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Losing The Bag.

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Fat Bastard

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Been doing a hybrid BIAB style 1.5 v thing for a while now where I mash in a canvas sided, voile bottomed bag, drain to my bottling bucket, sparge to same and return it to the kettle for the boil.

The major problems I have with this is that it takes 30 minutes of stirring to raise the temp to 72 for 10 minutes for a rest as recomended by Shane McGowan Manticle and another 10 or so to mash out. Been getting 75-80% efficiency from the mash otherwise, and have been happy so far.

I've made a s/s mesh screen that fits over the bag rest in my kettle, which should hold the grain and act as a false bottom. apart from the ease of clean up, can anyone see why I shouldn't ditch the bag entirely ( which is only incidental to the process, in as much as it makes cleanup easier) and just mash on the mesh?

Will I be able to raise temp via the element faster and more easily without it?
Cheers,
FB
 

felten

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If you're already draining to a 2nd vessel, then I can't see any problems in ditching the bag except for the easy cleanup like you mentioned.

Not sure if it will speed up the heating though, it might just be that a single element isn't beefy enough.
 

seemax

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I just do a single infusion (usually 67C) ... lift and drain whilst it gets up to boil.

My efficiency for pale ales is around 75% , my crush is not super fine but I do tend to mash for longer and always correct water profile (calcium carbonate / gypsum).

Saves a lot of time and effort!
 

Fat Bastard

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If you're already draining to a 2nd vessel, then I can't see any problems in ditching the bag except for the easy cleanup like you mentioned.

Not sure if it will speed up the heating though, it might just be that a single element isn't beefy enough.
Having put a bit of thought into this now, what I think is occurring is that the heated water is convecting around the outside of the bag, making stirring almost useless. Raising from mashout to boil (75-100c) takes around the same time as it does to raise from 64 or 67c to 72c. Not sure if this is due to the mass of the grain or some other thermodynamic effect due to the bag itself.

Time for an experimental run on a tried and tested recipe methinks. Even if the additional cleanup takes me as long as raising temp with the bag, I haven't lost anything!
 

Thirsty Boy

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if you have an electric element in there - stirred, unstirred, solid sided bad, normal voile bag or no bag at all ... exactly the same amount of heat is going into your tun in exactly the same amount of time.

If the wort outside the bag is getting significantly hotter than the mash inside the bag - then maybe your are right about the stirring being ineffective - if its not, then it just takes a long time for your mash to get from themmid 60s to the mid 70s and nothing you do will change it.
 

Fat Bastard

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TB, I have a temp probe mounted at the same height from the bottom as the element. During the step from mash temp to 72, it can lag anything up to 8 degrees, i.e, the probe reads 72, and the temp measured in the centre of the mash from the handheld digital probe will still be at 64 degrees, even after extensive stirring.

I'll do a NS Summer ale next weekend without the bag and report back. I guess I could try and do the calculations beforehand, but where's the fun in that?
 

QldKev

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Your making it hard for yourself make brewing easier not harder. I would get a pump and recirc it. This will allow you not to need to lift out the bag (allowing a basic false type bottom in place) and allow the element to stay on during the rise to mash out, saving time; and as a bonus you will help clarify the wort. Once I finished playing with my new 3V setup this is what I'm going to build so I can do single batches of experimental and also speciality beers.

Think of it as a Braumeister but flowing in the normal direction :wub:


QldKev
 

Thirsty Boy

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TB, I have a temp probe mounted at the same height from the bottom as the element. During the step from mash temp to 72, it can lag anything up to 8 degrees, i.e, the probe reads 72, and the temp measured in the centre of the mash from the handheld digital probe will still be at 64 degrees, even after extensive stirring.

I'll do a NS Summer ale next weekend without the bag and report back. I guess I could try and do the calculations beforehand, but where's the fun in that?
sounds like you're on the money then - you're making heat, its just not making it to the inside of your modified bag. so I reckon your options are

Toss the bag as you speculated earlier - but you absolutely wont be able to lose the stirring. If your fixed element is below the level where your grains settle out in your tun, then you'll have to stir any time you have the heat turned on - if the element is high enough to be in free liquid rather than the mashor separated from teh mash solids by being under a false bottom, then recirculating can do the job of recirculating the heat for you.

Keep the bag, but re-circulate while you stir to bring the heat from outside it to inside it. If you have a way to make sure the bag/mash isn't sitting on the element, you probably dont need to stir as long as you can re-circ at a decent rate.

Raise your bag up out of the mash while you heat up only the liquid portion - then as you drop the bag back in and the mash re-absorbs the liquid, it will absorb the heat too. But, while this might be a strategy for step mashing - it would be virtualy pointless to do for a BIAB mash-out. might do something for your mash, but I'd say. ot wirth the bother.

and that leads to...

Dont bother with the mashout step at all. Its a nice to have, worth doing if you are able type step - but its not vital, if its giving you a PITA, just skip it and dont worry unless it affects your brews negatively in a noticable way.

