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Step Mashing In A 3 Tier Gravity System

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iralosavic

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G'day. I've been BIAB mashing for a while now and my 30th is on the horizon so I'm planning on stepping it up to 3v. Whilst I enjoyed the simplicity of BIAB, especially while learning the fundamentals of brewing, I have found it doesn't quite suit me. I can't afford the financial outlay to jump straight into a single tier system, nor am I all that keen on plumbing up pumps and whatnot at this stage. I will look into recirculation as a next step and probably use the same single pump to move to 2 tiers, but that's for another birthday to come, perhaps.

Anyway... I've been scouring google and youtube for instructionals on step mashing with a 3 tier system, but just can't find anything. All the info on step mashing seems to be specific to HERMS/RIMS systems and all the info on 3 tier systems is on single temp infusion mashing...

I'm just after some guidance and clarificaiton on how the HLT is used to infuse steps. Ie. what temperature do I maintain the HLT at after the strike water is dispensed?

Supplying sparge temperature water (let's say 82c max) for infusion steps would demand a significant amount of water for each step vs boiling water, but would you sparge and lauter with boiling water? I haven't seen it done... (just to clarify, I understand the sparging process and plan to fly sparge and have ordered a suitable false bottom to facilitate this).


Rather than continue to think aloud, can anyone please take me through the process? A hypothetical could be worth a thousand words, so here's one that will come up a lot for me:

Desired final volume 20L
Grain 5kg
Mash schedule
In @ 55c for 10 minutes
63c for 10 minutes
68c for 50 minutes
72c for 10 minutes
Out @ 76c

I use BrewMate, which does calculate the strike water volume and temp and calculates the remaining available sparge water (which I have set to 2.5 water/grain ratio for AG), but it doesn't answer the questions/doubts I outlined above nor explain how to easily/quickly calculate the volumes of water to reach target steps via HLT delivered infusions.


Cheers!
 

Rowy

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There have been a couple of people on this site recently that have just switched back to BIAB. I went to a brew day recently with a 3V system and I can tell you I'll stick with my 3.5 to 4hr brew day including cleanup. Good system run by an experienced brewer but not for me ATM.
 

Rowy

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A cake rack, a thermometer and a gas burner will enable you to do your steps without having to worry about volumes and temps of your HLT.

Just my 2c.
 

kelbygreen

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Ok you can step mash in 3v or any system using "infusion" (this is heating water to boiling and adding say 5lts to ramp the temp up) This works well for mash in, sach and mash out but if you add more steps then you dont have any water to sparge with or you dont have enough room in the MT.

Another option is decoction (usually used in lagers but can be used in ales) with this you take out say 4lts of mash and boil it. Now the true form is more to caramelise the mash (so boil it for say 10mins or something) but you can use it for a step and just bring it to the boil and add it back into the mash. This method will make a different beer to stepping with infusion or HERMS or RIMS but it could be better or worse depending on the style and what you expect.

You can combine the 2 of these and make multi steps, With them there is alot more work then set and forget and I find infusion is the best and less hastle.

so my bills are like this:

52c for 10 mins (this will be a very thick mash like 1.5lts per kg of grain)
then infuse say 15lts of water to bring it to 65c for 60 mins (this would bring it up to about 2.5-3lts per kg)
then infuse with say 17lts to bring it up to 76-78c for 10mins (this will be close to or above 4lts per kg)
then I fly sparge with 78c water so there maybe I have to add 15lts to get my preboil volume so fly sparge with that.

Edit:
Ok I will run threw what I do!

1. water goes into the HTL for strike water (prob about 15lts or so)
2. water also is in the boiler (or 20lt pot on the boiler burner) this is about 13-15lts they are both put on at the same time.
3. the water in the HLT reaches say 71c for my mash in temp and transfer it to MT and mash in
4. water in the kettle (or 20lt pot) is still heating at about 80c now.
5. 10 mins goes by and the kettle (or 20lt pot) is boiling this gets added to the mash for sach rest (raises to 65c or abouts)
6. add mash out water into my kettle (or 20lt pot) add sparge water into my HLT
7. wait till about 20mins before end of mash both burners go on.
8. 20mins later the mash out water is boiling or close to it and the HLT is prob turned off so it doesnt get to hot.
9. water in kettle goes into mash for the mash out, and the burner turned on to the HLT if its needed to get it back to 78c
10. 10mins later drain the MT and sparge with the water out of the HLT.

