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Old 01-19-2011, 02:01 AM   #21
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Do you stir the mash during recirculation or is that bad?

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Old 01-19-2011, 02:33 AM   #22
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Do you stir the mash during recirculation or is that bad?
I stir frequently and thoroughly. I stop the pump and shut off the burner when stirring. IME, it's most beneficial to stir well immediately prior to the sparge. This will require that you resume the circualation for a few minutes to allow the wort to clear. It's best to do this vorlaugh circulation slowly to minimize grain bed compaction prior to the sparge. This is the one time that slow circulation is advantageous IMO.
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:57 AM   #23
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Catt22, what type of sparge device do you use??

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Old 01-19-2011, 11:48 AM   #24
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Catt22, what type of sparge device do you use??
Take a look at post #3 in this thread. I use that same manifold for both the wort return when circulating with the RIMS and as a sparge water manifold.
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:11 AM   #25
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Does everyone recirculate during the entire mash process or just while heating? Are your pumps tuned wide open or gated down? I know a lot of questions. Just as an update my pumps came in today just waiting on all my connections thermometer and sight gauges and I should be good to go. Hoefully having the test brew in a week or so. I cannot wait!!!!

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Old 01-20-2011, 09:54 AM   #26
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Does everyone recirculate during the entire mash process or just while heating? Are your pumps tuned wide open or gated down? I know a lot of questions. Just as an update my pumps came in today just waiting on all my connections thermometer and sight gauges and I should be good to go. Hoefully having the test brew in a week or so. I cannot wait!!!!
I circulate during the entire mash, normally stopping only to stir. I have my pump valved down and probably never run it more than 30% open during the mash circulation. That's only an estimate though as I adjust the flow rate visually and don't pay a lot of attention to how much the valve is opened. The speed limit is dictated by how fast the wort can flow through the false bottom, not by the pump capacity. Exceeding the speed limit can result in a stuck mash, possible pump cavitation and/or loss of prime. The trick is to pump fast, but not too fast.

I do run wide open when chilling and pumping back to the BK.
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:18 AM   #27
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Have you ever compared your efficiency to see if stirring makes a difference ?
I don't stir after mash-in (at all) simply because I can't see how it could make a difference but a comarison would be interesting.

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Old 01-20-2011, 04:57 PM   #28
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Have you ever compared your efficiency to see if stirring makes a difference ?
I don't stir after mash-in (at all) simply because I can't see how it could make a difference but a comarison would be interesting.
Yes I have made the comparison and I found that stirring makes a major difference in lautering efficiency.

IMO, it is seldom wise to base action (or inaction) on preconceived concepts. This is a near perfect example and I am guilty of the same thing. I used to think that once the dough in was completed and the mash thoroughly stirred, that it would be best to leave it undisturbed from that point on. This was a major blunder and I did it that way for years. My efficiency typically ran about 70-75%. Not horrible, but not that great either.

Earlier this year I began stirring frequently and thoroughly. The reason that I changed my procedure was because I had a particularly stubborn mash that kept sticking repeatedly due to my over crushing the malt. My efficiency went through the roof with a 94%. I dismissed this as a fluke which would probably never happen again, but I decided to see if it was a result of the extra stirring. I have been stirring the hell out of every batch from then on and the efficiency numbers have remained consistently very high. I have tested this hypothesis on two other RIMS systems besides my own with very similar results. IME, it is most beneficial to stir the mash very well immediately prior to sparging.

I fly sparge and have not done a similar comparison for a batch sparge, so I do not know if the result would be similar or not. I can't see how it could do any harm to try it.
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Old 01-21-2011, 05:12 AM   #29
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Thats interesting. I still can't understand how stirring can help in a RIMS system that circulates for an hour but Im willing to give it a try. Im brewing tonight.
How often do you stir ?
I also fly-sparge.
Im wondering whether your crush is too fine to allow proper circulation. In other words not all the grain is exposed to the "flow" but by stirring that is eliminated. Just a thought.
Ive got a crankenstein set to the default setting.
To clarify - does your 94% efficiency refer to brewhouse efficiency or MLT efficiency ?
What is your flow rate (+-) when recirculating ?

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Old 01-21-2011, 01:23 PM   #30
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The grain bed will always compact to some degree when circulating with a pump. How much and how quickly the compaction happens depends on a number of variables, but the primary one would be the pumping rate or how much suction you are applying to the false bottom.

I stir frequently. Initially at dough in, then again after every rest when doing a step mash. IME, it's most important to stir the grain bed immediately prior to the sparge and then sparge slowly. Stirring at this point loosens/re-suspends the grain bed and running off the wort slowly keeps it from appreciably re-compacting during the sparge. Most fly sparge slowly anyway, so there's nothing different in that respect.

My crush is just right. I've been milling my own grain for a very long time. I know what the grist should look like. Besides, crushing finer would have the opposite effect of what you are describing. IOW, a finer crush will improve the yield and a coarser crush will reduce efficiency. Too fine and you will have a stuck mash or excessively shredded husks which can cause astringency problems.

I don't mill at any specific gap setting. I adjust the mill according to visual inspection of the grist and I adjust it every time I use it. I also adjust the mill for different malts and grains. Fortunately, the mill I have is easy to adjust on the fly.

IMO, there is only one way to measure efficiency accurately and that would be pre-boil. This is technically a measure of the lautering efficiency. I checked the mash efficiency, or conversion efficiency, a few times, but it was always very near or over 100%, so I no longer bother checking it. I've never had a mash fail to convert. Since I began consistently following my frequent stirring routine, I've experienced very high lautering efficiences. I would have written it off as a fluke if it had been a one off event, but it was not, so I can only conclude that the stirring is what made the difference. IMO, stirring also helps to more completely wet the starches and it probably knocks loose a lot of tiny air bubbles trapped in the starch or otherwise clinging to the grain. That's just a theory I have with nothing to back it up.

My flow rate is as fast as I can go when circulating the RIMS. The limit is how well the wort flows through the false bottom. I would estimate the flow rate is about 1 gpm and possibly a little more than that. I have not measured it. It will also vary some during the mash as the grain bed inevitably will compact and slow the flow rate. I stop and stir when this happens, then resume circulation as before.

There was a time when I thought that it was impossible to achieve high rates of efficiency on the home brew level. I also thought that those who claimed to get very high efficiency were either measuring it wrong or outright exaggerating their results. I no longer think this is the case. I'm sure that sometimes it is, but not always.

I have confirmed the theoretical benefits of stirring on three different systems recently and the results have been very consistent. Most recently when brewing a 24 gallon batch. Apparently, batch size is not a major factor regarding lautering efficiency.

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