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Possible Brew Rig Build. Any Problems?

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bignath

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Righto, im a 3V all grain brewer who is getting sick of cleaning, setting up, packing down my brewery all the time.
Am thinking of building a double batch (40lt in fermenter) electric recirculating BIAB rig to shorten brewdays and make life simpler.

Im after opinions n whether there are any obvious flaws with what im about to do....

Ive researched this a fair bit, and it seems like im not the only one who is doing this, so thought id ask for sme opinions before i pull the trigger and go headfirst into building another rig.

I should say in advance that this wont replace my 3V rig, just allow me to use a different methodology, should the mood strike...Beer can after all, be made a million different ways.

I want to buy a big pot. In the BASE of the pot, right in the centre will be a ball valve. Either side of this valve, but still in the base, will be 2200W kettle elements. These three items will be located under a colander/strainer inside the pot, to protect the bag from scorching.

There will be a second ball valve mounted. It will be in the side of the pot, down low (usual location). This will act as the filling point for water in, and will also act as the drainage point to go to my cubes.

Whats the ball valve in the BASE for? Well, on my HLT in my 3V rig, i find that the little brown pump works very well with the priming, if the valve drains out the base of my keg, so thought i would repeat this method for the pending BIAB rig.
This BASE mounted ball valve, will go to a little brown pump, where it will be recirculated back to the top of the mash.

I am aware that as soon as i lift the bag, i will lose any benefit of a recirculated mash from a clarity point of view, but that doesnt bother me. The reason for recirculating is two fold. One, so i can maintain mash temp, and two so i can start dabbling with step mashes.
The recirculation temp will be controlled by a STC1000 in a thermowell mounted n the lid, which should reach deep down into the grain bag.
At the end of the mash i intend on shutting off the ball valve in the base, sitting the bag on a cake rack, or hang up via pulley system.

Am thinking of using a craftbrewer 70lt pot for this job.

I have looked at the wiring in my house, and i have two seperate circuits within very close proximity so, powering two elements wont be a problem. Have done a wet run with water in my keg HLT, and just using one element switched on. Reached a boil from mash temp in 60mins, which i realise is slow, but i intend to use two elements to ramp to boil, and then switch one off to maintain a boil.
I only used one for the test, so that i could get an idea of performance if i take the rig to a mates place to brew and cant use the second element.
STC1000 will control all heating / temp maintaining, but ill have to manually set it, as opposed to having a programmable control box for everything.

Some quick calculations indicate that i can save a considerable amount of time doing this, as opposed to my 3V rig. Time and effortis becoming more important to me as i try to juggle family commitments etc. just trying to reclaim some of my weekends.
Also, the other bonus i can see with this, is that i could be brewing inside, any night of the week, with electricity, and almost no cleaning regime compared to my 3V rig.

All opinions on this proposal are hugely appreciated.

Thanks for reading all this too.....

Cheers,

BN
 

stux

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I've run some numbers for you through my CE BIAB Calculator.

Assuming a 45cm pot (70L) which gives you an estimated 6.8L/hr of evaporation, with a 60 minute boil, you can do 1.063 into fermenter with 40L before having to use any topup water in your kettle. That should get you 75% into boil efficiency and 68% into fermenter efficiency.

I figured you wouldn't want to sparge since the whole point is to make it simple :)

With a 1.048 OG you get 80.5% into kettle efficiency and 73% into fermenter for 40L, assuming 4L trub.

If you do a 90 min boil, you get 81.5%/74.2% efficiency for the 1.048 beer. Conversely the max OG before requiring a topup becomes 1.055.

Now, a topup after mashout is not the world's greatest problem, and is what most 70L brewers do. So if you wanted to do a 1.075 brew, you would need a 10L topup, and would be looked at 60.3% into fermenter efficiency.

Doing a 10L sparge instead of a topup, would bump your efficiency into fermenter to 70%.

...

