Monthly Archives: February 2017

Sous Vide Cheapo HERMS

After my problematic first BIABasket brew, I decided I needed some temp control on my mash to make life a bit easier.

I considered a RIMS system. Possibly based around OBK’s Stainless Steel RIMS Tube – 1.5″ Tri Clover Compatible for $110. It looked like the price would start to get up there by the time I’d purchased the necessary heater, heater tri-clover adapter, temp controller, enclosure for controller, etc.

Instead, I decided to try using my Anova Sous Vide. These are ~$200, so not crazy cheap still, but they are quite useful in the kitchen; and I happen to already have one.

Initially, I considered simply putting the sous vide into the brew pot but outside the basket. This had the advantage of being exceedingly simple. I had some concern the humidity levels might damage the Anova. More importantly, on reading up about it others seemed to experience some level of scorched wort sticking to the heater; that didn’t sound at all appealing.

To avoid these issues, I paired my $22USD brew pump with 10 feet of 3/8″ copper pipe ($18.19CAD from Canadian Tire). This ensures the Anova only contacts water, the heat is exchanged into the beer in a HERMS style copper coil.

I ran a test to verify this setup could actually maintain 8 gallons of water in my kettle. Though my mash temp would normally be closer to 153*F/67.2*C I started with the hottest water my tub would provide to ease the experiment. Charted over a 1 hour test I got:

 

Time Anova *C Kettle *C Kettle ΔC/20m
0:00 60.3 55.0 n/a
0:20 61.6 56.6 1.6
0:40 63.3 58.3 1.7
1:00 64.7 59.7 1.4

 


I first made a tighter coil, using a mini crock pot as a guide.


Next I bent up both ends up the pipe. A tubing bender was critical for this (the pipe was quite prone to simply collapsing if bent by hand)


I test fit everything with the Anova Sous Vide to confirm it looked correct.


As the ends on the pipe were quite crushed/irregular, I cut them both back around a half inch to clean it up.


Lastly, I did a test run in the tub with hot water to confirm the system could actually raise/maintain temperature.

BIABasket – First Attempt

I recently purchased a new Brew In A Basket system from OntarioBeerKegs.com. They had a special making it $300 CAD shipped for the kettle, valve, thermometer and basket. I opted for the 16.5 gallon version and I think it was a good move. The 8 gallon kit just seems too small for the average batch. I also added a 12″ Bazooka Screen. Adding a 1/2″ stainless nipple would have been wise for the valve but I snagged a brass one locally instead.

It’s a beast! But the overall process of brewing with it is, generally, notably simpler and quicker.

BIABcalculator was quite helpful for calculating how much water to use and the temp to heat it to. Nailed my starting mash temp. Total mash volume was 8.19 gallons with the grain in.

On my first brew I found the mash was cooling down after ~20 minutes so I attempted to lightly heat it with the propane burner while stirring. I notably overshot temperatures on it and suspect I’ve ruined the batch. I will look into regulating temp with a cheapo HERMS setup for my next brew.

Other than that notable hiccup, the brewday was quick and easy. I started capturing filtered water at 10:15am and was done cleaning up completely by 2:30pm.

I attempted to brew the Thundersmoke Brown Ale.