Spike Solo Owner's Thread

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Nagorg

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Hoists, pulleys, winches oh my... This is why I cant get behind BIAB personally. But cool to see what you guys do.
 

NewJersey

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I wanted to put the 3 way on my riptide.
I have mine oriented vertically where inlet is into the bottom and outflow is on top.
I use ball lock QDs and figures I'd put the valve directly onto the pump out and then male ball lock fittings on the valve.
That'd be fine too, right?
OR should I put a T on the pump and two separate ball valves to individually control flow?
 

NewJersey

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Hoists, pulleys, winches oh my... This is why I cant get behind BIAB personally. But cool to see what you guys do.
Lol, it's funny to me that THAT is too much for you.
Why don't you show us all your pots, giant controller, herms/rims/whatever garbage y'all are up to today, lol
 

Nagorg

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Lol, it's funny to me that THAT is too much for you.
Why don't you show us all your pots, giant controller, herms/rims/whatever garbage y'all are up to today, lol
LOL I'm not that fancy. An electric brewery is very intriguing. But if I ever do go that way, I'll probably stick to multiple vessels and pumping between them like I do today.
 

NewJersey

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LOL I'm not that fancy. An electric brewery is very intriguing. But if I ever do go that way, I'll probably stick to multiple vessels and pumping between them like I do today.
I'm a fan of pumps. How's a pump any less pumps, hoses, camlocks oh my? (Than a winch say)
 

Nagorg

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How's a pump any less pumps, hoses, camlocks oh my? (Than a winch say)
I dont have to anchor them to my ceiling or some other beam positioned over my brew area.

.. But I digress... Getting in the weeds and off topic. :off:
 

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I'm wondering about what folks are doing in terms of cleaning - particularly the TC version. Do you disassemble the triclamp fittings and valves after each brew. I did 5 batches before doing so. I run PBW through everything and then rinse with cold water, so I feel like this is unnecessary except periodically. Am I being reckless? The Spike cleaning instructions don't say anything about disassembling.
 

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I'm wondering about what folks are doing in terms of cleaning - particularly the TC version. Do you disassemble the triclamp fittings and valves after each brew. I did 5 batches before doing so. I run PBW through everything and then rinse with cold water, so I feel like this is unnecessary except periodically. Am I being reckless? The Spike cleaning instructions don't say anything about disassembling.
Once I get all the chunky stuff out, I run PBW through my entire system (solo, pump, CFC) and rinse with cold water. Then I setup a bucket of PBW solution next to my utility sink and start breaking everything down piece by piece with a quick bath in PBW and then a rinse. Takes maybe 15-20 minutes since the TC clamps come apart so quickly and clean easily. Obviously, you need to reassemble before you can brew again, but I like the peace of mind knowing everything is 100% clean.
 

Matt Orabella

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I just do PBW and water rinse, Star san rinse if I'm feeling fancy.

Havn't taken my TC's apart yet!

I do plan to do this once every 10 brews or so, but I never took my old NPT fittings apart over 60 brews with no issues, and since TC is theoretically more sanitary I don't stress too much about it.
 

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I broke down and added a bag to my Solo basket. Now, I crush the ever-loving-jesus out of my grain, mash, lift the basket to drain, then squeeze the bag into the kettle and manage to break the 75% efficiency barrier I had encountered just using the basket.

The real driver for the bag was solid matter in the boil causing scorching on the element, even after a conservative crush on conditioned grain.

The basket is still useful for not disturbing the grain when starting to drain. I get fairly clear wort in the kettle (not like my 3v system, but what you gonna do) this way, and scorching isn't as much of a problem as it was. Still seem to pick up more material on the element through the brew than I used to with my 3v system and home-build AuberIns controller though.
Punx, with the added bag and super crush how is your recirculation of wort during mash and also draining at mash out? When I had my grains double crushed on a recent batch I got a stuck mash almost immediately, and it took 30+ minutes to drain the basket at mash out. Annoying all around. Wondering if the bag just makes flow worse, or maybe it's keeping the grains from clogging the bottom slits in the basket and that's keeping the wort flowing. Thanks.
 