The point is, a 70L pot seems to be pretty perfect for 44L end of boil, which translates to 40L into the fermenter :)

I've attached my biab calcualtor so you can take a look if you want
View attachment CE_BIABcalc_2012_04_02.xlsm.zip
 

stux

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I would also suggest running a standard BIAB without the recirculation first to get a feel for it.

Pretty simple, use the attached calculator, change the grain bill if you want, change the OG to what you want, then fill with the calculated strike water volume, add the calculated grain weight and go. That should pretty much be all there is to it ;)

The only thing to adjust is the evaporation rate when you know a better figure.

You might find that you don't really need the recirculation if you do that ;)
 

bignath

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LEGEND.

Thanks Stux.

Will check out the calculators. Dont currently (or previously) aim for bigger than 1.050 so looks like okay to me. May have to change my recipes slightly as im used to 83% into fermenter. Not too big of a deal.

Also, you are correct in assuming not bothering about sparging. If efficiency becomes a problem, ill look at it, but otherwise....

Only reason initially that i was gonna recirculate, is to attempt to maintain mash temp. Elements hidden under a colander, drawing out from under vessel, back to the top. I dont i agine the elements would actually be on too much, and i recirculate my HLT nowadays anyway (so i dont have to stir it before dough in). Will be recirculating to strike temp before grain bag goes in anway, so i may as well drop STC to desired mash temp nce its stabilised, and then turn pump back on.

Thanks heaps for your reply. Looks like a system that could make beer, and probably pretty good beer at that.
 

stux

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Yeah :)

To get to 83% Efficiency into Fermenter you would *need* to reduce the kettle loss below 4L and sparge.

If you could reduce it to 2.5L and did a 10L sparge you should be looking at 83-85% EIF. But that's a lot of extra work for the sparge :)

I'd be working on a nice pickup system to reduce kettle loss as much as possible, if I was concerned

Reducing the kettle loss from 4 to 3L, with a 90 min boil and no sparge/topup for 1.050, still looking at 75% into fermenter. Which is pretty good in my book for a no-sparge brew :)
 

bignath

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Cool, thanks again mate.

the methods probably dont relate, but in 3V, my trub loss is very minimal. Maybe 1lt? Certainly isn't any more than 1.5lt's....

I have my system dialed in VERY accurately, and always end up with 20.5 into fermenters, when aiming at 20lt batch size.

Might be a case of "suck it and see"? regarding BIAB trub loss, or have i got this wrong, and maybe the method from here on doesn't matter....

Cheers,

Nath
 

stux

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Cool, thanks again mate.

the methods probably dont relate, but in 3V, my trub loss is very minimal. Maybe 1lt? Certainly isn't any more than 1.5lt's....

I have my system dialed in VERY accurately, and always end up with 20.5 into fermenters, when aiming at 20lt batch size.

Might be a case of "suck it and see"? regarding BIAB trub loss, or have i got this wrong, and maybe the method from here on doesn't matter....

Cheers,

Nath
BIAB will have more trub as you're not filtering through a grain bed. Your proposed recirculating might reduce that. Personally I get about 3L of trub for a 40L batch and 5L for a 60L.

About 50-60% of my kettle loss is rescuable as starter after running through a sieve

I grind at 0.6mm ;)

Use of a hopsock will reduce the kettle losses for very little effort.
 

bignath

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Here's basically what i'm proposing to do.....

biab_rims.jpg

Stux obviously understands what my intentions are, just thought i'd throw this up in graphical form for others.....
 

bignath

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I grind at 0.6mm
:D That's not grinding, that's pulverising it!

I'm currently crushing at 1.0mm. Should i make this smaller to pick up a few points, or is that an old brewers wives tale?
 

QldKev

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Funny thing is, what you have described is a system I've been going to build for a while

About the 2 main differences
I was planning on a single system, used for more recipe tests and beers I don't want a huge volume all at one of, eg Wiezen.
I was going to use a March pump for the recirc (the one from my main system) and have any extra flow from the normal recirc being recirc'd back toward the elements to ensure no shit stick to them

recirc.JPG

(I've got a better pic at work)


I think what you are trying is a great idea, you can do stepped mashed etc and it keeps the system fairly simple.

edit: 3rd difference, I was going to pick up the temp at the outlet of the pot during the recirc, saves trying to check with thermowells

QldKev
 

bignath

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I think what you are trying is a great idea, you can do stepped mashed etc and it keeps the system fairly simple.
thanks mate, now just need to figure out how to tell the wife "it's a great idea".

