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Old 02-09-2013, 05:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by kpr121 View Post

I will say that I don't believe chilling in under 5 minutes is absolutely important other than it saves you time (and maybe waste water).
Thanks for the helpful feedback kpr121. I think I read in some article where DMS increases at a rate of 30% per hour in hot standing wort, so 5 minutes would equate to an increase of 2.5%. Seems pretty low to me but I just have no reference point to know if 2.5% (or even 10%) increase in DMS is something that will be detectable or not (the 'corn-flakes' smell).

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There has been recent info suggesting that hop contact time with hot wort (but less than 170) greatly affects hop flavor and aroma for the good.

In fact I have adjusted my process for hoppy beers to a 20 min steep/whirlpool at around 150 to 165 f. I recirc the wort through my plate chiller at full bore until the entire volume drops to that temp, then start my steep.

I'm sure you could do this with a CFC (just turn down the chill water flow), its just another thing to think about!
The idea of 'warm hopping' is very interesting - if you have a link I'd love to read more. I suppose your modified process implies a 10% increase in DMS levels, so if you are not detecting any problems from that it probably means increases in the low single digits are fine [recognizing that perception of DMS depends on beer style, and is apparently most evident when brewing low-medium gravity all-malt lagers, so between your additional hops and your beer stlye, you may not be able to notice increased DMS anyway...]

I don't plan on doing a lot of lagers (at least for now ) but would like a rig that makes that possible when the time comes.

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Old 02-09-2013, 06:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by LBussy View Post
I used to have a whole wall of ribbons won the "old-fashioned way." The gadget-geek in me loves the idea of automation, but don't ever think for a second that more technology means better beer. The brewer makes better beer; the technology allows him to apply his experience more efficiently.

All this from a guy who was on sabbatical and only just returning; but beer is 3000 years old give or take and things don't change that much.
Sounds like we have a few things in common LBussy - my sabbatical from brewing has been more than 20 years. There are a few reasons I want to build a new rig and bring a bit of new technology into my process:

1/ going from 5 to 20 gallon batches (brewing with friends) - my old set-up can only do 5 gallons

2/ I'm deep into barbeque now and use a Barbeque Guru (PID) for the overnight brisket smokes, so while maintaining mash temperatures was annoying and stressful when I was a grad student, not it just seems like a waste of time

3/ I never tried step mashing before but want to try my hand at controlling the amount of fermentable and non-fermentable sugars in my wort - to have any hope at learning that and understanding the effect on the resulting brew, it seems like repeatability will be key.

Of course, all of that being said, as I continue down the path of planning this new rig, I keep glancing over at my old gear that I just got out of storage and realize that the horizon to my next brew session is fading into the distance...


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The first thought I have is that this will introduce even more waste to the process. If you are making 1/2 BBL batches of Bud-Miller-Coors clones then maybe not a big deal. If you are making a 5-gallon batch of Barleywine then every cup of wort is expensive. The second thought is that it potentially introduces aeration at a time when you really want to minimize that. If you are going to move hot wort it should be sealed and through a chiller.
Yeah, it will waste some wort in the lines. I think aeration could probably be avoided but the transfer is going to mean more time at high temperature (more DMS) and for that reason, I think I've convinced myself to head in a different direction...

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CFC (or maybe those new-fangled plate chillers) is the way to go if you are building a new system IMHO. It was state of the art 20 years ago in homebrewing and I don't think a better way has been discovered to rapidly chill wort in a sanitary manner.
More evidence that we have much in common, because I have come to this same conclusion :-). I built a CFC for my old rig (probably 25 years ago), and it was a very effective chiller. Getting the siphon started was a PITA and with only 20' of 3/8" copper it is not going to cut it for 10 gallon batches.

So I think I am going to add a pump and go to 1/2" stainless and will also probably recirculate back into the BK to get the entire volume of wort below 140 as quickly as possible before cooling into the fermenter.

Longer means more efficient in terms of heat transfer but longer also means slower in terms of pump thru-put, so I am trying to get an idea of the rate at which a March pump can pump through 25 or 50 feet of 1/2" OD (0.46" ID) stainless tubing to decide what length I should shoot for.

Back to my original request I made for inputs from HERMS brewers, if you or anyone has any idea of the max flow rate that a March pump can pump hot liquor through a 1/2" HERMS coil, I would appreciate that data.

