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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: qm3k on April 06, 2011, 02:30:35 PM

Title: A few nagging questions.
Post by: qm3k on April 06, 2011, 02:30:35 PM
Hi all,

I have been out of brewing for a while due to the arrival of a baby...he simply wouldn't give me the time last summer!  However, it looks like I'll be able to get back into it right away and am sort of chomping at the bit to get started.

However, there are a few issues that I had the last time I brewed that I would love to have resolved.

1.  I started using a 10 gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker the last 2 times I brewed and while it's a beautifully designed brewpot, I had a huge problem getting the wort out of the pot.  I did not siphon...I tried to drain through the valve on the pot, and the dip tube that is supposed to allow a brewer to get the absolute most liquid out of the pot started to clog with trub, and I would lose up to a gallon of wort this way.  Now, I feel a little silly for asking this, but I have a feeling my problem is with the whirlpool...could someone please explain this process to me?  I know it seems an odd question for someone who has been brewing for a while, but before I used this particular pot, I never had a problem with losing wort to clogs.  I have read that doing a proper whirlpool will aid in having the trub settle in the center of the pot, allowing for a complete drain.  Any comments would be appreciated.

2.  I am going to be upgrading my chiller and have money set aside for a Thermanator.  However, it seems a little too good to be true to chill 10 gallons in 5 minutes, and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't be pumping under-chilled wort into a glass carboy, causing it to shatter on me.  Paranoid, maybe, but I figured it would be safer to ask than to just charge ahead.

3.  Finally, no matter what pot I use, I have ALWAYS managed to boil off way too much.  Very frequently, I end up with a 4 gallon batch after boiling 6 gallons for 1 hour.  How vigorous should my boil be?  Also, should I stop the boil early if I notice the volume decreasing too much?

Thanks for any input.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Beer Monger on April 06, 2011, 02:39:38 PM
First off, welcome.  And welcome back to brewing.  I took too long of a 'break' myself, but now I'm back with a vengeance!  :D 

1. I don't usually do a whirlpool - and I do drain my boil kettle via the valve/spigot at the bottom.  Here's a little trick I found years back that seems to prevent clogs for my boil kettle.  I got some steel scrubbers.  Not steel wool - more like this stuff:

(http://edge.shop.com/ccimg.shop.com/230000/231300/231372/products/-!Sponge%20Stainless%20Steel%201%20Dozen%20Unit%20Sells%20As%201%20Dozen--45750783.jpg)

The spigot on my boil kettle is threaded for removal, so I unscrewed it, pulled a few strands of this thing through the hole and screwed the spigot back in - thereby holding it in place inside the boil kettle, just inside the spigot.  It's no hassle, works great and they're cheap & easy to replace. 

2. I'm not personally familiar w/ the Thermanator.  I use an imersion chiller that works pretty well for me.  Perhaps someone else can answer thsi one. 

3. That does seem like an excessive amount of evaporation loss during the boil.  Do you keep a lid on your boil kettle at all?  Are you boiling super-vigorous?  My boil is usually a steady roll, but not super-vigorous.  If this continues to be an issue, could you simply collect more wort at the start of the boil to account for the loss? 

Good luck.  Happy brewing! 
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Hokerer on April 06, 2011, 02:40:54 PM
Welcome to the forum and, oh yeah, congrats on the little one :)

As to your first question, the idea of the whirlpool is that you want to stir the wort strongly enough to get a good whirlpool effect going.  You should see a dimple in the center of the pot.  Then let things settle for 10-20 minutes.  All the hops, trub, etc. should end up in a "cone" in the center of the pot with very little material around the perimeter.

If you're still getting clogs, a lot of folks report success with adding a stainless steel "scrubbie" or a "hopblocker" type screen to the end of the dip tube. 

