Tilt Hydrometer in the mash?

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Joe.Conley

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Anyone ever thought about trying to use the Tilt Hydrometer in the mash?

The FAQ seems to indicate it could handle Mash temps:

Q What type of temperature range can this handle?
A. The temperature range of the Tilt is 0°F to 185°F (-17.8°C to 85°C)
It has a temperature probe as well, so I would think it either adjusts for temperature automatically, or you could do an adjustment yourself using the temperature reading.

Maybe even without an adjustment, just comparing initial reading before mash in with subsequent readings could allow you to figure out the increase in specific gravity. Or just seeing when the reading stopped increasing to know you've extracted all you're going to get? (Maybe those techniques would work with a regular hydrometer as well)

Just brainstorming ways to not have to cool down the wort I scoop out for the mash to take a hydrometer reading, since it can take a pretty long time to cool. My next best solution is drawing small samples in small pipettes and cooling them in a glass of water for refractometer readings, but I was interested in a tilt anyway for fermenter readings, so wondering if that would be an interesting alternative for mash gravity readings as well.

Any other techniques that work well for you?
 

VikeMan

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The Tilt (like any hydrometer) works by the measurement of its buoyancy, which would be significantly impacted by the presence of a grain bed.
 

SanPancho

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if you're doing a BIAB style brew and have say 3/4 of the water in the mash then i'd guess you'd probably have enough depth between the surface and the grains to get a reading. if you're doing something with a recirc, i'd imagine itd make the readings too jumpy. ditto for every time you stirred things up, or otherwise brought the grains from off the bottom.

but i would think that as long as you had enough space between the surface and the grains you could do it. maybe just drop it in every 15 minutes to monitor?

its really pretty dependent on the thickness of your mash i guess
 
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Joe.Conley

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I was wondering if floating bits of grain would impact things, though I figured I could strain a sample into a glass for measurement, and it’d should still be faster than waiting for it to cool... still doable with a conventional hydrometers as well, but nice to have automated logging and graphing, and an automated temperature measurement at the same time

I have the anvil foundry with a grain basket, not sure if the tilt would fit in the small gap between the grain basket and side of the kettle itself 🤔
 
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Joe.Conley

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Oh here's how it works for temperature correction from that same FAQ:

Q. Does the SG reported by the Tilt compensate for the current temperature automatically?
A. Due to the polycarbonate housing of the the Tilt, no correction is needed from approximately 38°F to 98°F. Temperatures above 98°F result in an decrease of SG of about 1 point per 10°F. i.e. water at around 160°F will read 0.994.
So I guess you're just subtracting 5 or 6 points from the measurement with mash temps around 150 or 160.
 

SanPancho

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floating grain aint a real issue. folks put these things in fermenting beer so you've got yeast krauzen that doesnt seem to cause too much trouble, so i cant imagine a floating piece of grain is gonna do too much to it.

but i'm mentally thinking there's no way to fit on of these between a grain basket/tube/cyclinder and the kettle wall. these things are like 4" long, and that wont work with the bend radius on the kettle, unless you happen to have a square kettle....
 

VikeMan

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folks put these things in fermenting beer so you've got yeast krauzen that doesnt seem to cause too much trouble, so i cant imagine a floating piece of grain is gonna do too much to it.
There are some threads on this forum pointing to krausen as the cause of readings that were too high.
 

SanPancho

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sure. but it depends on the krauzen. and how far along you are in the ferment. initial day or two is a bit sketchy, but by 3rd day it was floating freely. that's my experience.
 

SanPancho

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There are some threads on this forum pointing to krausen as the cause of readings that were too high.
not to mention, that comparison doesnt even make sense when you think about it. fermenter is a closed (hopefully) system.

mash is wide open. piece of grain touching your tilt? pick it up, wipe it off, and put it back in.
 

VikeMan

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not to mention, that comparison doesnt even make sense when you think about it. fermenter is a closed (hopefully) system.

mash is wide open. piece of grain touching your tilt? pick it up, wipe it off, and put it back in.
Not sure why you're directing that at me. I never said "a piece of grain" would cause a difference. And I was not the one who made the comparison. I believe that was you.
 

VikeMan

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I replied to your statement that krausen doesn't affect the tilt. I never said it was equivalent to anything else. Please don't put words in my mouth.
 

SanPancho

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I replied to your statement that krausen doesn't affect the tilt. I never said it was equivalent to anything else. Please don't put words in my mouth.
and what words would i be putting in your mouth, exactly? you seem mad, bro.
 

day_trippr

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Holy cow.

Back to the question, pretty sure a Tilt or iSpindle would have a hella tough time in my mash tun given the recirculation. But even without recirculation, after I underlet the grain with the full strike volume, wait a couple of minutes for it to distribute through the grain before giving the mash one good stir, does anyone run a mash so thin that either of those devices could settle down into a valid orientation while the mash is quite thick?

It's usually around the 20 minute mark that my recirculation is almost running clear. I suppose at that point the smaller Tilt much have enough wort under it to float right if the wort wasn't spinning...

Cheers!
 

SanPancho

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I've already stated that pretty clearly.
nope.


for those who are nursing some sort of weird grudge, i will restate what i already said above. as i realized, we were going to debate something that's actually irrelevant- doenst matter if it gets grain on it. we were thinking about the usage limitations in a fermenter scenario, i.e. krauzen sticking to it, etc, but thats not the same as mashing usage. no reason you cant just reach in and pick it up and wipe it off. obviously not a great idea when using in a fermenter.

@day_trippr i'd say again, this is mostly going to work in a very thin BIAB and/or "full volume" type mash. my kettle is a bit wide in its aspect, but i would still say that the tilt would float freely after about 10 min or so once the grain settled down. thats on a typical 4-4.5 gallon strike for a 1050 to 1060 wort. (3ish gal batch) a more narrow kettle would actually give it more room to float.

either way the reality is that -- again, because you can freely just put it in or take it out of the wort- you could easily turn off your pump for a minute and drop it in to register an accurate reading.

so as a hydrometer replacement, it would work in that case (thin mash scenario). but to use it for the purposes of tracking the conversion speed/rate, constant gravity reading/display, etc. it wouldnt be very accurate, since you'd really want to be stirring or doing recirc in that case to get uniformity of the wort concentration.

good idea @Joe.Conley
 

VikeMan

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I was wondering if floating bits of grain would impact things, though I figured I could strain a sample into a glass for measurement, and it’d should still be faster than waiting for it to cool... still doable with a conventional hydrometers as well, but nice to have automated logging and graphing, and an automated temperature measurement at the same time
Yeah, I would recommend stirring and then taking a sample. Depending on your mash thickness and tun configuration, the grain bed might settle low enough to float a tilt, but if it's that still, the gravity of the wort won't be homogenous from top to bottom. That's because as the mash goes along, more starches will be liberated and converted in the wort that's in the grain bed. Without stirring, it will tend to stay there a while.
 
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