Bruheat Mash Tun/Lauter Tun/Boiler

Bruheat Mash Tun/Lauter Tun/Boiler

Post by baughma.. » Sun, 29 Mar 1992 22:24:03

It looks like I'm going to have start ducking into rec.crafts.brewing
more often.  Teaching takes all my time these days.

Sorry to get into this thread a little late but as the Bruheat
distributor, maybe I can answer a few questions.


Josh Grosse writes about his Electrim:

>I use an Electrim Bin, a "BruHeat Compatible" device.  I use it with a
>grain bag, so that it does everything for me except heat my sparge water.
>Both my stove and my Bin are 220V.

         {stuff deleted}


>3)  Mash, either single temp infusion or step infusion.  Mash out is usually
>    168 F for 10 minutes, then on to step 4.

I can hear the flame wars brewing but frankly I ALWAYS do single
temperature infusion mashes, whether I'm brewing lagers or ales.  Step
infusion mashes use 6-row malt and, due to their high enzymatic
potential, are needed to convert the high ratio of adjuncts to
fermentables found in most commercial American beers.  But, hey, we're
homebrewers and don't give a tinker's damn about adding grits or rice
to our beers.  So why not go for single temperature mashes with 2-row
malt.  2-row tastes better and it's a heckuvalot easier to work with.

I know. I know.  Pilsner Urquell uses decoction mashes.  But they also
use that great Czech malt, those marvelous Saaz hops, and have a
brewery designed around their unique brewing methods.  Who wouldn't
give their first-born to be able to make a beer like that but I argue
that there's more to Pilsner Urquell than just the decoction mash.  So
in keeping with Ockham's razor, I do not multiply work beyond

{Stuff deleted}

>6)  Clean Bin, carefully cleaning the element to make it shiny again.  This is
>    to keeps its efficiency high.

Last year I discovered that a quick boil of one Tablespoon of B-Brite
in enough water to cover the heating element will float the thin layer
of sugar right off the element and keep the element shiny clean
without using abrasive cleaning methods.

Later Norm and Josh have a dialogue:

>>1) I'm doing a bit of guessing here, but tell me if I'm close:  You put the
>>   grain bag in the EB, then pour in the grains and water, etc.  Then you
>>   mash, with the grain bag suspended so as to not contact the heating
>>   element.  Then you sparge right out of the EB.  Eh?
>>   (this seems the most logical to me)

>Correct answer.  Phrased as a question.  Have I seen you on Jeopardy? :-)

This is one method.  But you can save time by having a separate lauter
tun.  I made one from a 5 gallon bucket purchased from a Donut shop.  
(The idea is NOT to get a pickle bucket.)  I then drilled a hole about
an inch from the bottom and inserted a Bruheat type spigot.  I place
this on a chair in front of the kitchen sink.  Inside I put a
stainless steel vegetable steamer (bought from a grocery or health-
food store) to help support the sparging bag and then lined the bucket
with, you guessed it, the sparging bag.

It's fairly simple matter to ladle about half the goods from the
Bruheat to the lauter tun with a quart sauce pan and pour the rest.  
Quickly rinse the Bruheat and place it on the floor.  This arrangement
will allow you to bring the wort to a boil as you sparge--
a big time-saver.

>>2) How much volume does the EB hold?  How does that compare to the Bruheat?

>They're both big enough for 6.5 US gallon boils, with room to spare.  I'd
>guess they're about 7 gallons.

The Bruheat is actually 7 1/2 US gallons.  I'm not sure about the

>>3) Does either the EB or the BH come with a 120V service?

>I understand that both are available with 110 Volt capability.  My heating
>element even lists a wattage; my recollection is 240V is 2450W, 220V is
>2200W or so, and 110V is a lot less.  I heard from people with 110V
>versions that they're best for heating sparge water.

110V elements are rated at 5500 Watts.  Halve the volts and you must
to double the wattage.

