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lowtones84

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Even though I love BIAB, I would say you can't truly vorlauf unless you're using a cooler to mash or a kettle with a spigot or something like that. I haven't found a particular issue without vorlauf, though, and I make quite clear beer with just the use of whirlfloc and being careful with transfers, etc.
 

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I haven't found this to be true. I boil over propane (Blichmann burner) and don't get burning on the bottom from the flour (and I have a lot.)

Brew on :mug:
I use propane also and don't get scorching on the inside of my aluminum pot.
But, I also don't have flour in my wort that I can see.
even though I grind the grain as tight as I can.
I do have a Wilser Bag and the weave looks nice and tight so maybe that's why?
 

doug293cz

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I use propane also and don't get scorching on the inside of my aluminum pot.
But, I also don't have flour in my wort that I can see.
even though I grind the grain as tight as I can.
I do have a Wilser Bag and the weave looks nice and tight so maybe that's why?
I also use a Wilser bag, but I squeeze fairly aggressively. That gets more flour thru the bag than just letting the bag hang to drain.

Brew on :mug:
 

Bobby_M

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Flour on the bottom of the kettle MAY only be a problem if you direct heat it. In my electric kettle, I haven't had any burnt flour issues.
Step mash? I recirculate and stir the underside via whirlpool during mashing so I can step any temp I want.
Heat loss? See above.
Lifting heavy wet grain? Locking rope hoist to an overhead eyebolt. Bigger batches? Add a couple extra pulleys (block and tackle).

Actual disadvantage would be slightly less efficiency. I didn't say it was an disadvantage that would logically tip anyone to the 3 vessel system.

There are some players in the BIAB game that would say good controllers and extra installed hardware defeats the purpose (simplicity) of BIAB. I don't agree that the sole purpose of BIAB is unfettered simplicity. The comparisons would go more like this:

BIAB in a unmodified kettle over a burner, insulated with a blanket compares to a 3 vessel system like two coolers and a kettle on a burner.
BIAB, electrically heated with a good PID in control, recirculation, whirlpool, etc compares to a 3 vessel electric turnkey system like a Spike HERMS.

That is to say every overall system design has it's very simple and very complex versions. I simply ended up a a relatively sophisticated eBIAB rig that I feel maintains simplicity, brewday time efficiency and cleanup goals without any compromises in quality or recipe complexity.
 

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I haven't tried it yet, but from what I have read Step Mashing is a bit more complicated with BIAB. You don't want to apply direct heat to the grain bag and adding hot water could easily throw your numbers off. I'm pretty much going to avoid it unless it's absolutely necessary.
Actually you can add heat to the bag, you just need the right heat source.

I did that when i was using an induction burner and it worked fine on low wattage to maintain mash temps.

I upgraded to a boil coil last year when i found out its ULWD element would not scorch or burn the bag.
 

wepeeler

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I also don't find this to be an issue. I brew full volume 25L batches on a 3500W induction plate. I was initially going to suggest the induction might be a more even and gentle heating method but I see Doug also doesn't have the issue with his gas burner. Maybe SanPancho has some sort of turbo gas ring?
I brew on a hellfire and have had zero scorching on the bottom of my kettle. I've done probably 50 batches or so.
 

bracconiere

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i'm a 2 vessel brewer, but i don't think i'd be able to heat, or fit, a kettle big enough on my stove for a 10 gallon batch.....
 

z-bob

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The wort going into the fermenter is a lot cloudier and there will be more trub. That doesn't seem to adversely affect the beer, tho', and the beer is still nice and clear at the end.

The LODO thing previously mentioned is the only real disadvantage all I can think of; I'll never be able to brew a great German style lager. Also the process doesn't scale up easily to much larger batch sizes, the sweet spot is probably 3 to 5 gallons. You can go larger (much larger) but you'll at least need a hoist of some sort to lift the bag.
 

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The wort going into the fermenter is a lot cloudier and there will be more trub. That doesn't seem to adversely affect the beer, tho', and the beer is still nice and clear at the end.

The LODO thing previously mentioned is the only real disadvantage all I can think of; I'll never be able to brew a great German style lager. Also the process doesn't scale up easily to much larger batch sizes, the sweet spot is probably 3 to 5 gallons. You can go larger (much larger) but you'll at least need a hoist of some sort to lift the bag.
I’ve evening brewing BIAB for 5+ years. Never experienced any kind of scorching of the grain. That’s definitely a myth.

i don’t understand the ‘not being able to do Lodo part. Lodo is a lot
More than just underwriting the mash. As they say on the Lodo forums, you can get around this by slowly lowering the bag into the mash.
 

z-bob

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I’ve evening brewing BIAB for 5+ years. Never experienced any kind of scorching of the grain. That’s definitely a myth.

i don’t understand the ‘not being able to do Lodo part. Lodo is a lot
More than just underwriting the mash. As they say on the Lodo forums, you can get around this by slowly lowering the bag into the mash.
I didn't say anything about scorching :) I've never had a problem with that either. I am content with not doing Lodo and brewing styles where it doesn't matter much. I've brewed some really good beers, and at least one great one (the great one was a porter, which is one of the few styles appropriate for my local water and everything went right.)
 

fun4stuff

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I didn't say anything about scorching :) I've never had a problem with that either. I am content with not doing Lodo and brewing styles where it doesn't matter much. I've brewed some really good beers, and at least one great one (the great one was a porter, which is one of the few styles appropriate for my local water and everything went right.)
I was mostly just replying to prior posts! I think you can do Lodo brewing basically just as well with BIAB.
 

