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Old 02-21-2013, 12:41 AM   #21
cwi
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cwi,

thanks for your thoughtful post (which also cracked me up )

You raise a number of valid points and I think I am going to take you up on your suggestion to start a dedicated thread seeking input for my new system...

-fafrd

p.s. I have no unrequited love for the fair chill-zilla, but I am an engineer and do admit to a certain weakness for determining and acquiring the 'best' solution (where the devil is then in the details of 'best for what'?).
So it isn't true beauty you are attracted to, but shiny, sparkly, overly complicated things. I'm an engineer, too, and have the same disease.

Post your thread on here, or PM it to me, and I will keep tabs on it. I will warn you though, that BIAB is my latest fixation. I may devolve back as far as batch sparging, which is a close relative of BIAB, but no further. Reverting back to fly sparging for a 5% gain in efficiency, especially when it only saves ~$2, adds ~1 hour, and can be unpredictable/troublesome, just isn't worth it.

My next battle is trub management. I think I have a couple of solutions, but it requires sifting through SS mesh specs and performance.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:10 PM   #22
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cuart682, thanks for coming back to life on this thread

Looking at my original post, I guess I was confused and thought that a Chillzilla was a plate chiller, not a counterflow chiller. Glad to hear your CFC works well as an external heat exchange coil - are you going to continue to use that set-up in your new rig?

And yeah, I don't have any experience with HERMS/mash recirculation yet, but from what I understand, it ought to be much easier to control if the HLT temp is at or slightly above the desired mash liquor temp. Someone else had suggested a technique similar to your old one (HLT temp at mashout temp and controlling HLT flow rate) but I was concerned about how difficult it would be to control and potential large temperature swings (especially during any steps).

I'm looking at keeping the heat-exchange external to the HLT, like you, but am considering using a plate chiller rather than a CFC. A CFC has the advantage that clogging is not a concern but I would want stainless rather than copper which means it would have to be very long (probably 50', like the HERMS coils folks use inside their HLTs).

If a good filter is used to keep any grain particles out of the CFC, it seems like an attractive alternative.

I am interested in the chilling performance of the chillzilla - do you use it to chill boiling wort at the end of the brew cycle? If so, can you estimate chilling performance (tap in temp, tap flow rate, wort flow rate (pumped or gravity), cool wort out temp and total batch size)?

thanks,

-fafrd
Sorry for the delayed response but have been very busy the past few days and haven't been on the Internet. When I build my new system I will probably go with a herms coil in he hlt just because I'm looking at stout tanks and I can have one built into the tank that's SS, but I will probably sell my old chillzilla and get a SS cfc. Think Williams brewing has one. I have never had any problems with the copper but just prefer to have all SS. As far as chilling it does work good with my process and that's why I will probably stick with cfc vs plate. I would like a plate chiller but am very concerned with getting it very clean. I start to recirculate the bk through the chiller about 10 min until end of boil to sanitize and at the end of he boil I pump a full hlt full of water to the mash fun which will be used for cleaning or a 2nd batch (or 3rd). Once that has gone through I dump ice water into the hlt and recirculate back into the hlt. I can have the batch totally chilled in about 20-30 min (11.5gal batch) I do however have access to an ice machine with unlimited ice. I just started chilling this way a few batches ago. Doing it this way is a lot less work than the way I used to do it but takes longer to cool. I used to drop 2 ic's into the bk with the whirlpool and I could get it chilled in about 10 min.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:53 PM   #23
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The question about Brewers Hardware filter. I do have one and I do use it and it will clog even on a 10 gallon batch when recirculating. I've done it. It is a good filter but it clogs. On my 45 Gallon batches we have a bypass from the chiller to whirlpool with a pump, then settle for 10 minutes. Start chilling running wort through that exact filter. We have a dip tube in the bottom of BK that is left up off the bottom until wort level is down to it, then at the end push dip tub down towards the bottom. Once you get down to the trub level and it picks up some, the flow rate drops down significantly. I think their holes in the filter are actually too small.
It's always about knowing your equipment and design a program that works for it.
There is always a way.
Blichmans BK filters work for 10 gallon batches. But I wouldn't want to recirculate using those either. They depend on the 'settling' stage so you aren't picking up too much trub.

Please don't think I am discouraging the purchase of your plate chiller. Just know how it's going to need to be set up to do what you want. At least your smart enough to ask here. I always had to run head on into these issues then read on how to fix them.

I agree 100% on setting up a brewing system that makes brew day quick and simple!!!! My homebrew setup is streamlined so that I can be done quickly, or if I have all day I can make 2,3 or yes 4 batches in a day.

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Old 02-23-2013, 08:18 PM   #24
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The question about Brewers Hardware filter. I do have one and I do use it and it will clog even on a 10 gallon batch when recirculating. I've done it. It is a good filter but it clogs. On my 45 Gallon batches we have a bypass from the chiller to whirlpool with a pump, then settle for 10 minutes. Start chilling running wort through that exact filter. We have a dip tube in the bottom of BK that is left up off the bottom until wort level is down to it, then at the end push dip tub down towards the bottom. Once you get down to the trub level and it picks up some, the flow rate drops down significantly. I think their holes in the filter are actually too small.
This is very helpful, wadefisher, thank you. I'm only going to be doing 5 or 10 gallon batches, so hopefully the filter capacity will be a bit better matched to the total amount of trub I'll be facing.

