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“A Most Intelligently Designed Ale”

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21 Responses to “A Most Intelligently Designed Ale”

  1. Small Ape-Richard Dawkins

    Medium Ape-Stephen Jay Gould

    Large Ape-Francis Crick

    Human-William Dembski

    Maybe evolution is true after all!

    Love ya Bill!

  2. I meant to say Darwinism, not evolution.

  3. 27 Days, Not 7
    Ale is easy. Explain 6-row barley.

    The mere existence of palatable ale yeast is almost reason enough to believe in divine intervention, circa 4000 B.C. Mesopotamia. The reason you “keep it covered” (the wort) is because wild yeast ruins it. Medieval brewers called palatable yeast “godisgood.”

    Good luck to Buttars but what is a “confidential bill file?” I can’t imagine why you would do a bill under wraps unless to protect an ace ale recipe…

  4. “It’s natural selectively delicious!”

  5. 4.5 billion years and 27 days later, beer company President announces startling discovery…

    beer does not ‘hop’ into a glass and monkeys can’t make beer. the marketing potential to pour beer for monkeys is at all time highs

    when asked about the future size of such a market, the President said it all depends on how many monkeys can drive to the store to buy the beer. otherwise, we may have to make deliveries which is another potential profit center

    when questioned how this new concept could compete with other beer sales in a bottle, The President said no one has marketed exclusively to primates before. And being a most intelligent made beer, we must breakdown old barriers.

    asked how will monkeys pay for the beer, the President had no comment. unnamed sources however report that coconuts and bananas may suffice in exchange.

    in other news, yeast sees new growth market potentials on the rise after a million year hiatus in french toast affair.

  6. Intelligently Designed Evolution Beer. Seems pro-ID to me. Ohh wait, anti-ID people haven’t a clue what ID is.

    And

    Was it not Ben Franklin who said that Beer is proof that God Exists and Loves Us?

  7. Palatable yeast – fah! This is the 21st century. The yeast of choice for me turns a mixture of cane sugar & water into 20% alcohol wine in 7 days. It tastes like crap but who cares because 2 hours in a reflux still and it’s 190% tasteless, odorless ethanol. Mix it back into something palatable. Fast. Easy. Plus you can run your car on it. That’s what I call flexibility.

  8. DaveScot

    20%.might be possible if cross-linked cell wall polymers were done in low density polyethylene instead of typical yeast polysaccharides. Personally I wouldn’t refer to your vintage as “wine” but to each his own. 190%? I doubt it unless you did 2 or 3 runs. The “tails” would be deadly. You could indeed run your car on it, albeit not far. Definitely mix it down and add a little oil to it. What we used to call “nitro” when we needed a little pop out of the Triumphs and Victors in the old days. Makes a very sharp thrapping sound on the pistons and is hell on the engine. Fun though. If you really have 20% yeast I’d sure like some. I’ll tell you what. I’ve got an old Carcano I got at a show. I’ll trade you for that French gun + some yeast even up. The Carcano was found in a book depository in Texas. (It had never been fired either.)

  9. Alas, I’ll never know just how “intelligently designed” it is because I have Celiac disease :(. If anyone out there gets to try it, let us know if it’s any good.

    David

  10. HAHAHAAA!!! They also have one that’s called “Polygamy Porter”.
    http://www.wasatchbeers.com/beers.html

  11. pmob

    20% is real, not theoretical. A Canadian company makes a yeast/nutrient mix called Liquor Quik. Austinhomebrew.com stocks it. They also make a 2-component clarifier called Super-Kleer. Fermentation works exactly as advertised. One pass through a valved reflux still – the one pictured on the right – yields 190 proof. Set the reflux rate at 2:1 instead of 3:1 and get 180 proof in half the time. That valve setting is easy to find too – both valves wide open. http://www.moonshine-still.com/

    The heads are what have the nasty stuff that causes hangovers. The tails are mostly just the stuff that adds flavor. The tails progressively smell more like rum which, when using a cane sugar wine base, is what you might expect. A $20 digital barbecue thermometer with temperature alarm at the top of the reflux stack keeps track of what’s coming out. Throw out everything that boils off below 78c and over 81c. The heads come out pretty fast so in practice you just throw out the first 100 ml or so of distillate. Actually you can just save the stuff that boils off over 81c and add it to the next fresh batch.