TB
 

Fat Bastard

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I've tried recirculating with a jug in the past. It certainly improves things, but is a bit of a pain to do in between strirring like buggery. The bag is also a bit problematic when it comes to sparging as the sides move around and you get channels down the side that need to be pushed back with a spoon.

I guess the next step from here is to try without the bag and see how much of a pain digging the grist out of the kettle is, and from there deciding if it's worth ditching the bag entirely in future, before obtaining some sort of pump and sorting out a recirculation system. Are those ebay brown pumps any good for this?

If only I didn't have to brew in a tiny kitchen things could be much easier!

Cheers,

FB
 

kelbygreen

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why recirculate if your stiring?? it defies the whole point of it. You recirculate to get clear wort so if you are stiring it then there is no point and your starting from square one.

The method you use is close to what I tried and its so hard to achieve your goal with it. the bag poses to many faults when you want to start res circulation, water will find the least resistance and with a bag the grain can form a proper bed it will just find away around the bag so I cant see any point in using it.

I cant see a point in using your kettle as a MT. Sure space wise but you will need to go from your mash tun to your kettle. Using a bag yes you can use your kettle as a mash tun, yes you can recirculate but you lift the bag up and all that effort is lost.

you can go 2V but its so much harder. So you use kettle as HLT then you mash into a MT (esky or something) you can setup a herms on this if you want to recirculate all the time your just infuse for temp adjustments and recirc before you drain the tun. But there is a problem here as if you want to sparge you will need some where to store the MT runnings as your kettle is held up by the sparge water. Or you could put the sparge water into a fermenter or something and fill the kettle but then you have a problem with heat loss.

I went threw most of these steps and there is a reason people use 3v setups as with 2v one vessel is always held up when you need it again. With single batches its not to bad I used to use the 19lt big W pot for sparging and things so that can be a way out but its still 3v as but little bit more flexible
 

Thirsty Boy

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why recirculate if your stiring?? it defies the whole point of it. You recirculate to get clear wort so if you are stiring it then there is no point and your starting from square one.

The method you use is close to what I tried and its so hard to achieve your goal with it. the bag poses to many faults when you want to start res circulation, water will find the least resistance and with a bag the grain can form a proper bed it will just find away around the bag so I cant see any point in using it.

I cant see a point in using your kettle as a MT. Sure space wise but you will need to go from your mash tun to your kettle. Using a bag yes you can use your kettle as a mash tun, yes you can recirculate but you lift the bag up and all that effort is lost.

you can go 2V but its so much harder. So you use kettle as HLT then you mash into a MT (esky or something) you can setup a herms on this if you want to recirculate all the time your just infuse for temp adjustments and recirc before you drain the tun. But there is a problem here as if you want to sparge you will need some where to store the MT runnings as your kettle is held up by the sparge water. Or you could put the sparge water into a fermenter or something and fill the kettle but then you have a problem with heat loss.

I went threw most of these steps and there is a reason people use 3v setups as with 2v one vessel is always held up when you need it again. With single batches its not to bad I used to use the 19lt big W pot for sparging and things so that can be a way out but its still 3v as but little bit more flexible

Did you read the whole thread?? the point here is that FB is having trouble getting his heat to penetrate through his modified bag with just stirring... recirculating in this instance would be about getting heat from one place to another, not about clarifying anything. Although unless he goes with a pump, its not all that practical anyway.

I'd normally just suggest that he ditches the modified bag and uses a more normal BIAB bag - that would solve the problem - but I know that FB moved away from a more normal BIAB set-up because he didn't like it, so that would be pointless.

Another thing you might try FB (although I suspect you wont like the idea all that much) is to ditch the fixed element altogether and go with an over the side element that you can just put inside the bag while you are heating up... I've never thought a fixed element was a particularly good choice for BIAB based systems and I still dont. Nor are they all that practical an idea in mash/lauter tuns of any description.

If you do decide to go the "multi" V route - Kelby's point about using your current vessel as a kettle and something else as an MLT is valid - the fixed element inyour current vessel (depending a bit on where it is) makes it much less than optimum as a mash tun - and is pretty much what you want in a kettle. That will be the easier conversion for you to make.
 

Fat Bastard

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Ok. It's decision time.

Today I was given a large diameter Tel-Tru thermometer with an 8" probe and a current calibration tag. Given that my kettle already has a PT 100 hooked up to a controller, it would seem a shame to waste it.

Looks like I'm getting an an esky or some other thermally insulated vessel and reading up on false bottoms and manifolds. And HERMS. I have an 8 litre Aldi Urn that may work for for that.

This has now gone way off track, but I did manage to lose the bag!
 

Thirsty Boy

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dude - I seriously, seriously suggest you just read up on false bottoms, mash tuns, sparging etc and leave the HERMS for quite a while later - its a plug in option you can add at any time - so just play with multi V for a while, get the hang of it, then make a rod for your own back with the recirculation thing once you have decided that you cant get what you want from your beer without it.

