BIAB 2.5 Gallon batches

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1Roamer

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Hello
I've done a couple of small-batch all-grain beers with the BIAB process. Some worked, some didn't. My pot is 15L if it's filled to the rim, so it's too small really. The last time I brewed, I borrowed a larger stockpot from my mom. The beer is the best I've ever done, but I don't really want to buy another pot, so here are my questions.
1. Can I make a wort with less water, and add cold water after the boil to get my 2.5 gallons?
2. It seems to take forever to chill the wort, and I'm impatient. both pots I've used have really thick bottoms. Would a lighter pot work better? like an enamel pot?
3. SS Brewtech has a 5.5-gallon kettle, and a 3.5-gallon fermenter (I use plastic buckets with spigots because I can't stand syphons) Are the fancy purpose-built pots and fermenters worth it?

thanks very much for your opinions.
 

Elric

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If most of your batches are going to be 2.5 gallon I would recommend moving up to a bigger pot/kettle. I mainly brew 1-2.5 gallon batches so my 5.5 gallon anvil kettle works well. I have gone and done a 5 gallon batch and plan to do so again, and for that I did brew a higher og batch and watered it down after the boil. To speed ip the wort chilling I poured some into the kettle until it was full (can even refrigerate it to help it bring your temps down that much faster) then add the rest in the fermenter if you can’t put the full top up in the kettle (you can also skip adding it to the kettle and just add it all straight to the fermenter, i only mentioned it to help with cooling down your wort. Just use some good brewing software to figure out how strong you need to get your boiled wort to get the desired abv after adding water to your target fermenter volume.
 

palmtrees

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You can certainly top up to get to 2.5 gallons at the end, but it's such a small batch size, I would recommend just getting a slightly larger pot. I do 2.5 gal BIAB, and I use this pot. It's cheap, but it really gets the job done. Stainless, rather than aluminum, so it's easy to clean and non-reactive. And 5 gallons has been the perfect size for me. Even with double IPAs with lots of grain, I've had plenty of space.

What cooling method are you using? I just put my pot in my sink in an ice water bath, and it cools down to pitching temps in about 15 minutes. My pot has relatively thin sides, so that might help. I agree with Elric that you can cool by topping off with cool or room temp water, too.

I am sure the SS Brewtech stuff is really nice. Whether it's worth it mostly depends on what kind of a brewer you are! I prefer to keep things simple, so I rarely buy new equipment and tend to stick with the basics. Obviously other folks get a lot of enjoyment out of the fancy equipment. I certainly don't think that the nicer equipment is necessary to make good beer. If you do want to try some of the SS Brewtech stuff, I think you'd get more advantage from the stainless fermenter vs. a bucket than from the stainless kettle vs. a cheaper pot like the one I linked above.
 
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bkboiler

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I used to do 2.5 gallon batch BIAB and all I had was a 4 gallon pot, a 9 qt pot and a 6 gallon BSG bucket.
I'd mash at 1.25 qt/lb in the 4 gallon pot and my back burner held the mash temp like a rock!
heated the 9 qt pot with sparge water. Then I lifted the bag into the bucket and ran the wort from the 4 gal and water from the 9 qt into the bucket and let it sit for 10 minutes or so..,drained it all out at once back into the 4 gallon pot for boil. Efficiency was pretty good and it was very time efficient!
Even for 2.5 gallons you'll get a noticeable increase in quality having a chiller. I got some flexible copper and sharkbite fittings for pretty cheap.
also I'd use the same bsg bucket to ferment as well. I don't do extended aging much, so the headspace wasn't really an issue.
As long as u have a kettle drain valve, just stir for "whirlpool" to help put clear wort into the bucket, and dry hop in a stainless canister--that way you'll avoid clogging the drain valve when you package.
My fastest brew day from recipe to everything cleaned up was 3 hours.
 

CascadesBrewer

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1) I am not sure if there is something driving your desire for 2.5 gals. A 2 gal batch would work well. The best option that I see for 2.5 gal batches might be to hold back 1 gal of water for a sparge. You could maybe set the bag in a colander and pour water though it, or move it into a bucket and steep it in the sparge water.
2) I am not sure a thin pot would help much. I assume you are using an ice bath. My tips would be 1) to first use a bath of cold water to knock off the first 40F or so of cooling, then drain and fill up with ice water and 2) use a clean and sanitized spoon to stir the wort and use another spoon to stir the ice water. Another option is to just leave covered to cool.
3) Ss Brewtech makes some nice stuff and their small fermenter looks great. I have been very happy with some 3 gal Fermonsters that sell for around $25. Spiedel makes a 3.2 gal fermenter that sells for around $50.