    Of course if your object is internal combustion fuel don’t bother separating the heads & tails. Just keep everything until the distillate output slows down to a slow drip at which point you run into diminishing returns for heat input vs. fuel output. It’s pretty easy to get to 90% efficiency. Theoretical maximum effiency is 0.5 ethanol per 1 pound of sugar.

  12. I understand you can mix ethanol into gasoline up to 1 part in 5 without harming the motor. Higher than that requires some modifications to the engine but not always. Many modern engines with 02 sensors can compensate automatically to run much higher alcohol content fuels. Some are even factory ready for E85 (85% ethanol/15% gasoline).

    http://running_on_alcohol.tripod.com/id26.html

  13. Great howling stump-meisters is that cool! Almost all normal sweats. I’ve probably got enough stock copper just laying around, even the drill press. Scary. I stand corrected on all counts. I only have experience on a lab unit, all glass, and it’s been a long time. I remember the temp range now. Peculiar thing about 190 is not much seems to actually get to your stomach. It’s all spiriting off by the time you swallow. It proved to me that mind is separate from but totally amazed by matter.

    Austinhomebrew another nice tip. Couldn’t believe they had a kit for the Welsh ale, “Brains.” I recall someone at a table in Cardiff saying, “18 pints and I don’t feel a bit uneasy.” Richard Steuven (http://www.beerme.com/) has a pretty thorough list.

    I’ve never put it in a car. We used it in early monster hill climbs. At the start line, you’d mix about 4 parts to 1 part gas and pour it directly into the tank while idling. You’d wait until the mix hit the carbs—you could hear it cracking off. Then pop the clutch and see if you can make the summit. Of course everything’s corn ethanol mix now anyway but very dilute. Some say it takes more energy to make it then you get out of it. I’ll take leaded gas.

  14. Use about twice the length of 1/4″ copper tubing they call for in the condenser coil. Whoever designed that thing must’ve had some really cold, really high pressure cooling water. Wind it around a 1.25″ wooden dowel and you can slide it into a 2″ copper pipe instead of a 3″. 3″ is almost impossible to find. Instead of an open top on the condensor, cap it with a 2″->0.5″ reducer. Drill holes to the sides of the 1/2″ opening in the cap for the coil ends to exit vertically instead of the way the design shows. Makes it really easy to build the condensor. You can also, if you wanted, add more condensors in series using the 1/2″ pipe to connect them, to increase the throughput. If you live in the south with tap water that’s not really cold you need a lot of cooling water. Put an adjustable 1/4″ valve in the cooling line too.

    For a heating element use a 2000w hot water heater element. Attach wire to it on the screw terminals then pot the terminals in high temp epoxy to make it submersible. Use a 1000w household dimmer switch to control the heating element. Mount the dimmer switch in a metal switch box. It’ll get hot but that’s okay, it won’t fail. Nobody makes a 2000w dimmer but cheap 1000w dimmers are at Home Depot. The dimmer switch settings are delicate and you can’t really mark it well enough to repeat the settings by eyeball. To get repeatability in heat setting use a cheap voltmeter set to 250vac scale. If you rig it up using cannabalized extension cords you can just stick the voltmeter probes into an empty extension cord outlet. On boilup you want all 2000 watts and it’ll take about 10 minutes/gallon to bring it up to 78c starting from room temperature. After it begins boiling you’ll want to cut back to about 1200 watts as the condensor can’t handle more than that (at least with 20c cooling water and 50 lbs pressure at the tap). You’ll get about 2 liters per hour of 90% ethanol set up that way. Using the alarm settings on the bbq thermometer allows you to do something else while the still is operating. First setting during boilup is about 60c. Once the stack hits that temp it’ll shoot up to 78c in just a couple minutes as when the gas starts moving it’s already 78c in the pot and just has to pull the heat out of the copper. You can put your hand on the stack and feel the condensation point moving upward – it’s a sharp cutoff between cool and hot copper.

