As we get nearer to our upcoming and excellent adventure, distilling, we get more and more questions about the process. So we thought we would turn the Beer Buzz into the Booze Buzz, at least for this column.
We get asked the same two questions all the time. The first is, “What are you going to make?”
We are only a little bit facetious when we answer, “Whatever is good.”
We have a number of ideas up our sleeve but, until we try them out and satisfy ourselves with the quality, we won’t try to convince anybody to buy them.
The second question is, “Why would a brewery distill?”
The answer to this is like the thief who was asked, “Why do you rob banks?”
And his answer was, “Because that is where the money is.”
We distill because a brewery is where the alcohol is.
You see, distilling does not create alcohol, it concentrates it. Fermenting is what creates alcohol and we are a brewery.
Fermenting is what we do.
Beer, however, is pretty low in alcohol, generally about five per cent or so. So, for every 20 litres of beer, you have one litre of pure alcohol. Distilling is the method you use to separate that one litre of pure alcohol from the rest of the liquid.
The way you do that is to boil the whole shooting match. As everybody knows, water boils at about 100 degrees Celsius. Alcohol, on the other hand, boils at about 74 degrees Celsius.
So, alcohol boils off before the water does. You just need to collect that vapour that is boiling off and, when it cools, you have alcohol. The water is left behind.
So, a brewery would distill because it already has all the systems in place that are needed to create alcohol. We just didn’t have a system in the building that would concentrate the alcohol that we created. So, we install a still and we are good to go.
Even there, owning a brewery helps.
Running a still involves boiling off and recapturing alcohol, which obviously takes heat. Well, making beer requires heat as well, so we have a steam supply in the building.
We can extend that steam supply to the still, rather than having to go to the expense of buying something new.
So, why start distilling from a brewery? Because that is where the alcohol is.
This column is courtesy of the Yukon Brewing Company, an organization that believes that does not discriminate in its distilling practices.