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May 1, 2018

Bubble Plate Column vs. Hybrid Column

What type of still should I buy?

What Type Of Still Should I Buy?

We get a lot of questions on the difference between our 8 gallon bubble plate column still and our 8 gallon standard "hybrid" column stills.

The question we hear the most is "Which Column is best for  making ____ final product?" The answer is "It Depends."  In general, columns can be categorized into two different groups: reflux and non-reflux columns. Use the following guidelines for selecting the column that will work best for the product you want to make assuming you have the proper permits.  

Clawhammer's Hybrid Column:

This is our original design and our most popular column that we sell. The reason we sell more of this design is the fact that this column is multi-functional. The hybrid column can be used to distill many different final products. This column falls into both categories -- it is both a reflux and non-reflux column depending on how it is used.

If you run the hybrid column without any packing it will run exactly like a pot still. When running unpacked the first run will start in the range of 100-110 proof and the proof will drop from there. If the column is packed the column will start producing between 140-160 depending on the amount of packing, the starting ABV of the wash, and how quickly the still is running.

Using our hybrid column allows you to easily add or remove packing depending on the product you are distilling. To add reflux simply add copper packing material to the column. If you want to remove the reflux simply don't add the copper packing to the column. Also- the amount of packing added to the column will affect how much reflux the column creates. These are some basic guidelines for adding packing to our hybrid columns.

  • Add 1-2 scrubbers to column of a 1 gallon still.
  • Add 4-8 scrubbers to the column of a 5 gallon still.
  • Add 5-10 scrubbers to the column of a 8 gallon still.
  • Add 7-13 scrubbers to the column of a 10 gallon still.

The hybrid column is best for: Everything except fuel alcohol, gin, vodka.

Clawhammer's Bubble Plate Column:

The bubble plate column was designed to maximize the proof of a single run while simultaneously stripping nearly all of the flavor from the final product.  If the end goal is to create a high proof final product with little flavor than this is the column you want to select. This column is best for fuel alcohol, vodka and gin assuming you have the proper permits.

How The Bubble Plate Column Works:

Vapor comes into contact with the plates and caps inside the column; causing vapor to condense back into a liquid. The liquid drips back down through the column and is eventually forced back up though the caps and plates. This process of being forced to run though the caps and plates multiple times creates an end product that has been distilled multiple times in a single run. This is what causes the increase in proof compared to a typical column. It has the same function as the copper packing in the hybrid column-- but it does it on steroids.

You can achieve even higher proof by adding a dephlegmator to the top of the bubble plate. A dephlegmator is condenser that attaches to the top of the column. Water is ran though the dephlegmator which condenses some of the vapor going though it-  but it does not condense everything. This allows some of vapors to pass through without being condensed. 

When using a dephlegmator it is best to attach a hose with cooling water in the range 175-185 degrees Fahrenheit. It is best practice to  monitor the cooling water temperature going into the dephlegmator. Using the water from the output on the condenser on our stills as the input of the cooling water for the dephlegmator works well. 

Although we don't endorse true reflux technology for the production of traditional whiskey, we do endorse it for making fuel alcohol, vodka and gin. When running a bubble plate column the first run will start in the range of 145-170 proof and the proof will drop from there. If a dephlegmator is attached above the bubble plate it will start producing between 170-193 depending on the amount of cooling in the dephelgamtor, the starting ABV of the wash, and how quickly the still is running.

The bubble plate column is best for: fuel alcohol, gin, vodka.

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