BCS-460 Brew Session

>> Monday, June 29, 2009

Today I’m documenting a full BCS-460 brew session. I’m brewing a Toasted Coconut Porter based on the recipe by Fujiura, the 1998 Homebrewer of the Year. I found the recipe on the Internet so hopefully it’s true to the original.

My disclaimer, I don't work for Embedded Control Concepts nor am I associated with them in any way. But I do think this is a great product and I'm excited about it so I thought it might be helpful to others by documenting a brew session from start to boil.

Grain Bill
9 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt (2 Row)
1 lbs 9.6 oz Hugh Baird Chocolate Malt
9.6 oz Briess Crystal Malt - 80L
1.25 oz Northern Brewer [8.50 %] (60 min) Hops 35.9 IBU
0.60 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (10 min) Hops 3.7 IBU
1 Pkgs London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) Yeast-Ale

Mash Profile
Mash at 153 for 90 minutes

Recipe Notes
14.2 ounces toasted coconut. Use dried unsweetened coconut and toast on cookie sheet 15 min at 350 in oven or carefully toast in a fry pan. Rack beer onto coconut in secondary for 7 days.

My BCS-460-based HERMS
My HERMS consists of a Hot Liquor Tun, a Heat Exchanger, a Mash Tun, a March brew pump, and a BCS-460 equipped with two temperature probes. The BCS-460 is mounted remotely in the utility room in my basement. I ran some CAT 6 cable to the back patio and this is used to control the heating elements and also for connecting the temp probes. I also have two separate 20 amp GFCI circuits on the back patio. The HLT is connected to one of these circuits and the HEX is connected to the other. The heating elements are 1500 watt, 120 volt elements drawing approx 12.5 amps each. The solid state relays for controlling the heating elements and pump are mounted in the small electrical box mounted on the brew stand. The benefit of the BCS-460 controller is that it allows you to precisely control things like mash temp which helps the home brewer have more easily repeatable results. Check out my other blog posts for more info and pics of my HERMS. Check out http://www.embeddedcontrolconcepts.com/ for more info on the BCS-460.

Brewing Process
I programmed my BCS-460 for a single infusion mash. At the very bottom of this post you'll find the text from the configuration file for my system. The process consists of 7 states.

System Startup
The first state is System Startup where the Heat Exchanger (HEX) is preheated and the strike water is heated in the Hot Liquor Tun (HLT). I’m using 1.5 quarts of strike water per pound of grain for this recipe and my brewing software calculated an initial strikewater temp of 165.3 was needed. Here you can see a screen shot of the BCS-460 at work during startup. One note, my laptop doesn’t have the greatest graphics card so I zoomed out in the browser to be able to capture as much of the screen as possible. As a result it cuts part of the bottom off of temp probe graphics. It took 44 minutes to heat 16.8 quarts to 165.3. Also, the HEX has two different positions for the HEX temp probe. During Startup, the Temp probe is inserted into the top of the HEX and is measuring the temp of the water in the HEX. At Dough-in, the HEX temp probe is switched to position 2 where it’s measuring the temp of the mash exiting the HEX. This state is exited by clicking on the Web Input 0 button.

Start Mash
The next State is Start Mash. This state is essentially a pause that allows for stirring the grain and strikewater into the mash tun. The heating elements in the HEX and HLT are turned off at this time. This state is exited by clicking on the Web Input 0 button.

The next state is Dough-in. This is simply a count-down timer for 6 minutes. When the timer reaches 0:00, the Dough-In state is exited and the Mash state begins. 6 minutes may seem a little short for dough in, but keep in mind before I kicked off this state I refilled the HLT, checked hoses, and swapped the HEX temp probe from position 1 to position 2. So the total dough-in time is probably closer to 15 minutes. Also, since the HEX temp has been switched to position 2 but the mash isn’t being circulated yet, the temp reading on the HEX isn’t accurate at this time.

During the Mash state, the mash is being recirculated through the HEX and the water in the HLT is heated for the sparge. The heating element in the HEX is cycled on as needed in order to maintain the mash temp. You can see in the pic below the temp of the mash exiting the HEX is at 153.1, the HLT is heating the sparge water, and the pump is active. Also, Timer 0 is used to countdown the 90 minute mash. When the timer reaches 0:00, the Mash state is exited to the Mash Out state.

Mash Out
During this state the temp of the mash is raised to 168. Once the mash out temp is reached, the state is exited to Start Sparge. The HLT is maintained at 165. As you can see it took a little under 7 minutes to raise the mash temp to 168.

Start Sparge
Similar to Start Mash, this state is essentially a pause that allows for swapping hoses and such. This is exited by clicking on the Web Input 0 button. Essentially everything is turned off.

During this state the heating element in the HLT is turned off. The HEX is powered on when the sparge water drops below the setpoint of 170. This state is exited by clicking on the Web Input 0 button. At some point I’d like to add some float switches to control the end of this state.

The rest of the brewing process (boil and chilling) is manual, so that's about it as far as the BCS-460 controlled portion. Hopefully that was helpful to those that are considering purchasing a BCS-460 or have purchased one and were a little confused as to where to start.

Single Infusion Mash Configuration