Doing this I pump out 42lts in about 4hrs from setup to clean up as everything is heating at once and everything is ready when it needs to be, With HERMS or RIMS mash in then 10mins later it starts to heat and the next step timer wont start till the target temps reached so if it takes 15mins per step to heat and you have 4 steps there is 1hr added on there straight up
 

iralosavic

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A cake rack, a thermometer and a gas burner will enable you to do your steps without having to worry about volumes and temps of your HLT.

Just my 2c.

I appreciate your input and opinion, but I have reached the verdict based on quite a lot of research - including knowing full well that many people are moving away from 3v in favour of braumaster clones. I designed and built my BIAB keggle with expansion to multi vessle in mind, but decided I owed it to myself and BIAB to give it a good try first, which I have. I also already understand how to and have experience doing step mashes in my BIAB system and found it ok, but that wasn't the main or only reason for wanting to move to 3v. Cheers
 

iralosavic

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Ok you can step mash in 3v or any system using "infusion" (this is heating water to boiling and adding say 5lts to ramp the temp up) This works well for mash in, sach and mash out but if you add more steps then you dont have any water to sparge with or you dont have enough room in the MT.

Another option is decoction (usually used in lagers but can be used in ales) with this you take out say 4lts of mash and boil it. Now the true form is more to caramelise the mash (so boil it for say 10mins or something) but you can use it for a step and just bring it to the boil and add it back into the mash. This method will make a different beer to stepping with infusion or HERMS or RIMS but it could be better or worse depending on the style and what you expect.

You can combine the 2 of these and make multi steps, With them there is alot more work then set and forget and I find infusion is the best and less hastle.

so my bills are like this:

52c for 10 mins (this will be a very thick mash like 1.5lts per kg of grain)
then infuse say 15lts of water to bring it to 65c for 60 mins (this would bring it up to about 2.5-3lts per kg)
then infuse with say 17lts to bring it up to 76-78c for 10mins (this will be close to or above 4lts per kg)
then I fly sparge with 78c water so there maybe I have to add 15lts to get my preboil volume so fly sparge with that.

Edit:
Ok I will run threw what I do!

1. water goes into the HTL for strike water (prob about 15lts or so)
2. water also is in the boiler (or 20lt pot on the boiler burner) this is about 13-15lts they are both put on at the same time.
3. the water in the HLT reaches say 71c for my mash in temp and transfer it to MT and mash in
4. water in the kettle (or 20lt pot) is still heating at about 80c now.
5. 10 mins goes by and the kettle (or 20lt pot) is boiling this gets added to the mash for sach rest (raises to 65c or abouts)
6. add mash out water into my kettle (or 20lt pot) add sparge water into my HLT
7. wait till about 20mins before end of mash both burners go on.
8. 20mins later the mash out water is boiling or close to it and the HLT is prob turned off so it doesnt get to hot.
9. water in kettle goes into mash for the mash out, and the burner turned on to the HLT if its needed to get it back to 78c
10. 10mins later drain the MT and sparge with the water out of the HLT.

