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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2009 * Archive through April 10, 2009 * Fourndation water and HERMS < Previous Next >

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Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 391
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 06:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Foundation water is not counted when computing the amount of strike water to add to the grains, correct? With my B3 rig, the 1.5" high false bottom in the MT holds about 6 qt of foundation water. That's a lot. The rig can handle 10-gal batches, but I typically make 5-gal. So with, say 12 lb of grain, I'm only adding maybe 14 qt strike water. But the 6 qt foundation water brings the total up to--let me get a calculator--ah yes, that would be 20 qt. Then with the HERMS, it all gets recirculated. Is this a problem? Should I put a whole bunch of marbles or something to take up space under the false bottom so that less foundation water is needed?

My efficiency with this rig has been low, like 60%. I realize it would be a little higher with a 10-gal batch, but still, it's pretty dang low.

I'm open to suggestions.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10050
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 06:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I really wouldn't worry about the underlet water. I'm not sure what your concern is about recirculation with a HERMS. As I mentioned in the RIMS/HERMS thread, there is 1.40 quarts of liquid in my recirculation loop, but all but about 8 ounces of it is returned to the mash. If you're worried about the malt not being sufficiently hyrdrated, as long as the water/grain ratio is above 1.0 quarts per pound, there are not any problems. Also, mash thickness is a relatively minor factor in terms of mashing efficiency and wort fermentability. If you have efficiency concerns, I would first look at the quality of your crush and secondly at the accuracy of your volume measurements.
 

ScottDeW
Advanced Member
Username: Scott

Post Number: 569
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 128.129.13.2
Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 06:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What Bill said considering efficiency...

The foundation water should absolutely be used in all your strike water calculations from temperature to quarts per pound ratio.

I wouldn't bother with marbles and would not worry too much about running at 1.6 quarts per pound.

Scott
http://texanbrew.com
 

PaulK
Advanced Member
Username: Paulk

Post Number: 781
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 68.63.203.31
Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 09:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This has come up here before and I think you definitely need to factor the underlet water as part of your water to grain ratio. I used to mash in a Polarware mash tun and that had a very high false bottom also with an amount of underlet water that was throwing off my desired water to grain ratio considerably. Like you suggest, I filled the underlet space with marbles to get things more in line.
 

Vance Barnes
Senior Member
Username: Vancebarnes

Post Number: 3609
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 74.7.7.66
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 04:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I found out the hard way to factor it in. It was on a 5 gal bitter with a low water to grain ratio. There wasn't enough liquid to recirculate. I had to steal some of the sparge water to get it to a workable consistency. With higher gravity brews and not as thick a mash it had never been an issue before.
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 392
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 07:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Good input. I think I'm going against Bill, who has apparently lost his marbles, and going with Paul, where the marbles ended up. I will use the underlet/foundation water as part of the calculation and try to minimize it with marbles and such. My concern was that if I have 6 qt foundation that is not part of the initial mash, that the mash would be way too thick if I am counting the foundation water as part of the water:grain ratio. I normally don't start the HERMS pump until the temp starts to drop a bit and I am ready for vorlaufing, so it would be doing most of the mashing with little to no impact from the foundation water. Should I should start the circulation pump earlier?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10058
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 07:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

TB, perhaps I misunderstood the question. Yes, you should include the underlet water among the total strike water, but you do not need to make special provisions for it.
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 244
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 09:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, I don't think Bill means to not consider the water below the false bottom as part of the water to grain ratio.
After you mash in and your grainbed settles it doesn't much matter whether excess liquid resides below your false bottom or above the surface of the grain bed.
If you need to raise the liquid level in order to cover the grain bed you can get there either by adding the marbles or by increasing the water to grain ratio. If you need 1.6 quarts per pound to get the liquid to reach the top of the grainbed that will not work against you. A higher ratio of water to grain will dilute the enzymes a bit but they will still do their job. Just give your mash a little more time to make up for the slight dilution. The efficiency with a higher ratio of water should be as high or even higher than with a lower ratio of water to grain.
Concerning efficiency the above posters are steering you in the right direction. One other thing you might consider is how fast is the recirculation taking place? Too fast could be causing channeling?
I fly sparge and noticed that I increased my efficiency by giving my mash a brief gentle stir 2 or more times during the mash and while heating it for a mash out.
 

