Herms or rims system

Is herms or rims worth the expense and time involved?

It all depends on what kind of beers you like to brew. Most beers, no. Single infusion batch sparge is good enough. Start tinkering with unmalted grains and adjuncts, then maybe. Most of the time, not worth it, though.

If you want to play with it, you can do a DIY HERMS with a pump, burner, immersion cooler, kettle, and some fittings. Most brewers have that, so it’s easy enough to try if you’re interested.

I thought of doing a HERMS, and got a big electric coffee maker to be the heater for the heat exchanger. But then after gittin’ a pump and tinkering with that and BIAB, I bought a SS basket and now I’m glad I didn’t go to a HERMS. I can crank out a 5’er of brew in 3.5 hours, cleaning included! Did I mention one kettle too? Sneezles61

For 5- gallon, it seems like it’s a more personal preference, how much do you want to geek-out? I’d imagine these systems become more helpful, and even sanity-saving at larger batch sizes. For batches smaller than 5, I’d say RIMS and HERMS are more trouble than they’re worth. If you absolutely gotta have small-batch automation, then the Zymatic is probably the way to go.

I built a HERMS system using a 10-gallon water cooler, a pump, an immersion chiller in an 8-gallon stainless pot with a water heater element controlled by an STC-1000 activating a relay to turn the 240 V element on and off. It works great and was a lot of fun to build.

The down-side is that it takes longer than infusion, even multi-step infusion. I control the water bath temp to not more than 5F above the target mash step so I don’t denature the enzymes - that may be overly cautious and it adds more time. It seems to work especially well with unmalted and incompletely modified malted grain. Efficiency is five-to-ten percent higher that single-step infusion - for me.

So, I’m a convert - occasionally. Most of the time I do a single-infusion, no mash-out, no sparge mash. I’m also doing low-alcohol (session) beers almost exclusively, so I’m hoping the rumors about no-sparge brewing producing maltier beer are correct. (Detour: I’ve been verbally flogged for not doing two otherwise identical brews and comparing them in a triangle test to definitively confirm or disprove that theory. I’ve elected to ignore that statistically flawed advice - it would take a large number of such comparisons to produce a real indication that there’s a difference. Pardon the detour.)

I often use the HERMS system to maintain mash temps while recirculating to produce clean wort - which a few dozen trials MIGHT indicate improves the finished beer.

Sneezles’ idea of using a big coffee pot works fine if you can stuff your IC into it, unless you worry about denaturing enzymes in the water bath.

As jmck asked, “…how much do you want to geek out?”

I was going to roll an IC specific for that. I still have the copper, maybe make a CC instead… Ifn I was to go quite a bit bigger, then HERMS/RIMS I think would be the ticket… Sneezles61