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Old 05-18-2011, 07:26 PM   #21
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I don't think establishing a whirpool is really what you want to do. So long as you don't majorly screw up somewhere, the mash will convert no problem. I no longer give it a second thought. An inch or two of water above the grain bed will be fine. All you need to do is trickle in more sparge water to balance what you drain from the MT. It doesn't make much difference how you deliver the sparge water to the MT and it doesn't have to create a visible whirlpool. If it does, you are probably sparging too fast and that will definitely affect your efficiency (sugar extraction). You will quickly figure out the best water to grain ration for your system. Anywhere between one and two quarts per pound should work just fine. If your mash is too thick, just add some more water. Not much you can do if it's too thin, but unless you go extreme in that direction, it won't make much difference anyway. IOW, the water/grain ratio is not all that critical.
I get much better conversions in the mash when I keep it loose and thin. A steady whirlpool throughout the mash and the throttle wide open on the pump.

But for the sparge, I aim for 45 minutes to fly with ~2 gallons. I have hit 90% brewhouse this way.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:32 PM   #22
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90%, very good indeed. My last brew disappointed my already disappointing 60%, but I also ended up with other major problems unrelated to the BM. Suffice it to say that demonstrating brewing to others should only be done on an old, familiar system. Ah well, they see the bad along w/the good.

Not sure the where or the why of the mash ratios, just been using them for many years on my gott/keggle. Need to refresh my memory along w/my pallet more often.

One last...I was down to the brewery today, checking for placement on the windscreen. GMB, how did you attach your screen to the underside? Any special tricks or is this just a 'go figure it out' sort of thing?

Thanks.

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Old 06-27-2011, 03:10 PM   #23
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Hoping to keep this thread going, since the forum at Sabco does seem dead. (Good product, terrible web presence for them)

I just set up my BM, and was going to run through it with some water tonight. Any advice on what to use for a cleaner to run through the system, and a sanitizer? Sabco's website says a "no-suds" cleaner. Star-San is my usual sanitizer, but with plenty of suds. I would imagine if I run a good cleaner throug the system, and sanitize before the next brew day, I wouldn't have to take it apart too often (every few brews - besides big and easy things like the false bottoms). Any advice on that?

Checker - did you figure out your efficiency problems? If so, what was it?

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Old 06-27-2011, 03:17 PM   #24
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Why would you run sanitizer through it? I'd think a good cleaner and boiling/hot water should be fine. Only sanitize the post-boil portion of the system.

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Old 06-27-2011, 04:04 PM   #25
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Good Point - I usually over clean.

I am going to attempt my first 10 gallon batch tomorrow (Tuesday) as my first time using this system. To make it more complicated I'll do a multi-step mash, and start after work. (Meaning if I take all night, I get less sleep for Wednesday at work)

I've read some negative things on the multi-step mash. Basically that the heating element only does the job if it is within 5 degrees of the target temp, and using the burner obviously needs to be low heat to avoid burning/carmelizing the mash. But I've also seen that the bottom of the mash gets too hot, and the water in the pipe going to the heating element gets super heated, causing problems and false temp readings. Normally I'd use heated water from the HLT to hit my step temperature. So this will be new.

Granted, I still need to finish the manual and crack the CD that came with this, but any advice on doing a step mash with the BrewMagic out there?

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Old 06-27-2011, 04:39 PM   #26
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I have a RIMS, not a BM, but they operate similarly. The key to fast temp ramp ups when step mashing or for a mashout is to maintain a high flow rate while applying heat with the burner. The problems with this is that a high flow rate will gradually compact the grain bed which can slow the flow rate and possibly result in a stuck mash. I circulate as fast as possible while applying a moderate flame with the burner. I shut off the burner and stir the mash at the beginning of each step including the mashout. I highly recommend using a flame diffuser under the mash tun which lets you apply more heat without scorching. I also use a vacuum gauge to monitor suction applied to the FB. The gauge lets me know what the speed limit is when circulating the wort. I am not familiar with the software for the BM or how the temps are monitored, so I can't help in that dept. The BM's are tried and true. I am sure you will get the hang of it quickly. I like that you are doing the whole step mash thing right off. You will learn a bunch doing it that way. Let us know how it goes.

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Old 06-27-2011, 05:36 PM   #27
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Good tip. I'll see if I can balance the flow rate while not getting a stuck mash. I've always used a manifold, rather then sucking from one point under a false bottom. I may have to do a quick search on what to do if I get a stuck mash. (Although I know what my approach will be...scrape it up with a metal spoon and keep going)

Since there is a false bottom, the grain should be about 1" or a bit more off the bottom, so I think than the bottom of the keg is my flame diffuser, since the grain isn't resting on it. But I need to look into this vacuum guage you are talking about.

