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Talk me out of a Bubble Plate Still

Hi All,

I have been running a Brewhaus 3" column still for 18 months or more. It has an 8-gallon kettle with a 4500w element in it. The thing runs great with a 25-minute heat up time, and will produce at pencil-lead stream rates (usually) without overwhelming my cooling water supply. (I cool it with water from my house's sump pit.) I am very happy with it.

I'm using it to make gin with reasonably good success. My initial attempts at rum went badly, but I've learned a lot of the things I did wrong. (I will revisit rum-making.) I will eventually try whisk(e)y making too. (I like all spirits.)

I have a 240v 30a circuit dedicated to the still, so potentially I have 7200W available to my kettle. I can probably adapt my cooling system to dump that much heat. (I'm in Canada. Dumping heat in the winter-time is especially viable.)

So I would love to own a bubble plate still. My problem is justifying it. I have a hard time justifying the expense solely based on cool-factor (although they are plenty cool!) I'm able to brew and distill more product than I can reasonably consume with my current setup.

I might be able to justify it as a natural progression of my distilling hobby and skills. If I had a bigger rig I could run larger batches faster. So I suppose there would be time savings. If Mr. Lloyd ever gets around to offering 4" plates with 3 ProCap holes I may just have to bite...

So how do you other hobby distillers justify the equipment costs? Are you all rich and just don't care? Is there any point attempting to rationalize these wants? Is all rational thought just a elaborate machine to justify those things that we want for no other reason?

What say you other forum members?

In the meantime I will pour another Martini, re-watch all the Youtube videos of SD rigs, and reflect.



  • If what you have is perfect for you, than you have answered your own question! I am probably a poor person to comment on wants versus needs.... All accounts from Lloyd the upcoming baby dragon in 2.5" is perfect for most.

  • How do you justify any hobby or interest really?! I can't justify spending what I have in the last 6 months on distilling and brew gear.

    There are plenty of other important things I could have spent the money on. I don't have a lot of spare cash but I do put great value on having a hobby that I enjoy... It's healthy mentally, it helps with a healthy relationship with a partner

    All work and no play makes cunnyfunt want to stab somebody that may or may not deserve it. :)

  • Just to make your decision harder, we do offer 4" plates with 3 procap holes :))

    Can't see them on the US site atm, but i'm sure Larry will chime in on when he is expecting stock.

    As Vooharmony said, if what you have suits you perfectly then there is absolutely no need to change it. B-)

    If, on the other hand, you can see where there is room for improvement in process or efficiency then you have to weigh the cost versus the benefit. Whether the benefit is more time with the family or more time away from them in the shed. :)) :^o

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited August 2014

    Grab whatever SD equipment you can get, produce as much alcohol you have the resources for, put the excess in barrels and give out to friends and family. You may even get to the point where you produce a product worth selling and jump on the semi-pro /pro train.

    Your Place to be >>> <<< Home of the StillDragon® Community Forum

  • well I aint rich in fact I am far from it. I also can not justify what I have spent. I got the 4 inch with 6 plats with the old bubble caps and a 120lt boiler that I have picked up from punkin in the last 6 months. Plus I got a tun of other crap that I brought in the last year adding up to I dont know what. But cunnyfunt I think hit the nail on the head with the hammer. It's a personal thing. I could have made my own modular still but I wanted a SD still I like what they are doing eh and the equipment is really top notch. I would like to say that the SD gear would make better product but when you are getting a 94 to 95% out the end there is no real difference. I say stuff it go a modular SD still because you will love owning it.

  • Hi NoMo, we do have in stock the 4" plates set up for the ProCap assembly.

    I figure this hobby gives back just as much if not more than motorcycles and hotrods.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 2014

    Bunch of enablers here! Smaug is right, look on the bright side, it's cheaper than a boat. Also no different from the guys who convert their garages into full-on wood shops. Jet equipment, planers, big band saws, table saws, jigs, clamps, 3-figure chisels and hand saws. Distilling is a craft just the same, everyone is desiring the best product. Perfect booze is like a perfectly hand cut dovetail drawer. Not everyone is going to appreciate it, but those who know will.

  • ^^^ where is that "like button" already?

  • I doubt many fisherman save any money after they buy the boat, the truck to tow it, and all the fishing gear; but the enjoyment of sitting on the water makes that $100+ a pound the fish you catch worth it. So if it's a hobby you do for enjoyment than buy the toys to better enjoy it and don't worry about the cost.

  • Wish i still had all the money i've spent on fishing gear :D $800 custom rods, $1k Stella reels, $8k worth of sounder on a 14' boat... the list is long.

    Glad i never took up golf.

    My mushroom hobby was a little on the exe side too, by the time i installed a flowbench in my office etc.

    I always say that this hobby is one of the few that pays for itself. The money you save at the bottleo for you and yours outweighs the money spent, even with top of the line equipment.

    How much would one 50l barrel full of barrel strength bourbon cost? I have three of them. I could do all that with a potstill made from scrap too, but the cost of great equipment pales in comparison to the value that's returned to you.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • @CothermanDistilling said: ^^^ where is that "like button" already?

    Dang, caught up somewhere! Let me have a look after the next software upgrade, which is to be done soon.

