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Old 12-22-2008, 05:17 PM   #1
bakins
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Default Yet Another Electric MLT idea

Feel free to skip this paragraph, it's my own rationalization...
I've been pricing out HERMS vs RIMS, etc. (For some reason, I can't hold mash temps for crap in my 5 gallon round cooler). RIMS is expensive (relatively speaking) and I've had some issues with HERMS in my testing (10 gallon HLT and with a 240V element in bottom leaves little actual water depth to cover coil and I use bought RO water, so I don't want to just to fill it up more.)

I experimented with brew in a bag in my electric brew kettle like setup. I used a SS vegetable steamer raised about 3 inches off the bottom to clear the element. I had some issues with holding temps (it can be chilly in my basement) so I recirculated the mash. I had crap efficiency and the bag was heavy as heck, so I didn't really like doing that and the 240V element was probably a little much.

So, I got to thinking, couldn't I modify the BIAB setup to be a "normal" MLT? Basically, use 120V to power an element (so it will be very low wattage), using grain bag for the grain on a raised "platform" above the element, and recirculating. I would probably just use a simple Ranco/Love temperature controller.

General parts list:
-Stock pot. my BK and HLT are $40 40 qt Aluminum
-SS vegetable steamer $5
-SS machine screws and nuts, washers. to raise steamer. $5
-Temperature controller - ~$50
-Heating element - ~$10
-Various electrical odds and ends - $20
-ball valve - use existing one or $30 or so to buy

Of course, I guess I can't complain about RIMS being pricey after listing that out. Anyway, was just brainstrorming. I may post a pic or 2 of a mock-up.

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Old 12-22-2008, 07:38 PM   #2
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I have also thought about an electric heat source for MLT but after I figured out how to hold temps properly the whole idea evaporated.

I just did a brew this weekend. (all temperatures follow in Celcius): The outside temp was -5, the garage temp was 0, my MLT held a temp of 67 over a one hour mash with no loss at all.

My MLT setup is a 23 L pail with a false bottom (I fly sparge) the container is wrapped in closed cell foam for insulation (literally a blue foamy pad that you may take camping for under your sleeping bag) with a "lid" of same foam on top.

I always preheat the MLT with some excess mash water. I have taken to adding just under the BeerTools estimate of water into the MLT first and cranking the temp above the estimate by 2-3 degrees. Then I add the grain in, then I check the temp and if I need to I add more hot water at near boiling (dont forget to stir properly). Make sure your thermometer works - I have taken to checking with one digital and one analog thermometer just because I find this the most temp critical step in single infusion mashing.

-- rant ends--

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Old 12-22-2008, 09:21 PM   #3
thevalkrye
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hmm im not sure i follow you. how is rims more expensive than herms? if you were only wanting to use 120v for it i think rims would be the way to go. you need a pump for either method...you can still heat your water on a burner and boil on a burner if thats what you wanted? or if you already have an electric kettle and pump it would be an easy upgrade.

on the other hand you should be able to get your cooler to hold temperature better too. read this.....

All Grain

especially this part:

"The Single Kettle/Burner Method with a simple picnic cooler MLT:"

preheating your cooler first with hot tap water then following the advice in the article you should be able to do fine. also get a can of spray foam and fill in the lid on your cooler to help it hold heat.

why do you use ro water? is your that bad?

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Old 12-23-2008, 01:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thevalkrye View Post
hmm im not sure i follow you. how is rims more expensive than herms?
Have to buy/build a heating chamber. It may be a wash...
Quote:
Originally Posted by thevalkrye View Post
you need a pump for either method...
Already have 2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thevalkrye View Post
preheating your cooler first with hot tap water then following the advice in the article you should be able to do fine. also get a can of spray foam and fill in the lid on your cooler to help it hold heat.
Sounds good in theory. I usually preheat my MLT with about 1 quart boiling water. But I still have to add some boiling/very hot water about halfway through as I loose heat. Not sure why. It's a "normal" 5 gallon rubbermaid cooler.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thevalkrye View Post
why do you use ro water? is your that bad?
Yes. Many gallons of bad beer down the drain before I gave up and used RO. Been fine since then. (Had water tested, etc...)

For the record, I'm a tinkerer. I may just do HERMS as I have a unused immersion chiller, but I was thinking out loud...
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Old 12-23-2008, 03:32 AM   #5
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fill that cooler up with hot tap water let sit for 10 mins then about 180 ish degree mash water after...let it sit for 15 mins then adjust to your determined strike temperature (software really helps with this)...you will hold your temps waaay better this way. i dont think 1 qt of boiling water is enough to get that much thermal mass up to a higher temperature.

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