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What Does A Thumper Do On A Moonshine Still? (Best solution)

The thump keg is one of the most clever and iconic design elements of the traditional hillbilly still whose purpose, briefly stated, is to distill the output of the pot still a second time, without actually having to run the distillate through the still twice.

  • What is a thumper keg on a moonshine still? The “Thump Keg,” or “Thumper Keg,” or “doubler” is a second chamber or distiller in the classic hillbilly still that essentially allows the distiller to double distill their output a second time, without having to rerun it through another still.


What is the purpose of a thumper in a still?

Basically, a thumper keg is a container that is installed in the distillation apparatus between the still pot and the condenser. It was traditionally used in hillbilly stills to increase the alcohol content of the distillate because, traditional stills only output product with about a 50-60 percent alcohol content.

Do you need a thumper on a still?

If you are interested in increasing the potency of your spirits or making a traditional backwoods moonshine, then you should grab a thumper keg for your still. It is a clever innovation which will increase the potency and purity of your distilled spirits.

What is a thumper in moonshine?

A thumper is essentially a parasitic kettle connected to the primary distilling kettle. The thumper gets heated with the heat already produced to feed the primary kettle. Evidently, the thumper gets its name from the sound it makes while in operation.

Do you need to heat a thump keg?

Many moonshiners do prefer to heat the thumper. The alcohol does need to stay in vapor form to be able to rise into the condenser. Wood barrels are often preferred as thump kegs because of wood’s natural isolative abilities.

Can you put fruit in a thump keg?

This is the thumper liquid and it is meant to COOL the vapor that comes in from your pot still. If you want to infuse extra flavor into your moonshine, you can also add fruits, herbs, or spices at this stage. You can choose to add fruit peel, herbs, spices, and mashed ripe fruit directly into your thumper keg.

How much corn do I need for 5 gallons of mash?

Ingredients: 5 gallons of water. 8.5 pounds of flaked maize.

What is a stripping run in distilling?

When we perform our first distillation – called a ‘Run’ – it is referred to as a stripping run, because we concentrate and strip all of the alcohol out of the wash. Different alcohols come over at different temperatures and in this run, we want to collect them all – the good, the bad and the ugly.

How does a Mason jar Thumper work?

How Does a Thump Keg Work? With a thump keg, the hot vapor that exits the still arm into the wine that is already condensed at the bottom of the thumper once again evaporates before it reaches the condenser. When the alcohol is vaporized again, the alcohol content increases dramatically.

What temp do you run a moonshine still?

You will not make any cuts at the different temperatures like you would with a typical pot distillation. Collect until the temperature reaches about 207°F/208°F (97°C/98°C). Turn off your heat source, but continue to run the cooling water until there is no vapor left in the moonshine still.

How do you use a moonshine thumper?

The way the thumper works is that it takes the vapor from the head of your kettle and travels down a tube into the bottom of the thumper. This vapor is cooled when it enters the liquid in the thumper, which condenses the vapor while also heating that liquid in the thumper.

What is a slobber box?

Similar to a thumper, the slobber box is a simple method of collecting unwanted condensate from the distillate which is used widely used by moonshiners.

What are heads and tails in distilling?

Heads: Spirits from the beginning of the run that contain a high percentage of low boiling point alcohols and other compounds such as aldehydes and ethyl acetate. Hearts: The desirable middle alcohols from your run. Tails: A distillate containing a high percentage of fusel oil and little alcohol at the end of the run.

What happens if your thumper is too small?

If a thumper is too small or if you didn’t put enough liquid in it, then that liquid will heat up too quickly from the incoming vapor. Then that vapor will just bubble up right through the liquid without being cooled and condensed first, exiting straight through the condenser.

How much water do you put in a thumper?

You need to put some kind of liquid in the thump keg filling it about 1/4 full. The options are: left over mash, tails from a previous run, etc. But if you want the thumper to do what it is supposed to do (increase the alcohol % in the final product), there needs to be some kind of alcohol in the thumper.

How long does it take to make moonshine?

As you can see, the process of fermenting and distilling moonshine is quite time-consuming. In general, you can expect it to take between 1-3 weeks to make moonshine, as the mash must ferment and the distillation process must be continued until the final shine is safe for consumption.

What Is A Thumper Keg and How Does It Work?

It is recommended that you purchase a thumper keg for your still if you are interested in raising the strength of your spirits or manufacturing a classic backwoods moonshine. It is an ingenious invention that will improve the potency and purity of your distilled spirits significantly. In this article, I’ll cover all you need to know about thumper kegs, including how they operate, what they can accomplish, and how to use one to infuse flavor into your beer or other beverage. I’ll also include a list of some of the top thumper kegs currently available on the market.

The Most Important Takeaways

  • Thumper Keg: A jar made of copper, steel, or wood that is put between the still pot and the condenser to collect the distillate. What Thumper Keg Size Should I Use? A thumper keg should be 25 percent to 40 percent the size of your main boiler, depending on how much steam you need. What Is the Function of a Thumper Keg? Its primary function is to speed up the distillation process
  • However, it may also be used for other purposes.

Moonshining in Appalachia in the 1900s is related to this.

What Is A Thumper Keg?

