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Old 03-07-2012, 01:23 PM   #1
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Default Direct Fired MLT

I am in the process of building a 3 keg pump driven system and was planning on direct firing my mash tun. I don't think I'm looking to build a RIMS or HERMS as of now and was wondering if it's possible to direct fire a mash tun without scorching the grain?

My plan is to fire the HLT and BK with the huge Bayou Classic BG14 burners, while firing the MLT with the smaller BG12 burner. I was planning on recirculating the mash through my electric pump and directly back into the MLT. Would this work? I suppose I could also recirculate my mash through my 50 ft wort chiller inside the HLT, but I'm mostly concerned with the amount of time it will take to raise the temperature of the liquid for a step mash without direct firing the MLT. Any thoughts or input on this?

Also, this may be a silly idea, but is it possible to put a false bottom ABOVE the ball valve in a keg? Would this create too much dead space or is this not even possible? I thought having the grain bed that high above the heat would help prevent scorching, but I'm just guessing at this point.

I purchased this item: http://morebeer.com/view_product/100...ot_Liquor_Tank the maximizer from MoreBeer in the hopes of using it in my 1/2 barrel keg with false bottom. Now I see this might not work and I probably need a standard false bottom with regular fittings but am concerned about scorching if the grain is that close to the heat source.

Finally, is it possible to recirculate the mash back through your sparge arm...like a stainless rotating one? I am looking for options of what type of 'valve' to use to drop the mash back into the MLT.

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Old 03-07-2012, 04:44 PM   #2
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I'm in the process of using a direct-fire mash tun as well. I think I'm going to have to just use a mash paddle to keep it stirred to avoid scorching the grains on the bottom. Having a false bottom on the keggle should help with this too I'm hoping.

I can't answer your other questions, but I'm sure someone here knows.

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Old 03-07-2012, 05:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy13 View Post
I am in the process of building a 3 keg pump driven system and was planning on direct firing my mash tun. I don't think I'm looking to build a RIMS or HERMS as of now and was wondering if it's possible to direct fire a mash tun without scorching the grain?

My plan is to fire the HLT and BK with the huge Bayou Classic BG14 burners, while firing the MLT with the smaller BG12 burner. I was planning on recirculating the mash through my electric pump and directly back into the MLT. Would this work? I suppose I could also recirculate my mash through my 50 ft wort chiller inside the HLT, but I'm mostly concerned with the amount of time it will take to raise the temperature of the liquid for a step mash without direct firing the MLT. Any thoughts or input on this?

Also, this may be a silly idea, but is it possible to put a false bottom ABOVE the ball valve in a keg? Would this create too much dead space or is this not even possible? I thought having the grain bed that high above the heat would help prevent scorching, but I'm just guessing at this point.

I purchased this item: http://morebeer.com/view_product/100...ot_Liquor_Tank the maximizer from MoreBeer in the hopes of using it in my 1/2 barrel keg with false bottom. Now I see this might not work and I probably need a standard false bottom with regular fittings but am concerned about scorching if the grain is that close to the heat source.

Finally, is it possible to recirculate the mash back through your sparge arm...like a stainless rotating one? I am looking for options of what type of 'valve' to use to drop the mash back into the MLT.
Wow lots of questions here. Let me see if I can help some as I has a similar system.
I direct fire my MLT and I don’t circulate. My thinking on this is that if I am drawing wort toward the heat of the fire at the bottom then I might be risking scorching. This could be just paranoia but I would rather not take the risk. Instead I just fire and stir it gently over a longer period of time. I have learned in my brewing adventures the more patient you are with you mash and any process the better the beer comes out in the end.
Putting the valve below the grain isn’t a terrible idea but you will have a ton of dead space.
The Maximizer will still work with a false bottom. I have the jaybird false bottom with the hole drilled in it and I could see this combo working very well. I might modify my dip tubes for this.
If want to recirculate the mash back through I don’t see why you couldn’t run it through the sparge arm. I use a SS shower head that flows at 2.5gpm. It has a valve on it already but I also use a valve on my Pump.
I hope this helps and that I‘m not giving you bad info.Cheers

Quick addition: I usually raise my step temps over a time period of 10minutes.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:40 PM   #4
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Thank you both!

@noodle23 I was under the impression that the actual grain would scorch, not the wort/mash water. Maybe I am wrong?

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Old 03-07-2012, 05:46 PM   #5
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You could look at either way i guess. I mean when you vorlauf you still get some grain in there and you would be drawing those, while a small amount of grain, toward the flame and could scorch that. Like i said i could be paranoid.

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Old 03-07-2012, 05:49 PM   #6
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You said you don't want RIMS or HERMS, but doing direct firing on the MLT and recirculating it is RIMS! What you're proposing to do will be just fine, but don't do a FB above the valve. You want your wort in contact with the grains, not sitting below it. The recirculation will take care of making sure you're not scorching anything. You really have to leave the wort sitting in one place a while to scorch it, so don't worry about it. Also, doing the direct fire method works well for raising your temp for mash out or step mashes.

You also don't need to invest in one of those whirly-gig type sparge arms. Many of use use about 36" of hose coiled in the top of the kettle as the return on the MLT. If you keep an inch or so of water above the grain bed, you don't have to worry about making sure you evenly distribute the water.

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Old 03-07-2012, 06:06 PM   #7
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Gotcha.

@JonW I guess what I meant was I wasn't planning on running it through a heat exchanger/wort chiller in the HLT. You're right though.

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Old 03-08-2012, 01:07 PM   #8
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Here's my last question. If I'm recirculating out of the valve in my direct fired MLT through a pump and back into the top of the direct fired MLT, is there any advantage at all to throwing a 50 foot wort chiller in the mix and sticking it in the direct fired HLT, thereby recirculating through the wort chiller in the HLT? Would that increase temperature steps being that it's going through 2 direct fired vessels, or should I just stick to recirculating back into the MLT and skip the HLT?

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Old 03-08-2012, 05:55 PM   #9
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Doing the coil is a HERMS system, so pick one, not both. No advantage to doing both systems. There are some that use the direct fire to heat their strike water and then switch to doing the HERMS coil for maintaining mash temps. I've found that direct firing RIMS works very well and is much simpler to implement then the added complexity of HERMS.

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Old 03-08-2012, 06:39 PM   #10
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I have a direct fire RIMS system as well. I use a blichman 15 gal for my MLT, and like others, found the brewmometer to be pretty useless once you dough in. I use it to get to my strike temp, that's about it. I have made a contraption out of two stainless T's, a couple of camlock couplings, and a short length dial thermo. This essentially measures the temp of the wort as it's being pulled through the pickup, and reads more accurately than the brewmometer.

Now, I'm on my third sparge arm. I started out with the coiled tubing on top of the grain bed. I was getting horrible efficiency out of it. So I made an H manifold out of CPVC. It worked, kinda. I'm now using just a Siphon Sprayer out of the top of my lid on the MLT. Works awesome. Last brew I hit 92% efficiency.

The one thing I have been doing after my first couple brews, as I bring my strike water up to temp, I have this thermo rig hooked up, then my tubing, and my pump, and am recircing throughout. This way, once i dough in, I dont' have to worry about temp loss once hooking everything up.

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