnick. And this is above the char, as I hope this old forester 1897 in my hands, I turned it to the back and I read this quote, The truth is, I prefer whiskey, Laura Howard. And that’s from the alienness A TNT show. There’s like an engraving on here. Not really entirely sure what the connection between old for certain alienist is. I’m sure it’s in a press release or something that was emailed to me that I just didn’t read. But
I will say the bottle got me to thinking about all of the incredible moments bourbon has had in pop culture. Whether you want to talk about Blanton’s being
Everywhere have Pappy Van Winkle being written into the intern’s or justified basically pouring more bourbon than most people do in their lifetime on a single episode, or you want to go back to, you know, the 1960s where it was seemingly on every single show with a man smoking a cigarette in a back corner. But I’ll tell you my favorite. My favorite connection to Hollywood is the hustler JT s Brown is basically a drink of choice and they talk about bourbon and its qualities that you know you didn’t really see a lot of most people when bourbon is in the conversation. It’s just part of the conversation. Well here here’s a drink tastes so good. You like it. Now let’s keep talking about taxes or killing uncle john or whatever. Whereas in like the hustler, they actually did talk about how it was made. They talked about
You know, eight year old bourbon being the very best, and so forth and so on. And so we get a chance and you want to go down like movie lane and you want to watch an old flick while you’re quarantined and bored up to your eyeballs. Go check out the movie, the hustler. And while you’re doing it, make sure you’re pouring yourself a little JTS Brown. While I may not be the same, it’s pretty cool to drink the same thing as Paul Newman. And that’s this week’s above the char. Hey, if you have an idea for above the char hit me up on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or whatever. Just look for my name Fred minich. Until next week, cheers
Welcome back to the episode of bourbon pursuit the official podcast of bourbon, Kinney and Ryan back in our usual recording station with a friend of the show. It’s been on here a few times already, but this time, we’re taking this kind of the next level because this was a a listener requested show of saying like, Listen like
We understand we go on the tours, we get the 51% stuff all the time. But like, Where’s that we need to answer some hard questions. And, you know, we always go back. And I think it was like February 2018. We did like a back to basics sort of month, way back then. And we kind of got an overview of some of this, but this time, I’m really excited because we’re going to be going deep dive into the distillation process. Yeah, it’s, uh, you know, we get on these tours all the time. And sometimes I know what they’re talking about. And a lot of times I’m just nodding my head. Yes. Like acting like I know what they’re talking about. So yeah, I’m super excited love having Tripp on his front of the show, and he’s getting to test out his new, you know, equipment he paid for. So we appreciate it. We always appreciate Barrow and being able to help support the podcast, have all this nice new equipment too. So it’s, yeah, absolutely. So no, super excited about it. Because, yeah, we’re like we’ve always said, we don’t know shit about distilling. So we’re glad to have someone here who does so
There are people that went to school for this so that they do know what they’re talking about from time to time. Absolutely. So let’s go to introduce our guest today. So today on the show you’ve heard him before in previous podcast, but we have Tripp stimpson. He is the master distiller and Director of Operations at barrel bourbon. So Tripp welcome back. Thanks for having me guys. Good to be here. Yeah, absolutely. So Joe keeping you busy. Always, never dull moment. So what’s you know, we were talking earlier, talking about your goals with some Joe goals for the year. Are you guys coming off that big banner year of 2020, all those metals, large blogging, I guess, lofty, lofty goals. We’ve got looking at doing the usual probably for bourbon batches. We’ve got a right three batch. It’ll be coming out here soon. We actually brought that with us today.
We got some infinite releases. We’ve got dovetail. We’ve got. We’re doing some fun things with finishes. I don’t want to shine the light too much on that. Well, we can talk about that another time. But there’s some really, really interesting things coming out coming down the line this year. So
Stay tuned. salutely So before we kind of dive into a lot of this stuff, I think people need to know about, you know, your background and sort of like, you know, we’ve I think we’ve talked about it before, but like, let’s give folks a reintroduction of like your background and where you got in to the industry and how are you qualified to teach us about this?
Like, like, Where’s your degree here? I was the only one you could get to sit down.
He’s the only one answer call.