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The LODO thing previously mentioned is the only real disadvantage all I can think of; I'll never be able to brew a great German style lager. Also the process doesn't scale up easily to much larger batch sizes, the sweet spot is probably 3 to 5 gallons. You can go larger (much larger) but you'll at least need a hoist of some sort to lift the bag.
Do all modern German lager breweries go completely LODO, though? I'm about to start brewing lagers for the first time ever and wondering what I can do with my stovetop BIAB setup (two vessel) to make it go as well as I can. The first I'm going to do is a classic Bohemian Pilsener, all Weyerman Floor Malted Bohemian malt and Czech Saaz.
 

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I brew mostly standard gravity 5 to 6 gallon batches with the occasional higher gravity beer. I have found no downsides at all with BIAB.

That said, early on in my beer journey I used a coarse mesh bag (don't do that), which let grain particulate through and made for some crappy beer. But then I got me a custom-made fine mesh Wilserbrewer bag and I never looked back. Which reminds me, I need to order a couple more bags from @wilserbrewer
 

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You don't need to go LODO to get an excellent German beer. With that floor malted pils, I make a great one with a decoction mash. Since that malt is under modified you want to at least give it a step mash,but the decoction will give you that deep flavor.
 

lowtones84

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You don't need to go LODO to get an excellent German beer. With that floor malted pils, I make a great one with a decoction mash. Since that malt is under modified you want to at least give it a step mash,but the decoction will give you that deep flavor.
Yeah, I was planning on a decoction. I think that may be an advantage if you're brewing stove top in that you just pop another pot on a burner. I've done it before when I made a mock (kolsch yeast) Mexican Vienna Lager and it was no problem.
 

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Hmm.... I don't get how some of you are having trouble maintaining mash temp?
I heat the water to spec, add the grains. Remove the kettle and sit on a square piece of wood (to prevent drawing cool temps from the floor) I have two heavy blankets I wrap around it immediately. Come back in 1 hour 15 minutes, and most of the time the temp is between 154 - 156. I usually only lose 2-5 degrees (F) total.
 

SanPancho

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I’ve evening brewing BIAB for 5+ years. Never experienced any kind of scorching of the grain. That’s definitely a myth.
here we go again.

its not a myth for focks sake. but you arent getting it right either. in biab there shouldnt ever be scorching of grains. maybe the bag, but not actual grain/grist.

but there can definitely be scorching of flour. even professional breweries get a bit of flour in their crush, its inevitable. but having a separate MT and being able to vorlauf, means its not a problem for them. but for single vessel biab, even nice quality wilserbags will let a bit of flour through. thats what scorches. and yes, technically flour is "grain" but i think there's enough room to make a distinction. removal of any grain material- grist, husks, flour-- is best for your beer. even if it doesnt scorch on the bottom or on your elements. its getting boiled. and that's not good.

haters gonna claim its a myth, it doesnt really happen, doesnt really matter, etc. etc. just wrong. factually wrong. you need to correct the problem via vorlauf/filtration and that doesnt happen effectively in a typical BIAB system.

so if all the haters dont wanna believe me, how about we listen to someone else's opinion?

I would consider myself to have enough experience to be able to say that with my 3 different BIAB systems (1 homemade, and 2 braumeisters)and having had a 2 vessel, and now a three vessel. I am fanatical about beer quality, and I could never get a BIAB, to actually taste as good as a non. So the BIAB systems sit on my shelf.
bit of a discussion here, where the quote is taken from- Astringency after several weeks it isnt 100% relevant but does talk to this issue a bit.

so if you dont wanna believe me, start a debate with die beerery and see where that goes.

i find no fault with BIAB in general, but i dont ignore what brewing science says. its a negative. enough to stop me from brewing BIAB? no.
 
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bkboiler

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I found the quality with BIAB to be very good. Easily as good as my igloo cooler I used to use. However the igloo was much easier to clean than my particular bag was...
 

BruceH

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My biab is modified. I use disposable grain steeping bags. They are about $.25 each purchased in bulk and a typical 5.5 gallon finished batch uses 3 bags. I don't like going over 3# per bag.

During a step mash I simply use my giant spoon to stir and keep the bags off the bottom when the heat is on. When done the bags are pulled out, squeezed in a big pan, and thrown away.

I tried it with a full size reusable bag but much prefer the way I do it now. YMMV.
 