Punx Clever

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Punx, with the added bag and super crush how is your recirculation of wort during mash and also draining at mash out? When I had my grains double crushed on a recent batch I got a stuck mash almost immediately, and it took 30+ minutes to drain the basket at mash out. Annoying all around. Wondering if the bag just makes flow worse, or maybe it's keeping the grains from clogging the bottom slits in the basket and that's keeping the wort flowing. Thanks.
Around the same time I started using the "ultraflow max" mash enzyme... so as for the bag and recirculation at the same time, I can't give an honest comparison.

But, I also run a slow-ish recirc and a Blichman Autosparge in my solo... so that helps avoid stuck mashes in the first place.

All of that being said, I have a decent recirculation rate with the bag and a 'balls to the walls' crush now. Mostly, I don't have solids (flour or solid pieces of grain) in the kettle anymore. I think it helps with scorching on the element, and the finer crush definitely helps with efficiency.
 

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Thanks for the response Punx. Sounds like you're pulling out all the stops to maximize efficiency and keep control with the autosparge system. I'm still fairly new at this and taking everything one step at a time to determine impact. Of course not milling my own grain is the toughest part right now since I cannot control what the online stores supply or my LHBS that ultra crushes their grains too. I have a feeling I'll need to invest in a mill at some point this year, but I'm not there yet.

For now I'm just going to try the double crush from Altantic Brew or Farmhouse Brewing online, and adding rice hulls up to 5% weight of the grain bill if the mash gets sticky. When I invest in a mill hopefully I can drop the rice hulls unless I'm doing some heavy unmalted adjuncts.
 

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Thanks for the response Punx. Sounds like you're pulling out all the stops to maximize efficiency and keep control with the autosparge system. I'm still fairly new at this and taking everything one step at a time to determine impact. Of course not milling my own grain is the toughest part right now since I cannot control what the online stores supply or my LHBS that ultra crushes their grains too. I have a feeling I'll need to invest in a mill at some point this year, but I'm not there yet.

For now I'm just going to try the double crush from Altantic Brew or Farmhouse Brewing online, and adding rice hulls up to 5% weight of the grain bill if the mash gets sticky. When I invest in a mill hopefully I can drop the rice hulls unless I'm doing some heavy unmalted adjuncts.
So I just brewed a batch using the 15G Brew Bag, and my grains were double crushed from Atlantic Brew Supply. I'll say my efficiency was ~70% but my vorlauf/basket drain was super slow. I ended up just lifting the bag so wort could flow around it and then squeezing until I saw my target pre-boil volume was in the kettle (probably left 0.25 gallons at most in the bag/grain). The bag worked well, but I do think I'll try rice hulls in my next batch to see if I can increase flow. I think flow was so low that it caused my grain bed to be roughly 8-10 cooler than the wort in the bottom of the kettle. I posted about that issue in the reviews thread, but I'm thinking this thread is the better spot for it (I forgot this one existed, whoopsie!).
 

Biggz1313

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Does anyone here have issues controlling mash temps (I think I read at least one person mention it here)? My PID reads at what my target mash temp SHOULD be, but when I use an inkbird thermometer to check the grain bed temps, it's roughly 8-10 degrees (F) LOWER than what the liquid is under the grain basket. I would assume that's normal for everyone? What I'm seeing is even the wort coming out of the tube in the grain basket is 2-5 degrees cooler than the set temp, so from the pickup tube, to the pump, through the ball valve, and then silicon tubing to the basket, the liquid is losing 2-5 degrees. I have a couple questions to potentially remedy this:
  1. First, does anyone else see this and if so, how are you fixing/adjusting for it?
  2. I'm thinking I could jus increase my PID by 8-10 degrees to make the grain bed closer to target temp, but will that much warmer water below the grain basket affect the enzymes doing all the work. For instance, if my mash target temp is 155 or even 160, would dialing in the PID to 170 be too high and start to hinder/destroy the enzymes from doing their work?
  3. Is this just completely normal for EBIAB systems?
I feel like I've never heard or read of anyone having this problem and for as much as I paid for this system, I feel like I must be doing something wrong. Any insights or thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thanks everyone!
 