Shameless plug (but I could not resist given this thread). I just started building out a blog site and the first series of articles that I am working on are related to 2.5 gal stovetop BIAB brewing. Maybe you will find something useful there: Cascades Homebrew | building great beers
 

NSMikeD

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Where in Canada. Can you get to Long Island? I have a stainless steel pot with spigot and thermometer I no longer use (switched to the anvil foundry 6.5) that you can have. I am a 2.5 BIAB brewer. You can have it if you promise to send me a bottle of a batch you made with it. I think it’s 5 gallon but I’ll check. I do hav3 a spreadsheet that I measured the dimension for quick volume reading with a marked dip stick.

if you cannot pick it up and are willing to pay shipping, that would also do.

It’s just taking up space in my basement and would prefer it made beer again.

I would routinely hold back 1/2 gallon of water volume, bring it to 175*, put the bag in a large mesh colander over a bucket and slowly sparged. This would give my a little extra space from the rim to avoid spills.

lmk.
ill come back and post a pic.
 

CascadesBrewer

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2 1/2 gallons of beer fills 24, 12 ounce bottles which fill one case.
Yeah...I get that. In my case I have a pair of 10L/2.6 Gal Torpedo kegs that I try to fill with a batch, but it is really the 3 gal Fermonsters that set my max fermenter volume to around 2.6 or 2.7 gals. That is what drives my small batch size. In reality, there is not that much difference between a 2 gal batch and a 2.5 gal batch, if the OPs kettle makes 2 gal batches easier.
 
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I don't have answers to your direct questions but I am brewing with a similar BIAB setup (19L/5 gallon kettle) so I will comment in case my experiences can benefit you! Most of my batches are scaled between 9.5L to 11.5L. If you are set on 9.5L/2.5 gallon batches I would advocate purchasing a 5 gallon (or larger) pot to have flexibility in the size of your grain bill and length of your boil. Mine was only ~$40 at the local Home Hardware and it does the job fine for my simple setup.

After a couple brews with low efficiency, I tried holding back ~3L of sparge water from my mash as CascadesBrewer already suggested. I've found this has given me increased efficiency and consistent results. I think this would help fit your desired batch volume while mashing but you may still be cutting it close to a boil over depending on the recipe if you stick with a 15L kettle. I don't have direct experience with a partial boil but this idea could allow you to keep your current kettle. I briefly considered trying this myself but opted not to as I figure the simpler I can keep my brew process the more consistent results I can achieve.
 

Fly_Guy

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I do slightly larger BIAB stovetop batches. Typically start with around 3.5 gallons of water.

I bought a 4 gallon Vigor stainless steel pot from some restaurant supply website. It is a beautiful pot, nice heavy bottom and it's the best pot that would fit my stove top - it's a bit narrower and slightly taller than anything else I saw. It was $45.00 but another $15.00 for shipping, came with a lid and it's great.

I've been having efficiency issues as well, I think it's related to grain crush, so I'm going to start having my new LHBS double crushing grain. If that doesn't work I will likely go back to the 1.25qrts/lb instead of doing the full volume mashes. If that still doesn't work, I may try holding back a bit of water like mentioned above. I'm also having issues with temperature regulation even when I wrap my pot in a towel or a few, it loses more heat than I ever would have imagined.

Here in Wisconsin, our winter water gets extremely cold, also outside can get cold. I do have an immersion chiller but the only fitting I've found for my sink leaks like all hell so it's a bit of a mess to use it that way. Ice bath in the sink has worked, leaving it outside for a few hours works, ice bath in the bathtub also works well.

I recently moved into an apartment which is why all my techniques and things need to be relearned and changed around.

If you really want to tinker with things, you could try to build a chilling pump, which I thought about doing for a bit but the cost kind of deterred me.
 

IslandLizard

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The best option that I see for 2.5 gal batches might be to hold back 1 gal of water for a sparge. You could maybe set the bag in a colander and pour water though it, or move it into a bucket and steep it in the sparge water.
That! ^

In a 15 liter pot (~4 US gallons) you can easily BIAB mash 6-7 pounds of grain with enough water, leaving 1-2 inches or more space under the rim for stirring and such.
The rest of the water (1-1.5 gallon) you need to get to your preboil volume can come from (batch) sparging the bag in a bucket. Dunk and raise a few times to rinse most of the sugars from the grist, then let drip out in a colander or so. Much more efficient than pour overs.

The sparge will improve your efficiency, compared to topping up with plain water.
For good efficiency you're best off getting your grain finely crushed, the bag being the ultimate filter.

If you brew on a stove top, and bringing the whole volume to a boil, or keeping it boiling is difficult, keep a lid on part ways. Or boil some of the wort in a separate pot, on a 2nd burner.
 
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That! ^

In a 15 liter pot (~4 US gallons) you can easily BIAB mash 6-7 pounds of grain with enough water, leaving 1-2 inches or more space under the rim for stirring and such.
The rest of the water (1-1.5 gallon) you need to get to your preboil volume can come from (batch) sparging the bag in a bucket. Dunk and raise a few times to rinse most of the sugars from the grist, then let drip out in a colander or so. Much more efficient than pour overs.

