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Old 04-18-2013, 12:06 AM   #1
cupido76
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Default BIAB... plus?

I've been brewing BIAB for a while now and I'm brewing good beers but I'm always looking for ways to improve.

One limitation I was trying to address is that you don't set a good grain bed with BIAB because pulling the bag out disturbs it. I've also noticed that the less I disturb the bag, the less solids I find in my beer when transferring to the fermenter.

More recently I've also been paying close attention to my mash temperatures in different parts of the mash and with different angles of the recirculation being redirected to the pot and found that there are huge inconsistencies. And it makes sense because the liquid is probably finding the path of least resistance in the circulation loop and probably bypassing most of the grain.

So I decided to build a method of still using the simplicity of BIAB/no sparge, but have better control over the flow of wort, and I built this "directional bag holder" (no idea what to call it, really) to work like a simplified (and cheaper) false-bottom setup that I can just remove from my pot.


Tools and Parts Needed:
===================
- Stainless stock pot of appropriate size. Thin guage is good for this use. I used a 16 quart pot from Wal-Mart.
- 3 x Stainless stove bolts and nuts
- Masking tape
- Sharpie
- Small drill bit (for pilot holes)
- Step bit
- Drill (I also used a corded drill for more torque)
- Angle grinder with metal disk and brass wire wheel
- Dremmel tool with metal grinding bit (forgot for the picture)


I'm sorry I didn't document the process with photos while I was doing it, so my explanation and pictures of the final product will have to do.

1) Cover the bottom of the pot with masking tape and use your punches and the sharpie to lay out your hole pattern. Be sure to mark the centres of the holes as well since that's where you'll drill pilot holes. In my case, I just marked the locations of the largest holes to start and filled in the spaces later.

2) Drill small pilot holes.

3) Enlarge holes with step bit. These holes have to be big enough for the spindle of the hole punch to fit through, and different punches have different diameters.

4) Use appropriate sized punch to create larger holes. I put the sharp cutting side on the inside of the pot because it will produce sharp edges on the bottom that you'll want to know down later (and it's easier to use the angle grinder on the bottom). Watch your fingers while using the punch set... there's sharp edges at this point!

5) Use smaller punches or just the step bit to fill in holes in the smaller voids.

6) Once your holes are all in you're going to want to smooth out the finish. I used a combination of the Dremmel (mostly for the inside of the larger holes), and the angle grinder with the metal disk. Most of your burrs should be on the bottom anyway and should be easy to get at.

7) I then used the brass wire brush to knock down any remaining small burrs on the outside, and the small wire brush in my drill to go over the inside a bit.

8) Drill 3 smaller holes around the perimeter and install stainless stove bolts with stainless nuts to act as legs to keep it off the bottom of the pot.

9) Give it a wash and you're done!


This nests in my pot (32 quart for 2.5 gallon batches) and the lid fits on, and a paint strainer bag fits in the pot perfectly, so refill bags will be super-cheap! I see no reason why this couldn't be scaled up to 5-gallon batches with a 5-gallon pot.


I'm excited to try this out early next week and see if it improves what I want it to.

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Old 04-18-2013, 12:16 AM   #2
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Wait, why is grain bed formation a concern in BIAB. I think SOP is pull bag, squeeze, and maybe a dunk sparge.

Solids in your boil don't affect clarity or add tannin, so I don't worry about them. With a voile back, it's really just flour.

Good to have a better grip on your bag/directionality though, and insulation never hurts either.

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Old 04-18-2013, 12:30 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daksin View Post
Wait, why is grain bed formation a concern in BIAB. I think SOP is pull bag, squeeze, and maybe a dunk sparge.

Solids in your boil don't affect clarity or add tannin, so I don't worry about them. With a voile back, it's really just flour.

Good to have a better grip on your bag/directionality though, and insulation never hurts either.
Regarding grain bed formation... I just know that on the beers where I do the best job of removing the bag as carefully as possible, I get less "flour" in the fermenter and less trub settled to the bottom.

That was part of the reason I wanted to do this, but the main motivation was trying to get more consistency in mash temps by forcing the wort to flow across the grains on the way to the outlet port on the pot.
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:25 AM   #4
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I'm honestly surprised this didn't get much interest, but I guess the DIY pages don't get as much traffic.

I'm bumping this up to say that my contraption worked exactly as I hoped it would. I had a much clearer wort at the end, and more importantly, temperature readings of various parts of my mash were much more consistent. Proof that I was getting better flow over my grains was that I couldn't run the pump at nearly the same rate without cavitating it.

As an added plus, draining the bag was easier than usual as well, as I just propped the contraption up over an empty pot with a couple of metal rods and let gravity do it's thing.

I'm very pleased with the results!

No to figure out how to make one large enough for 5-10 gallon batches with my converted keg....

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Old 05-01-2013, 04:37 AM   #5
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Glad it worked for you. I'm guessing that most BIABers are looking for as simple a setup as possible. As I said before, grain bed just isn't a concern in BIAB. Squeezing the bag is pretty much standard. Clear wort =! (does not equal) clear beer. I get tons of flour into the boil, and all my break material goes into the fermenter, and my beers sparkle.

Easy draining is always a bonus, though.

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Old 05-01-2013, 02:31 PM   #6
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I think this is a great idea, similar to some of the guys with their baskets and Bayou Classic kettles. I may have to do this with a spare keg for my 25gal kettle.

Thanks!

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Old 05-01-2013, 02:53 PM   #7
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What kind of efficiency did you get with this setup? And did it change significantly from your previous batches? Do you do any kind of sparge (dunk or otherwise)?

I would imagine that efficiency might be lower if you aren't sparging, as the water between the two pots and will not circulate through the grain as much as when just using the bag or if was in a true colander-style container. Maybe I'm overthinking it though.

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Old 05-01-2013, 03:06 PM   #8
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So you are using a pump to circulate wort from the bottom of the pot back into the top of your basket/bag of grain during the mash ? thus making your BIAB more like a mash tun and using the grain bed as a filter ?

Cheers

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Old 05-01-2013, 05:09 PM   #9
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I've been using the same method for a couple years now and I find it works well. I use a 44 quart bayou classic pot with a 32 quart "mash tun" inside. The bayou classic pot has the lip near the top for the steamer basket so I put some stainless bolts through the smaller pot with acorn nuts on the outside near the top and bottom. The acorn nuts rest on the lip in the big pot in both the lower (mashing) and raised (draining) positions. The bottom of the smaller pot is cut out except for a lip around the edge to hold the false bottom. I have a PID controlled 4500 watt element used for both mashing while recirculating and boiling.

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Old 05-01-2013, 10:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BGBC View Post
What kind of efficiency did you get with this setup? And did it change significantly from your previous batches? Do you do any kind of sparge (dunk or otherwise)?

I would imagine that efficiency might be lower if you aren't sparging, as the water between the two pots and will not circulate through the grain as much as when just using the bag or if was in a true colander-style container. Maybe I'm overthinking it though.
I'll check my notes when I'm at home, but I think it was almost 70 overall, something 77 mash efficiency. It's not noticeably different than my plain BIAB beers before this mod.
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