Author Topic: HLT and BS 2 set up  (Read 2748 times)

Offline Rep

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HLT and BS 2 set up
« on: May 07, 2013, 10:24:55 PM »

I use a converted keg as a HLT.  It has a dip tube attached to the ball valve.  I also have a sight glass that I use for measuring volumes.

I need to add oh, let's say three gallons of water to the keg before it begins to register in the sight glass.  I have that spot marked as my zero level for volumes control.  From that point I have the sight glass marked by one gallon increments.

My question:  Is this an accurate way of determining volumes?  I simply ignore that first three gallons or so.

I believe this is ok to do but am having doubts as my efficiency tends to suck.  BTW, I batch sparge.

Offline brewfun

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Re: HLT and BS 2 set up
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2013, 03:26:02 AM »
Yes, the sight glass is a very accurate way to measure volume. Have you calibrated it using a measuring cup and making marks on the glass?  But that alone doesn't have much to do with efficiency.

Efficiency is going to depend on four factors. First is how much sugar you can expect from the grain. Second is how thick the mash is. Third is the pH of the mash (probably the most important factor, too). Forth is the contact time of water and grain.

I recently used a different brand of Pilsner malt and was surprised by how low my initial gravity was. It turns out that this batch of malt had significantly lower potential than was typical for the manufacturer. A typical potential might be 80 to 90% of the grain weight, this analysis was 52%. If you're using different pale malts (sometimes domestic, sometimes Maris Otter, Sometimes Pils, etc) and get the same efficiency, then this isn't your problem.

I use a pretty thick mash for conversion. Thicker mashes keep the enzymes in contact with more substrate. Temperature is part of this, because being outside of the range of the amylase group will lower efficiency. I'm not talking fermentability, since efficiency is the total solubles, not the sugar types. Once conversion is complete, I thin the mash for recirculation and sparge. So, I'm working at 1:1 for conversion and thinning to nearly 1.5:1 (as quarts to pounds).

The pH is going to determine how well and efficiently the enzymes work. 5.2 to 5.4 pH is going to yield the best efficiency. Lots and lots of methods to achieve this, but it should get measured on every batch. Don't panic if it isn't precisely in that range, a little high or low usually just requires a longer mash time. I've sort of adopted a rule of 10 minutes for each 0.1 difference.

Which brings us to contact time. I'm not a fan of batch sparging, at all. But contact time is certainly a factor with second or third runnings. If you calculate the gravity required to hit your preboil target, you can wait for the sugars to saturate the sparges.
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