    Setting up the boiler pot is the toughest part. The stack is the easy part. You can use a stainless steel pot with a lid instead of milk can or whatever. Auto parts stores have a high temp silicone sealer (it’s red and is the same thing they use on lids of mason jars) you can use to bead the lid for a good seal (and other sealing chores in the pot) and use half a dozen small c-clamps to hold it down on the pot. Reinforce it with a round piece of something strong. I used a piece of oak plywood coated with a clear epoxy. Drilling and cutting thin stainless steel pots can only be done well with a dremel tool in my experience. Don’t bother with regular drills or a jigsaw. The steel tears and bends instead of cutting. A conical stone grinder bit will get you perfect 3/8″ holes in the pot and lid through which to feed bolts, 3/8″ valves (nice for draining & filling the boiler without disassembling), and electrical line for the heating element. Use a 2″ pipe stand in the center of the lid and add a 2″ threaded copper connection to the bottom of the reflux stack to connect stillhead to boiler. Use stainless and/or brass for all bolts, nuts, etc. I used a galvanized pipe stand as I couldn’t find anything else and it gets a bit messy in the threads with wet rust but it doesn’t otherwise effect anything.

    Copper scrubbing pads work well to fill the reflux stack. Make SURE they’re pure copper. You DO NOT want copper-coated steel as they will rust FAST and create a horrible black mess (trust me on the scope of the mess). Use a 1/2″ copper pipe 3′ long and cut a sharp burr in the end to use to pull the copper pads out of the stack for cleaning purposes and to stuff them back in snuggly.

    Use a second digital thermometer and keep track of the temperature in the condensor (roughly 25c while main body is condensing). It’s both useful and interesting to track it. The density of the gases of different components boiling off are reflected in the condenser temperature and you won’t see that in the temperature of the reflux stack gases. The gas density has a large effect on the cooling capacity of the condensor but not on the reflux stack. A dense gas will shoot up the condensor internal temp pretty fast and you can see your heads boil off that way. Theoretically you should see them boil off in a lower reflux stack temperature but I couldn’t which is why everyone just recommends throwing out the first 100ml of distillate. You will easily see them boil off in a higher condensor temp if you monitor that too. It’s also just a good idea to watch the condensor temp as that side of the system has an explosive gas in it and you don’t want that overheating and venting alcohol fumes like a steam engine. I set an alarm at 40c there just in case something goes wrong with cooling water flow. On the reflux side I set alarms at 78c to notify me when boiling temp is reached, the 81c to notify when main body has boiled off, then 95c to notify that tails are done coming off.

    There’s no real pressure anywhere in the system. It’s an open path from the boiler to the top of the condensor and just about impossible to clog. Don’t solder the base of the 2″ condensor pipe to the top of the T. It won’t leak and it gives you a way to dissassemble the condensor for cleaning. Try to clean as much of the flux out as you can from everywhere then run the system distilling just pure water until the output is clear. The water based solder-flux isn’t toxic (it’s used for drinking water piping after all) but it has a funky smell to it and you’ll want it gone. Water distills very slowly so final cleaning is a long process. You’ll need to distill at least 20 gallons of water before the flux smell goes away from the output.

    And use the Super-Kleer at the end of the ferment. Everything stays real clean in the still with a nice clear beer going in. Ferment can be done in 5-gal plastic fuel containers. Clean with dilute clorox solution & rinse well with tap water. City tap water should be sterile. Use good sanitary procedure as you do with brewing but the Liquor-Quik is such a powerful blast of yeast nothing else gets a chance to grow. Rapid fermentation starts within an hour or two of adding the yeast. Put a 9″ party balloon over the spout for an airlock. Poke a couple holes in it with a needle. It’ll blow up within two hours and after about 5 days it’ll collapse indicating fermentation ended. Use enough sugar to produce 20% alcohol by weight. The yeast maker claims it can get to 24% in 10 days but I don’t know about that. It goes to 20% in 5 days easy. Pour it off into a 5-gallon sparklets water bottle, use the super-kleer and in just a few hours after adding the super-kleer you have sparkling clear 20% beer ready to siphon off into the boiler.

