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Old 02-20-2012, 07:01 PM   #31
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So to elaborate on my method a bit, I calculate my strike temperature accounting for all the heat capacity of the water in the system (strike water in the mash tun + sparge water in the HLT). For my typical batch (I brew 4g finished capacity and we will assume about 10# of grain), I heat 6.5 gallons of water. 3.25 gallons is in the mash tun circulating through the HERMS, and 3.25 gallons is in the HLT heating. For a mash temp of 154, I calculate out my strike temp and go. I just brewed with these numbers so I know that for my system I need my strike water and HLT water to be at 165º. Once everything is good, I dough in, mix it up, restart the circulation, and lower the HLT temp to 157 (my heat offset is 4 degrees, yours may vary). The mash comes to rest at 154º and the heating element doesn't kick on until the heat from the HLT is transferred into the mash and everything levels out.

When it comes time to use my sparge water, or the end of the mash, I raise the temp in the HLT to 175º (or whatever you use for sparging), and typically, the mash temp gets up near mashout temps by the time my sparge water is ready. I am then ready to lauter as usual (batch or fly).

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Old 02-20-2012, 09:54 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by prrriiide View Post
Bobby, I saw a rig this past weekend that used an insulated institutional-sized veggie can as the heat source for the HERMS. Basically, he had a 2200w 120v heating element through the bottom of the can, which had a copper coil and less than a gallon of water in it. On the top of the can were the tube fittings and the line from the PID controller, and a PC fan with a long bolt attached to it. The bolt had a wing nut on it to act as an agitator to keep the water moving around in the can. It took really very little energy to hold his mash temp because he wasn't heating a whole lot of water with it, and he was brewing outside at low-40* temps. He just kept the mash recirculating through the coil in the the little can.

HLT and BK were direct-fired.
Neat idea, kind of a marriage between RIMS and HERMS. I've thought about using a grant or something smaller for heat exchange, but in the end I have enough of my HERMS coil submerged to get the heat transferred with just my sparge water in the HLT. If your HLT is well insulated, the energy used should be about the same - I'm not taking much heat out of the HLT by recirculating the mash - I'm using much more energy to get my HLT to mash/strike and then to ramp to mashout/sparge temps - but you'd have to do that anyways. The only downside that I can see is that quick temp ramps aren't really possible because it takes a few minutes to heat the HLT volume. It takes me about 20 minutes to get from 150 mash to 168 mashout for example. Still, not bad IMO.
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:00 PM   #33
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OK gang, I want to thank you all for the lively discussion. Truth is, I am still undecided on RIMS vs HERMS. It may just come down to a last minute decision.

I had a small delay going to NorCal for some work which just happened to occur during SF Beer Week! So I drove almost a thousand miles beer hunting: 21st Amendment, Rogue, Russian River, Bear Republic, numerous beer bars from Sac to SF to Reno and back again. Wound up at Russsian River for a glass of Pliny the Younger, complete with a silly wait (4 hrs).

To quote a gentlemen in line when I asked if him the beer was that good or it was hype--he responded "50/50"--that about sums it up for me. Sorry Vinnie, your sours are MUCH better beers. The circle in the front is my girl waving to the camera, behind her the massive line.

I should be so lucky as to have a four hour wait for my beer. Upon returning to my old office, I was awash in beer from colleagues--I simply could not drink it all. Solution: ship clothes back in box, overstuff checked bags, haul 100 pounds of beer back to NJ.


I have some boxes to open, woohoo!!!! Triclover bottom drains, a quick disconnect probe for the BCS, a RIMS unit to test, and the replacement for my Chugger.


I would like to throw in kind word for Chugger Pumps. Mike came to our club and sold some pumps last year; they sat in their boxes for a long time in my basement. I started hooking them up recently and found one that was bad. I called him, they issued an RMA. I shipped it out on Tuesday and by Thursday morning a replaced and UPGRADED pump was sitting on my floor staring at me waiting to be installed. Stainless and cheaper than their competitors--and with excellent service--how could you go wrong?

