First run through the Brewzilla 65L

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trarmer007

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After brewing with propane and 12 gallon cooler for over 2.5 decades, I fired up my new 65L system Friday.

I should have taken the advice to make a first run with a smaller beer. I did 10 gallons of tripel instead with a recipe including 29.5#'s of grain. That recipe was about 95% of max capacity for my cooler/keg/burner set up. The recipe was probably 101% capacity of the 65L.

I read a lot about lost efficiency. I wanted to hit 1.075. I tried to do a "batch sparge" to get better efficiency by pumping out wort into a 4-gallon pot and adding back in 3 gallons of sparge water which I heated up on the propane burner. Despite pulling 3.5+ gallons into the pot, I could only add back in about 1.5 gallons to batch sparge. Re-circ'd that for about 10 minutes, lifted the mash pipe and then "fly sparged" the last 1.5 gallons. I hit 1.070 which was 65% efficiency. So I'm not sure if this batching attempt really helped or not. 1.070 will still get me with style range of a tripel.

The down side to this batch sparge attempt was the 3.5 drawn gallons had a lot of hot break. I added this to the wort to boil without running it through the grain bed. I caught an E3 error about 50 minutes into the boil. I cycled the power and all was well again. I assumed (rightly) that there was scorching going on. I keep boiling without the 1000 watt element on and made it through.

With 5 to go in the boil I turned on the pump to sanitize it - but it was clogged. After flame-out and at about 190 degrees I tried it again and it was unclogged. I feel comfortable that the wort was sanitized sufficiently at pasteur-temp/time. But all that hot break is begging for scorching or pump hole clogging. I could tell there was some scorching because the wort color darkened.

After pitching I cleaned the system. There was scorched material, not much, but some, on the bottom. It came off easily. I could not taste "burnt" in the sampled wort.

On the plus side, the 65L with 250V heats up to mash temps fast. I over shot 122 by using all 3 elements. Shut one down and mashed at 127 for the protein rest. Programmed the next step-mash temps with ease and it hit all step temps quickly. Step mashing in my cooler was laborious to say the least. Recirc'ing and heating was a breeze. Came to boil in 5-7 minutes - barely enough time to sip a beer.

I found myself playing with the heating elements a bit. Using all 3 elements was excessive at mash-in, 2 minutes after each step, and after 10 or so minutes of boil. It is hard to know when and which element is best to turn off or leave on. Hopefully someone with some knowledge on this subject will post this. I will make a log next time.

The brew session went fast. Step mashing was easy. A pump is a huge time and work saver. Having one pot, not a cooler and several pots was easier and less to clean. Coming to a boil was fast. Certainly spent less time by not fly sparging or step mashing with old school methods. I used the SS immersion chiller that came with the unit. I have two small immersion chillers in a 5 gallon cooler which I fill with ice. Chill water first goes from hose, trough immersions in the ice bath, then through the SS immersion chiller. The hot output is cleaning water. Once the wort hits 100, I use a fish pump to recirc the cooler's ice slurry through the immersion chillers. Within 5 hours I had mashed, boiled, chilled, cleaned and called it a day. That's 1/2 the time I used to spend. Holy cow, I am imagining all the beer I am now going to be able to brew on a Friday or Saturday night.

But the sacrifice is efficiency plus the risk of a scorch taste. I've gotten in the 90% range over the years with the cooler/keg set-up. For a smaller beers, no problem - buy $3.50 more grain. But I hate to be wasteful. On my next (smaller beer) I will batch sparge again but return the batch through the grain bed to see if it's worth the effort and clears up all the hot break.

How common is scorching and clogging? Can efficiency be gained doing a batch sparge? If so, is the juice worth the squeeze?
 

Henbrew

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I have the 35L Brewzilla.

Only time I get scorching is when I'm recirculating during the mash. If the wort can't filter through the grains fast enough then the bottom of the kettle will only have a little bit of liquid, leading to scorching. If the liquid level begins to rise, try to take action fast by turning off the pump/stirring.

I get clogging probably too often due to being careless. If your mash isn't overflowing from the basket and your crush isn't too fine then it shouldn't be a real problem. Most clogs can be fixed by turning the pump off/on in ~5 second intervals. I'm dumb so I'll sometimes blow into the silicone tube attached to the recirculation arm to remove a clog. Needless to say, blowing bubbles in boiling liquid isn't the greatest idea... but it works.

If I find that I got grain into my wort, I'll recirculate my wort into a nylon bag while it's coming up to a boil. Works pretty well to filter it out.

I batch sparge with my setup, typically a 5 gallon mash, and then ~1.5 gallon sparge. I also try to push some of the liquid out of my grain before removing (can't escape my BIAB roots) but that's likely overkill. I get about 85% and sometimes close to 90% efficiency for lighter beers.
 

doug293cz

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How did you get "hot break" in your initial run-off wort? Hot break usually forms just as the wort starts to boil. If you were recirculating during the mash (basically a continuous vorlauf) your initial run-off wort should have been pretty clear.

Batch sparging (single) will always give you about 8 - 9 percentage points increase in lauter efficiency compared to no-sparge, all else being equal. A good fly sparge can give you ~15 percentage points increase in lauter efficiency vs. no-sparge.

You don't ever want to run first runnings back thru the grain bed after sparging (unclear if this is what you are considering), as this will actually pull sugar out of the wort and leave it in the spent grain, thus reducing your lauter efficiency.

Brew on :mug:
 
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trarmer007

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How did you get "hot break" in your initial run-off wort? Hot break usually forms just as the wort starts to boil. If you were recirculating during the mash (basically a continuous vorlauf) your initial run-off wort should have been pretty clear.

Batch sparging (single) will always give you about 8 - 9 percentage points increase in lauter efficiency compared to no-sparge, all else being equal. A good fly sparge can give you ~15 percentage points increase in lauter efficiency vs. no-sparge.

You don't ever want to run first runnings back thru the grain bed after sparging (unclear if this is what you are considering), as this will actually pull sugar out of the wort and leave it in the spent grain, thus reducing your lauter efficiency.

Brew on :mug:
Hard to say, I mashed out at 168, vorlauf't/recirc'd for 10 minutes, then pumped wort into the pot. The wort in the pot was very speckled with protein - not quite hot & sour soup looking, but, definitely speckled. The mash water was flowing out the handle holes of the malt pipe a good bit. I used the top screen so there was not a lot of loose grain doing that but enough wort to go around the grain bed at 168 is my guess. After boil there was a normal amount of hot break material with 2 2" by 2", thin areas of scorched hot break. I will us less grain & have more freeboard in the mash pipe next time.
 

Sammy86

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How common is scorching and clogging? Can efficiency be gained doing a batch sparge? If so, is the juice worth the squeeze?

I've been brewing on my Brewzilla 65L now for two years. Only time i got a clog was hops...I've been using a hop sack though and haven't had any issues while recirculating to sanitize.

After with Gash from the Home Brew Network on YouTube I'm thinking of giving the hops a free run one more time.

As far as scorching, i've never had a problem.

As far as your sparging I've found im hitting 80-84% with the fly sparge. My go to is 2 qt/pounds of grain so nornally I'm mashing in with 11 gallons and sparging with about 6 to get me 14.5 preboil wort.

Hope this helps and hope you enjoy the Brewzilla as much as I do!
 

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