Author Topic: A couple of queries on mashing equipment  (Read 1394 times)

Offline perfection

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A couple of queries on mashing equipment
« on: August 01, 2021, 12:12:28 AM »
I have been doing extensive reading on the basic equipment in commercially breweries but have got all tied up and confused (too much knowledge may not be dangerous but certainly does lead to less clarity in my case!)

What is the major difference, operationally and/or structurally (i mean paddles, shape, heating facility run off false bottom plates, grain cutting rakes etc) between a
mash tun
mash mixer
mash conversion vessel
mash kettle
MLT. 


Question two
Since mash tuns (tanks) are frequently used for the run off (of wort) are they constructed differently ?
When the mash is pumped out to be run off from a dedicated lauter tun are they in that case constructed differently (for eg no false bottom) as they will be ONLY used for single step or multistep infusion mashing and not for the run-off?


Question three
Since (sweet) wort may be lautered from a mash tun, how do such mash tuns differ from an MLT


Thank you - would prefer replies from the commercial side of issues rather than the home brewing side

Offline brewfun

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Re: A couple of queries on mashing equipment
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2021, 07:14:02 AM »
I think this might belong better in the Professional Brewing sub forum...

I have been doing extensive reading on the basic equipment in commercially breweries but have got all tied up and confused (too much knowledge may not be dangerous but certainly does lead to less clarity in my case!).

The main thing to understand is that systems are designed according to the needs of the brewery. There are many systems that are more like very large homebrew two vessel systems and some that are super sophisticated, computer controlled, multi-brewhouse plants that do extraordinary things to create wort. It's like vehicles on the road; all move, just how efficiently, comfortably and stylishly and what they're designed for is different.

Quote
What is the major difference, operationally and/or structurally (i mean paddles, shape, heating facility run off false bottom plates, grain cutting rakes etc) between a
mash tun
mash mixer
mash conversion vessel
mash kettle
MLT. 

You forgot the term "mash cooker." :D The main difference is the name and whether it's a dedicated vessel or a combi-vessel. "MLT" means "Mash/Lauter Tun" and is the only implied combi-vessel in your list however, the others might be the same depending on context and design. It may or may not have rakes or a mixing blade. Mine has a mixing blade, no rakes.

As dedicated vessels, the other four would be set up with a mixing blade near the bottom of the tank that stirs the mash upwards and past the steam jacket. These are only dedicated to mixing water with the grain and sending it through temperature steps. There might be two other associated mash tanks (one or both) for decoction or for cereal cooking. Again, it depends on the needs of the brewery. Since the 80's, decoction tanks have become increasingly rare, replaced with multi function cereal cookers, if needed at all.

In all dedicated vessels, the mash is pumped out to the lauter tun.

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Question two
Since mash tuns (tanks) are frequently used for the run off (of wort) are they constructed differently?
When the mash is pumped out to be run off from a dedicated lauter tun are they in that case constructed differently (for eg no false bottom) as they will be ONLY used for single step or multistep infusion mashing and not for the run-off?

In short, yes. Ideally, mash tuns are taller and have a slimmer diameter than the lauter tun because the main goal is smooth heat transfer into the mash. A properly designed lauter tun will provide a wide, shallow grain bed that allows water through the whole thing without compaction or channeling. Rakes help smooth the grain and keep water flow even through it.

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Question three
Since (sweet) wort may be lautered from a mash tun, how do such mash tuns differ from an MLT

Combi vessels will make compromises between both processes. Here, "compromise" is not a bad thing. Most of the time, a MLT is built with lautering in mind moreso than mash temperature steps. There is typically no change in conversion or extraction efficiency in a wide, shallow MLT and a dedicated vessel. Taller, deeper bed MLT's can experience some efficiency issues which have to be mitigated by brewer technique.

The main difference between combi and dedicated vessel systems is brew time and volume throughput. Properly planned, the brewhouse will match the volume, variety, and sales of the company. A four vessel 15 bbl system might actually be less productive and cost efficient than a well designed 30 barrel two vessel brewhouse. The choice might come down to variety desired by the company. The smaller brewhouse can crank out more brands in a day, but if there is one or two heavy hitters, the larger, simpler brewhouse will kill it.

With four vessel brewhouses, there is no major advantage until you get to larger scale and need to make 3 to 8 batches per day, nearly every day. Better beer is made through technique, not technology.
Beer Appreciation is the space between pints.

Offline perfection

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Re: A couple of queries on mashing equipment
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2021, 09:29:06 PM »
Thank you brewfun....

I love this (impactful) statement:  Better beer is made through technique, not technology.

So what you are saying is that any mash tun that is used for lautering is an MLT irrespective of its design and can range from the traditional British simple mash tank with no arms to the sophisticated mash tanks with arms and heating facility?  So vertical rakes are not necessarily a part of then MLT.... But do MLTs ever have both a mix arm for uniform mixing of the mash AND rakes (for cutting the grain bed and grain out)

So when mash tuns are dedicated do they still have a seived plate false bottom for the run off as the run off is actually performed in a dedicated lauter tun?

Doesn't the mash tun get clogged with no rakes in an equipment or is it now to do with grist texture and grist/water ratios?



« Last Edit: August 01, 2021, 09:53:42 PM by perfection »

Offline brewfun

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Re: A couple of queries on mashing equipment
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2021, 10:12:03 PM »
So what you are saying is that any mash tun that is used for lautering is an MLT irrespective of its design and can range from the traditional British simple mash tank with no arms to the sophisticated mash tanks with arms and heating facility? 
Yes.
Quote
So vertical rakes are not necessarily a part of then MLT.... But do MLTs ever have both a mix arm for uniform mixing of the mash AND rakes (for cutting the grain bed and grain out)
Not that I've seen. Most systems have a mash hydrator where the malt falls into a stream of water, even with a dedicated mash mixer. This provides the proper liquor to grist ratio in a continuous flow. The lauter tun does not do well with continuous agitation.
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So when mash tuns are dedicated do they still have a seived plate false bottom for the run off as the run off is actually performed in a dedicated lauter tun?
The whole mash is pumped into the lauter tun. A false bottom would be counter productive. The job of lautering is to runoff clear wort to the kettle.
Beer Appreciation is the space between pints.