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Old 03-01-2013, 03:21 PM   #1
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Default Manual HERM System test this weekend...

Ok. With the pump arriving later today I have all the base components to put a manual HERMS together.

I'll be installing the copper tubing in the HLT tonight, all the quick connect lines are essentially finished, I need to put the sparge manifold into my monster MLT and seal it.

Then, I will fire up the propane in my garage, heat the HLT and launch the pump in order to see about maintaining a constant temperature in my MLT. If that works, I can brew like the wind.

Very excited to put all the pieces together and test tomorrow. Been working on piecing together components for some time now. Between hoses, connectors, vessels, sight glases, thermometers, the stand, the pump etc. it has been a long road. However, if it all works as I hope I'm going to use the BCS system and my latop to build the electronic controller and ... May God have mercy on my soul...
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:06 PM   #2
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Congratulations on the upgrade.

Adding a HERMS is the best upgrade I have done to my brewing system. Automating it with a temperature controller and a second pump for constant recirculation was the best thing I have done to make consistent beer. Now it's hands off during the mash.
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:54 PM   #3
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Well did the test of the manual HERM system last night. Went from 70 degrees in the MLT to 160 in about an hour.

Poured some chocolate stout in the MLT water to color it so I could determine if there was any leaking from the coil into the HLT. End of the test, my liquor was clear and my mash was hot.

Tonight I will be firing up the system for real with a mandarin wheat. Simple recipe, nothing too extraordinary. I'm going to use the pump to maintain the mash at 152 for 60 minutes and then I'll mash out at 170. Next, pump from the hlt into the MLT for a couple of batch sparges and we'll see how we do. (Still have to lauter manually, but it is what it is.)

I'll let you know how things went in the a.m.
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Muddy Creek Chocolate Stout: So good we named the brewery after it!

Storm the Door Vanilla Porter: It tastes like Freedom!

Skinny Cow IPA: In India, cows are sacred, that doesn't mean they feed em...

Good Time Wheat Ale: You can't put a pricetag on a Good Time!

No Paddle Amber Ale: Up the creek with No Paddle!

Dirty Blonde Ale: You know you Want One.

SEASONAL: Clementine Wheat Ale: This one goes to 11


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Old 03-12-2013, 12:38 AM   #4
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Good luck.. Do you have a recipe?
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Old 03-12-2013, 03:36 PM   #5
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I brewed a variation of my 8 Seconds lemon wheat. (Basically that recipe but I zested some mandarin oranges instead of lemons for this batch.)

Ok, so here is the rundown of the first HERM system run.

First off, I went through a ton more propane than I needed too because I didn't restrict my mash tun flow enough so the wort was flowing through the HLT so quickly it didn't heat as well as it could. (I corrected this by the time mash out came around but by then... I'd wasted a ton of energy trying to get the strike water to temp.)

I clamped every hose line except 1 apparently. It seems during my test it was confirmed that I need a heat shield below the lower HLT coil input. It became hot enough to compromise my hose so I had to take it off and cut it and re-affix. (I added a trailer-park heat shield IE tin foil.) Problem is I failed to use a hose clamp on the reattached line and about halfway through the mash I suddenly have wort spraying everywhere. Turned off the pump, re-attached the hose and only lost a bit of wort, but still a mess and kind of a 'dumbass' move.

I was able for the most part to keep the temperature up. It dropped once to around 144 because I had turned my HLT temp down and had shut off the pump in order to keep the temp from rising too much. I got the temp back up within a few minutes and we were pretty smooth sailing from there out in the mash.

I vorlaufed about a gallon of wort after the mash, although I'm not sure that's necessary with a HERM process since wort is constantly recirculating through the grain bed. I did it anyway, rather do more than less, I suppose.

After the vorlauf, I drew about 1.5 gallons or so from the MLT. Then I reattached my pump-in hose to the bottom of the HLT and used that water for a couple of batch sparges. Worked like a dream. In fact the one negative I did have was that I was so excited doing the sparges that I got a bit too much wort in the brew kettle. I was planning on 7 gallons, but actually extracted closer to 7.5 (oops, need to get used to the pump and how much water I'm putting in. I don't have a sight glass on my HLT yet so it's hard to tell how much you've added to the sparge.)

Anyway, took a reading on the 7.5 gallons of pre-boil wort and it was an abysmally low 1.015. I added a bit of cane sugar to get to a more respectable 1.020 (It turns out this was unnecessary. I lacked faith and as we shall see, I was punished.)

Because I had so much extra wort it increased my boil time by about 40 minutes. (Planned on boiling for an hour, initially.)