The sparge will improve your efficiency, compared to topping up with plain water.
For good efficiency you're best off getting your grain finely crushed, the bag being the ultimate filter.

If you brew on a stove top, and bringing the whole volume to a boil, or keeping it boiling is difficult, keep a lid on part ways. Or boil some of the wort in a separate pot, on a 2nd burner.

This sounds right up my alley. Im going to try this on the next batch. thank you
 
OP
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Yeah...I get that. In my case I have a pair of 10L/2.6 Gal Torpedo kegs that I try to fill with a batch, but it is really the 3 gal Fermonsters that set my max fermenter volume to around 2.6 or 2.7 gals. That is what drives my small batch size. In reality, there is not that much difference between a 2 gal batch and a 2.5 gal batch, if the OPs kettle makes 2 gal batches easier.
Ive also been thinking of mini-kegs so I don't have to bottle. Do they have to be refrigerated or can I drink at room temp?
 
OP
1Roamer

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Where in Canada. Can you get to Long Island? I have a stainless steel pot with spigot and thermometer I no longer use (switched to the anvil foundry 6.5) that you can have. I am a 2.5 BIAB brewer. You can have it if you promise to send me a bottle of a batch you made with it. I think it’s 5 gallon but I’ll check. I do hav3 a spreadsheet that I measured the dimension for quick volume reading with a marked dip stick.

if you cannot pick it up and are willing to pay shipping, that would also do.

It’s just taking up space in my basement and would prefer it made beer again.

I would routinely hold back 1/2 gallon of water volume, bring it to 175*, put the bag in a large mesh colander over a bucket and slowly sparged. This would give my a little extra space from the rim to avoid spills.

lmk.
ill come back and post a pic.
I would love this, but Im in Saskatoon....Id pay more for shipping than the thing is worth. very generous of you though. I appreciate that.
 
OP
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You can certainly top up to get to 2.5 gallons at the end, but it's such a small batch size, I would recommend just getting a slightly larger pot. I do 2.5 gal BIAB, and I use this pot. It's cheap, but it really gets the job done. Stainless, rather than aluminum, so it's easy to clean and non-reactive. And 5 gallons has been the perfect size for me. Even with double IPAs with lots of grain, I've had plenty of space.

What cooling method are you using? I just put my pot in my sink in an ice water bath, and it cools down to pitching temps in about 15 minutes. My pot has relatively thin sides, so that might help. I agree with Elric that you can cool by topping off with cool or room temp water, too.

I am sure the SS Brewtech stuff is really nice. Whether it's worth it mostly depends on what kind of a brewer you are! I prefer to keep things simple, so I rarely buy new equipment and tend to stick with the basics. Obviously other folks get a lot of enjoyment out of the fancy equipment. I certainly don't think that the nicer equipment is necessary to make good beer. If you do want to try some of the SS Brewtech stuff, I think you'd get more advantage from the stainless fermenter vs. a bucket than from the stainless kettle vs. a cheaper pot like the one I linked above.
Ive tried the sink with ice, and outside in the snow in -40, and it took ages to cool. Thats why I was thinking maybe its the heavy bottom pot. But others say they also use that type of pot and chilling is fast. Maybe I need to stir more, but I was worried about contamination so I leave the lid on.
 
OP
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I used to do 2.5 gallon batch BIAB and all I had was a 4 gallon pot, a 9 qt pot and a 6 gallon BSG bucket.
I'd mash at 1.25 qt/lb in the 4 gallon pot and my back burner held the mash temp like a rock!
heated the 9 qt pot with sparge water. Then I lifted the bag into the bucket and ran the wort from the 4 gal and water from the 9 qt into the bucket and let it sit for 10 minutes or so..,drained it all out at once back into the 4 gallon pot for boil. Efficiency was pretty good and it was very time efficient!
Even for 2.5 gallons you'll get a noticeable increase in quality having a chiller. I got some flexible copper and sharkbite fittings for pretty cheap.
also I'd use the same bsg bucket to ferment as well. I don't do extended aging much, so the headspace wasn't really an issue.
As long as u have a kettle drain valve, just stir for "whirlpool" to help put clear wort into the bucket, and dry hop in a stainless canister--that way you'll avoid clogging the drain valve when you package.
My fastest brew day from recipe to everything cleaned up was 3 hours.
what does this mean? "a kettle drain valve, just stir for "whirlpool" to help put clear wort into the bucket"
 

jtratcliff

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You can add a bulkhead with a valve to your kettle to run out the wort, instead of lifting an pouring into the fermenter...
1614730972827.png


Whirlpool is to stir in a circular motion for a minute or 2 after flame out, then allow to sit and settle for 10 minutes or so... trub and hop debris settle into ab pile in the center of the whirlpool, then you can drain through the valve into the fermenter to leave the crud behind...
 

