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Old 04-20-2013, 06:10 PM   #1
Dieffenbach
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Default Unique BIAB Kettle Question

I want to thank the hundreds of members whose previous posts I have already read in preparation for the journey I am about to begin.

I feel I need to preface my question with a short background. Right now I brew 1 gallon at a time on the stove inside all-grain BIAB style. In general, my system works great, but I am ready to move on. I am currently planning my 5-gallon system and the crucial item I haven't yet selected is my brew kettle. This will be the largest cost component for my new system and I want to make sure I really end up with the piece of equipment that will serve me best.

I know I want a 10 gallon pot (and I know there will be a handful of you that tell me I will want to do 10-gallon batches and this pot will be useless to me and I should go for a 15 gallon pot now). For those individuals, I am dead set on a 10-gallon pot. I am leaning towards a custom kettle from Spike Brewing, but I am concerned with the 1mm bottom thickness. The other pot I am considering is a MegaPot because of its 5mm bottom thickness. I prefer the welded couplings and the customer service I have received from Spike Brewing. I am not concerned about the quality of either pot or their ability to hold liquid.

However, does anyone have any insight as to whether or not the kettle's bottom thickness will significantly impact my ability to maintain mash temperatures? I understand that the thicker pot will retain more heat, but will it retain enough heat that I don't need to insulate my pot or throw a sleeping bag over it?

I BIAB for simplicity. I would prefer not to have to insulate my pot or throw a sleeping bag over it, but I may have no choice. At this point I am not prepared to implement a RIMS system or a HERMS system. However, due to this concern I am giving considerable thought to the use of mashing with a bag inside a cooler. Thank you in advance to those willing to help settle my anxiety

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Old 04-20-2013, 07:11 PM   #2
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I started out BIAB using a very cheap 7 gallon aluminum turkey fryer pot, then switched up to a a very nice 15 gallon stainless steel polarware pot, with much more thickness. Both required some sort of insulation for maintaining mash temps. Even if it is just a bunch of towels thrown over the pot.

I can tell you that the temp always drops on me no matter which pot I used. So, get an old sleeping bag to throw over. and plan on kicking on the heat once in awhile to maintain mash temp.

And, I know you are dead set on a 10 gallon pot, but take it from me, go for 15.
This is an investment in a hobby you love. If you are going to invest in a pot, why not get the extra space? You will want it some day. And not just for 10 gallon batches. There are other reasons - higher grain bills, longer boils...etc...

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Old 04-20-2013, 07:21 PM   #3
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I went with an 8 gallon pot because that is the biggest I could find that fits in my oven, which is what I use to maintain mash temperatures.

8 gallons would be really tight for a true BIAB, but I already had a 5 gallon pot, so I use that to sparge in, then combine the two together.

Your comment about mashing in a bag in a cooler has my gears turning though. I've never considered that possibility.

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Old 04-22-2013, 12:03 AM   #4
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I know you said you are set on 10gallon but be sure you really can fit what you want it it (not batch size but gravity)

I do BIAB in a 10 gallon pot and pretty much top out at 13.75 lb of grain. A 15 gallon pot would allow me to do higher gravity 5 gallon batches. I would also allow me to do 90 minute boils, something I can't do now (due to boil off). Both of these issues could also be solved by topping up water somewhere along the way but a 15 gallon pot would make that easier!

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Old 04-22-2013, 01:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jb1677 View Post
I know you said you are set on 10gallon but be sure you really can fit what you want it it (not batch size but gravity)

I do BIAB in a 10 gallon pot and pretty much top out at 13.75 lb of grain. A 15 gallon pot would allow me to do higher gravity 5 gallon batches. I would also allow me to do 90 minute boils, something I can't do now (due to boil off). Both of these issues could also be solved by topping up water somewhere along the way but a 15 gallon pot would make that easier!
BINGO - that's why when I finally decided to invest in a good pot, I went for 15 gallons. You will eventually want to do these things (long boils, higher grain bills). Plus you won't have to mess with top off water or worry about boil overs. That extra five gallons is so worth it.

