13 Gallons of Vanished Wort??????

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Cape Brewing

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Sorry for the really long email but this is really freaky....

Finally ran my first AG batch on a rig that's been "under construction" for freakin' ever. Quickly... single teir system, HLT= 25 gallons, BK = 25 gallons and MT = 20 gallons. It's all hard-plumbed with solenoids and two March 809's so all transfers through the entire rig are "flip a switch" and two PIDs controling temps.

The way I have it set up is that I actually heat water to temp in the BK, and once at appropriate temp, I pump it into the MT and add my grains. My HLT is already full and up to mashing temp. I then constantly circulate my MT through a heat exchanger mounted inside my HLT to maintain temp without ever applying direct heat to the MT.

So yesterday... I'm doing a 15 gallon honey wheat for the maiden voyage. I put 12 gallons in my BK, bring that up to about 175ish. I put 15 gallons into my HLT and bring that up to 154.

I pump 9 gallons into my MT and due to a cold MT and heat lost in transfer, it's sitting there at 167ish. I then drain off and dump the extra three from the BK. I dump in 27 pounds of grain in (15 2-row Pils and 12 light wheat). I start circulating. whole system maintains temp perfectly... "great... this is going better than I had expected!". I then drain my MT into my BK.

- I did NOT get a stuck mash.
- I'm POSITIVE there was 9 gallons when it went into the MT.
- Nothing was leaking
- I don't have THAT much in plumbing where a ton of liquid was left in the pipes, maybe 1/2 gallon athte absolute most and that's a huge stretch
- my MT drains COMPLETELY as I have a false bottom over a manifold that sits right on the bottom (slits cut on the underside of the manifold)

... I got three gallons out of the MT.

Ok... no biggie... I had a ton of absorbtion. (six freakin gallons worth!! apparently)

I then pump 8 gallons from the HLT (which I had brought up to about 175ish) into the MT to do my first batch sparge. It rests at about 165ish... I stir it a couple of times. Twenty minutes go by. I drain into the BK.

... I got four gallons out of the MT

I then pump the remaining 7 gallons from the HLT (still at about 175ish) into the MT to do my second batch sparge. It rests at about 165ish... I stir it a couple of times. Twenty minutes go by. I drain into the BK.

... I got four gallons out of the MT

So... some quick math...

9 gallons for original mash... 8 for first batch sparge... 7 for second batch sparge. That's TWENTY FOUR gallons.

I ended up with ELEVEN, pre-boil.

I had a bunch of guys from my HBC there and we all stood there completely baffled. 13 gallons of water/wort just up and dissappeared.

I am 99% positive my gallon "markers" on my site gauges are accurate and if they are off a little bit, then we put 24 "units" of water in and get 11 "units" out. That doesn't change the problem.

My temps were off a little bit here or there for my first run and maybe my brewmometers are off a little bit but that would effect efficiency, not make 13 gallons of water dissappear.

When we were done, the MT and HLT were completely empty.

Post boil (because my efficiency was terrible) I only had about 8 gallons since I had to boil way down to hit my OG target. And when we filled the carboys, it LOOKED like exactly 8 gallons so the markers on the site gauges can't be off that much.

I'm not worried about efficiency at this point since I'm pretty sure my temps were all over the road due to badly calibrated thermometers as well as a ridiculous sparge arm I threw together in four seconds prior to the brew.

I just can't, for the life of me, figureout where 12 gallons of water went.
 

ewbish

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My guess?

When you drained the BK, it started a back siphon and pulled wort out of your MT.
 

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What strikes me as most odd is that you only got half your sparge volume back each time. If truly there were no leaks, the most likely possibility is that you measured your sparge volumes wrong in the HLT. I'd check that first.
 
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My guess?

When you drained the BK, it started a back siphon and pulled wort out of your MT.

Impossible... All of the plumbing is controlled through solenoids (nine of them) so the lines shoudl lock down completely but even so... the spout INTO the MT from the BK is above the water line... so there's no way it could pull anything out of the MT.

figure in ~4 for grain absorption, that still leaves 8G.....
How much was left in your BK and HLT after all infusions? Any?

After my first mash I had 3 in the BK... which remained and 15 in the HLT. I sparged with 8, leaving 7 in the HLT... and was only able to pump 4 into the BK (making a running total of 7). I then batch sparged a second time leaving NOTHING in the HLT... so I sparged with another 7 and only got 4 our of the MT. Pumped 24 in... got 11 out... with the HLY and MT being completely EMPTY when I was done.

