electric biab setup
I recently completed my electric biab setup. I've brewed two 10 gallon batches with it, and thought it might be worth sharing. I used the following:
15.5 gal Bayou Classic brewpot with basket (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FTEQBK/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00)
4500w element (https://www.highgravitybrew.com/productcart/pc/Heating-Element-4500-Watt-SS-306p2514.htm)
ball valve (forget where I got it)
Electric Kettle Controller (https://www.highgravitybrew.com/productcart/pc/Electric-Kettle-Controller-306p3084.htm)
I've done two 10 gallon batches so far, and while they've both been excellent, I would do one thing differently if I was to start over...
Get the bigger (20.5) gallon Bayou Classic pot with basket!
With my current pot, I start with 12 gallons of water, heat that to mash temp.
Add 23 lbs. crushed grains (this fills the pot to the top).
Mash for 60 minutes.
Use winch to raise basket, drain.
Swap basket for vent fan (on winch cable).
Add 4 gallons of water, bring to boil; the rest of the process (hopping, etc)
is as usual.
So I'd rather be able to start with all required water, but since I just drilled holes in my 15 gal pot, it'll be a while before I can justify buying a new 20 gal. pot with basket.
My biggest issue right now is efficiency. Using beersmith, I've calculated that my efficiency is quite low, around 56%. Doing some googling last night, I've realised that I should probably sparge out at 170F for 10 minutes or so, that should help. I'll do that next time.
Also not sure what effect the amount of water vs. amount of grains plays on this. If I had a 20 gal pot, that would be less of an issue (if it's an issue at all).
220v 30 amp gfci breaker
exhaust fan (got it from a neighbor)
1500lb capacity 12v winch
here's a link to some pictures on google+ of the brew process
and same on facebook
The vent fan has a 6" outlet; since I had an existing 4" line to a dryer vent, I got a 6" to 4" reducer so that I could use that...BAD IDEA! Seems to be enough back pressure that a lot of moisture accumulates on the fan and housing. Going to get rid of the 4" reducer and use 6" hose to a new vent, probably replacing one pain of the basement window with a vent of some sort.
The winch is almost essential. I did a few 10 gallon batches using pretty much the same setup, only fired by propane. 23 pounds of soaking-wet grain is heavy! I had a rope/pulley setup before, but it was difficult to keep the pot at the right height and tie it off at the same time.
If it's not obvious from the photos, I park the vent fan on the table while mashing (it has a carabiner attached to the mount to make switching between basket and vent fan easier). When done mashing, I hoist the basket to the proper level with the winch. When done draining, I park the basket in a big stainless steel bowl to drain a bit more (I only got about a quart last time). I then hoist the vent fan up on the winch and start the boil. (I have a spare bathroom vent fan I was going to use, permanently mounted next to the winch, but I quickly realised there was way too much moisture from the boiling wort for that to vent effectively; also the moisture would still hit the winch during the one hour boil, and I wanted to avoid that).
The electric kettle controller works great, couldn't be happier. Flip the switch, turn the knob, done. Very easy to control boil.
If I do get a 20 gallon pot, I'll also get a 5500 watt element.
I also do no-chill, by the way...
Comments or questions welcome!
Just a suggestion, but you could try heating the 4 gallons of water you add to ~180 degrees and use it to rinse the grain. I would think you should be able to rinse a fair amount of sugars out of the grains. Could help your efficiency.
Thats awesome! You have your brew day down to a science it looks like! Cheers
My biggest problem (BIAB propane) is holding mash temperatures, even with a reflectix jacket and a quilt over top of my ten gallon pot. Are you using the element to add heat while mashing? Does it take a lot of attention to hold your mash temperatures? If I didn't already have most of what I need to build an aubiecat/johnodon clone, I'd look hard at this controller. Your setup is impressive, congratulations and than you for sharing the photos.
I'm brewing on my deck and then carrying a stockpot full of hot wort to the basement laundry sink to use my IC to cool it and it's too much awkward weight to be messing with. I have a rope ratchet that I use to hoist the grain bag with while I let it cool, then squeeze it as the kettle heats.
