Recommendations for some sort of whirlpool/temp control for my setup

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PersonalBrewer

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I like how I'm brewing a lot

Doing it with a

Northern Brewer 15 gallon 1.2 megapot
an Edelmetal burner and custom stainless basket (instead of a bag) from Chad at Arbor fab.

The ID of the Megapot is 15 7/8, the OD of the basket is 14 1/8 ( excluding the 4 each 1 inch+ supports that are welded on) and gives me pretty much 3/4 inch of clearance on all sides of the basket except where the welded supports are (and where the handle attaches.)

Is this enough room to add some sort of whirlpool recirculation that would help maintain the mash temp? My major concern is evening out the mash temps.

Is so what would you suggest?

My goal is better temperature control of the mash instead of trying to average various readings.

Or other suggestion short of getting another system?
 
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RM-MN

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Before you spend a lot of time and money on solving the mash temperature regulation, find out how long it takes for full conversion of the starches to sugars. That will tell you how long the regulation of the temperature is necessary. Then check how much heat you lose in that period. If the conversion takes a long time with your setup, check how well your grains are milled. It may turn out that milling the grains very fine as is allowed with BIAB may change the conversion period to the point that you don't need to spend time or money on your temperature regulation.

Many brewers focus on the mash taking 60 to 90 minutes. It may. It also may take less than 10. You don't know until you do some testing. Once conversion has completed the temperature is no longer critical and it won't matter if it falls a few degrees.
 
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PersonalBrewer

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Thank you for your reply. I understand what you are saying.

Please understand that this is about the only area I can upgrade.

I have the funds to do an upgrade and have looked at buying another system and just like how I am brewing. I am retired, and have the funds readily available

I already double crush the grains as fine as the crusher can be set, and usually come very close to brew smith's projection for numbers. On the money or so close that it doesn't matter to me.

I just would like to know the best way of going about it, please.
 

GoeHaarden

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I like how I'm brewing a lot

Doing it with a

Northern Brewer 15 gallon 1.2 megapot
an Edelmetal burner and custom stainless basket (instead of a bag) from Chad at Arbor fab.

The ID of the Megapot is 15 7/8, the OD of the basket is 14 1/8 ( excluding the 4 each 1 inch+ supports that are welded on) and gives me pretty much 3/4 inch of clearance on all sides of the basket except where the welded supports are (and where the handle attaches.)

Is this enough room to add some sort of whirlpool recirculation that would help maintain the mash temp? My major concern is evening out the mash temps.

Is so what would you suggest?

My goal is better temperature control of the mash instead of trying to average various readings.

Or other suggestion short of getting another system?
I get it man. I have a never ending desire to tinker, and I enjoy building stuff for brewing about as much as I like brewing.

A little more info on your current setup would probably help you find a solution.

Are you already recirculating to the top of the grainbed? I'm not sure if recirculating around your basket will get you the results you want without putting some back on top of the grained as well.

However, this Whirlpool arm might have the lowest profile available and would probably fit in between your kettle and basket.

EDIT: there is this Weldless version too
 

Monmouth00

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I use an $75 Ferroday magnetic drive wort pump I got from Amazon.

Bobby from Brew Hardware put a port in my kettle lid, and sold me some disconnects and valves. Silicone tubing connects it all.

Underneath the lid is a snap-loc tube that I can flex to direct the in-flow where I want it.

I recirculate throughout the mash to even temperature and (hopefully) increase conversion/efficiency. I also use it to whirlpool (kinda) and when using my immersion chiller.

Works great for me. Economical too.
 
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PersonalBrewer

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Thanks for your responses.

I am currently not recirculating in any manner, it is an excellent point that I need to recirculate in the grain bed.

I will look carefully at each suggestion before deciding which way to jump.

Any other suggestions are also welcome ;<)
 

GoeHaarden

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Maybe you could use the spincycle overboard like @cmac62 suggested, and attach a tee fitting to the end. Then some locline with small valve to the other outlet of the tee to distribute some on top of the grainbed.

With the valve you could throttle the amount that is going to the grain and then shut it off completely when you whirl pool after the boil. This way you wouldn't even have to remove it
 

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Random thoughts:

* Are you going to heat the wort which is recirculating? If not you'd be better off leaving it alone, you'll end up cooling it.
* A layer of external insulation may do the job well enough even if it's not as fun to set up or pretty afterwards (not knocking you, I also get it, but need to consider all options).
* The note about conversion happening quickly is a solid one, not only would it save you this work but might save you a lot of time as well.

Once conversion has completed the temperature is no longer critical and it won't matter if it falls a few degrees.
Related question - is this true? Let's say you hold 152F perfectly for... 60 minutes to choose a time you'd say yeah it's done. And then it falls slowly to 151, then 150, then... etc. over a while because you walked away. Do you not basically gain additional conversion at those lowering temps?
 

jdudek

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have a look at Bobby's rig. It's roughly what I did with mine. recirculating + whirlpool with a 3way valve to split the flow. Hold temp very well.