What strikes me as most odd is that you only got half your sparge volume back each time. If truly there were no leaks, the most likely possibility is that you measured your sparge volumes wrong in the HLT. I'd check that first.

Like I was saying... no leaks. it's set up in my garage and I didn't have any drips on the floor, never mind 13 gallons.

And also like I was saying, I'm 99% positive my measurements on the HLT and BK are correct... and if they're not, I pumped in 24 "units" (whether that's 3/4s a gallon, 7/8ths a gallon or a full gallon) and I only got 11 out by using the exact same measuring method.



It's FREAKY!!! It's like the rig ripped a hole into another dimension and 13 gallons dissappeared into thin air. Six or seven guys (three of which had been brewing well over 15 years) stood there totally, completely baffled. For the life of us we can't figure out what happened.
 

FlyGuy

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And also like I was saying, I'm 99% positive my measurements on the HLT and BK are correct... and if they're not, I pumped in 24 "units" (whether that's 3/4s a gallon, 7/8ths a gallon or a full gallon) and I only got 11 out by using the exact same measuring method.
I don't quite follow when you say they use "the exact same measuring method". You didn't pump your wort into your HLT -- it went into the BK right? They may have the same device for measuring, but that doesn't necessarily mean they measure the same. Quick test -- measure 7gals (units?) of water into the HLT and pump it directly to the BK. Confirm it is also reading 7 gals/units. I am guessing this has to be it.
 
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Well twilight zone was on TV yesterday, Maybe That's where your water went! Sorry man, that's weird.
Hope you find your water and can use it for your next brew day :D
 
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I don't quite follow when you say they use "the exact same measuring method". You didn't pump your wort into your HLT -- it went into the BK right? They may have the same device for measuring, but that doesn't necessarily mean they measure the same. Quick test -- measure 7gals (units?) of water into the HLT and pump it directly to the BK. Confirm it is also reading 7 gals/units. I am guessing this has to be it.

I'm under the assumption that he uses the same vessel for a BK and HLT.
 

FlyGuy

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I'm under the assumption that he uses the same vessel for a BK and HLT.
I was trying to figure that out, too -- but he mentions having separate vessels. What he might have done is heated the water in the BK then pumped it all to the HLT. In that case, then he would be using the same measurement (assuming no leaks or losses).
 

babalu87

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Pictures?
A drawing?

There has to be a logical solution to this.
At a grain absorption of .15 ( mine is .14) you would lose 4 gallons so now you would have 20 gallons into the boil kettle.

You now have to account for 9 gallons of wort
 
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Here's a few pics before it was cleaned up a bit but it'll give you the idea.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f45/drunken-ramblngs-101246/index27.html

I'm not using one pot for the BK and HLT...

The HLT and BK are both 25 gallon pots that are exactly the same size. They both have identical site glasses mounted on the side and both pots have markers ticked off on the pots next to the site glasses. I filled one -gallon milk jugs, poured one in, and ticked off the level.... poured in another one... ticked off the level...

so... the measurements are not off... and if they are, they're not off in some weird way that would account for 24 gallons (or whatever the EXACT amount was assuming my milk-gallon method was off somehow) went it... and only 11 of the same measurement came out.


I'm actually not expecting a real solution since again... six of us stood there looking at the thing for about two hours completely freakin' stumped.

Babalu... it was me, Jae, Tredo, Gravel, Frank C. and Rick R.

none of us could figure it out at all.

Just up and dissappeared.
 

babalu87

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There is most definately a real solution to this unless you believe Aliens wanted their share of your first brew on the new rig.

FWIW at best you would only be netting around 20 gallons of wort into the boil kettle so you are looking at a loss of 9 gallons total.
 
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Well... I don't honestly think aliens stole it or it vanished into another dimension...

but it's the damndest thing.

We put a GRAND total of 27 gallons of water into the contraption... drained off 3 we didn't need... and then got 11 gallons of wort out with all pots empty.

Absolutely, you figure I lost 4... hell, make it SIX gallons to absorbtion...

I'm still missing 7 whole gallons.

It's making my head hurt.
 

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The HLT and BK are both 25 gallon pots that are exactly the same size. They both have identical site glasses mounted on the side and both pots have markers ticked off on the pots next to the site glasses. I filled one -gallon milk jugs, poured one in, and ticked off the level.... poured in another one... ticked off the level...

so... the measurements are not off... and if they are, they're not off in some weird way that would account for 24 gallons (or whatever the EXACT amount was assuming my milk-gallon method was off somehow) went it... and only 11 of the same measurement came out.
You are assuming they are measuring identically, and you are probably right by the sounds of it. It would still bug the sh*t out of me not to know for sure. I would fill a 5 gal pail with water and dump the same volume into each vessel to see if they are both reading correctly.
 