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Does anyone here have issues controlling mash temps (I think I read at least one person mention it here)? My PID reads at what my target mash temp SHOULD be, but when I use an inkbird thermometer to check the grain bed temps, it's roughly 8-10 degrees (F) LOWER than what the liquid is under the grain basket. I would assume that's normal for everyone? What I'm seeing is even the wort coming out of the tube in the grain basket is 2-5 degrees cooler than the set temp, so from the pickup tube, to the pump, through the ball valve, and then silicon tubing to the basket, the liquid is losing 2-5 degrees. I have a couple questions to potentially remedy this:
  1. First, does anyone else see this and if so, how are you fixing/adjusting for it?
  2. I'm thinking I could jus increase my PID by 8-10 degrees to make the grain bed closer to target temp, but will that much warmer water below the grain basket affect the enzymes doing all the work. For instance, if my mash target temp is 155 or even 160, would dialing in the PID to 170 be too high and start to hinder/destroy the enzymes from doing their work?
  3. Is this just completely normal for EBIAB systems?
I feel like I've never heard or read of anyone having this problem and for as much as I paid for this system, I feel like I must be doing something wrong. Any insights or thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thanks everyone!
My mash efficiency with Atlantic double crush was 78%, no rice hulls. I'm obviously suffering the same flow issues as you're seeing. Are you stirring your mash at all after grain-in? I typically do every 15 minutes.

In regards to the delta between PID setting and grain bed temp, I'm having similar issues but it's closer to 5-6 degrees. The stirring helps distribute the return wort heat a bit better, and I might start doing it every 10 minutes. The temp loss from the pickup/hose/pump/hose return is something I've noticed as my basement ambient temp is usually about 60-62F and when my mash recirculation is slow I know I'm losing heat. I hope using rice hulls will allow to me increase the flow rate more and hopefully reduce the heat loss through the hoses and pump as the wort won't be outside the system for as long. I really don't want to be adjusting my PID >2F to hit my mash temp in the grain bed. But I'd be interested to learn if there is any harm in doing so as you've asked above.
 

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My mash efficiency with Atlantic double crush was 78%, no rice hulls. I'm obviously suffering the same flow issues as you're seeing. Are you stirring your mash at all after grain-in? I typically do every 15 minutes.

In regards to the delta between PID setting and grain bed temp, I'm having similar issues but it's closer to 5-6 degrees. The stirring helps distribute the return wort heat a bit better, and I might start doing it every 10 minutes. The temp loss from the pickup/hose/pump/hose return is something I've noticed as my basement ambient temp is usually about 60-62F and when my mash recirculation is slow I know I'm losing heat. I hope using rice hulls will allow to me increase the flow rate more and hopefully reduce the heat loss through the hoses and pump as the wort won't be outside the system for as long. I really don't want to be adjusting my PID >2F to hit my mash temp in the grain bed. But I'd be interested to learn if there is any harm in doing so as you've asked above.
Ok, so I'm not crazy, others are experiencing this as well, haha. My efficiency is 8% lower than yours, so that's interesting. I do stir once every 15min, but it's nothing crazy. I'm also adjusting mash pH at the 10ish minute mark as well. I agree that because flow is so slow through the grain bed, my recirc flow has to be low as well, and all the time sitting in the tubing/connectors (a lot of the being stainless steel) there is definitely decent amount of heat being lost there. My basement temps are in the same range, maybe slightly cooler. I plan to brew another batch this weekend I think, so I'll try the rice hulls to see what happens. You're using a bag as well?
 

