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Old 07-10-2011, 02:01 AM   #1
RunkRod
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Hey gang,
When playing with software or manually calculating mash numbers and efficiencies, how does one account for a HERMS setup? It isn't necessarily a batch sparge (or is it?). I'm trying the BeerSmith on trial right now and I'm guessing that a One step Temperature mash is about what a HERMS is. Am I correct or does it really matter? (I also tried brewtarget but didn't understand the mash calculator/wizard thing and make it apply to my situation).

My process for the past two batches was: (for a 5 gallon batch)
1. Add 5.5 gal of 165 degree water to the MT, then dough in. (MT is a keggle)
2. Circulate with HERMS pump and maintain 153 for 60 min. (this has been working flawlessly)
3. Add 2 gal of 168 degree water at end and pump all to BK.
4. Add a little more from HLT to MT, then over to BK until I've got about 8gal in BK.

Now, beersmith has calculated my efficiency at 58% in order to achieve the measured OG. Before I start chasing efficiency (getting my own mill, better management of water, etc), I want to ensure I'm calculating correcting in the software.

Would appreciate any guidance or hints.
Thanks

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Old 07-10-2011, 02:52 AM   #2
MalFet
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I'm not sure I really understand your question. Whether your HERMS system is based on a batch sparge depends on whether you...well...batch sparge or not. You can have a herms system with batch sparging, a herms system with fly sparging, or even a herms system with no sparging. I can't think of any special configuration that you would need to use for HERMS.

As a side note, you're boiling off three gallons in the course of an hour boil? That's a lot.

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Old 07-10-2011, 12:02 PM   #3
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I have a HERMS. I fly sparge. What I do is add about 2qts/lb water for the mash, mash for 90 mins, then I switch over to sparging. I don't measure the sparge volume but rely on gravity readings and pH to hit my pre-boil volume (usually 7.5 gallons for a 90 minute boil with the understanding that at a pretty vigorous boil I'll have 5.5 gallons post-boil. My HERMS is all electric -- 5500W coil in the BK and the HLT -- so I lose quite a bit during the boil.)

IMHO, you might forget about all the math and just aim for a specific pre-boil volume. Makes life easier! I've also learned that with my particular HERMS system, I need my water 12 degrees over my mash temp at dough-in to hit the mash-temp dead on (although I suspect this 12 degree differential is pretty standard with any system). So I don't use any calculators or software to figure out water volumes or dough-in temps. I only use Beersmith to keep notes and keep a record of my brews. The only software I use these days is the Bru'n water spreadsheet to calculate my water adjustments.

In terms of mashing, I always aim for a pH of 5.3 to 5.4 at room temperature.

After mashing, I fly sparge until I get about 6.5 gallons in the BK, then I start checking gravity and pH. I stop sparging when I'm around 1.010. I acidify my sparge water (in the HLT) with 85% phosphoric acid (usually takes about 2 tsp acid in 16 gallons water to get my HLT water to a pH of 5.8 to 6 from 7.7.) If I'm starting to drop low on gravity, I'll make up the difference with water directly from my HLT.

After the sparge, I use the rest of the water in my HLT for cleaning the MLT and pump while the wort is boiling. (I run Oxyclean through the HERMS coil and pump for about 45 mins, then run water for a couple minutes -- then I put away the HLT and MLT while the boil is nearing its end.)

As the boil ends, I recirculate boiling wort through my Therminator for about 15 minutes to sanitize, turn off the boil heat, then recirc the finished wort (without the water turned on) for another 15-20 minutes for a knockout hop steep/whirlpool. I don't really get a whirlpool due to the placement of the heating element, but because I use hop bags, I don't really have a need for an actual whirlpool. It's the steeping I'm concerned with.

Then I turn on cooling hose, recirc the wort (now cooling incredibly quickly due to the hose water running through the therminator) for another 15 mins, and can usually bring the wort from boiling to 65F. Once it hits 65-66 -- my usual pitching temperature -- I redirect the wort to go into the fermenter. I always end up with about 5 gallons in the fermenter.

The only disadvantage to all this re-circulation and steeping (and cleaning!) is that my brewday is on the long side. I usually start around 7a and end by 3p -- so it's a pretty solid 8 hour day for me. Fortunately, I've got it all down -- the times, the placement of the various bits of gear -- so that I can pretty much do this with my eyes closed. There's always a mistake somewhere -- pump goes out, I shut off the wrong valve at the wrong time, etc. etc. -- but it's all good.

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Old 07-10-2011, 01:35 PM   #4
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what herms stands for is heat exchange recirculation mash system

the heat exchange coil(s bring your strike water up to the desired temperature through recirculation. This is more inline with a direct heat system. You normally keep the same water to grain ratio (1.25 qts/pound) through your mash steps until your sparge water is introduced after mashout.

So if you do a multi step mash regime of 50c 60c 70c, the HLT (if that is where your heat source is for your heat exchanger coil) is adjusted up so when you recirculate through the coil it increases the mash liquors temp which recirculates through the grain bed until the desired step up temperature is met in the grainbed.

depending on each individual system, the differential between the HLT water temp and the mash liquors temp varies. some systems need 10-12*F hotter HLT water to compensate so the grainbed stays at the desired temp.

Example would be.. My sacch rest is 60C(140*F) my system loses 12*F between the HLT and grainbed when recirculating. I would need to maintain a 152*F HLT temp, to hold the grainbed temp at 140*F.

The way you are doing it is called infusion mashing. Each time you want to change the temperature of your mash.. you add more water to it, changing the water to grain ratio of your mash. Your wort will have a different mash profile compared to keeping the mash ratio the same and heating the liquor to reach your desired step.
Instead of adding more water, next time boost the HLT heat up and let the exchanger increase the grainbed temperature to the next target temp by recirculation.

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Old 07-10-2011, 01:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OLDBREW View Post
Example would be.. My sacch rest is 60C(140*F) my system loses 12*F between the HLT and grainbed when recirculating. I would need to maintain a 152*F HLT temp, to hold the grainbed temp at 140*F.
Wow! That's a huge differential. My differential between the HLT and the MLT-in (where I measure my temp) is at most 2 degrees. Mostly, it's 1 degree. I measure temp at my MLT-in (since all I really care about is the MLT-in temp. So long as this is at my mash temp, I know it'll never go over -- and because I use rice hulls in all my mashes and mash thin, I know the temp variation in the mash is minimal.) I only spot check the mash to make sure my temps are good (and to double check my MLT-in probe).

So if I want to mash at 152F, I set my HLT to 153F, and I'm good to go. My mash spot checks will always show 152F after about 10 minutes of mash recirc'ing.

Is your HERMS coil fully submerged in your HLT? Do you recirc your water in your HLT? Once I started recirc'ing my HLT water -- bottom to the top via a pump -- my differential dipped from 5 degrees from HLT to MLT to what I have now -- 1 to 2 degrees. I have a 15 gallon HLT, 15 gallon MLT, and 15 gallon BK.
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Old 07-10-2011, 02:20 PM   #6
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I was using it as an example. If you brewed outside in 30*F weather with SS half barrel kegs as your vessels and used 1/2"OD soft copper as your coil 12* could be conceivable.

If you brew indoors and use coolers then maintaining the temp would be very small.
Try to ramp up using a cooler as the hlt though. It will exchange the heat to the cooler before the grainbed starts moving

Convoluted copper heat exchange coils are much better then using smooth walled copper also

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