Switching from HERMS to RIMS Homebrewing

RIMS Tube

RIMS Tube

Since beginning homebrewing in 2004, I have been using my same Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System (HERMS) without considering change. Lately, however, I have been wanting to achieve faster ramp times for some step-mashing experiments. The large volume of liquid in the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) that needs to be heated to perform the heat exchange just can’t keep up with the step-mashing requirements while utilizing the small hot water heater element that is mounted in the tank. Obviously, I could change elements, move to a 220 volt system, or set my HLT temperatures higher in order to more quickly increase the mash temperature. But, I wanted to do a bit more experimenting.

After some deliberation, I decided that I wanted to experiment with the addition of a Recirculating Infusion Mash System (RIMS) tube. For those who don’t know, a RIMS tube is simply a section of pipe that contains a hot water heater element. The mash is continually pumped through the tube and the element is cycled on and off in order to maintain a set mash temperature.

After assembling a simple RIMS tube with an attached on/off switch, I ran a few trial runs to see how effective the system would be. I didn’t want to get too elaborate with the control system so I just decided to utilize my existing Ranco Electronic Temperature Controller (ETC). The RIMS tube and element have been able to consistently increase temperatures by approximately 1.5 degrees per minute which is considerably faster than my HERMS setup with the HLT set to 180 degrees. This could open up some interesting step-mashing opportunities beyond just having a simple mash-out.

I’m planning to continue to experiment with both homebrewing recirculation systems to see which I ultimately prefer and will keep readers of this blog up-to-date with my results. At this point, I am still uncertain as to whether I will commit to a RIMS-based system or stick with my HERMS system. In theory, I could use both depending upon my mood or what beer I am brewing.

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