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Old 02-09-2013, 06:11 PM   #13
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I will add that hose water in the CFC doesn't work too well most of the year. I use hose water in my CFC to get the wort to about 90. I have a tee on my CFC to also have a small submersible pump in a small kiddie pool of ice water. i freeze 4 milk jugs and use it for my ice. I can chill to lager pitching temps in about 15 minutes. Works great in even the summer when my tap water isn't cold enough to get to ale pitch temps efficiently.
Dog House Brew, here in the Bay Area we have 55 deg tap water in the winter and 65 deg tap water in the summer, so some boosting is probably going to be needed at least in summer. I have my old CFC and should be able to either use that as a prechiller or could directly pump ice water through the hose of the new CFC if I am ever making a summer lager...

I suppose the main thing is to gain some experience (and data) as to how close cold-wort-out-temps can come to cold-tap-water-in-temps. I'm hoping that by going to a 50' length I can get that delta down pretty low without needing to sacrifice the too much in terms of flow rate.

Any inputs on you CFC design (tube diameter, length, pumped or gravity, estimated wort and water flow rates) would be appreciated.

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Old 02-11-2013, 09:54 PM   #14
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I have a HERMS with three 15.5-gal keggles and for the first several batches I pumped the hot wort through the coils of the HLT with cold water and 60# pounds of ice in the HLT. This method worked fairly well to cool the wort but I was using a lot of ice. I wasn't making enough ice ahead of time and was paying ~$20+ of ice for each 10-12 gallon batch. I realized I could've already bought a plate chiller. So I got a plate chiller and it has been way easier ever since. No more pumping sanitizing solution through my 5/8" HLT coils and the resulting losses into the fermenter (though I used to pump a sanitizer solution through the coils after the wort to try to get most of the wort out of the coils and into the fermenter; then I'd re-divert the sanitizer to a bucket once I saw the lines run clear).

I got an inexpensive yet very effective 40-plate from dudadiesel dot com and it has been a charm ever since. I don't even bother using a pump, just gravity fed from my single tier into the fermenter in less than 10min for a 12-gallon batch.

Go with a plate chiller. Coupled with a nylon hop strainer, there is very little hop debris. I've considered pumping the cooled wort back into the boil pot and cooling the entire batch to leave the cold break in the boil kettle, but don't see the need. One thing with the plate chiller, I've only used it in the winter here in VA and have been able to use a very low flow rate (I think I only use ~20 or 30 gallons of chill water). I may have to use my old small immersion chiller in the summer as a pre-chiller.

Hope that helps

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Old 02-13-2013, 12:41 AM   #15
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This is very helpful, nvrstck, thanks.

I've been rethinking everything since starting this post, including plate chillers. In fact, I just traded email with dudeisal.com this morning. Can you tell me exactly which 40-plate chiller you bought from them? Was it the B-23A 40-plate chiller?

10 minutes sounds pretty darn good. Sounds like 2-3gpm flow rate for the water (20-30 gallons in 10 minutes) and 1.2gpm wort flow rate (12 gallons in 10 minutes).

Could you estimate water in temp, wort out and wort in temps?

I also would appreciate to learn more about nylon hop strainers - is there any reference you can point me to see what this looks like?

Do you sanitize the plate chiller by recirculating through it before running cold tap water through to begin chilling? Do you whirlpool and try to leave the hot break in the BK (or does your hop strainer take care of that as well)??

And finally, can you point me to your source of 5/8" tubing for your HERMS coil? Was it copper or SS?

The only concern I have with plate chillers are that they cannot be broken down and cleaned - what is your cleaning sequence and do you have any concerns? (I guess that is yet one more question for you )

thanks again,

-fafrd

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Old 02-13-2013, 10:05 PM   #16
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Glad you found it helpful fafrd. You're welcome!

I was wrong about the 40-plate. It is actually a 20-plate: "B3-23A 20 Plate Beer Wort Garden Hose Chiller" Great purchase for $105!

