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Old 09-16-2009, 02:47 PM   #1
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Default Experienced Help Needed with My Rig - !long post!

Hello,
I did my first all grain brew on Sunday, and I thought I had all my ducks somewhat in a row, but unfortunately I didn't. I'm limited by equipment and I thought that I should do my first all grain with 17 lbs of grain and 5 lbs of pumpkin. Well, that high gravity bomb I was looking for ended up being the issue. Here's the rig I was working with:

This was the plan, anyway. I had to improvise mid-brew.

-5 gallong igloo HLT (converted, and butchered by yours truly, didn't leak
when testing with cold water, but gushed with 168 deg. sparge water.
-7.5 gallon mash tun (used a stockpot, which I then would pour into lauter tun)
-10 gallon igloo cooler converted with SS false bottom for lautering.
-7.5 gallon boil kettle (the same one I used to mash, cleaned out while lautering)
-Turkey Fryer propane burner.
-Two stockpots on the stove that I was continually heating up at different times just to make sure I had enough water if **** hit the fan.

Here were the problems. Mashing in the 7.5 G stockpot adding heat for acid, protein, and sugar rest was near impossible. I know a lot of people on these forums prefer the simplicity of a single-temp mash, but I really wanted to do a protein rest since I had 6-row and a lot of pumpkin. Furthermore, I'm interested in experimenting in mashing unusual starches for unique effects. Most of which are starches that probably shouldn't be used in beer, but hey, I'll try anything once. or twice....well three times maybe before I give up.

The amount of grains I had made it impossible to add enough water to raise the temperature, because I would have had wayyyy to much water and grain for a 5 gallon batch, that is, with 17 lbs, and then the pumpkin, just too much volume.
So, naturally I couldn't hit the target numbers consistently in the 7.5 G stockpot mashing on the burner, so I had a shoddy protein rest, had to skip the acid rest (I know, I could have used water salts and such, but I figure, hey, if the belgians didn't have it, why the heck do I need it?
Furthermore, the temp varied throughout the pot, and some grain got scorched on the bottom. I got frustrated and decided to use my lauter tun for the sugar rest, dumping it all in on top of the false bottom and a little water I put down to cushion the grain bed a little when I carefully poured.
Thus is the next problem. I didn't have a good enough seal with the false bottom around the bottom of the cooler, and looking back now, I'm sure I clogged it up right away. Not to mention I had a terrible protein rest in the mash tun, anyway, which would have led to a stuck sparge, would I been able to sparge in the first place.
The sugar rest was successful, so then I went to sparge, and my garbage job on the HLT allowed for a leak, but hey, good thing I had those extra pots. No biggie. Unfortunately, the whole bottom of the lauter tun was clogged, so I had to resort to a no-sparge, killing my efficiency and I ended up with 1.070 OG instead of the 1.100 or so I was looking for. Anywho, everything went great from there, except I had a half a carboy of sediment, which isn't surprising, since I had all these issues in the first place.

Now, the solution that I have is this. Buy two, 20 gallon kettles, one fitted with a false bottom and one fitted with a hop-back. The former would be my mash tun, the latter my boil kettle.

I need a 20 gallon because I'm into the higher gravity brews, and if I'm doing a normal gravity, it would be nice to do a 10 gallon batch. A ten gallon would start with like 13 gallons, 14 maybe, and I like headspace. I don't wanna bellyache over boilovers and such.

Now, I can ditch my current HLT that I messed up beyond repair, and use the 10 gallon cooler that I've been using for lautering as my new, improved, 10gallon HLT. I know it works, it's great. New. Shiny.

I have enough ********* on the burner to heat the 20 gallon mash tun, which is equipped with a ball valve and temp gauge, and I can mash in that. With enough head space, I can control with additions of hot water, as well as using the burner for controlled temp increases to the seperate steps in the step-mash.

I can empty the mash into my awaiting boil kettle, fitted with the hop back, and make the switch. Kettle on the burner, mash tun to cleaning area. I don't have the dough to buy a seperate burner, so I'll have to do a little heavy lifting. When I'm rich, I'll get one of those beer sculptures with pumps and stuff.

From there on out it's peaches n' cream. The best deal I've found so far on the kettles are from High Gravity Homebrew.

Any suggestions? Am I on the right track? Any help you guys could offer would be great, it should be noted again that I need a system that I can do step mashing. I like mashing weird stuff that will need protein rests, and I like the control it offers. Also, I have only like 1000 bucks to work with, so, with 2 new kettles, a wort chiller (yeah, that's overdue) a long mash paddle, I'm just about at a grand.

Thanks so much in advance guys,
Cliff

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Old 09-16-2009, 02:50 PM   #2
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I don't know why it censored fire power. Weird.

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Old 09-16-2009, 03:16 PM   #3
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Hehe. I was was wondering what horrible word you used to describe your burner.

