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Cloud Surfer

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I don’t have my Brewzilla yet, but I’m wondering why some people are stirring the mash. Don’t you just use the recirculating arm to pump wort back through the grain bed? This is my step into AG, so all this is new to me. But from what I’ve read recirculating the wort is how the pros do it, and negates the need to stir. Like I said, I have no idea, so I’m on a learning curve.
 

Sammy86

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I don’t have my Brewzilla yet, but I’m wondering why some people are stirring the mash. Don’t you just use the recirculating arm to pump wort back through the grain bed? This is my step into AG, so all this is new to me. But from what I’ve read recirculating the wort is how the pros do it, and negates the need to stir. Like I said, I have no idea, so I’m on a learning curve.
Stiring the top third of the mash has shown to increase efficiency. Pro brewers are constantly stiring their mashes, the stiring mechanism is inside the tun and is constantly mixing that grain and water around getting efficiencies in the high 90's.

As for me personally, even before I got my Brewzilla I stirred my mashes so when I made the transition I continued to do so. You will see ALOT of different opinions on the matter but my thought process is if it doesn't hurt anything then why not?

Some will do it every 15 minutes, others every 30. On this past brew day I did every 15....I want to try every 30 just to see if there is any difference.
 

Cloud Surfer

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Stiring the top third of the mash has shown to increase efficiency. Pro brewers are constantly stiring their mashes, the stiring mechanism is inside the tun and is constantly mixing that grain and water around getting efficiencies in the high 90's.

As for me personally, even before I got my Brewzilla I stirred my mashes so when I made the transition I continued to do so. You will see ALOT of different opinions on the matter but my thought process is if it doesn't hurt anything then why not?

Some will do it every 15 minutes, others every 30. On this past brew day I did every 15....I want to try every 30 just to see if there is any difference.
That’s a good explanation.

So, lots of people are using their Brewzilla without the top screen so they can stir the mash. Are there any issues with recirculation or sparging without having the top screen in place. I saw a video of a guy sparging and he said it was nice to have the screen. Maybe it stopped the sparge water digging channels in the grain bed.
 

Sammy86

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That’s a good explanation.

So, lots of people are using their Brewzilla without the top screen so they can stir the mash. Are there any issues with recirculation or sparging without having the top screen in place. I saw a video of a guy sparging and he said it was nice to have the screen. Maybe it stopped the sparge water digging channels in the grain bed.
I havent had any issues but I'm sure @rjhoff @CUSTOM-441 and @skarz @RePete can also speak to it
 
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rjhoff

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That’s a good explanation.

So, lots of people are using their Brewzilla without the top screen so they can stir the mash. Are there any issues with recirculation or sparging without having the top screen in place. I saw a video of a guy sparging and he said it was nice to have the screen. Maybe it stopped the sparge water digging channels in the grain bed.
I’ve removed the top screen and center pipe and see no change in recirculation or sparging. IMO the top screen serves to keep grain in the malt pipe during overflow conditions. I monitor the level throughout the mash and turn the recirculation on and off as needed and have no to very minimal grain in the boil. I’ve recently started cycling the pump on and off with temperature fluctuations. I’ve never experienced grain bed channeling. Going on three years with the RB, I (and others on this thread) have developed a mash process that addresses the quirks of the RB (and I assume other all-in-ones). Once you understand the system and have adjusted your process then it becomes second nature.
 

RePete

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I don’t have my Brewzilla yet, but I’m wondering why some people are stirring the mash. Don’t you just use the recirculating arm to pump wort back through the grain bed? This is my step into AG, so all this is new to me. But from what I’ve read recirculating the wort is how the pros do it, and negates the need to stir. Like I said, I have no idea, so I’m on a learning curve.
As I have stated before, I don't stir. I don't see a need to, and get consistent results. Partly, l like to just set and forget, and do other things for a while. The center pipe is a safety feature, so that the wort doesn't scorch. The top screen prevents grain from going down the center pipe and clogging the pump. It works.
 

