RIMS and HERMS Brewing with BeerSmith Software

by Brad Smith on January 15, 2018 · 4 comments

Today I take a look at how to handle RIMS and HERMS brewing systems in BeerSmith brewing software. I’ve had quite a few people ask me how to incorporate these systems into BeerSmith, so below is a quick overview.

What Makes RIMS and HERMS Systems Different?

Lets start with what makes a RIMS or HERMS brewing system different than a traditional home brewing system. Both of these are recirculating mash systems which means that they incorporate a recirculating pump and some type of heating element to cycle warm water through the mash tun during the mash stage.

RIMS stands for Recirculating Infusion Mash System (RIMS) and these systems incorporate the heating element into the recirculating line. So basically as water is recirculated by a pump from the bottom to the top of the mash tun, the water can be heated using a heating element in the recirculating line. The temperature of the wort is controlled by cycling the heating element on and off.

HERMS stands for Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System which incorporate some form of heat exchanger or coil. The most common HERMS design has a hot liquor tun with hot water in it that is heated directly for use in the later lauter stage. In the hot liquor tun is an immersion coil that acts as a heat exchanger. The wort is circulated from the bottom of the mash tun, through the coil and back to the top of the mash tun. In this case, the pump’s flow rate is regulated to manage the temperature of the wort, or alternately the pump is cycled on and off. You can find additional info on RIMS and HERMS here.

When comparing RIMS or HERMS to a traditional home brew system, the main difference is the use of a recirculating pump and heat source during the mash phase. The rest of the brewing process is the same – so RIMS or HERMS do not handle the boil or fermentation any differently, though a pump is available to make it easier to transfer wort around. So when we talk about using a RIMS or HERMS system for brewing with BeerSmith, we’re really talking about changes only to the mash phase.

Finally, I will note that most RIMS or HERMS systems use a simple water infusion for the first mash step. Typically the water needed for mashing is added to the mash tun and then recirculated and heated until the mash in (infusion) temperature is reached. Then the grain is added just as you would with a conventional brewing system.

The key difference comes in second and later mash steps. Here instead of adding additional hot water, a RIMS or HERMS system will heat the wort directly as it is recirculating. So really the only difference for RIMS or HERMS is that the later mash steps are direct heat steps instead of infusion steps.

Setting Up a RIMS/HERMS Equipment Profile

Since we’ve established that the only major difference between RIMS/HERMS and a traditional infusion mash system is how the wort is heated, you will probably not be surprised that you set up your RIMS/HERMS equipment profile in exactly the same way you would for a regular brewing system in BeerSmith.

I won’t rehash how to build an equipment profile in BeerSmith here, but you can read the following article which walks step by step through the process, or watch the video here. The key is knowing your equipment volumes. Also because the RIMS/HERMS system preheats the water and mash tun, you don’t need to adjust temperatures for the mash tun being hold so you can actually uncheck the “Adjust Temp for Equip” box next to the mash profile name in your recipe.

Modifying Your Mash Profiles for RIMS/HERMS

If you are using a single step mash with no mash out, you can simply use any of the the “Single Infusion, No Mash Out” mash profiles that come with BeerSmith and don’t need to change anything. Since the first step in a RIMS/HERMS system is an infusion step, using this mash profile will let you calculate the infusion temperature for the mash-in and will work just fine. Again you want to uncheck the “Adjust temp for equip” box since your mash tun is already pre-heated.

If you want to use a multi-step mash profile or profile with a mash-out step, then you do need to alter the stock BeerSmith mash profiles slightly. The best way to do this is go to Profiles->Mash and make a copy (copy then paste) of the one you want to modify. I recommend starting with any of the infusion mash profiles as these provide a good basis for RIMS/HERMS systems. Then double click on the profile to edit it.

Once the profile is open, rename it by adding “RIMS” or “HERMS” to the name so you can differentiate it from the stock profile. Next you want to double click on the later mash steps. Leave the first mash step alone, as it will remain an infusion mash step, but you want to edit the second and later mash steps by double clicking on them.

For each of these second and later steps, you want to change the Type of the step from “infusion” to “temperature”. A temperature mash step setting means that direct heat from the RIMS/HERMS system is used instead of a hot water addition to raise the temperature. You also want to change the Water to Add to zero, as you won’t be adding more water after the initial infusion. Do this for the second and later steps, since all of these steps will be done by direct heat from your RIMS/HERMS system. When you are done editing the name and mash steps, click Ok to save your mash profile.

Finally, once you have the mash profile edited you can go back and create a recipe using this profile. On the Design page for your recipe be sure to pick your equipment profile, the new RIMS or HERMS mash profile you just created and again uncheck the “Adjust temp for equip” box next to the mash profile name since your mash tun will already be preheated.

That’s it – now you can brew your recipe on your RIMS/HERMS system by first adding the water, bringing it up to the first mash step infusion temperature, then mixing in the grains. Later mash steps can be reached by directly dialing the various step temperatures into your RIMS/HERMS temperature controller.

I hope this article helps brewers who use RIMS/HERMS systems with BeerSmith. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Wilbern January 18, 2018 at 9:51 am

Is this how you handle your easybrew system vs using BIAB?

Brett Binns March 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm

I think one of the less obvious factors in using BeerSmith for RIMS or HERMS is the significantly larger volume of water required and how this effects the water to grist ratio. The tubing, pump, and coil or RIMS heater (such as the RIMSrocket if using Blichmann equipment) must be filled with water. How is this volume accounted for and does it factor into the water/grist ratio?

Jordan Brandt June 19, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Uh Brad, love ya but Brett Binns type comments require responses.

Jordan Brandt June 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Where the article says:

“I will note that most RIMS or HERMS systems use a simple water infusion for the first mash step. Typically the water needed for mashing is added to the mash tun and then recirculated and heated until the mash in (infusion) temperature is reached. Then the grain is added just as you would with a conventional brewing system.”

Does that mean the infusion step should be edited so the step temperature is equal to the infusion temperature when using a HERMS setup? In BS2 the infusion step automatically calculates the infusion temp in an attempt to figure out how much hotter the infusion should be to compensate for the temp of the grain. If you did overheat to hit the step temp upon hitting the cooler grains, you’d have an issue where your HERMS coil is sitting in water hotter than you want. So what’s a HERMS brewer to do?

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