    You’ll want a distiller’s hygrometer too to check the output proof and adjust the valves for whatever purity you want. Make sure you cool down the distillate before reading it. A 200ml graduated cylinder deep enough to hold the hygrometer, in an ice bath works well. The cylinder is also handy for capturing the first 100ml of heads to throw away. Alcolhol density varies considerably with temperature and it’s rather hot as it exits the condensor.

  15. Oh, on the voltmeter – you’ll find with the dimmer switch in the full on position it’ll read about 100vac. As you move the switch to dimmer settings the voltage will drop. Since it starts out at 100vac it translates nicely into % of full power of the heating element. Thus to get 1200 watts with a 2000w element you move the dimmer switch until the voltmeter reads 60vac (60% of 2000w). Kinda cool how that worked out.

  16. Austinhomebrew is 10 minutes away from me. They have a huge showroom. I love wandering around in it.

  17. What a great post. It’s the whole manual. This’ll be a great winter project.

    I can get 3” copper at City Desk. Dual holes on the reducer will make that a tough little honeycomb for me, but a good idea.

    I live way up north. This time of year my water is plenty cold. Cold as 6 ACLU lawyers at a Wellstone memorial.

    Hmmm. I take that back. Valve on cooling line: nice idea. These waterproof pots. You mean you just goop the heater terminals over with epoxy and that’s it?

    Using stock dimmer for rheostat is something Lucy wouldn’t think of in a billion years. Shoot, Johanson wouldn’t think of it. Metal box = good thing. I’ve encountered more than one 600w dimmer that melted down in a plastic box while the client tried to figure out where smoke was coming from. 2000w dimmers around I think but too expensive. Anyway, I know you can derate duplexes and common switches. Plus in this case, it sounds like the 2000w load is of short duration.

    Your account of the stack temp kicking in fast is bringing back memories. It’s that feeling that the run is on.

    I’ll have to think about the boiler. I’ve got stainless pots and zillions of clamps but I’m seeing something that buckles down on an inert gasket maybe. Maybe not.

    For drilling stainless I dimple with a punch if possible so pilot can bite. I use a slightly higher quality jobber. Consolidated Toledo Drill is what I have at the moment. They have a line called “Super Premium.” It’s still cheap but just better enough to get you through with a 7/64” or so. Then I switch to a step bit like a Lennox Vari-Bit. Just don’t over step. They say burr-free but you’ll file a little. Free-hand cutting is a bear. Blades are getting better but you have to be able to clamp the work and jig up. I think I’ll look into this Dremel. Is that like a full face deal or just gogs?

    “galvanized pipe stand” Well, there’s threaded brass but maybe adequate lengths are hard to find.

    Initial stack cleaning sounds very similar to cleaning gun bores. I use stiff nylon bore brushes on some stuff.

    I have to think some more about the section on condenser temps. It seems like you tracked parallel temps to confirm boil-off events in the stack, and that this was more accurate (once you got the different components pegged) than reflux temps as an indicator of where you were staging in the run. So the more sensitive condenser reading would allow you to minimize head waste. Of course, you’d probably toss it anyway, in deference to brain cells , but, as you say, you get a clearer picture of fractioning.

    Sounds like a really blasting yeast. That’s got to be some tough enzymes.

    Nice tip on the voltmeter-dimmer switch match. I suppose you could make up another box and load the dimmer through a Kill-a-Watt or something.

    Austin huh. Never been. They say there’s a whole lotta pickin’ goes on at night. A ladyfriend used to tend bar there on 6th st or something. I guess the National Polka Festival is down in Ennis in May. Shoot, Augie Meyer could play that if he took a wrong turn. Or Brave Combo. Do you think a handful of apes could randomly turn into Sahm or Stevie or Storyville? Do you think a gibbon mutated into Billy Gibbons? Are the Lonestars really Langurs? Maybe Junior Brown is a Bonobo.

    Yeah right.

  18. Oh, I forgot to mention – the liquor-quik fermenting a pure cane sugar wash has a very pleasant odor and is really only detectable at all in first day or two, so it’s okay to do it inside your living quarters where the temperature should be close to optimum. The problem with doing it in a garage, shed, or whatever is that the yeast something near room temperature for optimum performance and those spaces are seldom heated and cooled.