Okay, um, so, my backgrounds in biochemistry, molecular biology, degrees from college, I went straight from college and started work for brown Forman as a research and development scientist. I spent
10 years 10 years with brown Forman in various roles, analytical chemistry, benchtop chemistry, microbiology, doing a lot of distillery sciences and easting and distillery efficiencies. Left brown foreman, I started a consulting company
There was really focused on the craft side of the business. At the time, there were people just getting into this glorified distillery business with these great dreams of if you build it, they will come kind of ideas. And I wanted to really bring a level of expertise to these people that show that it wasn’t all really a bowl of cherries, you know, this is really what you’re going to be doing for whole areas.
And lay it out there real time and say, you know, this is your investment. This is how long you’re going to wait for your return. And this is how hard you’re going to work. And really put that into context before people would take the leap. So I did that for a handful of years. And met Joe through that process. We began working together six been six years, six years ago this year. And we’ve been working together ever since we’re very similar view on
On the approach to everything, and it just works. And he sold you on the dream of distillery.
We’re working diligently.
We’re getting there. still dreaming it up.
So you know, you’re you have this idea of also doing distillery but you know, we really kind of want to go and really kind of really pick your brain here. Because as we start getting into what does the distilling process look like? Like I said, let’s kind of let’s kind of go a little bit, you know, start from finish. And, you know, I think this is really gonna be focused on a lot of the bourbon nerds and the bourbon geeks out there that really want to dive in, they want to know exactly like, you know, what do you have to do to make sure that there’s no contamination, no bacteria, like our pH levels of thing. Or, like, you know, when you’re in the fermentation, like, everybody never buys tanks, so special fermentation tanks, that’s Ryan’s thing. Everybody’s got their special fermentation tanks. You know, like, you know, how much gas can really come off there. And that’s
Because you see some that have, you know, clothes, you have some that are open, you have some that are outdoor, you have some that have huge vacuums on them. So I think we’ll, we’ll tackle some of those things there. But you know, I guess let’s start at the very beginning of the distillation process. And I mean, I would imagine it just kind of starts with grains, right? It does. And it’s always funny to me, where, you know, we always jump in, and we talk about the distillation process. And to me, I always think of that is starting a movie halfway through, you know, you’ve left out so much of the important stuff prior to this distillation process that really affects your distillation. So if we go all the way back to,
to the grains and deciding what your grain bill is going to be, and how we treat the grains, where does it come from? How do you mill your grains? particle size actually plays a big part in this when you’re milling your grains, if you go down to say a powder versus like a grist like the beer guys would use the you will get different fermentations out of both of those. Okay, so let’s let’s hit that point.
Right there. So, assuming you’re using different kinds of machines to get the different, like I said the different variable of like, Is it a powder versus like a, I guess like a grist or whatever it is a grist or grit, grist, grist. Okay, is this is this me being like city slicker? Like I don’t really know what Grif means. I don’t either.
But I heard him say grist
like grist mill. Oh, you’ve heard grist mill before right? Like I like I like for grits. No, I’m kidding was like say I was like, I like grids and grits are like basically ground up corn. So it was like, Is it is it like that kind of that kind of size right there and smaller than that? Well, I mean, it’s, it looks like sand. It could be like thick sand in your hand versus say almost a powder. Okay, and what you what you’ve done, there’s a handful of different Mills, people use roller Mills, hammer Mills.
You can use the cage Mills, and they’re all going to do a little bit different type of grind on your grind.
Is it kind of like so like when you do coffee like say like an espresso is like a real fine, you know, write it up coffee like real dense. Whereas like a pour over something is like more kind of bigger grained, our guests are sure type of texture. Well, and let’s go back to what the whole goal of what we’re trying to do here, we’re trying to take this grain this will say a kernel of grain, and we’re trying to make available as much of that starch as we can before we move into matching. So ideally, you would think the finer we can grind it, the more available the starches. So you take that and you go across all these different ways of milling the different types of Mills, and how they get to that grind. So some mills and throughput are going to create heat, well, you don’t really want heat, because then you start to really denature the starches that you can’t use in your fermentation to create alcohol. So there’s different Mills will require different throughput and there are
certain ways to use each meal so that you get the right particle size without generating the heat. Well, I’m gonna go even before the grinding, like to the actual grain and the growing of the grain, okay, and like the soil and the regions they come from can witness a distilling podcast. Well, you said you want to go all the way back to the grain. So let’s do it. Let’s do so because you are distilling like, you know, and removing a lot of things from the original I guess grain itself doesn’t matter like which region it comes from, or which type of soil or type of grain it you know, from corn to corn, not saying like corn or wheat or corn butter from different varieties of within that species. Yeah, absolutely. And even go step further and every year, you know, annually. If we have a lot of rain, you’re going to get a different grain than you got the year before. And, you know, one test that many distillers will do is they’ll look for aflatoxin. So if you have a really rainy season, you’re going to get some molds out there and aflatoxin being a bye
product for mold can show up in the corn that’s delivered to your distillery. So aflatoxin actually will fluoresce under a UV light. So if you take a thing of grain and you put a UV light over it, you see specks of
fluoresce grain aflatoxin, and then if there’s any aflatoxin you don’t know that you won’t accept. Yeah. Do you know that run? You know what aflatoxin was? I didn’t but it does sound like a mold or fungus.
