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Using immersion heater while mashing

I did my first all grain brew yesterday. I used an immersion heater to apply heat for the different mash steps. I got a little tired of holding the heater element in the mash until it reached the right temperature. I’m wondering if anyone has rigged up something to hold the heater in the right position while heating the mash. I have a 10 gallon plastic Rubbermaid cooler with a false bottom. My heater is an L shape. I would just hang it over the side of the cooler but it isn’t long enough to reach the mash. So, I need something that will hold the heater in place inside the cooler.

Thanks,

Harold Williams

If you are asking about during the mash, I would not want to leave it in one spot.

If just for bring the water up to temp, wire cloths hanger?

I was talking about the mash. Fortunately, I was moving the heater around while bring up the temperature. I guess it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave the heater in one place.

If you do a really thin mash and have a pump, you could rig up a cheapie recirculating/heating system by slowly draining the wort into a separate kettle (like a grant) with the heater, then slowly pumping the hotter wort back up to the MT.

Just use a wire clothes hanger to make a hanger to keep the heater at the right depth. If yours is like mine it has a built-in ground fault disconnect to shut it off if it falls in the mash.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]Just use a wire clothes hanger to make a hanger to keep the heater at the right depth.[/quote]Do you recirculate the wort around the heater? If not, doesn’t it bring the grain in the vicinity to a boil?

I have one of these but I haven’t used it for mashing. Mine has a thermostat on it so I would think if you started out at temp it would cycle on and off fast enough that you wouldn’t scorch the mash right on the element. I don’t think it’d boil for that reason.

I agree that a recirculating loop would be preferable from an even temp persepctive, but he already said he’d used it this way so I was just thinking he could hang it on down in the mash. I can’t recall if I’ve seen any direct-heated electric mashtuns. If it worked that well you probably wouldn’t see people messing with RIMS/HERMS. I suppose with some stirring you’d even the heat out. I bought my element for boiling wort in the basement and havne’t used it much since its outdoor brewing season.

If I want to do a step mash (not my normal thing) I’d add boiling water to raise my temp.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]Mine has a thermostat on it so I would think if you started out at temp it would cycle on and off fast enough that you wouldn’t scorch the mash right on the element. I don’t think it’d boil for that reason.[/quote]With a thermostat I can see it working, although the heating would be in one small area - I was thinking of a bucket heater, which would boil the wort and scorch the grain.

I wouldn’t recommend doing what you are doing with the heating element. Edit - just re-read that this was your first AG. YMMV but tried something similar once and got smoke flavors in the final beer. The mash is too thick ( maybe yours is thin)for the heater to not scorch the grain. Good luck

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