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Singel Vessel Hybrid Biab Beer - Recirculation / Step Mash Problem

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Dan Pratt

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Last night i got the all clear from the wife to make a AG brew, been a while since we had our baby boy :D .

So during this year i have been setting up my 1V ghetto brewing system to enable step mashing with a recirculation system ( still building the PID control box to automate this )

Looking for some answers to how this happened last night, got some idea of why but hopefully someone has had this before or similar. also this was my first try with the recirculating system, previously manually moved the wort or did single infusions.

Information about Set up and AG beer i was trying to make.

1V = Birko 40lt Urn with exposed element.
Mods = 1/2 ball valve replaced tap, that runs to a brown pump. This returns the wort back to the top of the vessel and is distributed into the top via curled copper tube with holes in it. moves about 5 litres per min.
Inside the birko, i have a cake stand about 75mm from the base to give good clearance that is supported by 3 x bolts welded to the stand. this keeps the bag and grain away from the element.

AG Beer - 7B - California Common - Anchor Steam Ale ( using lager yeast fermenting at ale temps.

5kg - Pale Ale (perl) (Bds UK)
440g - Cara Munich.

Method = BIAB with step mashing

Mash in @ 40 degree for 10 mins
Step 1 52 degree for 30 mins ( this is what this beer apparently requires)
Step 2 67 degree for 90 mins
Mash out 78 degree for 10 mins

Ok so here is what happened. I mashed in at 40 and let it rest while i set up the recirculation system and had a beer ( white rabbit White ale ).

When i had the system setup to start recirculating while it raised the temp to protein rest, urn on, pump on, wort recirculating and here we go. Got the grain bed temp to 52 degrees and thought do i lagg it or turn off urn and leave it to recirculate during the 30 mins??

Started the timer and left it recirculating with the lid on, while having beer and watching the footy i could here the system running and ofcourse checked it a few times.

right so after 30 mins i remove the lid and there is this crystal clear wort flowing through the system and the grain bed is well settled and the temp at 50 degrees. Time to step to 67 degree.

here is the problem......turn the urn back on, within a minute it switches off, and back on, then off again. ok, now its not coming back on. check everything and a weird burning smell arises. oh no, burnt out the element( that was not it ). lift urn, press reset button, urn come back on for a minute again then off and stays off, same burning smell.

Ok raise bag, get gloves and check that the thermostat doesnt have anything on it ( had that problem with a wheat beer ), appears ok. go around and around to finding the problem. after 40 mins decide to remove the grain and empty the wort, i find at the base of the vessel a 1 inch thick sludge that covers the thermostat and most of the element.....all the fines have fallen to the base of the vessel during the 30 mins recirc, hence the thermostat cutting out and the burning smell. phew the urn is ok.

Cleaned it out, filled with 10 litres and got that to a rolling boil to make sure the urn was alright still and to clean it.

Please help me with where this may of gone wrong, i ask because the automated system is the goal and this has happened, i thought all the fines would be within the grain bed or something.

B)
 

spog

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Pratty1, can the thermostat be moved up higher to a spot where it would be above the "sludge" line.
this would help keep it from being covered and giving you trouble.
i am guessing that the element cant be moved,so possibly there is too much fine particles in the grains,could the crush be too fine,
or the mesh bag have a coarse weave. .....cheers........spog..........
 

Bribie G

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I've had that problem with my Crown Exposed element doing a protein rest. I believe others on the forum have had troubles as well.
In fact my element is still a bit scorched looking in some areas that I can't get the steel wool into.

AFAIK the problem is that at protein rest temps there is still a lot of unconverted starch flour in the mash and when you attempt to get it up to Sacch rest, it sticks to the element and burns.
However doing a "Hochkurz" mash and doughing in initially at 62, resting, then raising to 71, resting then finally raising to mashout I have never had problems.

My understanding is that the RIMS and HERMS recirculating guys don't hit this problem because there is only clear wort in contact with the element / heat exchanger at any time.

If I ever do a protein rest again I'll make sure I do the ramp up to sacch rest using hot water, rest at 62 then proceed as per normal. Maybe you could do something similar but don't start the recirc until you have done your first sacch rest?

The basic - possibly unavoidable - snag is that with urns the element is right at the bottom and shyte falls onto it.
 

Dan Pratt

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Thanks lads. The thermostat is fixed and unfortunately the element is directly at the base. I think the solution is to not run the pump during the rest, only during the ramp ups to each step. If it happens again I will lift the grain, pump wort in 40 liter esky and clean the sludge out, refill urn and heat to sacc rest and put grain back in, maybe that will work.
 

bignath

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Thanks lads. The thermostat is fixed and unfortunately the element is directly at the base. I think the solution is to not run the pump during the rest, only during the ramp ups to each step. If it happens again I will lift the grain, pump wort in 40 liter esky and clean the sludge out, refill urn and heat to sacc rest and put grain back in, maybe that will work.
Hi Pratty, in response to your pm to me regarding this thread....

