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Old 05-06-2011, 10:47 PM   #1
Ppeg34
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Feb 2011
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Here is a quick and dirty diagram of a prospective brewing system I have been thinking about. I don't think I have seen a non-recirculating build like this before and I feel for sure I have to be missing something. The process would look something like this:

-Set temperature controller to desired sparge temperature and add water (total volume minus what the grains will soak up)
-Add crushed grains (temperature controller will maintain steady temperature)
-Extract wort
-Remove grain bag
-Start your boil


So why wouldn't this work?
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:56 PM   #2
erikpete18
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I think the trouble would be that your water could stratify pretty well without any movement in there, so the bottom of the mash might be the correct temp near the heater, but the mash above won't be nearly as warm as you are reading. It might not wind up making a difference, but it would be something I checked once I got it all set up so I wasn't accidentally mashing too high/low.

Of course, you could get around that and still not need a pump if you either stirred the mash by hand or set up a quick DIY mash stirrer that wouldn't get caught on your bag. I've seen a few mash stirrers in the DIY forum (some built with old ice cream maker motors) that would be enough to rotate your mash so the temp is consistent throughout the mash.

 
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:12 PM   #3
Ppeg34
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Feb 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erikpete18 View Post
I think the trouble would be that your water could stratify pretty well without any movement in there, so the bottom of the mash might be the correct temp near the heater, but the mash above won't be nearly as warm as you are reading. It might not wind up making a difference, but it would be something I checked once I got it all set up so I wasn't accidentally mashing too high/low.

Of course, you could get around that and still not need a pump if you either stirred the mash by hand or set up a quick DIY mash stirrer that wouldn't get caught on your bag. I've seen a few mash stirrers in the DIY forum (some built with old ice cream maker motors) that would be enough to rotate your mash so the temp is consistent throughout the mash.
Water temperature stratification was my initial worry as well. But, I thought about how I measure the temperature of my sparge water without stirring as I heat it up, and that has never caused problem. I have just always assumed the water would keep the same temperature throughout.

I have thought that it would need a good stir to get a reasonable efficiency, but this wouldn't necessarily need to be automated or constant.

 
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:19 PM   #4
erikpete18
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Yeah, I think if you insulated it well and just used the heating element to hit your initial temps, you should be able to get by with stirring it at the beginning (which you're gonna have to do anyways) and then let it sit. For instance tell it to heat to ~165, then give it a quick stir to make sure the waters at the right temp. Then, mash in, stir your grain up, and hit your 155 mash temp, then toss a lid on and let it sit for your mash time. In that case you wouldn't really be doing much if any heating, so there wouldn't be any worry of stratifying.

If you were going to do some step raises (like a protein rest), I'd think you'd want to stir then as well so you didn't have to worry about stratifying, but you're right, you should be able to get by without it.

 
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:47 PM   #5
Dohboy
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Nov 2010
Auckland, New Zealand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ppeg34 View Post
Here is a quick and dirty diagram of a prospective brewing system I have been thinking about. I don't think I have seen a non-recirculating build like this before and I feel for sure I have to be missing something. The process would look something like this:

-Set temperature controller to desired sparge temperature and add water (total volume minus what the grains will soak up)
-Add crushed grains (temperature controller will maintain steady temperature)
-Extract wort
-Remove grain bag
-Start your boil


So why wouldn't this work?
This is exactly what i am set up at the moment so am keen to see how it works for you.

 
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Old 05-07-2011, 01:42 AM   #6
Ppeg34
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Feb 2011
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Well this is really just an idea I had today. I would love to take the steps to make this happen, but seeing as how I am a poor graduating (in a week) college student without a real job until September, it may have to wait. The things that really attracted me to this setup are:

-Primarily cost: I would estimate between $200 and $300 for the whole thing
-Gets me off the stove top and into a garage
-Not dependent upon a GFCI protected 60 amp breaker to run (seeing as I will be renting indefinitely in the foreseeable future)
-Small footprint and easy cleanup.

Maybe I could put some of my graduation money into making it happen, but I think it would be smarter right now to just use it to live on.

 
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Old 05-07-2011, 05:22 AM   #7
cyberbackpacker
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If you're running sort of immersion element, you are going to need GFCI protection; you have to consider is $60-100/beer worth losing a life over?

Good luck.

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Old 05-07-2011, 03:49 PM   #8
bonsai4tim
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I've been running something like this for over a year now.



Very simple rig---PID controlled heating element, aluminum mesh in bottom to keep the bag off the element.

Having the heating element on during the mash keeps the temp up, and I usually stir it 2-3 times during the mash to make sure there isn't a cold spot.

usually the mash is thin enough that convection keeps the temp even throughout the mash.

When I first started, I used a lab grade thermometer to check the temp in the center of the mash, just to make sure.

 
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Old 05-07-2011, 06:27 PM   #9
Ppeg34
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Feb 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonsai4tim
I've been running something like this for over a year now.

Very simple rig---PID controlled heating element, aluminum mesh in bottom to keep the bag off the element.

Having the heating element on during the mash keeps the temp up, and I usually stir it 2-3 times during the mash to make sure there isn't a cold spot.

usually the mash is thin enough that convection keeps the temp even throughout the mash.

When I first started, I used a lab grade thermometer to check the temp in the center of the mash, just to make sure.
That is exactly what I was imagining. Im really glad to see it works. It seems like there is no significant disadvantage here compared to the other "extreme" builds out there. But, I understand that half the fun is in the build itself.

Do you ever run into problems not filtering the wort through the grain bed.

 
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