Thursday, November 5, 2015


Some people could complicate making toast. And unfortunately many of them are in our hobby.  I Just saw a combination eHERMS recirculating biab, gas kettle recirculating mash system.   What the what people...So once again... I'm compelled to act like an angry old man...

Mash doesn't know it is being recirculated.   And quite frankly, even if it did, it couldn't care less.  Mash doesn't know how it is being lautered. Mash doesn't need to be recirculated.  Enzymatic action works whether or not you recirculate.  You can easily agitate your beer with a spoon.  

Enzymes work whether or not they are recirculating.  Yes exposing more surface area to enzymatic action for a longer period of time will produce more conversion of starch to sugar. But again, temperature, pH, and grist size are far more important that recirculation.   Use the finest grist you can use.  Yes, even if it makes some flour, line your mash tun with voile fabric ($9.00 a yard at JoAnn).  You'll thank me.  That will do more for your mash than some $5000 brewing system.  

this system still works just fine, 
So once again, my best advice is Keep it simple.   A simple gravity system or a simple BIAB system will produce excellent beer.  If your beer isn't good, it is because your process, or recipe isn't good.  Not because your equipment sucks.   I learned from a guy who used aluminum pots, and plastic buckets.  His malty beers were the best I ever had.   If you complicated your brewing system, you complicated your sanitation regimine. There is just no reason for that.   If you improved your brewing system, you probably also improved your processes.  Why not just improve your processes?   Why not put your focus on sanitation and fermentation? Why not learn how to create a yeast pitch with maximum vitality? Why not learn how to decoction mash?  Why not learn about the hop glycosides, or the role of melanoidin in malt flavors?
Put your focus on things that matter.  Yes a pump is nice to have,  but it doesn't improve your beer.  And I only run water through my pump...water is easy to clean, wort is not.  Water doesn't tend to foster bacteria, fungus, or mold. 

this system also works just fine
People we are focusing too much on the creation of wort, when we need to be focusing on the sanitation, and fermentation of beer.  I know from my experience that an identical grain bills created with 3 different systems, 3 vessel Gravity, BIAB, and recirculating BIAB, come out nearly identical, with the 3 vessel Gravity system gaining only a slight advantage in conversion.   And the maltiness, and time savings of no sparge BIAB cant be beat for me, so that is what I usually do.   Plus with BIAB I can partigyle my grains into a partial mash batch.  So what is my real efficiency?  No idea, just know I'm getting two batches of beer out of each set of grains. (of course I can tell you my average efficiency is 81.9%)  But what is my real brewhouse efficiency when I get 10 gallons out of each grist?

So if you want to redneck engineer something please create something that makes sanitation, and fermentation better.   Please show me how to create a fermentation chamber that can have multiple temperatures in one chamber.  The best I've come up with is a lower overall temperature and heating bands to create different temperatures.  Please show me how to more easily control lagering temperature schedules.  Please show me how to make a carboy cleaner that makes sense and doesn't just spray sanitizer in a carboy.  Let's get a home brew hack for sanitation.   Show me how to make a carboy cleaner out of a drill and some car cleaning shammies.  Show me how to track the fermentation of my beer without exposing my beer to potential contamination. 

Look, do your thing and have fun doing it.  It's just home brew.  But it really doesn't have to be this complicated.

UPDATE:  This weekend we hit 84.5% with BIAB.  Now granted, it was a small batch, and they generally are more efficient, but still, 84.5%.   You're not gettng that out of an eHERMS system.   We didn't recirculate, we didn't use some fancy controller system.   We made sure our water pH was perfect, we made sure our strike was perfect, we crushed our grains very finely, we stirred every 15 minutes.   We used spoons to occasionally taste the wort.   (you did what?  well that just makes no sense...)  I'll write more about this technique later, but trust me if you can learn what the different tastes are and what they mean... you will become a wort whisperer. 


  1. according to brew smith the first 10 liter trial batch had an efficiency of 98%. go recirculated biab.

  2. Oh and i forgot to mention all the fun i had building it.

  3. That's the real thing great beer, great fun. Don't get me wrong I'd love to have a fancy recirculation system, it just shouldn't be a brewers first priority.

  4. That's the real thing great beer, great fun. Don't get me wrong I'd love to have a fancy recirculation system, it just shouldn't be a brewers first priority.