I know. I know the Yeah, I know what fluorescence and like infrared and you know, and normal bacteria is kind of starting to yet inoculate themselves. It’s like It’s like a fish poster.
Alright, so at this point we are now we’re now milling the the grains and stuff like that. We talked about the size of it, I guess. Let’s let’s kind of go on to the next portion of this. Okay, so we’ve got our we’ve got our grain the size we want. Now we’re going to move into mashing, you’re going to use no warm water to further break down that grind to make the
available. So in this process, you’re going to either have a malted grain that’s going to provide the enzyme, or you’re going to add an exogenous enzyme that you’ve bought from a company who’s isolated and concentrated this enzyme that you’re going to add same time. Either way you do it, the goal is the same. You want to take these large, long chain carbohydrates and cut them down into small three carbon sugars, anything over a three carbon sugar the East can’t do anything with. So these enzymes are going to cleave these long chain molecules into these smaller chain molecules during this process to prepare for, you know, the actual fermentation process. So these these big mash tubs that we usually see when we go through, I know we’ve seen them at heaven. Hell, we’ve seen that a few different places. I mean, is there is there a size that these things usually end up being like as a recommended sizes? I mean, can it be as small as like a child swimming pool versus something that’s a huge tank. I mean, the the
The science will remain the same, no matter what size you use, the enzymes are going to work at the same temperatures. But the mash tub is typically size with the size of your process. So you’re not going to have a big monster still on a small match stub. And inversely, you’re not going to have a huge match to a real small steel. Now with these because they I guess, multiplied like, well, this the East isn’t added yet, but right now yeah, we’re not we’re not there yet. Okay, don’t jump back. Don’t jump ahead. Because I got another question here. Which is, you know, you said about adding warm water. Now I know when I go to these things, and you touch them like they’re pretty they’re hot to the hand. Yeah. Like what’s the I mean, what’s the when you say warm water? It’s not like bath warm, right? I mean, you’re adding you’re adding some I would say some scalding hot water to it or something like that, that or it’s heating up like what right what’s going on in there. So I say warm water because at this point, you you’ve likely recycled warm water off of something else. So you’ve you’ve taken cold water, probably off of
Through a condenser or something, taking that heat, you recycle that heat into another process. So in this let’s just say it’s into the cooker. So you’re taking the warm water off something else into the cooker with these grains while adding steam, either your direct injection or your jacketed or maybe you have tubes in your in your cooker either way, you’re adding heat somehow, and you’re really on your way to almost a boil. And then you’re going to add you’re going to add these grains at different times for different reasons. And these different enzymes are actually going to work at different temperatures. So you’ve got to be careful because if you if your enzymes are in and you go above a certain temperature then those enzymes are gonna be nature they’re not gonna work. So you’re not going to get your conversion.
So if you have like a like a 500 gallon say whatever magic cooker Is there like a certain percentage of you know, the match to water that you are like, what is that percentage? I guess you you, you know, you run you can run a thin beer. What will
We call a thin beer or thick beer or anything in between the two. You don’t want to go too thick because then your yeast isn’t going to work. It’s going to be too thick, there’s too much pressure that yeast isn’t going to isn’t going to be active. If you go the other way, and you go real thin, the yeast is going to perform well. But now you’ve used all this energy up to that point to have a fermentation. But you could have actually had some more grain in there. So you’re getting more bang for your buck, let’s say. So the trick is to find out how thick Can I go maximize the alcohol from the fermentation without going so thick that it starts to suppress the yeast. Gotcha. So I guess another question with the just the mash tubs in general and the cookers, you know, I think the ones that I’ve seen usually they meet inside of it looks like a KitchenAid mixer. Yeah, right. They’ve been having they’re sitting there spinning everything around and trying to keep that going like is that is that normal industry standard that that you have that or is there sometimes there’s, you know, somebody with a broom and a broom handle they’re trying to just like mix it around on a canoe pad.