In distillation, a thumper Keg is a tiny vessel made of copper, steel, or wood that is positioned between the stillpot and condenser. It receives low wine from the stillpot and warms it again, resulting in the production of highly purified alcohol vapors that are sent to the condenser for cooling. Consequently, there is no need for a second distillation to produce a high-proof spirit (more on how a keg thumper works, below). The thumper keg, also known as a Thump Barrel, Thump Chest, or Doubler, was extremely popular among distillers and moonshiners in the Appalachian Mountains during Prohibition.

Thumper Kegs are so named because of the pounding sound that the vapor and condensed low wine produce when the still is in operation.

Moonshiners who were interested in producing potent spirits would occasionally add extra alcohol to the thumper, which would then be distilled again to produce a spirit that was extremely potent.

How Does A Thumper Keg Work?

When using a standard still, the wash (fermented solution) is heated to a high temperature in order to produce alcohol vapors, which are then caught by a condenser. It is through the condensation of vapors that low wines are produced, which are generally 25 to 35 percent alcohol by volume in composition (ABV). The low-alcohol wines must be distilled again in order to produce a distillate with a greater alcohol content. Beer strippers (a very basic still) are used by most distilleries to convert wash into low wines, which are subsequently transformed into high-proof spirits using a separate spirit still.

  1. Even though repeated distillation is a time-tested procedure, it can be time-consuming and expensive to go through more than two or three distillations at once.
  2. Its purpose is to assist the distiller in avoiding the need for more distillations in the future.
  3. It used to be common practice for moonshiners to mix in a tiny quantity of moonshine to the thumper keg, albeit this may result in a stronger-than-expected distilled spirit.
  4. It is through this swan neck that the hot vapors are introduced directly into the solution contained within the thumper keg.
  5. During the process of vaporizing and condensing in the swan neck and thumper keg, the sound of thumping is produced.
  6. This results in the production of additional alcohol vapors, which are trapped by the condenser, resulting in the distillation of the low-proof wines a second time and the creation of a high-proof spirit.

Double distilling a spirit is a particularly time and energy-efficient method of producing a spirit. Related: Moonshine Facts and Figures

How To Infuse Flavor Into Moonshine with a Thumper Keg

Distillers typically add spirit tails, low wines, water, or whiskey to their thumper keg in order to chill the alcohol vapors that escape from the potstill during the distillation process. However, you may experiment with different fruit, herb, and spice combinations to create unique taste combinations for your spirits. The most effective method of incorporating these tastes is a hotly discussed issue. The following are some ideas to consider experimenting with:

  • Adding fruit-infused alcohol to the thumper keg is a fun experiment. Using your favorite fruit and herb combinations, combine them in a big container with low-alcohol wines or head/tail spirits and let them marinade for a week or two. The taste of your components will gradually permeate into the solution as it is prepared. Pour this solution into the bottom of the thumper keg to impart the flavors that it contains, and shake well. Making direct additions to the thumper keg of juice or oils To add taste to the thumper keg, ingredients such as apple juice, peach juice, blackberry juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, and coconut oil can be put straight to the keg
  • However, this is not recommended. Making direct additions to the thumper keg of raw components Some distillers may immediately add fruit peel, herbs, spices, and mashed fruit to the thumper keg, while others will use a mash tun. Only thing to keep in mind is that mashed fruit will need to be put in big numbers and that it may be messy to clean up afterward. If you’re going to use this approach to include fruit, make sure your stuff is quite ripe.

In order to get the greatest taste out of your spirit, it’s ideal to add your components after the spirit’s heads have been removed from the thumper keg. This will ensure that the tastes are having an influence on the portion of the distillation that you will actually consume. Beginner Moonshine Stills is a related article.

How Big Should a Thumper Keg Be?

When it comes to size, your thumper keg should be between 25 and 40% the size of your main boiler. For large charges (botanicals, low-alcohol wines, wash, water, etc.), use a thumper keg that is at least half the size of the main boiler (preferably more).

What Size Thumper Kegs Are There?

If you’re seeking to purchase a thumper keg, you have a number of alternatives to choose from. One alternative is to purchase a whole thumper keg, which can be constructed of copper, stainless steel, or wood. Complete kits, which contain the main boilers, a thumper, and a condenser, are also available for purchase. If you’re searching for a more affordable alternative, you may get a mason jar jumper kit. This set includes a copper tube and seal that can be screwed onto any mason jar, and it is dishwasher safe.

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DIY 2 Gal 10 Liters Home Distiller Copper Thumper Keg

a DIY Copper Alcohol 2 Gal 10 Liters Copper Alcohol for sale Stills for making moonshine, ethanol stills, spirits, boiler water distillers, and more.

  • Moonshine Stills – full distillation apparatus, appropriate for both novices and experienced distillers, with simple handling and installation
  • Material and construction – non-toxic red copper and stainless steel are used in the construction of the structure. There is no lead in any of the pieces, and all of the parts are made of food-grade materials, with the exception of the fermenter, which has been particularly thickened. (Dimensions: capacity: 2 gallons / 10 liters, height: 9.8 inches, diameter: 9.8 inches. ) Metal Thermometers with a built-in thermometer display the following temperatures: Celsius Fahrenheit, so that the operator can readily check the temperature while operating the distiller, as well as a free stainless steam plate and gauge bag, which helps to prevent burnout and performs significantly better during distillation. When using a large pot as a fermenter, a free temperature sticker may be placed on the fermenter so that the temperature can be checked.

This high-quality stainless steel thumper is an excellent alternative for the home distiller looking for a high-quality product. It makes use of 100 percent lead-free, food-grade components that are completely non-toxic and are specifically designed for the distillation process. It is possible to purchase this thumper keg kit in four various sizes (2 gallon/10 liters, 3 gallon/12 liters, 5 gallons/20 liters, and 8 gallons/30 liters) depending on your needs.

