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Old 02-07-2013, 02:54 PM   #1
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Default Controlling mash temp?

Hi Guys, I've done four brews, all on my stove top. They've turned out good, especially the last two. But, controlling the mash temp has been a challenge to do on the stove top with a gas burner. I have to stand over the wort the entire mash time, and no matter how much attention I pay, it's impossible to maintain a precise temp.

What techniques to you guys use to control your mash temp? Any tips are really appreicated. I'm going to try an all grain black IPA recipe next and I want to mash and sparge this right.

Thanks!

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:00 PM   #2
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I think alot of people use a cooler type mash tun. They hold temp real well and you dont have to babysit them as much as a kettle on the stovetop. Your setup is pretty much a direct fire setup that you have to monitor yourself. You could get some type of insulation that wraps around your kettle to help retain your heat. The foil type will work. You will still have to watch your temps even with that around your kettle.

There are other electronically controlled systems, but i dont have any experience with PID controlled systems.

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:08 PM   #3
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Yeah, I saw a lot of cooler talk when I tried searching this, but I didn't understand how that could help. Now I get it. So, I'd just heat the water up to the desired temp in my kettle, pour that into a santizied cooler and then add the grains?

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:13 PM   #4
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Try pre-heating your oven to 150, then putting your kettle in there for the rest.
I mash in a 15 gal kettle which sits on my propane burner. I usually wrap an old sleeping bag around it and can get pretty consistant temps throughout 90% of the mash.

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muggs View Post
Yeah, I saw a lot of cooler talk when I tried searching this, but I didn't understand how that could help. Now I get it. So, I'd just heat the water up to the desired temp in my kettle, pour that into a santizied cooler and then add the grains?
Correct, you heat up the required amount of water to the strike temperature, usually around 163-5F and add that to the cooler, then dough in (mix) the grains in, the temperature will settle at about 152 and there you leave it sit for 60 minutes or until complete conversion. Note, these temperatures are examples, every set up and grain bill or required mash temp will change each batch.

In reality, there is no need to sanitize the mash tun. The wort you will drain out will then go to boil which will kill off anything that may have been in the tun. In reality, there is no sanitizing required pre-boil, it is only once the wort has been cooled where sanitizing becomes important.
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Old 02-07-2013, 03:23 PM   #6
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Using a cooler is the easiest way. You convert the spigot on it to a bulkhead and ball valve with any type of filter you want on the inside (False bottom, SS braid, bazooka screen, pvc or copper manifold). The conversion instructions kicking around this forum are perfect. I followed them myself. You can also pick up cheap coolers from craigslist or your garage :P.

Any cooler will typically be able to hold temperature, maybe dropping 1 degree, over an hour long mash. You just heat the strike water to the appropriate temp (typically 10-15 degrees F higher than your mash temp), add it to the cooler, add your grain and stir until your temp stabalizes and you hit your mash temp. Having some spare boiling water helps if you undershoot the temp. If you overshoot it, just keep stirring with the lid off.

When I mashed in my kettle, I found that wrapping a towel around the whole thing, including the lid helped it keep temperature. But go with a cooler. If you DIY it is cheap and you will never worry about maintaining a temperature during your mash ever again. I always try to avoid directly heating my mash... I have heard bad things happen that way.

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:25 PM   #7
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I thought about the oven, but my oven's minimum temp is 175. I could crack the door or something, but then I'd be running into the same inconsistency issues as I would just playing with the burner on my stove top.

Thanks for the ideas. I think I'm going to try the cooler method.

I'll let you know how the CDA turns out. Still working on my grain bill, but I have the hops figured out.

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:34 PM   #8
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Just remember to add a significant amount of aroma hops and dry-hops to the CDA. A lot of them fall flat on this and end up being more of a porter or stout :-/

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Old 02-07-2013, 04:01 PM   #9
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I'm dry hopping with 1 oz Columbus (14.60 AA) and 1 oz Nugget (12.20 AA). I think 2 oz total is what I'm after. Both those varieties will be in the boil too, amonst a few others.

My goal is an IBU about 60-70. I do like bitter beers, but I'm not a 100+ IBU kinda of guy anymore.

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Old 02-07-2013, 04:09 PM   #10
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I do stove too BIAB. Keeping your processes consistent is more crucial than hitting exact temperatures. If you constantly fiddle with the temperature you'll never know what the temperature was for most of the mash. I heat to my saccharification temperature and then turn the heat off and put on the lid. (Stiring the whole time on the way to temp). The temperature continues up a couple of degrees, and then over an hour drops about 4.

Some people wrap a blanket around the pot. The oven at its lowest setting also sounds like a good idea.

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