This may surprise some, but my original forays into recirculation were a part of my attempts to reduce labour, and try to get clearer beer. I'm far from been a BIAB purist to be honest, I'd need to brew smaller batches than I prefer, so I tend to be naughty.
End of the day though, the goal is to produce good beer, whatever the path we take to this eh? lol
I'd already managed to get my overall efficiency up to about 80% before I started playing with pumps etc, just from getting my water right and stirring properly whilst mashing (90 minute mashes don't hurt either... lol). I was getting really cloudy wort going into the boil though, from all the flour out of the grain. I tried vorlaufing using a 5 litre jug, and found this helped but would trigger the arthritis in my hands and wrists something rotten... Recirculation just seemed a natural solution, as it basically does the vorlauf for me.
Then I was bumping heads with my family, blocking the food prep end of the kitchen for my entire brew day, so I came up with a hybridised BIAB approach (feel free to frown at me... lol). I'd mash (with recirculation) in my end of the kitchen (I used to keep dart frogs down there, but now it houses my brewing stuff and a few freshwater dwarf shrimp tanks (the shrimp are dwarf, the tanks are various sizes....lol)). I'd then drain the boiler into a clean FV, and do what was effectively a fly sparge with 5-6 litres of water, before recirculating this for about 20 minutes, getting more sugar out of the grain. This was then added to the clean FV, and the grain bag would be lifted and put on a rack over another FV to finish draining. Here's the reason for it all, I'd then take a break for lunch, so we could all have our lunch even during a brew day.
After lunch (at which point the grain had pretty much finished draining) I'd add the liquor drained from the bag into the full FV and move my boiler to the cooker end of the kitchen (where we happen to have a very powerful extractor hood). Into the boiler went the liquor, and the boil process would begin.
15 minutes before the end of the boil, pump would be attached to my makeshift whirlpool attachment, and this, along with my immersion chiller, would go into the boiler to be boiled for 15 minutes, with the pump running to run that nice hot boiling wort through the tap and hose etc. Flame out, water on to the chiller, whirpool swirling the wort speeding up cooling time significantly (As in, down from about 50 minutes to around 20 minutes to hit 18 degrees C with the water from the outside tap at 14 degrees C! Helping to reduce problems with chill haze that I'd been having).
So, although it actually all seems to be overcomplicating what should be incredibly simple, it all has a purpose. For me it's actually making things simpler.
Plus, to be honest, I enjoy the tinkering.
Oh, and it's probably going to give you nightmares, but I've done quite a lot more since my last post. Built a control panel so I can run a kettle RIMS system, tweaked the pan (a 2nd tap just for the pump)... As always, everything can be removed if there is a need, the taps are 2 part and can be taken apart so you can clean inside. I bought a 10 pack of PTFE plumbers tape, so even fittings can be taken apart and put back together periodically, for a more thorough clean. I'm going to cut some larger holes into the pizza tray that forms the bottom part of the false bottom too, open up that flow a bit more.
Take a deep breath (maybe a deep draught from your beer...) and brace yourself, pics. lol
Oh, and the hose for the recirculation is insulated with pipe lagging to reduce heat loss from this too.
Rest assured though, if I had a garage or a nice shed to brew in, I'd probably build a bigger boiler, and go full volume, and just ignore the haze...
We looked into getting a gazebo, but that's only really any good during warmer weather (I can't really stand the cold for long, my joints start to really hurt. lol).
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