The Bruheat does not come with 110 Volt capability.  I've considered
bringing one in but have opted against it because 110 volts just
doesn't cut the mustard when it comes to trying to bring 5 gallons of
high density liquid to a boil.  110V is great for boiling a cup of water
when you're making instant coffee but that's not what we're doing.  I
can't count how many times people have come to me after buying a 110
volt Electrim and asked about the 220 volt Bruheat because the
Electrim was so slow to boil.  I finally tried an Electrim last year.  
A year later and I still haven't gotten mine to boil!!!  I think my
experience is typical.

>>4) How do the two devices compare in price?  
>(it sounds like you're quite happy with your EB)

>I believe that the EB is on the order of $10-$15 cheaper than the BruHeat.

In general, this is true but there are a couple of shops around the
country that sell the Bruheat cheaper.  Sebastian Brewer's in Florida
has a good price as does Green Acres in Esko, MN.  Both Frozen Wort
in MA and Alternative Beverage in NC take pride in offering the lowest
prices on any of their products and will probably negotiate.

>>5) How is the EB constructed?  (I assume it is some sort of high-temp plastic
>>   with the heating element suspended so as to not touch the sides or bottom)
>See answer to #1.  (Right again!)

The plastic is polypropolene.  It withstands temperatures up to 250
degrees F.  My personal Bruheat is now 11 years old and going strong.

>>6) How well does it hold temperature?  (my first and only mash so far had a
>>   +15F temperature swing at one point, so I don't know how it'll turn out)

>Hmmm.  You do have to stir frequently, to avoid hot spots, and use a
>thermometer at all times.  

I agree with Josh.  You do need to stir frequently to make sure
temperature is evenly distributed throughout.  It wouldn't be unusual
to have pockets of grain 15 degrees hotter than the rest of the mash
if you DIDN'T do this.  BUT if you noticed 15 degree fluctuations in a
5 gallons of water that was constantly being stirred, then you have a
defective thermostat.  If it's a Bruheat, send me your old one and
I'll replace it.  If it's an Electrim, I think you're out of luck.  
They don't sell replacement parts.

{Stuff Deleted}

>I went with the EB because
>my biggest enamled pot is 3.5 gallons (I actually make up sparge water
>in two pots.) and it was cheaper than an 8 gallon SS pot.

Again, I agree with Josh.  The Electrim/Bruheat option comes into play
when you start looking at big SS pots.  8 gallon SS pots cost a lot
more than either the Bruheat or the Electrim.  And you're almost
forced to use them outside.  At least they aren't recommended for
electric stoves.  Whatever the case, you still have to do something
about mashing.  Probably a picnic cooler with a slotted copper pipe
inside.  The Bruheat gives you all this in one unit.  So in the end, I
think it's a good value.  (But I'll admit, it's fun to cobble up and
tinker with custom made brewing equipment.  I do it all the time and
is part of the draw of the hobby for me.)

Jay Marshall writes:
>The bottom line of this post is to see if anyone has a nice, convenient
>way of using a grain bag in a BruHeat brand boiler for mashing and
>sparging.  I have heard that BrewCo, the folks who import the BruHeat,
>are selling a bag but I don't know any specifics about it.  Has anyone
>out there tried it, or know of a place where a good bag could be

See my comments above about the advantages of having a separate lauter
tun when using the Bruheat.  Ask the folks you bought the Bruheat from
about the sparging bag.  They should have one in stock.  If not, I'll
be glad to send you some information on it.

Josh writes in response to a query from Morf:

>The EB draws about 11 amps during operation, and the plug that fits
>the heating element is rated at 13 amps, though the plug in the wall
>is rated at 55 amps (std Stove Plug).  The instructions say about the wall

>"If a 13 amp (BS1363) plug is used a 13 amp fuse must be fitted or if any
>other type of plug is used a 15 amp fuse must be fitted, either in the
>plug or at the distribution board."

