Thursday, 19 July 2012

Brewery Build #22: Wort Return

The HERMS system - as the name suggests - constantly recirculates the wort during the mash, this makes the wort-return important, so that the returning wort is distributed evenly over the grain-bed so there is no channeling of wort and hence lower efficiency.

The basics of the wort return are simply a stainless steel Ikea Stabil double-boiler inset and some stainless all-thread:
By drilling a small hole in the top-lip of the keg, the wort return is held in place by the all-thread and the height adjusted with a wing-nut.  Initially the silicon hose was run directly into the dish, but since the hose is slightly boyant it tended to float and didn't want to stay in place:
The silicon hose remained in the dish a little bit easier with a small piece of stainless tube pushed into the end:
But since I had an abundance of 1/2 inch (12mm) stainless tube, and ample practice bending it, it was logical to use some of that to better stabilize the return.  Finished, installed and ready to use it looks like this:
And after a 75min recirculated mash (even with 40% wheat) the wort return works well and the wort is nice and clear:
This video was taken just after mash-in, grain bill is 50% Pale Malt, 40% Wheat malt, 7% Munich Malt and 3% Crystal Malt (and some Rice Hulls):
And 75mins later at mash-out:

The wort return works well, however for small/single batches, the 1L volume is likely a little large and the return-dish is a little too deep.  It's likely I'll look for a cheap shallow stainless bowl that you often find at discount stores and use that for mashing small grain-bills.

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