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Old 01-14-2008, 01:40 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by menschmaschine
I have a direct-heat MLT (keggle). Overall I like it, but I've overshot my temps a couple times when correcting mash temp or stepping up. I think it's relatively easy to overshoot. It has resulted in high FGs (stuck fermentations) on 2 batches of mine. But I'll still use it. I'll just get better at not overshooting temps.
You're right, overshooting your temps on steps is easy if you're not careful. Keep the flame low and don't try to raise the temp too fast. If you're not recirculation, you have to make sure you keep stirring really good.


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Old 01-14-2008, 01:29 PM   #12
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Direct fired: Pros - Easy to adjust mash temps for step mashes, mash out, etc, temp adjustments

Cons - Expensive for kettle, and burner
Chance of scorching wort
Usually requires oversite during mash to maintain temps
Cooler: Pros - Cheap, maintains temps, efficient
Cons - Requires infusion of decotion to change mash temps
I use a cooler because I like keeping my brewing simple and it is inexpensive. I think I will even stick with a cooler when I build a tiered brew stand because I don't currently see the need for step mashing, and if I did I could still do infusion steps.

Craig


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Old 01-14-2008, 02:22 PM   #13
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I've got the process down using a cooler and once you do, it's dough in and walk away for 60 minutes. It is very efficient because you don't need to use any more energy.

In a direct fire, you can do stepped mashes but I don't think anyone has been able to insulate it well enough for it to hold heat like a good cooler. I plan to recirculate, but i'm anticipating a drawn out learning curve in the process.

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Old 01-14-2008, 02:27 PM   #14
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I mash exclusively with a direct-fired kettle. I've gotta say, I love it. The control that I have is amazing. As for the whole "set it and forget it" mentality of coolers, well, I don't usually have anything more pressing to do except clean equipment and measure hops, both of which are easily done with direct-fired. You just have to check on it every 15 minutes or so. I have had great results with stepped mashes, too, and I can't imagine step-mashing in a cooler unless it's a decoction---which is a huge PITA most of the time.

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Old 01-14-2008, 02:34 PM   #15
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I really do like the dough in and walk away nature of a cooler. With a keg MLT I don't lose much heat on a warm/hot day, but I have had problems maintaining temp when it's cold and windy. I haven't insulated it, but I think it would be a worthwhile addition.

I like being able to heat the strike water in the MLT with a direct-fired setup. I think that's convenient.

I haven't mastered the direct-fired recirculation steps with my setup. I've had 2 times when I had a little scorching, but it was because the mash started to stick or my pump started to cavitate and I didn't know it. I use a partial false bottom and I think I may either try a full false bottom or a dual SS braid like this to see if I can get better flow with a finer crush and eliminate stuck sparges.

braid-design.jpg

With any setup, you're making trade offs, but I think cooler MLT + HERMS may be the best compromise (of course I've never tried that setup).

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Old 01-14-2008, 03:36 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=mattm3]Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Why not direct fire? It seems to me it would be easier to maintain the temperature. Why do people use coolers instead?

Hey man I'm not made out of direct fire MLT's. I work at a California Pizza Kitchen for Christs sake. Plus I live at my parents house and can't over burden them with a three tier bad ass home brew set up in their basement. I'm testing their patience as it is. I dropped a carboy full of sanitizer into the basement utility sink a couple of days ago and it went through it like a battering ram. But one day I'll be directly heating multiple mashes at once while I simultaneously create multiple batches of homebrew.

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Old 01-14-2008, 03:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan!
I mash exclusively with a direct-fired kettle. I've gotta say, I love it. The control that I have is amazing. As for the whole "set it and forget it" mentality of coolers, well, I don't usually have anything more pressing to do except clean equipment and measure hops, both of which are easily done with direct-fired. You just have to check on it every 15 minutes or so. I have had great results with stepped mashes, too, and I can't imagine step-mashing in a cooler unless it's a decoction---which is a huge PITA most of the time.
I very seldom have a free day to brew, so my mash time is usually filled with other projects like getting my daughter breakfast or doing dishes, etc. I really appreciate the "set and forget" mash.
As for step mashing, it is easy to do with infusions. Your brewing software can do the calculations for temps and volumes. As long as you have sufficient space in your tun infusions are not a problem. You just need to start out thick if your first step is a low temp like a protein rest so you don't get too thin by the time you get to mashout. Its not the same control as a direct fired MLT but it is not difficult. For most beers steps are not necessary so I don't worry about it.

Craig
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:44 PM   #18
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I also have been looking into direct Fire type Mash Tuns. Personally, I like the Sabco one, but it sure as hell is pricey. Anywho, what sells me on them is having the option of doing Step Mashes. I figure if you take care and pay attention to what's going on inside the Tun, you should be fine. Yuh, I think I just talked myself into it.

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Old 01-15-2008, 11:46 PM   #19
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Here's the one I am leaning towards...



http://www.brew-magic.com/ketl_mash.html

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Old 01-16-2008, 12:56 AM   #20
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Yeah, I really like their full false bottoms, but they are pricey!



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