Documenting my build

For those with a soldering iron perhaps? :)

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Post by stux » 6 years ago

Like the washer idea :)
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Post by PistolPatch » 6 years ago

Todd,

Thanks a heap for backing me up here where you said,
Something fancier isn't necessarily better.
As I mentioned there, I love it when people do honest reporting.

But, in that thread, I didn't say how much I love those who experiment :thumbs: :clap: :champ:.

So, can you give us another update? As you know, I'm asking this in a positive way, not a negative one. I really want to see you succeed and have no doubt you will. For me, your thread is a model of what unexpected challenges brewers might find when they employ a pump and will hopefully help them avoid the same pitfalls.

For example, I know shibolet has just started playing around with pumps so I'll send him a link to this post and you might save him some exploration time.

Great stuff Todd :thumbs:,
PP
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

Here's your update sir......

At this point I have refined my process over several brew sessions and have settled on the following method:

-for stepping up temperatures I crank open the valve on the recirculation pump and stir constantly. This results in very fast/efficient temp increases.

-once I reach the desired temperature, I optimize the recirculation using the trick I described in post #48 (page 2) of this thread


What have I learned? Utilizing the recirculation pump definitely makes temperature changes much quicker and more efficient. Once temperature has been reached, the recirculation is unnecessary and simply shutting the pump off and throwing a blanket over the rig works fine. I suppose I could experiment with rice hulls, build a manifold to distribute the return liquor, reverse the flow and draw from the top/return underneath the bag, etc. Quite honestly I would rather take a nap during the mash instead of fiddling with valves and flow rates.

So.....if one were to use the "BobBrews method" of draining a few quarts from the bottom/pouring back into the top while adding heat (as opposed to using the recirc pump during temp increases) and insulating with a blanket during the mash, one could save a good deal of $$ by not monkeying around procuring and plumbing in an expensive pump. (But then you wouldn't have a cool looking rig with lots of hoses, valves, and other expensive bits!)


---Todd
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

thughes wrote:Here's your update sir......

<snip>
So.....if one were to use the "BobBrews method" of draining a few quarts from the bottom/pouring back into the top while adding heat (as opposed to using the recirc pump during temp increases) and insulating with a blanket during the mash, one could save a good deal of $$ by not monkeying around procuring and plumbing in an expensive pump. (But then you wouldn't have a cool looking rig with lots of hoses, valves, and other expensive bits!)
---Todd
Todd,

Are you considering abandoning your pump system? I tho't the major advantage of having the pump with electric BIAB was that the main purpose of the pump recirculation was to try to keep temps even within the mash. If the temp dipped below the desired point, the element would kick in and heat this recirculating wort. If there's no pump, the element will turn on and simply heat the bottom - unless you have the alarm set so that you know to get up and stir it. I particularly wanted to avoid the wrapping of a quilt around the kettle.

OTOH, one of the main advantages to E-BIAB is that one can brew indoors - where the ambient temp might be such that the mash isn't likely to cool down so quickly. I dunno.

Is it still an issue of the steamer basket not allowing for good enough circulation.

What about having the PID turn the pump on at the same time as it turns on the element. That would do the same thing as draining into a pitcher and pouring back into the top - and you could continue your nap.

Thanks,
Keith
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 16 Dec 2011, 06:16, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

Not abandoning the pump, just fine-tuning so I don't have to fiddle with it as much. Using the pump and PID, the temp stays exactly where I set it. I have watched the PID cycle during the mash (while the pump is running) and it fires for a few seconds and then waits for several minutes, fires for a few seconds, etc. If I had to guess it is probably running about a 2% duty cycle during the mash (basically not doing much at all).

I know that you don't want to deal with the blanket thing (neither do I) but quite honestly with a blanket or old winter parka wrapped around the kettle (and not running the pump/PID) I won't lose more then one or two degrees over the course of an hour mash anyway, so the question remains as to whether recirculating during mash is really necessary. (It's not)

The basket is no longer a flow restriction after my swiss cheese modification, if a flow restriction develops it appears to be after several minutes of recirculation when the grain bed gets set. The liquor starts running very clear but the pump is then drawing faster than the liquid can run through the grain bed. Hence, I adjust flow rates until the level in the pot remains stable (which normally ends up with the flow at a mere trickle).