Panderson1

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Isn't there a heat difference from the top of the recirculation and bottom? So stirring it helps consistent temps throughout the mash?
 

CUSTOM-441

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So, lots of people are using their Brewzilla without the top screen so they can stir the mash. Are there any issues with recirculation or sparging without having the top screen in place. I saw a video of a guy sparging and he said it was nice to have the screen. Maybe it stopped the sparge water digging channels in the grain bed.
As I have stated before, I don't stir. I don't see a need to, and get consistent results. Partly, l like to just set and forget, and do other things for a while. The center pipe is a safety feature, so that the wort doesn't scorch. The top screen prevents grain from going down the center pipe and clogging the pump. It works.
My short answer: I like to stir the mash, and I ditch the top screen for my sparging method. I've noticed an increase in efficiency doing this.

My long answer: This thread clearly has lots of knowledge on the system, and people are obviously using it a bit differently from one another. I can see it being a bit confusing to read for someone who is debating on a robo/brewzilla or is new to all-grain brewing.

The great part is, if you follow the manual and use the system as intended you'll have no issues! Some like the top screen, some don't. Some like to stir the mash, some don't. Either way, I see no harm in any of it - you will make great beer! My advice would be to learn how the system works over a few brews. Then, and only if you want, start to geek out and play around with it to tweak your process to your liking. At the end of the day, the unit itself works great as is and you don't NEED to change a thing. Different strokes for different folks!
 
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rjhoff

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My short answer: I like to stir the mash, and I ditch the top screen for my sparging method. I've noticed an increase in efficiency doing this.

My long answer: This thread clearly has lots of knowledge on the system, and people are obviously using it a bit differently from one another. I can see it being a bit confusing to read for someone who is debating on a robo/brewzilla or is new to all-grain brewing.

The great part is, if you follow the manual and use the system as intended you'll have no issues! Some like the top screen, some don't. Some like to stir the mash, some don't. Either way, I see no harm in any of it - you will make great beer! My advice would be to learn how the system works over a few brews. Then, and only if you want, start to geek out and play around with it to tweak your process to your liking. At the end of the day, the unit itself works great as is and you don't NEED to change a thing. Different strokes for different folks!
Well said, I completely agree.
I made quite a few tweaks and “rules” as I dialed in my process, some had a small, others a large impact. It’s tough to let any of them go although I’ve thought about backing off on frequency of stirring the mash. I think the guys on this thread who’ve used a Robobrew for years will agree it’s a great brew system, once you get past a few quirks (and a faulty control board for the 3.0 owners).
 

Sammy86

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My short answer: I like to stir the mash, and I ditch the top screen for my sparging method. I've noticed an increase in efficiency doing this.

My long answer: This thread clearly has lots of knowledge on the system, and people are obviously using it a bit differently from one another. I can see it being a bit confusing to read for someone who is debating on a robo/brewzilla or is new to all-grain brewing.

The great part is, if you follow the manual and use the system as intended you'll have no issues! Some like the top screen, some don't. Some like to stir the mash, some don't. Either way, I see no harm in any of it - you will make great beer! My advice would be to learn how the system works over a few brews. Then, and only if you want, start to geek out and play around with it to tweak your process to your liking. At the end of the day, the unit itself works great as is and you don't NEED to change a thing. Different strokes for different folks!
Very well said!

Well said, I completely agree.
I made quite a few tweaks and “rules” as I dialed in my process, some had a small, others a large impact. It’s tough to let any of them go although I’ve thought about backing off on frequency of stirring the mash. I think the guys on this thread who’ve used a Robobrew for years will agree it’s a great brew system, once you get past a few quirks (and a faulty control board for the 3.0 owners).

I love my machine...coming from a 2 vessel (cooler mash tun and brew kettle) this makes my brew days easier and more efficient! Makes delicious beer that I have never been more proud of!
 

Twinkeelfool

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That’s a good explanation.

