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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Question - modified biab or convert my 5 gallon cooler?
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:25 PM   #1
JonClayton
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Default Question - modified biab or convert my 5 gallon cooler?

I am going to continue experimenting with AG/PM brewing after my last attempt went wrong. I think I understand most of what I did wrong, but would like some input.

I am using a stock 5 gallon water cooler for the mash tun. I have a large kettle I will use to heat up the sparge water toward the end of the mash, and I have my brew kettle.

On my last attempts I sort of improvised deathbrewers easy stove top method/ biab by having the grains in a large grain bag inside the cooler. When sparge time came, I heated up the sparge water in the boil kettle and dunked the grain bag. This did not work out so well for me, so next time I plan to batch sparge.

My question is this, will I gain anything by ditching the grain bag and spending the money to outfit the cooler as described in this post "cheap and easy rubbermaid MLT" http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/chea...version-23008/

versus using the grainbag as a filter in an unmodified cooler?


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Old 01-24-2011, 12:52 AM   #2
tschoolman
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I haven't modified my cooler, so can't say what one may gain by doing so -- I to0 use a grain bag and it works great. I use 5 gallon paint strainer bags from HD, they have a little elastic in the top so it stays up there. I've also put small mesh rack in the bottom of the cooler. It keeps the bag off the bottom so it doesn't block the drain. I do batch sparges and am pleased - clean up's a breeze, just pull the bag up, let it drain a touch, and dump it in a bucket!


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Old 01-24-2011, 01:52 AM   #3
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How is your crush...can't imagine why BIAB with a sparge didn't work for you.
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tschoolman View Post
I haven't modified my cooler, so can't say what one may gain by doing so -- I to0 use a grain bag and it works great. I use 5 gallon paint strainer bags from HD, they have a little elastic in the top so it stays up there. I've also put small mesh rack in the bottom of the cooler. It keeps the bag off the bottom so it doesn't block the drain. I do batch sparges and am pleased - clean up's a breeze, just pull the bag up, let it drain a touch, and dump it in a bucket!
This is exactly what I do and I love it. So easy to clean up. The small mesh rack I use at the bottom is just one of those veggie steamer things opened up. Think I got it at Target for $6 and I took the plastic center piece off.

-Josh
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:52 PM   #5
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I too used the paint strainer bag, it works great! Wilser, I feel pretty dumb in saying this but I don't know how the crush was. It was a AHS kit and they milled the grains, but I haven't been at this long enough to really know a good crush from a bad crush.

This is an awesome hobby, every time I think i have it figured out, I realized there is something else I don't know I love to learn though, so its great!
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:19 PM   #6
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I went from using a bag in my cooler to a conversion. It's this:

http://cruisenews.net/brewing/infusion/page1.php

Super cheap, easy and improved my efficiency. Honestly, I just went with the minor upgrade because I got tired of holding the spigot button down

That's not my actual cooler, just the website I used.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:33 PM   #7
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BIAB works fine.. you just need to tune it up a bit. Here's what I do:

5gal kettle on the stove, up to about 6-7lb of grain max in a 5gal nylon bag (paint strainer). keep it on the stove while you mash, so you can add a little heat when needed. Get the water up to about 185F (usually around 2 gallons for 5-7lb grain) then add the grain.. you should hit about 154F after stirring good. Stir it every 10 minutes or so and check the temp in the mash... add heat as needed while stirring (gentle heat, don't overdo it). 60 minutes go by..mash is done. Some folks try to insulate the kettle, but I just watch it like a hawk and add heat if it goes below 150F. I'm using a gas stove, so I fear catching insulation on fire. AFter the 60 minutes, I usually bring the mash temp up to 170F before pulling the bag (mash-out).

Pull out the bag and let it drain a little... transfer the wet bag to a bottling bucket, leave it open (stretch the rubber band around the edge of the bucket. Drain the remainder out of the valve (tip if you don't have a dip tube). Don't worry about getting all of the water out at this point. Heat up 1 gal of water to 190-195F, then pour this on top of the grain and stir (should hit around 165-170F). I let it sit for 10 mintues, then drain. IF the run-off is full of particulates, pour the first quart back on top and continue draining. Don't worry about minute particulates. I repeat this batch sparge with 1 gallon times 3, for a total of 3 gallons sparge runoff. This maxes out my 5gal boiling kettle and I have to boil down in two pots until I can fit it all into my 5 gal kettle..

I get over 70% doing it like this, consistently. I used to try to get all of the water out of the grain during each sparge, but that doesn't seem necessary. At the end of the 3rd gallon sparge, the run-off is nearly clear. I assume it is done and discard the grist.

Your crush is important. I have found that "pre-crushed" grain is never crushed enough to suit me. I bought a corona mill for $50 at my LHBS and now I grind the hell out of it. Doing the sparge in the way I described has never resulted in a "stuck mash", and I've ground the grain down to nearly powder. Personally, I don't think you can overgrind it, but others might disagree here.

I personally don't see a need to upgrade my equipment if I can pull this off with a bottling bucket. I have performed this procedure a dozen times and it always works fine.

good luck!
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:55 PM   #8
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Sounds good, I will keep using the bag Again, I am not saying BIAB doesnt work, just that i screwed it up last time heh. I did not stir during the mash, and sparged by dunking the grain bag in 170 degree water. I also only mashed for 60 mins. I think I think my next attempt will be more successful with what I have learned.

As a side note, even that batch isint bad, I was able to fix the OG with some DME (thanks yooper), and it taste decent.
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:08 PM   #9
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That's close to what I use Josh, except I'm using a 6 gallon plastic bucket with homemade insulation blanket for mash/sparge. A $1.50 plastic strainer from Dollar General fits perfectly in the bottom of the bucket (tun) to hold the bag away from the spigot. I made a huge bag from Walmart viole material — the sewing machine will never be the same. I use a Corona to mill the grain and crush it pretty fine, not flour, but a little coarser than something like cornmeal.

I try to mash with around 1.5 qt./lb. at 152 or so. I heat what I think will be my total mash/sparge water in the brewpot to the mash temp — 170 or so. After the 70 minute mash I drain quickly into another 6 gallon bucket with calibration marks. I've already heated the sparge water to about 175, than I do 2, equal volume, sparges. Draining quickly after each one after a 5 minute rest.

Since I know pretty exactly what volume I got from the mash, it's easy to tell how much sparge water I'll need to add to get to my volume and divide by 2. Of course, with my bucket, 6 gal is the max, and that's fine as that's about all my electric turkey fryer brewpot will boil aggressively. I'm getting just short of 75% efficiency.
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:21 AM   #10
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geezerperk,

Sounds like you have a pretty good method worked out. Do you stir the grain at all during the rest or aftr the sparge additions?...stiring the grain w/ the fresh sparge water would help to rinse out the sugars perhaps?


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