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Old 02-22-2013, 05:37 PM   #1
MuddyCreek
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Default Going to have to automate a bit...

So I got a big old monster cooler for my mashing. Installed a sight tube and a temperature gauge as well as drilled a bulkhead for my drain and screen.

It's a thing of beauty. However, it's too damn big. I generally brew 5.5 gallon batches and the thing has too much headspace and a poorly insulated lid so frankly I cannot control the temperature inside. I start at my strike temp of say, 168 and dough in, then I watch in dismay as the mash temperature drops, slowly at first then consistently to around 140. There seems to be very little I can do about it. I've insulated, tried to put the mash tun in a heated room etc. but I consistently lose all my heat.

Therefore... I am going to plug in a march pump and route wort through the old HERM coil immersed in the hot liquor tank. I haven't bought any PIDs or anything. at first I will be happily sipping beer and manually running the pump whenever my mash tun indicates that the temperature is slipping. I plan on keeping the liquor tank around 160 or 165 and the sincere hope is that I can better control the temperature in my mash until I am ready to drop the long green on a control panel to manage the pump and liquor tank as well as mash temperature.

I suppose it just means more time for me to sit and drink beer. My brews have been fine, but I can't hit the consistency I want with my OG and FG readings. So... Off I go to the next step in madness.


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Old 05-02-2013, 05:23 AM   #2
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Update on this thread, for those who care... (crickets...)

I ended up buying a smaller cooler. A 7 gallon one to be precise. Probably a bit small but the best kind of jerk is a knee-jerk.

I put the manual herms system together some time ago and have dialed in the process quite well. I went from an abysmally low 50 something percent efficiency to the 90s with my last two batches. I do this through careful regulation of temperature and using an infusion mash and raising the temperature slowly and giving it a protein rest.

Now I have nearly finished my tool-box build for the EHERMS and I will likely have to start all over getting used to the equipment but the good news... I still get to sit in my garage and drink beer while brewing beer. For that I can put up with almost no end of BS.

My next big MLT upgrade is going to be a false bottom. I probably went a bit overboard on the crush on my last batch (what kind of jerk do we love?) and as a result I had to really work to keep my stainless coil clear so the pump didn't get stuck. I plan on adding a false bottom over the coil so that's less of an issue.

I'll post pictures when I'm finished if it isn't too damn ugly.


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Old 05-03-2013, 06:10 AM   #3
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Ok, wrapped up the false bottom tonight. Used 1/2" pvc for the frame and built a screen (just like a screen window) to put over the frame. I also installed the thermocouple probe into the mash tun tonight and did the leak-test. Everything seemed to hold the the TC is within 1 degree of my kettle thermometer.

Tomorrow I'll install the heating element into the HLT and wire up the 2nd PID to handle it and I should be set to run a full test on Saturday. I'll still have to heat the BK with propane until I get a higher wattage heating element installed into it but the mash-side of the operation will all be automated by my next brew session.
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Skinny Cow IPA

Karma Belgian Blonde

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SEASONAL: Black Ice Blackberry Pale Ale

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Old 05-03-2013, 10:26 AM   #4
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Sounds good. Nothing like drinking beer while brewing beer. Good luck w/ the remaining automation.
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