Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Perforated & bubble cap plated columns

Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:41 pm

Is there times where you need to de-tune, dismantle the column and reduce the number of plates or even go the whole way and take them all out and use it as a simple pot still (other than distilled water). Are there certain recipes in the T and P that benefit from doing it why? when? how?
I am running a 4 plate bubbler (Mac4SG), no packed section (yet).

I have only done a TPW, FFV and currently have a WBAB wash almost ready - so far me and the misses are really enjoying them :dance: . I am only doing single runs @89 - 93% abv.I get about 4.5L of product after the fores and cut that down to just over 3.5L as hearts. I do want to get past the whole using essences thing and I am slowly trying to learn and get a few runs under my belt. :obscene-drinkingdrunk:

Also, when is a sac run required. I did one when I first got it and I know you have to do it again if introducing any new gear into the vapor path but what about after just soaking plates in citric (and rinsed) or putting the column through the dishwasher double wash style?
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby BigRig » Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:04 pm

No need to detune that bubbler. You have the perfect balance with the 4 plates. Clean spirit with plenty of flavour.

The still was clean when i got it so i put it in the dishwasher for a full cycle and put the bubble plates in a citric bath overnight. No need to do any more sac runs.

The fores and heads (& heat) in the run will ensure the still is clean.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:26 pm

Thanks BigRig. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
I have read so many things that want you to run multi gens through Pot then run the spirit run - kind of feels like cheating with the bubbler.
If I am doing multi gens, I keep each gen (All of it minus fores and anything below 20%abv?) then when I have enough for a full charge (after watering down to 40%) then chuck it all back in and run it again - right?
Do generation runs differ to the final run (other than the way you do your cuts) with a bubbler or just keep doing the same thing?
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby BigRig » Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:50 pm

With the bubbler you can do every generation as a spirit run. You will get more flavour as you progress through generations but even the 1st gen will have flavour. No need to strip and save up for a boiler charge.

I age in a 20L corny keg so every spirit run i keep the hearts and dump it in the keg. Due to the volume of the corny i normally fit 5 or more generations of aging hearts in it. When full i add the oak and let it sit for at least 6 months.

When the corny is full i will do 1 more generation and keep it white in a demi for immediate drinking. I have done this with rum, whiskey and i am now 1 generation away from filling a corny with a bwko and doing the same thing.
Last edited by BigRig on Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:11 pm

All good info, that all makes a bit more sense now.
I will have to put some thought into storage vessels, just using old sparkling wine bottles for now (just what is at hand).
Cheers!
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby RC Al » Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:29 pm

I only have 3 plates so i am a bit biased.. I ran a small pot still for many many runs beforehand, pretty sure I can pick the difference between the products, but im going to have to run a strip n spirit on a pot again a few times to be sure lols

The washes you have run so far are aimed at neutral, ive had pot stilled tpw and while i havent done it on the 3 plates yet... lets just say its not on the to do list lols

The wbab is a good place to start, but as said the bwko or an all corn version are a great step up in flavour.

The less plates, the closer to a pot still you are and the more complex the flavour profile, the 3 plates puts out in the 90's vs the 70's of a pot, theres more in the product that isn't water and isnt alcohol = flavour and body.

If your stripping (no reflux) a flavoured wash, 20% may be a bit high to stop at, but fine for neutral. For flavoured wash stripping, not having to add water in helps, so strip till near zero.

Keeping the fores in strips may give you another few hundred mls of product at the end, but better safe than sorry in my book :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby bluc » Wed Nov 24, 2021 6:47 am

You can also turn off the rc to detune. Output will be slightly above a pot but not as high as bubbler in full swing..
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:47 am

RC Al wrote:The washes you have run so far are aimed at neutral, ive had pot stilled tpw and while i havent done it on the 3 plates yet... lets just say its not on the to do list lols


Yes they are, lets say, the easiest washes and although I do not have a packed section yet they have all worked well as mixer drinks (vodka and orange or coke) and take to the essences (whiskey, rum so far with mixers). Actually tried a vodka and orange last night and felt it could have had more flavour so the neutral isn't too bad considering. Also gave my neighbor some whisky (she is a whisky with a splash of water person) and she loved it. So only upwards from here.

RC Al wrote:The less plates, the closer to a pot still you are and the more complex the flavour profile, the 3 plates puts out in the 90's vs the 70's of a pot, theres more in the product that isn't water and isnt alcohol = flavour and body.


After i have some personal go to recipes and I am better tuned to the flavour profiles I might play around bit with the column/ number of plates etc but for now I'll stick with it as is. Got so much to learn if I eventually want to go AG (and more equipment).

Off topic - I've seen in some posts about using say a bottle of sparkling wine that has gone flat, or an unwanted table wine or even spirits and chucking them in the boiler with a wash. Any experience along those lines - I should probably ask that somewhere else I guess. :think:
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:56 am

bluc wrote:You can also turn off the rc to detune. Output will be slightly above a pot but not as high as bubbler in full swing..


Yeah, that's an interesting one, what would the expected result be going down that path - changes in Flavor? ABV? Other?
I guess no re-fluxing going on so the plates are just copper in the vapor path - could you just add a bunch of rolled up copper mesh and sit it on top of the top plate or two acting as a packed section (I have actually wondered what would happen if you did that under normal re-flux conditions). Getting back to using no RC - It would be easier than stripping the column down but not sure of the overall effect.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby Clickeral » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:50 am

If you leave the plates in there is always some passive reflux even without the RC running, this is due to the temperature difference between the tees and the ambient air.

