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Old 02-18-2012, 02:52 PM   #1
elderbrew
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Default Mash Temperature control

Guys,
I have a question about mash temp control. Right now I use direct fire to bring the temp back up (with less control than I'd like!). I have two copper immersion coils that I used before I got a plate chiller (gotta love evolution!). I also have a march pump and a temperature control device. So with all this stuff, I have several options for mash temp control if the mash falls below a certain temperature. Option#1 when the pump goes on (via power from the temp control unit), it would pump hot wort from the bottom of the mashtun and circulate it through a copper coil in the sparge water tank, then back to the top of the mashtun. Option#2 run water through a closed loop made up of two copper coils, one in the mashtun and one in the sparge water, powered by the pump as above. Option#3 continue to use direct fire, but recirculate the wort from the bottom of the mash to the top of the mash.
I'm thinking that option #2 might be great, though I wonder if creating a closed loop with very hot water would create an expansion/pressure concern? Maybe I could add a manual port valve to let off a little pressure as it gets hot? Opinions???
Elderbrew

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Old 02-20-2012, 05:41 PM   #2
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I think you have the makings for a HERMS. I'd think about running a coil in the HLT and pumping wort through it and back into the Mash Tun. You just recirculate the mash liquid between the mash tun and the HLT coil (HERMS COIL).

You adjust temp by having the controller turn on/off the heat to the HLT (Set about 2-3 degrees higher, usually I think. To account for heat loss in transport.)

Either way would work though. In no way should you close the whole thing up air tight.

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Old 02-20-2012, 09:53 PM   #3
elderbrew
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Default Mash Temp control

It is very similar to a HERMS system. In the end, I did a sort of dry run, hooking up everything in the right order. It became apparent that I didn't need the second coil at all (that I could simply draw the sparge water off from the ball valve, and run the return into the top of the sparge tank (an open rather than closed system, eliminating pressure concerns- running a closed coil system was a Very Bad Idea!).
I am still on the fence regarding whether to run hot sparge water through the coil in the mash tun, or run the wort through the coil in the sparge tank. The heat transfer physics of it seem similar, except for a couple of minor issues. First, I'd rather not run hot wort inside my copper coil. While the wort is hot, theres no issue, but when it starts to cool down after the mash, the lefteover wort starts to stick in the coils, causing sanitation concerns (basically resulting in more clean up effort). Second, I have a bit of concern that circulating the wort might add hot side aeration to it (though I have heard that this is less of a major concern than previously thought). Third, I don't want to denature the enzymes in the wort by exposing them to high heat (~170* in the sparge tank). It seems like I'd be better able to buffer the temperature difference by running a small amount of hot (~170*) sparge water through a large amount (8G) of wort (while stirring), as opposed to running a small amount of 150* wort through a lot of very hot sparge water.
Are any of these concerns valid, or am I missing something? Anyone have ideas/opinions? I'd appreciate the feedback. Thanks-

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