Can you pass that’s how we mix up our stuff.
You know, I’ve I’ve seen it done about every which way you can imagine, the canoe paddle is definitely a thing it does happen. On your larger scale distilleries, though, you’re gonna have a nice agitator. The tubes on the inside or the coils are going to be for your steam, either coils or jacket. You can go either way. But yes, I mean, that’s pretty much an industry standard. So how long does a typical process like this usually go when you are when you’re trying to mash and you’re trying to basically add water to the grain to start basically making them change their molecules. I don’t really know if that’s the right word I’m looking here for but try and change their properties a little bit.
It Again, it’s going to depend on how much you’re trying to do one time. So let’s say let’s let’s operate off say 1000 gallon working capacity. You know, you’re gonna you’re gonna go and you’re going to add your corn, your hot water, you’re going to go to a boil, you’re going to cook for, you know, 30 minutes
45 minutes, whatever, wherever you land in your profile, then you’re gonna start to cool down, put some rye in there, and you’re gonna cool a little more. And then that’s where your enzymes start to work. You’ve got your alpha and your beta amylase, enzymes
that work at the 155 and the 135 degree ranges. So that’s really where you’re going to start to get a whole bunch of your conversion is right there where the enzymes are working. And then you can hold it there for another, you know, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. Again, this is going to be a little bit of trial and error, depending on your facility. But you’re probably looking at two and a half, three and a half hours, probably for a full mashing, cooking session before you go into your fermenter. And how do you know it’s like, ready? Well, you I mean, that’s the trial and error part. I mean, you you start with a basic profile. And at the end, you see if there are things left on the table. You take measurements of a different of a bunch of different stuff through your fermentation and we can talk about this later, that actually will measure
You will actually give you ideas of your starch conversion, your, your the fermentation, how much sugar is left over which there shouldn’t be any, right? So if there is you’ve had problems with yeast or some other variable, you measure all these things and you come up with the most efficient profile. What if you didn’t have any instruments like back in the day? And you just said, yeah, exactly dip your finger in it and taste it like as Can you tell from that? I mean is there you can, if you were to take just a basic mash early on, right before you start your fermentation, you tasted it will be sweet. It will have sugar sweet properties to it. At the end of your fermentation when you taste it, it’s going to be sour. So once you taste the difference in the two then you know on the front side what you’re looking for. So another question that I had about looking at the grains that are going into you know, you had mentioned at first like you add in things a little bit later, like you add in the ride later and it’s like so is there is it because corn
has different property. And that’s why you added in first or do you add in my first like, what’s the like which grains you choose first because of just the chemical nature of compound of it, the corn traditionally is is the hardest to get to based on its physical structure, the kernel itself, breaking all of that down and actually getting to the available storage is the most difficult in corn. So why you boil the crap out of the corn first, then everything else is at cooler temperatures. So you start you work your way to the top and then back down.
Right You don’t want to eat really don’t want to cook right too much. And then the malted barley, the barley is is traditionally just for the enzyme at the low percentage. Now as you increase that percentage, you can actually you can get some good flavoring from it. But malted barley traditionally is for the enzymes. What about any other like multi grains that you put in there like does that affects the time that you come in? Because I know if you melt something beforehand, it’s probably gonna affect what you’re doing. doing the math
process. Absolutely. And you can you can malt just about anything you want to. And you’re going to get some enzymatic capability out of that multigrain. The enzymes are still going to work in the same temperature range. So even if you decide you want a malt corn, you can’t go up and boil that corn. And just because it’s multicore come back down, and the enzyme gonna work, you still denature the enzyme once you go above that temperature. So Alright, so I think we’ve kind of got this part now ready to go to have some yeast? All right, well, I think at this point, well, I mean, it’s it usually leaves the cooker right? And you have some sort of vacuum or tubing or something that gets it to a fermentation tank. Correct. That’s great. And so kind of talking about, I mean, because you’ve been in this process before, like what does it look like to build a system that is either like vacuum sucking, whatever it is the pumping moving all this stuff from yet not probably vacuum it’s probably good to have a Dyson hooked up.