By the time I got down to my fermenter volume of just over 5 gallons I was registering a hydrometer value 1.070. This will likely cause my alcohol content to put me out of style range for my wheat beer. That doesn't bother me overmuch except that essentially the recipe is wrong because I jumped the gun instead of doing the math to see what the likely gravity reduction would be after boiling. Again, in my best Red Foreman voice... "Dumbass."

So, after cooling the wort, I transferred to my fermenting vessel. (That's hi-fallutin' for carboy.) I used the old fish-tank aeration method to get some air in the wort while I zested three mandarin oranges and boiled the zest and pulp in 3 cups of water for 5 minutes. I then took strained that liquid into the wort, pitched my yeast starter and lugged the behemoth down into my basement.

As of this morning I have a happy ferment going. We shall see how it turns out in 3 to 4 weeks. I'm going to let it sit in primary for about 10 days, then I'll zest some more oranges and 'dry hop' it for another 10 or 15.

Then, off to the keg for a week or so and I'm trying my first mandarin wheat.

All in all, had the normal hiccups and screwups you'd expect. I timed things alright given the fact that I wasn't heating strike water as quickly as I could have. That gave me time to grind the grain though, so no loss there. The pump, connections and hoses worked perfectly. There was a slight issue with the silicone tube inside the HLT. When I doughed in, apparently the stirring 'buried' the hose so part of the re-circulation had heated wort going lower in the grain bed than I wanted but I fixed that pretty quickly.

Aside from the hose popping loose, things generally went very well. We'll see how this batch turns out.
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Muddy Creek Chocolate Stout: So good we named the brewery after it!

Storm the Door Vanilla Porter: It tastes like Freedom!

Skinny Cow IPA: In India, cows are sacred, that doesn't mean they feed em...

Good Time Wheat Ale: You can't put a pricetag on a Good Time!

No Paddle Amber Ale: Up the creek with No Paddle!

Dirty Blonde Ale: You know you Want One.

SEASONAL: Clementine Wheat Ale: This one goes to 11


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Old 03-12-2013, 03:43 PM   #6
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Nice work, I'm sure you'll get 'er all dialed in with the next couple batches. Any chance that your wheat is an attempt to clone Lang Creek's old Mandarin Hef? That was my sister's favorite beer and I've been meaning to brew up a version for her.
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:07 PM   #7
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No, it isn't a clone of anything, just a basic wheat ale. I think 7 lbs wheat, 2.5 pale ale and 2 crystal 40.

I add .5 oz Sterling for 60 (longer last night due to the extra 40 minutes boil time...) .5 oz Cascade for 30 and .5 oz Cascade for the final 5.

If done properly, you also add lemon zest (2 lemons) to the boil for the last 5 minutes.

Like I said, pretty straightforward, but a nice, easy drinking beer.
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Our Lineup

Muddy Creek Chocolate Stout: So good we named the brewery after it!

Storm the Door Vanilla Porter: It tastes like Freedom!

Skinny Cow IPA: In India, cows are sacred, that doesn't mean they feed em...

Good Time Wheat Ale: You can't put a pricetag on a Good Time!

No Paddle Amber Ale: Up the creek with No Paddle!

Dirty Blonde Ale: You know you Want One.

SEASONAL: Clementine Wheat Ale: This one goes to 11


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Old 03-13-2013, 03:13 PM   #8
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Ah... crap.

Gettin' the old sulfur smell from the fermenter. It's getting better so I'll hold on to some kind of hope that I don't have an infection somewhere. It was pretty unpleasant last night though.

Also, have quite a bit of tarnishing from the copper inside the HLT. (It's aluminum.) I may just have to convert my stainless kettle although I was hoping to eventually use that as my MLT when go electric.
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Our Lineup

Muddy Creek Chocolate Stout: So good we named the brewery after it!

Storm the Door Vanilla Porter: It tastes like Freedom!

Skinny Cow IPA: In India, cows are sacred, that doesn't mean they feed em...

Good Time Wheat Ale: You can't put a pricetag on a Good Time!

No Paddle Amber Ale: Up the creek with No Paddle!

Dirty Blonde Ale: You know you Want One.

SEASONAL: Clementine Wheat Ale: This one goes to 11


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Old 03-13-2013, 03:25 PM   #9
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Every Hefe I've done made half the house smell like the dogs had eaten something bad and were emitting noxious fumes. Sulfur smell from a Hefe seems to be its way of telling you it's happy.
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:52 PM   #10
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I actually agree with cracked1- epecially when using wyeast 1010. Smells freaking terrible for a couple weeks in my experience. What yeast are you using?
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