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Old 04-18-2006, 04:20 PM   #1
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Default RIMS vs. HERMS

I'm thinking of doing a serious upgrade to my brewing setup this winter, assuming I get a good Christmas bonus. I'm sure this will start a debate, but I'd like to hear about the benefits of a HERMS system vs. RIMS.

I found this RIMS controller: http://home.woh.rr.com/paragonbrewing/index.html

The price is right - I'm not sure if it would work with a HERMS system, though.

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Old 04-19-2006, 01:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alemonkey
I'm thinking of doing a serious upgrade to my brewing setup this winter, assuming I get a good Christmas bonus. I'm sure this will start a debate, but I'd like to hear about the benefits of a HERMS system vs. RIMS.

I found this RIMS controller: http://home.woh.rr.com/paragonbrewing/index.html

The price is right - I'm not sure if it would work with a HERMS system, though.
Almost too much info to list in a single post. Suffice it to say, a well designed HERMS is the way to go if you are dead set on doing a recirculating mashing system (RMS). However, things like your heat source and your probe placement will be key in getting something that you are happy with. For more biased information, go here:

http://sdcollins.home.mindspring.com

There are good arguments for direct contact systems (RIMS), and I am sure they are valid. I thought everything through and chose the HERMS approach. But, I would have to say that your overall system design is going to have more impact than your choice of RIMS or HERMS. I've seen well designed RIMS that I would take over some of the poorly designed HERMS I've seen any day of the week.

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Old 04-19-2006, 02:00 PM   #3
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Has anybody ever thought of reversing the flow in a HERMS/RMS system so that the heated wort is forced in through the bottom. This way you should be able to maintain a higher flow rate and get a better distribution of the heated wort in the mash.

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Old 04-19-2006, 02:53 PM   #4
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That would mess up the grain bed so you would have to switch it around after mash out to reset the grain bed.

You would have to figure out how you would suck the liquid off the top of the grain bed also....

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Old 04-19-2006, 03:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Monster Mash
That would mess up the grain bed so you would have to switch it around after mash out to reset the grain bed.
Yes that is expected. But it is that mess-up that should lead to a better mixing of the mash.

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You would have to figure out how you would suck the liquid off the top of the grain bed also....
True, I think you should be able to lower the upper manifold below the wort level.

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Old 04-19-2006, 04:44 PM   #6
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There's really no point in recirculating the opposite way. It would be a serious PITA, and for what gain? You'll definitely get total conversion...with or without recirculation. And it would take away the single benefit I see in recirculating, which is the improved clarity. I just don't see any gain at all in "better mixing of the mash". When was the last time you got less than complete conversion?

Personally, I think these things are overcomplicated solutions to a fairly simple problem, but for people who like that sort of thing, they are fun. They don't make better or worse beer than a simple infusion system all other things being equal.

If you want one, I think HERMS has distinct advantages, but, again, is more complex than RIMS. I've only ever had a RIMS, but one of the disadvantages was caramelization of the wort as it came in contact with the heating element. HERMS would eliminate that.

In general, RIMS and HERMS remind me of that game "Mousetrap"

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Old 04-19-2006, 05:22 PM   #7
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I got the idea from a mash-tun design, where the whole mash (grains and liquid) are constantly pumped through a heated tube in order to raise and keep the mash temp.

When designing a heated mash system I'm also interested in being able to heat up the mash evenly. With the constant recirculating I'm afraid that, through channeling and the increased flow rate necessary, it will not be possible to heat the mash evenly.

But than again, I haven't build or used one and I'm just throwing my thoughts out here for discussion.

Kai

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Old 04-19-2006, 06:43 PM   #8
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Believe it or not, I'm sorta on Janx's side here. If you can't make good, or even great beer, with a traditional mashing system, it's pretty pointless to invest time and money into a HERMS in hopes that it will actually improve anything. It won't. In the end, the skill lies with the brewer. I think your ability to formulate recipes, handle your yeast properly, and control fermentation temperatures have a lot more impact on your beer than your choice of mashing systems. A well designed Recirulating Mashing System (RMS) can enhance your ability to fine tune things, but it's no replacement for knowledge and experience.

Regarding the reverse recirculation concept. Yes, I did consider it. I gave it a lot of thought, drew some pictures, contemplated equipment and promptly dismissed it as silly. Why? Because it is. If you design your system correctly, your wort IS heated evenly. In a typical 5-6 gallon batch sized mash, you will have around 4 gallons of liquid (give or take). At 1 gallon per minute (typical), you are recirculating the entire mash through your heat source every 4 minutes. Channeling? Maybe, but it will be minor. What you are looking for is conversion, clarity, and efficiency. Conversion is a no brainer, it happens no matter what. Clarity you can see, and efficiency you can measure. I think you'll find that all of these will be excellent in a top-bottom type RMS. Reversing the flow will ruin clarity for sure and also introduce some other varibles that I think will make controlling temperature more difficult. Suffice it to say, I think the concept is interesting, but impractical with suspect benefits.

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Old 04-19-2006, 11:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janx
If you want one, I think HERMS has distinct advantages, but, again, is more complex than RIMS. I've only ever had a RIMS, but one of the disadvantages was caramelization of the wort as it came in contact with the heating element. HERMS would eliminate that.
That's been my big concern about RIMS - the idea of a heating element directly contacting my wort worries me. I would assume it's not a problem on a properly designed system, though.

It seems I would need a more complicated (and thus more expensive) controller for HERMS. I'm still feeling out the prices on both systems. Price isn't the main factor, but it does come into play.
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Old 04-19-2006, 11:28 PM   #10
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The elephant in the middle of the room is the question of the necessity of steps. It is sort of the whole protein rest issue all over again. I do understand the benefit of temperature control and mash-out... and there are those #&@!! wheat beers... but if you can manage with single infusion why mess with it. I can't see that you would get the benefits of decoction.

But who am I to talk? If you want the toys, GO FOR IT!

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