I was thinking about doing something similar to what you describe above (using a bypass for the recirculation phase and having the dip tube pointing up until the wort level is low and only pointing it down as the wort level reaches the bottom of the kettle). In fact, I've been playing around with ideas for a manual pick-up wand that would allow me to follow the wort level down by hand and would also allow me to try vacuuming up trub during recirculation for trapping in a newly-inserted hop spider if I want to try that technique. I'd be interested in how your pick-up tube was designed to be repositioned partway through the chill - that sounds like a pretty easy solution.

On the filter, the filter getting clogged is one thing, but the more important question for me is if the filter effectively prevents the chiller from getting clogged and also eases the difficulty of cleaning the chiller when the brewing session is complete. Are you happy with this filter and does it make the plate chiller much easier and more practical to use?


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Please don't think I am discouraging the purchase of your plate chiller. Just know how it's going to need to be set up to do what you want. At least your smart enough to ask here. I always had to run head on into these issues then read on how to fix them.
You have not discouraged me at all and I appreciate the feedback in advance so I can hopefully reduce the number of mistakes I will make.

If a filter like the Brewer's Hardware IL filter does a good job protecting the plate chiller and making it easier to use, that is step one (and good enough for me to invest in one of the filters).

Step two seems like it should now focus on keeping the IL filter from getting clogged. I'm currently planning my system to allow several fall-back options to hopefully be sure I eventually find a solution that works. Your thoughts on what I am planning would be appreciated.

baseline solution (pretty much identical to what you are doing):
-bypass filter/plate chiller during whirlpool recirculation
-allow trub cone to settle
-drain 'up' until wort level is near bottom of kettle and then reposition pick-up tube to drain down
-hope that filter can trap all trub that ends up being sucked into pick-up tube without clogging (5 or 10 gallon batches).

I've never whirlpooled before and I am not sure how successful it is going to be in forming a nice trub pile, so in case whrilpooling alone is not sufficient in keeping the IL filter from getting clogged, my first fall-back solution is as follows:

-after trub cone has formed (or not :-) insert tall narrow 300um screened tube as a primary filter (something like what people are using for dry-hopping in corny kegs)
-drain wort with a manual pick-up tube inserted into the filter tube, following the wort level down by hand
(I suppose a Blichman hop blocker in the BK could be used as this primary filter as well, as long as it has a separate valve output so that it can be bypassed during recirculation)

I don't know what the flow-rates are going to be into a filter tube like this or also if it is going to have enough surface area to avoid getting clogged before all of the wort is out, so my second (and last) fall-back solution is the following:

-after trub cone has formed, insert standard diameter stainless hop spider (300m), placing recirculation return tube into center of hop spider
-using pick-up wand, vacuume up trub cone (or as much trub as possible), depositing it into hop spider through recirculation
-wort can either be drained in standard way or using the same manual pick-up tube and primary filter tube (now secondary)

I am probably going to have the Brewer's Hardware IL filter anyway because I want to use the ILF+PC combo for mash recirculation. I'm hoping to get away with just the IL filter for wort chilling as well, but throwing some more 300um mesh at it, I'm pretty sure there is a way to prevent it from getting clogged if it ends up not having enough capacity for my batch sizes...

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I agree 100% on setting up a brewing system that makes brew day quick and simple!!!! My homebrew setup is streamlined so that I can be done quickly, or if I have all day I can make 2,3 or yes 4 batches in a day.
I'd be curios on a simple summary of how quickly your 'quick' brew session can be completed and how you would break it down into time spent on prep/getting ready for mash-in, mash, mash-out and sparge, boil, chilling, and clean-up.

-fafrd
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:43 PM   #25
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The question about Brewers Hardware filter. I do have one and I do use it and it will clog even on a 10 gallon batch when recirculating. I've done it. It is a good filter but it clogs. Start chilling running wort through that exact filter. Once you get down to the trub level and it picks up some, the flow rate drops down significantly. I think their holes in the filter are actually too small.
The Brewer's Hardware filter is 500um and then they also offer SS 'filter nets' with mesh sizes of 300um or 200um.

Do you use this filter just with the native 500um holes or with one of the 'filter nets'?

I just found these similar IL filters offered by Glacier tanks for the same price: http://www.glaciertanks.com/TriClamp...ner_1_1_2.html

The Glacier Tanks filter has native holes of 1/16" (1588um - more than three times larger than the Brewer's Hardware filter) and includes a similar 'filter net' with 150um mesh size (at no extra cost).

1588um is probably too big to keep clogging-sized particles out of the plate chiller, but with this design different sized mesh tubes could be made pretty easily.

For the same money, which of these two filter designs do you think is the better value?

Also, what do you believe would be the ideal mesh size to filter out the particles that could clog a plate chiller without slowing down the flow too much from particles that could have made it through the plate chiller without problem?