If I had to do it over gain I would still include the pump. I like the extra "tech" and I can confirm that recirculating during temp increases/steps is definitely an advantage with the pump and that alone is worth the expense for me. Whether the expense is justified merely to prevent a drop of a couple degrees over the course of a mash is debatable (right PP?).

For someone thinking about building a similar system and trying to keep the cost down I would recommend building the kettle and control box first, hold off on the pump and use the BB manual recirc method. The pump and associated plumbing, hoses, and such added @ $200.00 to my build cost. If cost isn't so much of an issue I would say get the pump and enjoy the extra bit of fiddling around it requires.

Admittedly, having the pump on the system adds a bit more complexity to a rather simple brewing process but nothing like going to full blown 3V. Only you can decide whether you want to add that extra layer or go truly "KISS". Of course, if you ever tire of monkeying with adjusting and monitoring flows and temps during the mash you can always just leave the pump and PID off during the mash and throw a blanket over it. I call that a win-win situation.

:champ:
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Post by PistolPatch » 6 years ago

thughes wrote:Here's your update sir......
Sir Todd :),

Thanks for the not one but two excellent updates :thumbs:. (Please excuse my tardy reply.)

Sounds like you are happy with where you have got things to and have enjoyed the ride. Good on you!!! Glad to hear you have a nap scheduled during the brew day - very important :lol:.

I think I'm lucky in a way as the climate here doesn't allow for much of a temperature drop during the mash. To keep things spot on only requires two or three applications of heat over 90 minutes for a few minutes each time. (This means I don't have a nap though, just another drink :drink:). I do wonder how the guys brewing in freezing conditions fair though :scratch:.

It sounds like you are doing a lot of brewing with temperature steps. Can you get away without them?

:salute:
Sir Patch
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

PP,

Brewing in Winter conditions here used to mean bringing the gear inside and brewing in the basement with propane. After one too many sessions ending with a splitting headache (yes, the first symptoms of CO poisoning.....dummy!) I decided the cost to "go electric" would be cheaper than my funeral costs.

As to the step mash brewing, I have always done a single temp infusion with my propane rig. This new rig allows me to ramp up my temps in a very controlled manner, so I have been experimenting with the step mashes. Honestly, I see no advantage with the brews I have done so far and will likely go back to a single temp mash (my palate is not that sophisticated).
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Post by PistolPatch » 6 years ago

Todd, I sometimes get a headache after a brew session but this seems to correlate with the amount of people hanging around rather than the amount of propane :scratch:.

Thanks for answering the question on the stepping as well. It's good to experiment. I love it when I try something different (or forget to do something) and don't notice any difference. And sometimes you do notice a difference which is also enlightening.

Biggest differences I've noticed on side by side beers so far are different yeasts, chill and no-chill (though this one wasn't a side by side - same recipe though) and in one case, a mate brought me bottles of beer that had been primed with two different methods. One was with carbonation drops and the other with dextrose. That was quite an amazing difference.

:peace:
PP
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

A bit off-topic, but speaking of no chill....

The latest BYO magazine has a question in the "Help me Mr. Wizard" section where someone wrote in asking "Mr. Wizard's" thoughts on no-chill. His reply basically stated that since home brewers are usually cooling such a small amount of wort there is no reason not to use some type of chiller as the increased risk of infection and formation of DMS due to slow/no chill is simply not worth it.

Perhaps Mr. Ashton Lewis ("Mr. Wizard") should crawl out of his brewing cave once in awhile and take a look at what other people are doing? Or at least do a bit of research instead of regurgitating a bunch of folklore?

This is the second issue I've received that has mis-information. A recent article troubleshooting cloudy beer problems pointed to not cooling rapidly as one of the major contributors to haze.

