Working out the kinks

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Working out the kinks

Postby jayhawk » Thu Sep 12, 2002 5:10 pm

I am in the middle of brewing all grain for the second time. How do you guys accurately measure and presicely control temperature. My gear: a candy thermometer and a 6 gal bucket mash tun. I find that if I want measure temp, I have to open the mashtun, wait 60 seconds for an accurate reading, but meanwhile I am letting precious heat escape. There must be a better way. Also, when I stir in the malt, I lose a lot of heat because I slowly stir in the malt to avoid clumping of the grain.What are the best ways to combine water and malt? Thanks, Chris.
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Thermometer

Postby andytv » Fri Sep 13, 2002 3:16 am

I couldn't brew without a digital thermometer. I use a fairly high quality panel meter with a RTD probe that I hashed together when working as an engineer. This type of setup had a 6 foot long thin TEF coated cable with a small probe, so I can leave the probe in my mash tun if I want. To set yourself up like th is, you need a couple hundred bucks, otherwise keep your eyes open for consumer grade setup. I'm sure that there are cheaper ones out there.

I know alot of people may disagree, but i like to measure my water into my tun, then stir in the grain.

andy
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cheap thermometer

Postby Gravity Thrills » Fri Sep 13, 2002 7:11 am

You can get a fast-responding dial face prob thermometer for a couple of bucks at Wal mart etc. A digital model is right around 10 bucks. They have maybe 4-inch probes that you can stick into your mash, so you need to stir well to avoid stratification so that heat near the top of the bed is reflective of the entire mash.

I started with a candy thermometer, too, and ditched it after two brew sessions. It has a slow response, and only a narrow portion of the overall range relevent to mash temps (hence reduced accuracy at target ranges). Also, in a comparison I did against two other candy thermometers, there was a nearly 15F disparity between the lowest and highest reading thermometer. Now I only use the candy thermometer when I make pralines, but I'm trying to eat better so it mostly gathers dust in the drawer.

If you are losing heat when mashing in and stirring to the degree that you are falling out of optimum temp range then it will be a real hassle to keep applying heat through a 60-90 minute mash. I assume you are on stovetop, not in an insulated vessel, since you should only be losing a couple degrees over the entire mash even with marginal insulation.

NUNC EST BIBENDUM
(Now it's time to drink)
Jim
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Let's try this again.

Postby Brewer2001 » Fri Sep 13, 2002 12:30 pm

Chris,

I had a nice post,modem timed out and lost it all.

I will try and recap. I took a pro brewing course and apprenticed with Dick Cantwell at his brewery here in Seattle. Pro brewers reley on 'setting up' the mash perameters before the mash rather than trying to control it after the fact.

Infusion mash tuns are insulated, are equipt with screens that create a false bottom and are fitted with a mash device (ex. Steel's masher) that enables mixing grist with liquor (brewing water) at the desired strike temperature and the correct flow rate.
Add 1/2 gallon of water (10-12 deg higher than mash temperature) to your mash tun to pre-heat and create a buffer (this will help set up the grain bed). I use a false bottom screen in a 6 gal. bucket a second bucket as a hot liquor tank fitted with a tap. I connect a transfer hose connected to the tap and clip this to my mash tun. Add the grain to the water and stir into a consistant slurry. Adjust the temperature when dough in is complete, cover and insulate. Leave it until conversion is complete (45-60+ min).
I am able to hold my mash in temperature constant until mash out (2-3 deg varience).

I use a commercial cooking thermometer that works fine. We did not use anything more sophisticated at the brewery. Work through 2 or 3 of the same simple brew to get the feel of your equipment and observe how mashing works. Obsreve, write down your observations and adjust. Even when a pro brewer moves to a different system it takes a couple of brews to get to know the equipment. Hang in there.

Good brewing,

Tom
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Tis a grand thing

Postby jayhawk » Fri Sep 13, 2002 2:02 pm

Thanks for the input. I really like the all grain brewing. I know once I get my system down, everything will be cherry. The mash turned out fine, it just took longer than I had planned due the lower mash in temp. I got the temp up, and ended up with my target SG and volume in the kettle when all was said and done.
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