I decided to add mash recirculation to my setup, based on various articles and conversations. There are many articles and discussions such as this or this one that tout the advantages of re-circulation (or Vorlauf), the main advantages being efficiency and wort clarity. Maintaining a uniform temperature in the pot while mashing is another potential advantage.
The general idea of mash recirculation is to take wort from the bottom of the mash tun (in our case our brew pot) and pump it back to the top, creating a constant flow of liquid from top to bottom.
This is generally speaking a pretty simple process, but there are a few things to consider.
- There should be a way to control/adjust the flow. Typically this is accomplished by putting adding a valve at the output of the pump
- Incoming wort should be somehow “distributed” and not simply dumped in, so as no to tunnel through the wort . I will use a spray nozzle for this.
- There are many choices when it comes to fitting connections, at different price points.
The main piece of equipment needed here is a pump. Good old gravity won’t allow us to magically move liquid away from the ground, and so we’ll need some help.
Fancy brewing pumps can cost up to $200. Given that I will only be brewing 5 gallon batches, i do not need a whole lot of power for a bit of re-circulation. So I am opting for this pump. Here’s a nice demo video i found on youtube:
For $25, the price can’t be beaten. I will see if it stands the test of time, but based on discussions i have seen on brewing forums, many people uses this and are satisfied with the performance.
Brewhardware has a great video about the various ways to connect things in a home brewery. It’s an educational watch I highly recommend.
The cheapest way to achieve this, would be to simply fit hosing into the barb ports of the pump, similar to what is done in the pump demo video above. That would only require a barb to 1/2 NPT make to go into the mash recirculation port of the brew pot. Along with the spray nozzle and hoses we’re talking about less than $60, depending on the hoses you get.
For ease of use, I decided to go with ball lock QC (quick connect) fittings. I like their sizes and they are not terribly more expensive that the cam lock fitting shown in Brewhardware’s video. TC fittings are expensive and present very little advantage at the brewing scale we are discussing here..
|nozzle (3/8 NPT)
Ball lock fittings
|type F (3)
|type A (1)
|type C (4)
The build goes as follows.
Use Teflon tape for all threaded connections that need to be waterproof. A roll of Teflon tape is included with the pump.
Note that the pump is not self priming and need to be primed before being turned on. To do this, open the valve of the pot and let liquid flood the pump until it pushes up a couple inches out of the output port. Now it is safe to turn on the pump.