You sure like to hit the ground running don't you? No simple, get used to AG, ***** whipped single infusions for you.

Have you looked into keggles? No they're not 20 G, only 15.5 but with a minimum of effort you should be able to equip yourself with some killer tools and stay far enough under budget that you can look into herms or rims to heat and maintain temps. Which is really the way you want to go based on what you are looking to do. I think with a mash, especially a 15 G total volume mash it will be next to impossible to step mash without some assistance from inside the tun or without have some serious hotspots that are difficult to paddle to consistency. And those hotspots can become a real problem because they will denature the enzymes within the hotspot and you will lose some of the benefit of the rests that you are doing.

Anyway, I only know enough to guide you to the possible technology. I know "The Pol" is an expert on the technologies I mentioned and he did a thread outlining his system build. I would search that out.

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Old 09-16-2009, 03:28 PM   #4
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Keggles, huh? I'm at work, sir, and I don't see how the women's sexual revolution is of any relevance here. Nice try on getting me fired, good sir.

Kidding!

I've never seen these before, that might be the way I need to do this. I'm more cofortable with an internal heating element. I've seen them, but the systems that they were part of were too much dinero. I"ll have to check out that post.

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Old 09-16-2009, 03:31 PM   #5
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If you've got a filter mechanism that won't dislodge or get jacked up by stirring, you can stir the mash while gently heating it to avoid hot spots, though it's not really the best option IMO. I did this before I started recirculating my mash. My FB is held tightly in place using a hose clamp attached to a ridgid pickup tube so it wouldn't get knocked out of place. It worked OK, but was a much more manual process.

I think better step processes are boiling water infusions, recirculating mash HEX techniques (RIMS/HERMS/direct-fire) but they require a pump, and decoction if you're into that.

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Old 09-16-2009, 03:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lil' Sparky View Post
If you've got a filter mechanism that won't dislodge or get jacked up by stirring, you can stir the mash while gently heating it to avoid hot spots, though it's not really the best option IMO. I did this before I started recirculating my mash. My FB is held tightly in place using a hose clamp attached to a ridgid pickup tube so it wouldn't get knocked out of place. It worked OK, but was a much more manual process.

I think better step processes are boiling water infusions, recirculating mash HEX techniques (RIMS/HERMS/direct-fire) but they require a pump, and decoction if you're into that.

Well, the only problem I found with a boiling water infusion, is that if I'm doing a high gravity brew say, for instance with 19 lbs of grain, I need at least a quart per pound to start with.
Adding 200 degree water, the percentage volume that I would need to add to go from 94 to 122, 122-155, then 155-170 woud give me about 4.7 times the amount of original liquid. I'm at work without my notes, but that's what I have on the top of my head.

So, that being said, 19 pounds of grain, 19 quarts, times 4.7 is 89.3 gallons. This, not including sparge water, is 22.3 gallons, all for a 5 gallon batch. I could decrease this amount by skipping the acid rest, or using 212 degree water as you suggested, however I don't like the idea of exposing grains with high levels of tannins to boiling water if I don't have to, and it was easier to calculate my equations with an easier number, like 200.

The water infusion method I think, is better suiter towards brews with 13 lbs of grain, max. Unless my math is way off. I could be, I don't know, like I said this was my first brew, and the math I did deterred my from the much much easier infusion method.

I don't know how to decoction mash, I'll look it up, and also for the HEX technique I'll have to research as well.
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hedonist91 View Post
Keggles, huh? I'm at work, sir, and I don't see how the women's sexual revolution is of any relevance here. Nice try on getting me fired, good sir.

Kidding!

I've never seen these before, that might be the way I need to do this. I'm more cofortable with an internal heating element. I've seen them, but the systems that they were part of were too much dinero. I"ll have to check out that post.
Yet another strange misreading of the word Keggle (Keg + Kettle) as the word Kegel, named after the doctor who... whatever. Kegel is actually pronounced like key gull.
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hedonist91 View Post
Keggles, huh? I'm at work, sir, and I don't see how the women's sexual revolution is of any relevance here. Nice try on getting me fired, good sir.

Kidding!

I've never seen these before, that might be the way I need to do this. I'm more cofortable with an internal heating element. I've seen them, but the systems that they were part of were too much dinero. I"ll have to check out that post.
Ok, I didn't realize you were talking about herms and rims there. I didn't even know how they worked. I thought there was some sort of internal heating element. Now that I see what it's all about, I don't know if I'm qualified to put one of those together, nor do I have the dough for one already assembled. I'm not giving up though, if the worst thing I have to do is stir like a beast I will. I know that's not the best way but if I can make good brew enough so someone else will pay for the nice stuff I will.
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:26 PM   #9
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I don't think your numbers are right about the water infusions, but I agree - you end up using a lot of water that way. I've only done a few of those before I went to a direct-fired MLT.

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