Mashing with MKII and HERMS

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TheMakAttack

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Hey Legends,

I've got a 2 pump, 3 vessel system and I'm running a HERMS through my HLT. I did my first brew with this new set up yesterday and I ran into some issues heating and transfering water.

My HERMS coils sit inside my HLT and I need 23 litres of volume in the HLT to keep the coils submerged. That means that I cannot use it as an HLT because there's not enough volume left in the tank to transfer water at temperature to my mash Tun.

What I ended up doing was heating 20L of water in my kettle while my HLT was reaching temp, then transferring from my kettle to the MT and then sync temps with HERMS between MT and HTL before mash in.

This work reasonably well and I was able to get everything up to temp in about an hour.

BUT, once I transferred the wort into the kettle, my ability to get the sparge water to temp was totally screwed. I have 12 litres of additional volume in my HLT, above the herms coils, but that's still not enough for sparging, not to mention adding cold water to HERMS affects the mash temp so I could only add water after mash was done.
I ended up boiling water on the stove to make up the difference an adding that to my grain bed but the grain sat dry for nearly 20 minutes before sparging and then I only hit 67 degrees and it took 25 minutes to reach sparge temp...

Needless to say mash efficiency was average best and I'm wondering if there's any way to utilise my current system to be more efficient or do I need to upgrade to a rims?

Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated...
houghts
 

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Sidney Harbour-Bridge

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I have a similar set up, if you fill the HLT and heat your strike water to the appropriate temp, add it it to the mash tun and refill the HLT, you should be able to reach the next temperature step by the time the first one is completed, only start re-circulation when you want to increase the mash temp and the HLT is hotter than the mash tun. To reduce the time it takes, insulate to pipes and keep their lengths as short as possible, insulating the HLT will reduce the time it takes to heat. When you run the wort off into the kettle you do not need to heat it by HERMS so you can use the water in the HLT to sparge, switch it off so it doesn't boil dry.
 

Hela

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Depending on budget and ability to plug in another element this might help - the HLT can just stay as a HLT...

 

MHB

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If you want some better answers give us the data to work with.
Volume of Mash Tun and Urn
Grain Bill in kg
Mash temperature time
Target OG and Volume to the kettle.
Mark
 

TheMakAttack

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I have a similar set up, if you fill the HLT and heat your strike water to the appropriate temp, add it it to the mash tun and refill the HLT, you should be able to reach the next temperature step by the time the first one is completed, only start re-circulation when you want to increase the mash temp and the HLT is hotter than the mash tun. To reduce the time it takes, insulate to pipes and keep their lengths as short as possible, insulating the HLT will reduce the time it takes to heat. When you run the wort off into the kettle you do not need to heat it by HERMS so you can use the water in the HLT to sparge, switch it off so it doesn't boil dry.
Thanks for the advice mate, I definitely need to look at hose length and potentially insulate. I don't think I'll insulate my hoses but the HLT could be done. Any recommendations for wrapping insulation on SS vessels?

As far as processes I'm a bit confused, because my aim is to run my HERMS while mashing and sparging. If I understand correctly you're saying to not bother with the HERMS during mash, and just let the temp drop. My mash is a cooler but it still loses 6 degrees during 60min mash. And the benefits of recirculating the mash is massive, so I really want to take advantage. I think I could get away without recirculating the sparge but I wouldn't want to do that with the mash.


Are you operating 2 pumps?
 

TheMakAttack

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Depending on budget and ability to plug in another element this might help - the HLT can just stay as a HLT...

I love this idea but I've over spent massively so far so this is our of budget ATM. Looks sexy though
 

TheMakAttack

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If you want some better answers give us the data to work with.
Volume of Mash Tun and Urn
Grain Bill in kg
Mash temperature time
Target OG and Volume to the kettle.
Mark

Kettle 60L
MT 35L
HLT 35L
Herms coils in HLT sit up around 23L volume - HLT also has whirlpool arm for recirculating.

Grain Bills 5.5 - 7kg

60min Mash at 67c recirculating through herms
At anywhere from 17-21L

Batch sparge 10mins recirculating at 75-77c
Around 20L give or take

OG will depend on brew

Kettle volume yesterday was 33L but batch size will be anywhere from 20-24L in fermenter
 

TheMakAttack

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Kettle 60L
MT 35L
HLT 35L
Herms coils in HLT sit up around 23L volume - HLT also has whirlpool arm for recirculating.

Grain Bills 5.5 - 7kg

60min Mash at 67c recirculating through herms
At anywhere from 17-21L

Batch sparge 10mins recirculating at 75-77c
Around 20L give or take

OG will depend on brew

Kettle volume yesterday was 33L but batch size will be anywhere from 20-24L in fermenter
Mash tun is a cooler... Hence my challenge to keep temp
 

hotwaterpls

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Losing 6 degrees (celcius) seems like a lot if not recirculating and stirring the mash a few times then putting the lid back on. Most coolers should hold temp within 1-2 degrees over an hour roughly. If you're recirculating and not using herms that seems a more reasonable figure in temp loss.