So, lots of people are using their Brewzilla without the top screen so they can stir the mash. Are there any issues with recirculation or sparging without having the top screen in place. I saw a video of a guy sparging and he said it was nice to have the screen. Maybe it stopped the sparge water digging channels in the grain bed.
Hey mate I’ve never used the top screen when recirculating. If I want really clear wort, I lift the malt pipe, turn the lid upside down and use it to hold the silicon hose in place and recirculate as it drains on the way to the boil.10 mins is fine and then I let it drain.
Wort is clearer but I’ve honestly not noticed a difference in the finished product.

Are you on ahb? I’m mje1980
 

Cloud Surfer

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Without quoting and replying to everyone, I just want to say thanks for all the great info. I’m learning a lot. It certainly looks like there are two different approaches to setting the Brewzilla up, and neither is better or worse than the other.

While I understand why the top screen and centre pipe have been incorporated in the design, I like the simplicity of running without them and stirring the grain during the mash. The fact that people are recirculating and sparging without the top screen in place and having no issues doing it that way is good enough for me to start off that way.
 

chipmunk

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Can someone please explain what the top screen is supposed to do? Seems many people don’t use it so they can stir during the mash. So it looks like a part that’s not really required.
Maybe it stopped the sparge water digging channels in the grain bed.
I’m pretty sure that is what the function of that top screen is - to allow the recirculated water to distribute evenly through the grain bed to even out temperature, and prevent channeling like you suggested - both for sparge and mashing. But... I don’t use it either. When I was messing around with it, I found that at low flow rates it didn’t really distribute the wort evenly so It was difficult to keep the flow at the proper rate to cover the plate at all times.
 

Homyachelli

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Hi guys! Don’t you have difficulties with step mashing? When I brew hefe using 0.5kW, it takes a long time to heat mash from pause 55C to pause 63C, so grain keeps in proteinase phase about 50min instead 20min. Does anybody have any decision?
 

chipmunk

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Hi guys! Don’t you have difficulties with step mashing? When I brew hefe using 0.5kW, it takes a long time to heat mash from pause 55C to pause 63C, so grain keeps in proteinase phase about 50min instead 20min. Does anybody have any decision?
Feel free to turn on the other elements during ramp up (1.5kW). The risk of overheating or scorching is not an issue in the Robobrew since there are usually no solids next to the heating elements. The natural convection of the liquid and the pump flow will keep the surface temperature of the metal below 100dC. If the surface temp gets above that, small local portions of the wort will phase change to gas - which (a) requires lots of energy, and (b) significantly increases the wort to metal heat transfer coefficient - keeping the surface temp from getting hotter than that.
Despite the above, I do think it’s a good practice to reduce power to 0.5kW when resting - mainly to improve temperature stability and to prevent overshooting of mash temps.
 

RePete

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Hi guys! Don’t you have difficulties with step mashing? When I brew hefe using 0.5kW, it takes a long time to heat mash from pause 55C to pause 63C, so grain keeps in proteinase phase about 50min instead 20min. Does anybody have any decision?
So, you are only using the .5kw element to step mash. Am I reading that right? If it is too slow, turn on the other element. I program in several steps as well, so it doesn’t have to raise the temperature as much each step. I program an extra 5-10 mins per step to allow for the temperature change.
 

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Feel free to turn on the other elements during ramp up (1.5kW). The risk of overheating or scorching is not an issue in the Robobrew since there are usually no solids next to the heating elements. The natural convection of the liquid and the pump flow will keep the surface temperature of the metal below 100dC. If the surface temp gets above that, small local portions of the wort will phase change to gas - which (a) requires lots of energy, and (b) significantly increases the wort to metal heat transfer coefficient - keeping the surface temp from getting hotter than that.
Despite the above, I do think it’s a good practice to reduce power to 0.5kW when resting - mainly to improve temperature stability and to prevent overshooting of mash temps.
On 3.1.1 version second element is 1.9 kW., so liquid above heater comes 63C faster than grain and automatic starts pause counter, that’s also not good.
(sorry for my English, my Russian is better)
 
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Dave T

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Did a search, didn’t see anything - anyone else have a problem getting consistent mash temps on large grain bills? My last two have been around 18# (one I had to do a couple lbs in another pot), but I’m noticing low flow through the grain won’t keep upper temps at the right spot. Any solution or just go with it? Nearing the time where I shift to lighter brews, but would like to be sure for next season

thanks

dave
 

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Anyone brewing today? I’m about to get started, but haven’t decided what to make yet.
 