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Ok, so I'm not crazy, others are experiencing this as well, haha. My efficiency is 8% lower than yours, so that's interesting. I do stir once every 15min, but it's nothing crazy. I'm also adjusting mash pH at the 10ish minute mark as well. I agree that because flow is so slow through the grain bed, my recirc flow has to be low as well, and all the time sitting in the tubing/connectors (a lot of the being stainless steel) there is definitely decent amount of heat being lost there. My basement temps are in the same range, maybe slightly cooler. I plan to brew another batch this weekend I think, so I'll try the rice hulls to see what happens. You're using a bag as well?
No bag, but I still press the grains after lifting the basket to get any remaining wort.

I'm using Brewfather to determine my water treatments, which I add during strike water heating and aim to hit 5.4-5.5 range in my mash. I usually take a sample at 30 minutes cool and test pH. I've been off 0.1 on two out of three batches, but I don't make any adjustments as I'm already at 45 minutes mash probably. Close enough for me.
 

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Around the same time I started using the "ultraflow max" mash enzyme... so as for the bag and recirculation at the same time, I can't give an honest comparison.

But, I also run a slow-ish recirc and a Blichman Autosparge in my solo... so that helps avoid stuck mashes in the first place.

All of that being said, I have a decent recirculation rate with the bag and a 'balls to the walls' crush now. Mostly, I don't have solids (flour or solid pieces of grain) in the kettle anymore. I think it helps with scorching on the element, and the finer crush definitely helps with efficiency.
This mash enzyme is intriguing me. Do you feel like you'll use it all before it expires? Some quick napkin math says a 1.1lbs bottle of the stuff is enough for roughly 400 5g batches. What's the expiration date on yours? How long do you potentially have to use it all? At $50, I think I'm still good to buy it even if I waste half of it if it increase my efficiency and helps with my flow rates.
 

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No bag, but I still press the grains after lifting the basket to get any remaining wort.

I'm using Brewfather to determine my water treatments, which I add during strike water heating and aim to hit 5.4-5.5 range in my mash. I usually take a sample at 30 minutes cool and test pH. I've been off 0.1 on two out of three batches, but I don't make any adjustments as I'm already at 45 minutes mash probably. Close enough for me.
How much grain are you getting in your kettle with no bag and double crushing? I did that ONCE lol because there was that much grain in the kettle.
 

KVbeer

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How much grain are you getting in your kettle with no bag and double crushing? I did that ONCE lol because there was that much grain in the kettle.
Some, but it's not enough to bother me. On my last 5 gallon batch, I'd guess maybe 1/3 cup of hulls and then some grain flour too. But I was also pretty aggressive in my stirring as my mash stuck pretty good a couple times and then I had to stir it again to drain the basket afterward as it was barely moving. Hopefully with the rice hulls I can stay well away from the basket bottom in my stirring and cut that down further.
 

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This mash enzyme is intriguing me. Do you feel like you'll use it all before it expires? Some quick napkin math says a 1.1lbs bottle of the stuff is enough for roughly 400 5g batches. What's the expiration date on yours? How long do you potentially have to use it all? At $50, I think I'm still good to buy it even if I waste half of it if it increase my efficiency and helps with my flow rates.
Where do you live? Wanna split a bottle?
 

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Yesterday I contacted Farmhouse Brewing Supply about their mill gaps as they offer single and double crush. They got back to me this morning that they use a triple roller mill set at 0.035". Then obviously one pass for single crush and twice for double. So anyone buying milled grains online might want to take a serious look at them as this is exactly the mill gap setting Spike recommends.
 

