Steam for Mash Tun

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by ubenumber2, Oct 14, 2014.

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  1. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

    I am thinking of using the pressure cooker set up to inject steam into my 10 gallon cooler to regulate my temperature better and I am curious about the success or failures others have had with this.

    1. How easy/difficult is it to maintain the temp with this?
    2. Have you noticed a change in your flavors compared to single temp infusion?
    3. Have you noticed any increase in your efficiency?

    Any other info you think would be helpful is greatly appreciated
  2. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    THE pressure cooker setup?

    Why are you having problems maintaining temp in a 10 gal cooler?
  3. ChrisMyhre

    ChrisMyhre Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2013 Massachusetts

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  4. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,893) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Are you wanting to use steam in a circulating system, or are you talking about injecting steam into your cooler? If you are injecting, that would be too hot at 212 degrees, plus you'd somehow have to allow for condensation.
  5. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Unless you have a steam jacketed kettle/mash tun, plenty of intestinal fortitude, and a death wish...just lag your ball valve on your cooler mash tun, use towels to insulate the lid and bottom and do what MANY other homebrewers do with excellent results. Don't overthink this. Cheers
  6. checktherhyme

    checktherhyme Initiate (158) Apr 8, 2008 Washington

    I have a 40 gallon steam jacked kettle that I use to mash. Works perfect. Check Craigslist for restaurants that are going under.
  7. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,903) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I'm inclined to agree. To the OP: Are you having difficulty maintaining mash temps in your cooler, and are you convinced that being able to maintain them more precisely will improve your brewing? I mash in a cooler, and while the temps drop some during the mash, it always seems good enough. If you do not feel like it is good enough, try wrapping a blanket around your cooler to help insulate it. Working with steam sounds like an added and unnecessary level of hazard.
    Ilanko likes this.
  8. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

    Ok thanks for the advice guy , it is greatly appreciated , but I'm not having any problems with keeping my temp from dropping more than 4 or 5 degrees by preheating and wrapping my cooler.

    I ferment in controlled temps now , I set it at 66 degrees and I know it stays within a degree below or above , I saw a big change in getting in recreating batches of beer. Now I want to do the same with my Mash Tun , keep it within a degree or two.

    I am always trying to improve my set up , I want to have as much control over my process as I can without dropping major bucks , I love building stuff and when I do create that perfect batch of brew I want to be able to make it again spot on

    Anyone on here ever used this system before? Or something like it? I'm not wanting to purchase a steam jacketed mash tun if I can avoid it
  9. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    "Now I want to do the same with my Mash Tun , keep it within a degree or two."

    Not a problem...keep the lid on except when stirring (batch sparging), lag your metal ball valve (dish cloth should do), wrap the whole thing (as others have suggested) or just the top and bottom (a few towels will do).
  10. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

    Okay , so I just take the towels and wrap the thing up? Any certain blend of towels or anything? Can I buy the towels at walmart or do I need to get them from a home brew store? How many towels do I need and of what length? Do the towels need to be of a certain color?
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  11. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

    Has anyone on this site ever tried the steam injection method mentioned above? If so how did it work out for you? I really would like to know
  12. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    It obviously didn't work for you the first time with the yellow Walmart towels. :slight_smile:
  13. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

    No I never said it didn't work but I didn't try yellow towels man I used black ones , I thought they would soak up more heat from the sun , maybe you will donate some towels to goodwill and I can pick them up on the cheap

    Once again thank you for being so helpful with my question , it's guys like you who make internet forums so fun :wink:
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  14. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,903) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    OK, I get where you are coming from. The "homebrewer as an engineer" thing isn't my bag, but I can see how some folks get into that. I think mash temp is one of those fairly forgiving variables in homebrews. I guess I feel this way because I don't always hit my numbers dead on, and because I see a great deal of variation in the temps within my mash tun. I don't feel like I have seen any obvious correlations with beer quality. The precision you seek may not have as big an impact as you think. In other words, you might be overengineering this. I'm just speculating, though, so knock yourself out. Take pictures (not of you knocked out -- of the steam adaptor thingy you are going to build).
    inchrisin likes this.
  15. inchrisin

    inchrisin Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    HAHAHA. No. Throw it in the oven and cut the heat.
  16. telejunkie

    telejunkie Initiate (0) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    What I'm struggling with is the fact that in a mash tun, you want the wort to be recirculating or mixing when you are adding heat. That is why HERMS, RIMS and direct fire recirculating systems are so popular. So if you are recirculating the wort and want to send the wort through an exchanger with the steam or steam inject while vorlaufing...that would be a great idea. But to just put a steam coil into the mash tun I don't think would be a great idea as you'll have major discrepancy problems between the wort nearest the coil and furthest from the coil. My thoughts on it...
    I use a RIMS system and personally like it.
  17. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

