Importance of MT on a HERMS setup

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mendozer

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I currently have a three vessel setup, HLT, cooler MT, Keggle BK. I inheirted a HERMs pot that I intend to use. I thought these were my options

1) new HLT/HERMS + convert my stainless HLT into MT since it's 10 gallons (would have to cover the tri-clamp fitting, maybe the sight glass IDK) + existing BK
2) new HLT/HERMS + new 10 gallon cylinderical cooler to save space vs my current 36 qt rectangle + existing BK

I guess informally option 3 is keep my rectangle cooler but I'd like to make a more compact setup.

If I'm recirculating mash anyways, how important is the MT insulation factor? I've done 90 minute mashes in my cooler without an issue but obviously stainless can't do that. Since it's pumping, I suppose I don't really care about the pot's insulation.
Going with a new cooler (let's say a pump dies or for whatever reason I want to do a single infusion mash and run to the store) would give me flexibility if I ever want to NOT do recirculation.
The stainless pot conversion would allow me to install the recirculation fitting easier. Drilling into a cooler sidewall, or maybe the lid isn't the prettiest. But I suppose that would be the same hole should I install a fly sparging arm. I've batch sparged forever and experimented with fly sparging long ago with my current cooler but never was a fan. Since I've got pumps now, I'm trying to shorten my brew day, fly sparging doesn't do that.

Opinions?
 

friarsmith

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If it was me, #1 all the way. Having an insulated MT is of minor importance in this setup. Steel lasts longer, is potentially easier to mod in the future and could be direct-fired w/ propane burner if needed in a pinch.

If you are really concerned about MT insulation for occasional single infusion mashes, there are ways to wrap kettles to help w/ heat loss.
 

Deadalus

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I have a three keggle EHERMS setup with two pumps. Consider it will brew at most 10 gallons or so but I usually brew 6 gallon batches as I frequently tweak recipes. I feel slightly guilty energy-wise at not insulating the MT but I do have a lid that I use. I shined them up so I don't want to add insulation to the MT plus I think it would make cleanup a little more difficult. It's not particularly necessary as the element can handle maintaining the temperature which is controlled by a PID in the panel. If you need to manually control the temperature it would probably be easier with the MT insulated although if you had say gas fired, it could potential have poorer control if low flame control was not as well regulated as the loss from the MT could help but probably unlikely that is the case. Overall I suspect it would be easier to control with an insulated MT.

I didn't use my site glass at all really on my MT. With a keggle, port placement is influenced by the ribs of the keg and where my site glass is ported it doesn't always read for 5-6 gallon batches, they aren't deep enough. In my system, the MT reaches the smallest volume as I fly sparge. I think that carries through for larger batches as well. I fly sparge until I reach preboil volume so that other than measuring for strike water I don't have a particular use for the sight gauge unless it was a double batch. I wouldn't take it off though and leave a hole to plug. And if you batch sparge, that would be a greater volume than the BK.

I have three ports on my MT. One is probably the minimum and I'm sure you've thought about it. I think there were already two on my MT when I bought it, an out and a tee'd thermometer and site gauge. I took my site gauge off actually recently but kept the thermometer there and exchanged the tee for a coupling. Third port is recirculation port and that gets used for fly sparging. Another need might be a thermocouple but I have that tee'd on the out valve.

What do you use now to keep the grains in the MT, a false bottom, maybe a bag, or a screened tube? If you are considering a new cooler, the upfront price on some of those may be a consideration. A new false bottom is probably similar and may run somewhat more. You can find used round coolers reasonably easy as they appear to be both the level at which people exit the hobby and also something that gets upgraded.

A little more description of your system would help maybe a picture of the HLT as I am wondering what TC port you need to cover. I'm thinking maybe it is electric and you would be taking out the element.
 
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mendozer

mendozer

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Right now in my rectangular cooler I use a custom made grain bag and there's an elbow coming off the inner wall from the ball valve. Very effective, never have stuck sparges and easy to clean. I'd have to outfit the pot with a domed false bottom. I was thinking of this one because it has a wide rim for better structural integrity as i have another one in my keggle and it's become all distorted (basic perforated steel disc).
I'll see if I can dig up a photo of it tomorrow. It's a concord 40 qt pot, with one hole for the ball valve, another with a Thermometer/sight class (both 1/2 NPT), and one 1.5" triclamp ferrule for the ripple element I used. That will be the hole that I'll clamp up for good. I suppose if anything happens I could store the old rectangular cooler in the shed if I ever need to use it again.
 
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