From the HBD Archive
From: Mike Sharp <>
Subject: Mash-Tun from hell -- Alpha test
Date: 1992-04-01 14:12:27 GMT


Yesterday witnessed both the begining & end of two eras. First, after
175K miles I took my '76 Capri to the junkyard. This prompted the opening
of the MTFH era (after all, I was kind'a bummed out about the Capri &
I couldn't go anywhere -- why not brew the blues away?). Yes, yesterday
was the alpha test of the mash-tun from hell.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, the MTFH is a 27.5gal
stainless vessel (half a stainless drum) fitted with a 30% open false bottom.
The false bottom was cut from an 18gauge sheet of 1/8" offset perf stainless.
It rests on a big X made of 1/2x1/2x1/8 stainless angle which attaches to
the sides of the vessel via four little angle iron 'feet'.
The MTFH is heated by a 4500watt tube heater constructed out
of various bits of pipe and an electric water heater element. Mash
recirculation is accomplished by a 15gal/min procom pump (like the
carbonator pumps Foxx sells). There is a rather impressive bank of
valves that allow wort to move in all sorts of different directions.
At the moment there isn't much to do with all of those valves, but once
the sparge water tank and the boiler are constructed (30gal and 50gal
respecitivly), they will allow the system to be set in place permanently
w/o the need for moving hoses, etc.

All in all, the MTFH is sort of a RIMS on steroids with a few extras
for convenience.

Yesterday's alpha test recipe was fairly generic (a shock to many who
know me!):
30lb 6-row pale
5lb 40L crystal
20oz Hallertau for 60min boil
2.5oz Hallertau for 10min
MeV English Ale & any pediococcus & brettanomyces from
the cask. (I usually make pseudo-lambics in it)

I started with all of the grain and ~10-12gal of water at 110F.
In one hour and 10min it was at ~155F (~.6F/min) The temp was
held for one hour (a trivial task with that much thermal mass).
Sparging took about 1/2 hour and I collected about 18 gal
of wort. I probably could have done better but near the end
I'd run out of sparge water & was just using hot water.
The sparge went *wonderfully* BTW. I probably could have done it a
lot quicker if I hadn't kept running out of sparge water.

The gravity wound up being ~1.050. Thats about 70% efficiency
according to my 'Amazing Wheel of Beer'. Not great, but given the
sparge, not bad either. I expect this will improve dramatically
on the next run. (read: I'll have my sh*t together next time)

FWIW, I could have fit another 20-30lbs of grain in the MTFH.
I don't ever plan on running anything like that but I was having
all sorts of really evil pale barley wine ideas... Lets see,
first runnings from 50lbs of pale...

After the sparge I filled _everything_ that didn't leak with wort.
I then started a 1hour boil in a bruheat, 5gal pot & 3 gal pot. I
wound up running the bruheat and the 5 gal pot once more each to
finish off the boil. Each of the boils got a portion of the hops.
Upon completion of the boil I put everything in my oak primary.
(It was the only thing big enough, besides I didn't want to have
a completely normal recipe)

While cleaning the MTFH I noted _some_ scorching on the heating
element, but not so much as to discourage future runs. (I don't
make really pale ales/lagers anyway) Also, you wouldn't believe
the amount of trub that a batch this size produces!

So what posessed me to build such a large brewery? No, I'm not trying
to die of scirossis of the liver. In fact, I don't really drink that
much (relative) at all. A few pints a week. However, when playing
with lambics I need to fill a 15gal cask for each batch. That means
I need to *yield* more than 15 gallons. Hence the MTFH was born.


p.s. if you're from the BATF the above is a fictional work for the
entertainment of homebrewers, (c) 1992 by Mike Sharp. ;-)

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