>I'm just trying to protect the plug, and hopefully the thermostat from
>damage should an accident occur and things get wet on the outside
>of the bucket.  A couple of 15 amp fast blow fuses should be sufficient
>to do that.

What Josh recommends is by far the safe way to go.  Still, I and
hundreds of other Bruheat users have been plugging our units directly
into a stove outlet for years with no problems.  Once, in all the
years I've been dealing with the operation of the Bruheat, I had a
customer who said the element just burned in two while he was mashing
some grain.  I have no idea why it happened or whether he did
something out of the ordinary.  I replaced it, no questions asked
(except those necessary to understanding what went wrong.)  Since well
over 3000 Bruheats have been sold in the U.S., one problem like that
is not a bad batting average.

Jeff Frane writes:
>The worst part was that the grain bed kept collapsing during the sparge.  

Another good argument for having a separate lauter tun.

>continued to use a Bruheat (no. 1 died eventually and was replaced by an
>"improved" model)

Just wanted to point out that there are times when the Bruheat appears
to have died when it hasn't.  The most common problem I have with the
Bruheat is the failure of the safety cut-out switch INSIDE THE
ELEMENT!  It's there to break the circuit in case one accidentally
plugs the Bruheat in with no water covering the element.  This is
something you shouldn't do EVEN IF THE THERMOSTAT IS TURNED TO 0 !!
When the cut-out switch engages, it breaks the electrical circuit.  So
there you are, trying to bring your wort to a boil when CLICK and the
whole unit shuts down.  Extremely frustrating and I sympathize with
everyone who has experienced this.  The fix is to disarm the cut-out
switch in the element (a relatively simple operation.  E-mail me
for the particulars.)  I stripped my element of the cut-out switch
early on.

Morf writes:
>I've got a couple of questions about Bruheat or Electrim Bin mash tuns:
>First, I've heard the these things tend to carmelize the liquor around the
>heating element. Is this true? This is the main thing keeping me from mashing.

And Josh responds:

>The "problem" isn't carmelization, as far as I can tell.  The color of
>the finished product looks (to me) to be close to the intended SRM of
>the recipe.  Instead, the problem is burning solids against the element
>during mashing.  There are several circumventions:

>1.  Use a thin mash (say, 1.5-2 quarts water / lb of grain) and stir often.
>2.  Use a grain bag (which is what I do, and I use 3-3.5 gallons water
>    with 7-11 lbs of grain)
>3.  Stir like crazy when using thick mashes.

Again Josh is full of good advice here, too.  It's obvious that Josh
is a careful brewer and hasn't had the caramelization problem so often
referred to and experienced mostly by brewers who aren't as careful
during clean-up as they could be.

The element is in direct contact with the wort so caramelization is a
concern.  So you must clean the element after each brewing session
else you will eventually experience a charred, sugar buildup over a
period of time.  Please note the comments above about B-Brite.  It
does a marvelous job of keeping the element clean and it does so
painlessly and without abrasives.

The only time I ever experienced the actual burning of the sugars on
the element is when I tried to do an upward infusion mash using 6-row
malt.  That's one of the reasons I don't do step mashes any longer.  
They're just too much trouble and I'm not convinced they contribute a
character that lead to better tasting beers.

I also know that there are many who would disagree with me on this and
we've discussed this at some length in the HBD.  In the end, though,
and in the effort to make grain brewing as easy as possible, I
stubbornly hold to the idea that single-stage mashes are easier and
make beers that taste "just as good" as upward infusion mashed beers.

For what it's worth, I've just completed a new set of instructions for
the Bruheat.  The main addition is a trouble-shooting section in case
the unit isn't performing up to expectations.  E-mail me and I'll be
glad to send them along.  If I get flooded with responses, I'll just
post it to the group.

Standard disclaimer:  Please don't take the comments above as a sales
pitch.  I'm responding primarily as a satisfied customer and as one
who probably has more experience with these units than anyone else.


Kinney Baughman                  |   Beer is my business and
Owner, BrewCo                    |   I'm late for work.