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Old 04-20-2009, 04:47 PM   #1
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Default Stepping with a HERMS

Oh admit it... you LOVE this topic. Pol's probably sitting at his computer DYING for another thread like this to start.

Ok... so here's my thought....

For my MT, I use a 20 gal aluminum pot mounted inside a 30 gal alum. pot and then spray foam insulated in between the two to insulate the entire thing. I have a 25ft 1/2 coild suspended in my HLT as my HEX and I constantly circ my MT. I have a PID controlling a 23 tip natural gas "jet burner" to maintain temp in my HLT.

NOW... granted... we're talking a lot of money and a lot of work (what else is new when it comes to brewing???)...

but....

WHAT ABOUT... grabbing another march pump, taking my 20 pot OUT of the 30... wrapping the entire thing in freakin' 1/2 copper soft-drawn and then sliding it back into the 30... making a jackeded MT?

Then, when I want to step, I would maintain circulating through the HEX but then also kick on the pump for the jacket as well. With the amount of heat those burners put out, I would THINK I could step up at a reasonable rate.

'cause really, the problem that is trying to be solved here is the most efficient exchange of heat from the HLT to the MT without over-heating any portion of the wort during step... right?

So the questions are whether or not the burner would keep up with the heat transfer... (NOT worried about that) and then how quickly the step could take place. Hmmm... it would be interesting to give it a shot.

Now... all this being said, I'll probably never do it because, 1) I just finished the freakin' thing so I'm probably not ripping it apart anytime soon and 2) I'm not 100% sure I buy into the need to do steps anyway...

I'm more interested in getting thoughts on plausability.


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Old 04-20-2009, 07:17 PM   #2
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Why not just step up with the HERMS system. Thats exactly what I do. If the water in my HLT is about 190+ it takes my mash tun about 10-15min to go from 128 to 155.


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Old 04-20-2009, 08:38 PM   #3
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There have been long debates on other threads about ways to do it and the majority of posts that I've seen (which I beleive and am "in the camp of") say that you are not supposed ever heat any part of your wort up over your target temp.

So... if you're going from something like 125 up to 154... your HLT should never be higher than 154 (or not much higher than it) since the wort that you are washing through the HTL will come out dramatically above your target temp... so you're going to be beating up on your enzymes pretty fierce.

And if you think about how many times your MT has to completely recirc over that 10-15 minutes... the question is how much are you really raising the temp of the wort as it exits the HEX and what damage is that doing if you're well over the 155 (in your example) mark?

Guys have different ways to try to acheive this... some use temp controllers on the wort itself directly at the point it is coming out of the HEX.... others simply do infusions...

All I'm suggesting is the possibility of increasing the efficiency of heat transfer, while not "overshooting" and step up as quickly as possible through the use of both a HEX and a jacket around the MT.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:56 PM   #4
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I think this discussion is mostly centered around if, how, why, etc (best practices) for stepping mash temps with heat exchange. We really don't care how the heat is applied but the major question is whether or not the wort at any point in the process can be safely elevated above target temp without denaturing too much and how much hotter IS safe?

I think this is a great discussion to have and again, it should be kept together in the same thread without weighing it down with RIMS vs. direct fire RIMs vs HERMS, etc. It's irrelevant.

Rant aside, even though you turn over the mash through the HEX probably once every 5 minutes, it only stays at the elevated temp for about 20 seconds (the length of time it takes to hit the heat, then equalize back down when it hits the grain again. Let's say it takes 25 minutes to get your mash from 122f to 152f at 1 gpm flow rate where the output of the HEX is 160F. Of course these numbers are completely hypothetical, but the point is that the entire volume of the mash is turned over probably 5 times assuming 5 gallons, 1gpm for 25 minutes. If the time spent at 160f is only 20 seconds per cycle, it's only at 160f for a total of 100 seconds. That's nowhere near enough time to denature b-amylase at 160f. Even if my numbers are off by a good degree, I'd feel fine heating to 160f for a 152f target.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:58 PM   #5
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Basically, you're trying to improve the heat exchange efficiency without overshooting a specified temperature.

Some other options include:
  1. Use a CFC as a heat exchanger at the expense of two pumps instead of one.
  2. Put the heat exchange tubing inside the MLT instead of the HLT (flip the script).

#1 should result in more efficient heat exchange but may not achieve much towards a rapid temperature increase. #2 would allow for a faster temperature increase since the HLT temperature could be much higher than the MLT and still avoid significantly overheating any portion of the mash.

Has anyone attempted #2?
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:58 PM   #6
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Cape...

HERMS is an EXCELLENT choice for step mashing, that is my new stand on it. I will recommend HERMS to anyone looking to step mash, it is an excellent choice.

HERMS + Step Mash = match made in heaven.

Anyone looking to step mash easily, should build a HERMS, I highly recommend it.

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Old 04-20-2009, 09:02 PM   #7
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Agreed with Bobby and agreed with lamarguy..

... just trying to see what folks' opinions are on jacketing the MT. That strikes me as something that would significantly increase the effeciency of the heat transfer. It's simply another option... or... a "#3" to your list lamarguy...

Given my set up of one pot mounted inside another... I think I could coil a large portion of the inner pot... even then wrapping THAT with insulation (the silver foil lined bubble wrap stuff) and then slide it back down into the other pot.
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:02 PM   #8
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LOL... nice Pol... thanks. I knew you were going to be a big fan of this thread.
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:04 PM   #9
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You should probably note your sarcasm at some point for those who have not been playing along.

There are a lot of variables that make heat exchange for temp changes difficult or maybe impractical but it doesn't hurt talking about them. You don't want to heat over target temp and I'm sort of asking why not.

Of course if the HEX is your HLT, you have an issue of potentially having too cool the water down before sparging if you've got it running at 180f. This isn't all that difficult. If it's an issue of having the horsepower to keep the HLT temp up or getting it up, there's always bigger/more elements. If there's a will there's a way.
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:04 PM   #10
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I am serious too, the number of inquiries I get about HERMS is high... from here on out I am recommending it. IF it doesnt work for them, I will send them to yous guys. I wil throw "pixie dust photon heat exchanger" into my parts list.

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