-fafrd
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Old 02-24-2013, 04:14 PM   #26
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Also, what do you believe would be the ideal mesh size to filter out the particles that could clog a plate chiller without slowing down the flow too much from particles that could have made it through the plate chiller without problem?

-fafrd
And you said weren't infatuated with plate chillers, hah.
The size of the mesh isn't/shouldn't be a factor for flow, at least with the filters your are looking at. The real concern with mesh size is clogging the filter by going to fine. It seems like even a coarse filter, like the false bottom you would need anyway, would be suitable for preventing too much grain from getting into the PC. A PC should be able to handle a few bits here and there. Just blast them out after the mash.

That said, I still don't see the appeal of the PC. You seem to go by just the hard numbers- size, captive volume, thermal efficiency, price/btu, etc. If you were to add some soft variables into the equation- uncertainty, hassle, complexity, failure modes, etc., you might choose differently.

Of course, there are some things that don't have to satisfy some cost/peformance/benefit analysis- you simply want to have it to play with. If that is the case here, it would be simpler to justify it that way. Personally, I go with usability/simplicity when there are alternate solutions; and save the complexity for devices that solve problems without simple alternative solutions, or for add-ons that could actually impact the final product.

You seem like you are sorting out a bunch of questions that are all over the map. Some of your questions aren't really relevant, or practical. Take pumps- there is no way to 'suck' up anything with a handheld wand with the available pumps, since they are not self-priming. Similarly, your question about using a siphon to 'hand follow' the wort to deal with trub is a PITA. I only do this when I have a failure due to clogging. I do ~15 gal batches, so time is the big issue, but starting/restarting the siphon is a close second, and would be first if I was doing 5 gals. It isn't easy no matter how you do it, and even harder if you are alone.

If you haven't actually started brewing (again) yet, you might try getting a very simple brewing setup just to try things out. I am biased, but I would suggest starting out with a gravity BIAB system using a SS pot and boiling basket. Concord on Ebay has combos for ~$100, and there are many other choices for not much more. All you need to complete your hot side is to add a $5-10 voile bag, which are available pre-made, or DIY with fabric. Add a SS chiller (they are .020" wall, not .002" as I stated earlier) for ~$70 and a KAB6 banjo burner, and you are only into your rig for ~$300. Most of it you could unload for not much loss, if you upgrade and have no further use for it.

On the fermentation/serving side, you can go as cheap or as nice as you want. There aren't a lot of tough decisions (at least not for me) to make on the cold side, since it is almost strictly a money issue- conical, better bottle, or bucket; freezer/fridge, water bath, or hall closet; kegs or bottles, keezer or beater fridge; Perlick 545SS, generic chrome faucets, plastic cobra tap, church key.


Some 'soft' things to consider when designing your system are:
complexity (how much can you tolerate, for more than one batch)
simplicity (how much can you tolerate, for more than one batch)
batch size (a functional dual batch size is a myth)
failure modes (how many things can go wrong)
failure recovery (what is worst/typical case scenario to recover)
storage size (how much will the wife tolerate)
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:18 PM   #27
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cwi - you've raised a slew of valid points (as usual). I appreciate your challenge on many of the concepts I have raised (which probably appear to be 'all over the map' because I have the luxury of a clean-sheet build and can reconsider/re-architect virtually any part of the system).

I'll do my best to break various points apart and consider in sequence:

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Originally Posted by cwi View Post
The size of the mesh isn't/shouldn't be a factor for flow, at least with the filters your are looking at. The real concern with mesh size is clogging the filter by going to fine. It seems like even a coarse filter, like the false bottom you would need anyway, would be suitable for preventing too much grain from getting into the PC. A PC should be able to handle a few bits here and there. Just blast them out after the mash.
I'd rather invest in a filter and reduce the amount of time I need to put into blasting bits out of a plate chiller, but I think you are right, the false bottom should keep particles larger than 2mm or so out of the mash liquor (the holes on my false bottom are .09375" (1.5 1/16" or 2380um).

I'll probably have a in-line filter with something like the 500um filter size as a 'last line of defense' for the plate chiller. I'd much rather have problems clogging my filter than clogging the chiller.

The two options I am considering include:

a/ including bypass plumbing so that I can recirculate the mash with no filter+chiller in the loop until the wort is running clear

b/ adding a finer screen with a mesh size of 500um on top of my false bottom and recirculating directly through the ILF+PC (though I am worried this may result in more frequent stuck mashes, so I am leaning towards a/)

Your thoughts on what mesh size is 'too fine' would be appreciated.

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That said, I still don't see the appeal of the PC. You seem to go by just the hard numbers- size, captive volume, thermal efficiency, price/btu, etc. If you were to add some soft variables into the equation- uncertainty, hassle, complexity, failure modes, etc., you might choose differently.
For sure. I am not taking the most conservative and least complex avenue. On the other hand, the time to take risks is at the beginning - once the system is working well, it is unlikely I will ever make significant changes and by taking risk in the initial concept, I have the 'tried and true' solutions available as my fall back. In fact, I am architecting the system to fall back to a standard HERMS or RIMS rig with only minor changes.