I am going to be brewing up a Wee Heavy this weekend and trying out something new. I am helping the guys over at BrewAllGrain test a self contained RIMS unit. HERE.


If I had this unit a few months ago I would have been up and running on my first RIMS brew much quicker. My first water tests of the unit show it able to reliably hold temps within a few degrees.

Anyone want to brew for me so I can get down to building?

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Old 02-24-2012, 06:27 PM   #34
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Wound up at Russsian River for a glass of Pliny the Younger, complete with a silly wait (4 hrs).

To quote a gentlemen in line when I asked if him the beer was that good or it was hype--he responded "50/50"--that about sums it up for me. Sorry Vinnie, your sours are MUCH better beers.
Glad you had fun at beer week!
Couple things.. there are much better places to get the younger than RR. Some without any wait at all. Just have to know where to go.

Also, generally agree on your comment about the younger. I think it's a very good beer, but nothing so special that it's worth waiting more than a few minutes to get. I went to a few beer week festivities, one was basically a DIPA tap takeover. They had 2 5G kegs of the younger and probably 20+ other DIPA on tap. I sampled about 5 or 6 of them, including the younger and I don't think it was the best one. I think the sour beers are much more interesting and the degree of difficulty is much higher than a DIPA.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:35 PM   #35
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Well, it's certainly been a while...quite a bit has transpired and quite a bit will get done in the next two weeks. I had a few brewing related setbacks: a few scorched elements, C02 leak in kegerator and a few other minor mishaps. I am gearing up for a partial knee replacement first week of May and want to have all the parts and cuts made prior to that. While laid up, I will probably get to work on my control panel.

First things first; I decided on HERMS....a lot went into this decision, I am not going to get into pros and cons here; much has been made of this discussion. But, HERMS it is.


I built a nice little chiller thermo for the outlet of my CFC; because I designed it this way, it an be used for all future chiller requirments. Today, analog probe...tomorrow, BCS probe?


I hate pumps, I hate pump toolboxes...my brewday was always about turning the box to burp the air out, finding a place to move the box to, it took up too much real estate.

Sooo...I took a 4x4 and hole sawed some pass-throughs, A few SS set screws in the back, a threaded insert in the 4x4 and I can stand on the thing. Dropped this over the legs, selected my height and now I have the pumps securely mounted and I can fine tune the height if I want with a few turns of the screw. It looks like it's floating there. I oriented the pumps like this as I hope they do better at purging air, my initial tests are positive.

Of course, feedback is always welcome....




Next up, doing my bottom drains in a few days.

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Old 06-03-2012, 04:09 PM   #36
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Made a lot of progress over the past few weeks. I really want to thank Bobby M for helping me take a quantum leap forward in terms of ideas and of course...HARDWARE!

Cut 2 kegs for bottom drains. This was super easy to do. Thanks to electric brewing, I can design out two diptubes. Bottom drains work SOOO much better than dip tubes.

I bought a 3.5" angle grinder from Harbor Freight for around $15 (on sale). Mounted some firring strip, a pipe hanger bracket, some screws to hold it on center, and of course--gorilla tape. I was able to do each cut in about 10-15 minutes.


Made a bottom drain mashtun and a bottom drain BK (future)
On the left insulated with double layer of reflectix on all sides, triple layer on lid...

...and double layer on the bottom, all the way up to the sanitary fittings!


Modified the pump mounting. It stuck out too far past the edge of my table. I just chopped the 4x4's, cut new longer ends and installed 1/2" carriage bolts from Lowes. It's now tucked in very nicely.


Added BCS probe to inline thermo assembly.
This allows me to run my CFC or mash through this guy and get a temp readout on my computer or iphone through the BCS. I can walk around and monitor the temp--cool. Even better, I can run graphs and store data on things like mash cycle temps, times, etc. Very, very cool.