PaulK
Advanced Member
Username: Paulk

Post Number: 782
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 68.63.203.31
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 10:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

>If you need 1.6 quarts per pound to get the liquid to reach the top of the grainbed that will not work against you.

Cory - Actually it can work against you. What can happen in this situation is you have all that foundation water diluting your enzyme concentration and a tight mash sitting above it. When I used the mash tun mentioned above, I had similar efficiency problems like TB until I filled that underlet area with marbles to reduce the volume.
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 245
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Friday, March 06, 2009 - 10:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, John Palmers book, How to Brew, offers a good explanation of what takes place in regard to grain ratios in chapter 14.6.
Basically, (the way I understand it) more water dilutes enzymes but also dilutes dissolved sugars. Diluted sugars means more room for additional sugars. It just takes more time to get there because the diluted enzymes work slower.

At any rate I usually hit an honest 80% efficiency and normally use a 1.5 and sometimes a 1.6 or higher water to grain ratio depending on the type of beer I am making and the type of mash I use.
 

Tom Meier
Advanced Member
Username: Brewdawg96

Post Number: 889
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 97.95.231.51
Posted on Saturday, March 07, 2009 - 01:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Palmer's graph and info on qt/lb ratios is based on a uniform mash thickness.. I think what PaulK is saying, is that the enzymes go below the false bottom, so they aren't working on the grains, and this hurts efficiency for the usual 60 minute mash.

Depending on how much grain and how much foundation water, you could really screw up your enzyme levels. Like 1/3rd of what they should be for a typical mash. not good.
 

PaulK
Advanced Member
Username: Paulk

Post Number: 786
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 68.63.203.31
Posted on Saturday, March 07, 2009 - 01:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tom has summed up well the point I was trying to make.
 

Brewzz
Advanced Member
Username: Brewzz

Post Number: 600
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.112.116.217
Posted on Saturday, March 07, 2009 - 04:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I use 1.33 quarts per pound,but I recirculate during the entire mash....

Cheers,Brewzz
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 394
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Monday, March 09, 2009 - 08:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Now we're getting to the heart of my questions. Brewzz, have you found that recirculating for the entire mash improves your efficiency? Up to now, I have just recirced for vorlauf and mash out. And if you recirc the whole time, is your HLT/heat exchanger kept at your mash temp? Then do you crank up the heat on the HLT for mash out?

Tom and Paul, you are hitting on the exact problem I suspected. That foundation water is just sitting there not working on the mash. And if you have a small amount of grain and a low-normal ratio, you have a very thick mash with a bunch of water below it. Or if you don't count the foundation water, then you have less sparge water that you can use, further hurting your efficiency.

Here's the message I get. Do you all agree?:
> Count the foundation water as part of your mash water. If your ratio gets a little high, increase the mash time a bit.
> Mimimize your foundation water--if you've lost your marbles, find them!
> Recirc continuously during the mash with your HERMS. Throttle down the valves to keep the flow fairly slow.
> Stir the mash 2-3 of times before final vorlauf.
> Keep HLT at mash temp during recirc. Raise temp to 170 for mash out (and sparging, of course).
 

Brewzz
Advanced Member
Username: Brewzz

Post Number: 602
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.112.116.217
Posted on Monday, March 09, 2009 - 10:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex,I have a RIMS system.I find that I usually hit the expected numbers,and only have to add a little heat during a typical mash,45-60 min max.As to if it improves my efficiency,I don't really know because I haven't tried it any other way...
Cheers,Brewzz
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10069
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 01:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here are my answers to your questions, TB.

1. Yes, although anything under 2.0 quarts per pound should not be too thin.

2. Yes, to a point, that is, if you have a large underlet space. Otherwise it's not a problem.

3 Whether you circulate continuously is up to you. In a RIMS or HERMS you can maintain or increase the temperature this way. Some systems use a bypass valve/loop to control the portion of liquid that is heated; others throttle the flow rate down to a trickle to maintain temperature and open it up to raise it. It can be a fine balance to find the right point. Of course another purpose of recirculation is to promote clarity prior to running off the mash liquid to the kettle.