The appeal of a plate chiller is that for the ~$200 I want to spend on heat exchange, plate chillers are significantly faster than even the all-copper CFC chillers. This ends up translating into the speed of any steps in the mash schedule (including mashout).

I'll probably end up feeling like a fool when I have tried all of this out and it has failed, but hopefully we will all learn something from that experience, and so on that basis alone it is worth the effort to me.

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Of course, there are some things that don't have to satisfy some cost/peformance/benefit analysis- you simply want to have it to play with. If that is the case here, it would be simpler to justify it that way. Personally, I go with usability/simplicity when there are alternate solutions; and save the complexity for devices that solve problems without simple alternative solutions, or for add-ons that could actually impact the final product.
I'll probably end up feeling like a fool when I have tried all of this out and it has failed, but hopefully we will all learn something from that experience, and so on that basis alone it is worth the effort to me. If nothing interesting or useful can possibly emerge from the exercise, then I agree with you that I am just playing. I believe there are some interesting things I am trying that could prove useful, including:

-Many HERMS set-ups compensate for lack of efficiency in the HERMS coil by overheating the HLT liquor. This is inherently a bit less stable than if the mash liquor is heated exactly to HLT temperature and also means that when mashout is done, the HLT liquor is likely to be heated to higher than sparge temperature. I think with my plate-chiller-based HERMS rig, I will be able to maintain the mash to within less than 0.5 degree F of the HLT temp.

-The benefit of plate chillers for wort chilling is clear (faster, less tap water consumed, more compact) but they are avoided because of the potential for clogging and the more complex cleaning procedures. If I can find a practical way to keep a plate chiller clean by using a few filters so that cleaning a plate chiller is really no more difficult than cleaning a CFC, hopefully that would be a valuable datapoint for the brewing community.

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You seem like you are sorting out a bunch of questions that are all over the map. Some of your questions aren't really relevant, or practical. Take pumps- there is no way to 'suck' up anything with a handheld wand with the available pumps, since they are not self-priming.
In terms of being all over the map, guilty as charged. In terms of vacuuming up trub by using a pump to 'suck', I beg to differ. There are at least three ways to establish a wand as a primed BK output (suction hose):

i/ my system is rigged to that 'filtered tap water' into the BK goes through a wand attached to the pump intake manifold. That siphon is maintained all the way through to BK recirculation, so the input wand is pre-primed and can be used for suction as the BK output.

ii/ if two pumps are used so that the wort recirculation pump is separate from the wort chilling pump, the pumps can use BK input/output in opposite directions. Following sparge, wand has been used as output. Recirculation pump can use that same wand as input. When 'vacuuming' and recirculation are done, chilling can go back to using standard kettle output.

iii/ with only a single pump, a bit of plumbing can be added to allow BK output and BK input to be reversed using valves. Recirculate from bottom kettle valve through to wand as BK input, the switch so that wand becomes pre-primed BK output and bottom kettle valve becomes kettle input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwi View Post
Similarly, your question about using a siphon to 'hand follow' the wort to deal with trub is a PITA. I only do this when I have a failure due to clogging. I do ~15 gal batches, so time is the big issue, but starting/restarting the siphon is a close second, and would first if I was doing 5 gals. It isn't easy no matter how you do it, and even harder if you are alone.
I really appreciate this comment - without having tried it yet, I have no idea how much of a PITA this semi-manual process would be. As I stated in the earlier post, my hope is that whirl pooling is successful enough that I can chill without clogging my ILF. This 'hand follow' of the wort and the 'trub vacuuming' idea were both intended only as fall-back solutions in case whirl pooling alone does not work well enough to keep the ILF filter clear.

With your experience (and knowing that I seem committed to trying to make a go of chilling with the ILF+PC combo), I would greatly appreciate your thoughts as to what solutions to plan for as fall-backs in the case that whirl pooling does not work well enough for me.

Your comment has caused me to think about another aspect - I probably need a plan for what to do if/when the ILF filter does get clogged. This is something I have not thought about before, and for example, maybe I should plan to have a valve between the ILF and the PC so I can cut off, remove ILF, and clean it in before reconnecting. Siphon should be maintained in this case, so restarting with the cleaned ILF should not be a problem. Again, any thoughts appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwi View Post
If you haven't actually started brewing (again) yet, you might try getting a very simple brewing setup just to try things out. I am biased, but I would suggest starting out with a gravity BIAB system using a SS pot and boiling basket. Concord on Ebay has combos for ~$100, and there are many other choices for not much more. All you need to complete your hot side is to add a $5-10 voile bag, which are available pre-made, or DIY with fabric. Add a SS chiller (they are .020" wall, not .002" as I stated earlier) for ~$70 and a KAB6 banjo burner, and you are only into your rig for ~$300. Most of it you could unload for not much loss, if you upgrade and have no further use for it.
Guilty as charged - I've been sampling a great many new beer styles in anticipation of my renewed brewing, but have not recently brewed anything besides a hard cider. I appreciate your suggestions on a system and have thought seriously about a system very similar to what you have suggested. Here are the reasons I have decided to build a mash+lauter system rather than BIAB:

- lifting the grain bag is not something that appeals to me. For 5 gallon batches with 10-12 lbs of grain, it's probably not a big deal (should weigh something like 20-24 lbs wet, right?), but for 10 gallon batches, it seems like a PITA.

