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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Can't I just use a grain bag in a cooler?
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:10 PM   #1
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Default Can't I just use a grain bag in a cooler?

I was thinking about moving to all grain brewing.

After seeing a bunch of how-to's about converting a drink cooler to a mash-tun, I was wondering...

Can't you just dump all your grain into a grain bag, put it in a cooler, add hot water to mash it, drain the wort, then sparge the grains after? It seems like it would make cleanup a heckuva lot easier...

Thoughts?


C


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Old 12-18-2009, 04:16 PM   #2
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You might look into "brew in a bag", or BIAB which is growing in popularity. It is basically what you described.


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Old 12-18-2009, 04:20 PM   #3
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I've done it for small batches in an unodifed 2 - gallon cooler with a folding steamer in the bottom to elevate the grain bag above the spigot like a false bottom...and that's fine for 4 pounds of grain...but honestly it isn't all that hard to modify a cooler for a mashtun (nor is it that expensive) and it's so simple to mash in them after.

So yeah, I'm sure you could use a grain bag in a cooler...but it wont be as easy as just opening a spigot on mash day, and have it flow through pretty nicely filtered of large grain particles through your braid or false baottom.
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:21 PM   #4
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That's basically what I do. Are you going to be using a drink cooler for your mashes or rectangular one. Will the grain bag restrict the grain bed formation, i.e. the grain bag is too small for the cooler? Remember that you need a solid grain bed to form and you want the grain to be packed in, but not packed in enough that the liquid can't circulate between. I (re-)use a 5G nylon paint straining bag (per suggestion from this site) that I bought at Lowe's. It holds 6# well enough. I'm sure that you're aware of that if you're all grain. Also, without a false bottom, you won't be able to completely drain the liquid, not really a big deal though. Make sure you have a spigot attachment on the cooler, it will drain fine. I bought a $10 modification kit that came with a spigot for the outside and an adapter for the inside the had a tube attached and ran into the center of my 5G Rubbermaid drinking cooler/mash tun.

I would also recommend that once you drain your mash that you drain it into a brew pot, reheat it to 170-175 and use your drained mash liquid as your first sparge, otherwise, it's difficult to get efficiency needed for successful all grain batch without sparging with too much water.

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Old 12-18-2009, 04:22 PM   #5
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i would be concerned about the bag creating a gap at the corners or around the edge of the grain that would give the water an alternative path to drain. if the water doesn't have to go through the denser packed middle of the grain bed it wont. this will greatly affect your brewing efficiency because not all the grain is getting an even amount of water flow through your mash tun.
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TipsyDragon View Post
i would be concerned about the bag creating a gap at the corners or around the edge of the grain that would give the water an alternative path to drain. if the water doesn't have to go through the denser packed middle of the grain bed it wont. this will greatly affect your brewing efficiency because not all the grain is getting an even amount of water flow through your mash tun.

Unless you batch sparge....
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coastarine View Post
You might look into "brew in a bag", or BIAB which is growing in popularity. It is basically what you described.
Depending on you definition of BIAB. "Aussie" style BIAB is a grain bag in the boil kettle, no need for a cooler at all.
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TipsyDragon View Post
i would be concerned about the bag creating a gap at the corners or around the edge of the grain that would give the water an alternative path to drain. if the water doesn't have to go through the denser packed middle of the grain bed it wont. this will greatly affect your brewing efficiency because not all the grain is getting an even amount of water flow through your mash tun.
Correct, that's why you need to make sure that your grain bag would be excessively large so that it allows the grain bed to form to the cooler dimensions and not the other way around (the bag forms the grain bed). I put my 5G bag in the tun and when the grain is in the bag, the bag is not restrictive and expands to touch all of the sides and bottom of the tun.

I brew 3G batches, partial mash typically. I mash at 1.75quarts/lb of grain for 1 hour. For me, that's 4.5 lbs. in 8 quarts. After the mash, I quickly drain the liquid into a brew pot, heat the liquid to 175 and pour it over the grain bed to start the sparge. After this has flowed through, I heat 1.75G of fresh water to 175 and pour it over the grain bed and collect. Once all is collected, I start the boil. I've been getting around 25 points per pound, nothing to brag about, but it's so simple and easy, and I like that.

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Old 12-18-2009, 04:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
...but honestly it isn't all that hard to modify a cooler for a mashtun (nor is it that expensive) and it's so simple to mash in them after.

So yeah, I'm sure you could use a grain bag in a cooler...but it wont be as easy as just opening a spigot on mash day, and have it flow through pretty nicely filtered of large grain particles through your braid or false baottom.
I did one BIAB with a cooler. Then I converted it. Wasn't hard or expensive.

With BIAB, I got a stuck sparge immediately. I had to lift up the bag and kind of "set" it on the mash to un-stick
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Old 12-18-2009, 06:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GinAndCoffee View Post
I was thinking about moving to all grain brewing.

After seeing a bunch of how-to's about converting a drink cooler to a mash-tun, I was wondering...

Can't you just dump all your grain into a grain bag, put it in a cooler, add hot water to mash it, drain the wort, then sparge the grains after? It seems like it would make cleanup a heckuva lot easier...

Thoughts?


C
It's dead easy to convert a cooler and in the long run you'll be happy you did. If I can do it, _anyone_ can do it! See dennybrew.com for details.


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