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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Other > HERMS vs. "Counterflow" HERMS
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:04 AM   #61
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Vesku, your input in this thread has been amazing. Thanks! Would you be willing to share your arduino code with us?
If I get it "ready enough" to be shared, I might. I shared it on one other forum, but it was so bad I later deleted It's not a much of a help for anyone at it's current state. My 1st code ever, 33kb of very confusing coding that needs an Excel sheet for a map...

And yet another thing I remembered I need to share (it probably has been addressed here before, but still). The problem of measuring wort temperature. I've had a massive (almost 2F, if I remember wrong) temperature difference just by alternating the sensor position and the "thermo well" material. I found it impossible to get reliable reading inside the hose, no matter what sort of adapter/sensor I've tried. I guess it's all about the laminar flow (Bill Bryson told me to use this term to impress everyone, just reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything") and turbulence that the sensor creates when inside the hose. I got the best results with all plastic T-sensor attachments (DIY of course). The sensor in the middle of the flow, the reading was still under what the real value was though. With a copper/ss the T acted like a heat sink and lowered the reading even more. If there's any thermal mass on the measuring device -> problems... And the best way to get rid of the problem is not to think about it (thanks again Bill).

Now my sensor is way inside the wort hose inserted from it's end. Straight against the flow of the wort. It's now showing reliable readings as long as there's a continuous flow ... any air trapped on the turbulence of the sensor and off we go. This was one more thing that made me use 2 sensors for the control. At least the one in the mash is not affected with a flow ... but the mash temperature varies depending where you measure it ... it's hard out there

OK, so the mashing temperatures can't be measured accurately no matter what. No worries, as long as there's means to repeat the mash schedule time after time with same results all should be happy. After that it's possible to really test what the different mash schedules do for the taste of the beer and not just guesstimate. The ability to plot the mash temperature really makes a big difference, if one wants to be sure what has happened during the mash.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:01 PM   #62
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Nice info.I use (2) STC-1000 controllers for my mash, the probes are small and waterproof. One probe is attached inside the RIMs output (return) which is Loc-Line in the MLT, the other probe is under the false bottom. The sensor in the Loc-Line controlls the RIMs element. There is also an analog thermometer "T"d into the MLT output after the ball valve. Between the 3 I get a good sense of the mash temp since there is always a small discrepancy between them.

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Old 12-13-2012, 10:16 PM   #63
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Your control strategy sounds great.

The STC-1000 has a nice small probe with small thermal mass, I guess it has a NTC-resistor inside there at least I managed to fool the controller by replacing the sensor with a resistor. I use STC in a sauna that I build to control the heater. Also have one of them in my fermentation fridge. Only problem with this sensor is that it's not very linear over a large temperature range (can be a problem with step mashes or dual sensor setups).

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Old 12-21-2012, 07:22 PM   #64
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If you are referring my plots, I'm trying to get the HLT water down when I'm heating the mash to mash off. Otherwise my sparge water would be too hot and I would get all the tannins etc. in my beer. There's absolutely no problem to maintain the HLT temp as high as you want, just dial the HLT to over 90C (200F). Other thing that can be done is to add more water into the HLT. My goal is to use as little as water as possible, I'm trying to make it so that I can use all of it to sparge. This way I'll use less water/power.
Is there a good controls mechanism for bringing the HLT water down to sparge temps during mashout, or is this done by hand?

I am still considering using this method...
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:32 PM   #65
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I'm trying to control the burner on my HLT. The plan is to keep it at a constant 170F throughout the whole mash. Then when the mash is done and it's time to sparge, the HLT is at the perfect temp. I need to play with this some more and see if 170F is hot enough to get decent step ramps in the mash. When making the final step to mash out from 158F to 170F, if the HLT is only 170F, that ramp will not be very fast.

It may be easier to keep the HLT at 190F and cut the heat to it in the middle of the finial mash out step. Then the mash would pull the remaining heat out of the HLT and hopefully end up around 170F in both Mash Tun and HLT.