-can't know until I have experimented, but mashing that wet (3.3 quarts / lb) seems like a risk factor, at least for some beer stlyes.

-lost mash efficiency is not a big deal to me, but variability in outcome is, and from what others who have tried both standard lauter+sparge and BIAB have written, it seems like repeatability with BIAB is harder to achieve.

On the other hand, you've made me think about trying a BIAB or two with the parts I have already purchased. I have a 42qt Concord pot+basket for my MLT on the way along with a 80qt Concord for the BK. I was going to toss the basket but am now thinking I might be able to use it to try BIAB in the BK.

I need to get a bag, a pump and complete my RIMS tube. Recirculate through the RIMS tube until mash is done, lift the grain basket and drain, do all the usual stuff for boil and hops (I already have a burner), and then use my old copper+hose CFC to chill into the FV. I could even go with direct flame during recirculation and hold off on completing the heating element/RIMS/PID for now.

Food for thought (and thanks for triggering it).

Quote:
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On the fermentation/serving side, you can go as cheap or as nice as you want. There aren't a lot of tough decisions (at least not for me) to make on the cold side, since it is almost strictly a money issue- conical, better bottle, or bucket; freezer/fridge, water bath, or hall closet; kegs or bottles, keezer or beater fridge; Perlick 545SS, generic chrome faucets, plastic cobra tap, church key.
Not concerned about the cold side for now - I have all my old carboys and corney set-up. Was just getting into lagers when I stopped and will need to get a new beer fridge set-up if/when I get back into that style, but I would start with some nice bitters anyway, so nothing additional needed for that

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwi View Post
Some 'soft' things to consider when designing your system are:
complexity (how much can you tolerate, for more than one batch)
simplicity (how much can you tolerate, for more than one batch)
batch size (a functional dual batch size is a myth)
failure modes (how many things can go wrong)
failure recovery (what is worst/typical case scenario to recover)
storage size (how much will the wife tolerate)
I appreciate all of these inputs.

-complexity - I can tolerate a great deal of complexity (in fact I prefer it, if I truly believe significant time savings or an improved result justifies it). I would rather brew less frequently with a more complex system that more often with a simpler system.

-simplicity - I'm all for it as long as too much flexibility is not sacrificed and the final result justifies the effort.

-batch size - this is one of the most important inputs you have provided to me and I would like to understand more about why you think a functional dual 5 or 10 gallon system is a myth (more below).

-failure modes - especially in the areas where I am taking some risk, I do think a lot about potential failures and fall-back solutions. These exchanges with you and others on HBT are invaluable to lower the areas where I have not thought things through in advance. I know it is impossible to plan for every contingency and inevitably something is going to sneak up and bite me, but hopefully this effort will allow the ground clutter to be cleared so that is only complex failure modes I will find myself dealing with.

-failure recovery - obviously putting a lot f though into recovery from filter clogs. Pumps losing prime and adding bleeder valves are an area I need to think more about. Any other failure you think I should be planning to recover from would be helpful.

-storage size - good input, but more for the future (and related to cold-side planning). Did not have the wife and the family when I last brewed in grad school, so this will be new, but I'm confident I will be able to manage that when the time comes (the family has already survived my obsessions with smoking and beekeeping )

Back to batch size. I've planned the system for 5 and 10-gallon batches and if there are reasons this is impractical, I would appreciate knowing them. I'm also starting to get interested in the idea of dual 5+5 gallon brewing sessions (possibly using HERMS for the first and BIAB for the second).

Here is what I have decided so far:

MLT - this seems to be the heart of the system and I have a 42 quart 13"D x 16"H pot for this. Should be good for 5-gallon batches without issue including the rare heavy beer I may want to brew. For light 10 gallon batches it should be fine, and possibly also for medium-bodied brews like ESB (depending on brewhouse efficiency). I'm starting with a smaller and cheaper MLT with the idea that I will upgrade if it turns out not to be sufficient for 10 gallon batches of the beers I want to brew and I find that I prefer 10 gallon batches. If I decide to invest in an upgrade to a 15 gallon MLT for 10 gallon batches, I want to understand my system first (so this is a planned potential limitation).

BK - I've gone with a 20 gallon BK to be able to brew 10 gallon batches without issue. When I was considering an immersion chiller, the height differences between 5 (7) gallon batches and 10 (13.5) gallon batches was one of the factors that made CFC plate chillers more attractive. Going with CFC or plate, I believe I should have no problem to brew either 5 or 10 gallon batches in this 20 gallon BK, but if there is a concern I have missed, I would appreciate the input.

HLT - still on the fence here. I will need at least a 15 gallon HLT if I want to brew 10 gallon batches but may also go with a 20 gallon HLT if I like the first 20 gallon pot I purchased. To start, I have my old 7 gallon brew-pot which I can use as an HLT for 5 gallon batches. Assuming the modest incremental cost is secondary and the additional space required does not cause a problem, it seems like a larger HLT is better. This assumes it is insulated so heat loss is equivalent. The only real advantages I can see to using a 20 gallon HLT is that it would provide a greater heat buffer during steps including mashout and it would allow pretty much all of the hot chilling effluent to be captured in the HLT rather than spilled out.

