Urn For Biab

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The Village Idiot

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I am considering purchasing an Urn to use for BIAB. Have a couple of questions for the knowledgeable and experienced brewers out there.

My guess is concealed element is the only way to go?

Do you still need to keep the bag of the bottom?

Will a 30litre 1800w unit do the job? Boil well enough? Like this one http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/30-litre-tea-co...=item4162234fcd

Would this one be a better deal? http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW-LARGE-STAIN...=item2c6317bf05

Or should/would I be better of with a 19litre on the stove as described in the "all grain for $30 thread"

Any suggestions/thoughts appreciated.

cheers, Peter
For an urn to make a full volume BIAB for a single batch (say 19-23L) with an OG around 1045-1050 SG you require about 5Kg of grain and around 35L of water. You're really better off buying a 40L urn otherwise you have to make smaller batches or maxiBIAB.
Crown urns and Birko Urns are both excellent choices for 40L urns. Exposed elements will bring wort to a rolling boil quicker by all accounts and you can get around burning the bag by using a cheap falsebottom such as a colander. The crown and birko urns will probably set you back about double of what that cheap chinese 35L urn costs but you get what you pay for.
Best off to buy a big SS pot and an electric element.
Ive got a 40 l crown with concealed element. I used to biab but have added valves pump etc to get something along the lines of a braumeister, see thread : blackdog brewhouse, single vessel system.
The concealed element can clag up...don' t remove the safety bypass. Make a long scrubbing brush to give element a clean preboil.
The 40 l size allows easy batchs 22 l , keg and couple of bottles. Smaller urns may make it difficult if you want keg quantities at the end.
With ebay ones find out if you can buy elements, Im on my second one ( my fault)
You need to keep the bag off the element, for that i used a cake rack.
An urn is handy if you change brewing systems, ie single vessel like me or as a hot liquor vessel so get a good one to start with imo
I use a 20 litre urn with an exposed element to do Maxibiab. I calculate my recipes to 18 litres and I end up with a higher gravity which I then sparge twice during the boil to allow for evaporation loss. I also usually add a couple of litres to my fermenter to dilute the gravity back to the recipes specs. But even doing this the most Ive managed to get in my cube is 17-18 litres and its a lot of work on brew day.

I was given my urn for free from the father in law but if I was buying would consider a 40 litre. But having said that the smaller batch size a 20 litre urn gives you means you can brew more often and experiment with different styles so your not stuck with 45 stubbies of something you dont like. If you really like a recipe brew it again.

What are those 35 litre chinese urns like?? Anyone brought one of those before. They are certainly a good price.
Dont get one of those cheap 30lt crab cookers. They are a piece of shit. Plenty of threads on here from brewers that grabbed one only to blow the elements after half a dozen batches. Most brewers will agree they are not reliable at all.

The handy imports option would be a better one i think. I recall many brewers purchasing from handyimports and been happy with their particular purchases.

Id go a big ass pot and throw a kettle element, or a hot stick type element in it. Cordless kettle from kmart is $9. Remove the element assembly and put that in a big pot.

I have a 50lt keg urn, with sight glass, thermometer, and inputs and outputs to recirculate. Reckon ive only spent $100 on it, and it works beautifully.
gday, i curently brew in a 30 liter urn i bought cheap at a market. I brew 23 liter batches, ive only made pale ales so far. Ive found My urn to be underporewerd and takes quite a while to reach a boil, and once there needs careful attention for the first part of the boil to avoid boilovers. I would agree that a 40 lt (or larger) stainless pot with a port for a tap would be a better option if you have the dollars. I wouldnt bother with fitting an element, rather buy a imersion element. better for cleaning and whilpooling. there is great stuff to buy like sight glasses, hop filters, temp probes etc etc. all can be added whenever you like. but just to start a big pot, imersion elememt, tap and pickup tube is cheapets and simple. it will be my next move when i have the $$ for the pot.Thats My experience so far doing exactly what you are planning. Im happy to post more if i dont make sense, im a few ales in :)
The $30 is a great way to try AG without spending big $. A few people stay using it.

For me a big pot (this is good for a single, but can squeeze a double)
otherwise a converted keg / keggle

And then some heat
Either a LPG burner
Electric, this will run a single batch. http://www.craftbrewer.com.au/shop/details.asp?PID=3853
(allow extra for plug if you don't have a spare one from an old pc)

Fit it up with a tap and you will make many brews. If you ever decide to go 3V you already have 1 of the vessels.

Best off to buy a big SS pot and an electric element.

Seriously consider this, I have a Crown urn and while it does the job and I'm happy with it from time to time I have crud build up on the concealed element during the boil which needs scraping off with a paint stirrer to avoid losing some of the vigour of the boil. You can probably get a very good quality pot with electric element for a lot less than an urn if you're comfortable drilling holes to fit the element & tap.

I'd probably go this way if I was starting again.
I use 40L birko with exposed element, and use a cake dack style thing to keep the bag off.

If you go this way, just remember to clean the element each time, and you'll have no probs.

As others have said, you get what you pay for, steer away from chinese electrical stuff.
Best off to buy a big SS pot and an electric element.


I bought a crown urn with a concealed element, but it only properly boiled for the first few times. I now use it for BIAB, but I drain the unboiled wort into a 60L aluminium stock pot that has been drilled by the guys at Craftbrewer and had a ball valve and 2200W SS element. This does the trick nicely.

I'm about 15 brews into BIAB now and started with the stovetop which was the best learning experience I could have had. The last 8 have been with one of Craftbrewers 70ltr pots on a large gas burner that I already had. I looked around on the net heaps and the CB pot was the cheapest and best by far. Admitedly I live close by so freight wasn't an issue. I'm glad I went this way as the 70litre pot gives me a heap more options than a 40ltr urn would have. If I go 3v down the track I'm already a third of the way there, not that I think this is an option at this stage I love my bag!
i have a 40ltr exposed element birko urn, from what i am told the crown is actually an exposed element with a cover over it that can clag up and harbour nasty unwanted scummy bits, a true concealed element would not have contact with the liquid? hey i'm not preaching but just my understanding of the pros and cons.
so this is why i went exposed element, i use a round cake stand to keep my bag (biab :ph34r: ) off the element.
i love this urn , it reaches a rolling boil very fast and it's a piece of piss to clean, just fill with some diluted unscented nappysan for an hr then hose out, i have done 10 biabs in it now and the element and urn interior is sqeaky clean and shiny still. and i can buy parts locally if i need them. just another angle you may want to consider. :icon_cheers:
...from what i am told the crown is actually an exposed element with a cover over it that can clag up and harbour nasty unwanted scummy bits, a true concealed element would not have contact with the liquid? ...

To describe it there is more of a flat plate that forms part of the base of the urn. There is nothing there that will clag up more than any other urn as far as I am aware. It's fairly easy to clean.

My only advice is: don't do the mod that is talked about on this forum....get yourself a proper boiling vessel.

I went with a 40L exposed element Birko, have put through 15 brews so far, only thing I want to change at the moment is put a ball valve in so I can get the silicoln hose on and off easier.
I have the 35L one from Handy Imports and have had no trouble with it at all (I have only done 2 brews in it so far tho). I posted some Pics here of it when I got it.

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