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Impossible... All of the plumbing is controlled through solenoids (nine of them) so the lines shoudl lock down completely but even so... the spout INTO the MT from the BK is above the water line... so there's no way it could pull anything out of the MT.



After my first mash I had 3 in the BK... which remained and 15 in the HLT. I sparged with 8, leaving 7 in the HLT... and was only able to pump 4 into the BK (making a running total of 7). I then batch sparged a second time leaving NOTHING in the HLT... so I sparged with another 7 and only got 4 our of the MT. Pumped 24 in... got 11 out... with the HLY and MT being completely EMPTY when I was done.



Like I was saying... no leaks. it's set up in my garage and I didn't have any drips on the floor, never mind 13 gallons.

And also like I was saying, I'm 99% positive my measurements on the HLT and BK are correct... and if they're not, I pumped in 24 "units" (whether that's 3/4s a gallon, 7/8ths a gallon or a full gallon) and I only got 11 out by using the exact same measuring method.



It's FREAKY!!! It's like the rig ripped a hole into another dimension and 13 gallons dissappeared into thin air. Six or seven guys (three of which had been brewing well over 15 years) stood there totally, completely baffled. For the life of us we can't figure out what happened.


If one or more of your solenoids are not closing completely, or open when you drained that.....if the drain hose is the lowest point, it'll pull from any source on the same circuit, long as there is a path. For example, if your BK is higher or lower, doesen't matter than the MT..........but your drain hose is lower, and through valving that hose has a path to the MT........it'll drain it too.

Just a thought......, but if you discount everything else, and you know your measurements were on.......that's my guess. You can try and repro the problem with just water and see what happens.
 
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You are assuming they are measuring identically, and you are probably right by the sounds of it. It would still bug the sh*t out of me not to know for sure. I would fill a 5 gal pail with water and dump the same volume into each vessel to see if they are both reading correctly.

I did dump the same volume into each to make sure the measurements were right. Trust me.. that's not it.

And believe me, it's bugging the ever-luvin **** outta of me. It's driving me crazy.
 
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If one or more of your solenoids are not closing completely, or open when you drained that.....if the drain hose is the lowest point, it'll pull from any source on the same circuit, long as there is a path. For example, if your BK is higher or lower, doesen't matter than the MT..........but your drain hose is lower, and through valving that hose has a path to the MT........it'll drain it too.

Just a thought......, but if you discount everything else, and you know your measurements were on.......that's my guess. You can try and repro the problem with just water and see what happens.

I don't see how that could be it... if that was the case, my HLT would have clouded up a little bit from my mash leaking into it and it didn't.

My HLT stood perfectly static at 15 gallons during the mashing process and the water never got cloudy. I pumped 9 gallons from the BK into the MT, mashed, and then pumped that same water back into the BK... and only three came out.

ok... so... I lost SIX gallons to absorbtion... I seriously doubt it but I'll assume that for a second.

I then took 8 gallons out of the 15 in the HLT that was still there and still perfectly clear... and pumped them into the MT. My BK level never changed while I was doing that. I'm positive.

After sparging with that, I pumped it into the BK... four came out.

The seven int eh HLT was still crystal clear and sitting at seven. My MT was empty and I had seven in the BK.

I pumped the last 7 into the MT... sparged... and then pumped it into the BK... four came out.

My HLT was completely empty.

We scooped out all of the grains (which were "dry" as you would expect them to be) and looked... the MT was completely empty.


... and I was sitting there with 11 gallons in the BK.


My MT is some sort of BLACK HOLE!!!!
 

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I don't see how that could be it... if that was the case, my HLT would have clouded up a little bit from my mash leaking into it and it didn't.

My HLT stood perfectly static at 15 gallons during the mashing process and the water never got cloudy. I pumped 9 gallons from the BK into the MT, mashed, and then pumped that same water back into the BK... and only three came out.

ok... so... I lost SIX gallons to absorbtion... I seriously doubt it but I'll assume that for a second.

I then took 8 gallons out of the 15 in the HLT that was still there and still perfectly clear... and pumped them into the MT. My BK level never changed while I was doing that. I'm positive.

After sparging with that, I pumped it into the BK... four came out.

The seven int eh HLT was still crystal clear and sitting at seven. My MT was empty and I had seven in the BK.

I pumped the last 7 into the MT... sparged... and then pumped it into the BK... four came out.