Any other inputs you have on dual 5 or 10 gallon batches as well as 5+5 two-batch brewing would be greatly appreciated...

-fafrd
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Old 02-25-2013, 05:54 AM   #28
cwi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
cwi - you've raised a slew of valid points (as usual). I appreciate your challenge on many of the concepts I have raised (which probably appear to be 'all over the map' because I have the luxury of a clean-sheet build and can reconsider/re-architect virtually any part of the system).
A lot of this is outside the scope of this thread, since the viability of using a PC as a HEX has been made clear to most. There is also so much going on/up in the air, its hard to find a place to start, other than to ask if you took your ADD meds today. Here goes- I think it's tough to do a clean-sheet build when you don't have much, if any, experience with the methods you are designing for, and some of the techniques you are counting on are your own new ideas. After a few brews trying out various things, you will have a better idea. Many things can be tested using simple tools- like whirlpooling with a spoon. Try it with a heavily hop-bursted IPA with either pellets and/or cones loose in the boil, and you will likely see it fail miserably, and not because of the spoon.

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Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
I'd much rather have problems clogging my filter than clogging the chiller.
including bypass plumbing so that I can recirculate the mash with no filter+chiller in the loop until the wort is running clear
Your thoughts on what mesh size is 'too fine' would be appreciated.
Clogging either is a PITA. Having to deal with that mid-brew, as has been posted, is not fun.
This is easy. Just don't hard plumb everything, and stick the hose back in the tun.
It's going to based heavily on your mill, grind, recirc time, if you are a bed stirrer, etc. As coarse a mesh as possible is best. Filters clog, it's what they are designed to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
For sure. I am not taking the most conservative and least complex avenue. On the other hand, the time to take risks is at the beginning - once the system is working well, it is unlikely I will ever make significant changes and by taking risk in the initial concept, I have the 'tried and true' solutions available as my fall back. In fact, I am architecting the system to fall back to a standard HERMS or RIMS rig with only minor changes.
Once you have a bunch of gear and fittings, converting to any style system isn't that difficult. Some things are repurposed more easily than others, PCs not being one of them, but the upcharge for a few pieces to try a new method usually won't be that great.

I am not sure of the logic you are using, but it's for your own benefit, so it must make sense to you. I just don't see why it is necessary to start out with the most complicated unknown approach, and then pare down what doesn't work, because otherwise you will never try a different method. You are either a tinkerer, or not. That you are trying to dream up so many new methods, even before you've tried out any of the proven techniques you wan to use, sounds like you would not have issues with changing things from time to time, if not weekly. You know you best, though.

Like I commented previously, you seem determined to use a plate chiller, and justify it because its gigagrams/microfarads ratio is superior to any other technology. It is a bit comical to see all the threads where they warn you against using a PC for a HERMS, but you steadfastly proceed with responses like 'I understand, but if you had to use a PC to do this, what kind of measures would you use to minimize the fatal flaws in its design when used for this application'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
The appeal of a plate chiller is that for the ~$200 I want to spend on heat exchange, plate chillers are significantly faster than even the all-copper CFC chillers. This ends up translating into the speed of any steps in the mash schedule (including mashout).
You will likely see little difference in performance between a well designed coil HEX vs. a PC hex, especially for equivalent price. The flows are so slow through the HEX, it doesn't really matter unless you are restricted to some maximum weight and size so that it will fit in the nose cone for the manned mission to Mars you are hoping to pilot. It just isn't an issue.

More important is being able to control the HEX bath temps as easily as possible. I doubt the in vs. out temp would be any different for a plate vs. coil. Even more important, since your PC, or even CFC, is remote from the bath causing some temp loss on the way there, this adds another layer of temperature control complexity to juggle. With an IC in a bath, you just set the exact temp you want, and call it good. Using a smaller dedicated pot for a HEX IC and HEX bath, you will get all the controlled step response you need for the typical flows. For mashout, there is no real bath temp limit, and you can even direct fire the tun if you have a burner. There are also other ways to do a mashout that are faster than any type of HEX.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
I'll probably end up feeling like a fool when I have tried all of this out and it has failed, but hopefully we will all learn something from that experience, and so on that basis alone it is worth the effort to me.
I think most people are just trying to save you some hassle. If you prefer to learn through experience, or just really can't live without a shiny .1GigaHz/uLambda plate chiller in your system, there is not much help to be offered that hasn't been given, since everyone who has responded so far has abandoned their attempts. The carnage has been listed. In trying, you will learn more than just that PCs aren't a good choice for a HEX (or chiller IMO). Fighting with it will give you a lot of experience with other issues as well, which may come in handy at other times. So it won't be a total loss if you abandon it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
-Many HERMS set-ups compensate for lack of efficiency in the HERMS coil by overheating the HLT liquor.
Many plate chiller users don't know that there is a growing wad of smegma in their chiller that is the cause of the contamination in their last 3 batches. This doesn't mean that all PC users fail to understand proper care and usage. Similarly, overtemping the HEX bath and output is a bad approach that I know some use, but it is rarely due to inefficiency of the HERMS. It is usually because they don't insulate their tun, and need more heat to get the dial thermometer sticking 4" into their mash bed up to temp. What they usually don't understand is they are overheating their mash, which is the liquid, and not the spent grain that is really little more than a sponge shortly after dough-in. Temps for HERMS are usually measured entering and exiting the HEX, and a third at the tun exit if wanted. A dial thermo mid mash might be a good backup, but is only good as a sanity check, not a reliable measurement. Personally I don't like a bunch of crap sticking into the tun, because I stir, even after dough in. The lid is where that stuff belongs.

