two tier converted keg question
been thinking about updating my brewing system. found this link for a two-tier'ed system and thought it seemed simple enough. do any of you have any experience with this set up?
im not looking to automate my process with a RIMS/HERMS like system. things that worry me are
a) heat loss, i brew year round, insulating the lines, possibly the mash tun.
b) when i do have to use the burner on the mash (with pump running) either to do step mashing or because of heat loss, how much of a problem with that be with scorching?
no on in my local club has this system as far as i know, most do what i do (cooler mash tun). mostly looking for people who use it/have used it/know someone who uses it...pros/cons.
An uninsulated metal tun will lose quite a bit of heat especially in low ambient temps. When my garage was 40F, I'd have to fire up the burner every 15 minutes or so or I'd end up 10-12F lower than my desired mash temp over 60 minutes. If you max out your tun capacity, the heat loss is less, but 6 gallon batches are bad news.
I think there are a couple practical ways to go.
1. Skip the metal tun idea and use a cooler. Walk away for 60 minutes and deal with 2-3F loss.
2. If you recirculate anyway, go with a RIMS tube and controller circuit.
3. Insulate the metal tun with high heat capable insulation. You can do this now and it will also help if you add a RIMS tube later.
There are very few pros to a converted keg tun, and I think the top of the list is durability. If you really don't want plastic in your brewery, this is a great solution. However, it's heavy and harder to chuck onto the lawn for a spray down.
A decent cooler with a foam "float" will have less than a degree of heat loss in 60 minute mash.
i've been using a cooler set up for 3 or 4 years now. I need a new cooler, and i'd like to build a stand. i know i could go out, buy a new cooler and be done with it, but i also like buiding things that go along with this hobby. i haven't built anything for homebrewing in a few years, so its about time.
Thanks Bobby, i might look into that down the road i wanted to do something like RIMS/HERMS but i like seeing things in person, and i know zero people in my HB group that use it.
I have essentially a two tier direct fired RIMS which would be similar to that in the link. Not exactly the same, but similar in operation.
Regarding your questions:
a. There will inevitably be some heat loss. You can add heat with the burner while circulating to offset the losses and when ramping up the temps for step mashes or mashouts. I don't insulate the hoses, but I do keep them as short as possible.
b. Full width false bottoms are less prone to scorching. IMO, it is also a good idea to use a low pressure ring type burner for better flame control and distribution. Kettles with aluminum clad bottoms such as the Megapots are less prone to scorching and a good choice for a MT. I use a "flame tamer" on my MT burner for improved heat distribution. I prefer to circulate at a relatively high rate which allows me to run the burner at a higher flame level for faster ramp ups etc.
I've automated only the MT burner on my system. Everything else is done manually, so it's sort of a semi-automatic system.
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