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Old 09-16-2013, 02:36 AM   #21
schwartzr33
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Default Good news, bad news

Let's start with the things that went well today. First, I'm happy to report that putting the RTD in the tee worked well. The temperature was much more stable. We still did some sloshing and stirring, and occasionally turned off the element, but we did those things much, much less than in the past. Overall, the mash temperature was much more consistent with a lot less fussing. The PID did run a few degrees high, so eventually I'll need to calibrate it. Also, we used some fresh hops that a friend had grown and we put them in a paint strainer bag with a zip tie to keep them contained--that worked like a charm.

Things that didn't go well: Unfortunately, we had a major disaster with the bag. During the mash the pump wash running on full and it sucked the bag down with enough force that it crushed my stainless strainer (you can see the strainer in its better days in my OP), that choked the pump, and because the bag was immobilized it.... wait for it....... scorched holes in the bag! We ended up with probably a cup of loose grain in the wort, which really mucked up the plate chiller. Not a good finish to the brew day. Fortunately, the wort didn't taste burnt (due to the melted bag), as some on HBT have said. I am now looking for tips on how to get the melted nylon off the element. I'm thinking of light sanding with very fine sand paper. Thoughts?

So, do elements melt bags? Well, yes they do, though perhaps only under certain circumstances.

So, where to go from here? I see three options:
1) Patch the holes in the bag and get the Blichmann Hopblocker. And assume the bag won't melt because it won't get sucked into the pickup tube again.
2) Fix the bag and go with a custom made false bottom.
3) Ditch the bag and go with a custom made basket, a la wobdee http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-o...system-380656/

I would welcome your feedback. Thanks.

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Old 09-16-2013, 01:38 PM   #22
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Ugh. That sucks. Maybe try a Scotch Brite Dobie (http://www.scotch-brite.com/wps/port...e-All-Purpose/) for starters to see if it'll come off the element.

The hop blocker and a custom false bottom both sound expensive. Maybe try a pizza screen with screws for legs?
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I think this is what I am going to try.

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Old 09-17-2013, 05:18 PM   #23
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Hey schwartz,
Wanted to chime in and give you a little insight on my eBIAB system and experience. I have a 22 gallon Bayou Classic Kettle with a weldless T sightglass and temp probe and a 3 way ball valve. Also, I have a ULWD 5500W heating element. My bag is placed directly into the kettle and does not have a shield from the heating element. I do not have a pump, but do not have problems maintaining mash temps. My trick is to keep the lid on during the mash and stir occasionally to distribute heat. Every 15 minutes or so (when I see the temp drop) I will kick the element on and stir the mash vigorously. I like the recirc idea, but feel like it would create to much pressure with such a fine bag which is used for BIAB. I have come to the conclusion it is cheaper and less hassle to go without.

As mentioned again, I believe as long as you use an Ultra Low Watt Density heating element you are fine with leaving the bag on the heating element, but make sure to stir vigorously! I have made 6 batches (11-14 gallon) with this system and have yet to have any problems. Hope this helps.

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Old 09-17-2013, 05:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris7687 View Post
I like the recirc idea, but feel like it would create to much pressure with such a fine bag which is used for BIAB.
Chris, when you BIAB mash is your water to grist ratio high or low. I am certainly not an expert here, just trying to learn. If the ratio is high, lots of water, what pressure are you referring to?
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:47 PM   #25
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I have almost the same setup as Chris: 26 gal kettle and make 10 or 15 gal batches, no Temp controller, no pumps, no bag shield, and have attached uhaul moving blankets via bungee cords for insulation. I grind the grain into dust using a corona mill.

I just heat water to temperature i am looking for (+6 degrees to account for grain addition temp drop) add grain, mix, add lid and add a blanket on top. I used to stir every 20 min but don't even bother doing that anymore. With stirring, I lose 3 degrees over the hour, with setting and forgetting, I lose 1-2 degrees over the hour. Then I pull bag using a pulley pulley and let it hang and drain until it stops dripping. I end up with 80-84% mash efficency. Afterwards, I strain trub as its going into fermenters using strainer and a piece of swiss voille.