    Your Place to be >>> <<< Home of the StillDragon® Community Forum

  • NOMO, You just went to a bar and asked people to talk you out of drinking with them!

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • Talk you out of a bubble plate still? hmm! NO. ;)

  • I keep talking myself out of upgrading from my 4". I was thinking 5" but before i go up in still size i think I should upgrade my boiler.

    I'm saving up for one of the 120L boilers, I've currently got a 50L keg. Have a 80L sitting there waiting for me to get off my arse and bring to a mate to weld on some sockets.

    Its abit like my 3v beer rig. Only used it 3 times now but already wanting to upgrade. Its all part of the fun!

  • Brand new here but wanted to share why I went a "bubbler", I started with a very small and cheap pot still just to see if this was fun as I already decided I wanted a hobby and this interested me. I discovered it was very satisfying and a lot of fun! I went the bubbler early as I wanted to make great AG whiskey and this was the perfect tool! Now, not only do I make a great drop but I have a great pastime that keeps on giving ^:)^ do it, you won't be disappointed!

  • Its only money and I can tell you this, none of us is taking it with us when we go so don't worry what you spend it on just enjoy the fact you can spend it. Buy that SD I say.

  • Bunch of Enablers is right!

    My initial foray in the hobby was easy to justify as I was spending several hundred dollars per month on commercial alcohol. I've paid for my current setup a couple times over now. I think I'll start setting aside a little piece of my pay-cheque, watch the "still fund" grow for a while, and anticipate the my "carefully considered capital expenditure".

    In the meantime I really enjoy reading your posts and watching Youtube uploads. (Thanks guys.)


  • @NoMo_Caffeine

    I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet. But, my decision to buy one was based on total time spent doing a hobby I love, and total time I have available. As a dad, I have smaller and smaller amounts of time allocated for my hobbies. Getting something that allows me to pursue my hobby after the little one goes to bed on a weeknight is a matter of getting to distill or not.

    I can setup the night before, and it takes me just 4 hours to run after the little guy goes to bed. That means I can still get to bed at a decent-ish hour and not feel tired at work the next day. My previous pot set-up took me much longer, and therefore, I used it much less.

    It's all a matter of priorities I suppose. For me it was worth it. I'm not making money from it, but I enjoy it, and it produces something nicer than my previous setup.

  • You'd be CRAZY for not buying a SD bubble plate still and a complete spare still or two for the safety margin. And another for that special someone in your life.
    SD history has been to innovate and improve and, over time, many items have been discontinued to make way for the new. Every discontinued item has now become a rare collector's item so all the more reason to buy a few extra SD stills and put them away for future appreciation.

    There may be a very slight chance that I'm biased @NoMo_Caffeine :D

  • I really need one of those baby bubblers, it's so sexy. Just to keep on my desk.

  • @NoMo_Caffeine YOU CAN DO IT BRO just click the pay now button :D

  • Once you crack open a SD you never go back.

    My first all copper cm unit is sitting in the corner with nothing to do. It's been replaced and unlikely to ever get another run.

    Save a few bucks and just get one.


  • @fadge said: Once you crack open a SD you never go back.

    This is True and was so for me too. My BH PS II HC is not the first choice any more.....

    Hobby Distillers Association Member - Join us today!

    The only sillae question is the one you don't ask folks...

  • What price do you place on your sanity and peace of mind? A good hobby that you enjoy and is beneficial to your well-being is beyond measure. I quit drinking almost 25 years ago. However, I don't have any problem with others consuming liquor responsibly. So my product is given away to friends and family. I encourage feedback on what works and what doesn't. I have combed these distilling sites and have used the info to gradually assemble my rig. By SD standards it's pretty primitive but the beauty of SD products is their modular capabilities. So, am I gonna make the plunge myself? As soon as time and money allow....yes. For what it's worth, I'd go for it. Just my 2 cents.

  • @NoMo_Caffeine I give you permission to buy a bubble plate still.
    Now, you feel better?

    If I was you I'd get a 5" Crystal Dragon because you have 7200 watts to play with.
    That will supply you, your neighbors and even folks you don't like with enough fine booze to forget that your middle name is Marion.

    It will also allow you to set some back for aging and after 5 to 10 years call me so we can party.

    You're on the edge... jump dude. Do it.

  • Damn it guy's I still haven't got my 4" crystal dragon put together and all I keep hearing is I need 5", when will the madness end :(( But I also have a 200L boiler on the way!!! DA:O As I said in the 5' ProCap video, I really do need to quit my job it just keeps gettin in the way.

    The day you quit learning is the day you start dying!

    "I am an incurable gadgeteer, and I like enormously to set up a theory and then track down the consequences" Murray Leinster

  • Exchange it for a 5". One. NOW!!!

  • @FullySilenced, While this would be the preferred new column I have too many $$$$ and time into my experiment now to retool as you'll come to understand very soon. This 4" is being built as a test platform for a larger scaled model which I hope to take Pro some day soon. But it's fun to whine about it, besides SD releases new designs quicker than Apple does with the iPhone so how can any one expect to ever keep up unless you have deep pockets like the Captain. $-)

    The day you quit learning is the day you start dying!

    "I am an incurable gadgeteer, and I like enormously to set up a theory and then track down the consequences" Murray Leinster

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