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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: Phil_M on March 06, 2017, 01:47:30 AM

Title: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 06, 2017, 01:47:30 AM
So after being the exception that proves the rule, (I broke Denny's "cheap and easy" method) I bought a SS Brewtech 10 gallon mash tun.

Despite have brewed for several years now, today was my first time brewing on a system with a false bottom. I ended up having a terrible time getting my runoff to the point that it didn't have grain bits in it. In the end I managed to keep a most of it out of the kettle, but sill ended up with some grain particles. I'm not terribly worried, it'll still be beer.

The real issue is how to prevent this from happening again. After taking everything apart for cleaning, found that I'd pulled a large slug of particles out from under the false bottom. I'm not sure if I have the flow rate right when I started my vorlauf, and perhaps this is how so much got under there? How are other folks vorlaufing?

Aside from this the mash tun worked great! Even with my opening the lid 4 times to check the temperature I only lost a degree in a 60 minute mash. The only complaint I have is the included thermometer-it's completely useless. At one point it was reading 137o when my Thermapen was reporting 156o.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Laminarman on March 06, 2017, 02:05:14 AM
Never, every deny the Thermapen.  I can't help with the SS, you are way more advanced than me.  But if I'm grilling a venison tenderloin on the grill, and the Thermapen says 125, it's 125.  They are just awesome. 
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 06, 2017, 02:08:08 AM
Never, every deny the Thermapen.  I can't help with the SS, you are way more advanced than me.  But if I'm grilling a venison tenderloin on the grill, and the Thermapen says 125, it's 125.  They are just awesome.

The Thermapen is probably the best cooking investment I've made. Barbecue, brewing, heck even just throwing some chicken in the oven, my wife and I use it daily. We're considering buying a second...
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Alewyfe on March 06, 2017, 06:53:26 AM
Pull very slowly until you're running sufficiently clear wort. Any false bottom has a lot larger holes than a wire braid.
Regarding the thermometer, yes the thermapens are accurate, but they don't take a reading half way down the tun and the temp will vary substantially at different depths until the temp equalizes. That said, most analog bimetal thermometers need to be calibrated and take a much longer time to stabilize their reading.

Those SS Tuns look really nice...sounds like it will work well for you.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: brewinhard on March 06, 2017, 03:05:05 PM
After you have properly recirculated (if you choose to do so) you could stop the runoff, and put your drainage hose into a fine mesh hop sack clamped tight with a worm clamp. This will clear wort into your kettle and keep all of the extra crap inside the bag out of your precious wort. I have been doing this for years and it works well.

Just some extra insurance to potentially avoid any husky/astringent notes from grain particulates in the boil.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: narcout on March 06, 2017, 04:58:23 PM
After you have properly recirculated (if you choose to do so) you could stop the runoff, and put your drainage hose into a fine mesh hop sack clamped tight with a worm clamp.

That's what I was going to suggest as well.  It works.

Alternatively, you could line the tun with one of these: http://www.brewinabag.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-brew-bag-for-coolers?gclid=CM655rqswtICFU5gfgodUqoNrw
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 06, 2017, 05:18:53 PM
Part of why I got out of BIAB is cleaning is a pain. With the cooler, and now that mash tun, I can just lay them next to the sink and rinse them out. Might even just start putting the false bottom in the dishwasher...

Before I took any readings with the thermapen I gave the mash a good stir. This should have equalized the temperatures. The thermometer that comes with the mash tun is digital, I've no idea why it was so far off.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: 802Chris on March 06, 2017, 05:55:13 PM
Part of why I got out of BIAB is cleaning is a pain. With the cooler, and now that mash tun, I can just lay them next to the sink and rinse them out. Might even just start putting the false bottom in the dishwasher...

Before I took any readings with the thermapen I gave the mash a good stir. This should have equalized the temperatures. The thermometer that comes with the mash tun is digital, I've no idea why it was so far off.

It's interesting you say that. I just switched from a stainless braid to a brew bag for my cooler and I found it easier to clean, at least for me. I like dumping the bag in the trash and just spaying it and the cooler down before dying. No having to worry about grain getting stuck all over everything. To each his own of course!

Also, I would be surprised if the digital thermometer didn't have at least a basic way to calibrate it? Maybe the manufacturer could shed some light. There's nothing more frustrating than finding out your temps are way off.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 06, 2017, 08:37:50 PM
That's just it, the included thermometer can't be adjusted, or at least I don't know how to. The direction did not include any sort of calibration method, and upon inspection of the thermometer there's no apparent way to calibrate it. Definitely the Achilles heal for what otherwise a very nice piece of gear.

For those with good (Blichmann or other higher end) analog thermometers, how accurate are they? I'm not talking Thermapen accuracy, just want to be within a degree or two.

And going back to the original question, I guess I must have run things wide open at first. Next time around I'll go easy till the grain bed has set.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: narcout on March 06, 2017, 08:57:43 PM
I really like that company (good products, excellent customer service), but those included digital thermometers are the exception. 

For those with good (Blichmann or other higher end) analog thermometers, how accurate are they? I'm not talking Thermapen accuracy, just want to be within a degree or two.

I have two of the Blichmann weldless thermometers, and I think they would work fine for your purposes.  Honestly, though, why even bother?  I would just take readings at the beginning and the end of the mash with the Thermapen and call it a day.   
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 06, 2017, 09:05:46 PM
Because a part of me is bothered by the thermowell being there if I'm not going to use it? Honestly they should just offer a version that's fully insulated vs. having a small uninsulated area for the thermowell hole.

