The Fractionating Still

The purification of the crude beer produced from sugar and yeast is a 2-stage process, or even three in certain cases. The first stage is known as beer stripping and, as the name implies, is just a rapid and fairly rough method for separating most of the alcohol from the beer and leaving behind most of the water and the yeast. The volume of liquid after this first stage, a liquid known as "high wine", is less than one-quarter of that with which we started. So if we started with 50 litres of beer we would end up with around 10 litres of high wine, and if the strength of the "beer" had been 10% the strength of the high wine would be closer to 50%.

In the first edition of this book, published in 1997, two separate stills were used for the two stages, a large pot still for the rather rough beer-stripping stage and a smaller one for the more exacting purification stage. The sequence of events is illustrated in Figure 2. The reasoning behind the use of

Fractionating Still



two boilers was the large difference in liquid volume in the two stages. In this original system the beer stripping boiler had a volume of 100 litres and consequently was able to accommodate all the 50-60 litres of beer from the fermenter. The 10-15 litres of high wine so produced were then purified in a much smaller boiler of 25 litre capacity. It seemed to make sense at the time and was used for at least 10 years with excellent results.

However, with the sacrifice of a little convenience it is possible to make do with just a single boiler, thereby saving considerably on cost and the amount of space required for the equipment, and since it is apparent that most readers prefer this arrangement it has been decided that for this edition of the book we shall drop the two boiler system and concentrate solely on the single boiler.

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