Getting the runnings to run

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demolition

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Hello HBT,

This year I have, at long-last, brewed a monster beer with enough time for it to mellow before the nights become cold enough to warrant breaching the brooding behemoth (I normally only remember to make this style in mid-November, so have to opt for something a lot lighter). Despite finally ending up with 21-22 L of strong, dark beer that’s now ready for racking and spicing, the brew day went from fun and exciting to a real chore with lots of mess, so I would love a few tips on how to make life a bit easier!

My set up is :

* Electric mashing/lautering/hlt bin “Electrim EB1D” (Peco Electric Digital Boiler - EB1D) - for warming the water and BIAB. I also use it for boiling.
* Cylindrical cooler with stainless tap and tap-filter (Homebrew Mash Tun 42 ltr) for mashing (+/- grain bag) or batch-sparging.

Having had mixed results with mashing in the cooler previously, I used a grain bag in the electric mash tun in an attempt to prevent the grains touching the element. Unfortunately, the grain bag was too slender to fit all the way around the mouth of the mash bin, so it sank during the mash and blocked the tea-urn tap on the electric mash tun … the bag had also ripped a little, though it seems very little grain leaked. Outcome: getting first runnings was a time consuming challenge, even when hanging bag from a step ladder over a bucket.

Two questions come to mind at this juncture …
  • Is there an ideal grain bag for this mash tun, which will also cope with big mashes? Does anyone use a grain basket?
  • Has anyone tweaked this mash bin to get better results with/without a grain bag. Maybe a false bottom above the element ( on stilts?), replacing the tea-urn tap for a stainless ball-valve tap (this involves drilling the tap-hole a bit) - or maybe something else?
For the sparge, I gave up with the bag and emptied everything into the cooler and did a single batch sparge. Whilst I seem to have extracted most of the sugars, running off was a non-starter. The tube like filter clogged immediately. Therefore, separating the grains from the liquid required a ladle and several sieves.
  • What do others do when the wort really doesn’t flow?
  • What’s the best way of preventing the filter from getting clogged? Is it a question of technique, equipment or both?
Finally, at the end of the boil, the hops and post-boil solids clogged that tea-urn tap again, so I needed to pour it into the FV by tipping it on its side.

• How do others who have this bin limit flotsam and jetsam gunging up the tap?

My overarching question is: what do I need to do, so that I can just open the tap and out pours the wort? Obviously, at towards the end of each running, this can become tricky, but for the initial-part I mean.

Thank you in advance for your tips.
 

Haze rat

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I think a false bottom above the element would be helpful. When I start running off to the kettle I always start slow then speed it up slightly later. Not sure I answered all of your questions, sorry.
 

bracconiere

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i'd stick with the mash tun for mashing, and get a longer bazooka tube for it....

as far as your 'boil' kettle, i'm not sure about an hour boil in a HDPE bucket?
 
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demolition

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Thanks for replies.
I think a false bottom above the element would be helpful. When I start running off to the kettle I always start slow then speed it up slightly later. Not sure I answered all of your questions, sorry.
Yeah, quite a few questions - brew day got a bit tense! Finding an appropriately sized false bottom for the Electrim might be a good first step.

i'd stick with the mash tun for mashing, and get a longer bazooka tube for it....

as far as your 'boil' kettle, i'm not sure about an hour boil in a HDPE bucket?
Would a longer bazooka really improve initial runnings? I’d consider getting one if it’s really so.

As for the Electrim it’s sold as a mash bin / boiler and the ability to hold a temperature, especially during the mash, is quite handy.
 

madscientist451

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Keep things simple, just get the correct size bag to fit your bucket or cooler. If you are using a cooler for your mash, pre-heat the cooler with hot tap water before you get started. Also, use a strike water calculator. Once you get your mash started and have the correct temperature, lay some foil on top of your mash, put the lid on and wrap the cooler up in an old coat and leave it alone. Yeah, you can fuss with it, stir every 15 minutes and keep checking the temperature, but I've found that its better to just leave it alone until you are ready to run off and batch sparge.
I wrap up my BIAB mash tun cooler and get very little temperature loss over an hour. The beer comes out fine.
If you add your grains and water and your temperature is low, add a measured amount of boiling water to bring it up.
Use a rest calculator (below) to determine how much boiling water to add.
Bringing the temp down is more difficult, you can stir in ice water, but its easy to bring your temp down too low.
After a few brews, you'll get your own process figured out and everything will go smoothly.
You can use your electric bucket for the mash, but if you try to use the element to correct the temperature, you'll scorch the bag and probably have temperature swings, so that makes things more complicated. Its just way easier to use your cooler with the right bag that fits correctly.
Drain your first runnings into your boiler, do a quick batch sparge, drain that and you're ready to boil. No lifting the bag or worrying about all the mess.
Here's some on line calculators that work for me, others are available:
 

bracconiere

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Would a longer bazooka really improve initial runnings? I’d consider getting one if it’s really so.


i use a bazooka that's the same length as the bottom of my cooler, i never have a problem with sparging? (unless i'm doing something insane, like mashing 8lbs malt, and 5lbs white flour...and still then it CAN be done)
 

bracconiere

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Hoochin'Hank

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Thanks for the info, very interesting! I've never tasted a hefeweizen that I liked, so even tho I might well be cheaper than you, I'll probably pass.
(After I search for some other beer styles that use a big portion of wheat, just in case!)
 

RM-MN

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I have questions!
1) You can turn regular old flour into wort?
2) Does it taste like regular old beer?
3) If yes to both of those, why doesn't everyone just use flour?
1. Yes, flour has the starches needed to be converted to sugars. It does require the enzymes to convert it so you need some malted (barley, wheat, oats) to accomplish the conversion. 2 row malted barley can convert more than its weight in unmalted grains.
2. Beer's flavor is derived from the mix of grains like 2 row, Munich, caramel, and so on. Flour will contribute very little flavor to the beer so use it in smaller amounts.
3. Flour, being such fine particles, makes it difficult to separate the grain from the wort. Read up a bit about stuck mash or stuck sparge. If you want a really stuck mash, add in rye flour and oatmeal.
 
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