Stampede Stills 2 Gallon Copper Moonshine Still Thumper Keg (Doubler)

A copper thumper keg made entirely of copper sheet (20 ounces) is featured here. It has a capacity of 2 gallons and is equipped with a 12″ ball valve drain as well as 1/2″ copper pipe handoffs. All of the ingredients, including the silver-based solder, are free of lead.

Stampede Stills Copper Widemouth Mason Jar Thumper Kit

Mason Jar Thumper Kit made of Stampede Stills Copper Half Gallon Widemouth Mason Jar Thumper Kit

  • 1/2 inch thick and made from 20 ounce copper sheet, silver-based lead-free solder, and a gasket “Copper pipe is a type of pipe made of copper. The entrance pipe is equipped with an elbow to prevent hot spots on the bottom glass
  • 1/2 inch diameter “Copper pipe that has been stubbed out to make it simple to connect to your existing still. There is no need to purchase additional pipe/coupling/unions to attach to your setup because everyone’s still is somewhat different
  • Nonetheless, Mason jars half-gallon size with regular wide mouth lids work well for this project.

Handcrafted copper tube and seal that can be used to convert any wide mouth mason jar into a thumper-keg like container. The beauty of this kit is that it is quite reasonably priced, allowing you to simply set up a multi-jar configuration in which you treble or quadruple distill your spirit with relative ease. Because the pipes are stubbed out, you will be responsible for connecting your own pipes.

YUEWO 3 Pots DIY 2 Gal/10 Liters Moonshine Still

Yuewoo 3 Pots DIY 2gal/10Litres YUEWO 3 Pots DIY Moonshine Still Copper Water Alcohol Distiller Home Brew Wine Making Kits with Thumper Keg for Do It Yourself Moonshine Making Essential Oils of Brandy, Whiskey, and Wine

  • Moonshine Stills are a comprehensive distillation system that is suited for both beginners and experienced distillers. They are simple to use and install. 3-Pot Distiller, which is unique in that the steam enters from one side of the fruit/spices pot and exits from the other, allowing the operator to brew his or her own flavor with relative ease
  • Material and construction are both secure. Red copper and stainless steel are used in the construction of the fermenter, and there is no lead present in any of the components. A stainless/copper coil cooling tube and other food-grade materials are used throughout the fermenter, and the fermenter has been particularly thickened. (Dimensions: capacity: 2Gallons/10L, height: 9inch, diameter: 9inch
  • Dimensions: height: 9inch, diameter: 9inch Build-in Thermometer – Metal Thermometers display temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit, allowing the operator to readily check the temperature while operating the distiller. Free Stainless Steam Plate and Gauze Bag, which help to avoid burnout and perform significantly better during distillation. When using a large pot as a fermenter, a free temperature sticker may be placed on the fermenter so that the temperature can be checked.

This is a full moonshine still kit that can be used to make any type of spirit from the ground up in your home. It includes a huge 10 liter boiler, a thumper, a condenser, and all of the necessary connecting pipes. It is made entirely of non-toxic red copper and stainless steel components, and it is completely safe and non-toxic to use. With built-in thermometers, it’s easy to keep tabs on the progress of your distillation process. In what way does a Thumper Keg serve a purpose? The primary function of a thumper keg is to expedite the distillation process.

The other advantage of having a thumper keg is that it allows you to include botanicals into your spirits.

List of Moonshine Distilleries is a related resource.

How To Clean A Thumper Keg?

A vinegar run is the most straightforward method of cleaning a thumper keg. Using 50 percent hot water (distilled is preferable) and 50 percent vinegar, fill your boiler to 20 percent capacity with a combination of the two. As though you were creating a spirit, pass it through the still many times. Allow the still to reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit before running it for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool before emptying the vinegar solution. After that, you’ll only have to do it twice or three times every year if you’re using a fresh thumper.

Explaining The Thumper Keg: The Basics

If you’re someone who knows absolutely nothing about this and is hearing the terms thumper and keg combined for the first time, you could believe that this is something that rabbits and bunnies use to celebrate. Don’t be concerned. We created this tutorial for the home distiller who wants to learn all there is to know about thumper kegs, including what they are, what they do, what they are for, what they are used for, and how they operate.

A Quick Summary

For those of you who are in a rush and only want to know the most basic facts regarding the simple thumper keg, here is the page for you.

  • What Exactly Is It? With the help of a thumper keg, you may distill your cheap wine a second time. It is often constructed of copper, steel, or wood, and it is located between the still pot and the condenser. What Is the Function of a Thump Keg? As a result, the distillation process is accelerated, and your low-alcohol wine is transformed into a liquid with a larger alcohol content, which is essential for the production of moonshine or bourbon. What size Thump Keg do you need to use for your project? It should be between 25 percent to 40 percent of the size of your primary boiler
  • However, this might vary.

Continue reading if you’d want to learn more about the thumper keg in general.

What Is a Thumper Keg and Where Is It From?

A thump keg, sometimes known as a doubler, thud barrel, or thump chest, is frequently mentioned in conjunction with a backwoods whiskey still in the literature. A very antique and traditional design may be found on this item.

