1 burner, 1 pump, two-tier. Will this work?
I'm starting to think about my brew stand. I told myself I would wait, but pouring all this hot strike and sparge water from vessel to vessel is just unsafe. And I really want to minimize lifting, at least hot stuff.
Ultimately I would like to have a single-tier electric herms or rims system. That is way down the road, but something to keep in mind as I buy parts.
What I'm thinking is outlined below, but want to hear your thoughts on how well you think this would work (indefinitely or for a few years). You know, lessons learned and stuff.
The equipment would be:
1 keggle for the boil kettle (have, but no valve).
1 cooler for the mash tun (have).
1 cooler for a hlt (do not have).
1 pump (do not have).
The boil kettle would sit on the burner on the ground, allowing a gravity feed from the 2nd tier. The 2nd tier would be flat, holding both coolers.
Would have to build the 2nd tier, most likely out of wood.
With your BK on (or near) the ground, you're not going to have a ton of head on the suction side of the pump, but as long as your pump is lower than the outlet of the BK and you make sure the pump is primed, your method should work. I did something almost identical to this for a while and it certainly should work fine. It looks like the March 809 is listed for 4.3' of discharge head though, so make sure the elevation from where your pump is to where your highest cooler is located is less than that dimension.
That makes sense. I could see having problems pumping out of the BK so close to the ground. I'm wondering if I should go single tier. Is that feasible with 1 pump? It seems like a lot of switching around.
One thing I don't understand is if I use a pump to drain my mash tun (cooler). How well will the pump work when the runnings start to slow? Will the pump seize? Also, does the pump 'suck' or is it just gravity fed. I'm afraid if the pump creates suction on the mash tun I will have stuck sparge issues.
With one pump, you either have to batch sparge and switch between pumping water and wort, or fly sparge and use gravity for either wort or water. I used to do it the second way - pump water from the HLT (which doubled as my BK) and gravity feed wort from the MLT into a bucket which I then dumped into the BK when it was done.
If you use a mag-drive pump like the March or Chugger, you just put a valve on the discharge side to control flow. As long as they're primed, you can basically run the pump at no-flow conditions (aka churn) indefinitely. This would help prevent a stuck mash.
A think a two tier setup is the way to go with only one pump, just make sure to draw it all out and work through the steps of what needs to be where. Picking up a 6+ gallon bucket full of hot wort to dump into an elevated BK was not fun...
Thanks for the reply. I can see I'm going to have to give this some more thought. No lifting/pouring of hot liquids is my 1st priority.
I'm not crazy about the idea of having to adjust the valve on the output of the pump while draining the mash tun, which has me leaning towards the 2 tier gravity setup. But now I'm thinking I will need to elevate both the BK and the 2nd tier, which means I will have to get on a ladder or step stool to stir the mash. I wanted to avoid ladders, but I don't want to have issues getting the pump primed when I'm transferring into my fermentor at the end of a brew day either. If I elevate the BK, I can gravity feed into the fermentor as well, allowing me to clean the pump while the whirlpool settles. Decisions, decisions.
As far as the max, I think I may have to opt for the 815. 4.3' would be cutting it pretty close.
I would rather see you use a pump to go from the mash tun to the boil kettle and use gravity to feed the strike water. Using a pump to pull the wort out of the mash tun is so effective.
It doesn't really sound like you need any tiers in your system because you batch sparge. This could all be done on ground level.
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