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citizensnips

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Hi all, recently trying to put together a ag rig. I've become pretty confused with whether to use an eski or a keg. I have access to both so that's not a worry. My main question is if you use a keg as a mash tun.............If using a false bottom and you decide give a little heat to the mash half way through or so to raise the temps, is this always going to result in burning your grain a little? I've had a good search and there isn't much specifically on the topic, just people saying they have had problems with burning the stuff that gets trapped underneath and it resulting in unwanted flavours. Does this happen to all of you or is it really not a problem? I cant decide on whether to use an eski or a keg, preferably I'd like to use a keg so I could reheat and not have to use plastic, but eski's keep coming up better with heat retention and ease of use. But if you can just reheat the keg a little halfway through then I'd much prefer to do that, although I cant figure out whether its worth the hassle of burning your grain with a false bottom, or are there other better methods of filtering the mash from a keg? If you don't mind sharing any tips and what works for you I'd greatly appreciate it so I can figure out what to use.
P.s what's the deal with sparging in a keg? What's proffered with the less amount of surface area than an eski? batch or fly sparge?
Any advice appreciated.
Cheers
 

Thirsty Boy

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There are some issues with heating a keg that has a false bottom in it already. One of the reasons its not as popular a choice as you might think it would be, and why you do see a lot of HERMS/RIMS systems. The issues aren't insurmountable, people do make it work - but my gut feel is that if it were worth the bother, more people would be doing it.

If you dont like the idea of plastic, you do want to be able to heat & step your mash and you dont want to have either the issues of heating a vessel with a FB, or run a RIMS/HERMS ..... then the simplest solution is, well, really really simple. Have two vessels. Mash in an unadorned pot/keg - no FB, just a big pot - then you can do whatever you want. Add flames, stir it up, add boiling water, shove in an OTS electric element, No problems... its just a pot! Then, spend 5 minutes scooping the mash out of your "mash kettle" and into your lauter tun (another keg/pot, but this time it does have a FB), where you do your sparge. Meanwhile as the mash is spending 5 mins settling in to its new home and starting to develop a grain bed, you rinse out the mash kettle and it magically stops being a "mash" kettle and transforms into just your plain old kettle kettle and the heat source you used for your mash is now the heat you use to boil your wort. Two vessels morph into one and you are back at the much treasured number of 3 to put in front of V when you describe your system to other homebrewers.

Mashing in the kettle is a very underutilised technique among home brewers - I'm not sure why because HBers like to emulate commercial systems... and mash kettles are one of the more common commercial brewery set-ups. I think its the scooping from one vessel to another that puts people off. Bizzare - it seems a small price to pay for having a system that does pretty much everything that homebrewers could want, and does it so much more simply than many of the weird and roundabout ways that do seem to be acceptable.

Sparge - Either batch or fly will work in a keg with a FB. If you forced me to commit, I might say that an eski with a braid or manifold was a better choice if you definitely wanted to batch sparge....but not very much better at the end of the day. IMO (and for some people, probably arguably) the keg with a FB is definitely the better choice for continuous/fly sparge. So I say the keg/FB combo is the one to go with if you are undecided about how you want to sparge - it will do both very well.

Hope that gives you a little more info to help you make your decsision.

Tb
 

donburke

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Hi all, recently trying to put together a ag rig. I've become pretty confused with whether to use an eski or a keg. I have access to both so that's not a worry. My main question is if you use a keg as a mash tun.............If using a false bottom and you decide give a little heat to the mash half way through or so to raise the temps, is this always going to result in burning your grain a little? I've had a good search and there isn't much specifically on the topic, just people saying they have had problems with burning the stuff that gets trapped underneath and it resulting in unwanted flavours. Does this happen to all of you or is it really not a problem? I cant decide on whether to use an eski or a keg, preferably I'd like to use a keg so I could reheat and not have to use plastic, but eski's keep coming up better with heat retention and ease of use. But if you can just reheat the keg a little halfway through then I'd much prefer to do that, although I cant figure out whether its worth the hassle of burning your grain with a false bottom, or are there other better methods of filtering the mash from a keg? If you don't mind sharing any tips and what works for you I'd greatly appreciate it so I can figure out what to use.
P.s what's the deal with sparging in a keg? What's proffered with the less amount of surface area than an eski? batch or fly sparge?
Any advice appreciated.
Cheers
If you get yourself a thick sandwiched base pot instead of a keg, and stir gently but constantly, you will not burn the mash

a direct fired mash tun is particularly handy for step mashing and temp adjustments if you miss your strike temp

all the biab brewers benefit from being able to direct fire their mash
 

QldKev

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I've only seen a direct heated mash tun once. Eventually (after nearly a year) he gave up and went HERMS.

