Interview with Glenns Creek Distillery Owner Dave Meier

Video Transcript

hi i’m david meyer owner of glenn’s creek distilling welcome to glen’s creek and i’m going to give you a little bit of history about the property here this is the former old crow distillery originally built in 1878 the distillery is located back here we currently operate in what was formerly a bottling building here so we’re going to take you through the entire process of how we make our products here and we’re going to show you all the steps from cooking and fermenting and distilling and then we can talk about the barrel aging process so again welcome let’s go inside and have a look [Music] turn on the agitator so the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to add a little bit of a enzyme this is a liquefication enzyme we didn’t put that in there we put the corn and the rye in and starch to make it very pasty similar to the oats so what we’re going to do except the water heats up the boiling and this process is going to extract the starches from the grains tractor survive with our special corn that we get directly most of our recipes use 600 pounds we have one recipe that’s 100 corn 700 pounds so the key thing is the total grain of water what you saw down there with the flame is uh we have direct heat on here so it’s really just like cooking at home on your stove if you leave that on the stove without stirring it from time to time you would burn your food so we have the agitator here that’s keeping this moving and now i’m going to add the rye and i usually do that before i finish the corn because as you can see the rye is a little bit more powdery so it doesn’t want to sink and mix in completely so i usually add a little corn on top of it and we get our ride and our barley from brook strain over in louisville so great supplier for us you can see the rye you can see the rye that kind of clumps up and so i’m going to have to stir that a little bit at the end to get it all mixed in you got to stir that dry in a little bit otherwise so the first thing i’m going to do is add setback to this setback is the liquid that we reserved from the still after the finish of the distillation run it has a very low ph and what that’s going to do is that’s going to lower the ph over all of the cooking water you give these a conducive environment i have a mark here i’m gonna run it up to 30 gallons so the water in kentucky due to the limestone has a basic ph about 7.8 that and then means it so one of the things that’s really important in this process is the enzymes that we use to break break down the starches into fermentable sugars they are temperature sensitive and it’s hard to see but i have a line right there showing that where we would like to be and we’re currently higher than that so we’re going to have to wait a little bit to add the barley into this until the temperature drops down a little bit so this is the cafe lay and you can see uh just how dark it is and we explained to folks that no matter what color it goes into the steel it’s going to come out it was still clear so while it has a very dark color right now that has nothing to do with the finished product okay so i’m just going to pour that in and then i’ll repeat the same thing for the next coat over there and we keep track uh when we’re cooking we have the basic recipe here and we have which steps in the process have been completed that way there’s no confusion between us in terms of what has occurred so i’m going to mark that and i’ve added four scoops of yeast to that and so we’ll all know that the yeast has already been added people have done it essentially for a long long time before they understood what piece was so that’s pretty much it we had the four scoops take a look at it a few hours from now we’ll probably notice quite a bit more activity as that yeast starts to do its job so let’s do a little recap of what we’ve seen so far the first step we do is we cook the corn and the rye and we’re extracting the starch from the grains and then we allow it to cool down until we can add the enzyme and when we put the enzyme in there that converts the starches into fermentable sugars then we allow that to cool down again to the temperature where we can add the yeast so then then begins fermentation and fermentation is really kind of an important step that’s where the conversion of fermentable sugars into alcohol ethanol is done and there’s also a lot of other things that are happening here one of those is a bacterial fermentation a bacteria named acetobacter consumes ethanol that’s produced by the yeast and creates acetic acid which is vinegar and that is the part that makes sour mash sour and as you probably know acetic acid vinegar is an effective preservative and so by the addition of acetic acid in this mixture we don’t get contamination from other bacterias and molds and things that would also want to eat the sugars and not give us ethanol so this process generally takes five to seven days sometimes it’s a little faster sometimes it’s a little slower it depends a little bit on the recipe that we’re using because when we change the proportions of grains we get a different amount of fermentable sugars and as we saw in the pitching of the yeast it’s not a very scientific method we’re not putting a known quantity of yeast cells in this mixture so we do get some variation in time in that process what we’ll see is that when all the bubbling activity is completed and the grain that’s on the surface here sinks to the bottom that’s the indication that the fermentation is finished now we can measure that and we do from time to time but it can be easily done visually it’s a pretty clear process you’ll see some active bubbling uh fermentations and then we’ll show you one that is complete and you can see the difference okay i’d like to explain the distillation process for you what we use here at glenn’s creek is pot stills it’s pretty old technology it’s been used for about 2000 years or so and it’s fairly basic this is the still it’s not running today so i can touch it it’s not hot but we put the fermented liquid in the steel and we fill it approximately to here leave a little head space then we heat it from the bottom we have direct heat on the still and so we can’t put any grains or anything in the steel only the liquid then what happens as as the steel heats up the vapor starts to climb up through the column here and comes over here into this tank which is known as a doubler and what happens there is the vapor turns back into a liquid and condenses back to a liquid eventually this reheats and the vapors come out here again and then they pass into the second tank which is also another doubler so effectively what we have is a triple distillation we get the first distillation here then it’s recondensed and re-vaporized here and then it’s condensed and re-vaporized here so after the second doubler heats up the vapor is going to come up here it’s going to go all the way up and it’s going to go into that pipe over there that’s a condenser there’s a copper coil inside and a water jacket on the exterior so one of the concepts of distillation what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to separate water from the alcohol or alcohol from the water if you will and as the vapor climbs up each one of these pipes some of it’s condensing and dropping back down and staying behind and some of the vapors are going forward into the next step and distillation the way we do it is basically a process of separating the various chemicals based on their vapor temperatures we have four different stills and each still has a different capacity but none of the stills has enough capacity to fill in an entire barrel so let’s say for example we’re running two stills today and three stills tomorrow that would typically be enough to fill a barrel so it takes about two to three days depending on what’s happened in the fermentation process and how many steels we have operating on any given day once we’ve collected the dist lit from the collection tank it’s time to put it in a barrel normally we can roll the barrel directly over to the collection tank and empty directly into a barrel but when a barrel is almost full it’s a little bit safer less spillage potential just to do it manually so i’m going to demonstrate how we do that manually and i’m checking the level in there and we’re putting that in the barrel so we want to leave a little head space in the barrel so that some expansion can occur if we don’t leave headspace once the temperature warms up the barrels tend to leak a little bit and so a little bit of head space also that prevents us from pouring the overflowing the barrel and wasting some of the distillate which is a capital offense in the distillery so that’s that [Music] do [Music] so [Music] you

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