Got a water pump, very powerful. Yeah, but kind of talk about some of those, those things that maybe people don’t see. So, you know, let’s start with the most efficient way on a large scale, you’re gonna have some nice stainless steel pipe, you’re gonna have a really nice pump. And when it’s time to go from the cooker to the fermenter, you’re going to push a button on your switchboard and it’s going to open a valve your pumps gonna kick on, and you’re going to empty the cooker into the from how many gallons per minute we’re talking my language is.
Obviously it depends, you know, there’s a,
there’s a piece of your process that this fits into, you know, you’ve you’ve cooked for so much time. Now it’s gonna take you if you’ve got a pump that runs 25 gallons a minute, you’ve got 100 gallon tank, it’s gonna go a lot quicker than if you have a 10,000 gallon tank and a 25 gallon a minute bomb, sure. So you size everything so that it takes the right amount of time to move the mash from the cooker to the fermenter and that will change whether you’re running 100 gallons or
So again, that’s engineering but you basically work it into your, your process. And then on the other side on the craft side, it can be, it can be anytime it can be pulled out and you know, drain into a bucket, take the bucket, dump it into the fermenter it can be hooked a hose to a smaller pump and run a hose across the floor to a fermenter. Any way that you can with some sort of sanitary good sanitary practice, get the cooked mash from the cooker over to the fermenter. I mean, whatever makes sense. That’s I mean, you can do it 100 different ways. So from anybody that’s never visited still, you know what these look like? Why, why couldn’t you have a cooker and a fermenter do the same exact thing. You can, you can so if you wanted to do one fermentation a week, you could have a cooker, or even even distillation. Let’s do the whole thing. You could actually have a pot still that you could cook your grains in
ferment in and then also distill from. The problem with that is that you’ve now occupied one space to do all three things. The idea around having typically one cooker and three to four fermenters is that you can set it up so you’re doing something every day. No, you’re not waiting on it to finish all three. Exactly. Yep. Exactly. I gotcha. I gotcha. So the other kind of question about this is like, when I know that we’ve had the opportunity to go to distillery and you know, you can put your hands on the mash and everything like that, but give folks that are listening kind of understanding of like, when something is actually going from the cooker, to the fermentation tank, like, you know, is it like, Is it just like water at this point? Or is it basically like water with a few crumbles like, kind of talk about the consistency of what this product is at this point. It’s, again, if you’re running the thicker, if you’re trying to run a thicker beer, it’s going to be just a little bit thinner than oatmeal. And if you’re running a really thin beard,
It’s it’s gonna be cloudy water. And then it’ll be it’ll look like really muddy water, I guess consistency wise, and you’re usually trying to like hit the middle ground with both these spectrums, right here is that kind of what most people are trying to hit? Yeah, it’s trying to for your facility trying to maximize the yeast performance as well as the grain throughput, so that you’re not sacrificing alcohol so you’re not leaving alcohol on a table. Alright, you either want to be a Miller light or a stout. You want to be like
somewhere in the middle there. Yeah, sorry. So now we got to the point that we’ve got we’ve got a product going into the fermentation tank, right? That’s right. And we’ve seen it usually there’s there’s a pipe that somebody moves and it’s draining into there. Sometimes it actually drains sometimes like from bottom up sometimes like it can be can can can be pumped in there. See I said it right pumped in there. Yeah. So So at this point when it starts filling up talking to the process. Well, let’s talk about yeast for just a second and then and then
Well in waiting.
