First off, a disclaimer. Electric brewing is of the devil. We all know this. And don’t get me started on the electric brewers. What with their spotless, soot-free pots and their precise, automated temperature control. It’s propane and propane accessories for me and mine.
The original concept for this rig was that it would be used with an induction plate for 1-2 gallon BIAB batches. It turns out that while the induction plate does a respectable job of heating the strike water and boiling the wort, it was somewhat lacking in the temperature control department. Rather than having a true temperature controller, the induction plate has multiple power levels without the degree of fine tuning one would want for mashing. Furthermore there’s not really a way (that we could find) to use the plate with an external temperature controller.
The next step was to consult chapter one of The “Homebrewer’s Guide for Better Living Through Cash Expenditure.” A close reading suggested a solution: Throw money at the problem.
We’re still in the early stages of fabrication, but here are the basics:
- The flexible rope heaters are wrapped around the kettle and held in place by metallic tape. Eventually a layer of insulation will wrap around the outside of the kettle.
- The sous vide temperature probe fits into a thermowell in the kettle lid. The thermowell will extend into the grain bed when mashing.
- The induction plate will be used to heat strike water to approximate mash in temperature.
- Once approximate mash temperature is achieved, the rope heaters, controlled by the sous vide controller will hold the mash at a pre-programmed temperature. The controller also includes a timer.
- Once mashing is complete the induction plate will be used to boil the wort.
During preliminary testing, the rope heaters reached around 173 degrees, so I’m hopeful that they will be able to hold steady mash temperatures without the help of the induction plate.
We still have some fine tuning and fitting to do, but a test batch shouldn’t be too far off.