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Old 11-08-2010, 06:59 PM   #1
eulipion2
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Default My Brew-in-a-Bag/No-Chill setup

This is for those brewers interested in Brew-in-a-Bag and/or No-Chill brewing. This isn't really a how-to, as there are a few really good ones. This is more of a "Here's what I've got, and it's easy!" type of thread.

The following photos were taken on a non-brewing day while I was trying to build up an oxidized layer in my kettle, so no grain bag or tubing.

Here's my setup (reusable coffee cup not included):


It consists of:

  • (1) Propane burner/turkey fryer with 15 lb propane tank
  • (1) 70-quart aluminum kettle with steamer basket, weldless bulkhead from Bargain Fittings, a ball valve, and a bazooka screen
  • (1) Extra-large (2'x3') grain bag (not pictured)
  • (1) 6-gallon HDPE Winpak from US Plastics (the white vessel)
  • Silicone tubing from McMaster-Carr (not pictured)

I use my mash spoon to prop the basket up off the internal parts during the mash, preventing pressure that leads to bending and/or leaking. (picture to come)

The large grain bag fits nicely over the steamer basket, meaning I can contain the grain and not have to worry about the bag breaking. I heat the water and grain together, so in order to not overheat, I have to stir often. Otherwise, the bottom of the mash will be a lot hotter than the top where the thermometer is, and you will overshoot your mash temp!

When it comes to draining/straining the grains, many people without strainers have to figure out a way to suspend their grain bag above the kettle. Here's what I do:



From this position, I can squeeze additional liquid out of the grain with a spoon, hand, or whatever, again without having to worry about the bag breaking. Just make sure the basket can't/won't slip.

I am horrible at maintaining a siphon, and siphoning boiling-hot liquid makes the matter much more difficult. I tried using a stainless racking cane with silicone tubing, but it just didn't work. So since it's easier than trying to make my own heat-proof auto-siphon, I drilled the kettle and added a ball valve. This way, when I'm done with the boil, I just hook up the silicone tubing to the ball valve, insert it into the Winpak, and let 'er rip! However, if you add a ball valve, be careful. Here's what happened to me:



That's right, the plastic on the handle melted right off!

Once you're done transferring to the Winpak, squeeze out excess air, seal tightly with the lid, and rotate on its side for about 10 minutes to sanitize the top.

By doing BIAB and No-Chill, my brew session is significantly shortened, cleanup is a breeze, and if I so choose, I can ferment right in the Winpak.

I highly recommend this method to anyone who:
  • doesn't have an outdoor water source (me)
  • wants to lessen cleanup time (me)
  • wants to cut back on water usage (me)
  • has time to brew, but maybe not time to pay attention to the fermentation.

If there are any other parts of my setup you'd like to see, just comment and let me know. I'll try to add as requested.
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:19 PM   #2
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I do BIAB and No Chill as well!

I love it, and really recommend www.biabrewer.info . I actually have a proper Igloo cooler MLT, and still prefer BIAB. I get great efficiency, super easy, less cleanup, etc etc.

And the reason I no-chill is because I have to brew at my Dad's house and then I haul my wort back to my apartment for everything else (ferment, bottling, drinking )


Edit: You heat the grain with the water? That's really weird, never seen that. Why do you do that?

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Old 11-08-2010, 07:57 PM   #3
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iijakii, I actually cannibalized the ball valve and bazooka screen from my Coleman Xtreme mash tun to put in my kettle! I'd love to put the cooler to good use, but I really don't see a reason to do so. And since I lack an outdoor water source or an easy way to filter my tap water (landlord installed designer faucets so I can't install anything in-line), I really can't anyway.

That said, even at 70-quarts (17.5 gallons), if I want to do a REALLY BIG imperial stout, I may be hard-up for space. My Coleman handled BrewPastor's Dark Night of the Soul with ease. May have to try it as a BIAB/NC. I need to do some math first...

As for no-chill, as mentioned above, I lack an outdoor water source, so I can't run any kind of water-based chiller.

I heat my grain with my water because I haven't found a better way to hit my mash temp. It always ends up too high. And since there's extra water in the mix because of BIAB, I haven't found a program that can accurately do calculate it. By doing water and grain together I can stop when I get to temperature, and I've read in other threads that you can get some of the effects of a step mash.

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Old 11-08-2010, 08:19 PM   #4
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Sounds like you have a great process. I'm a no-chiller myself.

I'm curious as to why the calculators won't work for you? I use this one. It allows you to set all the variable (even the ratio of water to grain) anywhere you want. I find it works pretty well once you get your system dialed in.

http://brew365.com/mash_sparge_water_calculator.php

Check it out.

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Old 11-08-2010, 08:49 PM   #5
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I use the Brewzor app on my Droid X and it gives me strike temp for the amount of water I use for BIAB, the more water I tell it the lower the strike temp. I haven't used it enough to say its 100% proven but for the few times I have used it my temps have been spot on.

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Old 11-08-2010, 09:04 PM   #6
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what is that pot in the middle with all the wholes called?

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Old 11-08-2010, 09:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nutty_gnome View Post
I'm curious as to why the calculators won't work for you? I use this one. It allows you to set all the variable (even the ratio of water to grain) anywhere you want. I find it works pretty well once you get your system dialed in.
I don't really know. I've used BrewTarget, StrangeBrew, and qBrew, and if they say add x much water at y degrees, it always overshoots. I have yet to try it with no-chill, but I really do like the simultaneous heating: one less thing to calculate!

The pot with the holes usually comes with larger pots and is used for steaming and shrimp/lobster/whatever boils. I referred to it above as a "steamer basket."

I'm definitely going to look into Brewzor. I've been looking for a good homebrew app for my phone.
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Old 11-08-2010, 09:49 PM   #8
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does that plastic container keep water warm? i was thinking how much easier it would be to do brew in a bag if i could preheat my sparge water and store it in a cooler or something so it's all ready to go when sparging time comes. that strainer thing looks like it would prevent any grains from getting into wort and would elimate need for runoff and recirculation. the spigot looks like it would make it easy to transfer the cooled wort to the fermenter. only thing i would do different is add a immersion cooler since i want the process to get over as quickly as possible

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Old 11-08-2010, 11:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sportscrazed2 View Post
does that plastic container keep water warm?
Not as warm as an insulated cooler would.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sportscrazed2 View Post
i was thinking how much easier it would be to do brew in a bag if i could preheat my sparge water and store it in a cooler or something so it's all ready to go when sparging time comes.
It's my understanding (and as such, my preferred method) that BIAB brewing has all the water added at once, no need to sparge/recirculate/etc. Somewhat diluted mash, but that seems to be the way it goes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sportscrazed2 View Post
that strainer thing looks like it would prevent any grains from getting into wort and would elimate need for runoff and recirculation. the spigot looks like it would make it easy to transfer the cooled wort to the fermenter. only thing i would do different is add a immersion cooler since i want the process to get over as quickly as possible
I do no-chill, so I run the hot wort from the kettle into the Winpak, seal it up, and wait for it to cool (usually the next day), though some brewers have kept sealed worts up to a few months.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:48 PM   #10
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ah thats what you use it for. how do you remove the air?

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