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.

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