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Old 10-11-2011, 12:20 PM   #1
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Default Designing my HERMS system

Greetings to all. I'm seeking some advice on designing my (sort of) new HERMS system.

Up 'till now I have been brewing AG with a 25L cooler as a mash tun, and a 50L Aluminum Pot as a kettle. At an average of about 6kg grain per batch, and a 2-batch batch sparge, I end up putting between 12 to 15 Liters of water into my tun at a time. Given that I can't use my kettle for strike water (because I collect the wort into it) I have to heat it up in several smaller stock pots. Annoying and inaccurate, to say the least.

So I've decided to move on to HERMS, which will give me much better control over the mash temp (always a problem when your hot water comes in two or three different temperatures, depending on which pot you got it from) and will move me to fly sparge while I'm at it. Seeing as I live in Israel, where things like pumps and hardware are hard to come by, and cost an arm and a leg, I'm trying to re-use as much of my current hardware as possible.

My plan so far is to do the following:
I've bought a 40L Stainless steel pot, which will become my HLT. I am planning to install a spigot in it, as well as a measuring rod, and another valved connector about two thirds of the way up the pot. Heating will be achieved be a pair of submersible heating elements (1500W + 1000W) controlled by a PID. I'm not installing the elements, just submersing them in the water, this way I don't loose the ability to use the pot on a gas fire later, if I want. In the pot, I am also putting a copper coil that was suppose to be a small immersion cooler. Again, I'm not installing it in the pot, just immersing it in, and connecting the hoses to it.

My current Mash Tun is a square cooler. I have drilled a hole in the lid, and will run a length of copper pipe through it. This pipe will have T connections on both sides. The bottom will be the sprinkle for the water, the top will be the connection for the hose from the HLT, and a place for the SSR probe. (See drawing)


Once mash is done, and I raise the water temp for mash out, I'm planning to disconnect the pump from the MLT and connect it to the spigot on the HLT. This way it can start pulling water through for fly sparge, while I collect the wort from the MLT straight into the kettle. I will have to turn the heating elements off at this point, as the water level around them drops, but I think the temp would be high enough for it no to matter.

The whole system is interconnected with food-grade silicon hoses, 10mm inside diameter, 16 mm outside.

I have a bunch of questions, but I'll just ask a couple for now (with more to come!):

The first, biggest, and most obvious is (as it always is) what am I missing? I'm sure there things I didn't think of. For example, I just realized today that people circulate the water in the HLT to achieve even heat distribution, So I'm going to have to figure something for that. What else?

Second, I'd like a recommendation for spigots and quick connect couplers. In the drawing, the couplers are shown as red stars, where each star is actually two couplers (male and female) I imagine I would need barbed couplers for the hose ends, threaded couplers for the spigots. I just need a recommendation for specific models, types and places to order (I can order from US stores, but it takes a while to get here, and I don't get to see it before hand, so I want to make sure I get the right stuff)

Thanks in advance
Boaz H
Three Cats Brewery

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Old 10-12-2011, 04:13 PM   #2
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Ok, so I've had one piece of feedback from a local brewer, saying that my sprinkler system is not good for the mash part, just for the sparge, and that during the mash I need to return the wort into the MLT underneath the level of the liquid. Anybody else heard this?

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Old 10-12-2011, 04:33 PM   #3
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if you make the level of the return manifold adjustable, you could lower it to touch or be under the grain bed. That is my plan.

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Old 10-12-2011, 04:45 PM   #4
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In a way, it is adjustable, in the sense that it's just a piece of copper pipe stuck through the lid of my cooler, so I could push it down (I'd just have to figure out how far to push it so it's in the water, but not in the grain bed.

An Alternative is to use this approach http://youtu.be/UOZUmS23PKY not the autosparge itself (though that is way cool) but the floating silicon hose. This way it's always at the water surface. The advantage it that it's automatic and I don't have to adjust it. The disadvantage is that it doesn't sprinkle, which I'm told is ok and it still woks well, but I'm a little leery

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Old 10-12-2011, 05:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boist View Post
Ok, so I've had one piece of feedback from a local brewer, saying that my sprinkler system is not good for the mash part, just for the sparge, and that during the mash I need to return the wort into the MLT underneath the level of the liquid. Anybody else heard this?
I think the message your local brewer is trying to convey is that while you are recirculating wort back to the MLT, you need to be careful not to disturb the grain bed. One solution would be to lower a sparge arm into the liquid just above the bed and return the wort slowly. However, if your rotating sparge arm is gentle enough, and you keep the inflow and outflow relatively even to prevent compacting your mash bed it should work fine.
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:07 PM   #6
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Not sure if you'd want to spray your mash like that. Most people use an overhead sparge arm for sparge water only, to filter the sugars down through the grain bed and rinsing down for better efficiency.

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Old 10-12-2011, 08:33 PM   #7
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I would guess the main reason to not just sprinkle on top is to prevent oxidation of the wort. Whether you will taste the effects immediately is disputed, but it will have an effect on long term stability of the beer (for example if you want to age the beer, if you are going to drink it relatively fresh nothing to worry about). Commercial brewers are concerned with stability in general (using filtration, pasteurization, and minimal aeration pre and post ferment) more than homebrewers for obvious reasons.

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