I won't be renewing my subscription this year. :angry:
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

thughes wrote:A bit off-topic, but speaking of no chill....
I won't be renewing my subscription this year. :angry:
Darn :!: I was considering getting a subscription. I'm sure every "trade" publication has its bias. It's amazing how my medical journals will present data about how well some new drug will work. Twenty years later, data is presented to show that, not only does this drug NOT do what it purports to do, but may even cause harm. Go figure. Part of the challenge is cutting thru the professional B.S.

To a beginning brewer like me, a magazine such as this can be very helpful; we simply have to remember that it isn't the Bible. Often we go with the most convincing argument - which might not actually be the correct one, just that the person who is correct doesn't do a good enough job of presenting his case. I guess a take home message might be that I should simply react slowly in changing the way I do things based upon an article in a magazine - especially if the beer seems to be good.

The nice thing about brewing is that the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

Thanks,
Keith
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Post by PistolPatch » 6 years ago

I must say I am looking forward to doing some real side by side no-chill and chilled brews. My beer fridge is nearly completely empty atm so I reckon my first brews will be double batches...

Hold on, just realised I am totally off-topic. (Sorry Todd, will start a new topic and link it back here once done ;))

Edit: Finally done here :P
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

No worries, I started us down this off-topic road.....
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Post by joshua » 6 years ago

Good Day, Sorry for the Off Topic.
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Post by Nuff » 6 years ago

ADMIN NOTE: Thanks PP for starting the new topic. It's fine to go off-topic for a few posts as sometimes this is needed to provoke new ideas or information. Continuing off-topic though poses two problems. New ideas/info can often be buried, such as joshua's post above, and the continuation of the original thread's idea/info is often diminished. BIABrewer.info recognises this as a common problem on forums and is working on a nice shortcut to avoid these problems. Until this is advised in "Important Notices," please do your best to make sure your ideas or information don't get lost or that the orignal post's intentions are not diminished.

Nuff said :):
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Post by UncleBuckO » 5 years ago

Unless I missed it, where did you get your brew cart? $$$?
My girlfriend told me she would leave me if I brewed today.....

I sure am going to miss her.

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Post by thughes » 5 years ago

UncleBuckO wrote:Unless I missed it, where did you get your brew cart? $$$?
Harbor Freight:

http://www.harborfreight.com/large-stee ... 90428.html

---Todd
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Post by thughes » 4 years ago

Update: I don't recirc any more once I have mashed in and stabilized temp; had a couple of burned batches. Best I can figure, the pump was drawing faster than the wort was flowing through the grain bed (even though it was cranked down to a mere trickle) causing some cavitation under the basket resulting in an air pocket around the element allowing the wort to scorch. Now I simply heat to strike temp, dough in, circulate until temp stabilizes, stick the lid on, throw a blanket over it, and come back in 90 minutes. Normally don't lose more that 2 degrees over the 90 minute mash and haven't had a burnt batch since switching to this method.
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Post by lonetexan » 4 years ago

thughes wrote:Update: I don't recirc any more once I have mashed in and stabilized temp; had a couple of burned batches. Best I can figure, the pump was drawing faster than the wort was flowing through the grain bed (even though it was cranked down to a mere trickle) causing some cavitation under the basket resulting in an air pocket around the element allowing the wort to scorch. Now I simply heat to strike temp, dough in, circulate until temp stabilizes, stick the lid on, throw a blanket over it, and come back in 90 minutes. Normally don't lose more that 2 degrees over the 90 minute mash and haven't had a burnt batch since switching to this method.
I too have abandoned the pump for much of the same reasons. Had a batch with a little "burnt" flavor profile just like you did. You might try setting your pid for about 5%. I have been doing this for the last several batches and it works well at holding the heat at the correct mash temp. This is in my garage with ambient temps in the low 50s. You might be able to do lower manual % with warmer ambient temps. Only thing I use the pump for is circulating during run up to mash temps and then for a whirlpool at the end of the boil. Keeps things more simple.

