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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > General Absinthe Discussion
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EdouardPerneau
Is there people in ours days that have seen genguine colorators ? Is there people that have the instruction to have them works ?
eric
AFAIK there does not seem to be any surviving Absinthe Coloratrors from the Pre-Ban era. Since they had virtually no practical use after the ban, they were probably all sold for scrap.
Perhaps someone has one stashed away somewhere?
EdouardPerneau
This is supposed to be an colorator ( according to someone( I can't remember his name ) at the Emile Pernot distillerie) But According to Oxy it wasn't … It's pretty big about more than six feet high there is a belt driven stirer . The emile pernot guy told me that they should have the manuals to make it works somewhere

IPB Image
IPB Image
IPB Image


those in front are colorators too
IPB Image


the one that look like a kettle might be one on total right
IPB Image
dakini_painter
Is the manhole the only way to put solids in/out?
Does the top lid come off?
What are those triangular brackets for?

I presume the gauge is a pressure gauge for steam heat?

In the old photo/drawing (2nd to last pic), the manhole at the bottom shows how they'll get the slop out of the equipment when you're done. The equipment at the distillery, doesn't seem to have that from the pictures you show. But maybe they did something different.
pierreverte
The Pernot machine was probably never used at all (squeeky clean) and is not a colorator. Most likely a 'mixer' that was used for stirring and blending liquids, as it would be very difficult to remove the plant material after the coloration. When first 'discovered', there were high hopes that it was a colorator…
Grim
David and I had a good look at this…

Click to view attachment

Definitely not a colorateur.

But as an aside, I think the more practical route - and certainly the technique most consistent with modern scales of production - would be to colour in a proper alambic, thoroughly rinsed and clean prior to that step.
Patlow
I can ALMOST see you! Any other pick? Love putting face to names…
Grim
Be in D.C. about the second weekend of October…
Shabba53
Dammit, I hate your timing. I'll be out of town that weekend for my son's birthday.
Provenance
I love your timing.
Tibro
If ever there was a need for a rim-shot emoticon . . .
Shabba53
No need to be a hater
Provenance
Huh?
Absomphe
I think Pro was talking to Grim, Shabba.

But I can certainly understand your paranoia confusion. harhar.gif
Shabba53
Agreed. Easy to misread it though.
Provenance
No, not really. It doesn't take Stompy's perceptive powers to realize who I was addressing. You flatter yourself if you think your schedule is worth my attention or comment.
Shabba53
Thanks for the clarification.

I appreciate the attitude, even though I've never done anything but try to be friendly towards you.
Provenance
You seem to think I'm a "hater" for reasons beyond my comprehension. Perhaps if your ego and paranoia were toned down, you might realize that not everything is about you.
Shabba53
Ego? Not so much. Paranoid? Nah. It's called a misinterpretation. In fact, I thought it a witty play on the conversation. I'd interpreted it as a funny quip that you liked my timing for being out of town when Grimmy was coming to town.

Now that's it's been clarified, I can see I gave you too much credit.
Wild Bill Turkey
This is why nobody used colorators.
Provenance
Because P3 would misunderstand them?
Artemis
This is an interesting question.

No, I have not seen one.

No, I have not seen instructions.

I have seen many illustrations and old texts, and what I can say is that a lot of them are bullshit. It's a mystery as to why this is so. Peter, Grim, etc. have already given the lie to that one picture, and I agree - that is not a colorator.

Often, that to which the old texts refer as a colorator is obviously not. In some cases, the text talks about compressed air to move the fluid from one vessel to the next, whereas the vessel in the drawing is right under the condenser - no need for air to do what gravity will do! In many cases, the "colorator" is just another still. A still could certainly be used to color absinthe: it is a vessel, it is closed, it has a heat source, it has a way of putting solid material (coloration plants) in and getting it out (manway, although a removable top such a Moor's head would serve for that).

A reliable clue is in the details of the drawing, if provided - a colorator will have steam piping routed to it. It most probably will have a temperature gauge (a pressure gauge is an entirely distinct device, related more to personal safety than to protocol). The vessel shown at the far right in one of the drawings provided by Eddy P. is almost certainly a colorator (it's right under a condenser - note that only one of three stills are routed to it). It's quaint - an armoire (chiffarobe for those in Alabama) right next to it, presumably to hold coloration herbs. I'm skeptical about all of the other illustrations I have seen, because the text almost always seems to get it wrong, for reasons that are obvious to one informed about industrial processes.
thegreenimp
I'll bet the last one used in the USA was in this building. probably scrapped during W.W.II

Click to view attachment
thegreenimp
And it was here earlier.

