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Old 02-03-2013, 11:44 PM   #1
mn_brew
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Default Blichmann Boilermaker Question

So I've recently upgraded my brewing equipment to a blichmann top tier system. 3x 15gal pots, 3x burners, 2x pumps, all camlock fittings. I'm definitely spoiled. I'm two batches in...

I've never used a direct fire mash tun; I'm used to a cooler. I'm experiencing a pretty significant heat loss during my mash. Since I'm able to recirculate via pump, I draw off my mash tun, into the pump, out to my recirc port and use a little heat to maintain or raise the temp.

Here's the question: for folks that are doing this, are you ever stirring your mash to help even out the temp or are you just letting the liquid movement take care of this? I've been stirring a little and I'm feeling like I'm disturbing my grain bed and possibly plugging my blichmann false bottom in the process. My latest thought was to resist the temptation to stir and just monitor the blichmann thermo on my pot. Thoughts?

As an aside, with those of you using pumps, where are you controlling your recirc volume so you don't compress your grain bed, the pot ball valve or the pump output valve?

I appreciate the help.

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Old 02-03-2013, 11:48 PM   #2
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Always the pump output valve - you don't want to restrict the flow going into the pump.

You can get insulating "blankets" for stainless mash tuns - they look like a layer of bubble wrap sandwiched between foil.

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Old 02-04-2013, 06:30 AM   #3
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it helps to let the grain soak in the tun for about 10 min, whenever i skip this step i end up having to stir up the compacted grain bed within 3-4 minutes. it says to do this in the documentation that comes with the tower of power mash modules, i ignored it the first few times thinking it wouldn't make a difference but it does matter in my set up. i condition my malt before milling and that really helps make a nice husk filter. once i fire up the pump i control the flow on the outlet side and don't stir the mash at all, never have a problem hitting my numbers. using the mash module is mostly set and forget since i automatically monitors the temps and fires up the burner as needed. my temps stay within a degree of the set point.

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Old 02-04-2013, 06:41 AM   #4
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I am using 1/2" silicone tubing with camlock fittings on my system. For the pieces in question, I use 90 degree elbow fittings for my connections. When I am recirculating, I put the elbow into the tun and open the valve completely on both intake and output. The elbow and tubing rests against the side of the kettle at the top of the mash and creates a whilrpool effect which does a pretty good job of keeping the temperature in equilibrium throughout the mash. During a rapid change, there are some places where the mash temp may differ by a degree or two, but for the most part I am quite happy with the way it works. If I had any complaint is't that I would prefer to automate that part of the process, which I have effectively done this past weekend.

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Old 02-05-2013, 02:40 AM   #5
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Thanks for the tips. I have made it a habit to condition my grains but I haven't heard of letting the grains sit for a while before recirculating. It makes sense though; let the grains settle on their own, then run the pump.

So, I'm sensing its common practice to not stir the grains in a recirculating system and to control the flow of wort NOT at the pot, but at the pump.

Correct?

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Old 02-05-2013, 03:20 AM   #6
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Correct. If you are using a March or similar pump, you'll want to control the flow by putting a valve on the pump outlet.

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Old 02-05-2013, 05:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mn_brew View Post
Here's the question: for folks that are doing this, are you ever stirring your mash to help even out the temp or are you just letting the liquid movement take care of this? I've been stirring a little and I'm feeling like I'm disturbing my grain bed and possibly plugging my blichmann false bottom in the process. My latest thought was to resist the temptation to stir and just monitor the blichmann thermo on my pot. Thoughts?
bingo. a friend does this (recirc during mash when he fires the burner) and he ends up getting crystal clear wort and great efficiency because the constant recirculating of water sets a very fine grain bed. Since the water is always in motion, there's no need to stir.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:57 AM   #8
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The key to ^that^ is to have a manifold or false bottom that does not cause channeling, otherwise efficiency goes right down the tubes...

Cheers!

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Old 02-06-2013, 02:04 AM   #9
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All good info. Thanks for the tips and advice. I'm planning on making a few changes for the next brew:

1. I'm going to grab some reflectix and wrap the kettle during the mash. IIRC it is not flameproof so any direct heat will melt or damage it.

2. I'm going to mash in, let the temp equalize and let the grain naturally settle. After 10+ min, I'll start the recirc. The plan is a wide open port on the kettle to the chugger, then control of the flow via the ball valve on the output of the chugger. I'll apply heat as necessary.

3. No stirring during the mash. I'm going to trust my thermo and let the recirc take care of business.

I'll try to report back any results.

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Old 02-06-2013, 02:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mn_brew View Post
All good info. Thanks for the tips and advice. I'm planning on making a few changes for the next brew:

1. I'm going to grab some reflectix and wrap the kettle during the mash. IIRC it is not flameproof so any direct heat will melt or damage it.
i had it on my tun but ended up removing it. the keggle holds heat remarkably well, grain ended up getting under the reflectix and getting yucky. with direct heat i didn't think it was worth the trouble. it does shrink and melt with continual heat. what i started to do was heat the water in the hlt then add it to the tun so that the burner would only be coming on occasionally to maintain temps.
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