To direct heat the mash tun you still need to buy some form of heat source.

Have you seen the budget HERMS builds. A bit over $100 you can add a HERMS.
These HERMS coils $75
Brown pump, under $25 posted from ebay
Housing for the HERMS coil
Plumbing to and from the HERMS
Kettle element $8
Later upgrade to have a stc-1000 automatically control the heating.



If the budget is too tight for a HERMS, what about a pseudo RIMS.
Build you mash tun (keg or esky) with a false bottom / braid.
Get one of those brown pump
Get a pot that you can heat externally
Pump the wort from the mashtun into the pot that is externally heated, and return the heated wort to the mash tun.

QldKev
 

manticle

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I step mash using a grimwood immersion element. I mash in an esky but there's no reason it won't work in a pot (I'm looking at switching to a pot in the near future).

My element steps up quite well and I've used it to step double batches before but more than that, you may struggle with one.

Needs constant stirring and monitoring so as not to scorch the grain but constant stirring reduces hot spots anyway and I have no problems with burnt grain. I mention it only because I have read about people who've tried using one and had issues. Their technique may have been off, I'm not sure.

Will you be fermenting in glass or SS or is it only mashing in plastic you aren't certain about?
 

citizensnips

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Thanks so much for the replies all. Thirsty boy, some very good info, much apreciated mate. My question to you though is aren't you meant to not touch or stir the grain once it's settled? So scooping it all out and what not switching it to another vessel, could this potentially be a bad thing or wont it matter?
Manticle I ferment in the plastic standard fermenter, If I could id choose glass, just haven't got round to getting one. However with them your liquid is only 20 degrees give or take but with the esky mash tun it's 70 degrees or whatever you mash at.
I'm kind of thinking an esky might be the go, how many recipes are multiple step mashes, is it going to annoy me not being able to do multiple steps or are most recipes single mash?
Thanks
 

pk.sax

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I do occasionally directly heat my mash tun. With a fb. All I do is keep the pump running to re-circ the wort so nothin burns under the fb.

Can't comment on how simple this is wrt others' techniques but seemed like the easy way out. I've insulated the outside of my mash tun and left the bottom uncovered to allow heating.
 

Stubbie

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I do occasionally directly heat my mash tun. With a fb. All I do is keep the pump running to re-circ the wort so nothin burns under the fb.

Can't comment on how simple this is wrt others' techniques but seemed like the easy way out. I've insulated the outside of my mash tun and left the bottom uncovered to allow heating.
That would qualify as a RIMS (and a relatively simple one at that).
 

pk.sax

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That would qualify as a RIMS (and a relatively simple one at that).
That is the idea. Although, came up with it before I knew all the acronym jargon on here. Seemed logical. Works too. I've burnt a tiny bit on to the bottom of it before I installed the fb, had to keep the grain off the bottom by stirring and didn't have a pump hooked up yet. Never ever burnt a thing since fb and recirc.
 

Kranky

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I've never used an esky to mash in so can't really provide any useful information on how it compares to using a keg but I do have a 3v rig with 3 gas burners and I've tried heating my mash by direct heat, RIMS, HERMS, adding hot water and decoction.

If you have a keg and you want to heat it you can but it should be a very gentle heat. You will also (preferably) need a good FB that does not allow grains to pass through. It's pretty easy to burn grains that do get through. You will not always "burn your grain a little" if you do this but it is a risk. You can increase your water to grain ratio a little to make stirring your mash easier which will help. I've done this in the past without burning grains however, I have a Blichmann MT with the false bottom and it is an extremely effective bit of kit for stopping grains getting under the FB - although I have burnt grains by using too much heat and you don't need a lot of heat to do that.

RIMS is a better way to avoid burning grains. Personally I prefer using a HERMS set up for controlling the heat of the mash as the efficiency is much better and the temperature control is superior.

As for sparging methods, fly sparging should give you better efficency and maybe better beer but it can be a pita if your brew day is taking longer than anticipated (a common problem for me).
 

manticle

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Thanks so much for the replies all. Thirsty boy, some very good info, much apreciated mate. My question to you though is aren't you meant to not touch or stir the grain once it's settled? So scooping it all out and what not switching it to another vessel, could this potentially be a bad thing or wont it matter?
Manticle I ferment in the plastic standard fermenter, If I could id choose glass, just haven't got round to getting one. However with them your liquid is only 20 degrees give or take but with the esky mash tun it's 70 degrees or whatever you mash at.
I'm kind of thinking an esky might be the go, how many recipes are multiple step mashes, is it going to annoy me not being able to do multiple steps or are most recipes single mash?
Thanks
Most recipes around the place are single infusion and you can make great beer that way.