Sammy86

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Did a search, didn’t see anything - anyone else have a problem getting consistent mash temps on large grain bills? My last two have been around 18# (one I had to do a couple lbs in another pot), but I’m noticing low flow through the grain won’t keep upper temps at the right spot. Any solution or just go with it? Nearing the time where I shift to lighter brews, but would like to be sure for next season

thanks

dave
Haven't had any problems with temp on my past 2 brews which were 22#'s. I did 2 step mash steps of 30 minutes each and temp was consistent throughout.

Not a bad idea to mix the top third every 15-30 minutes either...some mix some don't...im in the mix camp.
 

RePete

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Did a search, didn’t see anything - anyone else have a problem getting consistent mash temps on large grain bills? My last two have been around 18# (one I had to do a couple lbs in another pot), but I’m noticing low flow through the grain won’t keep upper temps at the right spot. Any solution or just go with it? Nearing the time where I shift to lighter brews, but would like to be sure for next season

thanks

dave
I get really slow flow on large grain bills also. Do you have the polypropylene jacket for your kettle? I use that, and put the lid on. I use a short piece of silicone tubing on the arm, and feed that through the hole in the lid so that I can recirculate with the lid on.
 

Sammy86

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I get really slow flow on large grain bills also. Do you have the polypropylene jacket for your kettle? I use that, and put the lid on. I use a short piece of silicone tubing on the arm, and feed that through the hole in the lid so that I can recirculate with the lid on.
Same here...I also use one of these in my tubing to distribute over the grain Siphon Spray
 

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I just realized that I think I’ve been misunderstanding the purpose of the top screen and overflow pipe. I have been throttling the valve to reduce pump flow after watching some YouTube videos. I was thinking the overflow was just for safety. But now I wonder if you’re SUPPOSED to overflow - all the time. So put the top screen on, run your pump and open the valve up all the way, and overflow away. I think this type of operation has a few advantages:
1. The higher flow means the temperature won’t drop as much in the pumping tubing
2. There will be a constant water level above the mash bed which should allow constant pressure for flow through the grain bed. The top screen should even out the water flow. You probably don’t need to stir ... maybe (?)
3. The recirculating of the water (through the overflow) will maintain a more consistent temperature control - more flow = more mass to heat = less prone to overshooting.
I suppose a downside would be an increase in oxidation.
 
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rjhoff

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Anyone brewing today? I’m about to get started, but haven’t decided what to make yet.
I’ve been finishing my basement (one year + project), so not able to brew for the past 2 weeks. Planning 4 sessions: west coast IPA, my go-to double IPA, Czech Pilsner, and my wife wants a coconut-something (undetermined).
 

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I’ve been finishing my basement (one year + project), so not able to brew for the past 2 weeks. Planning 4 sessions: west coast IPA, my go-to double IPA, Czech Pilsner, and my wife wants a coconut-something (undetermined).
Sounds good.

I did IPA's the past couple weeks. Went back to a lager today. I figured that it's cold out, so good temps to do lagers.
 

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Anyone brewing today? I’m about to get started, but haven’t decided what to make yet.

I’ve been finishing my basement (one year + project), so not able to brew for the past 2 weeks. Planning 4 sessions: west coast IPA, my go-to double IPA, Czech Pilsner, and my wife wants a coconut-something (undetermined).

Since my keezer pulls double duty as fermentation chest I hold off brewing until I'm close to being tapped. I'll generally bottle the rest of the kegs the night before brewing.

My next two sessions are going to be an Amber Ale and Lithuanian Farmhouse Ale...going to do two no sparge 5 gallon batches and get myself some numbers for future batches.
 

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Haven't had any problems with temp on my past 2 brews which were 22#'s. I did 2 step mash steps of 30 minutes each and temp was consistent throughout.

