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Messages - dcbc

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Equipment and Software / Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« on: November 26, 2012, 09:01:33 PM »
Just to pile on to what others have said, but with my own experience.  Get to know your brew day.  All of our home breweries are differently situated.  Once you have yeast management and fermentation temp control nailed down, if you feel the need to make changes, do it with the idea of improving the process, i.e., make it easier and shorter.  Like Denny, I don't really enjoy building brew stands as much as I like brewing.  That's why I started off by copying his system.  Over time, I made adjustments to suit me.  But ultimately, I wanted a rig I could automate.  So given my desire not to spend a year building it, I had someone build it for me.  Because I don't like messing with wiring control panels, I saved up for a pair of the Blichmann TOP controllers.  I did some of the little things, but left the heavy lifting to the experts.  All of this doesn't necessarily make the beer better.  The improvements in the result is probably a bit of a coincidence coupled with the fact that I have been doing this for a while.  But having a system that holds the mash within 0.5 degrees of what I tell it to without my running around with pots of boiling water or standing and stirring to get that strike water temp just right as it drops from the preheated temp doesn't hurt.  I don't miss that extra effort.  I get just as big of a thrill out of watching the machine ramp up temperatures.  But everyone is different.  And no system is perfect for every brewer. 

Every major change to my brewing setup took about two batches to get dialed in. 

Equipment and Software / Re: RIMS Question
« on: November 26, 2012, 08:43:26 PM »
I use this adjustable return tube from Brew Hardware.  Food grade and safe up to 170 F.

Does that thing float on the surface of the mash well?

It is adjustable.  You can bend it every which direction.  I place it toward the edge, just under the surface of the mash and run my recirculation loop.  If I'm running a larger or smaller grain bill, I just adjust it up or down to maintain this position.

I don't use the Camlock fitting pictured.  I already had a threaded return port in my kettle.  So I just screwed it on.  It pops off with a little pressure for cleaning.  Great little piece of equipment.  I tried the silicone hose return.  But I could never get it to stay exactly where I wanted.  It tended to sink.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Wet milling fail / I'm an idiot
« on: November 17, 2012, 04:09:17 AM »
Wow, that is some serious moisture. I condition the grain with a spray bottle as I am dumping it from scale to bucket. I just spray the grain as it falls in. I always let it sit at least 20 minutes before milling after all that spraying as well. It does make my grain bed seem "fluffier".

We live and learn right? At the very least it is a wild photo. How much grain were you milling there?

This is basically what some brewers do at the pro level.  They run the grain through the auger, and into the MLT.  At the end of the auger, they attach a collar that is hooked up to an off shoot of the water inlet to the mash tun so that the grain is hydrated as it enters the tun.  Good for cutting down on dust and preventing dough balls ... possibly a few other things. 

At our level, I don't worry about it.  I just add the grain slowly and stir a lot.

Equipment and Software / Re: RIMS Question
« on: November 09, 2012, 10:49:59 PM »
I use this adjustable return tube from Brew Hardware.  Food grade and safe up to 170 F.

Equipment and Software / Re: Help!! Pickup Tube/Chilling/Whirlpool Dilemma
« on: November 07, 2012, 08:08:06 PM »
I run my dip tube to the side and recirculate through my CFC.  No problems with clogging.  I get a nice trub pile and draw off slowly with the pump to the fermenter.  Not sure how well this would work on the Blichmann kettle with the dip tube setup.

This is mine.

All Grain Brewing / Re: HERMS vs RIMS
« on: November 04, 2012, 04:17:06 PM »

dcbc - just a heads up, I didn't do the wiring - the control panels can be purchased assembled.  I did alter the kettles and build the brewstand, etc. however. 

edit - forgot the Blichmann ToP is for propane IIRC.   Nonetheless you can make a simple control panel for $5-600 easily.

