Plum Brandy

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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby southern45 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:23 pm

Run went to perfection (four plate 4" copper bubbler from FSD, always does). Collected a slow toothpick stream out the parrot at around 90% abv until the percentage dropped off into tails. Shut it off a little early as I don't tend to go too deep into tails. Hopefully there'll be enough flavour coming across.

Total of 15 x 300ml jars airing till the weekend when I'll make cuts.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby crow » Wed Apr 15, 2020 3:00 am

No plums this year and the neighbours wanted to put up a high colorbond fence so my 120 plus year old plum tree had to come down as it was kind of in the way :crying-blue: . I did suggest putting an inch or two link in it where the tree was but they weren't onboard and I wasn't up for arguing the toss.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby dans.brew » Wed Apr 15, 2020 7:42 am

Thats def no good crow...you can choose your friends but you cant always choose your neighbours.
I gather they weren't brandy drinkers then? :think:
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby crow » Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:23 pm

Worse, they weren't the type I'd entirely trust to ask.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Thu May 07, 2020 1:06 pm

Hi all, great thread, lots of info. I'm a novice doing 40kg of plums with just a bit of extra water. I used the paint stirrer a few times over a few days and it finally all got mushed up (I'd only frozen half of them, should've done them all). Today I added 11g of Ez-ferm champagne yeast. From what I'm reading here that sounds like too little. Perhaps I should go and get some of this EC-1118 you're all fond of and bung that in as well.

I was going to try wild fermentation but I chickened out because after the mash was smelling pleasantly of alcohol yesterday, this morning when I took off the cloth cover and sniffed it it stank of acetone. I rehydrated and threw in the yeast. Hopefully it comes good. What do you reckon?

I think this problem arose because I wasn't knocking down the cap in my unsealed fermenter. I'll do that a few times a day for the rest of this week and hopefully it'll come good.

Do you reckon the low temperatures in Melbourne right now will be a problem?
Last edited by electricmonk on Thu May 07, 2020 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Thu May 07, 2020 7:32 pm

Well I can hear it fermenting quite vigorously so things appear to be going well now.

Now to finish building my double boiler still
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby crow » Fri May 08, 2020 12:18 am

Temps there a not that much warmer than here so will make for a slow ferment, some white wine yeasts may or may not struggle. You are going to produce some pretty savage acetone and acetate compounds with plums but with good cuts this is simple not an issue.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Fri May 08, 2020 8:58 am

The EZ-Ferm claims to be OK at low temps. Reckon I should leave it for 1-2 months? That'll give me long enough to get around to finish assembling my distillation setup.

I had some somewhat pricey German Obstwasser last night and when I opened the bottle I had a sniff and was highly amused to note, faintly, some of the same aromas as my fermenting plums are giving off. I take it that a very subtle whiff of Acetone is to be expected in the final product.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby Sam. » Fri May 08, 2020 9:55 am

What temp they reckon the EZ Ferm goes down to?

With EC1118 I have had it keep fermenting carbonated cider in a keg at 4c.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Fri May 08, 2020 1:13 pm

In the catalogue it claims to work from 12-34 degrees C.

https://www.wisa.org.au/sites/default/files/uploaded-content/field_dir_brochures/2019_enartis_catalogue.pdf

There are an awful lot of yeasts in the catalogue, I wonder how different the various wine yeasts really are from each other when it comes to distilled product.

It strikes me that when you're making wine/mash from a product that will produce 5-10% alcohol max surely a yeast that can tolerate up to 17% is possibly not the right one, or at least not totally optimal.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby scythe » Fri May 08, 2020 3:59 pm

Depends on how stressed the low %ABV yeasts get as they approach their limit.
I like to think of it like red-lining a car.
Sure you can do it but it's not good for it, better to idle along at about half stick.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby Sam. » Sat May 09, 2020 8:01 am

scythe wrote:Depends on how stressed the low %ABV yeasts get as they approach their limit.
I like to think of it like red-lining a car.
Sure you can do it but it's not good for it, better to idle along at about half stick.


Very good analogy :handgestures-thumbupleft:

Different strains will also create different flavours for wine where that is much more important than chasing ABV
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Thu May 14, 2020 10:58 pm

All going well. I thought the cap had fallen and the distillation had finished so I scooped some out to test the SG and it was still bubbling vigorously in the cup. It's clearly still going but just not quite as energetically.

Smells a tiny bit like vinegar (hard to judge) which is a bit concerning, may have been some contamination early on... but don't see myself as having much choice except to let it keep going for now. Have put out numerous traps for the fucking vinegar flies and have caught dozens of them.