Similar to above advice, I would heat to strike temp, add hot liquor to mash tun and let pre-heat/equalise for 10 mins, mash in and if all went to plan, mash would be at the right temp. Let sit for 10-15 mins for grain bed to settle then recirculate through the coil in the HLT.

Once you know your strike temp (or allow for an extra couple of degrees as it's easier to let it cool if you overshoot), you can top up the HLT straight away and get it heating the extra water. After you let the mash tun pre-heat for 10, mash in and let the grain bed settle for 10-15, that should allow enough time for the HLT to get back up to temp and you can recirculate at your leisure.

Alternatively, you could look at some kind of over the side element (obviously care needs to be taken to not melt the plastic of the cooler) but having a separate element to heat your strike water so you don't need to re-fill the mash tun.

Sparge water doesn't have to be at mashout temps though I do like to recirc for the sparge (assuming you're doing a batch sparge) to clear the wort before draining to kettle for each sparge step.

I had a similar setup to you but my 'herms' in the HLT (40L urn) was a stainless chiller with long arms so basically reached the bottom of the urn so could deal with a lower liquid level in the HLT.

I picked up a second hand SS coil (old version of the one in the HERM-IT kit listed above) and it sits in a kettle controlled by an inkbird. Smaller liquid volume and independent of HLT.
 

Sidney Harbour-Bridge

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Thanks for the advice mate, I definitely need to look at hose length and potentially insulate. I don't think I'll insulate my hoses but the HLT could be done. Any recommendations for wrapping insulation on SS vessels?

As far as processes I'm a bit confused, because my aim is to run my HERMS while mashing and sparging. If I understand correctly you're saying to not bother with the HERMS during mash, and just let the temp drop. My mash is a cooler but it still loses 6 degrees during 60min mash. And the benefits of recirculating the mash is massive, so I really want to take advantage. I think I could get away without recirculating the sparge but I wouldn't want to do that with the mash.

Are you operating 2 pumps?
I have a Cheaky Peek mash tun which is insulated with 13 mm neoprene foam, like wet suit material the pipes are the easy bit, you can buy 1/2" pipe insulation from bunnies that just slides over them.

I only use one pump for recirculation, filling the kettle, whirlpooling and chilling through counterflow chiller
 

TheMakAttack

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Losing 6 degrees (celcius) seems like a lot if not recirculating and stirring the mash a few times then putting the lid back on. Most coolers should hold temp within 1-2 degrees over an hour roughly. If you're recirculating and not using herms that seems a more reasonable figure in temp loss.

Similar to above advice, I would heat to strike temp, add hot liquor to mash tun and let pre-heat/equalise for 10 mins, mash in and if all went to plan, mash would be at the right temp. Let sit for 10-15 mins for grain bed to settle then recirculate through the coil in the HLT.

Once you know your strike temp (or allow for an extra couple of degrees as it's easier to let it cool if you overshoot), you can top up the HLT straight away and get it heating the extra water. After you let the mash tun pre-heat for 10, mash in and let the grain bed settle for 10-15, that should allow enough time for the HLT to get back up to temp and you can recirculate at your leisure.

Alternatively, you could look at some kind of over the side element (obviously care needs to be taken to not melt the plastic of the cooler) but having a separate element to heat your strike water so you don't need to re-fill the mash tun.

Sparge water doesn't have to be at mashout temps though I do like to recirc for the sparge (assuming you're doing a batch sparge) to clear the wort before draining to kettle for each sparge step.

I had a similar setup to you but my 'herms' in the HLT (40L urn) was a stainless chiller with long arms so basically reached the bottom of the urn so could deal with a lower liquid level in the HLT.

I picked up a second hand SS coil (old version of the one in the HERM-IT kit listed above) and it sits in a kettle controlled by an inkbird. Smaller liquid volume and independent of HLT.
Thanks for the advice mate. Not sure how you get 1-2 degree drop in 60min bit good on ya. The best I've ever had (stirring 15mins) is 4 degrees in summer.

I'm going to try to see if I can bend the coils on my SS chiller so it'll drop down a little lower in my HLT. Ive come up with a strategy now for getting my water temp up for sparging. See how she goes. Definitely using batch 🍻
 

TheMakAttack

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I have a Cheaky Peek mash tun which is insulated with 13 mm neoprene foam, like wet suit material the pipes are the easy bit, you can buy 1/2" pipe insulation from bunnies that just slides over them.

I only use one pump for recirculation, filling the kettle, whirlpooling and chilling through counterflow chiller

Thanks for the advice mate, really appreciate it. Technically the only time I use my second pump is when I'm sparging or mashing, and the second pump is recirculating the water in the HLT via a whirlpool arm.

You've inspired me to pick up some pipe insulation now, and to shorten my lines as short as possible and I've got an old wetsuit it doesn't fit me anymore that I'm going to chop up and turn into a vessel blanket.

Cheers matey 🍻
 

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