Quick History Lesson

There is a popular belief among historians that early settlers took this form of thump keg with them and integrated it into the stills that they later began to construct once they’d, well… established. If you take a look around, you’ll notice that some of the older European stills seem to confirm this notion since they appear to have made use of what appears to be the same chambers that were used as thump kegs as well. This suggests that the colonists who came over from the British Isles were already familiar with the design and inventiveness of how it functions!

While the United States was still in the midst of Prohibition, bourbon distillers and moonshiners in the Appalachian Mountains preferred utilizing thumpers for their formulas.

The Thumper Keg of Today

Modern-day hillbilly culture retains the thump keg as one of the most recognizable and ingenious design components of the classic hillbilly still. Anyone who manufactures moonshine will understand how critical this is to the operation of their moonshine stills. The thumper keg, which can be constructed of copper, steel, or wood, is located between the stillpot and the condenser and holds the liquid. You might wonder why this is the case. Its function, in a nutshell, is to distill the output of a pot still a second time without having to pass the distillate through a second time.

What Is a Thumper Keg For?

Are you still unsure what it does? We’re on the right track. So we’ve covered the basics of what a thump keg is intended to achieve. The next sections will go into the specifics of how this works. As a general rule, a conventional pot still with no thump keg can only distill a wash to the point of producing a “low wine.” As a result, you will have an output that ranges from 40 to 05 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). To attain the high alcohol level required for high-proof whiskey or any other spirit, such as moonshine, you will need…

a lot of sugar.

In the present day, many distillers in Europe still employ swan-neck pot stills and a beer stripper to distill wash to a low-wine condition, before passing the wash through a second spirit still in order to turn the wash into a high-proof spirit.

How Does A Thumper Keg Work?

You might be wondering how all of this magic comes to be. The way a thump keg operates, on the other hand, is quite ingenious. The thumper keg distillation equipment in moonshine stills makes advantage of the surplus heat released by the steam pot, making it a particularly effective distillation process. Allow me to explain.

  1. When using a typical still, the wash or fermented solution is heated to a high temperature, which causes the alcohol vapors to be released
  2. These vapors are then trapped by the condenser and collected into the solution known as low wines.

Did you know: If you don’t have a thumper keg, you’ll have to distill this liquid through a number of stills in order to get the desired high alcohol level. Even while this repeated distillation procedure is successful, it is also costly and time-consuming. It is because the thumper keg makes the moonshine-making process simpler that it is becoming increasingly popular among moonshine-makers.

So How Does It Work, Exactly?

The addition of more ethyl alcohol to the thumper during these distillations allows certain moonshine distillers to produce a more powerful liquor with a significantly greater alcohol level. It is necessary to allow your mash to reach the boiling point at some point throughout your distillation operation. After reaching this temperature, it will begin to produce steam or hot vapor. Now, it’s common sense that steam needs to escape somewhere at some point (otherwise things will start going ka-boom and nobody wants that).

As a result, this steam will seek a method to escape, which means it will make its way out of your moonshine stills eventually. The thumper keg comes into play at this point.

  1. If you’re using a thump keg, the heated vapor will flow through the arm and into the low wine that’s already condensed at the bottom of the thump
  2. You’ll start to hear a “thumping” sound as the hot vapor and condensed low wine explode out of this pipe on a regular basis. When you re-heat the liquid, the thumper keg transfers highly pure alcohol vapors from your still to the condenser, which is where the word “thumper” comes from. Known as thumper liquid, it is the high-proof spirit that all moonshine enthusiasts want.

Tips: The temperature is a good indicator of where you will need to make cuts in order to reach the proof you need. As you can see, the temperature of the vapor is regulated by the proportion of alcohol to water present. It is possible to get a decent estimate of the amount of alcohol present in your mix by monitoring the temperature of the liquid anyplace in your setup, with or without your thumper. Keep an eye out for the mash that you’re employing. It’s important not to let your mash overflow into the thumper!

The Result

When this entire process is completed, heated vapor will constantly heat the low-alcohol wine to the boiling point of alcohol, thus “distilling” the wine for a second time. This results in a high-proof moonshine, bourbon, or spirit that cannot be produced by simply passing a liquid through a standard pot still several times in a row. In order to avoid this, moonshiners and other distillers prefer to utilize wood for their kegs instead of plastic. Wood provides excellent insulation and is superior than metal in terms of keeping heat trapped within to maintain this temperature, allowing moonshine distillers to ensure that the process is as effective as possible while maintaining this temperature.

Infusing Flavors Using A Thumper Keg

As you can see, we’ve already given you a very decent picture of what happens inside a thumper keg. But did you know that it can also be used to enhance the flavor of your moonshine by adding additional layers of flavor? Fill the thumper keg halfway with a limited number of spirit tails from a prior batch (the best option), some wash from the current batch, or water before starting the distillation process (water is the last resort). When you turn on your pot still, the vapor that flows in will be cooled by this liquid, known as the thumper liquid.

You will have a number of alternatives for completing this task.

