Sparge ring

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hooper80

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Hi blokes, I have a herms system and am trying to better my efficiency. I'm wondering if recirculating through a Sparge ring and sparging through a Sparge ring would be better than the length of silicone hose I am now using which gives me a whirlpool?
 

Mardoo

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You'll get differing opinions on that one. Could be fun to watch. Popcorn anyone?

I've seen plenty of 80% efficiency brews with the old hose plopped in the top. I've seen simple and innovative home solutions for sparge apparati. I've seen some pretty elegant and expensive SS sparge rings, that are damn tempting. Consider this - when Blichmann did the Auto-Soarge, they chose the hose on a float route. They do a lot of background on ideas before they release very expensive products. Some of which are a little odd, but anyway…

I've used almost entirely hose in the top, and haven't really compared this to using some sort of sparge apparatus. I don't think I'm experienced enough with both sorts to even have an informed opinion.

My guess would be your efficiency issue would be coming from elsewhere. What's at the bottom of that mash tun? How's the wort removed from the pot, and recirc'ed?
 

JDW81

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hooper80 said:
Hi blokes, I have a herms system and am trying to better my efficiency. I'm wondering if recirculating through a Sparge ring and sparging through a Sparge ring would be better than the length of silicone hose I am now using which gives me a whirlpool?
What is your current efficiency?
 

Camo6

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Timely topic. Was discussing a similar issue with another brewer recently and suspect my efficiency took a bit of a hit when I went from a silicone sparge ring to a Blichmann Autosparge. Might not be the case and not too fussed about the drop but gives me an excuse to tinker and trial a Beerbelly type return dish to accommodate the AS's return hose. An old post of Dicko's prompted me to grab a SS camping mug from the $2 shop tonight. Time to make use of the new E size bottle of argon my accountant made me buy.
 

hooper80

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Mardoo said:
You'll get differing opinions on that one. Could be fun to watch. Popcorn anyone?

I've seen plenty of 80% efficiency brews with the old hose plopped in the top. I've seen simple and innovative home solutions for sparge apparati. I've seen some pretty elegant and expensive SS sparge rings, that are damn tempting. Consider this - when Blichmann did the Auto-Soarge, they chose the hose on a float route. They do a lot of background on ideas before they release very expensive products. Some of which are a little odd, but anyway…

I've used almost entirely hose in the top, and haven't really compared this to using some sort of sparge apparatus. I don't think I'm experienced enough with both sorts to even have an informed opinion.

My guess would be your efficiency issue would be coming from elsewhere. What's at the bottom of that mash tun? How's the wort removed from the pot, and recirc'ed?
It's a 50lt keg with a false bottom. Then a $80 pump pumps it through a 1/2 copper coil In my hlt the back into the mash tun with a silicone hose. My efficiency is 65-70%
 

Mardoo

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Camo6 said:
Timely topic. Was discussing a similar issue with another brewer recently and suspect my efficiency took a bit of a hit when I went from a silicone sparge ring to a Blichmann Autosparge.
How big a drop?
 

Camo6

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From memory I was getting about 80% according to Beersmith but now aim for about 72% and still have trouble hitting my numbers regularly. I'd made a few changes to the setup and not overly concerned but would still like to get to the bottom of it.
 

klangers

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There is no need for a sparge ring/sprayers in home brew scales, as the depth of sparge liquor above the grain bed relative to the width of the grain bed is sufficient to allow the liquor to evenly flow around.

Sparge sprayers in large mash tuns are necessary as the depth of liquor remains similar (1-2") but the mash tun is obviously much wider, so the liquor doesn't tend to evenly move without the sprayers.
Any dribbling or dripping will let additional oxygen to dissolve in, and that's not ideal either.
 

Mardoo

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There has to be a sparge arm experiment buried somewhere on this site. No luck finding one last night though.
 

DJ_L3ThAL

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I've had troubles recirculating my mash. I use a SS float and hose return (same as Blichmann Auto-sparge without the float valve) - I throttle a ball valve to adjust the flow. Patience has yielded the best results by simply not recirculating for 15-30minutes to let bed settle and slowly slowly slowly cranking the return flow up over time.

Problems with my method:
  • This takes more than half the mash time on simple brews and given I am running on RIMS, I NEED high flow relatively quickly in order to be able to step my mash temps. It's 'workable' at the moment because I don't often do short first steps like protein rests etc, yet.
  • Even when I get a nice steady gentle whirlpool return, I'm still seeing a "dig out" of the top of mash bed along pot wall directly under where the hose return comes in.
  • If I'm impatient and start flow within first 15 mins, this channeling is quite bad and for e.g. the last brew I did we lost 0.008 points from the planned efficiency.
I might also after stirring my mash initially to ensure no dough balls be lifting the false bottom slightly and getting crud/grain stuck under there. Have not been able to confirm this but thinking some SS tube and comp fittings to mount my mash tun might be more rigid than my current silicone hose setup and prevent this potential issue.