Should be a fun Tuesday night. I'll definitely post some results. I can't get into the Sabco forum without them accepting my attempt to register, and it appears they don't respond timely to a request to register, which is unfortunate.

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Old 06-27-2011, 06:08 PM   #28
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Good tip. I'll see if I can balance the flow rate while not getting a stuck mash. I've always used a manifold, rather then sucking from one point under a false bottom. I may have to do a quick search on what to do if I get a stuck mash. (Although I know what my approach will be...scrape it up with a metal spoon and keep going)

Since there is a false bottom, the grain should be about 1" or a bit more off the bottom, so I think than the bottom of the keg is my flame diffuser, since the grain isn't resting on it. But I need to look into this vacuum guage you are talking about.
1. If the mash gets stuck, simply shut off the burner, stop the pump and stir up the grain bed just as you planned. Yes, be sure to scrape the FB clear when stirring. I always stir at least twice during the mash, sometime more for muti-step mashes.

2. The bottom of a keg is a very poor conductor of heat. It will transmit heat OK, but it will tend to have hot spots. A flame tamer was a huge improvement for my system. Kettles with clad bottoms won't benefit much from a diffuser, but non-clad bottom SS kettles certainly will. It's not so much a matter of scorching the grain as it is overheating or possibly scorching the wort.

3. A single point outlet under the FB isn't really a problem. The wort should migrate evenly down through the grain bed and FB provided there is no channeling. The height of the FB above the kettle bottom is not critical and it's typically governed by the height of the outlet port, but sometimes by the curved bottom of a keg or kettles with a lip at the bottom like the Blichmann's have.
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:47 PM   #29
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(in lieu of Sabco not seeminginly allowing new members to their forum, and thus restricting access to the wealth of user knowledge that must be archived there, I plan to keep this thread going and add some pictures as I go, for the next guy that is too un-handy to build his own brew sculpture/system and makes this purchase. FWIW, I know it would have cost me $3k in materials and wasted materials, and 6 months, and then hired help, to build this if I tried to DIY. For a lot of people, thats a lot of fun. I just got done rebuilding everything in a 110 year old house, I needed a break from cursing and failure, and didn't want to add welding to my growing list of building knowledge)

Ran through the setup for the first time last night, with cleaner than a rinse with water. Pretty easy to understand the controls, although the instructions say you can fill the mash tun "from the bottom up" from the HLT, unti they equalize. I was confused at first, took me a bit to realize that it equalized early due to not starting with tons of water. Did give me a chance to look at every connection though, and tighten two leaky compressor nuts (ones that I had previously loosened to move some things).

Not a fan that when I disconnect the mash tun, there is a thermo-gauge and piping that falls to the stand as soon as I disconnect the tri-clamp. I may have to figure out something to keep that pipe propped up better.

But overall, controls worked great, and got a good dry run for brewing tonight.

The only thing that seems dumb is they have a long tube from the MT to BK, to limit aeration with the gravity flow to the BK. But they also have a short tube that you can connect there, to take samples. But, you need to start with the short tube to vorlauf (unless that is unnessessary with the re-circulation in the system, need to look into that) and you need to take samples to not collect the watered down, under 1010 wort (even though I never personally care about this, I don't like topping off with water, I'd rather top off with Wort, but I may start this practice to see its effect on my beer). So, I think I'm just going to hook some tubing up to the short piping, so I can pop it on and off as I see fit. I don't want to disconnect the tri-clamp for the short pipe, to install the long one. - Reason being, there is a plastic gasket/washer in between, that falls off immediately when you do this. I've had this thing 1 day and I already lost one of the damn things through a crack in the deck.

So its on tonight. Going to brew 10 gallons of a Vanilla Cream clone (I forget whose original recipe, some West Coast mircobrewery). Its a fan favorite of the roommate who doesn't brew, but is completely negatively effected by all of the brewing stuff everywhere.

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Old 06-28-2011, 05:59 PM   #30
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Checker - did you figure out your efficiency problems? If so, what was it?
Not really. Best I've gotten so far is 70% but I usually run 65%. Calculations based on beerSmith.

In other news, we've added a copper diffuser plate to the end of the return hose and suspend this over the mash. Allows for a thicker mash and tends to get recirculation and sparge over the entire grain bed as opposed to channeling down the sides.

Don't like the MT to boiler hard mount either. Our other brewer has done as you've suggested and moved to a hose to allow samples. I typically have liquid left in my MT when I hit my target volume in the boiler, so I have a source of sample. Can't really use it to tell me when to stop but at least I can confirm my volumes aren't causing an oversparge.

I've been using the recirculation at full flow rate to bring mash temp up to mashout w/o stuck mash problems.

When you get a chance, I'd be interested in your efficiency numbers.
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