Questions concerning 500L Pot Belly Boiler with 4 x 8" Bubble Sections

I am considering to buy a 500 L pot belly boiler with 4 x 8" bubble sections for a pub-distillery. I'd really appreciate if anybody out there has some experience with this kind of set up and would share it with me. I will be making vodka, gin and rum.

  1. What kind of immersion heaters do you use?
  2. How much electricity you need for one run?
  3. Do you use agitator, if yes then why?
  4. Are the immersion heaters pain in the backside to clean?
  5. How many runs you need to make with 4 bubble sections to get to 95% ABV?

Cheers :)


  • high quality water heater elements, either stainless or iconel, and the lowest watt density you can find

    150A @ 240V for 5 elements, maybe 6... multiple runs will cost a lot more having lots of plates saves electricity

    don't have an agitator, but wish I did

    elements can be cleaned in place when inside of still gets cleaned... It will get dingy as well! 90C brewery cleaner will eat all organics..

    4 sections to get 95% means you would have to put 90%+ in to get good 95% out at a decent rate, and over 40% not the greatest idea with direct electric... sure you can put in 60% and and run the power and RC really hard and get it, but I did that before getting 24 plates, and the vodka kinda sucked...

    making 95% without a lot of ceiling height or an offset column uses a LOT of electricity and a LOT of cooling water, I would not recommend it and would make flavored spirits with only 4 plates... a stripping run and 2-3 plates makes a fine whiskey..

    Tell us why only 4 plates and maybe we will be able to help more

  • Thanks for your answer. 4 plates because of ceiling height. If I go for a Crystal Dragon, I might fit 6, perhaps even 7 plates.

  • @CothermanDistilling said: stripping run and 2-3 plates makes a fine whiskey..

    Or rum. Lotta good info on this forum for both.

  • Vodka will be the first product, there's no way around it. Gin and rum will follow.

  • @algoth asked in a PM, but want to answer for all..

    I run a 380L with no agitator and 5 5500W camco elements would like agitator, happy with size for now.

    I run 75G(300L) of 7% clear fermented malted barley wort, stripping through a 2" pipe (8" column in place, but blocked off on top, will switch to 3-way valve someday) to a 4"x1M condenser down to 15G (60L) of 35% low wines.. I do this 4-6 times

    I clean the heck out of the still, then run the low wines through the column (3 plates last time, 4 plates time before last, I will water down a bit more and keep 3 plates from now on) for whiskey. I compress heads while taking a dribble of fores, taking about a liter and dumping into a dedicated collection container, I take early heads (and late tails) and put in a container to mix with a stripping run, I collect the late heads, hearts, and early tails of the whiskey, <80%abv, in 5-6 20L containers.

    I let them rest overnight to rest the spirits and my nose, and take the best one of them(sometimes 2) and dilute to 60% and place in a 20L-60L barrel. I put the remaining containers aside to put in either a future whiskey run or a vodka run.

    when i run vodka, I add plates to the existing section to make 8 plates, and add two more 8-plate sections, I compress fores/heads for a full hour, then take off at about 20l/min, making sure I stay above 95% (real 95%, the hydrometer says 97 or 98 sometimes).. I collect in 6 or so 20L containers, setting aside early hearts and late tails for a stripping run like before and let the good stuff rest overnight.. I take the best 1 or 2, dilute and filter for vodka , take the next best from the slightly headsy and slightly tailsy sides and mix them and dilute and run through vapor basket for Gin.. ( they are not off much, we dilute to 40% and compare all by side by side to choose go/no-go, the ones that go to Gin are better than our original vodka in a 8-plater by a longshot)

    Come on a vacation to delightful Dunedin, FL, and I will run the still for you or anyone else that visits from a distillery on here...

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