Author Topic: Mash and sparge temps won't change in Brewsheet, regardless of equipment chosen  (Read 5808 times)

Offline aledawg

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Hi everyone,

I've recently converted to all-grain, and I'm using these first batches to learn how my system behaves.

From the first sessions, I've learned some important lessons which I'm trying to get configured into Beersmith, so that the tool and I can work better together.

My setup is like this
* 15 gal keggle for heating water and boil
* 2 60qt Igloo cube coolers converted to mash tun (with sparge sprinkler + drain manifold) and hot liquid tank, both with valves
* A three-tier system for fly sparging, connecting HLT to MLT with CPVC and about 3 feet of clear tubing

The main lesson I learned was this: The 60qt Coleman cube coolers I use will almost immediately absorb a lot of the water's heat - 10F or more, it seems.  Because of this, my mashing temperatures ended up much lower than expected, and with less than desired extraction of sugars.

I understand that I need to heat the strike water to X degrees above the target mash temperature and that only trial and error will really tell me what X is - but so far it seems it's somewhere around 12F.  I've been trying to set up my equipment profile in Beersmith to help me with this.

To play around with this, I created to almost identical equipment profiles in Beersmith, one with a Mash Tun specific heat of 0.000 and one with a specific heat of 2.000.  The problem is that no matter which equipment I choose in the recipe, and I do have the "Adjust temp for Equipment" checked, when I select a Mash Profile, the strike temperature in the brew sheet does not change.  

I'm confused as to why the mashing steps temperature doesn't change even when I select widely different equipment?  

Also, is there a (different) way to have Beersmith calculate the temperature to which I need to heat the sparge water before I move it from the keggle to the HLT?  The only way I've found so far is to set the Sparge Water Temp to 180F in the Mash Profile, but that seems a bit wrong to me - I don't want to sparge at 180, but I want to have the water at 168 when I begin the fly sparging.

Finally, between the HLT and the MLT there is about 3 feet of 1/2" clear plastic tubing that connects the HLT drain valve to the top of the sparge sprinker.  The length makes is easy to open the lids and move things around as I'm working, but I'm a bit worried that with a slow sparge the heat loss from this tube also significantly impacts the temperature of the water that hits the grains.  Any thoughts on heat loss?  Should I use a shorter tube?  Is there a better, insulated tube I can use?

Thanks in advance  for any ideas and tips


Update: Reading some old forum articles, I realized that I hadn't set the weight of the cooler (mashtun) in the software.  Once I changed that, the seemingly right(ish) temperatures showed up in the mashing profile steps of the recipe.  I will also not place the strike water into the HLT and going forward, this just adds another step that robs heat from the water.  From now on, for mashing, I will first add a few gallons to the cooler to pre-heat it, add the grains, and then add the remaining strike water on top of that.

However, I'm still wondering how to determine to what temperature I should heat my sparge water in order to be at 168F as the water sprinkles out over the grains.

Again, any ideas and thoughts will be greatly appreciated!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2009, 11:28:22 AM by aledawg »

Offline bonjour

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However, I'm still wondering how to determine to what temperature I should heat my sparge water in order to be at 168F as the water sprinkles out over the grains.
The sprinkle method is one that will maximize cooling because it maximizes exposure to the air of the sparge water.  To calculate that you would need to know the size of the drops, the rate of the drops, starting temp at the sprinkler, temp of the air, and humidity of the air.  From all this you should be able to calculate heat loss. 

Suggestion:  do a dry run with boiling water in the HLT (max possible temp) then measure the temp of the collected water in a preheated (168f) insulated container.  That should give you a good idea of the max temp your system can deliver.  Repeat with 182F water (30F cooler than max and a round number).  The resulting line should be a good approximation of temp required.

In reality, on the scale of brewing we do as homebrewers, a sprinkle method and slow add of sparge water is of little to no advantage other than of controlled by floats etc of being completely hands free.  My method is to place a kitchen colander on top of the grain bed and add my sparge water to that.  The holes in the colander prevent disruption of the grain bed and once the grain bed has settled the added sparge water will stay on top of the grain bed.  I add my sparge water as soon as the original wort is at the top of the grain bed.  I also add several gallons at a time.  This method minimizes the heat loss of the sparge water.


Offline UselessBrewing

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There is also a temp setting for the grain you need to check. If you store you grains indoors and you know what temp that is, you can set your base to that number and modify if necessary. You can find it in the details of the Mash Profile. This should help you hit your numbers better.

The woodpecker pecks, Not to annoy, But to survive!

Offline aledawg

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Thanks Useless and Bonjour.  I especially like the suggestion of testing the HLT-to-MLT heat loss, that should help me get a decent fix on how hot I need to have it before I sparge.

I tinkered some more with the settings in BS, including grain temp, and I just need to dial in the specific heat of my MashTun cooler a bit better and then I think I'll be in good shape.



Offline MaltLicker

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I brew with a similar arrangement except the two tuns are stainless Polarwares.  I've found, after six batches, that some things I have to figure out and TELL BeerSmith what it is.  My pump delays cost me hitting some mash temps, and depending on draining delays, sometimes the sparge water sits a while in the HLT.  As you dial it in, you'll know how long the steps take, so you know better how soon in advance they must be done to hit the temps you want. 

Offline t2000kw

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I just got this reply from a Beersmith moderator:

"BeerSmith does support mash hopping - if you open a hops within a recipe you can change it from "boil" to "Mash".  The factor used for converting its bitterness (-80% for example) is in the Bitterness tab of the Options Command (tools menu)."

So, it looks like Beersmith does take mash hopping into account.