Hot Liquor Tank for All Grain BrewingSunday, February 13th, 2011
Advanced all grain brewers use a Hot Liquor Tank to heat their strike and sparge water. The term Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) is a misnomer that comes from the commercial brewing world. The HLT never holds anything that has alcohol in it or sweet wort. A better name would be a hot water tank, or hot water pot. The HLT has a simple job. It is the container where the brewing water is heated to mash temperature. The HLT is also where brewing salts are added to the source water.
In a gravity fed system, the HLT is at the highest level, the mash tun is at mid level, and the boil kettle is at the lowest level. Each level has a ball valve to allow draining to the next level with ease. Advanced setups involving a pump, single tier, or HERMS will have a modified version of an HLT.
1) Brewing water is heated in Hot Liquor Tank (HLT)
2) Mashing happens in Mash Lauter Tun (MLT)
3) Wort is drained into Boil Kettle (BK)
An HLT is a luxury for all grain brewers. Up until now, I was using a combination of a 20qt extract kettle and a 4 qt pot to heat my brewing water. This was based on a two-tier gravity system where the mash tun drained to my boil kettle. It works, but lifting 18qt of hot water is dicey. Now that I am going for a 3-tier gravity system in my brew shed I need the HLT.
A complete HLT has the following:
- Ball Valve: for easily draining the brewing water to the mash lauter tun.
- Thermometer: used to tell how hot the water is that will be drained into the mash lauter tun. Get one that can be calibrated with a set screw.
- Sight Gauge: tells how much water is in the HLT
- Dip tube: allows you to drain to the bottom (see dip tube article).
- Capacity: Anything bigger than your brew kettle is wasted. I went with the same size for looks. Depending on the strategy for mashing, going with a smaller HLT would be fine.
I wanted an all inclusive package that would be hassle free. I also wanted to match my existing brew kettle which is also from MoreBeer. I have been very happy with both! Morebeer custom welds the stainless steel ball valve, fits the sight gauge and thermometer before shipping. It took about 10 days for the HLT to arrive. I had to add my own dip tube, just like with my kettle. Manufacturers don’t seem to get the utility of a built in dip tube on such a heavy pot.
Other things to note:
- When draining to your mash tun, make sure to use hosing rated for foods that can handle temperatures up to boiling.
- Accurate water volume is critical for all grain brewing. Make sure to account for dead space in the HLT when marking off the water volume ticks. The sight gauge doesn’t come with marks on it. See this page for information about total water calculations.
- The thermometer must be calibrated! Thankfully, MoreBeer HLT comes with a thermometer that can be adjusted. A poorly calibrated thermometer can lead to reduced brew house efficiency and differences in flavor and body if mash temperatures are wrong.
Morebeer.com gave BrewersFriend.com a $50 discount for writing this article.