For an external HEX, your .5F goal for temp correlation between HEX bath and HEX exit is a bit of a pipe dream, because you will likely have that just going from HEX bath to the remote PC/HEX. You can put another sensor on the HEX hot input, and then juggle the offset between that and the HEX bath to figure out a setting, which will also depend on the weather.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
-The benefit of plate chillers for wort chilling is clear (faster, less tap water consumed, more compact) but they are avoided because of the potential for clogging and the more complex cleaning procedures. If I can find a practical way to keep a plate chiller clean by using a few filters so that cleaning a plate chiller is really no more difficult than cleaning a CFC, hopefully that would be a valuable datapoint for the brewing community.
The benefits of a PC for chilling wort a routinely exaggerated. And we have yet another metric where PCs are the undisputed king- water conservation. PCs and CFCs have an advantage when doing direct/single pass chilling to the ferm vessel. To do this they need a supply of water cold enough to get adequate wort flow at pitching temp. If pre-chillers are needed, some of their advantage is lost due to complexity and introduced temperature control issues. If the tap water is not significantly colder than pitching temp, they will likely use MORE water in single pass mode than an immersion chiller doing kettle chills which can be done at a slower feed rate as temp deltas decrease (if water conservation is desired). This is especially true if the IC is switched to a recirc ice bath for the final temp drop- something not practical with single pass PCs. And really, the amount of water used isn't all that great- save it for cleaning, water the yard, don't take a shower on brew day, pee in the bushes while brewing instead of going inside, etc.

Also, using a PC or CFC for kettle recirc cooling seems odd to me, but only because I value simplicity over TeraOhms/milliPhotons maximization.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
In terms of being all over the map, guilty as charged. In terms of vacuuming up trub by using a pump to 'suck', I beg to differ. There are at least three ways to establish a wand as a primed BK output (suction hose):
Don't forget to sterilize your sterile food safe underwater video camera so you can see the hot break you are trying to vacuum off the bottom of the kettle. Maybe you should apply for the Google Glasses with this as the application. You could have a virtual kettle bottom overlaid on the surface.

I seriously doubt any of those approaches will work. Trying to hoover trub, would be like trying to hoover a cloud without sucking in any sky or scattering them with air currents from the motion, while blindfolded. Not to mention the difficulties in starting the vacuum by firing up a pump with a primed hose, and getting the business end down in the kettle before it loses suction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
I really appreciate this comment - without having tried it yet, I have no idea how much of a PITA this semi-manual process would be. As I stated in the earlier post, my hope is that whirl pooling is successful enough that I can chill without clogging my ILF.
Not going to happen with hoppy beers and kettle chilling. At least not without a hop bag/spider of some sort. If you allow cold break and finer trub through the filter, then maybe. With single pass chilling, it is possible with moderate hops, and no issue if a spider/bag is used. For reference, I have a 26G kettle doing BIAB for ~18G post boil. The last IPA I did with ~1.5 lbs of hops had a solid 5G/4" of slurry. I let the trub settle over night as a test, and was only able to get ~.75G/.5" off the top. My grind was a bit tight, and I had some extra flour, but it wasn't that different from similar brews, or even brews done with fly sparging. There is no way that amount of crap was going to make a trub cone, and my kettle is even oversized (diameter wise) for the batch size.

There just aren't many ways to get around the effects of brewing hoppy beers. Either use spiders/bags/etc., or plan on losing a lot of product to absorption and trub.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
Here are the reasons I have decided to build a mash+lauter system rather than BIAB:
- lifting the grain bag is not something that appeals to me. For 5 gallon batches with 10-12 lbs of grain, it's probably not a big deal (should weigh something like 20-24 lbs wet, right?), but for 10 gallon batches, it seems like a PITA.
-lost mash efficiency is not a big deal to me, but variability in outcome is, and from what others who have tried both standard lauter+sparge and BIAB have written, it seems like repeatability with BIAB is harder to achieve.
RE:BIAB lifting the bag is a hassle, but so is fly sparging for an hour, even without sticking your sparge. BTW, you still have to lift that same weight of grain with fly, you will just do it a scoop at a time. BIAB is faster; the product doesn't suffer; and numbers are easier to hit than with fly. I think that with a basket, a 12G (to the fermenter) batch is doable even without a hoist. It is approaching the limit for sure, and would definitely be easier with one. A 5 gallon batch is a joke even without a basket. If someone is complaining about hoisting a 5G batch BIAB, I don't know how they made it past extract and steeping grains without either giving up, or needing an engine crane to help dump their yeast packet.

