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Recirculation Question

 
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lucianthorr



Joined: 26 Feb 2017
Posts: 17



PostLink    Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:16 pm    Post subject: Recirculation Question Reply with quote


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Hey everybody. I just wanted to ask a quick question to see if everyone sees the same results as I do during the mash. I have a similar setup as Kal's with a simple tube that runs along the circumference of the mash tun.
But by the end of the mash, the grain bed usually has an enormous valley wherever the tubing terminated and the hot wort was coming out. Then I get it in my head that this giant valley must be where all the wort is flowing through, hence and uneven mash and lower than expected efficiency. (this could all be in my head)

I'm wondering if everyone else experiences this and not a bad thing or if this is a problem to solve for. I've tried partially closing the valves and playing with how the tubing is positioned in order to minimize the erosion but I haven't quite solved it yet.

Thanks!
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10130
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So what mash efficiency do you get? At the end of the day that's all that matters.

I do get a bit of a valley. I wouldn't call it enormous however. Some of the videos that show in my BREW DAY STEP BY STEP (http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/brew-day-step-by-step) may show this or possibly some of the instagram videos I've posted over the years (https://www.instagram.com/theelectricbrewery/).

But again, mash efficiency will tell you how well you're doing. Mine's typically 95% on average ABV beers. That is very high. So I don't worry if a bit of a valley forms because I know I'm getting most of the sugars out at the end of the day.

Good luck!

Kal

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lucianthorr



Joined: 26 Feb 2017
Posts: 17



PostLink    Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice! I've watched some of your youtube videos but never thought to look through the instagram account. I'll check it out.

I know that predictable efficiency is more important than the actual number but I tend to get ~72% efficiency which seems significant enough compared to other HERMS brewers that I feel like something's not right. I feel like that kind of difference has to be in something with the mash. Sometimes I think it's the valley caused from recirculation and other times I think it might be the false bottom.

I'll have to just keep playing with the variables.
Thanks!
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10130
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mash conversion efficiency comes from many places and can be affected by many things.

Some questions for you that will help you figure things out:

(1) What do you have your mill gap set to? I recommend between 0.045" and 0.050" if building a clone of my setup. Finer is not better with recirculating systems such as this.
(2) What kettle and false bottom are you using? Some will not have a stepped edge like the one I use which can cause side-wall shunting which reduces mash efficiency.
(3) Have your measured your post boil gravity to see if it's also low? It's common for people to not stir the pre-boil wort well enough thus not mixing in the thicker stuff with more sugar in the bottom, and coming up with a pre-boil gravity that's too low.
(4) Are you compensating for temperature when using your hydrometer? Most are only accurate at 60F or 68F. See: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/parts-list-using?page=7
(5) Has your hydrometer been calibrated? See: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/parts-list-using?page=7
(7) How long do you sparge? Aim for 60-90 mins. 90 will get you higher mash efficiency.
(8) What is your sparge water temp?
(9) what is your mashout temp?
(10) what is your mash ph?
(11) how long do you mash?
(12) Do you recirc during the mash with the mash pump running at 100%?

Kal

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lucianthorr



Joined: 26 Feb 2017
Posts: 17



PostLink    Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. I think I'm around 0.035" - 0.040".
2. I have two mash kettles, a 26 gal with a generic, custom cut false bottom and an Anvil 10 gal kettle with their sloped, proprietary false bottom. I typically brew 7.5 gallons, so I try to use the Anvil if my grain bill is under 20 lbs otherwise, I use the big one... (which means a thinner grain bed).
3. Post boil is usually right relative to the pre-boil. I'm using brewersfriend.com's estimates.
4. I tend to use a refractometer. I have heard that you can't rely on the Specific Gravity markings on refractometers but I've never tested between the two. And no, never done any compensation... You're right though, my hydrometer is calibrated to 60F
5. I calibrated the refractometer somewhat recently
7. I try for 60 but generally run out of water around 40-45 minutes. Still working on that.
8. Sparge at 170F
9. I try to mash out at +5F to 10F to whatever I'm mashing at
10. Mash Ph tends to look good
11. Mash for 60 unless it's a style that specifically calls for 90.
12. Recirculation is temperature based. Whenever it gets below the mash temp, the pump turns on. I usually keep the Hot Water Tun around 160F. If I keep it any closer to the mash temp, I tend to have a hard time holding the mash temp.

I appreciate the recommendations. Sounds like I've got a lot to play with next weekend when I brew again.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10130
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some recommendations that will help your mash efficiency:

- Loosen your mill gap to 0.045 - 0.050"
- Mash out to 168F. It'll flow better.
- A 40 min Sparge will definitely hurt. Try 90 mins.
- Recirculate with both pumps open 100%, all the time. Better extraction and also more accurate mash temperature.

Good luck!

Kal

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dp Brewing Company



Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 658
Location: Midwest

Drinking: Black Sheep NEIPA, Rye Not Today, Kick of the Irish

Working on: RIS Barrel Aged


PostLink    Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something else I do while sparging, (I'm sure someone will find a flaw in it but it works for me) is when I'm about 5 or so gallons from my total needed volume in the Boil Kettle I stop the HLT pump. In my mind I'm getting more of the sugars from the Mash Tun because I'm not diluting it anymore with water. I've found my efficiency has gone up a few points. The other plus to this is I get water left in the HLT to use for cleaning after the boil.
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10130
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dp Brewing Company wrote:
Something else I do while sparging, (I'm sure someone will find a flaw in it but it works for me) is when I'm about 5 or so gallons from my total needed volume in the Boil Kettle I stop the HLT pump. In my mind I'm getting more of the sugars from the Mash Tun because I'm not diluting it anymore with water. I've found my efficiency has gone up a few points. The other plus to this is I get water left in the HLT to use for cleaning after the boil.

Unless you're mixing up (stirring) the mash stopping the water going in the top shouldn't change the composition of water coming out the bottom when fly sparging.

Think of the mash as big tunnel or funnel: Water's added at the top, and it extracts sugars from the grain as it passes, and then exits out the bottom. If you stop adding water in the top, what's coming out the bottom won't change. Just like a stream cars entering a tunnel and coming out the other side: If you stop sending cars in the entrance it doesn't change what comes out the exit because the order doesn't change. There may be some mixing however if you mostly drain all the water however but then you run the risk of not having enough.

If you add water, stir, and then dump (called 'batch sparging') then that can make a difference since you have less water.

But if what you do works for you then by all means keeping doing it!

Kal

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