Possible HERMS system

I currently brew on a 10gal MB gravity system. I have an extra IC that I’m thinking of using as a HERMS heat exchanger in the HLT. I planned to simply solder up a return manifold that I could hang on the side of my MT for a return. I would prefer not to drill any holes as I don’t want to make it permanent if there is a recipe I don’t need it for (as well as I could use it on my 8gal BK if I only do a 5gal batch). I figure with this I’m only out for the silicon tubing to run from the pump up to the heat exchanger and to the return and any quick disconnects. I could then simply remove it and return to gravity sparging/runoff

I currently do step mashes by stirring above my false bottom with my direct fired MT with low flame. But that’s getting old.

Do you see any problems with this plan? Is it worth the extra involvement.

Also, I do not plan to automate anything and would simply turn off/on the pump manually as needed. I already have the pump because I whirlpool with a CFC.

Edited to add: with the ultra low watt density heating elements would it be easier to just build a RIMS tube and return it to MT?

Hey Loopie, think about using a 30 cup coffee maker as yer heat exchanger…. Sneezles61

I’m actually doing something very similar. I think it’s a great idea, especially if you’re using the water in your HLT to sparge later. Instead of an old IC, I picked up a copper flexible coil, and was planning on bending the last bit of it over the top of the pot and connecting it with hose. Basically the same thing. I have an immersion cooker, as well, for regulating temperature in the HLT. Now I just need to find the time to put it together!

I figure with this I’m out, what, $40? That’s not make or break money and if it saves me from stirring a pot for 15 mins then I’m game. As I said I’m going to manually watch temps and turn pump on/off so I don’t need a controller or anything fancy.

I think I’m going to give this a shot.

Edited to add: I’m kind of surprised. I thought I would have 100 responses by now. 1/4 saying it’s worth it and do able, 1/4 saying I’m not doing it correctly, and 1/2 saying it’s not worth it.

I’ve recirculated a few times with my BIAB setup. I just direct fire the burner very low. I have a false bottom under my grain bag. So all I’m doing really is recirculating from bottom to top slowly and using the burner to adjust the mash temp. Also manual temp check and fire. Nothing fancy.

I use a sorta-HERMS. I put all my brewing water into my HLT, treat it, and raise it to my strike temp. Then I transfeer the initial strike water to the mash tun and dough-in. I pump the wort through an immersion chiller sitting in the HLT to hold the step temperature. Heat and repeat as necessary for additional steps. If I’m sparging, I drain the first runnings into an old 5-gallon kettle, then empty the HLT into the mash tun. Once the HLT is empty, it becomes my brew kettle - I’m a very cheap old geezer.

Many will consider the HERMS portion an unnecessary complication, but recirculation produces clean wort and maintains an even temperature throughout the mash. Of course you can also use the HERMS to raise temps without infusion, but it’s a bit slower.

I prefer HERMS to RIMS because I’m concerned the RIMS will overheat the wort and denature the enzymes. I have better control of the max heat the enzymes are subjected to in my HERMS.

Danny and Old Dawg this is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks guys!

Btw what are you guys using as a return? I plan on soldering up an easy copper manifold.

So Danny, Im re combobbulating my brew set up. I think Zwiller posted about utah bio diesel filters…. I bought one and await the last bits of stainless steel fittings fer my manifold. I will just pump/recirc on to the top of this basket that sits in the HLT/BK. Is that an efficient process as you do this? I could very easily do this by hand but, I have a pump and find it fun to tinker with. I am trying to get to one kettle brewing to simplify things. I will raise this up with a pulley system and to continue to vorlauf as the temp raises. What fun, Sneezles61

I pump with a march pump through silicone tubing restricting the flow as necessary with ball valve in the return line. My first attempt at this was frustrating and confusing until I realized I was pumping faster than the wort could filter back through the grain bed…duh…

The return is simply another silicone tube dropped in the top of the MT/BK with a little diffuser on the end of it to spread the flow.

I forgot to mention I monitor the temperature with an inline thermometer that I calibrate with my thermapen.

I’ve considered using my old IC as an exchanger in the HLT like Dawg does. Just haven’t gotten around to integrating it in the system yet.

Used my new HERMS system today. Was really surprised that it worked so well! Gained about 1° per minute.