Click to view attachment
Grim
QUOTE(Artemis @ Sep 2 2009, 02:31 PM) *

This is an interesting question…

Shit, if you're gonna come back to the board, no reason for me to be so sparse…

Keep talkin' old man.
Artemis
The only thing I would add is that, based upon reading some of the descriptions of the more complicated facilities, it's striking that capturing every last drop of alcohol, even the remnants in wet coloration herb dredges, (which an HGer and maybe a small commercial producer of today would simply ignore) was very important, and the setup of the distillery components in the grand usines has to be considered in that light - it's not necessarily all about how to efficiently color, but how not to lose ethanol.
dakini_painter
Do you have any information of when alcohol was taxed in that era? I thought they had to pay tax on all they used, so any unrecovered alcohol was subject to tax.
Artemis
It's been discussed here pretty thoroughly in the past, but I didn't participate much - I seem to remember Peter Verte being well-informed about it, or maybe it was Oxy. I do seem to remember that the reason for being so careful about not losing a drop had to do with taxation, though.
EdouardPerneau
perhaps it makes also a kind of "sour mash" like whikey maker have done … what it that ? … jack daniel after distillation take a part of what remains in the stills and put in the new mash … to help consistency … perhaps it just had a bit more flavor in the blanche also… and the pernod's where colloring in 2500L vat so perhaps doing this could yeild 10-20 litres more
Artemis
A similar "sour mash" or even "lambic fermentation" theory was put forth years ago (maybe not in a public forum, I think it was a secret forum) by a certain Québecois - most people laughed at him, but who knows?

As to the size of Pernod's vessels - yes, it becomes more important to recover the alcohol covering the bottom of the vessel when the vessel is very big and you have liters instead of a pint. It's probably also true that small producers never bought into the complicated setups, and even some big producers, if they did, quickly abandoned them - just another reason no colorators seem to have survived. The latter theory was posed to me in a PM, and I think it's reasonable.
EdouardPerneau
so I'm too late for 4 years … But I think their main goal if they have 500kilos of wet coloring herbs was to get the most they could of alcool perhaps it should have yield a bit of flavor for the blanche …

Pehaps also the main advantage of coloring in an alambic … they just have to drain( the colored stuff) and put new alcool and the herbs at the same time
Artemis
Well, it was more than four years ago, but you did not miss much. The point that was taken to be laughable back then was about FERMENTATION of the mass of wet herbs (or bacterial infection, if you take fermentation to mean action strictly by yeast) lending something to the final mix, something akin to the sour mash you mentioned. Your point that the mass of wet herbs lending SOMETHING to some final product (maybe to a blanche), apart from coloration or the flavor that goes with it into an absinthe verte, may have merit. I agree with your second statement, and the coloring herbs may well have been left in the (used for coloration) still to add whatever they could to the next batch, whether it be alcohol, flavor, whatever - such a process would seem practical and efficient and I know some HGers have done just that.
Leopold
Sour mash doesn't help consistency, even though some of the big US whiskey distillers still claim that it does. It's simply an old way to lower the pH of the mash, thereby lowering the pH of the fermented beer, and creating a softer distillate. Thin stillage is used as a substitute for a large part of the fresh mash-in water for the next mash.

Edit to add: and come to think of it, I've seen very little discussion of pH when it comes to various stages of absinthe production.
EdouardPerneau
so there was somebody that really wanted to have rotted taste in his absinthe


humm tasty !
Artemis
Well, for what it's worth, that is exactly what happens to lambic, and I enjoy lambic. But absinthe? No, thanks.

That guy was a wild man, and if something was posted anywhere as a thing one must not do, he was sure to try it the next day (or in many cases, he had already tried it). I very much enjoyed his theories - he was constantly questioning "authority" (no, he was not Dr. O!) And his absinthe, at least what I tried, was very nice.
dakini_painter
Todd, correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember that lowering the pH by using sour mash reduced the chances of bacterial contamination.
Leopold
Most definitely, DP. Lower pH helps to fight most bacteria in the mash & fermentation. Well, everything but lactobacillus, but many whiskey distillers seek a bit of those guys to add a depth of flavor. Lactobacillus is a no-no for most beers, Belgians excluded.

We ferment our whiskey mash for a few days longer, and a bit more slowly in the hopes of a slight infection, and a slight drop in pH. But that seems to be a pretty unusual practice these days.
Grim
Well, if Pernod did anything with the colouration herbs post-colouration… it wasn't in the colorateurs.

[Whoever: Go grab a glass of absinthe and then we'll take a look at some images (thanks to David) and chat on this subject for a moment.]

The following is shit I find interesting, and since I'm drunk and you have no say-so in what I post, well here it goes:

The Pernod colorateurs you're talkin' about were immense, especially in comparison to the distilled batch size. Which is consistent with what you can dig up with respect to other big producers and how they liked to colour.

And check this out, one level-tube indicated the actual spirit level (and therefore colour)… much more convenient compared to the place-your-hand-on-it shit.

Also, note that they had no safety valve on the shoulder like most Egrot alambics would have. And that's really the basis for the shape and function - for utility sake… another function based off a standard theme, which is therefore easy to tool for and produce. Instead, you'll find the safety valve at the same level that the brass-work would normally occur for the quick-joint of the col-de-cygne, smack-dab at the gawddamn top. A very practical modification.