My HLT was completely empty.

We scooped out all of the grains (which were "dry" as you would expect them to be) and looked... the MT was completely empty.


... and I was sitting there with 11 gallons in the BK.


My MT is some sort of BLACK HOLE!!!!

Well, if you rule that out completely.........then perhaps your lines hold more volume than assumed? Measure all your lines that hold liquid and compute the volume. You loss may be completely attributable to absorbtion and the amount remaining in the lines.
 

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If he absorbed 6 gallons, he's missing 7 gallons...assuming 1/2 ID hose for his lines,
7 gallons is equal to 1617 cubic inches...1 inch of hose can hold .19625 cubic inches(sorry I didn't show my work) divide 1617 by .19625 = 8239 inches, divide by 12 is about 687 feet of hose he would need to hold 7 gallons of wort/water. That's a lot of hose for a rig that size!!!

If he only absorbed 4, which seems to be about right, he's missing 9 gallons, which would require 883 feet of hose.
 

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You've got to do a brew day with only water. It's going to be a pain but you have to do it at this point. Only water. Measure it out before you put it in the HLT/BK. Then check your gauges and make sure what goes in the system makes it to the BK. Then check your boil-off.

I think you have to replicate it. I mean, you didn't defy physics here. There's no black hole in your rig! Gotta do it again. Just do it with water only to save bucks.
 
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If he absorbed 6 gallons, he's missing 7 gallons...assuming 1/2 ID hose for his lines,
7 gallons is equal to 1617 cubic inches...1 inch of hose can hold .19625 cubic inches(sorry I didn't show my work) divide 1617 by .19625 = 8239 inches, divide by 12 is about 687 feet of hose he would need to hold 7 gallons of wort/water. That's a lot of hose for a rig that size!!!

LOL... and no, I don't have 687 feet of plumbing... and I did use 1/2 copper.




Hey, honestly... if anyone can POSSIBLY think of something, please... keep firing away. I'm honestly not being all pissy and just saying "nope...that's not it... nope... that's not it"... it's just that, like I've said a couple times, we had six brewers, with a couple guys who have been doing all-grains for a long... long long time... and we checked everything that guys are tossing out and we were absolutely freakin' STUMPED.

Also.. it's probably an impossible task without actually standing in front of the thing but I still figured I would give it a shot.
 
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Cape Brewing

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You've got to do a brew day with only water. It's going to be a pain but you have to do it at this point. Only water. Measure it out before you put it in the HLT/BK. Then check your gauges and make sure what goes in the system makes it to the BK. Then check your boil-off.

I think you have to replicate it. I mean, you didn't defy physics here. There's no black hole in your rig! Gotta do it again. Just do it with water only to save bucks.

yeah, I think that's a great call....

It's not like I'm gonna toss the rig due to black holes, especially after all of the work I put into it...

but that's a great idea. I wonder if food coloring would stain my aluminum pots?? Maybe I'll put a few drops of food coloring into each pot so I know if they're leaking into each other. I completely understand the post before about that... but i don't see how that could be happening here.

ya never know though I guess.
 

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So on your sparges, you specifically saw half of the water disappear? Are you sure you somehow didn't just sparge once and somehow only use half the water you were supposed to?

Mathematically, there's no way this is possible if your measurements are correct. Therefore, you have to assume human error at one point.
 

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Damn, here I was debating whether or not I should post that 8.5 gallons of extra wort appeared in my brew kettle yesterday from out of nowhere. I can ship it back if you want.

Seriously though, it has to be a measurement issue of some sort. Question is, can you duplicate it again or would you even want to?
 
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So on your sparges, you specifically saw half of the water disappear? Are you sure you somehow didn't just sparge once and somehow only use half the water you were supposed to?

Mathematically, there's no way this is possible if your measurements are correct. Therefore, you have to assume human error at one point.

It's got to be... there's no other explanation other than I defying the law of physics.... but I can't see where it could have possibly been.

...even some sort of way over the top insane absorbtion doesn't make sense as the grains weren't THAT heavy when I dumped them.

The pipes CAN'T hold that much (I used about 40 feet in total of 1/2 copper pipe).

The pots were empty and other than the very small amount of water that I drained out of the BK after adding my water to the MT... I emptied it into a small 4 gallon bucket so I COULDN"T have taken that much out. Other than that, I didn't take any water out of the thing.

I've gotta just go back and re-run the entire thing with just water and see what happens.
 