So there there is a few different ways you can go about using yeast in your fermentation process. The most frequently done most frequently used and easiest to use is going to be a dried yeast. So you you order a dried yeast and known quantities from a manufacturer. They tell you how much you used to use for whatever product you’re making. They’ll even give you a few little flavor notes that that yeast is going to create. You take that in the recommended quantities and while this fermenter is filling up, you take the yeast and you throw it in. Done. That’s it. How many different varieties of yeast are there for say like bourbon production? Oh my goodness, any thousands or Yeah, it could be could be. I mean, it’s, again, we’re talking about natural species. So you can have one and it can mutate while we’re sitting here having this conversation. Not really that quickly, but
pretty close throw right?
match. Yeah, it’ll take right away. There are there are a lot out there. But oddly enough, there are fewer than you would expect available for folks like you and me who were if we were to buy from somebody, that’s why you got some guys in Danville that specialize Exactly. Farm solutions. Yeah. So there’s, there’s another question, this one came from one of the Patreon communities because we knew going into this that it would be tough to ask a lot of hard questions. So we kind of reached out to them. And so Richard hundred asked, you know, during the mash rest, is there a temperature there that affects the final profile that actually goes into potentially the final product? Or is like basically do you wait for that? That master like come to almost like a like a lukewarm state before you start actually pushing it or pumping it into a fermenter? So it’s a good question. Let’s, let’s assume for a minute that when we talk about him, I’m not exactly sure the context in which he’s referring to a match.
But in my experience, I have done what we’ll call a mash wrist in certain types of raw fermentations. And the idea behind that is during that rest period, it actually gives the enzymes time to continue to break down starches. And that’s really what that that resin or starches or in rare case, proteins.
That’s really what that rest is allowing time for. And I’m assuming that’s what he was asking. And if not, I’m happy to come back and revisit what yeah,
it’s close enough. Yeah. All right. So we’re in the fermentation tanks you’ve added to the yeast at this point, we’ve got, you know, this is where the magic happens, right? You get the bubble start in the form, you got that crust layer building on top. Now, what is what is the chemical breakdown that’s actually happening that we’re watching at this point. Basically, what you’re looking at is starch molecules being converted into alcohol and co2 on the very
base level that’s that’s what’s going on. So the alcohol is created the co2 bubbles off. And that’s what you see. That’s why it looks like it’s boiling even though it’s not. And then I know that we’ve been to some distilleries and when you’re watching the boil it sometimes there’s like, it almost looks like rent almost like like there’s blood in the water. Like is that just like fats and oils from corn? Yeah, it’s oils from corn. Yeah. And it’s like hypnotic, always like that. I’m like, oh, man, something
that’s like, just take your breath away. I don’t know and know what to like, if you put your head down. It’s like, like, you almost lose your breath sometimes. Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend doing that. Because that can be pretty dangerous, especially for mentors that are closed. That’s what’s wrong. Me. You will find open that door and you get a face full of co2. It can knock you out. Yeah. So kind of talk about the the idea of why somebody would do a closed fermentation versus an open fermentation. And why you see some that have, yeah, you see some that have almost like the submarine doors on them like submarine windows. And then you see some that just have huge vent hoods on top of them do so.
This is this is the age old argument that, you know will never be solved about why we do open top fermentation versus a closed top fermentation. And, you know, we can get into Cypress and stainless, you know sometime too as well. But when you look at an open top fermentation the idea that people some people have is that it’s a sanitation issue. So a lot of people will use a close top fermenter for that reason. So I’ll back up and say that if you condition your yeast properly, and this is not necessarily the box yeast but if you condition yeast properly, prior to adding it to your condition, like push ups or
Yes, basically basically it’s a yeast training program. fermentation.
