Anyone doing step mashes on the Spike Brewing 3V system?

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Rob2010SS

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I'm brewing a Hefe in the next week or two and thinking of incorporating an acid rest into the mash. However, the spike system isn't very quick at adjusting temperature. To go from 110F to 152F would take a LONG time. Just curious - anyone else doing step mashes on this system? Is there a way to do it that I'm not seeing?
 

TheMadKing

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I'm brewing a Hefe in the next week or two and thinking of incorporating an acid rest into the mash. However, the spike system isn't very quick at adjusting temperature. To go from 110F to 152F would take a LONG time. Just curious - anyone else doing step mashes on this system? Is there a way to do it that I'm not seeing?
Yep I do them all the time

For doing a temp ramp I keep my HLT at about 165 or so and I open my pump throttle valve wide open until I am 1-2 degrees below the desired temp in the mash tun. It will channel very badly, so after you do that you need to shut your pump valve completely, restir the grain bed and let it settle for 5-10 minutes again, and then crack your pump open to your normal recirculation speed. You can ramp up very quickly like this
 
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Rob2010SS

Rob2010SS

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Yep I do them all the time

For doing a temp ramp I keep my HLT at about 165 or so and I open my pump throttle valve wide open until I am 1-2 degrees below the desired temp in the mash tun. It will channel very badly, so after you do that you need to shut your pump valve completely, restir the grain bed and let it settle for 5-10 minutes again, and then crack your pump open to your normal recirculation speed. You can ramp up very quickly like this
Ok, so this is where I'm missing something though...

If the rest is at 110 and then I want to take it up to 152, the amount of time to make that jump, even at full throttle on the pump which is what i normally recirc at, is probably 20 - 30 minutes. At that point, by the time you get to 152, are you even accomplishing anything? Isn't there a chance that conversion is probably mostly complete at that time?
 

TheMadKing

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Ok, so this is where I'm missing something though...

If the rest is at 110 and then I want to take it up to 152, the amount of time to make that jump, even at full throttle on the pump which is what i normally recirc at, is probably 20 - 30 minutes. At that point, by the time you get to 152, are you even accomplishing anything? Isn't there a chance that conversion is probably mostly complete at that time?
It only takes me about 10-15 minutes with my pump wide open and full flow running through my grain bed... what temperature is your HLT set to?

And no, conversion won't be complete because starch will not gelatinize as quickly at lower temperatures. So as the temperatures ramp up, you'll have more starches for the enzymes to work on and your temperature rests will still have a good effect.
 
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Rob2010SS

Rob2010SS

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It only takes me about 10-15 minutes with my pump wide open and full flow running through my grain bed... what temperature is your HLT set to?

And no, conversion won't be complete because starch will not gelatinize as quickly at lower temperatures. So as the temperatures ramp up, you'll have more starches for the enzymes to work on and your temperature rests will still have a good effect.
It depends on the scenario...

So like what we're talking about here, if I wanted to do a rest at 110...
- Heat my HLT up to 121 and transfer my strike water over to MT.
- Let MT rest until 116 (BF calculator based on 30lbs of grain) and dough in for 110 rest
- Simultaeously, I'll jack up the heat on my HLT to get it as high as possible.
- By the end of the 20 min rest, I'd be lucky to be at my mash temp of say 152
*I say this based on the fact that it takes probably 30 min for my HLT to go from 152 to 169 and to have the MT even out with the HLT for a mash out step.

I just feel like I'm always going to be playing catch up with the HLT and it'll never quite get there. Again, unless I'm missing something.
 

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Heat the HLT to 170. Move about 4/5ths of the water you need to the MLT and add some unheated water to cool it down to your strike temp. Dough in, let it rest at your acid rest for 10 minutes. Then start the HERMS. With the HLT already at 170, it should not take too long to get up to the Sacc rest temp.
 
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Rob2010SS

Rob2010SS

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Heat the HLT to 170. Move about 4/5ths of the water you need to the MLT and add some unheated water to cool it down to your strike temp. Dough in, let it rest at your acid rest for 10 minutes. Then start the HERMS. With the HLT already at 170, it should not take too long to get up to the Sacc rest temp.
Ok, that's one way around it!

Is there any kind of calculator out there that can tell you that info - "Add "X" amount of water at 70F to "X" amount of water at 170F to achieve a final temp of "X""?

I kind of have an idea of how much I would need because I always top off my HLT to 16 gallons after transferring mash water so I usually watch the temp to see how far it drops after each gallon. But I didn't know if there was a calc out there that takes out the guess work.
 