  1. Add fruit-infused alcohol to your thumper keg for a refreshing drink. Fill a large container with low-alcohol wines or head/tail spirits and arrange your choice fruits, spices, and herbs in the container. Once this is done, let it to sit for a week or two to allow the tastes to gradually permeate the liquid. When it’s time to distill, just pour this solution into the bottom of the thumper keg to allow the tastes of the solution to permeate your finished moonshine. You may also add liquid components like juice (apple, lemon, peach, blackberry, etc.) and coconut oil straight into your thumper keg if you want a simpler and speedier technique than the one described above
  2. However, this method is not recommended. Directly into your thumper, place your raw ingredients– This is a mixture of the first two types of flavor infusion that we’ve discussed previously. You have the option of immediately putting fruit peel, herbs, spices, and mashed ripe fruit into your thumper keg, if you so want. Just keep in mind that, in the case of mashed fruit, you will need to use a lot of it to get the flavor you want. Additionally, it may create quite a shambles
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Regardless of the method you use, you must first remove the heads from the ethyl alcohol before infusing the liquid with them. This will ensure that the tastes are infused into the distillate that you will be drinking later.

How Does It Compare?

You should not expect the same results as you would get from passing your vapor, water, and distillate through a sophisticated reflux column still, despite the fact that it is an improvement over a conventional pot still. If the reflux column is properly constructed, it may still produce up to 95 percent alcohol by volume or proof, while also allowing for greater separation of the ethyl alcohol, esters, and ketones in the heads and the heavier fusel alcohol in the tails of the column. The fact is that some distillers do not appreciate this method because they believe it removes too much taste from the distillate, resulting in less palatable alcohol at a later stage.

(**According to the individual who enjoys coffee**) These purists choose a thumper because it allows them to keep the flavor of their distillate while yet obtaining the desired alcohol by volume or proof level.

Ultimately, though, if you want to obtain that greater alcohol by volume or proof without having to put your distillate through a more costly set-up, we propose a thumper distillation system. You know who we’re talking about, home moonshiners!

What’s the Right Size of Thumper Keg?

thumper kegs should be 25 percent to 40% the size of your main boiler, as we said at the beginning of the essay. However, if you want to charge your thumper keg with a significant quantity of charge, whether it be botanicals, cheap wines, wash, or water, you should get a thumper keg that is at least half the capacity of your main boiler.

How Do You Clean A Thumper Keg?

Doing a vinegar run through your thumper keg will be the quickest and most effective method of cleaning it so that it is ready for use in your moonshine production.

  1. Pour 50 percent distilled hot water and 50 percent vinegar into your boiler, filling it up to around 20 percent of its capacity. Starting with your pot, begin distilling from it directly into your thumper, exactly as you would usually when separating tails and distilling spirits. It should be at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit and should remain at that temperature for at least 5 minutes before using. Once that is completed, turn off your heat source and let your distillation apparatus to cool down to a temperature that you are comfortable with. You’re finished after you’ve emptied the vinegar solution.

It’s important to note that you only need to do this if you have a fresh new thumper keg on hand. Otherwise, simply repeat the process 2 to 3 times every year.

Thumper Keg Recommendations

If you’re looking to purchase a thumper keg and would like some recommendations, here is the article for you.

Stampede Stills 2 Gallon Copper Moonshine Still Thumper Keg (Doubler)

A copper thumper keg that is totally constructed from copper (20-ounce copper sheet). It has a capacity of up to 2 gallons of liquid. It also has a half-inch ball valve drain and two half-inch copper pipe handoffs for easy connection. HOWEVER! For your pot, you might check out this stainless steel thumper keg that is meant for use with a beer kegerator….

DIY 2 Gal 10 Liters Thumper

It is constructed of food-grade materials and high-quality stainless steel that is 100 percent lead-free, ensuring that the distillation process is as safe as possible. It’s even available in a variety of sizes!

Stampede Stills Copper Half Gallon Widemouth Mason Jar Thumper Kit

Another excellent and reasonably priced choice if your goal is not to produce vast quantities of alcohol. Any wide-mouth mason jar may be transformed into a thumper with the help of this copper tube and seals that have been handmade in the United States. Keep in mind that it does not contain any extra pope or coupling unions to let you to connect it to your existing system.

Final Words

The moonshine industry is a big and diverse industry. This is only a small sample of the material that will be extremely beneficial to you as you work to develop your moonshine. Have a good time! Karl S. is a marketing leader, brewer, father, and spouse. Basically, he’s an all-around great person.

Best Liquid To Use in Thumper

Thumpers, as opposed to pot stills, are ideal for making moonshine because they effectively conduct two distillations in one—without losing the taste from the spirit, as occurs when reflux distillation is employed. If you have a thumper, it is customary to fill it approximately halfway with liquid before using it. For our Brewhaus thumpers, this is the case; however, if you are using another kind of thumper, verify with the manufacturer or modify the fill level as needed. How do you know what kind of liquid to use in your thumper while you’re creating moonshine, though?

Although that was my initial assumption, it turns out that water is one of the last things you’d want to use in a fire.

Tails From a Previous Batch: Best

Essentially, how the thumper works is that it draws water vapor from the head of your kettle and directs it via a tube to the bottom of the thumper. Once it enters the liquid in the thumper, it cools and condenses, while simultaneously heating the liquid in the thumper, which results in a condensed vapor and heated liquid. The temperature of the liquid in the thumper steadily rises, and the liquid vaporizes up into the condenser and out as product as a result of this. Ideally, you should use the liquid from a prior run to fill the thumper with tails from the current run.

If you do decide to utilize tails for this, be sure to use only the ones that you gathered first. As tails are gathered, the concentration of congeners and fusel oils in the tails rises, therefore the tails that are the purest are those that were collected immediately after the hearts were done.

Some of Your Current Wash: Good

The utilization of part of the liquid from the distillation process might be another possibility. However, although while this will not include as much alcoholic content as tails from a previous run, it is preferable to water since it has some alcoholic content. Given that you’re going to be using it to produce moonshine anyhow, fill your thumper up approximately halfway and get to work distilling your concoction.

