The Best Proofing Parrot For Distilling (In 2022)

A parrot is a piece of distilling equipment that sits after the take-off port of your still, and before the collection vessel, to collect a real-time sample of the alcohol coming off the still.

If you want to take continuous alcohol measurements while distilling, then you need a proofing parrot.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what parrots are and how they work, what to look for in a parrot, and what ones we recommend buying in 2022

When should you use a proofing parrot?

Look, you’ll meet a bunch of ol’ timers who say “you don’t need to know the ABV coming off your still”..

And that may work for them, but in my option you can’t have too much information (feedback) from the distilling process.

I recommend getting a parrot, and using it for every run you do. Sure, you may not need to check it on a stripping run or you may not care about the ABV of your whiskey run (it is what it is) but having that information readily available gives me peace of mind over the whole process.

How Do You Best Use a Proofing Parrot?

To set up your proofing parrot it’s simple – there’s an ‘in’ and and ‘out’. Just make sure you plumb it up correctly.

Product should enter through the bottom of the parrot and exit from the top.

If your parrot has a drain valve, keep this shut.

Ensure the parrot is at the right height so gravity can do it’s thing. This means it should be lower than your take off arm, and higher than your collection vessel.

TIP: Never open the drain valve with your alcoholmeter still inside. I can tell you how many I’ve lost, got stuck, and broken by doing this!!

What Different Types of Parrots are there?

There is not much you need to take into consideration when buying a proofing parrot, but it is important to be sure that the size you buy is correct as it will affect the output volume of your still.

1. Copper vs. Stainless Steel.

Generally, when using a parrot, whether it be copper or stainless steel, you will get the same results. The main difference is that copper is more expensive, and a little more prone to damage (it’s a softer material). There are benefits of using copper in your still, but these are mainly in the vapour path, so having a copper parrot isn’t really going to affect anything.

Copper does look sexy.. so I guess there’s that?

2. Inline vs. Free Standing.

Now, if we are to consider inline vs freestanding, the same applies here. Either option will give you the same result.

Im clumbsy and knock thing over ALL THE TIME so I much prefer an inline parrot. My stills all use tri-clamps connections, so you can connect the parrot structurally to the still – and its not going anywhere.

A free standing parrot has to be propped up at the right height, in a spot that wont get knocked over, which in my mind is a lot of faf. But this is where your preferences come into play. So, if you prefer freestanding, then purchase one.  However, inline tends to be a more popular choice among distillers.

3. Size Matters.

You’ve heard the saying “size doesn’t matter”, but when considering a parrot, size does matter and can become a problem if the incorrect size is used. And bigger is not better.

It is very seldom that it is an issue if it is too big. But if your inlet is too small, it will cause a pressure build-up within the still and can lead to a dangerous increase in pressure.

Essentially, the size needs to be big enough to ensure this does not happen.

This is common knowledge among manufacturers and retailers. However, most retailers will keep a standard size. Usually, this is because 99% of home distillers will not have a boiler larger than 100L, which should output around 3L of very high percentage alcohol on an hourly basis.

4. Drain Valve.

At the end of the distillation process, the drain valve will clear out any liquids remaining in the parrot.

This isn’t necessary, and if you have a freestanding parrot you can easily turn it upside down to empty it, but if your parrot is fixed to your still then you really want the ability to drain it.

Reccomendation:

With all this said, my preferred parrot is made of stainless steel for durability, it an inline type with triclamp connections and has a drain valve at the bottom.

What are the best brands on the market?

Generally, there are no “best brands” when it comes to purchasing a proofing parrot. There are homemade and mass produced versions on Aliexpress and Amazon which tend to be a lot cheaper than the ones from the brewing shops – and you get basically the same thing.

YUEWO produces a well-made stainless proofing parrot although it’s quite pricey. For copper parrots, The Stampede stills has some very traditional handmade proofing parrots that work well.

You can also put one together for a few bucks yourself. You’ll just have to experiment a bit with soldering copper tubing.

What Are The Best Proofing Parrots?

Regardless of whether you are a beginner, an advanced home distiller, or a professional, parrots are a great addition to your still.

Here are a few we found that we think you’ll like:

1.  Stampede Stills Handmade Copper Proofing Parrot (Copper.. it’s sexy!)

This Stampede Stills hand crafted proofing parrot will is made of hand soldered copper with a brass base. It’s easy to use and comes up with a beautiful shine when polished.

The heavy brass base plate keeps it stable.

Note: this is a free standing type and does not include a drain value. It’s also a little more expensive than some of the stainless steel options.

