I've been thinking a lot lately about beer and about politics. But since this is a blog about beer and brewing, I'll spare the reader from my political rants, and begin my inaugural (wink wink) blog entry by talking about a new method of brewing for me: recirculation infusion mashing (RIMS).
RIMS brewing, at its core, involves constantly recirculating wort through the mash tun during mashing. Recirculation is accomplished by pulling wort from the bottom of the mash tun through a false bottom, out a ball valve, and using a pump to feed it back up to the top of the mash tun. The process promotes better extraction, more heat control (allowing for, say, stepped temperature mashing), and more wort clarity, as the grain bed in the mash tun acts as a static filter during recirculation. Plus, it's geekier and more technical than what I've been doing, and the more involved, for me, the better...
Here's my project in a nutshell (and for those interested, I'll post materials and construction details for each phase):
Step 1: Construct brewing stand with gas line assembly.
This phase is almost complete (see picture). The only thing left is to finish the gas line assembly that will power the three burners built into the stand, and I'm waiting for some hardware from an industrial supply company that will adapt my burner orifices (flare fittings) to my gas line (pipe fittings).
Step 2: Purchase the tuns.
Since this is a RIMS system, all 3 tuns are directly fired, which means that my plastic gatorade coolers will be a thing of the past. What this also means is that I must purchase three new stainless steel tuns, which costs lots of moolah. And I don't have the skills to do stainless steel welding! This phase may have to wait a bit.
Step 3: Construct ventilation system.
My plan here is to brew in the basement, directly underneath a large window (egress) with a box fan that can move a lot of air. I'll construct a heat shield above the brewing stand made of sheet metal to protect the wood joists over head from heat and from moisture. The fan should move most of the steam from the boil kettle out the window, but the sheild will provide a nice backstop.
That's it. My dream RIMS brewery in three simple steps. We'll see how it goes. And of course, I'll keep you posted.