BIAB, and batch sparging, are much more predictable than fly sparging. It's a fixed game. The problem is not many software packages calculate it properly. There is a formula for batch from guy who solved the math for batch, and hosts it on his web page. There is a spreadsheet by an Aussie (Stux) called CE-BIABcalc that is the current champion for BIAB calculators.
Fly sparge eff is a WAG, especially first time with a recipe. There are many things that can go wrong with a fly sparge. Even if you hold your tongue just the same way as the last time, there are still some thing that are hard to repeat. It can be done, but there is no way it is as easy or predictable as batch or BIAB/MIAB. If the software would catch up to the knowledge base, it would be even easier.
Mashes up to 4qts/lb have been verified to cause no issues- check BrauKaiser, I think.
Fly sparging definitely gets points for style, and when it works out right, it's a definite achievement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
On the other hand, you've made me think about trying a BIAB or two with the parts I have already purchased. I have a 42qt Concord pot+basket for my MLT on the way along with a 80qt Concord for the BK. I was going to toss the basket but am now thinking I might be able to use it to try BIAB in the BK.
Not sure how using a small basket in a big pot would work for either a 5G or 10G. The water depth needs to submerge the grain, but not overtop the basket/bag. Rule of thumb for BIAB, is ~twice the kettle volume for final post boil volume. You can cheat it a little by doing a dunk or pour sparge, or sacrificing some efficiency. You could easily do a ~6G batch in the 42Qt pot. That is close to the ideal size, and you could one hand the basket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
I need to get a bag, a pump and complete my RIMS tube.
Now you are also going to add a RIMS tube? A RIMS tube will blow your .5F mash tolerance out of the water. The localized heating around the element is a widely held drawback to RIMS. I think you just went off the map entirely. Although, I think you may be talking about a closed circuit e-HERMS. Still, don't expect miracles from PID control in that scenario. It's not magic.

Direct fire mash input works, but it does have some localized heating, especially with no clad bottom and a concentrated burner. It will limit your insulation options also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
Not concerned about the cold side for now - I have all my old carboys and corney set-up.
The cornies are still usable, but the glass carboys should go in the dumpster. Refer to the broken carboy horror stories thread. Not very kid friendly, either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
Back to batch size. I've planned the system for 5 and 10-gallon batches and if there are reasons this is impractical, I would appreciate knowing them. I'm also starting to get interested in the idea of dual 5+5 gallon brewing sessions (possibly using HERMS for the first and BIAB for the second).
That is a lot of balls to have in the air on brew day. If one beer is a simple house beer you can abandon at times, maybe. What happens when SHTF? I would guess that a second brew would add at least three hours without essentially having two systems, and even a simultaneous BIAB would add about that much. There is only so much multi-tasking that can happen. Maybe if you brewed barefoot, and had good toe-eye coordination, I could see snipping a packet of yeast open, and sprinkling it in the rehydrating bottle, while doughing in your second brew with a free foot/hand. For me, there is enough going on with one brew to keep me entertained, and any more action/panic would just make things less enjoyable.

The issues with brewing half batches are the losses- from heat in the mash from the dead air space, to losses in the kettles/tuns/hoses/etc. which are larger than needed, to the extra boil off from the bigger pot, etc. Trying to go bigger on a small system is even worse with boil overs, mash capacity issues, etc. Systems have their sweet spot. Also, unless you normally ferment in 2 half-batch vessels (which many 10G batchers do), you will have to use a different vessel for half-batches.

With your choice of unequal size pots, you already have the makings for a 5 or 10g system, at least with doing a 5G BIAB, or even a 10G BIAB, but only because you really sized your pot for 15G, but can't reach that without another larger vessel for a 15G sized MLT. You design things like a 1 man committee.

RE: capacities. There are tools like CanYouMash It (that should be all one word, but the curse robot tagged it otherwise) for tun sizing, or the BIAB tool mentioned earlier.

RE: IC for batch size- Yet another magical property of the PC- it fits any size batch, perfectly. A smaller batch may not be exposed to all the coils, but it is also a smaller batch, so chill time will be approx the same. Most people can adjust the spacing on the coils by raising and lowering the upper leg of the IC. If you have them spread out for a large batch, you can squish it for a smaller one. Also, a normal sized IC fully compacted should only be ~1/2 the height of your pot, so it should squish to a smaller batch if needed. If it won't squish, it is either a very small diam coil for the pot, or is oversized. The former is an odd design choice, and latter will provide more than enough chilling power.

RE:HLT
There are other options for HLTs these days. The cheap instant propane water heaters are becoming popular for strike/sparge water. The HEX bath and HLT do not have to be the same pot, and it's more flexible if they aren't. A smallish HEX bath allow for faster steps, and almost any quantity of water provides enough buffer and battery for stable mash temps. For faster mash outs, the lack of heat battery capacity can be overcome by heating the tun (if the insulation is removed); a quick batch sparge to the kettle for heat; a mash out water infusion from the instant hot water heater, etc. Again, having the utmost in performance isn't really necessary. Is it really going to make a difference if the mashout takes 3.4 minutes longer?
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