I also have done a couple of no chills...did that the other nite with outside temps at 0 with a 15 mph wind. Dumped it in the bucket, put the lid on and set it outside. No way to run water through the hose anyway, so Mother Nature just helped me out!
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Post by Tsar » 4 years ago

Hi,

I'm planning to do something similar to your project but using a 50L beer keg.
With the size difference of the keg and the basket, the recirculation maybe will work better, don't you think?
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Post by thughes » 4 years ago

One thing to consider: when you recirculate during the mash you are actually chilling the wort by constantly removing a portion of it from the large thermal mass and exposing it to the much colder ambient external air temperature. In other words, your recirculation pump and plumbing actually act as a heat exchanger, allowing the room air to cool the wort running through the pump and hoses. :whistle:

---Todd
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Re: Documenting my build

Post by Tsar » 4 years ago

So if I see a difference in the temps from the two sensors I should just stir the wort?

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Post by kzimmer0817 » 4 years ago

thughes wrote:One thing to consider: when you recirculate during the mash you are actually chilling the wort by constantly removing a portion of it from the large thermal mass and exposing it to the much colder ambient external air temperature. In other words, your recirculation pump and plumbing actually act as a heat exchanger, allowing the room air to cool the wort running through the pump and hoses. :whistle:

---Todd
Todd,

I'm glad you brought that up. I was thinking about this very issue a while back as I view these BIAB set ups with several feet of tubing exposed to the ambient air.

I have been wondering about some means of agitating the grain during the mash in while having the PID set to mash temp. One idea I had was to sew some sort of loop onto the inside of the bottom of the bag and have some sort of rotating cam or crankshaft on the lid that gently lifts the bottom of the bag up and down so as to agitate and redistribute the grains - sort of like the up-and-down dashers found in some old washing machines, only in very slow motion. I guess I could test this out manually using a broom handle attached to the loop and going thru a hole in the lid and move it up and down just like churning butter. Just hope no one sees me doing this:blush:

I know: quit thinking and start brewing.
Keith
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Post by GuingesRock » 4 years ago

I wonder if an upright washing machine could be adapted or parts of one used. They have all kinds of pumps, agitators and heating elements in them. Re-program it, line the stainless steel washtub with voil and change the hoses to food grade ones. Spin cycle to get all of the wort from the grains. Braumeister wouldn’t stand a chance against such a fine machine.


Washmeister here I come. :party:
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 4 years ago

GuingesRock wrote:I wonder if a twin tub washing machine could be adapted, or parts of one used. They have all kinds of pumps, agitators and heating elements in them. Spin the bag of grains in the second spinning tub to extract all of the wort. Braumeister wouldn’t stand a chance against such a fine machine.
Something like that came up on another forum: spinning the grain in a basket. This probably wouldn't be to difficult to implement. You could drill a zillion holes in a kettle, line it with the voile bag, and set all this down into a sightly larger kettle. After the mash, either (1) wort would be drained from this double vessel into another, then the perforated basket would spin to remove as much wort as possible. If desired, additional water could be sprayed into this spinning grain to extract more grain much like our washing machine would do during the spin cycle or (2) this basket of grain would be raised from the kettle, let down into another vessel and spun to extract the remaining wort that would be transferred to the previous kettle.

Thanks,
Keith
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 4 years ago

GuingesRock wrote:I wonder if a twin tub washing machine could be adapted, or parts of one used. They have all kinds of pumps, agitators and heating elements in them. Spin the bag of grains in the second spinning tub to extract all of the wort. Braumeister wouldn’t stand a chance against such a fine machine.


...or an upright washer re-programmed, stainless steel washtub lined with voil and hoses changed to food grade ones. Spin cycle to get the last of the wort.

Washmeister here I come. :party:
Better yet, design a bread-maker style of beer-brewer. Add grains, water, hops to various compartments, close the lid, and press a button. This could get really crazy if you could lift out the basket of spent grains when the buzzer goes off, re-close the lid, then wait another 2-4 weeks for the final buzzer to go off signaling that fermentation is now complete.

Keith
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 01 Mar 2013, 08:25, edited 5 times in total.

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