She's heard that one so many times already she doesn't believe me anymore.

Might just offset the purchase of the new pot (have absolutely everything else required except the thermowell) by buying her something aswell.

Cheers
 

bignath

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I was planning on a single system, used for more recipe tests and beers I don't want a huge volume all at one of, eg Wiezen.
I can appriciate that. I have had my "house" beers settled on for a while now (not saying you haven't) and am just trying to replace with a method that may (on paper at least) save me damn near 2hours between methods to produce the same, or similar beer. Recipe adjustments will have to be made i'm sure.....



edit: 3rd difference, I was going to pick up the temp at the outlet of the pot during the recirc, saves trying to check with thermowells
Was thinking the same, but thought it'd be best to be measuring the actual fluctuation of the mash? I'm concernerd about losing temp once the wort steps outside the vessel on the way to the top of the mash
QldKev
 

QldKev

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The other thing, if you don't want to run your second element during the boil itself is consider one of these
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/3800W-Adjustabl...=item3f11e0341e

$12, with 2 terminals to connect, active in and active out ie just run the active line via it.
Then you can throttle the second element to what ever heat level you want.

QldKev
 

aaronpetersen

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I have a very similar single batch recirculating BIAB system with a single element. My advice, based on my experience, is not to use swiss voile for the bag. I found that the weave was too fine and it would only allow a slow recirc rate before it got clogged up. I have been using a bag I bought from Grain and Grape (I've also seen them elsewhere) which has a coarser weave and this allows a much faster recirc rate. Sorry, I don't remember the details of the bag but it's probably on their website.
 

bignath

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I have a very similar single batch recirculating BIAB system with a single element. My advice, based on my experience, is not to use swiss voile for the bag. I found that the weave was too fine and it would only allow a slow recirc rate before it got clogged up. I have been using a bag I bought from Grain and Grape (I've also seen them elsewhere) which has a coarser weave and this allows a much faster recirc rate. Sorry, I don't remember the details of the bag but it's probably on their website.
Thanks mate, i have a smallish coarse grain/hop sock so i think i know the type you are talking about...

Might get onto G&G and have a look.

Before you mentioned it, i was going to have a look at the young hotties swiss voile in my local spotlight....
 

stux

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:D That's not grinding, that's pulverising it!

I'm currently crushing at 1.0mm. Should i make this smaller to pick up a few points, or is that an old brewers wives tale?
I progressively worked my way from 1.0 down to 0.5. I found 0.5 resulted in fine silt like mud which blocked my trub sieve, and even made draining the bag difficult, so I dialed it back to 0.6mm which I have no troubles with. I had increased efficiency the finer my grind, approaching 100% conversion efficiency at 0.5mm

I did 3 brews at 0.5 before dialing it back to 0.6
 

stux

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I have a very similar single batch recirculating BIAB system with a single element. My advice, based on my experience, is not to use swiss voile for the bag. I found that the weave was too fine and it would only allow a slow recirc rate before it got clogged up. I have been using a bag I bought from Grain and Grape (I've also seen them elsewhere) which has a coarser weave and this allows a much faster recirc rate. Sorry, I don't remember the details of the bag but it's probably on their website.
Sounds like good advice to me, and also a good reason NOT to go with a very fine grind. Since you're recirculating the grain bed should do most of the filtering for you, and even should help attaining the high conversion efficiency that you can get with an unrecirculated fine grind

A pulley, you should make sure you have some sortof skyhook and a 2:1 (minimum) pulley system to raise your bag.

I remove my cake rack "bag rest" for the boil by pulling on a piece of string I tie to it. That way it doesn't get in the way of the whirlpool (if you do one)
 

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