That being said, I'm slow and didn't know (or knew and forgot) that Blichmann's remote thermometers were selling now. That's probably the route I'll go.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: syncopadence on March 06, 2017, 10:00:06 PM
I also have the 10 gal ss brewtech mash tun. I haven't had this problem, but I will say I usually have the valve about halfway open when doing my vorlauf.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 06, 2017, 11:20:47 PM
I also have the 10 gal ss brewtech mash tun. I haven't had this problem, but I will say I usually have the valve about halfway open when doing my vorlauf.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

Do you mill your own grains? What's your mill's gap set to?
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: syncopadence on March 07, 2017, 01:02:14 AM
I also have the 10 gal ss brewtech mash tun. I haven't had this problem, but I will say I usually have the valve about halfway open when doing my vorlauf.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

Do you mill your own grains? What's your mill's gap set to?
I do not, I just let my local hbs do it, and I don't know what they set it to. Something I want to find out now. Assuming you're milling properly, maybe just try vorlaufing slower. How open is your valve?
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 07, 2017, 01:10:23 AM
I went wide open to start, just as I did with my old "cheap and easy" setup. From what I've learned here, this isn't the right approach with a false bottom...

The mill questions were more related to how tight is possible before stuck sparges happen.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: syncopadence on March 07, 2017, 01:17:32 AM
Gotcha. Yeah I wish I could be of more help with the milling, but I can tell you I've never had a stuck sparge. My usual runoff is also about halfway open. Do you also have the sparge arm? I've had excellent results with it, and it also means you only need to vorlauf once.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 07, 2017, 01:23:13 AM
I don't, I batch sparged. Due to the limitations of condo brewing, I don't see that changing. No way I can store a 3-leveled sculpture in the garage and still be able to maintain my vehicles.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: VictorBrew on March 07, 2017, 04:42:09 PM
I ended up having a terrible time getting my runoff to the point that it didn't have grain bits in it.

The real key to voiding the pesky grain particles in the kettle is a good long recirc, but it does not sound like that is an option.  I assume you were using a SS braid in old MT previously?  Prior to incorporating a recirc, I solved the problem by using my SS braid(the one previous was using in the MT) on the end of hose used to drain from the MT to the Kettle.  Worked great.  I saw that others suggested a mesh bag on the outflow hose, but I found the SS braid simpler to use and clean.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on March 07, 2017, 05:04:28 PM
Half the reason I went with a false bottom vs. another braid setup was that I do plan on incorporating recirculation at some point in time. I may try and step those plans up.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: goforthegusto on March 09, 2017, 12:07:56 AM
I am thinking you just need to pull off and recirculate more volume than you are used to doing. As another mentioned, the false bottom has a lot more surface area and larger openings, so there will be more grain making it through. The braided set up has a much greater degree of filtering (smaller openings), and the grain will set around the smaller surface, creating increased filter effect. I personally do continuous recirc with a pump, and it really does take a few minutes of circulation before I notice that the grain bits are no longer present. A few minutes of pumping is easily a gallon or two, if not more, of volume that is recirculated. Then, its probably another 10 minutes before I notice a good degree of "clarity" in the wort being circulated from the filtering effect of the grain bed. When I start my recirculation, I start with slow flow, and gradually increase it until it is at a pretty good flow.
I recently switched to a Spike brewing kettle with their false bottom which covers the whole bottom of the kettle, and have had a huge increase in my mash efficiency.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on May 08, 2017, 11:18:46 AM
So now that the semester is done, I've finally been able to brew a second batch with the SS Brewtech mash tun.

Still having a terrible time getting it to run clear, still plenty of grain bits. Again, when going to cleanup I found a lot of grain had passed through the holes in the false bottom. I don't know if they're getting through during the mash, and I'm just not running off fast enough to suck all those bits out fast enough, or if the runoff is pulling them through the false bottom.

I'd really love to just recirculate and be done with it, but I'm not sure I'll have the funds to implement that this year.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: zwiller on May 08, 2017, 03:35:11 PM
I used a false bottom a long time before switching to bazooka tube and it's an entirely different technique.  I'd say it's not suited to batch sparging at all.  Some pros use a mash filter/pad over a false bottom.  Something like this might help.  http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=24071 (http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=24071)  Might have to cut one out of the 55G size.  That said, using a fly sparge technique should work fine on a false bottom. 
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on May 08, 2017, 04:11:12 PM
I've been thinking about moving to full volume mashes, or fly sparging stronger beers. But again, recirculation isn't likely happening soon, and I'd need to either build a sculpture or buy a pump to start fly sparging.

So I guess you can say I'm moving in that direction, but idk when I'll be able to spend the money and do that.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: narcout on May 08, 2017, 04:31:47 PM
I just used mine for the first time last week, and the runoff seemed as clear as usual.  There was perhaps a bit more particulate in the hop bag.

(http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff164/narcout/IMG_0923_1.jpg) (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/narcout/media/IMG_0923_1.jpg.html)
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: Phil_M on May 08, 2017, 05:48:37 PM
Do you mill your own grains? What's your mill gap set to?

My issue may still be running too quickly before the grain bed has set. However, with a ball valve it's touchy trying to get it draining enough to do something, but slow enough to not pull grain through.

I've been thinking about getting some of those Blichmann G2 valves since they're easier to clean/sanitize, but the linear "throw" may be a help as well.
Title: Re: I feel like a newbie all over again...
Post by: narcout on May 08, 2017, 07:09:51 PM
Do you mill your own grains? What's your mill gap set to?

Yes. I have  Barley Crusher that I keep set at the stock gap (though I installed new rollers on it last year and the stock gap may be different now).

My crush looks like this:

(http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff164/narcout/IMG_0282.jpg) (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/narcout/media/IMG_0282.jpg.html)

To be clear, the hop bag catches about a golf ball worth the finest grain particulate (same with my old mash tun which utilized a bazooka tube).  Maybe that could be avoided with enough recirculating, but this seems easier to me.