4. Stir the mash at least once prior to vorlauf. Whether you do it several times is up to you.

5. The temperature of the water in the HLT during recirculation is a matter of choice. I keep mine at the sparge water temperature (180 F) because it provides more heat to increase the mash temperature between steps. Typically I mash in at 135 F, increase the temperature (via both the HERMS coil and direct heating of my converted keg mash tun) to saccharification temperature, and again to 168 F for mashout.

One question you hint at but do not ask directly is if a RIMS/HERMS increases efficiency. The jury is out on that question; there are a lot of variables and room for individual technique. Your mileage may vary. I think the main point is that there are many paths to the mountaintop. You are free to find the one that suits you.
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 396
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 01:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Keeping the HLT at 180 concerns me, Bill. If your wort is reaching that temp in the coils, then you are denaturing some enzymes. I would think:
a. For step mashing, it seems you should have it no hotter than 170.

b. For circulating during saccharification (or for simple infusion mashing), you should have it at or just above your sacc. temp.

c. For mash out, then you could raise it to the 180 you refer to to bring it up more quickly.

And you are correct on my implied question re efficiency. I have seen a significant eff. decrease from my simple bucket mash with a Phil's Phalse bottom since going to the B3 rig/HERMS. Of course, there are many other variable to consider.
 

Graham Cox
Senior Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 2139
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.253.156
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 02:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Having zero experience with any sort of a recirculating system, it would seem that academically Tex has a point regarding the denaturing of enzymes - although that doesn't occur instantaneously, of course. Bill and anyone else who operates with the HLT in the 170-180F range, am I safe to assume that in your practical experience, you don't find this to be a problem?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10071
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 02:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In my opinion enzyme denaturing is not a problem if the HLT water temperature is 180 F. It takes quite a bit of time for this to occur. At a flow rate of 1 gallon per minute and a 30 ft. coil of 1/2 in. O.D. (approx. 15/32 in. I.D.) copper tubing, a total of 34.4 oz. of mash liquid spends 16.1 seconds in contact with the heat. Nearly immediately thereafter it is returned to the mash temperature as it once again enters the mash tun. That's not enough time to significantly denature the enzymes.

If enzyme denaturing were a serious problem, consider the mash liquid in a RIMS chamber where it comes in contact with a 400 F heating element. Yet RIMS work well and achieve good starch conversion and relatively high efficiency.

Recent studies show that there are still enzymes present in the mash runoff in the kettle after sparging, and these are not completely denatured until the wort comes to a boil.

The pursuit of really high efficiency is a false goal for homebrewers. I agree that I got somewhat higher efficiency (average in the low 80s percent) with my original homemade Zapap bucket lauter tun with more than 4000 5/64 in. holes than I do now (just under 80 percent) with my converted keg mash tun with stainless false bottom and manual HERMS. Yet the only time I use the old system is for small batches and portable brewing at locations other than home. An extra pound of base malt is no big deal to a homebrewer.
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 397
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 04:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My efficiency with Phil's Phalse was typically 75%. Now it is 60%. I am not pursuing really high efficiency. But that drop seems like way too much.

Do you have a reference for the "recent studies" you refer to on enzyme denaturing? How fast does that happen?
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 247
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 05:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, I have for quite some time considered building a HERMS system (I have started building)and have a few questions for you or anyone else who can provide info.
Have you measured the temp of your mash liquid where it exits the HLT or at the point where it returns to the mash?
(I've read where people who use a recirculating mash claim to have around 2 degrees or more lost between those points using uninsulated copper.)
Do you use a recirculating pump in the HLT to boost heat transfer from the hot water to the mash liquid?
I am mainly looking for good data regarding efficiency of heat transfer to decide how long of what diameter of copper to use and how fast to push the mash liquid as well as whether to circulat the HLT water.
From what info I have been able to gather the liquid leaving the HLT is not equal to the temp of the water in the HLT.
Also would you mind rechecking the dimensions you list of the copper tubing you use?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10074
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 06:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cory, my manual HERMS uses a 30 ft. coil made of standard 1/2 in. O.D. refrigeration tubing (not the finned or convoluted tubing). I used to stir the HLT by hand, but I built a stirrer with a small 60 rpm gear motor and a trolling motor prop. It's built into the lid and is very similar to a design Paul Muth has posted here on the board on several occasions. The total cost was about $35. With the recirculation pump set to a moderate flow rate (I'd guess about 1 gal. per minute, but I have never measured it precisely), and the HLT water temperature at 180 F, the temperature of the liquid as it returns to the mash tun is 176-177 F (there is a 6 ft. uninsulated 1/2 in. reinforced vinyl return hose).