  19. “You mean you just goop the heater terminals over with epoxy and that’s it?”

    I took a few inch length of cardboard paper towel roll and snugged it down around the round base of the heating element with a hose clamp so the the tube extended out over the terminals about a half inch. I then hung it by the wires and filled the tube with a high temp expoxy glue. After it cures remove the clamp and as much of the cardboard tube as you can. Hardware stores will have a high temp epoxy rated for 250+F. Then you can just run the wire through the lid of the boiler using a brass nipple. Fill the nipple with the high temp silicone mentioned in previous comment. Situate the wire and hole so the element lays on the bottom of the boiler but no so much wire that it can touch the element and possibly burn the wire.

    I didn’t have a 2″ bore brush and a 3′ shaft. That would’ve helped but still wouldn’t get it all. Maybe some sort of solvent bath? I’m not a plumber. This was all new to me. I’m a wizard at using rosin-based flux on tiny electrical components but not water based on heavy copper pipe. We have solvents that clean off rosin-based flux.

    You can fractionate all sorts of crap with this rig so monitoring the condensor temp can be a useful aid in exploring the unknown. It’s also just a good idea to make sure the condensor doesn’t get too warm because if it does you’re going to be blowing alcohol vapor out the top at a rate that feels like a leaf blower.

    Drilling thin stainless wort pots is a bitch. I tried. It was disastrous with regular bits even where I could manage to get a solid wood backing on the opposite side. I also tried jigsawing the big hole in the lid and it was a mess too. A tiny pilot hole followed by a conical stone bit in a dremel drill put perfect holes in the rounded side of the pot with no touchups needed. Just don’t go too fast or things get red hot and the stone breaks up. A side-cutting bit in the dremel worked great for larger holes – only as perfect as you can follow a line freehand but much, much better result than a jigsaw.

    Keep in mind there’s virtually no pressure in the system but the pot has a roiling boil in it and any imperfect seals (where the manufacuterer mounts the pot handles can be a problem, for instance) will have steamy liquid dribbling out. The spent wash doesn’t smell good either. I put a 3/8″ valve at the bottom of the pot and drain it through a hose while it’s still almost boiling. I pour a few gallons of water in through the top of the stack & top of condensor to clean it out after I’m done. The boiling hot spent wash makes an excellent weed killer. I drain it along the edges of my back patio so I don’t have to weed whack it. Model of efficiency I am. ;-)

  20. DS,

    Ok. So you form up a pretty big epoxy pot and snake the conductor through Silicone II in brass. I’m assuming you nut up the brass nipple on the boiler lid. Then element to bottom of boiler but watch the slack on conductors.

    You said: “I didn’t have a 2″ bore brush and a 3′ shaft.”

    Yup yup. Hoot’s on me. I guess maybe Bowie had one for cleaning out the small cannon on the south parapet. Am I dumb or what? Like I say, I’ll ask my plumber about the flux-cleaning problem.

    Drilling: I’ve done my share of stainless but not much on the round. All I can say is these step bits are cool. I’ve got some stone conicals though too. I’ll give it a try.

    Many thanks for all this.

    Here’s a pic of a 1920s ethanol station: http://www.radford.edu/~wkovarik/papers/fuel.html

    Here’s a country boy E85-making site: http://www.ethanolstill.com/ma.....-E-85.html

    This is the last site I thought I’d learn me up a bunch more about alkyhawl.

  21. “This is the last site I thought I’d learn me up a bunch more about alkyhawl.”

    You might want to try mounting the heating element through the side of the boiler. It’s a bit clumsy dangling on a wire. The element corrodes some too but since you aren’t drinking the liquid it comes in contact with – no harm no foul. It would be more difficult cleaning the corrosion off the element if it were mounted directly to the boiler. I couldn’t figure out a way to get a perfectly round hole that big and because the element base is flat and the pot side is round it could be a pain getting a good seal.

    Be it known that some people rig up a whole hot water heater as the boiler. As long as you use a well clarified beer that shouldn’t be a problem. Everything cleans up real nice with just a plain water flush.

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