Finally, if all fails and things still clog, don't give up on what's left in the pot.  Worst case is you just have to tilt the pot and dip out the remainder with a measuring cup or something.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: bluesman on April 06, 2011, 03:01:14 PM
I also use a Blichmann Boilermaker 15 with a Thermanator. I've found that by using the hop blocker and bagging my hops (muslin bags) acts as extra insurance against clogging the dip tube with trub. The muslin bags migrate around the hop blocker upon draining and act as a trub filter therefore rendering a filtered beer out of the BK.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: gordonstrong on April 06, 2011, 06:36:51 PM
Welcome to the forum and, oh yeah, congrats on the little one :)

+1

I don't have that system, so I can't comment on that but I don't think you'll shatter a glass carboy if your wort is too hot.  You simply aren't pumping it in fast enough to shock it like that.  But the Thermanator is one badass chiller.  If your wort is too hot, it's probably because you forgot to turn on the cold water.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: blatz on April 06, 2011, 06:54:50 PM
so I can't comment on that but I don't think you'll shatter a glass carboy if your wort is too hot. 

ahem, it can be done.  I know a guy who crimped his water in hose on his Therminator during the first part of runoff once. It shattered my, I mean his carboy.

I also use a Blichmann Boilermaker 15 with a Thermanator. I've found that by using the hop blocker and bagging my hops (muslin bags) acts as extra insurance against clogging the dip tube with trub. The muslin bags migrate around the hop blocker upon draining and act as a trub filter therefore rendering a filtered beer out of the BK.

wow - that's pretty disappointing that you still have to use hop bags with the Hop Blocker.  with my new brewhouse I am looking to use the same kettles (though I nixed the Therminator last year as you know).   Have you tried it with pellets floating freely and come to that solution or are you a belt and suspenders kinda guy?  Have you tried with whole flower?

To the OP - sorry not meaning to hijack your thread - here's some of my thoughts on your queries:

1). well, see above. but with regard to whirlpooling - do you have a whirlpool arm?  I created one based on Jamil's instructions, but you can get more advanced.  basically its a copper tube that spans the inside contour of your kettle.  pump wort out through the ball valve at the bottom through the arm and a whirlpool will start forming.  Mine is not super fast, but it works and actually IC + Whirlpool is WAYYY better than Shirron or Therminator of which I have tried all three and settled on this.

2). see above on chiller.  get buckets or Better Bottles.  Safer.  Or if you have the coin, Conical - fun toy.

3). the wort should be rolling, maybe jumping a little on the sides, but not trying to jump out of the kettle. don't stop the boil early - it will mess with your hop utilizations.  just try to keep it down.  if you can't, brew bigger batches (i.e. 6 gal instead of a 5 gal batch) and you'll end up where you intended.  but 2 gal an hour is high.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: maxieboy on April 06, 2011, 06:59:03 PM
Welcome and welcome back! I'll speak to the Therminator. If anything I'd guess you'd be throttling the water to keep from overchilling an ale wort. I don't use a pump but this is what happens to me on a gravity system(chill 10g in 10 mins) with MI winter tap water. Someone using a pump with this chiller will have to chime in. Happy brewing!
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: gordonstrong on April 06, 2011, 07:00:34 PM
so I can't comment on that but I don't think you'll shatter a glass carboy if your wort is too hot. 

ahem, it can be done.  I know a guy who crimped his water in hose on his Therminator during the first part of runoff once. It shattered my, I mean his carboy.

I stand corrected.  I've done it several times when I'm trying to run hot wort through the chiller to sanitize it and mistakenly had the out tube inside the carboy.  But yeah, just because it didn't happen to me, doesn't mean it can't happen.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: punatic on April 06, 2011, 07:43:28 PM
Looking at the topic line, I thought this thread was about SWMBO  :o
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: bluesman on April 06, 2011, 08:29:38 PM

I also use a Blichmann Boilermaker 15 with a Thermanator. I've found that by using the hop blocker and bagging my hops (muslin bags) acts as extra insurance against clogging the dip tube with trub. The muslin bags migrate around the hop blocker upon draining and act as a trub filter therefore rendering a filtered beer out of the BK.

wow - that's pretty disappointing that you still have to use hop bags with the Hop Blocker.  with my new brewhouse I am looking to use the same kettles (though I nixed the Therminator last year as you know).   Have you tried it with pellets floating freely and come to that solution or are you a belt and suspenders kinda guy?  Have you tried with whole flower?