Tex Brewer, I'll have to do a search of the HBD for the references to the relevant studies on enzyme denaturing. I recall reading this several years ago. As for efficiency calculations, I believe I mentioned this before, but you need to measure the volumes with reasonable accuracy (within a pint or so for homebrew batch sizes) in order for the results to be meaningful. Perhaps your volume measurements are quite accurate, but I need to ask the question.
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 248
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 07:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, Thanks for the info. Your return temps are higher than I thought they would be. Apparently Paul's design results in a really good heat exchange.
Do you have a record of your systems heat exchange efficiency before installing the powered stirrer and/or without manual stirring?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10077
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 09:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sorry, Cory, I never bothered to measure the recirculation temperature until after I built the stirrer. Perhaps someone with an automated HERMS that uses a PID controller will have data.
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 398
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 09:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, a reasonable question, and I can't say my volume measurements are that accurate. But I'm certainly accurate within 0.5 gal in a 5-gal batch. When ProMash predicts an OG of 1.064 at 75% and it turns out 1.050, there's an efficiency problem. Varying the volume within my error limits won't account for the difference (I say that, but have not actually checked, so maybe I better play with ProMash a bit before shooting my mouth off--call it a gut feel for now).
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 249
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 11:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, I hear you loud and clear! Those efficiency numbers are far too low and warrant concern. Did you stir for the mash in and then follow up with another stir after say 5-15 minutes later? I think that if you did not manually stir at least once shortly after mashing in that the following possibility existed.
A very thick mash could result from not mixing the newly released starch and sugars into the foundation water. Initally they form very rapidly from the flour content of your malt. This relatively thick layer, if left undisturbed, might be difficult for the returning mash water to penetrate coming in that late in the mash. The returning liquid could drill a relatively small channel through the mash without disturbing the entire mash.
In theory the HERMS systems recirculating system should take care of moving the mash water around and through the grainbed, but possibly your system needs a bit of tweeking to get everything working correctly.
Also as you stated a 10 gallon batch would get you higher numbers. In fact working with the 5 gallon batches could present a big part of the problem.
I don't think enzymes or lack of enzymes are responsible. There have been many a wheat beer made that has a 50/50 mix of malted barley with non malted wheat, which has almost no enzymes available to assist in the mash conversion. Most whiskey recipes have only 15-17 % malted barley in their mash. It is 6 row malt but even that has only marginally more enzymes than our modern 2 row varieties.
Like others have said the fineness of crush is another important factor.
I am sure you will get it figured out. If not, just box up that nasty old B3 system and send it to me for proper disposal.

P.S. I would even pay the shipping!
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10079
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 03:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

TB, here are some quick results of my HBD search on the denaturing of enzymes:

http://hbd.org/hbd/archive/5396.html#5396-4

http://hbd.org/hbd/archive/4011.html#4011-2

http://hbd.org/hbd/archive/4011.html#4011-3
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 399
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 03:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Very good, Bill. I see that a high temp will not quickly denature enzymes, but in fact may make them work very hard for a shorter time.

Cory, I heat the strike water in my mash tun, since I have a burner under all three pots. Typically the strike water (includes foundation, of course) is 160-165. Then I stir in the grain in about three parts until it is thoroughly wetted. Is that a bad way to go? Should I heat the water in the HLT instead and pump it up into the MT as I mix in the grain? That's more work, and I could see no reason to do it that way. It has not been very thick, because I have not been counting the foundation water up to now. I don't remember if I stir again during mashing. The grain is and always has been crushed by Austin Home Brew, and I assume it is appropriately fine.

