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(edited title) electric kettle scorching

So recently I have discovered an issue with my brewing process. Some background:

Been brewing for about 6 years, I’m the only one of my “brewing” friends who does all grain, because I’m the only one who seems to care about learning. My friends are great and good beer fans, just don’t like to think about recipes and science too much, so they stick to extract brewing (nothing wrong with that of course). I write industrial software for a living, so I decided to automate my home brewery. This includes pumps, auto valves, and a kettle with a heating rod mounted inside.

For the last year or so, id say about half of my brews were turning out wrong. Some were merely not as good as I hoped, but some were terrible and undrinkable. The other half ranged from good to great.

The last brew I did, I definitely scorched my beer. Badly. The heating element was getting too hot, and the wort I had must have had too much proteins/sugars/some-chemistry-thing and the heating element was covered in caked on blackness. At about 30 minutes into the boil, the beer smelled “toasty”. After the boil ended, I sanitized a small cup and tasted it… Tasted like burnt toast with some hops and sugar in the background. So, I am going to move to a propane burner for the boil on my next and future brews, thus hopefully increasing my success rate. I have no idea why some beers worked great with this kettle while others flat out sucked, I can only assume it’s recipe dependent.

Also, I didn’t keep the wort moving while the element was active, and I don’t have a temp controller to decrease the temperature. It’s either on or off.

I write this post to share my follies, but also ask what other silly or not so silly mistakes you guys have made? Something that made you frustrated, made you laugh, or gave you a eureka moment that changed it all for you? Let’s hear it!

Weird. Me no knowledge about. Creating soft ware. Kind of cool. Doing that. Could be flaw in the software. That the program heathing part. Reads. Lower than the actual. Temp reads. Could be your. Grain mill to fine. Why not brew a beer. With out the compleet software controlling your brew. And. Use a regular thermo meter. So you can watch. Your mash temp. One way to find out. What is wrong. Sucks after day brewing. Your beer. Taste not good. One thing could be the water. Or fermetation. Temp as well.

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I can guarantee it’s not software related. Not trying to toot my own horn, it’s just that the heat is either on or off only. I turn it on and off manually, basically. So, I see that the boil is getting too vigorous and shut it off, monitor temperature, then turn it back on when it drops below boiling.

The problem is that the heating element gets REALLY hot, but since I don’t keep my wort moving around (other than the motion created by the boiling), the wort directly around the heater is getting TOO hot, while the rest is getting not hot enough. So anything near the heater gets overheated. Certain recipes can probably withstand this while others can’t.

Maybe your heathing element. Has a issue. Could it be the power. Your. Heathing element. 240 volt. Insted of 110 or 220 volt. Could be the 50 60 hertz

It’s just a heating rod. So it’s a big piece of metal (basically a resistor) that I hook up to electricity, which makes it get hot. It’s rated for 230vac, 40a. I hook it up to 230vac, 30a, 60hz service.

It was originally made for a hot water tank by Denord

Maybe if you had 2 elements and could shut one off when you got to boiling. Also maybe circulate with a pump. Or like you said go back to propane

230v 30a would be 6900 watts. Am I correct? Maybe find a smaller heating element? That is pretty big. Been a long time since basic electricity though.

You are correct, it’s 6900 watts. Trying to get all that liquid boiling, I had tried a smaller one and it took quite some time to get moving. I think if I was constantly moving the wort around it’d be ok but I don’t have the ability for that right now. I’ll keep everything automated from mash to vorlauf to sparge, cooling, etc. I’ll just go to propane for the boil

Anyways… I wasn’t trying to take over this thread with diagnosing MY issues. I was hoping to hear other people’s experiences over the course of their hobby journey

OK, I’ve had some issues with exactly what you’ve found… Also, come to find the rye has a lower Malliard reaction… Burns at a lower temp… I tried to pawn those “mistakes” off as smokey brew… No one bought it… It’s just too scorched… Even tried to “water it down”… Ever try add some water to a portion of a cup of coffee? … It gets really burnt in flavor… :confounded:
so I’ve gotten to the point, I’m right there adjusting my power… I do not use 100% power… I’ve found, after the mash, RDWHAHB method getting to a boil… I’ve time for cleaning… prepping my fermenters and such… I don’t go much above 80% while heading to a boil with the whirlpool port pouring right on the heating element…
I do like smoked meats and such…
Sneezles61

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One of my follies was at a home we used to own. I brewed in the backyard and after running the wort through my chiller had a vinyl tube running in a basement window and into my conical fermenter. Started the flow and went down to check on it. Sure enough the bottom valve was open and my wort was being pumped out by the sump pump. Did manage to close it and not lose too much. A few choice bad words and promise to myself to check the valves after that.

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" and I don’t have a temp controller to decrease the temperature. It’s either on or off."

I don’t brew with electricity but that’s your problem right there. You need to be able to dial it back when you get to a boil. @sneezles61 for one has a pretty simple setup. Maybe he’ll chime in with advice.

edit: Somehow missed his post above…carry on…

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Yea without a way to circulate the wort around, it won’t work anyways. I didn’t want to spring for an SCR if I wasn’t also going to build a recirculation system. A good SCR is expensive… I know there are cheap little ones out there but I don’t trust them

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We’ve had hops laid out in dishes for each addition and mixed them up. I think the most spectacular was a very active fermentation where the airlock plugged. Blew the lid off and sprayed down the entire closet with krausen.

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I know your not trying to diagnose your issue but I’m betting it’s not an Ultra Low Watt Density element. These elements have a lower amount of heat produced per square inch. And I’m sure it’s not because if it was made for a hot water tank there would be no concern of scorching. You’re system may work very well with an ULWD element.

As for follies… where to start. Once I was creating a starter on my stove and my dog did something (can’t remember what) and I left it unattended. Lost the entire starter to boil over, which also scorched on my burner and wreaked. Wife wasn’t too happy about that.
Then there was a time when I was brewing outside in the winter. I was pouring water into my MT and noticed it wasn’t rising… left the valve open and it was pouring all down my coat and pants.
Another time I went to knockout with my IC. Got it to a point where I was going to let it sit. Didn’t realize the IC developed a leak around the fitting. Came back to 15gals vs. 10. That was a long brew day as I had to brew it not only to sanitize but had to boil the water out to get back to my specific OG.
I’ve got more.

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You are correct, it’s a LWD. I understand the science behind all of this, it’s just weird that certain grain bills worked and some turned out smokey. I always buy my grain already crushed. Oh well, I’m going to repurpose it to heat up my strike and sparge water and then auto transfer with software to the appropriate vessel. That way it’s not a complete loss and I still get to use my creation. Hopefully this will increase my success rate. In the future I can alter the tubing/valves/pumps and make an electric kettle that will circulate better. At that point I will find an SCR that works and is affordable, so I can alter the heat put off from the element. But alas that is all in the distant future.

There are a lot of people who use these heating elements to get their water up to the temperatures they want for their mash. This is a common setup in the Brulosophy experiments. But they remove their elements and switch to gas for the boil part and everything thereafter.

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Me do use a gas system. Easier to control the heat. My brew buddy back home at cape may. Did talk to him last night. He has issue to control the heat as well. With electric. Cause takes a while to cool down. His grain as well burned a bit. So now he heats his brew water. Than switches back to propane gas. Easier to control

That’s what I do. Actually I have 2 big coffee urns I got from garage sales. I never realized it but those coffee pots heat the water to 180° which works out nice. I just have to add a quart or so to cool it off and good to go

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How big are they?

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