Features:

  • Lead-solder free
  • Traditional look and feel
  • Handmade soldered copper
Stampede Stills Proofing Parrot with Brass Base
  • Copper construction with lead free solder

2. Grape and Granary Stainless Steel Distilling Parrot (Cheapest Option!)

This is another fantastic option and the cheapest of the parrots we’d recommend.

I love this because its stainless steel, which is more durable and requires less cleaning than copper. It also has a smaller collection volume than other parrots which means for small stills you’ll get less smearing in your cuts, and less wastage during your run.

I like this because it has an inlet port, rather than a funnel, so you can connect your product directly in with some tubing. I feel like trying to line up a funnel with the output of my still is just another thing that could go wrong – and I don’t want precious product all over my floor!

Features:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Small collection volume makes it ideal for small stills
  • Made from high-quality welded 304 stainless steel.
Parrot For Distillation- Stainless Steel
  • 12" Stainless parrot for distillation

3. YUEWO In-line Proofing Parrot (Our Top Reccommendation!)

This parrot is made from high-quality 304 stainless steel and is similar to what you’ll see on commercial distilleries.

It features a triclamp connection port so you can connect it directly to the output of your stills condenser. (but you don’t need to use it)

It also has a ball valve drain value to easily drain the parrot.

This is very similar to the one I use, but is available on amazon which is awesome so ordering and shipping is super easy. It’s our recommendation if you’re looking to add a proofing parrot to your distilling arsenal.

Features:

  • Easy to clean
  • Triclamp ports
  • Drain valve
  • Made from high-quality welded 304 stainless steel.
YUEWO Proofing Parrot for 22L Water Distiller Ethanol Still Wine Making Kit Whiskey Barrel Home Brewing Kit, Stainless Steel
  • Exquisite Craftsmanship: YUEWO alcohol distiller parrot is a sophisticated technology, skillful manufacture and ingenuity professional distillation accessories. High precision, thickness and durability, excellent quality coexist with strong function, produce high-quality wine.

How to Build Your Own Proofing Parrot:

If you would prefer to build your own proofing parrot, here’s a simple method to follow:

Step 1: Clean all your parts with a wire brush or sandpaper. As a side tip, add water-soluble flux to each joint before soldering.

Step 2: Solder a large reducer “T” fitting to the end of the 1-inch pipe. The end of the “T” should be flush with or slightly inset from the end of the pipe. Only use lead-free solder for this project. As soon as the solder begins to melt, stop adding heat!

Step 3: Solder a 1.5-inch to .5-inch reducer coupling to the other end of the 1-inch pipe.

Step 4: Add the connector, small “T,” another connector, and the end cap to coupling. The small “T” should face the opposite side of the pipe to the large “T.”

Step 5: Add the 90-degree elbow to the middle part of the small “T.”

Step 6: Add the longest 1/2-inch pipe to the 90-degree elbow and support it with another ½ inch pipe.

Step 7. Add a large reducer coupling to the end of the ½ inch pipe.

Step 8: Add the 45-degree elbow to the middle part of the large reducer “T.”

Step 9: Add the small ½ inch pipe to the 4-degree elbow and finish soldering.

This best parrot allows you to read the proof of your run-in in real-time. It is useful when making cuts during the distillation process and if you decide to make moonshine, a parrot is an indispensable addition to your setup.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. Will I get smearing with my parrot?

Smearing refers to the blending of vapors or liquids that are distilled at different times during the run and it can affect the taste and quality of your distillate.

The concern is that because a parrot may hold ~200ml of product, as new product comes in it will mix with the old stuff (produced 200ml earlier) and start to smear.

In reality, the parrot contents will completely changeover in around 3x collection volumes, so very little smearing does occur just due to the physics.

Still, if transitioning from fores to heads, or heads to hearts, we strongly recommend draining your parrot before continuing.

Q2. Is copper or stainless steel better for a parrot?

Stainless parrots are easier to clean, but traditionalists seem to prefer copper ones. There are benefits of using copper in your still, but these are mainly in the vapour path, so having a copper parrot isn’t really going to affect anything.

Copper does look sexy.. but stainless is cheaper, more durable, and easier to clean. I’d go for stainless steel any day of the week!

Summary

We suggest using a proofing parrot for every distillation you do to better monitor what’s happening inside your still. You don’t need to spend a fortune as there are goodaffordable options available on Aliexpress and Amazon.

The YUEWO In-line Proofing Parrot is our top pick for best proofing parrot due to its inline topology, solid stainless construction, and built in drain valve.

If you found this article helpful, think we have no idea what we’re talking about, or have any questions, please let us know in the comments below. Cheers! 🙂

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