Ive been experimenting lately with only pumping whilst the element is on and have been having some good results. (ive blown an element previously in my rig).

Whilst i havent experienced your problem due to never experimenting with step mashes, i reckon you could be on to something. Time will tell i 'spose.

What size is the gap on your mill? Checked it recently? Or do you get your grain crushed by supplier?
What are you using for the bag?
 

Dan Pratt

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Hi Pratty, in response to your pm to me regarding this thread....

Ive been experimenting lately with only pumping whilst the element is on and have been having some good results. (ive blown an element previously in my rig).

Whilst i havent experienced your problem due to never experimenting with step mashes, i reckon you could be on to something. Time will tell i 'spose.

What size is the gap on your mill? Checked it recently? Or do you get your grain crushed by supplier?
What are you using for the bag?
Hi Nath,

I have been getting the grain milled at the Newcastle store. On this occasion it was 1.2mm, think i might go with 1.5 or 1.8 on the next brew. Talked with the brew shop today and they suggested the protien rest was too long, and the crack too fine for recirculating.

The bag I use is a viola mesh, however I'm making a malt pipe with a screen/filter over it to replace the bag.

Will try again in the next week or so.
 

bignath

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Hi Nath,

I have been getting the grain milled at the Newcastle store. On this occasion it was 1.2mm, think i might go with 1.5 or 1.8 on the next brew. Talked with the brew shop today and they suggested the protien rest was too long, and the crack too fine for recirculating.

The bag I use is a viola mesh, however I'm making a malt pipe with a screen/filter over it to replace the bag.

Will try again in the next week or so.
1.5/1.8 is a very wide gap....you'll certainly get some whole grain kernels uncracked into your mash.

I'd probably change only one thing at a time and see how that goes. Starting with process i reckon. I've never step mashed, but if they recommend a shorter protein, then try that first at the same crush size as before and see if that changes anything.
 

Dan Pratt

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1.5/1.8 is a very wide gap....you'll certainly get some whole grain kernels uncracked into your mash.

I'd probably change only one thing at a time and see how that goes. Starting with process i reckon. I've never step mashed, but if they recommend a shorter protein, then try that first at the same crush size as before and see if that changes anything.
Good point, at 30 mins the sludge at the base of the urn had big clear globs of protein which was evidence it was too long. Going for a 10 min protein rest, 60 min sacc and a mash out. One day I will get a BM and stop this ghetto brewing...lol. Cheers
 

NealK

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I am using a 40 litre birko too and am thinking about recirculating. Any chance of some photos of your system?
How much did you end up spending ( without automated controllers ) ?
 

Dan Pratt

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I am using a 40 litre birko too and am thinking about recirculating. Any chance of some photos of your system?
How much did you end up spending ( without automated controllers ) ?
Hi, I can get some photos over the next day or two. After much research I'm considering a rims heat exchange on the single vessel. I think this will pair nicely with my PID/SSR control box I have built.
 

Thirsty Boy

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re-circ first - make wort nice and clear whilst you are at your P rest temp without the heat on

Once the wort is clear, then turn your heat on for your ramps.

Thats what worts in a RIMS, its likely to help in your sort of system too, assuming that you do get clear wort. I dont actually know that the combo of the little brown pump and the non "normal" false bottom configuration of BIAB bag and cake rack is actually going to clear it up well enough and also suck out any shizz that collects under the FB.

A mod that "might" help, is to have a pick-up tube run from the tap to the center of the elements, this is going to give you a bit of wort velocity over the elements (which is a good thing, trust me), its going to pull from the "bottom" of the pot like a proper false bottom does which might stop stuff collecting in the deadspace below that outlet, and even if a bit of stuff does collect under there, you'll have basically a little vacuum cleaner hoovering it all away from the hot burny bits before it can get scorched.

Just an idea - not tried it, dunno if it'll work, but it should at least help.
 

MHB

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1.5/1.8 is a very wide gap....you'll certainly get some whole grain kernels uncracked into your mash.
Snip
OH - No he wont!
The brew in question was ordered as a BIAB, now that we know what he is up to the grain will be cracked for a recirculating system sans whole grains.
Mark
 

bignath

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OH - No he wont!
The brew in question was ordered as a BIAB, now that we know what he is up to the grain will be cracked for a recirculating system sans whole grains.
Mark
Hi Mark,

this has me interested as i've started venturing down the biab road after doing the 3v thing for a while...

what size do you crush at for a "recirculating system"?