I found this calculator online which claims to reveal ABV by comparing Brix measured with a refractometer with SG measured with a hydrometer. I didn't get the SG or the Brix at the start because my bits and pieces hadn't arrived by post yet so putting the figures into this little formula is the best I can do. Anyway current Brix is 5 and current SG is 1.010 which gives a hypothetical ABV of 2.64% after a week of fermentation. Will test again in a few days to see if these instruments are actually yielding any useful information.

I suspect this stuff is too full of suspended solids to yield a useful SG reading but it was fun to muck around with it. The Brix reading was very indistinct once again due to all the suspended solids.
Last edited by electricmonk on Thu May 14, 2020 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Fri May 15, 2020 3:44 pm

Hmm a couple of days later and it doesn't taste nearly as nice, it's acquired some very odd flavours. Not quite vinegary but just strange. I don't know if it's worth pitching more yeast in or if it's just a write-off.

Or perhaps fermentation really has finished and it's just dry now. I found it a bit sour but then plums are sour.
Last edited by electricmonk on Fri May 15, 2020 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby bluc » Fri May 15, 2020 6:33 pm

Run it oak it..
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Fri May 15, 2020 10:25 pm

I mixed it up, took another sample, let the solids settle and tasted it again and honestly it's fine, it's just like plum juice with no sugar. It's like a plum lager or something.

Brix seems to have risen to 6 and SG is still 1.010 which suggests maybe it's around 4%. The SG before and after the solids were allowed to settle didn't change which is reassuring for measurement accuracy.

Do you like oak in your Slivovitz? I'll definitely take that on board, if it's really ratshit I'll oak the hell out of it. I'm tempted to age some with no additions (in the German style) and some with a bit of oak.

I'd like to run it soon but I am a bit hamstrung by the fact that I can't get my pot still until the 25th May.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby crow » Mon May 18, 2020 12:37 am

Not a big fan of sliv on much oak, mine has just a hint of oak and mostly plum wood, it ain't all bad just white too. Do some small samples to see what ya like.
3 to 4% is about all I would get without adding sugar so that is realistically 2.5 to 3.5% recoverable alcohol, give my finite supply of fruit, time and gas used that is just to low for me. Most ferments, brandy included I'm happy with 6% and over.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby southern45 » Mon May 18, 2020 7:54 pm

I put my first batch on a half measure of of oak at 65% for just over a month, mainly just for colour and "resting" time.

I've bottled it up now at 45% abv. Pretty happy with the result.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Thu May 28, 2020 1:02 pm

Well the Alcoengine pot still heads never came in, the bloke who runs the online store must have been drinking foreshots. Not expected til mid June at this point. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s COVID-19....

Dunno what to do with this mash now. It’s starting to grow mold. Should I scrape it all off and keep stirring until the gear finally comes in, and then just run it anyway?

Maybe I can try for pears instead.
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Re: Plum Brandy

Postby electricmonk » Sat May 30, 2020 11:23 pm

What an adventure this is. I scraped off the powdery mouldy top layer tonight and realised while I was doing so, to my astonishment, that the mash smells amazing and all the acid aroma has gone. It's fruity, complex & inviting. I then did some more reading on the other forum and some other guy breezily said that he just scrapes the mould off right before distilling his Slivovitz.

One surprising thing was that the mash is still bubbling, albeit slowly. Is malolactic fermentation occurring now? That would explain the acid aromas going away. Or has some wild yeast taken over? Buggered if I know. My fermenter is huge and opaque so it's hard to tell. Maybe the reason the Slavs let this shit sit for 2 months is because these processes are desirable. Maybe not - my winemaking book says malolactic fermentation is bad for aromatic white wines (which I guess is sort of what this is) because it can add unusual aromas like "acetic acid, wet leather, mousiness or rancid yoghurt". Oh Jesus :)) :)) :)) That said maybe this is actually like a red wine macerating on the skins for ages so maybe it's not all bad.

I'm not game to taste it at this stage of the game, I'd rather just run it through the still. Any opinions, guys?

If I had a smaller vessel or preferably a big carboy I could siphon the sludge into that now so keep a closer eye on it and exclude as much air as possible. As it stands this barrel of purple goo is just going to have to wait for me to get my still set up in a week or two. What a ride.

I'll definitely let you know if it tastes and smells like a) heaven, b) Satan's anus or c) something in between once it's all done.
Last edited by electricmonk on Sat May 30, 2020 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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