There are a few problems with pumps and trying to stabilize the mash temp:
1) The pump pulls all of the water from around the element and compacts the grain/bag onto the element. This insulates the element and can cause element/grain or bag to burn.

2)A lot of heat is lost due to liquid flowing through tubes and pump.

3)The temperature at the sensor will be different then the temp at the element.

4)The more "stuff" (baskets, element shield, hop screens) you put in the kettle, the more difficulties you will have with temp stratification and having the element burn.

I think we were just trying to keep a kettle full of liquid and grain at the correct temperature I think recirc would be perfect, but the bag really causes problems..

I think pumps are better used for cooling and/or filtering (jamil'o'chiller, whirlpooling, filtering using the brewhardware trub filter, plate chillers etc) But mashing... no so much.

Edit: For a 60L 1.050 batch I use 12.5 kg of malt, 85L of water all added at mash-in.
My boil off is about 15L For my 90 min boil. I don't bother with mash-outs.

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Old 09-18-2013, 01:24 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ODI3 View Post
I think if we were just trying to keep a kettle full of liquid and grain at the correct temperature I think recirc would be perfect, but the bag really causes problems..

I think pumps are better used for cooling and/or filtering (jamil'o'chiller, whirlpooling, filtering using the brewhardware trub filter, plate chillers etc) But mashing... no so much.
Are you suggesting that if one wants to be more precise with mash temperature then the traditional 3 kettle system out performs the BIAB? I am trying to figure out if I should build an electric BIAB or an electric traditional 3 kettle arrangement. I have looked at the electric brewery information and with the HERMS coil it seems they can keep the temperature within a degree by recirculating the sweet wort through the HLT.
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Old 09-18-2013, 04:49 AM   #27
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No sorry, I am just strictly referring to electric BIAB systems. In electric BIAB systems I personally don't think using a pump works well for keeping mash temps.

3 Vessel systems do not use a bag and are a totally different beast.

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Old 09-18-2013, 06:28 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwartzr33 View Post
So, where to go from here? I see three options:
1) Patch the holes in the bag and get the Blichmann Hopblocker. And assume the bag won't melt because it won't get sucked into the pickup tube again.
2) Fix the bag and go with a custom made false bottom.
3) Ditch the bag and go with a custom made basket, a la wobdee http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-o...system-380656/

I would welcome your feedback. Thanks.
I think you are really close and one minor change would make a huge difference. I have ab=n elevated rack that fits into the bottom of my kettle that keeps the bag off of the bottom. There are many BIAB threads that talk about this. It does solve several issues. It stops your bag from contacting the burner and it stops the bag from getting sucked intl your recirc pump. It creates an environment similar to the 3 kettle MLT arrangement.

If you brew like me, a very high grist to water ratio, moving the bag a few inches from the bottom of the pot does not increase the grist ratio that much and you would still be over the recommended ratio that traditional MLT brewers have. So your sweet wort is still good.

Then just drop the flow of the recirc pump to the minimum that will keep the temperature close to constant. The recirc water flows over the grist in the bag so you don't need to mix any. To do this you will need a valve after the pump.

I think these two changes will make all the difference to your process.

Edit: And keep your transfer tubes as short as possible to reduce heat loss.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:17 PM   #29
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Thanks for all the great feedback and ideas. I think I will experiment with both a) insulation, lid on, no recirc and b) a false bottom/pizza screen.

One question on the pizza screen.... Is anyone concerned about the screen being made from aluminum? I need a 16" screen and have has trouble finding a reasonably prices stainless option, but large, cheap aluminum ones are plentiful. I'm far from an metallurgy expert, but don't we generally try to avoid aluminum? Maybe if I only use the screen for the mash and remove it before the boil there wouldn't be any issues?

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Old 09-18-2013, 08:48 PM   #30
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Aluminum is fine, although the pizza screen will likely not take much weight without bowing. You should boil the aluminum pizza screen once for about 30 minutes before you brew with it. This creates a dull oxidization layer that you should never scrub off with abrasives or caustics. That's what separates the aluminum from the food or wort.

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