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Old 01-13-2008, 06:06 PM   #1
MikeRLynch
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Default 72% efficiency with a bag? Yes!

This is more of a shameless plug rather than a topic, but who cares?

So after a tragic and tottaly disheartening accident with the last batch (brand new glass carboy exploded, spilling 4 hours of work on the front porch...) we were determined to make a good batch of all grain beer out of sheer spite. And this time we even did two.

We don't have any special equipment for all grain, so we use a kind of brew in a bag system. We have a 5 gallon gatorade cooler with the spigot on the bottom, and we simply line the whole thing with an oversized mesh bag. We dough in with water heated on the stove, and thats pretty much it. When the hour is up we simply open the spigot and let it run. When things start to slow down, all we do is pull up on the bag a bit and the flow starts again. We batch sparge once, we get our boil volume, and thats it! Normally we had pretty bad efficiency, around 55%. But for some reason the brew gods smiled on us (perhaps because of the sacrifice of spilled wort on the porch) and we hit a solid 72%. I'm really happy with this, and because we're hitting our numbers without spending a ton on equipment, I might just go out and get a second mash tun cooler. This way we can mash two totally seperate beers at the same time, without having to make ridiculous monthly payments to our credit cards to pay off the three tier system.

so to all you poor ass brewers, don't be disheartened! It may not look flash, but you can brew full volume all grain without spending a lot of money, or even modifying anything! Maybe someday I'll follow the directions to put a false bottom in my tun with a new metal spigot, but for now this works pretty damn well!

sorry, just had to break my arm patting my own back for a minute there. I'm done

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Old 01-13-2008, 07:23 PM   #2
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when you say exploded do you mean oveflowed or do you mean it literally shattered into bits and pieces of glass. Was it just a bad carboy, did it get dropped, was hot liquid added to it, etc? I ask because if carboyexplosions are a common occurence I would want to switch to a 'better bottle', especially with 5 gallons of beer sitting in a carboy indoors.

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Old 01-13-2008, 07:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vmpolesov
when you say exploded do you mean oveflowed or do you mean it literally shattered into bits and pieces of glass. Was it just a bad carboy, did it get dropped, was hot liquid added to it, etc? I ask because if carboyexplosions are a common occurence I would want to switch to a 'better bottle', especially with 5 gallons of beer sitting in a carboy indoors.
Glass carboys are not commonly going to explode, break or come after you with a knife while you sleep. Glass vs. Better Bottle is really a matter of preference. Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

There are die hard glass users on this forum who have never had a broken carboy in years of brewing. Some people have had a few close calls. Some Better Bottle users have melted their bottles by pouring in wort that was too hot.

Personally I like and recommend Better Bottles. The costs are within a few dollars for each type. In the end, it depends on what you like.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:06 PM   #4
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I'm a glass man. Knock on wood, I've never broken one, but I keep myself aware of the dangers of glass.

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Old 01-13-2008, 08:16 PM   #5
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I've been singing the praises of the VLGB (very large grain bag) for a long time. it may not be for people who use 15-20 pounds of grain for a 5 gallon batch, but I've done 8-9 lb batches without any problem.

A second sparge will boost your typical efficiency by 10-12 percent, but sounds like you did nicely with just one.

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Old 01-13-2008, 09:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
I've been singing the praises of the VLGB (very large grain bag) for a long time. it may not be for people who use 15-20 pounds of grain for a 5 gallon batch, but I've done 8-9 lb batches without any problem.

A second sparge will boost your typical efficiency by 10-12 percent, but sounds like you did nicely with just one.
I think I'll probably do that next time, just to see how far I can push this. As for the glass carboy, it was an embarrasing story, but what the hell:

First of all lets put this out there: I was drinking. And I mean drinking.

Second of all, this was the first time I was going to use a glass carboy. I had been using buckets up to this point, but I think we kind of wore ours out. We got two infections in a row and the rubber seal around the lid was coming off. So I shelled out the bucks and got a shiny new glass carboy.

So cue the long brew day. Of course this was the most flawless brew we had done to date, no problems, gravity was spot on, no boilovers, added the hops at the exact second they were scheduled for, et cetera. So the boil is over, and we usually use natures wort chiller, aka snow. So, after a number of beers that I'm ashamed to relay, I dump the barely cooled down wort into the carboy and put it on the porch.

I know I know. In the light of day in a normal state of mind this is obviously a bad idea, but sometimes my brain decides it's had enough of the punishment I put it through and just up and leaves. This was one of those occasions. First of all, putting hot wort in glass is a bad idea. Second of all putting it on the freezing cold cement porch is a bad idea. The worst idea in the history of ideas is putting the thing into a snow bank. Which is of course what I did. I heard the little cracks, starting small and getting louder. It was like in the movies when you're on a frozen lake and you hear it start to give way. There's a deafening silence right before the whole thing caves in. That's what I heard in the carboy. A few cracks, silence, and then the whole thing shatters into a million peices and the hot wort flows over my shoes.

Needless to say, suicide was looking like a viable option here. Not only was four hours work gone, not only was a potentially award winning beer seeping into what became wort flavored snow cones, but I had to go into the house and tell my brewing partner that I tottaly fcuked up. I was thinking about jumping from the roof, but my friends house wasn't that tall and all that would happen is a broken arm and my having to explain what happened not only to my friend, but the EMTs as well. So I decided to take the noble route, tell him, and then immediately leave.

He forgave me, but I had a hard time getting to sleep that night.

There's your morality story for the day. Whatever moral might be derived.

mike
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Old 01-13-2008, 10:06 PM   #7
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sorry to hear about your beer MLynchLtd
You came out uninjured which is the main thing to brew another day.
I like the idea of a big brewing bag...saves on effort and cleaning up...one application I use the bag in is with my primary pales;


I use some 26*36 strong clear bags to line the interior
makes cleanup a snap

Cheers
BeerCanuck

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Old 01-13-2008, 10:15 PM   #8
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Yeah, another thumbs up for brewing in a bag. My AG brew-in-a-bag beer is so much better than any beer I've made with extract.

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Old 01-13-2008, 10:15 PM   #9
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OMG. That's too funny. Truly beer karma smiled on your good clean heart. You didn't get hurt by your carboy bomb and you got a great rebound brew going.

For the record, I have 2 glass carboys (dating back 20 years) 2 Better Bottles and a minibrew 6.5 gallon conical. I use what's next in line and clean. Doesn't make a rats a** worth of difference on the final product which one is used.

Your bag can work just fine too. Make sure to really stir it up, keep your target temp and do multiple sparges.

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Old 01-13-2008, 10:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vmpolesov
I ask because if carboyexplosions are a common occurence I would want to switch to a 'better bottle', especially with 5 gallons of beer sitting in a carboy indoors.
No, it's not a common occurrence, but the problem is that, if they do break, they do it in a very big and dangerous way.

Here's a list of stories from people who have been seriously injured by carboys.
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