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Kettle Mashing Question

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dcbc:
I would suggest taking your temperature somewhere in the return loop to the kettle and keep the recirculation rate fairly quick (but not so fast that it sticks).  On my setup (direct fired rims with 20 gallon kettle and false bottom), I keep the flame low, recirc with the valve on the high output march pump about 1/4 open, and take the temperature with a probe on the output side of the pump.  My temps are pretty consistent between my controller, my kettle thermometer, and the handheld thermometer I use to randomly check the mash temps and wort return.  I use a piece of flexible/adjustable tubing from brewhardware.com as my wort return.  I place it just beneath the surface of the mash toward the side.  There is a little whirlpooling of mash liquor, but minimal aeration. 

dean_palmer:
My mash tun is also a direct-fire keggle with a RIMS tube and a false bottom. Mostly 10 gallon batch sizes. I do stir for a while as the temps stabilize, and a few times during the mash session to even them out. No matter what you do there will be temp differences, especially when the outside temps are cold, and there is nothing wrong with gentle stirring of the mash every 15 minutes. If you were using a well insulated vessel it would be even more stable, but with an uninsulated stainless vessel there will always be a bit of variation. Nothing wrong with some stirring, if there were, the pros wouldn't have mash rakes running. Chances are if you did nothing you would still get acceptable results due to the average temps in the main body of the mash.

ckpash88:
Two questions.

Should I have the pump recirculating wort while I am stirring?

Would my best bet on monitoring mash temp be right at the kettle valve? If my thinking it right that should be the hottest area in the mash.


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ckpash88:
I know I didn't mess up my last batch bc the airlock was going crazy. I am just not sure if I hit my target temp to get the right gravity... I guess I'll know after it hits fg.


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dcbc:

--- Quote from: ckpash88 on November 27, 2012, 07:30:21 PM ---Two questions.

Should I have the pump recirculating wort while I am stirring?

Would my best bet on monitoring mash temp be right at the kettle valve? If my thinking it right that should be the hottest area in the mash.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

--- End quote ---

I think there are multiple schools of thought on probe/thermometer placement.  The valve is probably fine.  Mine is about in the middle of my loop, about 3 feet of silicone hose and one pump from the kettle outlet.  This is about half way between the heat source (direct fired) and the mash liquor return in the kettle.  Once everything settles in, the probe in the loop is reading the same as both the kettle thermometer (mid mash) and the thermometer I can stick in the wort stream at the return or in several spots at the top of the mash.  So, the answer is that it probably doesn't matter too much.  By having it mid stream, I'm chancing that the mash liquor below the false bottom where heat is being applied might be slightly hotter the second or two it's being heated before leaving the mashtun and recirculating across the probe that controls the flame.  But that's not enough of a variation to worry me.  My recirculation rate is pretty quick.  So things are constantly moving.

As for stirring, you shouldn't have to if you are recirculating your mash liquor and you have a return line placed in a way that causes that mash liquor to flow fairly evenly throughout the mash.  The quick paced recirculation of the mash liquor coupled with a low heat source will help you avoid scorching and the correct placement of the return line helps to keep the mash temperature uniform.  By stirring, you are disturbing the mash bed, making it harder for the mash liquor to clear, and could possibly increase the chances of a stuck mash.

This is, of course, based on my system.  So your mileage may vary.

I should also add that my direct fired RIMS is automated.  So I'm not doing anything but letting the mash settle for about 10 minutes, starting my pump, slowly at first, then increasing flow to a pretty brisk rate, then punching in my temperature on the controller, and letting the controller do all of the work.  Manually turning the flame off and on sounds like a lot of work and is probably going to lead to some temp swings.  Once my temperature has settled in, the flame-ons don't tend to last longer than a second or two every 30 seconds to a minute. 

Some good insulation for the kettle might be a better bet until you decide to automate the RIMS.  Some closed cell foam (gym mat) and aluminum tape did just fine for my kettle for an hour mash as long as I wasn't recirculating.  It's not the prettiest thing, but it works.

Good luck.

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