A couple of years ago, I had natural gas run to the garage.  I don't miss filling propane tanks a bit.  I haven't noticed any difference in my NG bill as a result of my brewing.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Batch Sparging on a Single-Tier System
« on: November 04, 2012, 04:12:25 PM »
Yes, you need two pumps to fly sparge on a single tier stand.  I batch sparge on mine.  If you underlet your sparge water, you are going to disturb the grain bed. But if you stir your mash for batch sparging anyway, that shouldn't matter much.  I have a top port on my MLT with an adjustable return that I place just below the mash bed. I recirculate with the pump, and the return creates a bit of a stirring/whirlpool that seems to mix things up without really disturbing the bed.  With a bazooka screen like I had on my cooler MLT, disturbing the bed wasn't as big of a deal.  But with the false bottom, I'm less inclined to stir things up.  Seems more prone to channeling.  On the other hand, the pump doesn't seem to cause it to compact or stick too easily.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Which dry ale yeasts to keep as backup?
« on: November 03, 2012, 12:46:19 AM »
I always keep one or two packets of Saf-Lager 34/70.  I have, fortunately, never had a non-fermenting problem with a liquid ale yeast.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Increasing fermentation temperature
« on: November 03, 2012, 12:36:35 AM »
This is my first brew.  In the Yeast book, the authors describe ....

I have to say, this post really shows how far home brewing has come from an information available standpoint.  I think I got my information prior to my first brew off the side of the box (kidding, I read Palmer's Vol. 1 before my first brew).  But still, kudos to you for filling your head with so much great available information before taking the plunge.  You are far less likely than most of us to have to suffer through your first batch (not that mine wasn't caramelly sweet and delicious.  :-X

You are on the right track! 

Pimp My System / Re: Brew Stand 3.0
« on: November 02, 2012, 12:51:37 PM »

Equipment and Software / Re: Gas Pipe Question
« on: November 01, 2012, 08:54:09 PM »
Any chance you will ever go natural gas?  If so, you may want to go bigger.  Also, will the plumbing be supporting the burners or will you have those bolted into your wind screens?

All Grain Brewing / Re: HERMS vs RIMS
« on: October 31, 2012, 09:18:58 PM »
I went back and forth on this numerous times.  I poured over the electric brewery site a lot.  I played with wiring up a dedicated HERMS element in a cooler.  But after I saw the ad for the Blichmann Tower of Power controllers in Zymurgy, my mind was made up.  It's not the cheapest option by any stretch, but it's very much plug and play and works extremely well in holding temps and raising temps.  Keep the flame low and the pump moving the mash liquor around and scorching is a non issue, at least in my experience with it. 

It's worth mentioning that wiring up control panels is not something that I consider myself to be very good at nor is it something I enjoy. 


Equipment and Software / Re: 23 Nozzle Jet Burner
« on: October 31, 2012, 09:09:37 PM »
I'm not sure about the propane burners, but I have 3 of the 20 tip NG burners.  These burners need a pretty good amount of pressure to function properly.  I supply my stand with 3/4" pipe straight from the meter and go down to 1/2" pipe for the final runs to the burners.  Worked fine with no soot.  But when I installed the 3/8" Blichmann asco valves on my 1/2" pipe, I got a lot more yellow flame (not a lot of soot though).  But restrict them more, i.e. turn the valve down too much, and I got soot like crazy. 

It's a little counter intuitive, since yellow flames and soot are ordinarily indicative of a burner's being run too rich.  But in the case of these burners, they need enough gas pressure for the jets to pull in air at the base of the jet as well as to off set the other jets to get a blue flame.  Without enough pressure, they won't pull in the air and will run rich. 

Pimp My System / Re: Brew Stand 3.0
« on: October 31, 2012, 08:53:26 PM »
Nice little action shot from last Friday.  Bohemian Pilsner.  Hochkurz mash schedule.  Controllers worked flawlessly!

Pimp My System / Re: Sculpture Build For The Non-Mechanical Brewer
« on: October 31, 2012, 08:51:28 PM »
Looks great!  Good luck with the plumbing.  Get some good pipe dope!

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