Author Topic: Assistance Needed for 1bbl setup - Electric  (Read 791 times)

Offline pmcint01

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Assistance Needed for 1bbl setup - Electric
« on: July 11, 2015, 03:42:03 PM »
We have built a 1bbl set using 3 - 55 gallon stainless steel drums. We have followed Kal's design ( including the forum pages for setups of 30+ gallons or more. We have a HLT that has two 4500 Watt elements in it. The HLT has the 50' stainless coil with a 1/2" ID.
We are having problems with mash temp control. We could control the mash temp on our test batch at all so we tried it again today with just water. We had the HLT set to 157 degree which it was holding perfectly. Our water temp in the mash tun was 148 degrees. We recirculated the Mash tun water thru the coil inside the HLT for at least 30 minutes and the mashtun temp only rose 1 degree to 149. It would occasionally fall back to 148 too. The temp of the water that passed thru the coil and reentered the mash tun was 153 degrees so it was obviously being heated while running through the coil in the HLT. For some reason it was never really heating the water in the mashtun as a whole though. We confirmed the readings of the temp probe were accurate with another thermometer. We had 11 gallons of water in our mashtun.
We had several problems with air bubbles and getting the pump to prime properly. We are using the following pump:
Chugger Stainless Steel Brewing Pump Center Inlet (Comparable to March 809-SS-HS-C)
It has a 3/4" inlet and 1/2" outlet.

We tested the flowrate of the pump directly out of mashtun to be about 3GPM and also running through the 50" stainless steel coil and up to the top of the mashtun as 2GPM. Is it possible we are simply not getting enough flow to heat up the water in the mashtun fast enough? I'm wondering if we should get a pump that has an 8GPM flow rate.

Any ideas would be helpful. Pictures of set up are attached.

Thank you,

Offline stmicbarr

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Re: Assistance Needed for 1bbl setup - Electric
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2015, 07:58:53 PM »
Cool set up!  I have a similar though much smaller one (5 gal), so here are some thoughts...
-insulate the MLT and put a lid on it
-put the temp probe on the outflow from the coil, so basically just before the wort goes back into the MLT
-increasing the flow rate probably would help, but I think it's more important to get your strike temp right so that the system doesn't have to fix wide variances in temp.
-higher flow rate will be more important if you want to do step mashes

Where are you seeing the air bubbles?

As far as process, I use my boil kettle for heating the strike water and only heat my hot liquor to the mash temp.  I have my probe on the overall liquor temp during heating, then switch it over to the outflow right before it goes into the MLT.

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Offline dak0415

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Re: Assistance Needed for 1bbl setup - Electric
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2015, 08:41:23 PM »
+1 on the insulation, a couple of layers of reflectix work wonders.
+1 on the lid.  I actually use an insulated float on top of the mash liquid to keep the evaporation down.
On pic2 where the output from the coil is entering the mash tun, do you leave that as an open stream?  You are getting a LOT of cooling from that stream.  You could just put some silicone hose on that and let the hose float on the mash. 
Assuming a 26 gallon mash infusion at 2GPM it would take 13 minutes to exchange the volume of the mash tun.  With grain in the tun, your flow rate will probably be less than 2GPM.  That is going to take a long time for the system to reach an equilibrium.  It would be even harder to do any kind of step mash.  Get a pump that CAN deliver a higher flow rate (50 ft is a lot of restriction, and you do not want your mash to stay at 153 for very long) and then restrict the flow so you don't compact the grain bed.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 12:34:30 AM by dak0415 »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Assistance Needed for 1bbl setup - Electric
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 12:46:10 PM »
Be aware that stainless is less heat conductive than copper, so it is possible that you aren't getting as much heat transfer as you could with copper tubing. In addition, if the HLT water is not moving, then its more likely that a 'layer' of cooler water surrounds the coil and that will reduce heat transfer. Stirring or pumping the water in the HLT will help move hot water into contact with the coil.

By the way, brewing on an all stainless brew rig can cause problems with sulfur compounds in your wort and beer. Including some copper in the system can help avoid that problem. Copper reacts with the sulfur compounds and all of that copper is consumed by the yeast and does not make it into the beer.
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