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In regards to the delta between PID setting and grain bed temp, I'm having similar issues but it's closer to 5-6 degrees. The stirring helps distribute the return wort heat a bit better, and I might start doing it every 10 minutes. The temp loss from the pickup/hose/pump/hose return is something I've noticed as my basement ambient temp is usually about 60-62F and when my mash recirculation is slow I know I'm losing heat. I hope using rice hulls will allow to me increase the flow rate more and hopefully reduce the heat loss through the hoses and pump as the wort won't be outside the system for as long. I really don't want to be adjusting my PID >2F to hit my mash temp in the grain bed. But I'd be interested to learn if there is any harm in doing so as you've asked above.
I encountered the same issue and came to the conclusion that the temp probe is too close to the heating element which created the temperature variance between the grain bed temp and the temp of the wort below the basket. A suggestion as well as what I did to address the issue. Suggestion: Assuming you hit your dough / mash-in temp target, turn off the element, let the grain sit for a little bit and then begin your recirculation. This should close up the temperature variance and at that point but I found that you still need to fiddle with the PID temp setting to hold the proper mash temp until you are a ways into the mash step. Eventually things fall in line temp-wise. My fix: On a system like this I shouldn’t have had to have done this, but I had a spare T and temperature probe kicking around, so I added an additional temp probe to the drain ball valve. Same approach as the mash tun setup on Spike’s Trio system. I simply move the probe cable to the probe I am relying on depending on what step of the brewing process I am on. Again, this mod shouldn’t be necessary but it seems to work for me. Also, and this is a part of the standard process, but make sure you are recirculating your strike water through the system to get everything up to temp before adding your grains.
 

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I encountered the same issue and came to the conclusion that the temp probe is too close to the heating element which created the temperature variance between the grain bed temp and the temp of the wort below the basket. A suggestion as well as what I did to address the issue. Suggestion: Assuming you hit your dough / mash-in temp target, turn off the element, let the grain sit for a little bit and then begin your recirculation. This should close up the temperature variance and at that point but I found that you still need to fiddle with the PID temp setting to hold the proper mash temp until you are a ways into the mash step. Eventually things fall in line temp-wise. My fix: On a system like this I shouldn’t have had to have done this, but I had a spare T and temperature probe kicking around, so I added an additional temp probe to the drain ball valve. Same approach as the mash tun setup on Spike’s Trio system. I simply move the probe cable to the probe I am relying on depending on what step of the brewing process I am on. Again, this mod shouldn’t be necessary but it seems to work for me. Also, and this is a part of the standard process, but make sure you are recirculating your strike water through the system to get everything up to temp before adding your grains.
Yep, I'm following the Spike process guide as well to turn off the element and pump at grain-in for 5-10 minutes. I usually restart the element at 5 minutes, and the pump for recirculation at 10 minutes.

When you move your temp probe cable from the back probe location to the pickup tube do you notice any kind of delta? They're both about the same distance from the element, so I'm just curious. Additionally, have you ever checked the delta between your pickup tube temp and the return wort at the top of the basket exiting the silicon tube? With my cold basement, this is where I think a good portion of my heat loss is occurring if my flow is slow.
 

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Yep, I'm following the Spike process guide as well to turn off the element and pump at grain-in for 5-10 minutes. I usually restart the element at 5 minutes, and the pump for recirculation at 10 minutes.

When you move your temp probe cable from the back probe location to the pickup tube do you notice any kind of delta? They're both about the same distance from the element, so I'm just curious. Additionally, have you ever checked the delta between your pickup tube temp and the return wort at the top of the basket exiting the silicon tube? With my cold basement, this is where I think a good portion of my heat loss is occurring if my flow is slow.
Honestly, I have only done (2) batches using the altered approach but I did notice a variance. I just didn’t jot down what it specifically was. I was too focused on making sure the temp of the wort coming out into the grain bed was mapping to what the added temp probe was reading. It was off a few degrees initially (unlike the original probe) which I adjusted to but it came in line not too long into the recirculating process. I’ll take more precise notes on the next batch.

In term of the distance of the original probe and the added probe from the closest point on the heating element, I came up with roughly 5” for the original probe which is in more direct contact to the element (i.e. not situated behind a pick up tube, ball valve and T fitting) vs. 8” for the added probe which is outside the kettle.
 

