Wort (also known as beer) is used to make grain-based spirits such as whiskey, gin, and vodka.
To make wort, one must first grind the grain, and then cook it in a mash-tun. After that, it goes to the fermenter, until it is ready to be distilled.
These first steps are the brewer’s job. On the surface, this sounds simple enough, but, trust me, it is not easy, and brew masters are expected to make a much better beer than a distiller.
So far, in my few weeks of experience, I would say that brewing is more difficult than distilling. Time may change my view. These are some of our experiences with beer so far.
We bought a good grist mill to grind our grain. Unfortunately, we wired it incorrectly and the rollers were going the wrong direction. Instead of grinding the grain, the grist mill was flinging the grain all over the distillery.
When we got the grist mill rollers moving in the right direction, we initially ground the grain too fine, and the grain plugged up the mash tun, plus we had misunderstood how to put the mash tun together. As a result, the process of moving the wort from the mash tun to the fermenter became a very slow process. It took 8 hours, instead of 45 minutes.
In addition to the slow moving wort, we had some problems with the chiller, which the wort was supposed to pass through on its journey from the mash tun to the fermenter, which was now a very slow journey. Something happened, and cold water flooded the distillery. Our plan to use the chiller was abandoned for this first batch. This turned out to be okay, as the wort was moving so slowly that it had plenty of time to cool itself, plus it gave us plenty of time to clean up the flying grain. It is a miracle that we had any wort on our first attempt, but we prevailed. It was, sadly, a small amount of wort, and it was very late when we finished.