After downsizing my equipment and purchasing the Brau Supply All-In-One Electric Brew System, I was looking forward to my first brew session. I had chosen to brew a Belgian Saison to enjoy in the later months of summer.
I opted to go with the non-sparge method of brewing, so I filled the kettle with 7.5 gallons of water and set the heating element to 158 degrees. It took a little over 1 hour to heat the mash water to 156 and I decided to mash in at that point. I proceeded to add 12.5lbs of grain to the mash (interior) kettle.
Mashing in the grains went as expected and my temperature initially only dropped to 153 degrees, so I was ready to begin the re circulation process. Having seen a video on ensuring that re-circulation should start slowly to prevent dry-firing the heating element, I started the RIMS process slowly and kept an eye on the water level. I then reset the controller to hold at 152 degrees.
Over the next hour, my mash temperature dropped from 153 degrees to 136 degrees. I double and triple checked the temperature setting on the controller. I tried to unplug and reset the controller. At 146 degrees I wrapped the unit in a thick beach towel to help retain heat loss from the surrounding ambient air.
At 138 degrees, I once again unplugged the controller and plugged it back in and decided to set the system to ‘boil’, hoping it would raise the temperature. Not only did this not work, the ‘cooling’ indicator came on (although I am not using a temperature controlled fermenter).
With no hope of raising the temperature to get a good mash and no chance of boiling, I had to dump my wort.
After cleaning up everything, I decided to see if I could get water to boil. With 5 gallons of fresh water at 60 degrees, I set the system to boil. About an hour later, it reached 160, but then plateaued. The system then started dropping slowly back down to 152. At this point, I decided to call it a day and finish cleaning everything up.
I believe my problem lies within the PID controller. I have contacted the company, but have yet to hear back from them. I’ll post an update once I get a response. This will be a good test of their customer service capabilities. Although, I’m sure the Coronavirus may have an impact on their staffing and response times may be longer than I’d prefer.
Customer Support Update
After contacting Brau Supply, Steven had me conduct a few tests on the PID controller and on the heating element. Much to my surprise, the heating element was indeed the culprit. He has indicated he will expedite shipping on a replacement unit at no additional cost to me. I expect it to arrive early next week.
Kudos to them for their fast turnaround and more than acceptable response!