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Bobby's option works well, I'll offer a different option, and this is what I do. It's not quite as quick I don't think, but it's a bit simpler

  • I fill my HLT to 13 gallons or so and set it to heat to about 165
  • I fill my MT to the desired strike volume with filtered tap cold water
  • While the HLT is heating (maybe when it hits 150 or so), I'll switch on the mash pump to start cycling the MT water through the herms coil to heat it up (I don't transfer hot water from HLT to the MT)
  • When it hits my strike temp (119 or so in your case, for a 110 rest), I'll switch the mash pump off and dough in.
  • Let it rest 10 min
  • Meanwhile your HLT has been heating this whole time and should now be up to 165
  • Open your mash pump valve wide open and start cycling that mash liquid through the HERMS coil without adjusting your HLT temp at all (I have not found that this denatures my mash enzymes too much)
  • The temp should ramp up to 143 (beta rest) within 10-15 min
  • Shut off the mash pump and close the valve and stir the mash to redistribute the grain bed
  • Wait 5-10 min, and start your mash pump again to recirculate as slowly as possible for the remainder of your beta rest
    • I will adjust my HLT temp setting here, to hold at 143 if needed, I rarely (never?) need to add cold water - the cooler mash cycling through the HERMS coil is usually enough to lower the HLT temp enough so that I don't overshoot my rest temp
 

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Ok, that's one way around it!

Is there any kind of calculator out there that can tell you that info - "Add "X" amount of water at 70F to "X" amount of water at 170F to achieve a final temp of "X""?

I kind of have an idea of how much I would need because I always top off my HLT to 16 gallons after transferring mash water so I usually watch the temp to see how far it drops after each gallon. But I didn't know if there was a calc out there that takes out the guess work.
 
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Rob2010SS

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Bobby's option works well, I'll offer a different option, and this is what I do. It's not quite as quick I don't think, but it's a bit simpler

  • I fill my HLT to 13 gallons or so and set it to heat to about 165
  • I fill my MT to the desired strike volume with filtered tap cold water
  • While the HLT is heating (maybe when it hits 150 or so), I'll switch on the mash pump to start cycling the MT water through the herms coil to heat it up (I don't transfer hot water from HLT to the MT)
  • When it hits my strike temp (119 or so in your case, for a 110 rest), I'll switch the mash pump off and dough in.
  • Let it rest 10 min
  • Meanwhile your HLT has been heating this whole time and should now be up to 165
  • Open your mash pump valve wide open and start cycling that mash liquid through the HERMS coil without adjusting your HLT temp at all (I have not found that this denatures my mash enzymes too much)
  • The temp should ramp up to 143 (beta rest) within 10-15 min
  • Shut off the mash pump and close the valve and stir the mash to redistribute the grain bed
  • Wait 5-10 min, and start your mash pump again to recirculate as slowly as possible for the remainder of your beta rest
    • I will adjust my HLT temp setting here, to hold at 143 if needed, I rarely (never?) need to add cold water - the cooler mash cycling through the HERMS coil is usually enough to lower the HLT temp enough so that I don't overshoot my rest temp
Tried this method out on the hefeweizen yesterday and it worked fairly well! Thanks for the tips. I will say that I didn't get why I couldn't start recirculating the cold strike volume through the HERMS before it was at 150ish. I tried to start it at around 120 or so, thinking I'd save myself some time. Nope, it was pulling too much heat out of the HLT to the point that even at 100% power, the element in the HLT couldn't keep up. Cost myself a bit of time there because I didn't catch it right away but the HLT dropped like 10 degrees on me before I killed it and let it heat up to 160.

Good little experiment though. I can say that I won't be afraid to do a step mash in the future, now knowing how my system would handle it.
 

TheMadKing

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Tried this method out on the hefeweizen yesterday and it worked fairly well! Thanks for the tips. I will say that I didn't get why I couldn't start recirculating the cold strike volume through the HERMS before it was at 150ish. I tried to start it at around 120 or so, thinking I'd save myself some time. Nope, it was pulling too much heat out of the HLT to the point that even at 100% power, the element in the HLT couldn't keep up. Cost myself a bit of time there because I didn't catch it right away but the HLT dropped like 10 degrees on me before I killed it and let it heat up to 160.

Good little experiment though. I can say that I won't be afraid to do a step mash in the future, now knowing how my system would handle it.
Just for reference, your HLT element can keep up when the temperature differential between the HLT and MT is less. So if you start the HERMS circulation when both the strike water and HLT are at 80F it will heat both together. You only get that "pull down" effect when the deltaT is too high
 
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Rob2010SS

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Just for reference, your HLT element can keep up when the temperature differential between the HLT and MT is less. So if you start the HERMS circulation when both the strike water and HLT are at 80F it will heat both together. You only get that "pull down" effect when the deltaT is too high
Gotcha, makes sense. So after I discovered the temp loss in the HLT, had I let it keep going, it would have eventually stabilized out and started heating together... Good to know for future.
 
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