Also on recirculating with a basket, I would do some research. Unlike the bag, the basket does not seal the grain against the sides of the kettle. The recirculating liquid will likely overwhelmingly flow around the basket and not through the grain bed, as that will be the lowest path or resistance.
 

RM-MN

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Random thoughts:

* Are you going to heat the wort which is recirculating? If not you'd be better off leaving it alone, you'll end up cooling it.
* A layer of external insulation may do the job well enough even if it's not as fun to set up or pretty afterwards (not knocking you, I also get it, but need to consider all options).
* The note about conversion happening quickly is a solid one, not only would it save you this work but might save you a lot of time as well.



Related question - is this true? Let's say you hold 152F perfectly for... 60 minutes to choose a time you'd say yeah it's done. And then it falls slowly to 151, then 150, then... etc. over a while because you walked away. Do you not basically gain additional conversion at those lowering temps?
When your grain is milled fine, like almost to flour, the starches are quickly gelatinized and the enzymes are all released at the same time. The conversion itself is incredibly quick. Once conversion is over, the enzymes are quickly denatured at mash temps so you don't get further conversion.

If your grain particle size is larger, then it takes more time for the starches to be available for the enzymes to work on them and then conversion does continue as fresh enzymes come along with the starches.

Now think of the grain that is not milled at all. Those starches take a long time to gelatinize but kept at the mash temp they eventually will gelatinize and convert. That is how you get caramel malts, let the grains have enough time and almost all the starches will convert to sugars, then kiln them to dry and to promote the color you want.
 
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PersonalBrewer

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How much space is there between the kettle bottom and the bottom of the mash basket?
It's also known as mash tun dead space.
3/4" clearance but basically has another 1/2" if you exclude basket framework.
@PersonalBrewer, does your recirc outlet pull from below the mash basket? @IslandLizard in post 1 PB says he has 3/4 inch clearance all around the basket, but not sure if that includes the bottom. :mug:
The outlet is about 2" above the bottom of the brew kettle.
 
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PersonalBrewer

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Random thoughts:

* Are you going to heat the wort which is recirculating? If not you'd be better off leaving it alone, you'll end up cooling it.
..........
* The note about conversion happening quickly is a solid one, not only would it save you this work but might save you a lot of time as well.
Hadn't planned on heating the wort.

The problem I have been most concerned about is the variation in temperature throughout the kettle. I have been taking it in different spots and trying to hit an average.

I was thinking that recirculating the wort would smooth out the temperature and I could be more accurate with my temps.

It's beginning to appear to me that I may be creating more problems than I would be resolving.

I don't use many aspects of beersmith, Just the recipe part and I am always on the money or very close with Specific Gravity and ABV so I'm wondering if I may be better off to leave well enough alone.
 

superiorsat

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The recirculating liquid will likely overwhelmingly flow around the basket and not through the grain bed, as that will be the lowest path or resistance.
This seems to make sense. Even if you recirculate to the top of the grain bed it seems likely it would work its way to the sides and out before it ever got close to the bottom. A way around that might be if you had a pipe with holes drilled on all sides the depth of the mash you could stick it straight down in the center pushing wort to the sides of the basket. Heating or maintaining the heat I agree would also be required as you will will have heat loss in the tubing resulting in a cooling of the mash. Your dead space could be heated by your burner. It would just be tricky to keep track of all the temperature zones. Heat in dead space, heat at recirculation exit point, and heat rising up the sides of the kettle in the wall dead space. If you had a separate way of heating like a vessel with a herms coil or a rims tube it would simplify the temperature monitoring as your only concern is the temperature at recirculation exit point.
 
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The problem I have been most concerned about is the variation in temperature throughout the kettle. I have been taking it in different spots and trying to hit an average.
Makes sense, but here's a thought - Your middle mash will probably hold well, but the edges and bottom / top will cool faster simply being closer to the outside of the tun itself. You can either have some mash at the desired temp and some cooler, or add unheated flow around the edge of the basket and basically cool things off even faster. I'd say that sounds worse.

I think to get close to a uniform, desired temperature you have to either heat that reflow or try to solve the problem with additional external insulation. Or again as mentioned mash shorter if it works and not get to that stage where the temp has changed around the edges much to start with.
 

IslandLizard

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try to solve the problem with additional external insulation.
That's definitely the best and simplest solution for mash tuns, even if you want to recirculate.

Any suitable insulating material should work. A few layers of Reflectix, bubble wrap, thick doubled up towels, moving blankets, insulation from food boxes, etc. Don't forget to put some insulation on the lid too. You can wrap a moving blanket or so around the whole burner base to reduce heat loss through the bottom as well. Some kind of extra shielding is beneficial in cold weather and under windy conditions.

Now you can't fire your burner when all that flammable stuff is around, and you shouldn't have to when the insulation works well. When the mash is done, remove insulation, raise the basket and fire up that kettle.

When you start looking into recirculation you need to add heat, one way or another, because there's unavoidable heat loss. That complicates things quite a bit.
 

