Author Topic: Peoples thoughts on HERMS vs Direct Fired MLT with recirculate.  (Read 2982 times)

Offline glastctbrew

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Peoples thoughts on HERMS vs Direct Fired MLT with recirculate.
« on: February 23, 2011, 09:51:04 PM »
Hi all,

I'm planning out the next changes to my brewery and I'm looking for feedback on 2 alternatives I'm considering regarding the MLT setup.  I use a Top Tier stand currently equipped with burners for the HLT and BK and a shelf for my Coleman 48 Qt MLT.

I've been considering setting up another burner on the system with an MLT hooked up to my pump.  I'd manually control temps through the mash via direct firing the MLT while re-cirulating the liquor with the pump to avoid scorching.  The other alternative is to buy 50' of 1/2 copper tubing and use my HLT and the pump to set a manual HERMs system. 

The driver behind this is 2 fold.  Create alternatives in my brewery that will allow me to fly or batch sparge so I can experiment with both techniques.  I also want to provide the ability to tightly control temps through out the mash.

So, I'm looking for feedback on these alternatives that will round out the info I'm using to make my decision.  Thanks in advance.
Scott
Still Hill Brewery

Offline gsandel

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Re: Peoples thoughts on HERMS vs Direct Fired MLT with recirculate.
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2011, 10:20:48 PM »
I just went from long time direct fire MT with circulation pump to a HERMS system that lives in my HLT.  I did my first brew on the HERMS last week, and the jury is still out.

My direct fire system had me constantly turning on and off the burner to maintain temps and avoid scorching (I never did scorch....good false bottom), but the temp fluctuations always bothered me.

My new herms system seems to make it easier to maintain a given temp, as the temp changes slowly....however, I figured that I could raise the temp to mash out using only the HERMS system, but it took a little longer than I expected to get the temp from mash to mash out....I think it is not an indictment of the system, but a problem to be solved through process and procedure....or call it operator ignorance.

In the long run, if I figure out how to use it, I will like it much better....in the meantime, I hope my beer is not adversely affected....check back in a few weeks.

You wouldn't believe the things I've seen...

Offline dshepard

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Re: Peoples thoughts on HERMS vs Direct Fired MLT with recirculate.
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2011, 02:56:29 AM »
I have been using my HERMS for a few years (10?) and can give you my experience. I have a perforated false bottom in my MT and the few times I tried to use the burner under it to warm things up I have scorched some grains. Not much gets through, but just enough to cause a problem. Therefore I only use that burner to dough-in, from that point on all my temperature rests are controlled via the coil in the HLT and a pump. I only have one pump, but I installed S/S Camlock connections on everything so I can easily reconnect the pump where needed. If you are using a cooler, you could get by not using a burner by simply heating the MT via the HERMS.

My HERMS coil has a three-way bypass valve so I run my pump the whole mash and control temperature by changing the position of the valve. A friend of mine has a very similar setup except he does not have a valve. Instead he cycles his pump to maintain temperature. Both systems work very well. His has an advantage in that he has automated his temperature control, mine is manual although it does not require too much attention.
Concord, NC

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Peoples thoughts on HERMS vs Direct Fired MLT with recirculate.
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2011, 03:47:55 AM »
I'm currently using a RIMS-ish system - mash tun outlet is pumped through my wort chiller coil which sits in my electric boil kettle. The kettle's temperature is regulated by a temperature controller - the probe for the controller is in the mash.

I've been happy with it but it is a bit of a pain to get temperatures right.

So, my thinking is now to change the system so that the electric kettle is now the mash tun, and I pump from the outlet back to the top of the tun. THen I use a gas burner under the old mash tun to boil the wort. For those of you who have used direct-fire mash tuns before, do electric kettles have the same problems with burning/caramelization? I'll have a false bottom installed so it seems like it'd be ok, but even without a false bottom, would it be alright? Ideally, the element would only be turned on for short bursts to maintain temp, and in my mind the thermodynamics of that are far different from a continuous flame on a burner.

Thoughts?
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Peoples thoughts on HERMS vs Direct Fired MLT with recirculate.
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2011, 07:51:29 AM »
I think the key to a successful direct fired mash is controlling the temp using a  PID controller . Monitoring the temp and heat manually is too much work IMO. There are brewers who have success with a manual direct fire system but you have to constantly monitor the temps which takes one away from other duties during the brew session.
Ron Price

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Peoples thoughts on HERMS vs Direct Fired MLT with recirculate.
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2011, 08:11:41 AM »
I think the key to a successful direct fired mash is controlling the temp using a  PID controller .

_That's_ the word I was looking for. I have a PID I use for sous vide, and that's what I was planning on using for the electric kettle. Sounds like it's a go.
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