With the marbles on the bottom, counting the foundation water as part of the mash water, 2-3 stirs of the mash, and continuous recircing prior to final vorlauf and mash out, I am hoping that my efficiency problems will be greatly reduced. And I'll measure the difference between HLT temp and the water coming back into the MT from the HERMS for you, Cory. I do not have a stirrer in the HLT, or anywhere else.

Why would doing a 5-gal batch in this rig (which is sized for 10-gal batches) result in reduced eff'y?
 

Graham Cox
Senior Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 2140
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.253.156
Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 03:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Number 2 in particular is quite interesting, but he fails to take into account the action of limit dextrinase, which operates in a range of conditions similar to beta amylase.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10081
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 04:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

TB, your procedure seems quite reasonable. Most brewers who use converted keg mash tuns directly heat the strike water to the correct temperature and then add the grain. I don't even bother to add it in portions; after adding all the grain I stir well to ensure there are no dough balls. For me, a water/grain ratio of 1.35 quarts per pound seems to work well so that I can direcly heat the mash between steps (I typically mash in at 135 F and also employ a mashout) without scorching if I stir during heating. My 30,000 BTU Superb burner under the mash tun has excellent flame control.

Some people (including Palmer) recommend an even thinner mash (more like 1.5 quarts or a little more per pound). I really think it depends on what works for you.

I shouldn't question a reputable homebrew shop, but it wouldn't hurt to borrow someone else's mill for a test batch. Assuming your measurements are accurate, the number one factor in efficiency is the quality of the crush.

I usually use my 10 gal. round cooler as a mash tun if I am brewing a 5 gallon batch, unless the gravity is high and the grain bill is large. The area under the false bottom is a larger percentage of the mash liquid for a smaller batch and might be a factor in efficiency. Why don't you try brewing a 10 gallon batch and see what happens to your numbers.
 

Steve Haun
Intermediate Member
Username: Stevehaun

Post Number: 327
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 69.4.101.231
Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 04:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This is precisely why I control the temp of the wort as it returns to the top of the mash tun (thermocouple is located immediately before mash return manifold). In my system, I set the pid controlling the heating elements in my HLT to 2F above the desired mash temp. This maintains the temp of my mash nearly dead on. I recirculate constantly during the mash. I don't stir the water in my HLT or measure the temp of the water in my HLT. I have measured my HERMS flow and it is about 1.5 gal/min. Granted, the enzymes may easily tolerate temps of 170-180F but why risk it if you don't have to. According to Bill's references, BA has a half life of 16 min @ 149F and 5.5 min @ 185F.
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 250
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 07:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, Why would doing a 5-gal batch in this rig (which is sized for 10-gal batches) result in reduced eff'y?

There are probably several lessor reasons but to me the most important one would be that the ratio of your mash thickness in height to width is different. It is somewhat easier for the returning mash liquid to cut a channel through the shallower grain bed than a thicker one. After cutting a channel the water will tend to flow mostly through that channel which is the path of least resistance.

I am not familiar with the B3 system but one thing I am wondering is how the system returns mash water to the grainbed? Is there some sort of device in place that will help to spread out the return flow over a wide area? Do you have a valve to regulate the flow?

I fought that problem several times myself. I have a pretty basic homemade 3 tier system and fly sparge. The bottom of my HLT is level with the top of my mashtun so gravity pushes my lauter water. The flow is regulated only by a 1/2" SS ball valve. On the ball valve is a fitting to attach a 1/2" hose.

I started out by building a very efficient looking copper manifold that would rest on top of the grainbed and distribute the water fairly well over the top of the grainbed without boring a hole in the grainbed.

It failed to function well because it was heavy enough to bury itself into the grainbed.

The water entering straight from the hose with nothing to break up the flow also bored holes.