Water: Better Than Nothing

At first glance, I figured that thumpers were simply filled with water, but Rick explains that water would be the very last choice in such a situation. Despite the fact that it theoretically works, he asserted that if you use water, you would not get the benefits of utilizing anything that already contains alcoholic content. If you don’t have any tails from a prior batch on hand, he advises using at least a portion of your current wash as a substitute. Although there is no real harm done if you use water, you will not obtain nearly as much benefit from this “double-distillation” as you would if you used one of the other methods described above.

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Why Use a Thumper on a Distilling Kettle?

So you’ve chosen to start distilling for the purpose of making spirits, and because you’re a whiskey fan, you’ve opted to use pot stills in order to get the most genuine taste profile possible. Indeed, pot stills have the most ancient histories on the globe, and pot-stilled whiskies, rums, and brandies are among the most highly sought-after spirits on the planet. However, the catch here is that pot stills are not the most efficient technologies to utilize if production speed is a significant consideration in your decision to use them.

The pot still is also inefficient, which means that the distillate produced from a single distillation can be heavily polluted with high and low boiling-point ingredients, which can add a disagreeable flavor to the finished distillate.

Of course, all of this adds up to the usage of more resources in order to produce the most ideal pot-stilled end product.

What Is a Thumper?

Thumbers, as the name implies, are secondary distilling kettles which link to the primary distillation kettle. Heating the thumper is accomplished by the use of the heat that has already been generated to feed the primary kettle. According to the manufacturer, the thumper derives its name from the sound it produces while operating.

Thumper or No Thumper?

A thumper configuration makes it possible to do a secondary distillation without having to send the distillate through the apparatus a second time. According to the design criteria, the use of a parasitic kettle may require more BTUs to operate than the use of a single distilling kettle, but it is probable that the use of two fully distinct distillations will require less BTUs to operate. The presence of liquid in the thumper, which will permit another phase-change cycle, will also result in heat exchange within the thumper, which may result in a reduction in the amount of cooling capacity necessary to chill the completed distillate.

The significant savings, on the other hand, will be the number of man hours required to create a product that is more appealing for consumption.

This may result in the creation of additional carboxylic acids, which can enhance the complexity of the final spirit.

Similarly, the operator can add botanicals to the thumper in order to increase the output of gin. This permits the distiller to avoid contaminating the bigger, more time-consuming to clean main distillation kettle with plant oils, which would otherwise be necessary.

Enter the Double Thumper

In addition to a single thumper, a double thumper (also known as a double retort) can be employed in certain situations. The double thumper, like the single thumper, contributes to the ABV enrichment of the finished product by stabilizing the ABV of the distillate produced as a consequence of the distillation process. This type of apparatus, which is still in use for the production of traditional Jamaican rum, is perhaps the most well-known application of double thumpers (retorts). This application charges one of the retorts with low-quality wines, while the other is charged with high-quality wines.

As previously stated, this method permits an extra increase in ABV while also increasing the possibility of beneficial carboxylic acid production.

You could say that this style of arrangement lends more “rummyness” to the rum’s flavor profile.

A More Flexible Double Thumper

The StillDragon twin thumper (retort) system takes this concept a step further by including extra elements that provide the operator greater freedom when in operation, as seen in the diagram below. In the StillDragon system, the vapor supply manifold (lyne arm) is fitted with three-way valves at each retort, allowing the operator to bypass one or both retorts at the same time. The operator will find this useful whether he or she chooses to perform a more basic stripping run or to send vapor to a totally separated distillation equipment.

  • Each StillDragon retort is also equipped with a specific heat input capability as well as a traditional column attachment function, which is standard equipment.
  • Other options are available for inclusion.
  • In the following image, you can see a classic illustration of how several types of distillation instruments may be combined to create the most adaptable distilling apparatus.
  • This system is also equipped with a specialized product condenser, which reduces the frequency with which the rectifier side of the system must be cleaned.

StillDragon’s sales staff may be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 561-845-8009 for additional information on how to include a thumper into your distillery plans.

On slobber boxes and thumper kegs

One of the most often asked questions we receive is whether or not it is required to put a thumper keg on our stills in order to be successful in distilling. We believe that it is not. First, it would be good to understand what this contraption is all about before we can respond to it. To put it simply, the term “thumper keg” refers to a container that is fitted in a distillation system between the still pot and the condenser. Traditionally, it was employed in hillbilly stills to raise the alcohol percentage of the distillate because conventional stills only produced products with an alcohol content of approximately 50-60 percent.

  • Then, when additional hot vapor passes over this low wine in the thumper, it is heated to the boiling point of alcohol, resulting in a larger alcohol concentration in the vapor that flows into the condensing unit – normally about 85 percent.
  • As an added bonus, it captures undesirable silt that might otherwise make its way into your finished product.
  • We have a distinctive onion-head on each of our copper stills, which you can see when you look at them closely.
  • In addition, our stills will produce whiskey with an alcohol concentration of roughly 70%, which should be more than sufficient for the majority of home distillers’ requirements.
  • In a nutshell, the answer to the question of whether our stills require a thumper keg is no.
  • Thank you very much!
  • Regarding those sloppy boxes, what do you think of them?
  • The onion-head design, which is both eye-catching and useful, eliminates the need for them with our stills once again.
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How Does a Thump Keg Work?

