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Only few information can be found on HERMS-like layouts for which the coil is placed in the mash tun instead of the HLT, like the one presented here. One big advantage I see is to prevent stuck mashes (which I currently encounter). What are possible disadvantages compared to a "classic" HERMS?

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Here's the pros and cons I see.

Pros (coil in mash)

  • could be configured as a two vessel system, the boil tank can double as hlt for batch sparge allowing step mash. But then lose ability to fly sparge.

  • no need to vorlauf (set grain bed) for step mash

  • could use a small heat souce and small volume of thermal liquid in a closed system, allowing the use of other solutions that transfer heat better. Like glycol.

  • easier to use electric heating element. Using electric elements in direct contact with wort usually denatures enzymes on contact since the elements get very hot and can't easily be set to just "warm".

Cons

  • Mash volume is basically static. Doing a 5g mash in system designed for 10g will reduce the heating efficiency because the exposed coil will loose heat to the air and not into the mash. Making it difficult to dial in your system with different batch sizes.

  • Loss of recirculation. Causing hot spots around the coil, requiring stirring.

  • possible loss of the advantages of a HLT. Fly sparge, recirculation, better temp control. If it does use a HLT, I would prefer the coil be in the HLT.

Notes: Whatever system you decide to use, you should never heat the heating liquid above the denature point of you target enzymes. You may be temped to set heat to 168°F and let your mash step up in one shot, but this will denature those enzymes in close contact with the heat source. This is where you heat transfer efficiency is important.

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One of the mayor advantages of using the "classic" HERMS is that you will get circulation on the mash, whilst heating it. So the advantage with this might be that you will not get stuck mashes, you will also have to stir in order to get an even heat-exchange since there will be no cirulation of the liquid inside the mash-tun.

If you were to add circulation in the form of pumping round the liquid, you might as well use the "classic" HERMS.

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I have tried this and the Biggest Con:

  1. Cleaning the coil - for me a complete PITA, never gets fully clean.
  2. Hot spots - read takes more of your time to stir the mash and disrupt the grain bed.

Put that coil in the HLT and buy a pump to recirculate if you have a choice. You will not regret it.

  • I'm already using a pump and the problem is that the mash gets stuck quickly because the Lauterhexe clogs. This might be related to the grain size -- I'm crushing grain myself. So I'm looking for a robust solution and don't want to continue with this game of hazard. I'm not afraid of the cleaning, but of hotspots actually. Did you ever try to use an automated stirrer like goo.gl/images/1BcyEj ? – mstrap May 11 '17 at 7:55
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    Your crush may be too small, you are using a lot of wheat malt or you are just running/recirculating off too fast, I use a bazooka screen in a 10 gal igloo cooler with a march pump and a ball valve on the outflow and never have the slightest problem. For Wheat beers ...well wheats are always a PIA... – Pale Ale May 12 '17 at 21:37
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    @mstrap if your crush is to fine for your false bottom/screen. Concider adding a pound of rice hulls. I always keep a bag on hand. Its my $1 insurance policy against stuck sparge. – Evil Zymurgist May 13 '17 at 13:49
  • Thanks, Pale Ale and @EvilZymurgist, then this might actually be an issue of my mill which was the cheapest one I could find. So next step will be to find a new mill -- which is causing me significantly less headache than rebuilding the HERMS :) – mstrap May 14 '17 at 8:17
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    @mstrap Do you have any restrictions on your pump when pumping the wort around? If not, this will cause your grain bed to compact and "suck down" onto the filter, not letting the wort flow through it. I have had similar issues and it was not related to size of grains/mill. – Sander May 16 '17 at 11:49

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