BTW - if you are thinking about a re-circulation system, even in the future, forget all about manifolds, braids, etc etc and just buy an actual properly made false bottom. It will be well worth it in the long run.
 

Fat Bastard

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dude - I seriously, seriously suggest you just read up on false bottoms, mash tuns, sparging etc and leave the HERMS for quite a while later - its a plug in option you can add at any time - so just play with multi V for a while, get the hang of it, then make a rod for your own back with the recirculation thing once you have decided that you cant get what you want from your beer without it.

BTW - if you are thinking about a re-circulation system, even in the future, forget all about manifolds, braids, etc etc and just buy an actual properly made false bottom. It will be well worth it in the long run.
After some thought, I agree with you. What I think the next step from here will be is doing my standard brewday with a tried recipe minus the bag only and see what happens. I need some time to have a think about what form my multi V setup will take, and if I'm going to use an esky or another heavily insulated SS stockpot as my mashtun. False bottoms won't be an issue as I have access to all sorts of stainless mesh and perforated plate from work and I can pretty much copy anything. I guess future proofing is also a consideration too if I do want to start frigging around with pumps and heat exchangers.

Speaking of rods and backs, there's a bunch of stainless 44 gallon drums with keg-like bases and tri-clover outlets on them lying around at work that I can see being turned into a brewery at some point in my future when I get out of this damned flat!
 

kelbygreen

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TB is right start of with a easier set up add HERMS or RIMS any time. The setup you chose as you say you want to future proof it. I mean look at what you want?? and think what you want now may not be what you want later. So go one step further. So say you want to do doubles now??? you will want to do tripples later I am sure! get a kettle that will be able to do tripples you can still do doubles but boil off may be higher (no drama add more water!)

I still think I should of got a bigger esky and kettle (70lt esky, 80lt kettle) The esky would be ok if I used a herms or rims setup but infusing with 2 steps I am full only on a double brew lol. and the kettle is 3/4 so if I do a tripple I think it will have to be a maxi or will have to boil the rest in a 20lt pot in the kitchen :p dont like maxi idea!
 

Fat Bastard

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TB is right start of with a easier set up add HERMS or RIMS any time. The setup you chose as you say you want to future proof it. I mean look at what you want?? and think what you want now may not be what you want later. So go one step further. So say you want to do doubles now??? you will want to do tripples later I am sure! get a kettle that will be able to do tripples you can still do doubles but boil off may be higher (no drama add more water!)

I still think I should of got a bigger esky and kettle (70lt esky, 80lt kettle) The esky would be ok if I used a herms or rims setup but infusing with 2 steps I am full only on a double brew lol. and the kettle is 3/4 so if I do a tripple I think it will have to be a maxi or will have to boil the rest in a 20lt pot in the kitchen :p dont like maxi idea!
Unfortunately anything bigger than 20-23 litre final volume batches is out for me in my current circumstances. The working space in my kitchen is about 1 metre wide and 2m long so small is good for now. When I have the space, I'll build a new and much larger system using those 44's I mentioned earlier.

By future proofing, I guess I mean something that will allow me to expand the system to utilise pumps and a heat exchanger if I need to. One of the major issues I have right now is headspace above the kettle to lift a bag, so hence I've developed a system using a solid sided bag I can sparge through etc without lifiting it. It works and it makes beer, even good beer but dealing with the bag is a pain, and lifting a bottling bucket full of hot wort from the floor to a milk crate on the bench scares the bejesus out of both me and the landlord, so I'm quite interested in using pumps for wort transfer.

What sort of esky are you using, Kelby?
 

Fat Bastard

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Just wanted to update on the no bag BIAB brewday, in case anyone is interested

The stepped mash was far easier than with the bag. 64-72 was achieved in 9 minutes and 72-75 in well under 5. The solid sided bag was definately slowing this procedure up. On the downside, the mash lost 1.7 degrees over the hour which is more than the normal 1 degree I usually get. I think the solid sided bag was holding a column of heated water between the grist and the wall of the stickpot, effectively making it a double walled vessel. No major drama there.

Stupidly, I left the hop blocker on the tap, which prevented me from effectively lautering, so after draining and cleaning the dead grist out, I still ended up with a lot of trub in the kettle. Brewbrite dropped it out, but there was a lot more crap in there than when I used the bag. I don't know how this will effect the flavour of the finished beer. Still I hit all my numbers and got 21 litres of beer into the fermenter, so in terms of being a successful brew day, I reckon it was.


From here, I think I will need to make a pickup tube for the tap without a strainer and learn to whirlpool. The S/S mesh false bottom tends to keep all the chiller blocking sized bits out anyway. For my situation, I think this method warrants some further investigation, I'll do another brew soon and try to whirlpool etc.

Cheers,

FB
 

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