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Honestly, I have only done (2) batches using the altered approach but I did notice a variance. I just didn’t jot down what it specifically was. I was too focused on making sure the temp of the wort coming out into the grain bed was mapping to what the added temp probe was reading. It was off a few degrees initially (unlike the original probe) which I adjusted to but it came in line not too long into the recirculating process. I’ll take more precise notes on the next batch.

In term of the distance of the original probe and the added probe from the closest point on the heating element, I came up with roughly 5” for the original probe which is in more direct contact to the element (i.e. not situated behind a pick up tube, ball valve and T fitting) vs. 8” for the added probe which is outside the kettle.
I guess the main point is regardless of measurement location, we're both effectively increasing the element output to hit our target mash temperature in the grain bed. I don't mind bumping up the PID a few degrees, but with beta amylase activity dropping off precipitously at 160F and higher I want to be careful how far I have to compensate. From my posts above, my hope is with a proper crush (and rice hulls if I need them) I can get a good recirculation rate and have the wort pass through the plumbing faster and reducing heat loss there as I think that's the main culprit.
 

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From my posts above, my hope is with a proper crush (and rice hulls if I need them) I can get a good recirculation rate and have the wort pass through the plumbing faster and reducing heat loss there as I think that's the main culprit.
That will help a bit but your ability to increase the flow rate is effectively limited due to the tapered design of the grain basket. I understand why the guys at Spike did it but I the design leads to an inherent limitation in terms of flow rate.
 

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That will help a bit but your ability to increase the flow rate is effectively limited due to the tapered design of the grain basket. I understand why the guys at Spike did it but I the design leads to an inherent limitation in terms of flow rate.
Agreed, I'm just trying to get up to the recommended 1/4 flow speed or a hair higher. With the Atlantic double crush it wasn't much more than a trickle.
 

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I'm in Ohio, and I was thinking the same thing. There's gotta be someone who would want to split this with me haha.
I was gonna go ahead and order this today and then they have a "warning" that it's only to be ordered for commercial brewing.
Also they ship overnight UPS and those MFers have messed up overnight deliveries for me before.
What's the deal?
 

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Has anyone experimented with a coarser crush yet? Just for kicks I went back and looked at what Unibrau recommended for their setup, which is similar imo, and they say .039-.045 AND they claim it leads to higher efficiency due to better flow.
I know I can just find out on my own, but my solo hasn't arrived yet and I'm spending a lot of time just reading.
 

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Got my email from Spike that it's about to ship and I just now ordered some ultraflo max.
Gonna try the recommended .035" crush for my first brew and it's gonna be a german pilsner.
So excited
 

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This mash enzyme is intriguing me. Do you feel like you'll use it all before it expires? Some quick napkin math says a 1.1lbs bottle of the stuff is enough for roughly 400 5g batches. What's the expiration date on yours? How long do you potentially have to use it all? At $50, I think I'm still good to buy it even if I waste half of it if it increase my efficiency and helps with my flow rates.
Some guys in my club went in on a group buy of the small container and split it. Even then, it's been a hot minute and a lot of brew days and I still have a ton left.

MoreBeer sells a mash enzyme (CellarScience® Glucabuster - Mashing Enzyme) that should be the same, in a *much* smaller container.
 

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Has anyone experimented with a coarser crush yet? Just for kicks I went back and looked at what Unibrau recommended for their setup, which is similar imo, and they say .039-.045 AND they claim it leads to higher efficiency due to better flow.
I know I can just find out on my own, but my solo hasn't arrived yet and I'm spending a lot of time just reading.
I think people grossly overestimate the increased conversion that you may get from recirculating your mash. Crush has the biggest impact on conversion because finer grist particles hydrate/gelatanize faster than coarse ones do. Until a starch granual is hydrated, it's not participating in the mash.
IMHO, the only benefit of recirculating a mash bed is temperature homogeneity. That alone could hurt or help conversion but not much. In the case of the Spike Solo, there is as much mash underneath and besides the basket as there is inside. In that system, temperature homogeneity can only be acheived by whirlpooling and recirculating at the same time.
 