    Thanks again for the help everyone , so from what I can tell everyone that has used it has been happy with it and has noticed a difference in their finished product , that's great , thanks for taking the time to answer the question that was asked
  18. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Heh. Did you forget typing this...
    You asked a question about something that nobody on this forum (or likely most any forum) has done. What would you expect other than speculation? Here's mine: There's are reasons people haven't tried this. And some of them have been mentioned.
    #18 VikeMan, Oct 19, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
    utahbeerdude and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  19. Ilanko

    Ilanko Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2012 New York

    If steam is your preferred way to maintain temp, you might not wont to use a cooler, plastic tun can get melted. You might consider using 8 gallon Stockpot.

    If you decided to go mainstream with plastic cooler, use folded towel underneath the cooler, one around and on on top of it.
  20. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

  21. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    If you find an article more recent than might have better luck finding someone with some experience on this "basement forum".

    I will usually give the benefit of the doubt to new brewers, but everyone has their limits

    Your avatar and username says it all.
  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,821) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I sort of remember that article, or the discussion it started on the old hbd.
    Here is a reply, tannins/astringency would be an issue.

    Many production breweries, use steam, but I have never heard of one directly injecting to the mash-but they have more thermal mass so less temp drop.
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  23. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,948) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I would bet that fewer than a dozen people have tried mash direct steam injection in the 20 years since that article was written. Best of luck finding them.

    Please do go ask on a non-basement forum and share your results here. And congratulations, I suspect you made it onto a few "do not help" lists this week.
    jbakajust1 and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  24. jncastillo87

    jncastillo87 Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2013 Texas

    You are making brewing WAY to complicated... preheat the cooler with 200 degree water and let it come down to your strike temp of 165 or so ... put that steam idea out of your mind.
  25. ChrisMyhre

    ChrisMyhre Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2013 Massachusetts

    I was genuinely curious about the technique, but it certainly seems like quite a bit of trouble to go through for what I can't imagine are much different results than my very low tech Denny cooler method. It feels like too much copying pro technique for the sake of being "pro" when it just doesn't make much practical sense. I imagine that Vikeman is right and very few people are going through the trouble.

    Yes there were some overly snarky replies, but this really is one of the least pretentious, helpful home brewing communities on the web. If this is a basement forum I guess I'm happy to be a basement dweller.

    Good luck with your engineering and I'd love a report back if you think you can achieve a meaningfully better result.
    jbakajust1 likes this.
  26. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    10 gal coolers are sometimes just too big for low/medium gravity 5 gal batches to maintain mash temperatures easily/effectively (no snarkiness or pretentiousness intended) :slight_smile:

    Sometimes I forget I'm doing 10 gal batches now...I brewed 5 gal batches for years with (2) 3 gal coolers.
  27. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (480) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Thanks for the link . . . and yes it has been done. Several youtube videos show steam injected mash tuns, all made recently.

    I offer these ideas: If you have an open system (where the steam exits into the mash tun), condensation will adversely effect your water/grist ratio. You can correct this by using superheated steam or a closed system. Superheated steam will certainly prevent any extra liquid in the mash tun but it's a little bit dangerous. At least one of the videos did not show the narrator, which leads me to believe there may have been some "scalding" involved. A closed system will also work. You will need to drill through your mash tun (easily done with an igloo cooler) and install a closed loop similar to an immersion chiller. This will handle the heat transfer and on the exit a simple condenser will recycle the liquid. You will be dealing with conventional steam which I consider safer. If you install redundant blow-off valves there should be no need for protective shielding.

    If you brew before you complete the fabrication I would use red towels . . . they seem warmer to the touch.
  28. cfrobrew

    cfrobrew Initiate (0) Oct 9, 2012 Texas

    I have thought of something like this in the past when I struggled to keep my free headspace warm on small beers but never got around to making anything. Ill be curious to see what you put together.
  29. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I think some here are encouraging a process that is not only potentially dangerous, but serious overkill for the vast majority of homebrew videos exist for just about anything...some good and instructful...others, not so much IMHO

    Those that have suggested RIMS or HERMS systems excepted...cheers
    DubbelMan likes this.
  30. ubenumber2

    ubenumber2 Initiate (0) Sep 1, 2012 Arkansas

    UBE Number One and UBE Number Two , pieces of equipment where I used to work years ago , so glad you know about packaging equipment , not a lot of people understand my user name
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