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Originally Posted by Dieffenbach View Post
However, due to this concern I am giving considerable thought to the use of mashing with a bag inside a cooler.
I'm confused why you would want to do BIAB but mash in a cooler. Might as well just not BIAB - you can install a manifold in your cooler and go the traditional route very cheaply. That opens you up to partigyles, and other fund stuff.

I think the beauty of BIAB is it's simplicity - all in one pot. Throwing a blanket or sleeping bag over your BIAB pot during mash is the simplest thing in the world. So is just firing up the flame if it drops temp a couple of degrees. Takes seconds. Not criticizing - we all have our own way of brewing. I'm just saying most people go BIAB for the simplicity of the process and wondering if you might be over thinking this.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frailn View Post
BINGO - that's why when I finally decided to invest in a good pot, I went for 15 gallons. You will eventually want to do these things (long boils, higher grain bills). Plus you won't have to mess with top off water or worry about boil overs. That extra five gallons is so worth it.



I'm confused why you would want to do BIAB but mash in a cooler. Might as well just not BIAB - you can install a manifold in your cooler and go the traditional route very cheaply.
I liked the idea of BIAB with a cooler because I only have one cooler and I really only have room for one cooler. Nothing extra to buy, and I can still use the cooler for my ice bath and picnics.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:52 PM   #7
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I appreciate the feedback I have received and want to let everyone know that I decided to take the advice of the more experienced and purchase a 15 gallon kettle (from Spike Brewing). After I have run it through a couple brew sessions, I will report back on my experiences. Thanks again everyone.

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Old 04-22-2013, 06:11 PM   #8
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I just (re)started brewing after a long layoff. Like you, I decided to go with BIAB for simplicity. I also went the route of BIAB for cost. I wanted to be able to do both 5- and 10-gallon batches, with a minimum amount of equipment.

I decided to BIAB 5-gallon batches in a 15-gallon Bayou Classic with steamer basket and then expanded the system with a large cooler to do 20-gallon BIAB batches. I actually BIAB in the cooler and use the kettle as a simple BK for a large batches. There's a guy on HBT from Nova Scotia (I think) that gave me the idea.

While I wasn't trying to address the stability of mash temperatures, I like the flexibility of my current set-up. This set-up also allows for future expandability without a huge investment should I desire to go to a 3V system.

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Old 04-22-2013, 07:06 PM   #9
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I actually BIAB in the cooler and use the kettle as a simple BK for a large batches. There's a guy on HBT from Nova Scotia (I think) that gave me the idea.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-n...-setup-365526/
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Old 04-22-2013, 07:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dieffenbach View Post
However, does anyone have any insight as to whether or not the kettle's bottom thickness will significantly impact my ability to maintain mash temperatures? I understand that the thicker pot will retain more heat, but will it retain enough heat that I don't need to insulate my pot or throw a sleeping bag over it?
First of all, if you want a 10 gallon pot, get a 10 gallon pot.

As I understand it, the bottom thickness has more to do with the boil than the mash. The thicker bottoms usually have a more conductive metal (such as aluminum) sandwiched between thinner layers of stainless. So you can conduct the burner heat quicker and more evenly with a thicker bottom. There should be no burning or scorching with a properly designed kettle bottom. I do think its an important factor in your decision.

But I would guess it will have very little to do with maintaining mash temps. Of greater concern is thermal mass of the water, ambient temps, and insulation/no insulation. Yes I think you need to insulate it in some manner, or provide a very low level of heat to maintain.

BTW, I wrap mine twice around in Reflectix (you know that foil bubble stuff used in HVAC), And then put a lid on it and throw a towel over it. Even in my garage in a MN winter, I stand to lose maybe 3-4 degrees over 60 minutes. Summer its more like 1-2.
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