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Old 11-14-2011, 09:25 PM   #1
Ernie Diamond
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Oct 2007
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I currently mash in a converted cooler with what I think are very acceptable results. My brewing partner has a 20 gallon mash tun, maybe Blichman? I find that our results are not as consistent with that and for the life of me, I can't figure out why unless it is a matter of heat loss.

In any event, I need some help with the move into temperature controlled mashing. Where should I go to find some good informatiopn on how best to manage this? Are people using direct-fired kettles? A heating coil in the mash? Heating unit in the line through which wort is pumped?

where is a good source for info on what to build/buy?

Thanks.

 
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:24 PM   #2
gstrawn
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A lot of questions to which im not an expert but im looking into electric brewing and I think a heat stick would be your best bet. There wouldn't be any modification to the mash tun and you could get attach a johnson controller. Relatively cheap

 
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:42 PM   #3
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You may be misjudging the solution to your issue. I've been mashing in a cooler with great results for 14 years and 408 batches. Maybe you just need to work on your technique.
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:01 AM   #4
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I think Denny has a good idea.

If you are taking all your measurements (temp and volume), always calculate your efficiency, and writing it all down you should easilly be able to look back and see where your process is lacking or what you are doing that is inconsistent.

If you are intent on spending money to fix the problem, research how to make a heat stick on this forum, that sounds like something you might want.

 
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:06 AM   #5
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I think the OP has the cooler method down, he's asking about larger brews in a 20 gallon Blichman. I have 40 gallon kettles and chose to insulate. It's cheap and efficient. I lose about 1 degree per hour. I've thought about going RIMS because sometimes I have trouble hitting my mash temp right on the button, but I've been getting a better handle on my heat loss here lately and dialing it in. You'll lose heat from any pumping you're doing and also from the mash tun if it's not insulated. If you brew indoors, and the ambient temp is about the same everytime you brew, you can get a handle on your heat loss by doing dry runs with water only. Figure out what your average stirke water temp will be. Heat that and transfer to an empty MLT. Take a temp reading and how ever many degrees short you are, add that to your strike water temp in the future. Then, do an infusion and use a value of zero for your grain amount in the infusion equation. Stabilize the temp and take a reading. If you come up low, adjust the value of the infusion water in the equation until you find the number that gives you the temp that you ended up with. For instance I lose 11 degrees during transfer. I pump 200F water but I use a value of 189F in my infusion equation.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:08 PM   #6
Ernie Diamond
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Thanks BBL. You are correct. I get great results and decent efficiency from my meager 10gal cooler. It is the Blichman that I am having trouble with. It may be a matter of insulating the unit but I just wonder what heat control options are out there for those of us who do not want to invest in a RIMS or HERMS. I am not aware of heat sticks so I will check that out. It sounds as if it might be close to what I am looking for.

 
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:07 PM   #7
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Keep in mind that if you use a heat stick or direct fire you will have to stir the hell out of mash periodically or recirculate somehow to maintain an even temp throughout the mash. If you are going to go that route and not insulate, you ought to go RIMS but I know that may not be an option you want to consider. FWIW, I find stirring to be quite inefficient with larger mashes. I dough in, add my infusion water, stir to get rid of dough balls and then recirculate until the temp stabilizes. To recirc I just drain a gal or so at a time into a bucket and gently dump it back in the top.
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