Point taken Paul...but this is all in an effort to produce the clearest beer possible, prevent clogging the dip tube, prevent clogging the Therminator and all of this is done without a whirlpool. My process has been evolving from year to year and this is where I'm at right now. Next year might bring improvements but I'm happy with my system today.   :)

Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: malzig on April 07, 2011, 01:19:42 AM
A lot of homebrewers get told they need a "vigorous boil" early on and really take it to heart.  A lot of homebrewers really overdo it.  You want the wort to keep moving, but it doesn't need to be trying to leap out of the kettle.  You're trying to target 8-15% evaporation, but more is superfluous. 

Try turning the heat down, but a lot of cheap or oversized burners don't have the fine control to allow you to temper the boil without it sputtering out.  I've never tried it, but I've talked to brewers that claim success with a shorter boil, recommended it even, but you need to plan for it with the hop additions and probably stay away from Pilsner Malt.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Will's Swill on April 07, 2011, 02:03:53 AM


1). well, see above. but with regard to whirlpooling - do you have a whirlpool arm?  I created one based on Jamil's instructions, but you can get more advanced.  basically its a copper tube that spans the inside contour of your kettle.  pump wort out through the ball valve at the bottom through the arm and a whirlpool will start forming.  Mine is not super fast, but it works and actually IC + Whirlpool is WAYYY better than Shirron or Therminator of which I have tried all three and settled on this.



The problem with this is that the hops will clog the dip tube while the whirlpool is being established, right?

As to losing too much in the boil to evaporation, you can always top up after the boil.  I myself don't subscribe to the 8 - 15% evaporation number, but you should suit yourself.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: tygo on April 07, 2011, 03:45:54 AM
A lot of homebrewers get told they need a "vigorous boil" early on and really take it to heart.  A lot of homebrewers really overdo it.  You want the wort to keep moving, but it doesn't need to be trying to leap out of the kettle.  You're trying to target 8-15% evaporation, but more is superfluous. 

Try turning the heat down, but a lot of cheap or oversized burners don't have the fine control to allow you to temper the boil without it sputtering out.  I've never tried it, but I've talked to brewers that claim success with a shorter boil, recommended it even, but you need to plan for it with the hop additions and probably stay away from Pilsner Malt.

You make a good point about boiling too vigorously but depending on your kettle dimensions you can have an appropriately "just rolling boil" and still boil off two gallons per hour.  I have a wide kettle and that's about what I boil off.  My rule of thumb is if I'm a little worried that I'm not boiling vigorously enough then I'm probably boiling too vigorously. 

I got myself worked up awhile ago about this because of that 8-15% rule of thumb before I decided that it didn't really matter that much in terms of wort quality.  You just need to account for the anticipated boil off when doing the calculations for starting boil volume.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: denny on April 07, 2011, 04:46:01 PM
I stand corrected.  I've done it several times when I'm trying to run hot wort through the chiller to sanitize it and mistakenly had the out tube inside the carboy.  But yeah, just because it didn't happen to me, doesn't mean it can't happen.

Says the man who blew up a barrel....
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Bret on April 07, 2011, 04:55:17 PM
Looking at the topic line, I thought this thread was about SWMBO  :o
;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Beer Monger on April 07, 2011, 06:44:42 PM
I stand corrected.  I've done it several times when I'm trying to run hot wort through the chiller to sanitize it and mistakenly had the out tube inside the carboy.  But yeah, just because it didn't happen to me, doesn't mean it can't happen.

Says the man who blew up a barrel....

Woah!  How the hell'd he pull that one off?   :o
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: tumarkin on April 07, 2011, 06:46:38 PM
I stand corrected.  I've done it several times when I'm trying to run hot wort through the chiller to sanitize it and mistakenly had the out tube inside the carboy.  But yeah, just because it didn't happen to me, doesn't mean it can't happen.

