HERMS Grain Basket Recirc Gummy... Mess

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

neoresin

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2020
Messages
6
Reaction score
4
Hi all! I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Over the course of the last half year or so I've been making some major upgrades to my homebrew setup, trying to incorporate some recirculating concepts, like a HERMS coil (in a temperature controlled water bath in an extra pot I have), into the mix. I know it's going to sound strange, but I recently moved to using a basket instead of simply being in a mash tun since I really hate stuck sparges (who doesn't, right?).

Now that I've moved to one, I think I realize what I've been doing wrong, but I wanted input on it before I jump to conclusions and waste more grain (wasted 13.5 lbs last night). The reason I wasted the grain was because after doughing-in at about 135 deg. F, the recirculation... stopped... flowing... and I couldn't get the HERMS coil to heat the wort up without a flow stoppage. Why did it stop, you ask? Well, because the grain in the basket gummed up the holes in the basket to the point where the flow of wort was too slow to flow through the HERMS. Seriously, it just... wouldn't flow out of the holes of the grain basket (500 micron mesh size).

Now I'm looking at this and saying, "This could be due to one (or two, Idk) of two things:
1) my crush is too fine (0.018" or so according to my mill, which, yeah, I guess I was pushing the limit, but since the mesh has a 0.017" opening [https://www.utahbiodieselsupply.com...012/05/stainlessmeshcomparisons-500micron.jpg], and since it's BIABasket, I thought, "Why not?") OR
2) the temperature at dough-in was too low, resulting in a gummy mess in the grain basket. I had meant to hit 145 deg. F, but I guess it came in around 135 deg. F instead, but I thought, "Oh, I'll just increase the temperature using the HERMS coil (like how I intended this system to work)." But again, the flow out of the grain basket just wouldn't allow for a flow rate that would achieve that.

So at this point, I'm not giving up! BUT I do want input before I try again. Has anyone ever run into this problem? Lmk if I forgot anything please!
 

Jag75

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 24, 2018
Messages
6,125
Reaction score
2,607
Location
Taft
I'm not sure about the perforated screens on other BIAB systems are compared to what you have . I use a Grainfather and the holes are pretty small. So I'm not sure thats your problem .

What was your grain bill? Did you stir the grain as you mashed in ? Did you have a top screen , if so you may have compacted the grain bed too much. You could try stirring the mash periodically if this happens again. Rice hulls are a must depending on grain bill .
 

Staticsouls

@holtbrewingco ig
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Messages
387
Reaction score
197
Location
Rancho Santa Margarita
I had a similar issue in an ebiab set up I threw together. I found that if I recirculated into the basket it had the potential to become stuck. If I whirlpool back into the kettle with the grains but not into the basket the wort would flow into the basket and back out.

I was able to control and hold temperatures for any extended period of time so long as the wort return was a side port and not directly back into the basket. I have since moved back to my eherms. Ymmv
 

cayde1001

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
Messages
64
Reaction score
35
Location
Tyler, TX
I think you are having the issue I ran into when I switched from BIAB to my Brewzilla. I had my mill set at something like .027" and would run my drill on high power. My crush was basically half powder, which was ok for BIAB but caused me 2-3 really bad brew days with my Brewzilla. When I had to toss those out the grain looked like really gummy oatmeal and was very sticky. The wort or whatever you would call it was so thick I couldn't float my hydrometer. After adjusting my mill back the the factory setting (.035" I think) and running the drill on the low setting I have had 0 issues. I noticed a slight dip in efficiency but have not had to toss out a batch since then.
 
OP
neoresin

neoresin

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2020
Messages
6
Reaction score
4
I'm not sure about the perforated screens on other BIAB systems are compared to what you have . I use a Grainfather and the holes are pretty small. So I'm not sure thats your problem .

What was your grain bill? Did you stir the grain as you mashed in ? Did you have a top screen , if so you may have compacted the grain bed too much. You could try stirring the mash periodically if this happens again. Rice hulls are a must depending on grain bill .
My grain bill for the brew was 12 lbs pale malt and 1.5 lbs Munich (light). I did stir as I mashed in and I used an epoxy mixer [https://www.amazon.com/Allway-Tool-10032-Gallon-Helix/dp/B000I210I6] to stir, which worked really well.

I think you are having the issue I ran into when I switched from BIAB to my Brewzilla. I had my mill set at something like .027" and would run my drill on high power. My crush was basically half powder, which was ok for BIAB but caused me 2-3 really bad brew days with my Brewzilla. When I had to toss those out the grain looked like really gummy oatmeal and was very sticky. The wort or whatever you would call it was so thick I couldn't float my hydrometer. After adjusting my mill back the the factory setting (.035" I think) and running the drill on the low setting I have had 0 issues. I noticed a slight dip in efficiency but have not had to toss out a batch since then.
I think this is what I will do today. I've got my grain mill set to ~0.034" or so. Hopefully that will do it.

I really appreciate the responses!
 
OP
neoresin

neoresin

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2020
Messages
6
Reaction score
4
So I crushed at about 0.036" or so because it looked like to me that the crush at 0.034 was too fine. And I crushed slowly, not wanting to tear anything too much.

And it seems to have worked, honestly! Though, I guess I need to confess that I added quite a bit more water than I had previously (see below for why), since I guess maybe that was an issue before too. And I added the grain at a higher temperature, as well, around 153 deg. F, which brought it down to about 149 deg. F, so I mashed there, just keeping the recirc going, outside of stirring every few minutes.

So I also took into account the dead space I was seeing in my mash tun that I wasn't accounting for before in Beersmith, which effectively added a couple of gallons onto what I thought was copious amount of water in there, resulting in a grand total of 8.4 gallons of water in me mash tun... Seems like a wee bit much for 13.5 lbs of grain but my pre-boil gravity ended up being a little under 12 brix (1.046ish) which was right on according to Beersmith's estimated specific gravity, so... yeah. I'm unsure if what Beersmith estimates is pre-boil or post SG... but anyway, a good time was had. I'm somewhat confident it'll turn out nicely.

And isn't that the point? To make beer? :)
 

MikeCo

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
417
Reaction score
202
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Is your batch size 5 gallons? 8.4 gallons doesn’t sound crazy high to me. For BIAB I generally start with a little under 8 gallons for a 5 gallon batch with 60 minute boil. I squeeze the bag to minimize grain absorption. The starting volume will be mostly dependent on grain absorption and boil off rate for a no-sparge method, but also on the volume left in the boil kettle at the end. Measure all these losses on your next few batches to get a more accurate idea of each for your BeerSmith equipment profile.
 

kevin58

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
608
Your crush was too fine. That's all. Glad you fixed it. The finest I ever went with BIAB was about 0.028. With my 3vessel HERMS system using a Blichmann Boilermaker false bottom I crush at 0.034.
 
OP
neoresin

neoresin

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2020
Messages
6
Reaction score
4
Your crush was too fine. That's all. Glad you fixed it. The finest I ever went with BIAB was about 0.028. With my 3vessel HERMS system using a Blichmann Boilermaker false bottom I crush at 0.034.
Mind if I ask what happened at 0.028? I can't help but wonder how fine I can go...😈
 

kevin58

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
608
Mind if I ask what happened at 0.028? I can't help but wonder how fine I can go...😈
That is what I found to be the sweet spot for that system. I crushed finer than that but found that the flour made its way through the mesh of the bag.
 
Top