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Old 07-30-2008, 02:00 PM   #1
UselessBrewing
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Default Brew Tree vs RIMS vs HERM

Other than Complexity of the system, What are the Pro's and Cons for Brew Tree vs RIMS vs HERM. I am leaning toward a Brew Tree because of the simplicity of it. But wanted to pose the question to the masses. If you list what you feel the pros and cons are, I will put a spreadsheet together with all the input and attach it later.

Currently I have 1 SS Keggle with a igloo cooler for the MT. I already own two other SS Kegg's that will be converted. I am an accomplished hobbyist welder / fabricator. With all the toys needed (From other Hobby's) to make a nice system.

As always your insight is appreciated!

Cheers

Preston



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Old 07-30-2008, 03:37 PM   #2
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I'll chime in. I've built 2 systems and can at least speak to some of these from personal experience. You can see them both in this pic.




First, let me say that I think your categories aren't really how you want to think about the differences. You mixing apples and oranges.

The different things to consider are:

stand: 3-tier vs 2-tier vs single-tier

mash heating techniques: HERMS vs RIMS vs direct-fired vs steam

You can build a system with any combination of stand design and mash heating system. For example, there's no reason why you can't have a 2-tier stand that uses HERMS to maintain temps. I've seen some great systems that do just this.


Stands: From a cost standpoint, I don't think there's much difference. The materials required in increasing order are probably: single-tier/brew tree, 2-tier, step-type 3-tier. I don't think you can argue that one is more versatile than another. They can all be used to do anything you want a stand to do.

3-tier
Pros: Simplicity. No pump required (unless you're going to recirculate). Gravity does the work.
Cons: MLT and HLT are up high. You have to use ladders/step ladders for access. You may have to lift heavy/hot stuff over your head. If you're doing any kind of recirculation, you have to have a pump anyway, so why not use a 1- or 2-tier design?

2-tier
Pros: Lower than a 3-tier. You can fly sparge with a single pump.
Cons: At least 1 pump required. MLT or HLT may still require a ladder for access. More lifting than single-tier. If you batch sparge, the single pump is sufficient, so why not build a single-tier?

single-tier
Pros: Everything is low and accessible. No high lifting.
Cons: 1 pump required if batch sparging, 2 if fly sparging.



Mash heating techniques: I honestly believe there's not much difference in the techniques. They all achieve the same result. They can all be automated. The only real difference I see is difficulty.

Direct-fired
Pros: Simplest technique (IMHO). Doesn't require any extra equipment if you stir while heating. Direct-fire + recirculation is fast and easy.
Cons: More danger of scorching mash/wort, especially if the recirculation stops.

HERMS
Pros: Relatively simple complexity. No danger of scorching the wort.
Cons: Requires a pump and heat exchanger coil. More difficult to use if you want to maintain temps and then raise temps.

RIMS
Pros: Easily maintains and raises temps.
Cons: More complex to build than previous methods. More difficult to operate manually - I think these systems are typically automated. Heating element can possibly scorch/caramelize wort.

Steam
Pros: Most effecient method for heating the mash. Gently heats, so no danger of scorching mash/wort.
Cons: Most difficult type of system to build (IMHO).

Hope that helps. Hopefully some others will chime in.

Cheers



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Old 07-30-2008, 04:42 PM   #3
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Nice write up Lil Sparky. I think a mod should add this write up as a sticky or add to the wicki. Anyway I don't have much to contribute except that I really like my HERMS system. I recirculate through the entire mash and I can hit and maintain my mash temperature with ease. My HERMS is a single tier with pump. You can find pics in my profile if you are interested.

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Old 07-30-2008, 09:07 PM   #4
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foppa78; in your gallery on the "Egg Beater" photo it sure looks like snow on those mountain tops in the background. Looks like a place you don't want to be in no matter what time of the year. Be safe.
BTW my minds made up on building a HERMS system someday.

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Old 07-30-2008, 09:44 PM   #5
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BTW - I didn't say, but I use a direct-fired MLT + recirculation. I've been very happy with it. It's too easy and I've got no reason to want to tinker with HERMS/RIMS/steam. Now that I'm using a full false bottom for the sanke MLT, I can recirculate at full flow without the mash sticking. I think a high-flow filtering technique is important for this method so the heated wort on the bottom is constantly being returned back to the top of the mash.

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Old 07-30-2008, 10:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewBeemer View Post
foppa78; in your gallery on the "Egg Beater" photo it sure looks like snow on those mountain tops in the background. Looks like a place you don't want to be in no matter what time of the year. Be safe.
BTW my minds made up on building a HERMS system someday.
I am not aware of an egg beater photo in my profile. Nor do I live near any mountains. I think maybe you were looking at someone else's picture.
I think it awesome that you are going to build a HERMS. I know a lot of very happy HERMS brewers.

Sorry to hijack. Please continue to answer OP's question.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:17 PM   #7
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+1 on this becoming a sticky.

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Old 07-31-2008, 08:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foppa78 View Post
Nice write up Lil Sparky. I think a mod should add this write up as a sticky or add to the wicki.
I agree, reading your post I started to take notes.
Then I just cut and pasted the whole thing. Thank you for a great overview and great pics to go with it.
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Old 07-31-2008, 01:15 PM   #9
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Helping each other out is what this place is mostly about IMO.

A lot of this is already in the wiki. I may try to update some of it after I figure out how things are formatted.

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Old 07-31-2008, 02:38 PM   #10
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I was going to say there's a lot about this in the wiki already. I did the piece on brew sculpture design pros/cons here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Brewing_Sculpture

And here's RIMS/HERMS http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/RIMS#RIMS

I can see the confusion though because a typical 3-tier does NOT include a pump which is required for RIMS/HERMS. Once you get a pump to do RIMS/HERMS, it quickly becomes obvious that you can cut your stand down at least one tier.

Anecdotally, I use a single tier with one pump and am therefore limited to batch sparging. My method of heat control is Nat Gas fired RIMS. In this situation, the recirculation part is just to keep temps constant throughout the mash. I only run it for a couple minutes in a 60 minute mash. I'm seriously considering moving my HLT up one level to allow for fly sparging (just to kick it around). The HLT is the only vessel that can be basically left on the stand indefinitely because it doesn't require cleaning.

Wiki potential edits:
I'm sure it's a matter of semantics but I look at RIMS at high level as a recirculated mash, nothing more. You can implement a heat source to go along with it and that can be direct fire or HERMS. I see HERMS as any RIMS system where you transport the mash liquor away from the MLT to be heated though the most typical application is in a coil that resides inside the HLT. I would NOT limit "RIMS" to a directly immersed heating element since it does not infer a specific type of heat.

I'd tree it like this:

-Direct Heat (no recirculation)
--Flame
--Immersed Element
-RIMS
--Flame
--Immersed MLT Element
--Remote element inline direct wort contact.
--HERMS
---HLT Coil
---Dedicated Vessel with either electric of flame heat.



You can have a single, double or triple tiered stand and use no recirculation at all. You can have any style and still do RIMS. You can further do a HERMS if you move the mash to a heat source.

Using a cooler based MLT usually negates the absolute need for any kind of RIMS unless you're really into step mashing.



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Last edited by Bobby_M; 07-31-2008 at 03:06 PM.
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