And as funny as that is, it’s really what you’re doing is you’re you’re putting the yeast in in the environment, similar to
What it’s going to see in the fermentation. So yeah, it’s basically like training for marathons what I like to say, CrossFit for you. Exactly, yeah. So how he said, You know, there’s like thousands and thousands, and they’re living things like how do you prevent from those thousands and thousands of variables from taking over that particular? Is it like, you have so much of that particular yeast that it’s dominant and can outcompete other yeast strains, or how does one bad apple not get in there and start taking over. So up until you start your fermentation, everything is pretty much we’ll say, sanitized, you know, you basically boil the grain, everything is clean up until it goes into the fermenter. So at that point, you have basically allowed the environment to interact with your clean mash. So that’s when potential bacteria can send in potential molds, that stuff that’s in the air that you don’t see but that we all know is there. That’s when it starts to interact with your mash. Now if you have a strong yeast strain, that is beneficial
properly, it’s going to outcompete any of those naturally occurring micro organisms in the fermentation so that you don’t have to worry about something else taking over. Also, as soon as that yeast starts working, if you can time that properly to where you add your yeast as your fermenters, filling up, that yeast is going to start to create co2 and create an anaerobic environment, which is an environment that’s lacking oxygen, which means those bacteria and mold spores are not going to grow. Gotcha, that makes sense. Yeah. And so this is where the magic is happening. So this is also you know, when we when we go when you visit these things, and you see these, these fermentation tanks, we’ll get into the I think we’ll get into steel versus Cypress in a minute. But one question that I’ve always had is like, sometimes they’re like, Oh, we do three or four days. Some people are like, oh, we’re six, seven day. what’s what’s the determining factor there to say like, Oh, it’s gonna take this many days or like, Oh, we let it go for 10 like, does that really matter at the end of the day? So yes or no
A lot of it again is going to be strain. A lot of it’s going to be how thick a beer you run how much starch is actually in that how much is available on that fermentation for conversion. If you run a thinner beer, and so you don’t temperature control your fermentation, and you go from say a 70 ish setpoint and it skyrockets into the 90s it that yeast is going to roll through every available amount of starch in that fermentation very quickly. So you’re, you’re gonna get
a large majority of your alcohol in that first 12 to 24 hours. And then depending on how well your your your enzymes work, you get your secondary fermentation and that’s what the additional days are for. If you run a thicker beer, and there’s physically more starch in there that’s available to convert and you want to control your temperatures in your fermentations through chilled water, no more coils in the fermenter
Then you can actually take longer to convert all of those starches. And basically what that does is allow you to make up for say weekends or holidays or things like that you control the temperature was drags it out longer and there you run a thicker beer so there’s more starch in there. So the process just just physically takes longer. It’s not like a barbecue and low and slow isn’t necessarily
not necessarily in this case. So like do different. So like rah rah whiskey versus a bourbon or, you know, American malt or whatever, do they you know, each grain have different fermentation days, I guess required for them.
Again, it goes back to starch content. Yeah, I mean, the the fermentation times are really going to be determined by you know, thickness or your beer, the type of yeast strain you’re using and whether or not you want to control the temperatures are good fermentation. People always talk about like, rather like Oh, it’s such a pain. Yes, because it gums up everything’s like
So is it like a thicker beer? Or is it So traditionally rye is gonna have a whole lot of protein By comparison, it has a lot more protein than you’re going to see in any of these other grains. And for that reason, you get that the foam I mean, people talk about gumming stuff up and foam and that sports protein. So if you if you eliminate that protein, then you can eliminate the problems with rapper mutations. So when you do fry, are you like, Alright, I get my a, my a list, yeast over there can do the most burpees push ups to take this on, because it’s going to be a bit.
There are yeast strains that are going to perform better in awry than others, okay? But also you still got to take care of that protein. And that’s really what’s going on is that protein, they, if you if you’ve ever seen a rat fermentation go awry. See what I did there.
It will almost balloons out the top in a lot of cases. And what that does that proteins actually holding all that co2 in there. So now you’re starting to suppress the the performance of the yeast. And if you do that, it’s just going to slowly gradually slow your fermentation till it stops. And when you stopped prematurely, you’ve left all that converted starch on the type. So now instead of getting,
say, a seven or 8%, beer 9% beer, you’re getting a, you know, one, two to 3% beer, because your fermentation didn’t go all the way to completion. So go get that paddle.
Learn enough or do you have to scrap it? Well, rule of thumb is you never scrap it, you know, you got to figure out a way to make it work. You know, one of the things that that Joe always refers to is, you know, when we first met he asked me what do you do when it goes wrong? And just, I just roll off the cuff. It never goes wrong and
You know, he probably loved it. And he did. And he still tells that story. And at the time, I didn’t really understand why I said what I said, but, but what what I’m saying when I say that is that you have to be ready for these things, you have to understand what’s going on, so that when your raw fermentation goes awry, you have something some protocol in place to say, okay, you know, we’re sitting here looking, the proteins are thicker, in this particular fermentation than usual, we need to make a corrective action, and just knowing what to do to combat each of those problems that comes along, then it you know, it’s expected, you know, it’s not when something if something goes wrong is when something goes wrong, right. And if you operate with that mindset, then you’re just prepared. Yeah, absolutely. And so we’re still in the fermentation process here. And I think we skip this step, because there’s one thing that we’ll always talk about, and that’s the sweet versus sour mash, right. I mean, this is where this all happens in this stage to correct That’s right. So kind of give
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