Says the man who blew up a barrel....

Woah!  How the hell'd he pull that one off?   :o
c'mon Gordon, retell your 'cautionary tale' in the interest of public safety
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: denny on April 07, 2011, 06:49:55 PM
c'mon Gordon, retell your 'cautionary tale' in the interest of public safety

And outrageous humor!  ;)
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: gordonstrong on April 07, 2011, 06:56:54 PM
c'mon Gordon, retell your 'cautionary tale' in the interest of public safety

And outrageous humor!  ;)

How do you think I start the book?
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Bret on April 07, 2011, 07:01:49 PM
c'mon Gordon, retell your 'cautionary tale' in the interest of public safety

And outrageous humor!  ;)

How do you think I start the book?
LOL! Didn't see that one coming.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: blatz on April 07, 2011, 07:04:39 PM
The problem with this is that the hops will clog the dip tube while the whirlpool is being established, right?

well, yes if this is the only variable he changes, but I was assuming he would handle this via HopBlocker and/or bags as bluesman suggested.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: tschmidlin on April 07, 2011, 07:06:40 PM
c'mon Gordon, retell your 'cautionary tale' in the interest of public safety

And outrageous humor!  ;)

How do you think I start the book?
Now you really sound like an author . . . "you'll have to buy the book to find out". :)
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: punatic on April 07, 2011, 07:16:34 PM
c'mon Gordon, retell your 'cautionary tale' in the interest of public safety

And outrageous humor!  ;)

How do you think I start the book?
Now you really sound like an author . . . "you'll have to buy the book to find out". :)

Changed around a bit, it is a popular phrase in SF too.  ;)
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Beer Monger on April 07, 2011, 07:19:44 PM
c'mon Gordon, retell your 'cautionary tale' in the interest of public safety

And outrageous humor!  ;)

How do you think I start the book?
Now you really sound like an author . . . "you'll have to buy the book to find out". :)

No doubt.  So now I have to wait a few weeks to find out?   lol   :-\
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: tschmidlin on April 07, 2011, 07:21:47 PM
No doubt.  So now I have to wait a few weeks to find out?   lol   :-\
That's what you get for taking time off of brewing, if you'd been around you would have heard the story.  And seen the aftermath. ;D
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: tschmidlin on April 07, 2011, 07:24:22 PM
Changed around a bit, it is a popular phrase in SF too.  ;)
It's probably something obvious, but I can't figure out what you're talking about. ;D
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: Bret on April 07, 2011, 07:26:54 PM
Please no one spoil it on here!
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: andrew on April 07, 2011, 08:20:20 PM
I normally get between 10 and 15% evaporation over an hour with my blichman but I am at sea lvl. Maybe it's a combo of a harder boil and altitude? I didn't see were you were at...
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: jeffy on April 07, 2011, 11:13:29 PM
Changed around a bit, it is a popular phrase in SF too.  ;)
It's probably something obvious, but I can't figure out what you're talking about. ;D
Me neither.
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: punatic on April 08, 2011, 12:37:19 AM
Changed around a bit, it is a popular phrase in SF too.  ;)
It's probably something obvious, but I can't figure out what you're talking about. ;D
Me neither.

Think Nancy Pelosi...  :D
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: richardt on April 08, 2011, 12:46:10 AM
Something like, "You have to pass the [health care] bill so you can see what's in it?"
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: bluesman on April 08, 2011, 01:19:40 AM
Changed around a bit, it is a popular phrase in SF too.  ;)
It's probably something obvious, but I can't figure out what you're talking about. ;D
Me neither.

Think Nancy Pelosi...  :D

Do you hear that noise?











....it's the can of worms opening.  ::)
Title: Re: A few nagging questions.
Post by: punatic on April 08, 2011, 01:43:38 AM
Something like, "You have to pass the bill so you can see what's in it?"

Is Gordon's book 2,000 pages long?   ;)



....it's the can of worms opening.  ::)


Couldn't have said it better in a million years...   ;D