Personally, I prefer my beer since I started step mashing but you can step in many ways including by water infusion and decoction mashing as well as the methods outlined above. Mashing in an esky does not mean you can't step.
 

citizensnips

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Cheers manticle. After this thread and a fair bit of reading I think I'm going to head for the BIAB option with a keggle. It just has to many advantages for my current situation that I cant really say no to. The fact that you only need one burner, one keggle, you can reheat the mash, don't have to worry about filtering (false bottoms and what not). It just seems like a smarter option atm. I'll still be outside and in the great outdoors (what I really wanted), and hopefully can still make some good beer. I was trying to have a search for BIAB results vs AG results but couldn't find much on it. I gather the beers are great from BIAB but are they as good as a single infusion AG?
 

pk.sax

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Cheers manticle. After this thread and a fair bit of reading I think I'm going to head for the BIAB option with a keggle. It just has to many advantages
...

I was trying to have a search for BIAB results vs AG results but couldn't find much on it. I gather the beers are great from BIAB but are they as good as a single infusion AG?
You had to ask that didn't you!
 

manticle

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Cheers manticle. After this thread and a fair bit of reading I think I'm going to head for the BIAB option with a keggle. It just has to many advantages for my current situation that I cant really say no to. The fact that you only need one burner, one keggle, you can reheat the mash, don't have to worry about filtering (false bottoms and what not). It just seems like a smarter option atm. I'll still be outside and in the great outdoors (what I really wanted), and hopefully can still make some good beer. I was trying to have a search for BIAB results vs AG results but couldn't find much on it. I gather the beers are great from BIAB but are they as good as a single infusion AG?
BIAB is AG.

AG = all grain, you put all your grains in a bag and brew that way.

As for which is better - people will discuss that till the cows come home. I'm 3 V (or 2 V if you don't include HLT as one of the Vs). One of the most decorated current members of my brewclub is BIAB. He likes my beer, I like his.

If you couldn't find much on it, you're not looking hard enough - search for system wars, 3V vs biab etc and be prepared for some useful experience and info combined with a lot of drivel, dick measuring and circular discussion.

Work out what suits you the most in terms of space and convenience - you can step or single infuse successfully with both. You can also build on a BIAB system to make 3 V or drop out vessels (usually someone will be happy to buy them) to make a BIAB system.
 

lukiferj

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I was trying to have a search for BIAB results vs AG results but couldn't find much on it. I gather the beers are great from BIAB but are they as good as a single infusion AG?
Ha ha. Can of worms. Plenty of info on the forums about this.
 

Wolfman

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I started out doing BIAB went to 2v now got me a getto 3v setup. I step mash with an emersion element like Manticle. I moved away from BIAG because of the trub, 5-7 liters every batch.

I would suggest starting out BIAB, cheap to setup, and if you want then you can make the move to a 3v setup if you like.
 

citizensnips

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Ha my apologies, must not have looked hard enough. Yeah I fully understand that biab is ag and the ability to build your system up to 2v or 3v, I was just wanting to know if the quality was a little different. If too much trub was your only problem Wolfman, I recon I'll definitely have to give this a shot.
Thanks a lot for all the replies, you guys are a big help.
Appreciate it.
 

manticle

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BIAB, esky, HERMS, RIMS, Bucket o' death, 3 V, 2 V, 2v BIAB, no sparge, batch sparge, fly sparge, chill, no chill, braumeister.

I have not brewed on all of these systems (although I have brewed on more than 2 of them and used batch and fly, chill and no chill) and I have tasted beer from every single one of these.

The exact method is not what is integral to making good beer or even good wort (only part of the equation of making good beer but an important part).

Understanding the limitations of your equipment and what each process does is more important than the actual equipment you use or even some of the processes, provided you understand what those processes are and how you interpret/change them will affect the wort or beer.
 

lukiferj

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Well said Manticle. This is the best answer to the question I have seen. At the end of the day, it's about making the best beer you can, using the equipment (and time) you have. Not everyone has the time or money to buy all the gear you want but you can still make great beer. You have to start somewhere and as long as you are learning the basics along the way, it can only get better as you improve your processes and gear.
 

Wolfman

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If too much trub was your only problem Wolfman, I recon I'll definitely have to give this a shot.
Yer mate that was it. Made good beer, I think I am making better beer now. :ph34r: I think I have improved my processes not anything to do with BIAB.

Go for it mate. If BIAB is not for you you'll have a vessell for what ever comes next.
 

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