Sparging with a pump

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Sparging with a pump

Postby oc eric on Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:03 pm

I'm looking to get a single or two tier brew sculpture soon and wanted to ask the guys who have these systems some questions:

1. How long does it take you to sparge? I'm worried I won't be able to sparge slow enough to get a high enough efficiency and hot my numbers.

2. If you were going to do it all over again would you go one tier or two? Why?

3. How helpful are the RIMS/HERMS systems for brewing? I'm a 3 tier manual guy (though recetly added a pump for circulation).

4. I'm thinking the stainless option is probably worth the extra bucks. Am I right?

5. Would you go natural gas (my preference) or Propane? Is there a difference for bringing water to a boil? I know NG is cheaper and you don't run out (that's my main reason for wanting to go NG)

Thanks in advance for helping an automated newbie out.
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby dhempy on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:36 pm

I love my 1 tier system. Nothing is over my head ... I can look / pour / stir in each pot ... things have a shorter distance to fall ... storing my system with pots on it is easy.

I batch sparge ... aside from taking a few tries to get volumes correct I prefer this to fly sparging and I think it is quicker. There was a study done in BYO a while back and efficiencies were pretty similar.

I am a (probably one of the few) HERMS guy. IMHO you are less likely to get a temperature spike with HERMS than with RIMS. I do have a burner under my Mash tun but I use it mainly for pre-heating strike water. Occasionally if I get impatient I will use it to raise temp to mash out but I'll be vorlaufing through the HERMS coils at the same time.

I wouldn't consider anything but NG (but that has to do with the way I'm set up). You're right, never running out of fuel is a good thing. About the only other thing I would consider is electric but again, the way I'm set up it is NG or nothing.

I went all stainless just because ... was it worth it? Who knows? One thing is for sure, cleanup is easy and I don't worry about it rusting (or having to refinish it). AND when stainless gets real hot (like from my jet burners) it turns pretty colors!

PM me if you have more questions.

Dan
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby bwarbiany on Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:35 pm

I fly sparge -- single tier system with 2 pumps.

Brewhouse efficiency is usually around 78-81% for smaller beers, and still ~75% on big beers. So it's not an issue.
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby lexuschris on Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:46 pm

Hey Eric,

I am an automated newbie too! I only have 5 brews done on my single tier, 3 burner, direct fire, 2 pump stand. So for what it's worth..

1- I've been batch sparging for so long, I've only tried the fly sparge thing on 2 brews. The pump will certainly pull a lot of wort quickly, if you leave the output valve full open. I'm not sure how slow is recommended, so I've gone back to tried and true batch sparges. :) I'll have to learn more on fly sparging later, but with 70%-80% efficiency with batch sparging ... I'm in no hurry..

2- I only know my 1 tier system, and really have not seen too many 2-tier systems to know if I would do one over the other next time around. Not sure why one would be better than the other... :)

3- I'm direct fire on the MT, but really do not need to do that very often. If I really miss my mash temp, it is nice to recirc and heat until I get back to where I want. Usually, I just hit my temps and leave it for an hour. I've also played with mashing-out, but not really feeling like that is a neccessary step on a 60-minute mash...

4- Dang, it dun luk purty! Clean up real nice too!

5- NG for me was cheaper than propane or electricity. Also, NG burns much cleaner. At least, I dono't have that heavy soot on my pots anymore. And, I don't worry about running out on brewday! :D

Good luck!
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby brianc on Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:13 pm

oc eric wrote:I'm looking to get a single or two tier brew sculpture soon and wanted to ask the guys who have these systems some questions:

1. How long does it take you to sparge? I'm worried I won't be able to sparge slow enough to get a high enough efficiency and hot my numbers.

Around 90 mins for 80% (1.5 BBL). On my 10 gallon system, it was around 60 mins. You can trottle the pumps down pretty low. Just have the ball valve on the output of the pump and you can dial it as low as you want.

2. If you were going to do it all over again would you go one tier or two? Why?

I'd still stick with a single level. I like having everything at a comfortable standing level. I used a two tier for a long time, and after switching over the single level it just feels more natural to me. Just my preference though.

3. How helpful are the RIMS/HERMS systems for brewing? I'm a 3 tier manual guy (though recetly added a pump for circulation).

I've been RIMS for some time. I like setting a mash temp and not stressing about it now.