Really exaggerated along the vertical… as traditional froggy wisdom had said well into the late 1700s, early 1800s: shallow and broad is the quicker for boiling*. Actually, the more surface area… but whatever. That's another topic.

Also note: there's no fucking way to condense anything ANYWHERE-BY.

So now I'm free-stylin': I wouldn't go through the trouble of finding an opportune time to shovel the spent colouration herbs into another alambic. And I really don't think the timing on colouring and alambic turnaround would have a good overlap. Meaning to say, I wouldn't think that the bulk of the alambics would be between batches at the same time I want to expel most of the herbs from the colorateurs (in a cook-book way, that is)… and that's a serious guess on my part (guided by my own dogmas on colouring), but just thought I'd chime in.
absinthist
At least you have dogmas.
Grim
I already said I'm drunk. You post-pad and I'll whip your ass.
Marc
drunkenness is so overrated and easy, being sober is way more difficult, takes time and practise.
dakini_painter
I wonder what was done with all the spent distilling herbs. When you're making 36 mill. L. absinthe annually, that's a lot of herbs. Did it get sent to the fields, mixed with animal waste? I imagine they must have wanted it away from the villages and the river.


I'm sure the large producers were quite able to make efficient use of their production time.
speedle
That's an amazingly good question!
Leopold
Pigs will eat most anything, as will cows. In fact, there's more than a few digestive aids for cows on the market that contain herbal extracts like juniper berry and fennel.

Our herbs go to cows, pigs, and goats (and compost when they need it), mixed in with bourbon/vodka/rye stillage. One funny thing (or at least I think it's funny) is that the goats that our farmer owns go totally apeshit over spent juniper berries.

In colder climes, stillage or spent grains are really welcome because they arrive hot. In Michigan our local farmer fed our spent grains (essentially barley husks and sprouts thereof) to chickens. In the wintertime, the huge piles of spent grains would freeze on the outside. The chickens would peck holes in the pile that would eventually turn into ridiculous "chicken tunnels" by the end of the winter.

I'd be surprised if Pernod didn't do this, too.
speedle
So that's the Colonel's secret eh?
EdouardPerneau
QUOTE(Grim @ Sep 11 2009, 05:45 AM) *

it I find interesting, and since I'm drunk and you have no say-so in what I post, well here it goes:[/i]


And check this out, one level-tube indicated the actual spirit level (and therefore colour)… much more convenient compared to the place-your-hand-on-it shit.



Isn't a bain-marie water level checker because the stills have the same but it's on left instead of right



Grim
It's probably verifying the water level in the cucurbite/chaudière, as the bain-marie is technically surrounded by water… and yeah, it's probably not piped to the innards (got the wrong regular to bite).
EdouardPerneau
Yes that what I meaned grimmy
Tirador
QUOTE(eric @ Aug 31 2009, 07:13 PM) *

AFAIK there does not seem to be any surviving Absinthe Coloratrors from the Pre-Ban era. Since they had virtually no practical use after the ban, they were probably all sold for scrap.
Perhaps someone has one stashed away somewhere?



I'm a little late in commenting, but here's my two cents.

First, Colorators would have been used for more then just Absinthe, as other spirits are colored in the same manner … so they would have been usable by distillers making other products after the ban.

What is more likely, is that as others in this thread have eluded to, distillers decided that the equipment was unecessary as they could use their alambics or covered steam kettles, etc. to color their spirits just as some of us do today … and just as the notes of distillers gone-by discuss.

Next, I would guess that there are at least several colorators lying around someplace … but I haven't come across one yet (though I really haven't been looking for one).

At some point perhaps I'll dig through my library and see if I've got any detailed diagrams and/or instructions on colorators design and usage as I propably do.

Grim … I'm suprised you don't as well ………

S.
Tirador
QUOTE(eric @ Aug 31 2009, 07:13 PM) *

AFAIK there does not seem to be any surviving Absinthe Coloratrors from the Pre-Ban era. Since they had virtually no practical use after the ban, they were probably all sold for scrap.
Perhaps someone has one stashed away somewhere?


Here's a few more thoughts on the equipment in the pictures … that is what is referred to in various late 1800s French distillation texts, including several Egrot catelogues, as a "Conge de Fabrication", or "mixing basket".

The literal translation is "basket of fabricating". The word Conge is also often used to discribe ore baskets and/or muck buckets for commercial minning and other industrail applications too.

It is not a colorator, though if it has a heat source (and some did), I assume it could possibly have been used to color.

I do know that these were used for dulcification (i.e. adding sugar), as well as to deproof and to blend different batches of spirit and various other applications where liquids (and in some cases disolvable solids) needed to be mixed.

It appears similar to modern commercial mixers, some of which have heat sources as well, and that are used for similar processes in the food, beverage and other industries.

My rambling thoughts on the subject for the day …

S.
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