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Old 12-23-2011, 03:55 AM   #1
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Default Switch to 3 vessel from biab?

HI everyone-

I have been brewing for about almost 2 years now, and when I switched to all grain, I started with BIAB with an intent to upgrade to a full 3 vessel system when I got the space and time and money.

I have been toying with the idea of upgrading. I have a modified clone of Kal's electric brewery that I have set up as a single vessel eBiab rig with a RIMS tube. It would be very easy to hook it back up for 3 vessel use.

The benefits of BIAB are posted in many posts. So far, the only complaints I have with BIAB are a follows:
1) The wort is not clear before the boil.
2) I have some difficulty lifting the bag without getting hot wort all over the place.
3) I find it a bit of a pain to squeeze the bag to improve efficiency.
4) My hopstopper clogs sometimes, and I think that may have something to do with the cloudy wort having more hot break to clog the hopstopper

I have been, overall, pretty satisfied with the products I have made, and attribute most of the minor issues to problems with the brewer, not the equipment.

So my question is... is there an advantage to going 3 vessel while I have the chance (or rather when I have the chance, which SHOULD be soon)? There must be a reason that people who have 3 vessel system don't switch to BIAB from their systems. I have 2 march pumps, and would only have to buy 2 vessels. I suspect my efficiency would go up a few points, but I already get about 81% consistently, so it won't lead to huge savings in grain.

Will I gain anything by going to a 3 vessel setup?



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Old 12-23-2011, 04:42 AM   #2
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While I can't speak to 3 vessel, I can speak to switching from biab to batch sparging with a dedicated mashtun rectangular cooler. I found it easier to repeat results with the mashtun.... Plain and simple. I liked biab and would still do it, but batch sparging takes up slightly more time and I don't have to deal with a huge bag of hot grains and dripping wort.

Flame suit on, but because I still like to keep it simple, 2 vessel (tun and brewpot) batch sparging is what I do now, that is when I'm not brewing extract or partial mash....



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Old 12-23-2011, 04:53 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by duckmanco View Post
[...]Flame suit on, but because I still like to keep it simple, 2 vessel (tun and brewpot) batch sparging is what I do now, that is when I'm not brewing extract or partial mash....
I'm curious, how do you manage a sparge in a two vessel setup - ie: without a HLT? Is the wort "ballistic"?

Cheers!
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckmanco View Post
While I can't speak to 3 vessel, I can speak to switching from biab to batch sparging with a dedicated mashtun rectangular cooler. I found it easier to repeat results with the mashtun.... Plain and simple. I liked biab and would still do it, but batch sparging takes up slightly more time and I don't have to deal with a huge bag of hot grains and dripping wort.

Flame suit on, but because I still like to keep it simple, 2 vessel (tun and brewpot) batch sparging is what I do now, that is when I'm not brewing extract or partial mash....
Two vessel is fine for 5 gallon batches. You have to collect your runnnings in a bucket (or something else) and then transfer to the BK after sparging. Which is no big deal. A bottling bucket works nice for collecting the runnings so that you can gravity drain into the BK to aviod excessive aeration. If you are going to do 10 gallon batches or bigger, go with a 3 vessel. Oh, to answer your original question, the biggest advantage I can see from moving away from BIAB would be to upgrade to larger batches. If you can crank out 10 or 15 gallons in almost the same time as it takes to brew 5, you're way ahead of the game even if you're not saving money on grain and such.
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:18 PM   #5
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Default BIAG vs Mash Tun

For the reasons you mentioned (specially 2 and 3) I have leaned towards using dedicated mash tun with 2 pots. I have a little 5 gallon pot that is used to heat mash and sparge water. I have a 10 gallon pot that is used to collect and boil wort.

My 5 gallon mash tun is perfect for 5 gallon batches. It holds 12 lbs of grain and 3 plus gallons of water. This fills it to the tippity top. My mash does not normally lose a degree in 75 minutes.

I am hitting my temperature numbers and hitting my effiencies. At first I had some problems with stuck mash tun drain. I went from a SS braid to a hard copper slotted drain to a hard drain with a bag. Since I started using the bag and hard drain I never have a problem and the process is neat. Because I can pull the spent grain out neatly I can then get all of the wort that hides in the bottom of the mash tun.

Good luck. If you have any questions I am happy to chat.

Mike

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Old 12-23-2011, 05:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by day_trippr View Post
I'm curious, how do you manage a sparge in a two vessel setup - ie: without a HLT? Is the wort "ballistic"?

Cheers!
Check this out....dennybrew

I've been using this system (and specifically the same equipment you see here) for 14 years and 411 batches. It works so well and is so east to use that I've never felt the desire to do anything else.
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:40 PM   #7
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I use a 2 vessel system and do 10 gallons. The process is smooth and I'm getting better each time.

You have 2 pumps so you have already absorbed the biggest costs to a 3 vessel system but if money is still tight try using just 2 at first and then move to 3. 1) BK 1) MLT/HLT

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Old 12-23-2011, 05:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckmanco View Post
While I can't speak to 3 vessel, I can speak to switching from biab to batch sparging with a dedicated mashtun rectangular cooler. I found it easier to repeat results with the mashtun.... Plain and simple. I liked biab and would still do it, but batch sparging takes up slightly more time and I don't have to deal with a huge bag of hot grains and dripping wort.

Flame suit on, but because I still like to keep it simple, 2 vessel (tun and brewpot) batch sparging is what I do now, that is when I'm not brewing extract or partial mash....
After 10 or so BIAB batches I'm starting to feel the same way - not crazy about the bag of grains hanging over the kettle. However contrary to the OP, my wort is as clear with BIAB as it is with a 3 vessel RIMS setup that I have. I'm guessing maybe the bag he is using is not doing the job.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny View Post
Check this out....dennybrew

I've been using this system (and specifically the same equipment you see here) for 14 years and 411 batches. It works so well and is so east to use that I've never felt the desire to do anything else.
Thanks Denny, it's your batch sparge method that got me into even attempting AG...... and yes smart a** (day trippr - kidding of course) I should have clarified that I do run off into the boil kettle and get it heating up but also use my old 5 gallon extract pot to heat up sparge water.... Not a true 3 vessel system but technically, you still need 3 containers of some kind, one of them could be a bottling or fermenting bucket. Also for me, I only do 5 gallon batches as I'm the only drinker in the house and my friends ain't much on real beer. Shame really... Guess I'll go drink some more to take the edge of the pain.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:48 PM   #10
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I'm a relative newbie to all grain (6 batches total). But BIAB has treated me well. My wort might not be clear before the boil, but after a good hot and cold break it falls out so easily. Not an issue for me.

Lifting the bag is so easy if you have a fryer basket and rope/pulley. I don't spill a drop of wort this way.

Squeezing the bag IS a problem for me. I need to do something different here. My hands get all toasty and sticky. Maybe I can use a lid from a pan or something to keep my hands out of it.

Maybe some day I will go to the 3 vessel system. But no plans for now.



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