Not a bad idea to mix the top third every 15-30 minutes either...some mix some don't...im in the mix camp.
Explain the term 2 step mash - you split the grain and mashed twice in the kettle? Or two different mash temps? in my case, I set temp at (158) and the kettle maintains, but the top of the mash falls to mod 140s. Efficiency drops, a lot. I missed my og by .3 on this last brew. Still looks good and will make beer, but was aiming for 124, got,084.
 
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Dave T

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I just realized that I think I’ve been misunderstanding the purpose of the top screen and overflow pipe. I have been throttling the valve to reduce pump flow after watching some YouTube videos. I was thinking the overflow was just for safety. But now I wonder if you’re SUPPOSED to overflow - all the time. So put the top screen on, run your pump and open the valve up all the way, and overflow away. I think this type of operation has a few advantages:
1. The higher flow means the temperature won’t drop as much in the pumping tubing
2. There will be a constant water level above the mash bed which should allow constant pressure for flow through the grain bed. The top screen should even out the water flow. You probably don’t need to stir ... maybe (?)
3. The recirculating of the water (through the overflow) will maintain a more consistent temperature control - more flow = more mass to heat = less prone to overshooting.
I suppose a downside would be an increase in oxidation.
This is very intriguing - I’ve been using a tube but I think this may solve some of my concerns - I haven’t used the top screen in a while because I dig stirring (makes me feel like I’m doing Something), but the screen keeps grains Down, overflow keeps water flowing...interesting
 

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Explain the term 2 step mash - you split the grain and mashed twice in the kettle?
Step Mashing is when you use different temperature "steps" in the mash. Traditionally you would decoct (pull out some of the mash, bring it to a boil and put it back into the mash to increase the temp.)

With the Brewzilla I can just start low and ramp up the temp. So for instance I use the Hochkurz Mash Method. So Ill mash in and my first mash step temperature is 145° and Ill hold that for 30 minutes. Then I'll ramp up to 158° for another 30 minutes, mashout at 168° for 10 and then sparge.
 
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rjhoff

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Since my keezer pulls double duty as fermentation chest I hold off brewing until I'm close to being tapped. I'll generally bottle the rest of the kegs the night before brewing.

My next two sessions are going to be an Amber Ale and Lithuanian Farmhouse Ale...going to do two no sparge 5 gallon batches and get myself some numbers for future batches.
Related to no sparge, I don’t recall, do you have a 35L or 65L? And tell me about the farmhouse ale, new one for me...
 

Sammy86

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Related to no sparge, I don’t recall, do you have a 35L or 65L? And tell me about the farmhouse ale, new one for me...
I have the 65L...so a guy on here was posting about Lithuanian beers and it caught my interest because my great-grandparents are from there. So I went down the rabbit hole doing research and seeing what I could find.

I wouldn't necessarily call it directly a Lithuanian Farmhouse Ale because I'm not going to be using local hops or pulling the mash and baking it in an oven until caramelized and brown and adding it back to the mash...but I will be using traditional malt and this yeast with some noble hops and see what I get.

From what I've read they have a long and deep brewing history there...they brew the standard things as well pilsners, pale ales, etc. The main reason for doing it besides experimentation is to feel a little connection to the old country...I would love to visit one day but since we're in a pandemic and I have three small children I'll take the beer fermented with the yeast of the old country instead.
 
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rjhoff

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I have the 65L...so a guy on here was posting about Lithuanian beers and it caught my interest because my great-grandparents are from there. So I went down the rabbit hole doing research and seeing what I could find.

I wouldn't necessarily call it directly a Lithuanian Farmhouse Ale because I'm not going to be using local hops or pulling the mash and baking it in an oven until caramelized and brown and adding it back to the mash...but I will be using traditional malt and this yeast with some noble hops and see what I get.

