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Immersion Heater Question

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losp

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Hi All,
I have never used one of these, so possibly a stupid question.
Could i get one of these:

and one of these:


And use them together? so for example just chuck it in to my mash tun and set the temperature at that, and then say step it up when i need to? Then when it is boil time, just pick it up and put it in the pot? Is there any more to it than this?
 

DarkFaerytale

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i can tell you from experiance that one of those immersion coils left to long in one place in a mash is a bad idea, burnt mash smells great though! ... hard to scrape off but :(

i used to use one for strike water and it worked really well, i'm not sure how it would go with a controller though
 

Maheel

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might have an issue with no flow across it and the grain "burning" onto it in the tun ?

you could bring the water up to temp + a few deg drop in grain and just leave it alone (wrap tun with insulation) BIAB style
then use it in the pot to boil
 

losp

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Yeah, i currently. use the cardboard box that my esky came with and it has coles cooler bags cut open and glued to the side and it works quite well! drops maybe less than 1 degree over an hour!

i am just wanting to start doing temperature steps without having to update and change my gear, as i have put money into false bottoms and all the rest.

what if i got a low powered heater would it still burn the grains around it? i wont be wanting the tun to hear up more than say 75 degrees or so.
 

ekul

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I don't know for sure but i think i read about someone using one of those to stir the mash to do steps. Maybe search "step mash immersion heater"?
 

Maheel

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maybe go getto rims or HX and brown pump using a $9 kettle etc
 

DarkFaerytale

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I don't know for sure but i think i read about someone using one of those to stir the mash to do steps. Maybe search "step mash immersion heater"?

exactly how i burnt my grain, this method definatly works as long as your slowly moving the heater through the grain.

don't leave the heater in one spot because your to busy changing the radio station after a few.
 

QldKev

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maybe go getto rims or HX and brown pump using a $9 kettle etc

+1. Setup the worlds simplest HERMS and used it. Otherwise your making your brewing harder than it needs to be.
 

scooter_59

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Any form of immersion heater in the mash tun would have to be constantly moving to avoid burning the mash .I would stick to using it as a heater for your HLT or some form of ghetto heat exchanger .
 

Wolfy

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exactly how i burnt my grain, this method definatly works as long as your slowly moving the heater through the grain.

don't leave the heater in one spot because your to busy changing the radio station after a few.
You'd also have an issue of where to measure the temperature, there would be lots of hot-spots caused by the element, so the temperature controller would not function as well as it would if you were recirculating (for example).
How much of a jump is this in terms of $$$?
Probably about the same - or cheaper - than two items you listed, the immersion element is about $140 (I think) and the Tempmate is $75.

Nev's Stainless HERMS coil is $65 (about $20 if you can DIY and find the materials), and a kettle is $8 from BigW, the PID, SSD and temperature probe can be had on Ebay for just under $50. Edit: forgot the brown-pump for $25 (check the bulk buys section).
 

manticle

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I don't know for sure but i think i read about someone using one of those to stir the mash to do steps. Maybe search "step mash immersion heater"?

I step mash with one almost every weekend and have done for a while.

It's hands on though and the thing is constantly moving. No temp controller and my experience is that even more than about 20 seconds not moving (probably less) means burning the mash.

Great item and yes you can boil with them but I'd be dubious about leaving them in one spot, even with a thermostat.
 

A3k

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I don't know for sure but i think i read about someone using one of those to stir the mash to do steps. Maybe search "step mash immersion heater"?
I'd caution away from doing this.

i was using one of these to up the temp a little in my mash. the bloody thing made a bang in my hand.

I'm not sure what happened, but right near where the chord goes into the element handle, all the insulation melted off, leaving exposed wires and a black mark on my hand. I was pretty lucky not to get a zap.

My guess is that the cable warmed up and with a bit of flex on the cable it caused and the active and neutral to short out.

Other than that, the item was really good though. I would use it on a theremostat and a timer so that when i woke up, the hlt was at strike temp. then i could use the same element to help get the kettle to boil quicker (with gas as well).


Cheers
Al
 

dr K

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Often, before complexity, bells and whistles drown out the gentle hum of a mash it is best to go back to first principles.
Do you need to step mash (the answer is most likely no, unless you are using some obscure under-modified, say chit, malt.)
Is your L:G ratio in a reasonable range, say 2.2-4:1 ?
Does your mash tun have some insulative properties (it does not have to be a 72hr esky, I have done rather well mashing outside in a Canberra winter using a Stainless Mash Tun and a draped blanket).
Know your equipment, it should take only a couple of mashes to be able to guage what temp your known volume of strike water should be for your known weight of grain to hit an expected mash temp, it may be 72C for 67C, it may be 71C or it may be 74C, its of little concern if you know your equipment.
Pouring cracked grain into 74C water will not denature the Beta-Amylase as the barley has to be gelatinised first, this should happen and may still be happening after the gentle but thorough dough-in, when the mash temp will be (depending on your equipment, L:G , grain temp and such somewhere in the 65-68C range. Adjust next time.
Kept within well known parameters the whole brewing process is actually very simple.
Just mash it man.

K
 

Thirsty Boy

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I agree with K - think about whether you need to step mash or have an issue with maintaining temp first. Dont look for thermostatic control just because other people have it.

But - if you decide you do want to have the ability to step mash. One of these immersion heaters is a very nice tool for the job. You stir with the heater in one hand and a thermometer in the other. no worries about burning, or about hotspots in the mash an uneven temperatures.... because you are using your actual heat source as your agitator. Then it doubles up nicely as the element in your kettle.

I've done dozens of BIAB brews with one of these as the sole heat source - heat water, maintain mash temp, perform steps, condict boil. They are one of the most useful and versatile things a homebrewer can own in my opinion.

I think you will find that to be able to easily stir your mash with one though... you'll want to be at the upper end of the liquor to grist ratio range. At least 3L of water for every kg of grain, and probably more like 4:1. I've used one without issue on a 4:1 mash, you dont have to be as thin as a BIAB mash for it to work.

If you want automation in your temp control and stepping.... well, as others have said, you have a choice of the various RIMS, HERMS or Stirred Mash options. Either the mash itself or at least the wort, has to move automatically in order for the mash to not burn and for the temperatures to be read accurately.
 

manticle

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I love the balance I find with beers that get a rest for beta and a rest for alpha amylase.

Nothing to do with not hitting temps although it does have that advantage.

But - if you decide you do want to have the ability to step mash. One of these immersion heaters is a very nice tool for the job. You stir with the heater in one hand and a thermometer in the other. no worries about burning, or about hotspots in the mash an uneven temperatures.... because you are using your actual heat source as your agitator. Then it doubles up nicely as the element in your kettle.
This exactly.
 

losp

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Thanks for all of the responses guys! appreciate it.

I am now juggling between just getting a hand held heater and standing there for 10 minutes or the El cheapo rims type setup as people have described above.

fwiw i may or may not wish to do step mashes in the future, it would be nice to have the ability. but it would also be nice t bring the temp up to 75 at mash out without necessarily needing to add more water as there are times when i cant (big belgs!)
 

Wolfman

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The immersion ellement is possible the best tool I have bought! I step mash most of my beers now. I'd say go buy one give it a go as you can use it in other parts of your brewery even if you go rims/ herms some day.
 

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