Finally I tried a piece of SS screen that just fits into the mashtun opening. It is cicrular and about 9 inches across. It is light enough in weight that if I am careful how I place the hose (the hose curls just a little)it doesn't bury itself. Now the water exits flowing across the SS screen which breaks up the flow sufficiently enough to cause minimal drilling into the surface of the grainbed. My efficiency rates indicate that there is minimal channeling through the grainbed.

The message I wish to convey is that each system is different, and operates a little different and has its own quirks, and might require several modifications before you will be content with your system. Don't be afraid to try something that you dreamed up on your own. There are a lot of us that never quit making changes to our system and to our own process of making beer.
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 400
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - 10:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cory, I don't know why the 5-gal batch would be different, other than Bill's comment about the larger area underneath, hence my original question about the amount of foundation water, which with my marbles in place, should go away. But B3 does say that effy will be reduced with a smaller batch.

The distribution manifold for the return liquid is a copper ring (maybe 10" dia?) with holes in the top. The bed is fully submerged the whole time, so I don't think drilling holes in the mash is happening. Regardless, I will stir the mash a couple of times just in case--easy to do. And I will recirc for the entire time, which I have not been doing, which I think is important.

Bill, I have made a 10-gal batch. It came out similarly low effy, but it was only my 2nd batch on the system, and I was running too much sparge water and left a bunch in the grain before I realized how much I had generated. Not a fair test. My next brew will be a big beer (1.080), so it will have plenty o' grain.
 

PaulK
Advanced Member
Username: Paulk

Post Number: 787
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 68.63.203.31
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 03:54 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Personally I disagree with the need to stir the mash on a recirculating system. Why disturb the grain bed if you have an even flow through your grain bed?
 

Vance Barnes
Senior Member
Username: Vancebarnes

Post Number: 3614
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 74.7.7.66
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 07:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Why disturb the grain bed ?

2 reasons I can think of. If you do have a return that causes channeling then stirring would help. I know you said even flow but most systems probably don't have that. Also if you batch sparge it's just about mandatory.

I'm sure Bill was just about to mention this but using a pizza pan with holes in it on top of your grain bed for your recirc and sparge to flow onto will usually work to prevent channeling.
 

Cory K.
Intermediate Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 253
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 09:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, Your description of the copper ring type manifold with holes in the top very closely matches my original sparge water distribution device except my holes were not straight up but angled in and out from straight up at about 45 degrees. With the exception of burying itself it worked very well.

I thought about building an insulated mashtun lid with a hole in its center that would allow a length of 1/2" copper tubing to pass down through it and then into the center of the copper ring. The tubing could be adjusted vertically by using a hose clamp above the lid on the tubing. The lid could have a small port in it with its own smaller lid so the manifold could be adjusted vertically with the big lid in place, and the water level could be observed without losing most of the heat above the grain bed. Who knows, maybe I will still do this someday.

Vance, I would bet that Bill's pizza pan would work as well as or better than my chunk of screen. If I can scrounge one up that has no iron content I might give it a try. If not I might try a scrap piece of aluminum with holes drilled in it beyond where the main flow hits it. I could set this on the screen or replace the screen with it.

I really should build the insulated lid I described but I am lazy and if it already works, well.....
 

Bill Pierce
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Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10091
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.150.192.193
Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 - 03:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My original homemade Zapap lauter tun used an aluminum pizza pan I bought for $1 at a dollar store. I punched about 100 holes in it; it served well to diffuse the flow of sparge water when fly sparging.

The sparge return in my current system is a spiral built from a length of 1/4 in. copper tubing. I crimped and soldered the end, and then drilled a dozen holes of increasingly slightly larger diameter (so as to achieve a relatively equal flow from each) along the bottom of the spiral. It connects to the HLT outlet with a threaded compression fitting, and it sits about 3-4 inches over the grain bed when in use.

I will mention that I don't worry at all about a manifold for the HERMS recirculation return. I merely lay the return hose on top of the grain bed. The flow rate is not more than about 2 gallons per minute and the mash is sufficiently thin that I don't notice any channeling nor an appreciable negative effect on efficiency. In my opinion return manifolds are unnecessary, at least in a mash tun of normal grain bed depth.