Got a Jaybird FB. Hinged, no hole, 15", with a handle. Anyone sitting on the fence, buy one. This thing is built so well and has amazing tolerance to the edge of the keg, NOTHING got past on a recent brew days I ordered and it was at my door, coast-to-coast, in a few days.


Mounted valves and a Bobby M sightglass
Everything is kinda roughed in now so I used 4x4's to temporarily make room for the bottom drains. Eventually, I am going to cut hole through the table. I will probably do away with the 11" pipe nipple extensions and just mount a jig like this right to the sanitary fitting for easy breakdown.

I want to be able to remove the kegs for storage, passing through small holes cut through the table surface. Desk grommets to cover them when not in use. My house is very small, but we have pretty big parties at times and this thing is a beast in my second kitchen. I could use the work surface.

So for anyone still paying attention...
Currently, I am mashing in the bottom drain mashtun, using the pumps, mashing with the RIMS and heating strike/sparge water and doing the boil in the 2x2000w 120v kettle. This involves a transfer step (unfortunately) after mash out. The bottom drain (future BK), now serves this intermediary purpose and receives the runnings. Both bottom drains could be CIP, I just used a bucket vac to remove the grain and hose them down a drain!!!

Next up, install subpanel, acquire better fan, run 240v, control panel...and the wheels keep turning. Once I get 240 I can re-purpose the BK and install the the HERMS coil (also from brewhardware.com)

And this is what it looks like today!

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Old 06-08-2012, 09:11 PM   #37
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UPS came and delivered some new toys...

I found my control panel--a 16x12x8 enclosure with removable backplate on eBay for around $70 with free shipping from seller electrical_parts. He has tons of enclosures and electrical components for reasonable prices if anyone is interested. I am really hoping the backplate makes installing components easier.


Also got an $89 ActiveAir 6" fan from ebay seller grow-guy

Luckily I live less than a mile from Aaron and Sons HVAC supply so I ran over and picked up a 6"x12" tapered duct reducer, an elbow, and a 5' length of 6" duct for around $20



Here is a mockup of what I was going to do. Obviously, the whole setup will get broken down and stowed away when not in use. I am probably going to suspend it with duct hangers.



Thoughts? Input? Why so quiet? Is there anybody in there?


Still trying to figure out how I am going to mount this thing:

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Old 06-08-2012, 10:24 PM   #38
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That is some good progress. I'm curious to know how the coil works out. It's a real bitch to get those leads to generally line up and that was my first coil. Let me know if you have any trouble and I'll be over with a wrench and a beer.

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Old 08-06-2012, 09:19 PM   #39
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Here you see the tube in one box (mounted under the 4x4 with stainless camlocks) and the electrical (on top of the 4x4). The upper box has an SSR, power junctions, on/off switch, and junction box connectors for strain relief. A few feet of an old 3 wire extension cord jumpers the two boxes together. It all gets plugged into a GFCI outlet (of course!)





I bought a few probes with those M8 connectors from brewershardware. They are really nice: heavy waterproof wires and threaded connectors. Downside: expensive and they were backordered for quite a while. I tested out sending the +5VDC signal from the BCS through RCA jacks and it worked well. I just tore about some old component cables so I can keep everything color coded. Works.

I used the BCS hysteresis settings to hold .5 degree temps. As you can see I tested two temps, and also tried to ramp.



I also built a proto-panel. I have a nice enclosure but don't want to mangle it making cuts yet. So, until I figure things out, just connecting everything through this plastic tupperware thingy:



Fugly right?

Also, been giving some thought to the control panel and the PJ diagrams for BCS. While these are very sexy---I can't imagine brewing all-electric without hysteresis, PID, PWM, functions on my BCS. If my BCS is down, I am going to have to get another one--STAT! Maybe I am missing something--but would I really miss by not having manual mode?

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