Saunassa

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I have kept my 2.5 gal keg under the stairs in winter so 50 degrees for a month or two with some co2 pressure added.
I chill here in the snow on the deck. Move it a few times but have learned that stirring a couple times really drops the temp at -10f.
 

IslandLizard

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Ive tried the sink with ice, and outside in the snow in -40, and it took ages to cool.
That's because... The snow or ice needs to make direct and perfect contact with the kettle in order to chill it.
When you stick your hot kettle in a snowbank, it will melt a thin layer, and then there's no more contact, you're relying on radiation alone for heat transfer and very little conduction. The best way is to use a mixture of snow or ice with water mixed in, so there's enough (ice cold) liquid to keep chilling. Frequent stirring or using a recirculation pump helps much with that; convection is the most efficient means of transferring energy.

So for that to work stick your kettle in a rope tub or so filled with a thick slush of ice or snow and some water. And stir that slush constantly, or at least intermittently, and add more ice or snow to keep it cold. Same for the wort, a good stir now and then speeds up the chilling process. Just don't get it contaminated. ;)

For example, I chill a 2.25 gallon stainless pot containing 4-6 liters (~1.1-1.6) gallons of boiling starter wort either in the sink or in a plastic dish wash tub, filled with cold water. The water close to the pot gets very hot, but the water along the edges doesn't, at least not very quickly, unless I stir the "water jacket" from time to time, or move the pot around. When the water jacket has become warm/hot (~110-130F), it gets changed out for cold water, only once. I'm usually not in hurry, so it let that second fill-up sit for half an hour to an hour or so. By that time it's near room temps, or a little warmer.
 
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IslandLizard

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Ive also been thinking of mini-kegs so I don't have to bottle. Do they have to be refrigerated or can I drink at room temp?
Instead of (expensive) proprietary "mini kegs" holding a mere gallon (at most), and using outrageously pricey CO2 cartridges, why not buy a few 2.5 gallon corny kegs? Yes, you also need a CO2 tank and a regulator, but you'll have a dispensing system similar to the pros and it's for life. Stick the kegs in your (kitchen) fridge, or use a dedicated (old) fridge.

You could buy used (corny) kegs, but 2.5 and 3 gallon ones are hard to come by, desirable, and priced accordingly.
Here are (new) Torpedo Kegs (MoreBeer):

You're in Canada, so all those things may not be as easy to obtain as it is for us in the U.S., I understand.
But it "pays" to check your options. ;)
 

InspectorJon

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Folks around here have widely variant tolerances for risk, particularly when it comes to cleaning and infection. Cooling your wort with the lid on is certainly the safest. Taking the lid off and using a sanitized spoon to stir while cooling is an acceptable risk for me. Putting your kettle in a sink or bucket of ice water and stirring both slowly will cool it pretty quickly. If you want to leave the lid on, holding the kettle by the handles (if it has them) and swirling it around slowly in the ice water bath would accomplish the same thing. As IslandLizard said, moving the liquids is the key to speeding up the process. I use an immersion chiller and stirring my wort with it rather than just letting it sit cuts chilling time by a huge margin.
 

Elric

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Instead of (expensive) proprietary "mini kegs" holding a mere gallon (at most), and using outrageously pricey CO2 cartridges, why not buy a few 2.5 gallon corny kegs? Yes, you also need a CO2 tank and a regulator, but you'll have a dispensing system similar to the pros and it's for life. Stick the kegs in your (kitchen) fridge, or use a dedicated (old) fridge.

You could buy used (corny) kegs, but 2.5 and 3 gallon ones are hard to come by, desirable, and priced accordingly.
Here are (new) Torpedo Kegs (MoreBeer):

You're in Canada, so all those things may not be as easy to obtain as it is for us in the U.S., I understand.
But it "pays" to check your options. ;)
If you want to buy smaller kegs in canada, i suggest cankeg.com homebrewsupplies.ca and ontariobeerkegs.com. Cankeg sells the minikegs that have screw on lids that you can hook up to ball lock disconnects, obk has traditional design kegs in various sizes between 1-5 and 3 gallons and homebrew supply sells the small torpedo kegs and some others. I have a couple of the cankeg 1 gallon kegs, a 2.5 gallon from obk and a used 5 gallon I picked up from my lhbs. When i was looking for 1 gallon kegs a number had complaints about the poor manufacturing quality. The ones i got from cankeg are very well constructed.
 

Saunassa

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I bought a few of the 2.5 gal torpedos. If I do a 3 gal batch I can fill a few flip tops and then put the rest in the keg. I can easily put three of them in my fridge and being smaller easy to carry and to set in a cooler full of ice.
 
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