Do you want to produce high-quality moonshine with the least amount of effort? The thump keg is your new best buddy, and we’d like to introduce you to him. It might be quite a puzzle to figure out how to make your own moonshine if you are new to this activity. Understanding the many processes involved in making your own alcohol, such as fermentation and distillation, will be essential. Before you can begin brewing, you will need to become familiar with several pieces of equipment like as the still, thump keg, and warm box.

The thump keg, on the other hand, is one of the components that you might not be as acquainted with.

Our goal in this post is to provide an in-depth explanation of the term “thump keg,” as well as some excellent suggestions on how to utilize your thump keg to alter the flavor and intensity of your whiskey.

What is a thump keg?

Since the beginning of time, the thump keg has played an important role in the production of whiskey. One of the most important functions of a thump keg is that it allows you to distill your output from a pot still a second time without having to pass the product through the still a second time or modify the taste and strength of your moonshine. You can make a low-quality whiskey with only a pot and no thump keg, if you choose. After a single run, these spirits typically yield between 40 and 50 percent alcohol by volume.

Thump Kegs allow you to produce significantly higher-quality results without having to go through the full procedure again.

The Design of a Thump Keg

Thump kegs are available in a range of shapes and sizes. Many whiskey producers prefer oak barrel thump kegs over metal thump kegs because wood does not lose heat as rapidly as metal thump kegs. The temperature in the thump keg is just as critical as the temperature in the main still. It is heated to a high temperature in the still which results in the formation of steam, which is then expelled via a copper tube and returned to the still to be transformed back to their liquid condition. The heat from the thump keg causes the liquid to evaporate once more, this time escaping via another copper tube that leads to the condenser.

A thump keg can be replaced with a reflux column still

A reflux column still can be used in lieu of the thump keg if desired. Some of these stills contain different types of materials, including copper mesh. After passing through the column still, the liquid is treated and interacts with the copper, which removes sulfur from the product as a result of the reaction. Reflux column stills have the ability to create spirits with an alcohol content of up to 95%. The majority of beer enthusiasts, however, prefer to use a thump keg atop the reflux column since these are easier to come by or make, and they are far less expensive to purchase.

In addition, some whiskey manufacturers are content to skip the thump keg entirely and restart the entire process using a sour mash in order to retain a precise alcohol percentage and flavor profile for their whiskey.

Thump kegs can be used to impact whiskey flavor

It is also because of this that so many moonshine makers choose to employ thump kegs: they can use them to alter the flavor of their whiskey.

With the addition of various substances such as fruits, herbs, and spices, the flavor and essence of the alcohol may be altered, resulting in the creation of more intriguing spirits.

How does a thump keg work?

If you are using a thump keg for the first time, always remember to give it a thorough cleaning before using it to reduce the possibility of infecting your still with foreign matter or bacteria. Once the thump keg has been well cleaned, you may begin assembling your system. Here’s a brief rundown of what you’ll require:

  • Cooking in a stillpot
  • Preparing whisky with components such as corn meal, sugar, yeast, and water The thumps keg, copper tubing, and condenser

Before you begin combining components, make sure that your whiskey making kit is completely assembled. Many moonshiners construct their own whiskey-making equipment, replete with thump keg, from the ground up entirely by hand. You may, on the other hand, save a significant amount of time by purchasing the finest whiskey making kit that is already completely assembled. After you have completed your setup, you may begin utilizing your thump keg right away. Follow these steps to learn how to use this configuration:

Make your mash

Before the finished product can be transferred to the thump keg, it must first be mashed in the still pot. Inside the still, cornmeal will be steeped in hot water for the duration of the procedure. In some cases, sugar is used in place of the grain substitute. The mixture is then inoculated with yeast, which begins the fermentation process. It takes a few days for this mixture to completely convert into what is known as mash. The still is then subjected to a temperature of around 172 degrees in order for the alcohol to begin to evaporate.

The vapor is transmitted into the thump keg through the copper pipes in the keg.

Can you Add Fruit to a Thump Keg?

Some moonshiners choose to include special items in their thump kegs, such as fruits or spices, to enhance the flavor. Because of this reaction, a portion of the fragrance is absorbed into the liquor, resulting in alterations to the flavor and scent of the whiskey.

Can you Increase the Potency of your Still with the Thump Keg?

Moonshiners who wish to make more strong alcoholic drinks can “charge” the thump keg by adding undistilled mash or alcohol to the keg before distilling the mash or alcohol. The steam that passes through the liquid will take up part of the alcohol vapor before rising to the top of the condenser and re-entering the system. This is the time when the liquid still in the heated thump keg begins to re-evaporate. This procedure also removes any mash bits that may have gotten into the thump keg during the brewing process.

Condensate your Still

When the vapor emerges from the thump keg, it climbs to the top of the condenser and condenses. In certain circles, the condenser is also referred to as the worm because it is made of a length of coiled copper pipe that is housed within a worm box that is filled with cold water. Many worm boxes are powered by cold water that is continually cycled, ensuring that the condensation process remains constant. In addition to being instantaneously triggered by surrounding cold water, the condensation process is also initiated as soon as the vapor enters the worm.

The steam is converted into liquid alcohol, which is discharged by the faucet, hose, or spout into a bucket. Many moonshiners would additionally filter their moonshine a second time before bottling and distributing their products to the general public.

Does a Thumper Need to be Heated?