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When you start looking into recirculation you need to add heat, one way or another, because there's unavoidable heat loss. That complicates things quite a bit.
Exactly. With any tubing, pump, and etc. sitting out, that recirculated wort will lose heat even faster than it would if nothing was done at all.
 

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3/4" clearance but basically has another 1/2" if you exclude basket framework.
Together with the 3/4" of space around the basket's side, that's all "dead space" wort during the mash. It's water (becoming wort through diffusion) that's not working for your mash. I'm estimating it to be 2 gallons, could be more.
I don't see a simple way to reduce that, or put it to work. Unless you recirculate...

The outlet is about 2" above the bottom of the brew kettle.
Being 2" up is not an issue for your kettle's mash function, because the beauty of BIAB is all the wort remains in the kettle. But could be a potential problem when transferring your wort to the fermenter. Is there a diptube on the inside, reaching the bottom, so it siphons all or most of the wort?

How much wort (and trub) is left after draining the kettle?
 

Spivey24

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I do BIAB in a bag. I messed around with adding a recirculating solar pump and tubing and a heater on temp control. Basically it did not do a great job and was just one other thing to set up and clean. As much as I would love to set it and forget it, it just makes more sense for me to stir it every 10-15 minutes.

The upgrade that made a huge difference was going to electric induction which your kettle supports. This way I can wrap the kettle in reflectix and still add a little heat during mash if it drops too much. And never have to deal with propane tanks again. I just set a timer with Siri for 15 minutes, go do something and come back and repeat. I know, not the answer you were looking for. :)
 

RM-MN

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As much as I would love to set it and forget it, it just makes more sense for me to stir it every 10-15 minutes.
Did you start stirring the mash before conversion was complete?

Are you sure?

his way I can wrap the kettle in reflectix and still add a little heat during mash if it drops too much.
Do you start to add heat before conversion is complete?

Are you sure?
 

Spivey24

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Did you start stirring the mash before conversion was complete?

Are you sure?



Do you start to add heat before conversion is complete?

Are you sure?
I don’t really understand your point here, but from what I understand, mashing works on a diminishing curve. If it was really done in 10 minutes, no one would mash past 15. By stirring and heating at these intervals, it allows the starches and enzymes to better react, and it allows the conversion to complete at the appropriate temperature. I’ve checked the numbers and I get better numbers at 60 than 30. I mill at around .025. Less than that I don’t like.
 
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cmac62

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Thinking a little longer after reading the latest posts, I think stirring the grain bed two or three times during the mash and insulating the pot with the reflectix and call it a day. You are hitting your numbers within a point or two so your system appears to be working pretty good. Again, I'd just stir and insulate. With my Anvil the temp control holds the temp to within a degree or two and I do recirc to just below the surface of the wort above the grain bed, but I'm not really sure any of this in really necessary. Good luck, :mug:
 

RM-MN

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I don’t really understand your point here, but from what I understand, mashing works on a diminishing curve. If it was really done in 10 minutes, no one would mash past 15. By stirring and heating at these intervals, it allows the starches and enzymes to better react, and it allows the conversion to complete at the appropriate temperature. I’ve checked the numbers and I get better numbers at 60 than 30. I mill at around .025. Less than that I don’t like.
What if I told you that my mash (conversion) is complete in less than 5 minutes but that I continue until 30 minutes are elapsed? It isn't conversion that I am waiting for, it is the extraction of flavors that take more time. Your conversion might be done in less than 30 minutes too but the sugar laden wort settles as the starches convert, leaving you with wort that has less sugars near the surface. Then with time the sugars diffuse which leaves you thinking you are getting more conversion because your sample improves. Next time you brew, take a sample at 30 minutes, then immediately take a sample from deeper in the wort and compare the two. I notice quite a difference between 1/2 inch below the surface and 4" below (the limit of my pipette).
 

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Brewing is an evolution and enjoying the process. If someone wanted the simplest solution all grain is not the way to go.
 
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PersonalBrewer

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Brewing is an evolution and enjoying the process. If someone wanted the simplest solution all grain is not the way to go.
After taking all this in, I'm thinking I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

I enjoy it, and I really enjoy the beer I brew.

There's an old saying that may well apply here "if it ain't broke don't fix it!'

I sincerely appreciate all of the inputs and consideration.
Thinking a little longer after reading the latest posts, I think stirring the grain bed two or three times during the mash and insulating the pot with the reflectix and call it a day.
This makes a lot of sense.
 

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Hadn't planned on heating the wort.

The problem I have been most concerned about is the variation in temperature throughout the kettle. I have been taking it in different spots and trying to hit an average.

I was thinking that recirculating the wort would smooth out the temperature and I could be more accurate with my temps.

It's beginning to appear to me that I may be creating more problems than I would be resolving.

I don't use many aspects of beersmith, Just the recipe part and I am always on the money or very close with Specific Gravity and ABV so I'm wondering if I may be better off to leave well enough alone.
If you single infuse and dont recirculate; what I recommend is merely stirring very thoroughly at the beginning of the mash, and then letting it set for an hour. Simple as that. Stir about five minutes trying to break up any balls. Gently but thoroughly so as to introduce little O2.
 
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