4. I'm thinking the stainless option is probably worth the extra bucks. Am I right?

If I was to re-do, I would go stainless. Mainly because I have rust marks all over my garage floor now.

5. Would you go natural gas (my preference) or Propane? Is there a difference for bringing water to a boil? I know NG is cheaper and you don't run out (that's my main reason for wanting to go NG)

NG all the way. On the 1.5 BBL batches, it runs me around $5 in NG.

Thanks in advance for helping an automated newbie out.

I would recommend the http://www.brewershardware.com/BCS-Brewery-Controllers/!
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby brahn on Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:18 pm

oc eric wrote:I'm looking to get a single or two tier brew sculpture soon and wanted to ask the guys who have these systems some questions:

1. How long does it take you to sparge? I'm worried I won't be able to sparge slow enough to get a high enough efficiency and hot my numbers.


Being a long time batch sparger this has taken me a while to dial in, but I shoot for about 60 minutes. I've done 10 batches on my new system since April (c'mon Chris!) and I'm finally getting consistent efficiency numbers. You can generally dial it in just fine as long as you have the ball valve on the pump outlet like Brian said.

oc eric wrote:2. If you were going to do it all over again would you go one tier or two? Why?


My last setup was essentially 2 tier and I love the one tier system because everything is so easily accessible. Also, if I want to move things along it's quicker and easier to use the pump than wait for gravity.

oc eric wrote:3. How helpful are the RIMS/HERMS systems for brewing? I'm a 3 tier manual guy (though recetly added a pump for circulation).


Around here, neither. I have yet to see my mash temps drop even a degree over the course of a 60 minute mash. These things are great if you're brewing in 0 degree weather, but I don't think they're necessary at all in So Cal. If you do want to mash out or step mash you can use a burner while you recirculate the wort.

oc eric wrote:4. I'm thinking the stainless option is probably worth the extra bucks. Am I right?


Like Chris said, it sure is pretty.

oc eric wrote:5. Would you go natural gas (my preference) or Propane? Is there a difference for bringing water to a boil? I know NG is cheaper and you don't run out (that's my main reason for wanting to go NG)


Never running out of NG is awfully nice.
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby bwarbiany on Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:33 am

brahn wrote:Around here, neither. I have yet to see my mash temps drop even a degree over the course of a 60 minute mash. These things are great if you're brewing in 0 degree weather, but I don't think they're necessary at all in So Cal. If you do want to mash out or step mash you can use a burner while you recirculate the wort.


Are you still using a cooler as a mash tun? I've noticed I do lose temp on the mash since I use an un-insulated keggle as a mash tun, but I wouldn't expect to have any problems with a cooler.
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby brahn on Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:35 am

No, I'm using an uninsulated SS kettle for my mash tun.
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby dhempy on Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:53 am

+1 ... but I do get a couple of degrees change from time to time .. and I let the herms bring it right back up. Plus the vorlaufing during HERMS temp adjustments doesn't hurt anything.

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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:46 am

I don't see any temp drop in my mashtun until I start vorlaufing. I just turn the flame on very low under the mashtun to bring the temp back up. I am not worried about temp spikes at that point since my mash profile has already been set and I am just clearing the wort before transferring into the boil kettle.

One tier with two pumps is the way to go IMO. Natural gas. Stainless is nice if you are rich :mrgreen: , but it makes no difference in the final product.

I fly sparge (too set in my ways to change now) and I don't worry about the time it takes. I just pick a good flow rate and go with it. I don't even bother getting to mashout temps anymore. I think (for homebrew) that efficiency is overrated. As long as you can get consistent numbers so you can formulate your recipes properly, you are fine. I am not trying to squeeze every last ounce of extract out of my grains.
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby brahn on Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:12 pm

BrewMasterBrad wrote:I don't see any temp drop in my mashtun until I start vorlaufing.


That's true, I do often see a drop in temperature once I start to vorlauf, and I will apply heat at that point as well.

BrewMasterBrad wrote:I think (for homebrew) that efficiency is overrated. As long as you can get consistent numbers so you can formulate your recipes properly, you are fine. I am not trying to squeeze every last ounce of extract out of my grains.



+1. IMO in terms of efficiency the only goal should be consistency. That is why I measure and target a 60 minute lauter - so that I'm reasonably confident the gravity will end up near my target.
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Re: Sparging with a pump

Postby oc eric on Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:44 pm

Thanks guys! I have enough info to make a decision now. Christmas is going to be GOOD this year!!!
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