Starting with a Coopers kit doing kit brews I quickly moved to extract (still cans but using your own hops) and shortly after that I moved into the world of all-grain.
My first all-grain brewing system was a one pot Brew in a Bag (BIAB) system which was a very quick and inexpensive (for me) way to start all-grain.
Being one to always tinker about 18 months later thanks to a brewing mate down the road I ventured into the “traditional” world of a three-vessel gravity based system.
This consisted of:
- The Hot Liquor Tun (HLT) – This is simply a pot to hold you hot water
- The Mash Lauter Tun – This was an esky (in my case) which held the grain at a certain temperature for a certain time-period to convert the starches in the grain to sugars.
- The Kettle – This was another pot which is used to boil the wort (beer mixture)
This has been my system for the last two years or so and it uses gravity to shift one lot of liquid to the next vessel.
I also told many people that I’d never go to pumps and automated systems as I enjoyed it simple and gravity was free…how wrong I was.
After completing my motorised grain mill (10 months in the making) that tinker bug had hit again big time and with the release of affordable pumps I quickly bought a few and started down that slippery road of upgrades.
The most recent purchase has been a 70L pot and a false bottom to replace my esky and next will be the brew stand redesign on one level incorporating the pumps to shift the liquid around.
So now we get to HERMS (Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System) and what that is.
Basically HERMS is a three vessel brewing system, well actually it is four as there is a smaller heat exchange used which in my case will be about 1.7L or so.
What this does is recirculate liquid from the mash tun and pass it through the heat exchange to keep the temperature at the correct level.
By doing this you can accurately re-produce results again and again and have the ultimate control over it using an electronic interface.
And so it starts again, it will be a while until I have all the parts needed however this hobby is always an ongoing upgrade and never ends – but it’s a lot of fun along the way.
For further information and reading on HERMS you can visit these sites.