There Have Been Some Delays

I’m back! I haven’t posted anything for a while – not for a lack of trying, though! Everything I wrote just read like dribble… well… more so than usual, anyway.

I finally got to try out my still!

I had previously done a cleaning run with the still (distilling a bunch of cleaning stuff) which took oh, 5 hours… Doing a run should not take 5 hours. An hour, sure….  2 hours, maybe. Not 5.
So anyway, I chatted to the Mr. Munnik – a key instigator in this whole mess, and he shed light on my problem.

I had the wrongest of gas regulators!

See, I have been bequeathed a kind of gas burner, one with a ginormous capacity (It apparently needs to suck in air while burning.), and I wasn’t feeding it nearly enough gas, so the flame was piddly… Fret not! A new, fancy regulator has been acquired!

In related news, my rooibos brew is (was) delicious!

For you’s newcomers, my nameless rooibos brew is what was made for distilling. I’d made it before and it was nice, but not this nice! Apparently, I’m learning…

IMG_20151207_142213It looks like this!

Sadly though, I’ve ruined it with my still.
Ok, maybe ruined is too strong a word. I’ve changed it and I think it may have been better before excessive tinkering. It’s gone from 18litres of strong tea with all kinds of good tastes, to about 4 litres of strong white spirits with a tea and cloves tint to it. Brantea, for those of you who are curious.
We ended up having a social with the whole still test, and if you know me, you know how strange that is. Nevermind the fact that it was with the crazy, crazy uncle(?) Greg, and 2 whole other people I hadn’t ever met before… in my yard.

This was not conducive to the first distilling run. People with little patience, and too much willingness to tamper with my still did not please me…

In the end, the issues I had were not with the people (this surprised me a lot), but more with the still itself. More accurately, the still’s size in comparison to my small batch. The design of the still relies on pressure to force the steam down the pipe, and the amount I was trying to distill meant that I could only get enough pressure by mixing the various gasses together, instead of separating them one by one.

I had an idea to modify the still, reducing its capacity, and having its pipe lead out the very top of it by chopping its head off and squeezing the sides into a cone. But I need to do a heck of a lot of research before I risk buggering up my wedding present.

The next thing to try is freeze distilling. I can freeze the water while leaving the other various liquids liquid. It’s a little riskier, because you don’t have as much control over what you’re getting out, but methanol is the biggest issue, and that’s easy to get rid of, as it boils at a much lower temperature than anything else involved. I can do smaller batches, and I don’t need to use a third container like the still. Plus, there’s no risk of explosions or burning houses!

Ok… maybe there is a small risk of explosions… and burning houses…

In related news, my bedroom smells like mead! With all the warm weather, the mead’s been having a field day! It’s stayed nice and warm up stairs, and the fermentation has sky-rocketed (a little bit). It’s now at about 10.6% abv and is as delicious as ever!
Once the mead is done, I’m going to take its fancy yeast and make more tea with it! Fancy Belgian ale yeast, and a good litre or two of mead should make for some very nice fermented rooibos, which will not go through my still.

UPDATE: Crazy Greg and I have tested our method for getting rid of methanol, much to the worry of the women, and it was a (thankfully not) roaring success! There is a better update to come.

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