Which leads to one more comment about the possible cause of Tex Brewer's low efficiency when brewing 5 gallon batches with his system designed for 10 gallons. Cory is correct when he suggests that too shallow a grain bed can lead to channeling and incomplete rinsing of the grains.
 

Cory K.
Intermediate Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 254
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.132.223
Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 - 06:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, How much wort remains in your boil kettle? How much is lost in the chiller and its hoses?
These volumes of loss are very close to equal whether brewing a 5 gallon batch or a ten. The only significan difference being double the amount of hops in the ten gallon batch would absorb a little more wort. These figures will not change your actual mash efficiency but will have a big effect on your overall system efficiency.
Bill, I just read the articles you gave links to. All very good articles. The 2nd and 3rd were absolutely fantastic! I will need to reread them several time for it all to soak in but it will be well worth my time!
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 406
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 70.244.205.62
Posted on Sunday, March 15, 2009 - 12:50 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I only leave about a quart in my BK. I tip it up and get as much as possible. As for hoses, etc. there is no loss. I recirc with the HERMS through the heat exchanger, of course. Then for sparging. I simply take the intake hose off the bottom of the mash tun and connect it to the bottom of the HLT. I suck hot water through the hose, pump, back through the heat exchanger (which is still in the HLT), and then to the sparge ring. When finished sparging, all that remains in the entire system is hot water. And it's all clean, too, so no pumping sanitizer through the system needed.

The wide, shallow grain bed could be part of the low eff. problem, though. I don't believe I'm getting any channeling, as I keep it fully inundated while sparging, but the sparge water flows through a relatively shallow bed and may not be able to leach as much goodness. A tall, narrow bed would be better. Seems like the mash tun would be better as a taller pot than the other pots. All three are the same dimensions (18" dia. x 14" tall).

BTW, I just finished my grapefruit IPA brew today (5 gal). Used the marbles, recirced continuously, stirred the mash several times, mashed out, sparged/lautered slowly, and efficiency was up to 70%! Yay. OF course, that means my OG was up to 1.084 instead of the 1.073 I planned on. So it'll be a BIG IPA, I guess.

Last note, as promised I measured the temp difference between the HLT and what comes out of the sparge ring while recircing. With no stirring in the HLT, there was about a 7 deg difference. When I stirred, it came up quickly to within a degree or two of the HLT temp. <Edit>: This was during mash out, so mash temp was about 150, and HLT temp about 180.

(Message edited by texbrewer on March 15, 2009)
 

Cory K.
Intermediate Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 255
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 70.58.160.214
Posted on Monday, March 16, 2009 - 02:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, Congratulations! You could ferment it as is and then add 1/2 gallon sanatized water after the ferment and still be a bit above the planned for alcohol content.
A 70% efficiency for a 5 gallon batch with an OG of 1.084 is very respectable. When you make a 10 gallon batch with an OG of around 1.048 I would guess your efficiency to be somewhere around 75% and maybe higher.
Looking back at the changes you made what do you think made the most difference?
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 410
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 70.243.118.154
Posted on Monday, March 16, 2009 - 02:38 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A very good question, Cory. Of course, it's just a guess, but I think I got better extraction with the continuous recirc and stirring. The wide, shallow mash tun and grain bed is not conducive to great extraction, I think. So keeping the liquid moving and stirring the grains around to allow all to contact the moving liquid probably had the most effect. My old bucket masher was much narrower at 10-11" dia., which is about 1/3 the surface area of the 18"er I have now. Probably harder to get the liquid flowing through all of such a large surface area equally. Similar to "channeling" like you suggested previously.

Thanks for asking this question. Gets me thinking. Short of getting another mash tun, maybe I need to build a tall metal "collar" to put inside the mash tun to reduce the effective area of the grain bed for 5-gal batches. Hmmm, food for thought...
 

Tex Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 414
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.203.59.252
Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - 04:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Now that I have fed my thoughts some more, the collar idea won't work. The water level will rise in the area outside the collar and not be contacting the grain. It would require a whole lot more strike water than needed, and also consequently reduce the sparge water a bunch. Bad idea.