NewJersey

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I think people grossly overestimate the increased conversion that you may get from recirculating your mash. Crush has the biggest impact on conversion because finer grist particles hydrate/gelatanize faster than coarse ones do. Until a starch granual is hydrated, it's not participating in the mash.
IMHO, the only benefit of recirculating a mash bed is temperature homogeneity. That alone could hurt or help conversion but not much. In the case of the Spike Solo, there is as much mash underneath and besides the basket as there is inside. In that system, temperature homogeneity can only be acheived by whirlpooling and recirculating at the same time.
I'm definitely gonna take your advice there and plan to do exactly what you suggest.
How do guys in traditional 3v setups achieve high mash efficiency without super fine biab grinds?
My first brew on the Solo I'm gonna follow their suggestions, but after I was gonna hold a gallon of treated water off to do a pour over sparge and then press the grains in the basket. Is that enough to sparge and will it make keeping water over the element that much harder?
 

Bobby_M

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I'm definitely gonna take your advice there and plan to do exactly what you suggest.
How do guys in traditional 3v setups achieve high mash efficiency without super fine biab grinds?
My first brew on the Solo I'm gonna follow their suggestions, but after I was gonna hold a gallon of treated water off to do a pour over sparge and then press the grains in the basket. Is that enough to sparge and will it make keeping water over the element that much harder?
3 vessel systems are efficient due to the amount of sparging that gets done. Those systems are also quite sensetive to the crush as far as conversion speed and ultimate mash/sparge efficiency they can acheive also.

Back up.... Full volume mashing/no sparge systems and concentrated mash, sparge systems (typical 3 vessel systems) would generally convert at about the same speed if both crushes were identical. There would be a slight advantage to the concentrated mash but not enough to even factor in.

Any amount of sparging would increase mash/lauter efficiency but you'll have to decide if it's worth the extra mechanics for what amounts to $1-2 in extra grain.
 

NewJersey

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3 vessel systems are efficient due to the amount of sparging that gets done. Those systems are also quite sensetive to the crush as far as conversion speed and ultimate mash/sparge efficiency they can acheive also.

Back up.... Full volume mashing/no sparge systems and concentrated mash, sparge systems (typical 3 vessel systems) would generally convert at about the same speed if both crushes were identical. There would be a slight advantage to the concentrated mash but not enough to even factor in.

Any amount of sparging would increase mash/lauter efficiency but you'll have to decide if it's worth the extra mechanics for what amounts to $1-2 in extra grain.
I'd like to get to 70% mash efficiency. If I get that without sparging or any other nonsense then I'd be happy and leave well enough alone as I agree. If end up in the high 50s/low 60s I'll have to fine tune a bit. Not chasing 80s or 90s
I made a recipe in beersmith and put in 65% efficiency as a starting point
 

Matt Orabella

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Heres my take on the split valves! During mash I can return some to the whirlpool port, then during boil I only need to swap the hose from the mash recirc port to the chiller. I need to make one more hose to be able to use the TC filter seen in the photo.

All valves and fittings from Brewhardware!

Havnt actually tried this setup out since adding the new valves. Planning a brew day tomorrow or Wednesday!
 

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Bobby_M

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I'd like to get to 70% mash efficiency. If I get that without sparging or any other nonsense then I'd be happy and leave well enough alone as I agree. If end up in the high 50s/low 60s I'll have to fine tune a bit. Not chasing 80s or 90s
I made a recipe in beersmith and put in 65% efficiency as a starting point
With a bag I'm at 68 to 75% where the lo ABV beers are closer to 75. Without squeezing the bag I lose 2%.
 
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