From what I've read they have a long and deep brewing history there...they brew the standard things as well pilsners, pale ales, etc. The main reason for doing it besides experimentation is to feel a little connection to the old country...I would love to visit one day but since we're in a pandemic and I have three small children I'll take the beer fermented with the yeast of the old country instead.
Keep us updated on it. seems the yeast will be the main flavor driver:
“this unique yeast complements farmhouse beers with citrusy esters and restrained phenols. The strain produces a character of lemon pith, black pepper, and a soft mouthfeel.”
 

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I just realized that I think I’ve been misunderstanding the purpose of the top screen and overflow pipe. I have been throttling the valve to reduce pump flow after watching some YouTube videos. I was thinking the overflow was just for safety. But now I wonder if you’re SUPPOSED to overflow - all the time. So put the top screen on, run your pump and open the valve up all the way, and overflow away. I think this type of operation has a few advantages:
1. The higher flow means the temperature won’t drop as much in the pumping tubing
2. There will be a constant water level above the mash bed which should allow constant pressure for flow through the grain bed. The top screen should even out the water flow. You probably don’t need to stir ... maybe (?)
3. The recirculating of the water (through the overflow) will maintain a more consistent temperature control - more flow = more mass to heat = less prone to overshooting.
I suppose a downside would be an increase in oxidation.
Interesting thought. I use the top screen, but throttle back the flow too. I saw on a video that the guy had the flow opened up, and wondered how he did it. So, maybe he just lets it overflow. I may try it.
 
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rjhoff

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Interesting thought. I use the top screen, but throttle back the flow too. I saw on a video that the guy had the flow opened up, and wondered how he did it. So, maybe he just lets it overflow. I may try it.
Yes, but:
- much of the overflow is not passing through the grain
- inevitably you’ll get some grain in the boil (may be insignificant?)
 

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On the plus side, I got really high efficiency yesterday. I usually don't bother to calculate efficiency, but did this time since it was different than expected. I normally just look at the expected OG and compare. This recipe was for a Dortmunder Lager. Beersmith calculates at 72% for Robobrew, and says to expect 1.058 at 5.25 gallons. I normally get slightly over that... 1.060 or 1.062, and call it good. This time it came out 1.070. 84% by my calculation. I'm really not sure the reason for the jump. I used the top screen and did step mashing.
 

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Yes, but:
- much of the overflow is not passing through the grain
- inevitably you’ll get some grain in the boil (may be insignificant?)
I was thinking that the overflow bypassing the grain is actually helpful since it should help keep the temperature from rising too rapidly. The actual flow through the grain bed itself should INCREASE since you have that extra pressure from the liquor above the screen. Now that I think about it you can actually adjust that pressure by raising the level of the overflow pipe ... so raise it up for thicker mashes or higher gravity mashes for example. As for the grain in the pipe - that could be an issue. I’m going to try it without stirring at all - if the efficiencies are pretty good - this method could certainly eliminate 1 source of inconsistency - and maybe minimize the grain falling into the pipe.
 
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rjhoff

rjhoff

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I was thinking that the overflow bypassing the grain is actually helpful since it should help keep the temperature from rising too rapidly. The actual flow through the grain bed itself should INCREASE since you have that extra pressure from the liquor above the screen. Now that I think about it you can actually adjust that pressure by raising the level of the overflow pipe ... so raise it up for thicker mashes or higher gravity mashes for example. As for the grain in the pipe - that could be an issue. I’m going to try it without stirring at all - if the efficiencies are pretty good - this method could certainly eliminate 1 source of inconsistency - and maybe minimize the grain falling into the pipe.
Please be sure to post your results, I‘d like to know, for sure
 

CUSTOM-441

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Interesting thought. I use the top screen, but throttle back the flow too. I saw on a video that the guy had the flow opened up, and wondered how he did it. So, maybe he just lets it overflow. I may try it.
Let me know how it goes for you, and if you notice any differences. Not that I'm really concerned about grain in the kettle, but in this case it would be the only thing I'd be worried about. The top screen is a tight fit but it isn't *perfect*, so I worry some grain may sneak around the sides and end up down the overflow and into the kettle. I believe it's there as overflow protection, but I'm always up for an experiment!
 
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