If I used one of my pumps I could cool it down even faster but it goes so fast already I don't need to. 2-3gpm and 1.2gpm sounds about right for the flow rates. Water-in temp was probably ~55F, wort in was ~209.9F, wort-out was ~55F when I had the water flow rate too fast. I was able to adjust the water flow rate to hold the desired wort temp of 65F or 75F, depending on which beer I was brewing. I taped a stick-on thermometer to the end of the silicon tubing coming out of the chiller so I have a better idea of the temperature (it's a little sluggish but it works). I intend to slide a ~6" piece of copper into the end of the tubing and stick the stick-on thermometer to the copper for a quicker output temperature reading into fermenter. I'm glad I did a bit of research and found those chillers since they are supposedly better than the shirron chillers. I couldn't see spending twice that for a blichmann.

Google Nylon Hop Strainer to find the bags like I use. I forget where I got mine but it essentially a $3 nylon paint strainer bag that as a ~6" diamter plastic ring in the top to keep it open instead of a drawstring that most have. I zip-tie it to the top of my boil kettle and then just dump hops in whenever needed without having to try to untie and open a hop bag. I use mostly pellet hops and it has kept my boil kettle 95% free of hops - since almost all of the hops stay in the nylon bag except some fine hop gunk.

I do sanitize the plate chiller. I cut a hole in the side/bottom of a 5-gallon bucket and put a plastic igloo cooler drain fitting in the hole that has a garden hose male thread on the outside. I attached a ~1.5' piece of tubing to it that has a quick disconnect on the end. My plate chiller has ~1' pieces of tubing on both the wort inlet and wort outlet and both have QDs. I hook it to the bucket and let starsan run through it for a min or so just using gravity...again, I used a pump the first time but it is not necessary so it is easier to just skip the pump and gravity drain. That sanitizing bucket has been a big help too since now I use it to wash, sanitize and prime both of my pumps. And for cleaning the plate chiller it is the same thing....though I tend to hook the bucket to a pump and recirc PBW though the pump and plate chiller in both directions. After the PBW, I just take it to the sink and shoot tap water into all 4 chiller holes and rinse thoroughly. My sink has a garden hose attachment that I can use hot/cold water so I flush it with hot water and a pretty good flow rate with lots of turbulence. I'm thinking about mounting my plate chiller to my brew stand but it makes it so easy to flush when it isn't hard-mounted and I can just take it to the sink for final rinsing.

I've never had much luck whirlpooling, even from my extract days of stirring like crazy on the stove. The break material always seems to end up being siphoned into the fermenter. I made my own bazooka tube using two pieces of SS-braided water heater water-line tubing. My "torus bazooka" (see pic) is inside my boil kettle on the drain that goes to my plate chiller. Using the torus bazooka alone without the hop strainer/bag wasn't very effective and a lot of break and hops went into the fermenter, but now when used with the hop strainer, most of the hot break material is left in the boil kettle.

I had the 5/8" copper laying around but I think you can get 50' rolls of it at your local hardware store.

Todd

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Old 02-13-2013, 11:33 PM   #17
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I do sanitize the plate chiller. I cut a hole in the side/bottom of a 5-gallon bucket and put a plastic igloo cooler drain fitting in the hole that has a garden hose male thread on the outside. I attached a ~1.5' piece of tubing to it that has a quick disconnect on the end. My plate chiller has ~1' pieces of tubing on both the wort inlet and wort outlet and both have QDs. I hook it to the bucket and let starsan run through it for a min or so just using gravity...again, I used a pump the first time but it is not necessary so it is easier to just skip the pump and gravity drain. That sanitizing bucket has been a big help too since now I use it to wash, sanitize and prime both of my pumps. Todd
Thanks again Todd - this is very helpful. So just to be clear, you perform this StarSan flush just before you hook up the chiller to the BK? And after you are done running Star San through it for a minute or so, do you rinse it off with sterilized water before connecting to the BK?

On another subject, do you recirculate your mash? Everything I have managed to read strongly poo-poos the idea of using a plate chiller for recirculating mash, but with a good enough screen/filter to keep grain particles out (or not putting the PC into the loop until after the wort has cleared) I don't understand why that idea would not work. Any thoughts from your experience with the B3-23A?