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Did you somehow make 1/2 gallon marks on your HLT and gallon marks on your brew kettle?

nope... used full gallon milk cartons... both my HLT and BK are 25 each and I marked off up to about 15 gallons on the side for the time being and both sets of mark end up a little over half way up the pot... it would be really obvious if I had done that.

I'm going to have to freakin' video my run with just water and post it on youtube.
 
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So on your sparges, you specifically saw half of the water disappear? Are you sure you somehow didn't just sparge once and somehow only use half the water you were supposed to?

Mathematically, there's no way this is possible if your measurements are correct. Therefore, you have to assume human error at one point.

Positive... We had six guys standing there wathing the entire process.

Like you said, it's got to be a human error somewhere.... but where?



the ONLY thing I can think of that no one would know from the pictures or descriptions would be that my MT is a 20 gallon pot mounted inside a 30 gallon pot and then spray-foam insulation in between the two. Maybe my inside pot leaked and water is trapped inbetween the two but the MT doesn't weigh 500 pounds and the outside pot has a hole on the bottom... I would think at least sum would have to be dripping out of the bottom somewhere.
 

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Positive... We had six guys standing there wathing the entire process.

Like you said, it's got to be a human error somewhere.... but where?



the ONLY thing I can think of that no one would know from the pictures or descriptions would be that my MT is a 20 gallon pot mounted inside a 30 gallon pot and then spray-foam insulation in between the two. Maybe my inside pot leaked and water is trapped inbetween the two but the MT doesn't weigh 500 pounds and the outside pot has a hole on the bottom... I would think at least sum would have to be dripping out of the bottom somewhere.

Yeah. I really doubt you've got 9 gallons of water sitting in there. You're talking an extra 76 pounds at that rate.
 

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Very strange to say the least. When you did your filling of the BK and HLT, did you just use a hose and check your sight glasses, or did you use a jug?

I would run this test:

- Fill both the BK and HLT with 10 gallons each, using your gallon jug
- Check your sight glasses
- Transfer BK to MT
- Check volume of liquid in MT
- Transfer MT to BK
- Check your sight glass again
- Transfer HLT to MT
- Check MT volume
- Transfer MT to BK
- Check BK volume


Something has to not add up somewhere in all that transferring. Just to be able to visualize it easier i made this table:

Code:
BK    HLT    MLT   LOSS  TOTAL   NOTES
12     15      0      0     27
 3     15      9      0     27   9 gal BK  -> MT  
 0     15      9      3     24   3 gal BK  -> drain
 3     15      0      6     18   3 gal MT  -> BK  6 gal loss?
 3      7      8      0     18   8 gal HLT -> MT
 7      7      0      4     14   4 gal MT  -> BK  4 gal loss?
 7      0      7      0     14   7 gal HLT -> MT
11      0      0      4     11   3 gal MT  -> BK 4 gal loss?

Except for the first round, you lost 4 gallons each time... and since 27 lbs of grain would absorb about 2.7 to 3.2 gallons of liquid, that would account for where the other couple gallons went. It seems extremely suspicious to me that you would lose almost exactly the same volume of water every time you transferred from one direction to another.
 
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Very strange to say the least. When you did your filling of the BK and HLT, did you just use a hose and check your sight glasses, or did you use a jug?


Something has to not add up somewhere in all that transferring. Just to be able to visualize it easier i made this table:

Except for the first round, you lost 4 gallons each time... and since 27 lbs of grain would absorb about 2.7 to 3.2 gallons of liquid, that would account for where the other couple gallons went. It seems extremely suspicious to me that you would lose almost exactly the same volume of water every time you transferred from one direction to another.

Yup, how you have it in the table is exactly what happened.

I used a jug to notch off my site glasses a while ago so I could measure what I had going in and out. Then, on brew day, I have a hose hooked into the entire rig through a quick-connect. I then simply flip switches to open solenoids and fill the tanks.

I continued checking my sites through the entire brew session.

I'm jsut going to have to run a water-only rest run again to see if I can pin-point the problem.... although it's the MT that seems like it has the black hole... water goes in and only half comes out.

I'll probably run the water test on Weds and I'll definitely post what the hell is going on.
 

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You'll see all of those guys tomorrow night... ask 'em.

THIS is what I was refering to as a lie

exactly... and the MT didnt feel that heavy at all.

then again... I am wicked strong...

:rockin:

I wont be there tonight, wife has to work :(
My Dunkel will be there.

I agree with running the system using just water, PITA but not as much as losing all that wort.
The only thing you need to do different if running water is to account for your grain absorption when you do the "mash"
 
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Is this case closed? Any new information on where the wort ran off to?

I need closure! I'm losing sleep!
 
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