I'm also planning on trying the soup ladle return trick right in the centre of the bed next time. Will start the flow right on 15 minutes into the mash so I am at a time I can visually compare difference to using the float/hose return.

Anyone else have any other suggestions?
 

DJ_L3ThAL

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Photos of such channeling from brew day before last. I was quite patient and had decent flow once I got it going. Still was 0.005 points short and had the noticeable flow paths on side wall and cracks through top of the grain bed as shown.

ImageUploadedByAussie Home Brewer1469484698.615181.jpg
 

Screwtop

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For best efficiency in my system I fly/continuous sparge and over 10 years I have tried many types of sparge devices. Originally I ordered a rotating sparge arm from the US which I had numerous problems with. Mainly temp loss in the sparge water and not spinning due to the low sparge flow. I needed to sparge over 30 min for best efficience so the flow through the rotating arm was not enough to maintain rotation, it just stopped and dribbled water. it's still on a shelf somewhere in the brewshed! I shied away from a float valve as they clutter up the top of the mash tun and restrict access if stirring is required. For my HERMS system I need a device which would not block up. Tried using a copper ring with slots cut into it which was my original Mash Tun Manifold, it clogged with bits of grist so it was relegated to the bits bin too. Next was a length of hose with holes which also clogged up, so I removed the end bung. This worked so I tried a length of silicone hose with a round fishing float at the end to hold the end at the surface of the liquid in the tun. This worked well but was not best as the wort/sparge water was not leaving the mash undisturbed. Tried a cup with the hose in it and a few other methods like floating dishes etc. What I wanted was to use a manifold of some description which distributed the returning wort (when recirculating) and sparge water evenly across the grainbed without disturbing it, and without blocking up. Also during recirculation I wanted the wort to return below the wort surface in the tun to minimise both heat loss and oxidation of the wort. A fellow brewer came up with this, works a treat. At the beginning of the recirc some grist is circulated until the wort clears, using this device any blockage of the small holes is soon cleared as the wort then flows up to the height of the end opening and flows out there, resulting in just enough of a rise in pressure to clear the holes, usually they are only blocked by a bit of grist or husk and soon clear. The upward flow in this new manifold seems to clear much better than previous manifolds I have used mounded above the wort which seem to remain blocked.

This manifold sits on top of the grainbed and the outlets face up. Deadset simple but works a treat. I watched it in use in my mate's mash tun which is similar to mine which has an internal diameter of 360mm. The grainbed looked great after draining, no signs of channeling of disturbance. Cant wait to use it in my system.

LiamsWortManifoldSml.jpgLiamsSpargeRing1.jpg
 

Screwtop

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DJ_L3ThAL said:
Photos of such channeling from brew day before last. I was quite patient and had decent flow once I got it going. Still was 0.005 points short and had the noticeable flow paths on side wall and cracks through top of the grain bed as shown.

ImageUploadedByAussie Home Brewer1469484698.615181.jpg
I have seen this on my system before, mostly due to too much stirring of the grist. With HERMS/RIMS its best to stir gently and only at the mash in, and again once the temp has been raised to mash out. At the higher temp (Mash Out 77c) the mash is far more open due to lower viscosity and much of the grist floats at this stage. During the Mash Out Stand it settles back with good even distribution.

Too much stirring during and not stirring after the ramp to Mash Out temp results in flour and small particulate matter being stirred into suspension which settles on top of the grainbed forming an impervious layer, the liquid then takes the path of least resistance - usually down the sides of the tun due to this muddy layer across the top of the grain bed. This seems to be more of a problem with smaller domed false bottoms.

The basic principals of mash separation are that wort is strained through a filter bed made up of the husk and solid material (Grist) which is held on a screen or filter. The important issue is flow rate, which depends upon a combination of filter surface area, pressure differential across filter, and wort viscosity. For the best flow rate we need a large filter surface area, a shallow filter bed, equal differential pressure across the filter bed and low wort viscosity.

Have a look at the pic in my post you will see the false bottom in the bottom of my mate Liam's Mash Tun. He made this one from SS Mesh and I am fitting one when I upgrade to a 70L tun.

Screwy
 

Screwtop

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technobabble66

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A really cheap option is to simply mould a piece of aluminum foil over a shallow bowl, scrunch down the edges and use a fork/etc to punch holes across the new tin bowl to allow extra drainage. Clamp the hose to the side of the mashtun with the end sitting in the mainly-submerged "bowl". The wort/sparge can flow over the top and thru the holes.
Since doing this, I have a nice even mash bed top, and great efficiency. Takes ~5mins to organize. Costs ~$0.10.

ImageUploadedByAussie Home Brewer1469493260.011975.jpg
 

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