Density Meter use in the Distillery – Painted Stave Distillery | Rudolph DDM 2911 Plus

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Density Meter use in the Distillery

We will be spending the day at Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna Delaware to understand modern Density Meter use in the Distillery and distilling itself.

Painted Stave is located in the Old Smyrna Theater, a movie house first opened in downtown Smyrna in 1947. The theater was built by the Schwartz family along with sister buildings in Dover and Middletown. The Smyrna Theater was the last completed and was considered the most advanced movie theater in Delaware when it opened.

Dwindling attendance in the 1970’s forced the theater to close, with the blockbuster Jaws being the last feature film shown in 1975. After the projectors went dark, the Theater was a music venue, and then a heating and plumbing supply store. The seats and projectors were sold off and the second floor was converted into offices, but many of the original fixtures were preserved in hopes that they would be used again someday.

When Painted Stave founders Ron and Mike first toured the building in the fall of 2011 it had been mostly vacant for many years and was badly deteriorated.

In December of 2012, Old Smyrna Theater LLC purchased the building, and the first floor, 6,300 sq ft was leased to Painted Stave Distilling to house their production space, tasting room and event venue. Renovations on the building began in January 2013, and today the Old Smyrna Theater is alive again, playing a new role in crafting premium local spirits in beautiful downtown Smyrna Delaware.

We would like to take you through a summary of Density Meter use in the Distillery and the Rudolph DDM 2911 PLUS. The obvious use is for final alcohol percent by volume measurements for final label values.

In addition the DDM is very useful for monitoring fermentation, making cuts during production, diluting and blending, and for final alcohol proof measuring after distilling an obscured alcohol product.

Today in the distillery are Painted Stave owners Ron Gomes, Jr., who happens to be a Ph.D. chemist, Mike Rasmussen who runs the day-to-day distillery operations, and Samantha Morales from Rudolph Research Analytical. Samantha is a chemist and technical sales representative with Rudolph Research Analytical who is visiting for the day. Rudolph is a supplier of TTB approved Density Meters to the alcohol industry and Painted Stave is a long standing customer.

We will now follow Ron, Mike, and Samantha through a typical day of production at Painted Stave.

Distillers start the process of making distilled spirits by creating “Mash Bills”  a list of ingredients or recipe that will be fermented into what is called Distiller’s Beer.

Once fermented this liquid will be relatively low in alcohol percentage with a range of alcohol content from around 5% to 12%. The distiller’s beer is later distilled to create high alcohol content spirits. Distillers will measure the specific gravity of the grain before and then after fermentation to determine alcohol yield of the distiller’s beer.

By monitoring the alcohol yields from these fermentations the distiller can change ingredients, yeast, time and other factors to increase yields and control the process. Painted Stave has refined and standardized their fermentation process. The result has been increasing yields by as much as 50%, reducing time and greatly controlling quality and consistency.

Distillers will often distill to an exact formula using a density meter to make very precise cuts as the distillate comes off the still. Employing an exact processes helps insure product quality and consistency in the final product. A Density Meter makes this a very precise process adding speed and precision.

Prior to bottling or barreling spirits the distiller will almost always need to dilute the spirits down to either a barreling or bottling strength.  The density meter is used to determine the exact percentage of alcohol by volume and then how much water needs to be added to get to the desired level of alcohol.

When a distiller gets to the point of preparing a spirit product for final dilution for bottling it is necessary to make very precise measurements. The Rudolph DDM 2911 PLUS is approved by the US TTB as its accuracy exceeds the required 0.02% alcohol % by volume. Measurement are very accurate and can be made quickly.


Through barrel aging, adding various flavors or infusions what was an alcohol and water only substance becomes an obscured substance. To accurately measure the alcohol percentage of the total with a density meter or hydrometer you must remove the obscuration and work back to just an alcohol and water sample. The process used to remove just the alcohol from an obscured alcohol product is called distillation.

As we have seen the use of Rudolph’s 2911 PLUS, TTB approved Density Meter is invaluable in the day to day activities of a distillery.

Density Meter use in the Distillery such as the Rudolph DDM 2911 PLUS

  • Monitoring fermentation and alcohol yields.
  • Making cuts of heads, hearts and tails during production
  • Diluting and Blending prior to barreling
  • Maintaining tight quality control standards throughout the entire production process.
  • Measuring final alcohol proof for label value.

Using a highly accurate density meter in your distillery will save you time and increase your quality and constancy!

Please do not hesitate to contact us at Rudolph Research Analytical

Not only is the Rudolph Research DDM 2911 PLUS Density Meter approved by the US TTB but, they use a Rudolph instrument in both of their testing labs.

Only Rudolph Research offers:

* Rudolph Exclusive – Windows 7 Embedded Operating System

* Rudolph Exclusive – 20 Year Instrument Service Commitment

* Only Rudolph is Designed, Manufactured and Serviced in the USA

* 0.01% Accuracy exceeds TTB Requirements.

* Expert training and assistance for Distillers

* Up to 10X view and scan of the U-Tube – insures bubble free measurements.

Summary of Density Meter use in the Distillery

Density Meter use in the Distillery