It is effectively pot still mode but not 100% the same, if you took the caps out and keep the plates so you have copper in the vapor path then you would have less passive reflux as the liquid wouldn't stay on the plates as long.

If I run my kit in pot still I have no RC and plates without bubble caps.

Otherwise ill just run the 4plate in pot still mode at the end of the run etc

Note I can run upto 12 plates and a meter of packed section if I want so have played with a few different configurations over the years

I am also not afraid of flooding so potentially run my kit a little harder at times then some people.

6 of my plates are pretty much unfloodable as well

I also break my kit down when not in use
Last edited by Clickeral on Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby bluc » Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:36 am

No rc at all start to finish will prob be about same as a 1.5run in a pot. Bubble plates will still load and provide bump in abv.

I personally would use rc load plates bleed of fores/heads then shut it off. Abv would drop from 90 to about 80 on my 4 plater.
Its a much "dirtier" less refined spirit then one run normal.

You can always do normal run then add some early tails late heads to get desired results.
Little goes long way.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:14 pm

Clickeral wrote:I also break my kit down when not in use


With 12 plates and a meter long packed section that must take a little while to do each time, how often is it not in use?

What do you think would happen if (on a 4 plater) you took the top plate #4 out (or removed caps) and then filled the space(s) between the plate 3 and the RC (roughly 300mm on my rig) with copper scrubbers - or am I totally not understanding how the packed section works. Note: I have never held a packed section piece in my hand or witnessed one being loaded up with copper.

bluc wrote:personally would use rc load plates bleed of fores/heads then shut it off. Abv would drop from 90 to about 80 on my 4 plater.
Its a much "dirtier" less refined spirit then one run normal.

Is that just some people like a dirtier less refined spirit, so would that normally only used in like rums. Maybe just more authentic moonshine.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby Clickeral » Wed Nov 24, 2021 4:16 pm

NFI wrote:
Clickeral wrote:I also break my kit down when not in use


With 12 plates and a meter long packed section that must take a little while to do each time, how often is it not in use?

What do you think would happen if (on a 4 plater) you took the top plate #4 out (or removed caps) and then filled the space(s) between the plate 3 and the RC (roughly 300mm on my rig) with copper scrubbers - or am I totally not understanding how the packed section works. Note: I have never held a packed section piece in my hand or witnessed one being loaded up with copper.

bluc wrote:personally would use rc load plates bleed of fores/heads then shut it off. Abv would drop from 90 to about 80 on my 4 plater.
Its a much "dirtier" less refined spirit then one run normal.

Is that just some people like a dirtier less refined spirit, so would that normally only used in like rums. Maybe just more authentic moonshine.


I've used my kit maybe once a month if that this year, and I only setup at full height when I do Neutral

Takes about 30min to setup and take down its not that hard as its modular and I have a ladder etc, normally do it during heatup so not an issue or I setup the night before and do a leak test.

You would get more copper surface area, I believe from memory a Tee thats packed with copper/stainless wool etc is more surface area then a bubble plate.

Your better off getting a 4" triclamp pipe (I use 2x 510mm sections) and packing one of them then starting to pack tees
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Thu Nov 25, 2021 6:35 am

Thanks Clickeral.
Yes, I do need to get the real thing for a packed section, I was just wondering if there was a cheats way to clean up the neutrals a bit more in the interim ( not that they are all that bad).

I have only had my rig for a short time but it stays assembled. I have not devised a good way of labeling (marking) which seals go with which plate, which plate goes with with tee etc so I can get it all back together in the same order as it came down. I have considered getting a number punch to mark the Tees, plates and clamps (in a discreet location). I have not come up with any ideas for the seals (which seal for which tee and also which way is up/down) especially when doing a full dishwasher wash (colour coded seals would be great). Just trying to keep things in the order that they originally bedded in.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby The Stig » Thu Nov 25, 2021 7:22 am

NFI wrote: I have not devised a good way of labeling (marking) which seals go with which plate, which plate goes with with tee etc so I can get it all back together in the same order as it came down.

It shouldnt matter.
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby Clickeral » Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:13 am

NFI wrote:Thanks Clickeral.
Yes, I do need to get the real thing for a packed section, I was just wondering if there was a cheats way to clean up the neutrals a bit more in the interim ( not that they are all that bad).

I have only had my rig for a short time but it stays assembled. I have not devised a good way of labeling (marking) which seals go with which plate, which plate goes with with tee etc so I can get it all back together in the same order as it came down. I have considered getting a number punch to mark the Tees, plates and clamps (in a discreet location). I have not come up with any ideas for the seals (which seal for which tee and also which way is up/down) especially when doing a full dishwasher wash (colour coded seals would be great). Just trying to keep things in the order that they originally bedded in.


Agree with the stig, I just use whatever seal/clamp/tee I grab first, only tee that always goes on top is the one with the thermowell (which I don't use these days) still using the seals I originally got in 2014 but have plenty of spares.

Don't overthink it, tri clamps are pretty forgiving and don't need heaps of pressure, I go around now and then with a piece of mirror checking for leaks but have never had an issue
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Re: Do you ever need to de-tune a bubbler

Postby NFI » Thu Nov 25, 2021 5:01 pm

Well - that makes my life a bit easier then - thanks guys. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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