In the end, I may just keep it at 190 and throw some tap water in at the last minute before sparging to get 170F. 2 gal of 68F tap water will drop 190F 10 gal in the HLT to 170F.

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Old 01-26-2013, 03:58 AM   #66
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For a normal HERMS setup to try to achieve a better step mash has anyone tried Shutting off the pump, raising the temp of the HLT say 10-15 degrees higher then there desired next step temp then kicking the pump on to see if they can get to the temp faster ?
Obviously checking the temp on the output of the MT when it hits desired temp kick the pump off again.
Or would this cause issues with stratification ?
I am interested in building a eHERMS setup and would like the ability to do a step mash if desired.

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Old 01-27-2013, 10:42 AM   #67
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That doesn't help you at all. With the "traditional" herms-setup it's still down to the amount of the water you need to heat (HLT or dedicated herms-kettle) and the heating power that you have available. Those 2 things determinate how fast you can do the step mashes. If you have a very long hoses, big heat loses, then you might get a little better results.

I had a 3 quart herms kettle with 1 cup of water in my "traditional" herms-setup. That was the fastest way that I managed to do step mashes before moving to the counterflow. Here's the HX-coil I had on it:



I made another coil with a double length, but the mash heating power was the same as with the one above. I was using 2kW induction stove. One great advance with the small volume is that there's no stratification problems and the water cools / heats fast, no over- or undershoots either.

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:17 PM   #68
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I will be using a 4500 watt heating element in both the HLT and the BK.
I would like to be able to use a step mash if I wish.
The HLT is a 7.5 Gal Kettle but I suppose could always calibrate it with less water in it.... but I plan on using the HLT to fly sparge with as well.
If i were to put the prob on the out side of the HEX would it matter how much water was in there when I decided to sparge ?
I would run the HLT throught the pump back through the HEX and into the MT for sparging.

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Old 01-29-2013, 01:39 AM   #69
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If you can afford another pump and a CF-HX, I would do that. The beauty of the CF-HERMS is that you can use the water on the HLT to sparge straight after you have finished your mash schedule.

If you have the HX-coil in the HLT and reduce the water to get faster heating, you will have to play around with the sparge water. One option would be to use the BK to heat the sparge water and when your mash schedule is done (mash out) just transfer the needed amount of water into the HLT. I hope that made any sense....

I'm now using (or I were, I'm selling my brewing stuff) 80C water on the HLT and that works perfectly for the fly sparge too. There's quite a lot of heat loss when pumping this high heated water, so the 80C water is about 77C when it hits the grains. Here's the plot from the 2nd last mash I did, pretty spot on:


On the last mash, I didn't wet the grains before I milled and the grist was awful. I had pretty much a stuck mash, maybe only 0.5L/min flow from the mast tun (normally ~2.5L/min). I can see from the wort temperature, that it took way too long to heat the whole mash to the desired temperature. But at least the heating algorithm worked with the slow flow too. And I finally fixed the one sensor that was dropping out all the time. Here's the plot:


The plots have a switched colors to make it harder to read

My mash sensor is quite near to the top of the grain bed. I've noticed that it's way better to have a little too cold mash than to over heat the upper parts of the mash and release all the nice tannin flavors to your beer.

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Old 01-29-2013, 06:49 AM   #70
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Too bad you are quitting because your posts shed more light on what goes on in HERMS than anything I have previously read.

I have been planning an eHERMS using a small electric kettle as the HX and controlling the wort exit temperature. But I like the idea of step mashes (I often brew with adjuncts) and my pump is pretty small. Based on your experiences I might try making a CF HX modeled on a copper Liebig.

I am clearly going to have to rethink my temperature measurement too. I was thinking of using metal thermowells inside stainless tees in the drain holes of my MLT/HLT. I had not considered the thermal mass of the probe housing.

As for placement, I am wondering how to measure the temperature at the top of the mash, allowing for different mash volumes. Perhaps a short metal tube containing the probe dangled down inside a bit of silicone air tube.

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