Doing this I pump out 42lts in about 4hrs from setup to clean up as everything is heating at once and everything is ready when it needs to be, With HERMS or RIMS mash in then 10mins later it starts to heat and the next step timer wont start till the target temps reached so if it takes 15mins per step to heat and you have 4 steps there is 1hr added on there straight up
Thanks a lot for the reply, mate. Decoction will be a fantastic option for me for a lot of beers I make (as I am quite partial to German lager styles). I guess my next question is this: for blokes who rely exclusively on their HLT for infusion water and DON'T decoct, would they:

1. bring the HLT to the boil after striking in, perform infusions for all steps and sparge hotter than normal?
2. bring the HLT to the boil after striking in and add chilled water to the HLT after the last infusion is performed, but before sparging (and factor the cold water into the total HLT volume)?
3. bring the HLT up to sparging temp after striking in and perform infusion steps with larger volumes of cooler water

One thing I do understand about the purpose of mash out and sparging is that the hotter temperature helps make the sugary wort more fluid and therefore easier to extract/lauter and get flowing. It stands to reason, in my mind, that sparging at near boiling would only further increase the fluidity and flow and I can't really think of a reason that a 90-95c sparge would be detrimental - but I don't proclaim to know half of what many other brewers here know.


Cheers
 

kelbygreen

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anything over 80c will extract tannins out of the grain, something you dont want in your beer!

But yes your right hotter sparge is better but try not to go over 80c. If you have a cheap 20lt pot and a 2-3 ring burner then you can infuse on that. I use it in my brewery as its easier to heat and lift 15lts of water in a 20lt pot then my 80lt kettle lol.

If your doing singles 20lt pots heaps, as I say I do 42lts into cubes and use it for infusion. I would look at a cheap pump and hoses and garden fittings. With a brown pump and $30 worth of hoses and garden fittings on the ball valves then you can go single tier.

here is mine

 

DJR

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I infuse with boiling water from a pot on the stove and keep the hlt for mash in and sparge duty. you could also use an electric kettle to heat boiling water for smaller mash volumes or small rises in mash temp. Or decoct. Decoctions are more to clean up and a long brew day though.
 

DJR

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The other issue is it takes a log time to get sparge and infusion water together to 100c, if it were fast you could mash in say with 40l in the Hlt., losing say 15l from mash in at which point the hlt would be at say 60 for a protease rest, raising to 100 with the remaining 25l would take longer than you really want to stay at protein rest temps for. But say you were doing a Kolsch with a 62 deg then 69 deg rest, you might be able to heat to 100 for the step then add cold water to the HLT to get it back down to 76-80 for sparging.
 

iralosavic

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Thanks a lot. You've both helped me to get a better understanding of the limitations in my planned setup. I have a 20L pot which I used for stove-top decoctions that I can use as for infusions (or just a 2L kettle where appropriate).

Hey Kelby, I am struggling to envision how you could fly sparge with one pump on a single tier? Do you batch sparge? I don't have anything against batch sparging, but I've been designing my rig with fly sparging as the target method.
 

kelbygreen

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a 2lt jug and some standing around!! just scoop or pour the water out of the HLT into the jug and pour onto the top of the mash water. I put a bit of alloy foil with holes in it floating on the water to disperse it more. Sure its more work but you would be monitoring the sparge anyway

Edit: My system you have to do alot manually still but I have compromised a few things to get a system thats 1. cheap 2. easy and 3. is almost as fast as BIAB. But you get clear wort into kettle and out of it.

I got the pump simply as I was mashing on my bench then gravity feeding to the kettle then lifting that onto the burner on the bench. First time I done a double batch my back killed for weeks I planed a 3 tier then figured what the hell I bought the green pump (was about $140 and best investment I made).

I have done a double and a single side by side once it was a flat out day I had 20mins rest when it was mashing and about 20mins when it was boiling but I done 63lts (42lt of pale ale and 21lts of pils) with a decoction in the pils in 4hrs 35mins :p
 

Thirsty Boy

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you use boiling (or close) water for your infusions, then you sparge with sparge temp water, which you get by adding some cold tap water to the boiling water in your HLT. Simple.

The good brewing software, Promash or Beersmith, will calculate your infusion additions for you.

OR

You can just mash iyour kettle and do your steps via direct heating, then use the massively complex and expensive technology of a jug and 5mins of effort, to transfer your mash into your Lauter tun. Rinse out your kettle while your mash is settling for 5 minutes, re-circ and sparge.

No infusions required, just fire and a stirring arm. As simple as it gets and probably the most effective way you can step mash
 
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