-fafrd

p.s. I've been trading emails with Brian at DudaDiesal all day and he seems to think that the chiller would work for wort recirculation as long as some measures are taken to avoid getting large particles (>1mmD) in there. That being said, he doesn't specifically know of any customers who are doing mash recirculation through one of his plate chillers... Any thoughts from what you have experienced?
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:54 AM   #18
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I sanitize the chiller with starsan during the boil (and that is when I sanitize my fermenter(s) too). No need to rinse, I usually turn it vertical so the starsan can drain out. Starsan won't harm the yeast. Back when I was pumping the hot wort throught the HLT coil, I would pump starsan through the coils to sanitize before letting my hot wort go through to be chilled. One time I forgot to drain the starsan from the coils to a waste container and I pumped almost a gallon of starsan into the fermenter before the cooled wort started coming out. No problems with that batch whatsoever...tasted great and no off-flavors. They say starsan is a yeast nutrient at low concentrations - it didn't hurt my batch at almost 10% of the batch by volume.

I do recirculate continuously during the mash (i.e., fly sparge) but only through the coils in the HLT. I'm not sure why you would use a PC to recirculate mash, unless you are trying to use the Hot Liquor on the water side of the PC to heat the wort on the wort-side of the PC. That doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Recircing through the tubes inside the HLT allows me to control the temperature precisely. I have a bypass valve on the HLT such that when the valve is OPEN, the wort in the mash bypasses the HLT coils. When the valve is SHUT it all goes through the coils and comes out of the HLT coils at the same temperature as the HLT water. I always have this valve throttled to keep the HLT coil output temp right where I need it....usually ~152F +/- 4F. Instead of trying to regulate the temperature of my Hot Liqour, I let it go all the way up to my Mash Out (~170F) and I just throttle the bypass open as the temp increases to keep my output temp where I want it. One thing I am working on adding is a proportional valve in place of the bypass and hooking that up to a RTD reading the outlet temp and PID. That way I'll punch in a temp for the HLT coil output and the PID will throttle the proportional valve to hold the temperature right there. But I digress...I'd only use the plate chiller to cool boiling wort.

I just go to the PS part of your message. So it seems like you are trying to avoid having two sets of coils or a HLT coil and a chiller. that would save some money if you could. I rely heavily on the false bottom in my Mash Tun, but even with that there are still some big particles that come through. The QDs that I have on all my keggles and pumps end always get grain debris trapped in them. I always see it when I am cleaning up. I think if you tried to filter your mash tun more than a false bottom, you'd end up with stuck sparges all the time as your filter/screen got plugged.

Maybe the arrangement pic of my system will help. See attached.

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Old 02-14-2013, 01:02 AM   #19
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Old 02-15-2013, 05:25 AM   #20
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Nvrstck,

envy is a common emotion on this board, isn't it

Seriously, that is one cool-looking set-up.

That is helpful information regarding StarSan - I have not used it before so knowing SatrSan residue can be left on equipment and it will be sterile but not interfere with yeast viability or beer flavors open up many new process options...

And your idea of mixing 'at-temperature' (or slightly below temperature) mash liquor with mash-out temperature mash liquor from recirculating in the HLT is a new one and I will need to mull that over. It is an interesting way to maintain temperature control over a range, but I would be concerned that it requires more attention and in addition, a quart or two of mash liquor is going to always be held at mash-out temps (probably not a big concern, but still...). The idea od a adding a proportional valve to automate the process seems very cool - please keep me posted.

I found another brewer who is using a plate chiller for mash recirculation. If you put an 0.5mm filer in-line before the chiller (like this one here: http://www.brewershardware.com/FILTER1.html), it apparently works fine to keep the plate chiller from getting clogged by any random mash debris.

My motivations are to have one serious temperature control + filter solution in my rig if I can get away with it. It would be used for mash recirculation (warming the mash liquor when needed) in a first phase and for wort chilling in a second phase. The HLT becomes a hot liquor reservoir used to heat the plate chiller when needed. One good plate chiller and a good filter probably cost the same or less than one HERMS coil plus another IC, CFC, or plate chiller and another advantage of investing in a good in-line filter is that it can also help with filtering out the hot break and trub and speed up the whirlpool settling / cone formation time.

I've never used a plate chiller before, but it's compactness and the fact that it can be cleaned by baking in an over are other attractive aspects to me - the only drawback I have seen (for both mash recirculation and wort chilling) is the possibility that a plate chiller can get clogged. With a good filter, it seems like this drawback can be avoided (at the cost of more $$$), so that is the direction I am leaning.

Of course, I've never used any of this new technology before, which is why opinions and comments from those like you that actually have experience with this stuff and with these rigs is so helpful for me

-fafrd

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