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Old 06-14-2013, 12:08 AM   #1
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Default Building my AG equipment

I have my stainless kettles. I've installed my site-glasses in the HLT and BK. I have ball valves in HLT, MLT and BK but I have a few questions about the thermometers. I'll have a false bottom in my MLT. I plan to assemble a motorized rake system very soon to add to this system as well. It will be direct fired with propane. I haven't decided if I will do step mashes or single infusion. I do plan to fly sparge though.
My questions:
1) Should I install the thermometer to measure the temperature of the wort below the false bottom out of the path of the rake or should it be in direct contact with the grain?
2) Since this will be direct fired; is there any danger of scorching the wort while maintaining the mash temperature up to mash out?

Thanks for your comments.

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Old 06-14-2013, 12:18 AM   #2
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1. Above the false bottom, where the grain is. Best to keep it as close as possible to the grains themselves since thats where the magic occurrs.

2. As long as ur using a false bottom the risk of scorching is minimal, however u can always remove the lid and stir while the burner is firing.

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Old 06-14-2013, 09:10 AM   #3
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Thanks for your responses.

Quote:
however u can always remove the lid and stir while the burner is firing.
There will be constant stirring very soon as it will have the motorized rake installed. I'll have a shaft with three or four rakes that will be driven by a 13 RPM gear motor. This is how a friends 1000 gallon system is set-up and I'm taking the idea into my small 10 - 15 gallon set-up.
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:21 AM   #4
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Another option is to recirculate instead of stir. This is what I do and I measure the temperature at the outlet of the mash tun and wind up with very clear wort due to the recirc.

I would think it would be about as expensive as assembling a motorized rake if not cheaper.

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Old 06-14-2013, 03:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Another option is to recirculate instead of stir. This is what I do and I measure the temperature at the outlet of the mash tun and wind up with very clear wort due to the recirc.
My thought pattern with the rake system is that I would get higher efficiency due to the slow agitation of the grist with the heavier sugars dropping to the bottom where recirc would only move the sugars back to the top of the grain bed. I do plan on a fly sparge instead of batch.
What are your thoughts on this?

The reason behind this idea is that it was a recommendation from my friend with the brewery. He originally had a small 10 gallon set-up designed this way and has won national 1st place awards with his brews. He has brewed at two of the top craft breweries on the east coast and is currently working with another here in Virginia on a collaboration brew. He is currently producing on four 1000 gallon systems and has plans for three additional systems by year end.
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:53 PM   #6
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So, my thinking is that efficiency doesn't really matter much at the homebrew scale. When you're talking about micro/macro brewing it becomes important because your concern is minimizing costs and maximizing profit. If you think about it, in the brewing process the only place you can move the needle on profit is in hitting high efficiency numbers.

Having a poorly efficient homebrew system will really only cost a small amount in extra grain use.

Now if you're approaching it as a technical challenge, then perhaps it's worth pursuing, but I don't personally think it is going to make better beer or save you worthwhile amounts of money.

As far as distribution of sugars, even if you were depositing all your sugars at the top of your mash, you'd still be washing them back out with a fly sparge.

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Old 06-14-2013, 07:16 PM   #7
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Yes your more correct with ur second post. The fly sparge, as long as its done properly, will wash all the sugars from the grains no matter what.

I like the idea of the rake as far as a DIY concept but as far as it being worth the time/effort/money im not sure it will be any better on this smaller home brew scale then the recirculation idea.

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Old 06-15-2013, 12:54 AM   #8
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I really appreciate the comments. I've got several things to consider and will talk to my brewery friend some more to see why he so strongly recommends the rake system over recirc. As far as expense, I'm not sure if there would be much difference in a rake system vs. recirc. but I will continue to gather information on both. Again, thanks for the comments and I appreciate additional conversation.

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Old 06-15-2013, 03:04 AM   #9
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Post back with what your friend says. Im curious about his opinion for the rake system on a smaller scale.

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Old 06-17-2013, 03:37 PM   #10
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The other thing to consider is if a rake system costs you $150 and a pump costs you $150, the rake only does one thing and a pump can be used everywhere in your brewing operations.

Just to keep in perspective.

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