Cheers

Nath
 

MHB

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Nominally about 1.4-1.5mm, but we always take a long hard look at whats coming out of the mill and usually run malt through 2-3 times at different settings till we get the best crack.
The other point is that different malts crack differently at the same setting, UK malt is usually plumper and you get a good free running crack at about 1.5mm, Australian and German malt is finer (thinner) and to get the same crush would be closer to 1.3-1.4mm.
If there is a large fraction of Wheat it is milled separately, as are Oats and Rice.
Milling is never a one size fits all option, so rather than an absolute number (that will give very different results on different mills) we go more with the spirit of the order rather than just chucking it through at a setting without thinking about it.
There is a fair element of getting to know your customer (or your own system). Luckily we have a big and very versatile mill which makes it easy to run the malt through a couple of times without taking too long (in theory 18Kg/minute, but we go a bit slower than that)
In BrewBuilder (my recipe ordering program) you can choose:-
Coarse - Nominally 1.8mm (Floating Mash)
Medium- Nominally 1.5mm (good recirculating mash/Braumeister)
Fine- Nominally 1.2mm (high efficiency 3V or fast draining BIAB)
Extra Fine- Nominally 0.9mm (BIAB)
BB.JPG
Mark
 

Jay Cee

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I dont actually know that the combo of the little brown pump and the non "normal" false bottom configuration of BIAB bag and cake rack is actually going to clear it up well enough and also suck out any shizz that collects under the FB.
In a conventional mash tun system, I was of the mind that recirculating until wort runs clear is due to smaller grist particles being trapped in the grain bed as the wort is redeployed to the top of the bed after trickling down from the return dish (or whatever flat surface is employed - I have seen plastic container lids used to similar effect). While this method could be employed in a recirculating 1V system, wouldn't there still be an issue of grist hotspots without agitation, particularly at the base of the grain, being in a closer proximity to the heat source ? An alternative, and a practice employed by some here it seems, would be to redeploy the returning wort throughout the grain bed, to assist in an even temperature, but then sacrifice the clear wort opportunity. Which would mean that recirculating 1V serves one purpose only, and that it to maintain temps without constant monitoring, stirring and heat application.
 

Dan Pratt

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re-circ first - make wort nice and clear whilst you are at your P rest temp without the heat on

Once the wort is clear, then turn your heat on for your ramps.

Thats what worts in a RIMS, its likely to help in your sort of system too, assuming that you do get clear wort. I dont actually know that the combo of the little brown pump and the non "normal" false bottom configuration of BIAB bag and cake rack is actually going to clear it up well enough and also suck out any shizz that collects under the FB.

A mod that "might" help, is to have a pick-up tube run from the tap to the center of the elements, this is going to give you a bit of wort velocity over the elements (which is a good thing, trust me), its going to pull from the "bottom" of the pot like a proper false bottom does which might stop stuff collecting in the deadspace below that outlet, and even if a bit of stuff does collect under there, you'll have basically a little vacuum cleaner hoovering it all away from the hot burny bits before it can get scorched.

Just an idea - not tried it, dunno if it'll work, but it should at least help.
Hi Thirsty,

I have thought through that possible mod but with end of boil whirlpool i would be getting all that trub into the cube. good option for a 2v/3v system still.
 

Dan Pratt

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OH - No he wont!
The brew in question was ordered as a BIAB, now that we know what he is up to the grain will be cracked for a recirculating system sans whole grains.
Mark

Thankyou MHB, the next brew for my 1V system will be for recirc at the right size and we should eliminate the issue i had.

Dan
 

Dan Pratt

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In a conventional mash tun system, I was of the mind that recirculating until wort runs clear is due to smaller grist particles being trapped in the grain bed as the wort is redeployed to the top of the bed after trickling down from the return dish (or whatever flat surface is employed - I have seen plastic container lids used to similar effect). While this method could be employed in a recirculating 1V system, wouldn't there still be an issue of grist hotspots without agitation, particularly at the base of the grain, being in a closer proximity to the heat source ? An alternative, and a practice employed by some here it seems, would be to redeploy the returning wort throughout the grain bed, to assist in an even temperature, but then sacrifice the clear wort opportunity. Which would mean that recirculating 1V serves one purpose only, and that it to maintain temps without constant monitoring, stirring and heat application.
There is no concern with grist hotspots, i think.

the wort return is through a copper tube with about 15 or so 3mm holes it it that is decently spread so it should travel nicely through the grain bed and then out the 1/2 ball valve and back through. Getting a 5 liters a min which would see a 10 or so full recircualtion of the wort after a 60 min Sacc rest.
 

Thirsty Boy

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Hi Thirsty,

I have thought through that possible mod but with end of boil whirlpool i would be getting all that trub into the cube. good option for a 2v/3v system still.
Just take it out before you boil

or if you dont mind a little vessel modification, perhaps have two outlets, one for recirculation and one for casting out.

Jay Cee - ALL recirculating systems are primarily dependent on the flow rate. The rate of flow must be able to distribute the entire heat output from the element/heatex - if it can't the design is flawed.

TBH - I find most of the 1V recircing systems (based around a "bag") that I see, to be a little silly and pointless. I get why people want to make a "cheap" verrsion of a Braumeister... but the bag based systems are to me, just bloody minded adherence to a paradigm for its own sake. Not all, but most.
 

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