Many moonshiners prefer to heat the thumper instead of using it. The alcohol must remain in vapor form in order for it to be able to climb to the top of the condenser. Because of the natural isolative properties of wood, barrels used as thump kegs are frequently favored over other materials. It is less necessary to use artificial heat to evaporate the alcohol in a thump keg since condensation is reduced in this method.


As you can see, utilizing a thump keg does not add to the amount of labor you have to perform. If the thump keg in the whiskey-making kit is set up correctly, the still will naturally flow through the thump keg and into the barrel. If you want to make things as simple as possible, you may leave the vapor to just travel through the thump keg without adding any further components. The alcohol content of your still will continue to rise substantially, but the flavor may be completely lacking. When making your still, you have the option of adding fruits or spices to your thump keg if you want to enhance the flavor.

  1. Beginner whiskey producers should concentrate on making a low alcohol content still, with an alcohol content of about 70 – 80 percent, until they gain more experience.
  2. You can do this by adding additional mash or alcohol to your still, which will raise the alcohol content even higher.
  3. In addition, as compared to re-running the still through the pot still every time, these technologies significantly minimize the labour and length of whiskey-making.
  4. Overall, though, the thump keg is far less expensive to construct and operate than current whiskey-making components.

Copper High Country Moonshine Stills

In a recent episode of the Discovery Channel show Moonshiners, a “North Carolina High Country Still” was demonstrated, which is nothing more than a typical pot still equipped with a thump keg (also known as a thumper) and a coil condenser (or worm). Many people have inquired about the differences between our copper distiller component kits and classic pot stills. According to the question, the response is “they aren’t that dissimilar.” A lot of the components in the Clawhammer parts kits were inspired by old pot stills, such as the North Carolina High Country version depicted in this photograph.

  1. Copper has a pleasing appearance and is simple to work with.
  2. As a result, the final product will be significantly improved.
  3. Another significant distinction between our stills and high country pot stills in North Carolina is the presence of a condenser.
  4. Traditional pot stills employ a copper coil or a “worm” to produce their distillate.
  5. An additional water storage vessel is required by the inclusion of a worm, and it consumes a significant amount of material and is not as easy to deal with as a liebig condenser.
  6. Simply provide cold water to the lower side input tap with a garden hose (either directly from a spigot or through a small pump from a cool body of water) and drain through the top side tap.
  7. There is a significant distinction between Clawhammer and high country stills in the manner in which our stills increase purity before condensing alcohol vapor back into a liquid.

The liquid is basically re-distilled in the thump keg before it is condensed back into a liquid in the condenser.

The impact of a clawhammer is the same as that of a thumper, but it is achieved through a different mechanism.

With the addition of the scrubbers, liquid with a higher boiling temperature (in this case, water) begins to condense out of the vapor before it reaches its destination at the top of the column.

Please keep in mind that Clawhammer stills can be used to produce distilled water and essential oils without the requirement for any government permissions.

A federal distilling spirits permit is required for the production of distilled spirits.

Make certain to investigate the rules and regulations of a given state, and to adhere to all applicable laws.

For additional information on how to distill using one of our still kits, please see the following document, which outlines the many parallels between classic copper stills and our copper column stills.

Thumpers – Configuration Discussions on StillDragon® Community Forum

Okay, let’s start the conversation by tossing in a hand grenade or two. Despite what you may have heard in the past, many thumpers are not actually used to enhance the alcohol by volume (ABV). It’s only that this appears to have been seized upon as the primary rationale for using a single. Sorry for the inconvenience, but this is simply not accurate. They will, without a doubt, do so, although in many situations it will be coincidental. Many times, the true objective is to change the flavor of the food.

In addition, we’ll put off discussing what you put into the thumper to begin with for now.

Thumpers are real parasitic boilers, and they are heated by the primary boiler, as previously stated.

A thumper’s phase behavior must be considered carefully, as it performs a variety of functions during the course of a race.

Fill the thumper with enough plain water to completely cover the end of the vapour injector.

Because of the composition of the boiler charge, it contains a variety of various volatiles.

This will cause practically all of the vapours to condense into the thumper charge as a result of the process.

The temperature rises as well, as a result of the release of energy by the condensing liquid.

This is produced by the bubbles falling forcefully around them.

If your vapour injector has been updated to add a diffuser to produce smaller bubbles, it is most likely significantly quieter.

Your boiler is generating a combination of volatile vapours, which are now coming into contact with a hot liquid.

Several others will very certainly make it through the liquid.

Since a result, part of the boiler’s vapour makes it through the thumper, but its composition has altered, as it now contains a greater proportion of the lower boiling point headsy components.

It is possible that part of this is due to agitation caused by the vapour bubbling through it, and that some of it is due to the thumper charge actually boiling.

In other words, the compositions of the two vapour streams are also different.

After all is said and done, a vapour is created by the thumper.

It will have a different chemical makeup and a greater alcohol by volume (ABV).

Things continue in this manner for the majority of the race.

Using the two boilers together, the pot continues to behave just like a normal pot, but with somewhat higher efficiency.

Your primary boiler charge has now been emptied of alcohol.

This is directly heating the thumper charge at this point.

This has the additional consequence of condensing the tails, which results in a larger hearts phase.

Your best bet is to figure out where the sweet spot is for your primary boiler without include the thumper. You may then incorporate the THUMBER into the mix, and from there you can experiment with power management to get the desired run parameters. That’s a sufficient length for a first post.:

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