I've just bought that same Bayou Classic kettle, which I plan on using for five gallon batches since my ten gallon pot is marginal for full volumes (5.5 gallons into the fermenter) with heavy beers. There is a little room, but not much. I actually looked at the twenty gallon one but it was much more expensive, overkill for my needs, and I believe the basket rests on the bottom, so I'd have to rig something to keep it off the element.
@ruralbrew - great suggestion, I may try that...my concerns (without having tried it yet) are that the sparge water will just spill out the holes in the basket, as they will be above the sides of the pot, and that heating more water will be a logistical issue. But I'll check it out next brew, and if it is an issue, maybe a removable collar? Or maybe I'll try heating to 170F for mash out, and see how that goes, then adjust as necessary.
@markd - I actually never worried about it much, as the temp seemed to stay around 154F, both with propane and electric. But last time I did mess with it a bit, and it was very easy. Turn the knob up a bit and keep an eye on the thermometer. I'll be messing with that more, so that I can fine-tune the knob position to certain events. For example, I've found that the 3 o'clock position maintains a perfect boil velocity; looks like about 9 or 10 o'clock might maintain mash temp, but I gotta play with that some more. Also, regarding pot size: I've found that, due to probe length vs. pot volume, obviously the level of wort has to be high enough so that the probe (stuck through the vent hole in the pot lid) sits in the wort, and not thin air.
I brew in my basement; even when I was using propane - took lots of precautions, and never had an issue, but I am MUCH more comfortable with electric. No need to leave the bilco doors open, fan blowing out, CO detector, flies bugging the hell out of me in the summer (and trying to drink the wort!) etc.
I've used the (modified) no-chill method for about the last 10 batches. In normal no-chill, you put the hot wort in a suitable plastic jug, and come back the next day. I just sterilise the pot lid by spraying it with star-san and holding it in the steam coming off the wort for the last 5 minutes of the boil. About the last 30 seconds or so, I put the lid on, and at the end of 30 seconds, turn off the heat (of course, you still gotta watch out for boilover!) (Note that I have the probe of a digital thermometer sticking through the hole in the lid, so that seals off that avenue of attack for foreign critters). Then I put the fan on a 4 hour timer and walk away. Then next day I hit the timer for 2 hours. When I come back that evening, it's at ~72F. Then it's into the fermenters, done. While I fully understand the risk of contamination, all I can say is that I've done the last 10 batches that way, and have had no problems at all. It also breaks the brewing say up a bit...seems like when I used an IC to chill the wort, it was always around dinner time, and I was running up and down the basement stairs, alternately cooking dinner and worrying about the wort temp. Now I can relax more, which is always a good thing!
I got an email from Kal (in response to me asking) that they are beta-testing a single-vessel control panel, but in the meantime found the ekc at high gravity. Cheaper, simpler, so I went for it. It would probably be nice to be able to set mash temp and have the device hold the temp for you, but I'm pretty sure once I get a few more brews under my belt, I'll get it dialed in. I was also concerned with the temp probe vs. basket...seems if the temp probe is low enough to not conflict with the basket, it would be too low to give a representative temperature.
Regarding the 20.5 gallon Bayou Classic; pretty sure the basket does not rest on the bottom (at least the pic on amazon shows the standard lip near the top of the pot that the basket rim rests on). I can say that on the 15.5 gallon pot, there's ~3 1/8 inches between bottom of pot and bottom surface of basket. hth.
Ok, I've rambled enough...thanks to all for your comments and suggestions!
Hi, thanks for those photos. I am a BIAB currently with Propane but will soon want to go with electric, similar to what you have. My question is will the weight of the basket+grains damage the heating elements? from the picture I would assume that the basket is resting on top of the heating elements.
no, the basket does not rest on the element..there's a lip below (a couple inches i guess, never measured it) the rim of the pot that the rim of the basket rests on. there's about 3 1/8" of space between the bottom surface of the basket and the bottom of the pot, i put the element about half way.
Can anyone say for sure if the bayou classic baskets 80 & 100 quart are suspended in the kettle? It appeared to me they are not suspend as the 60 quart (15 gallon) is.
I'm thinking about using the 102 quart king kooker ( the basket is held on the rim) for a 10 gallon ebiab. I've read the basket isn't necessary whence keep the bag off the element but I thought the basket would be nice for high gravity 10 gallon batches.
Has anyone had experience with the king kooker?
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