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Biggest issues for me were the bags. Cleaning the bags were a bitch with all the grain particulates stuck in them. With my mash tun I can just hose it out and I'm done. The bags, that I used anyways, also never seemed to last. I would always get a hole torn in them at some point no matter how gentle I'd stir the mash. I also hated having to lift the bag and could never get a hoist setup with my garage nor wanted to take the time to buy/install one. I also didn't have to splurge for a 20g kettle if I wanted to do 10 gallon batches. I definitely had no desire to lift and drain 16-24lbs of wet grains for a 10g batch. Been brewing with 3 vessels a lot longer than when I was with BIAB and have no regrets so far.


3Ver for life. LOL!
 

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Recently I tried brewing in a bag without my sparge manifold (slotted copper tube) at the bottom of my mashing & laeutering pot. The wort contained way too much solid matter after removal of the bag (about three to four times as much as with laeutering settled at the bottom of my fermenter). I also didn't like wasting the sugar stuck in the bag, despite squeezing & collecting the drip-off. The specific gravity of the liquid dripping off the bag was significantly higher than what I usually get at the end of sparging (1.02 to 1.01).

For my last wheat beer, I then used the bag in addition to my usual setup. Sparging seemed to take significantly more Vorlauf than without a bag, i.e. the wort drawn from the sparge manifold was cloudy for a longer time. I don't know why that would be the case, but I assume the forming of the grain bed doing the filtering doesn't work as well with the bag mesh between the grain and the slotted tube.
The bag did simplify cleanup after sparging. I found the bag was a bit scorched/molten to the pot where it was draped over the edge of the pot - I do step meshes on a gas stove.

So, to summarize:
  • cleanup is simpler
  • I find sparging is still necessary
  • and one has to be careful with applying heat when step mashing on an open gas burner, to avoid melting the bag.
 

RM-MN

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I found the quality with BIAB to be very good. Easily as good as my igloo cooler I used to use. However the igloo was much easier to clean than my particular bag was...
Cleaning the bag is easy. I dump the grains out, turn the bag inside out and shake it, then turn it back and give it a rinse. There is no need to get all the tiny grain particles out, just hang the bag to dry.

Recently I tried brewing in a bag without my sparge manifold (slotted copper tube) at the bottom of my mashing & laeutering pot. The wort contained way too much solid matter after removal of the bag (about three to four times as much as with laeutering settled at the bottom of my fermenter). I also didn't like wasting the sugar stuck in the bag, despite squeezing & collecting the drip-off. The specific gravity of the liquid dripping off the bag was significantly higher than what I usually get at the end of sparging (1.02 to 1.01).

For my last wheat beer, I then used the bag in addition to my usual setup. Sparging seemed to take significantly more Vorlauf than without a bag, i.e. the wort drawn from the sparge manifold was cloudy for a longer time. I don't know why that would be the case, but I assume the forming of the grain bed doing the filtering doesn't work as well with the bag mesh between the grain and the slotted tube.
The bag did simplify cleanup after sparging. I found the bag was a bit scorched/molten to the pot where it was draped over the edge of the pot - I do step meshes on a gas stove.

So, to summarize:
  • cleanup is simpler
  • I find sparging is still necessary
  • and one has to be careful with applying heat when step mashing on an open gas burner, to avoid melting the bag.
Vorlauf is to set the grain bed on a conventional mash tun where you might get a significant amount of grain through the drain until the bed is set and begins filtering. You then would return the grain filled wort to the mash tun. With BIAB there shouldn't be big grain particles but the wort will be cloudy. No problem. Clear wort is not needed for clear beer. You're going to a lot of work for no real gain. Just collect the wort, sparge if you want, and start the boil.
 

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BIAB isn't suitable for LoDO.
But that's only a drawback for those who want to incorporate "full" LoDO process and techniques.
Please explain why BIAB isn't suitable for LoDO. Are you saying that the disturbance of removing the grain by lifting the bag is introducing too much O2? I BIAB w/o a lot of concern about removing the bag. Of course, BIAB has no impact on the boil or the fermentation. I also pressure ferment and do closed transfers, so both my pilsners and IPAs are still fantastic 3-6 months after kegging. Maybe my LODO standards are just too low. I'm sure someone like SanPancho can point out why my 40+ point beers are crap from burnt flour and too much trüb in the fermenter.
 

Clyde McCoy

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BIAB isn't suitable for LoDO.
But that's only a drawback for those who want to incorporate "full" LoDO process and techniques.
I would think no-sparge, transfer-free BIAB brewing would be advantageous for LoDO? Issues arising from dough-in/removing bag?
 

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Here's my experience, and I realize that it's unique and anectodel and many others have had opposite experiences.

Currently I mash in a bag with a cooler so technically a three vessel system still.

I used to mash in a cooler with just a bazooka like screen tube to filter out the grain. But I got myself a mill and started having stuck sparges. I know I could have gone with a coarser crush but added a bag instead.

I saw only a slight uptick in efficiency at first. But my last brew day (American wheat- destined to be a shandy) I vorlaufed quite a bit to get a clearer wort. This not only clarified the wort but recirculated the mash which I believed drove up my efficiency (from around 70% to around 80%).

Im sticking with this approach for these reasons.
I don't particularly like picking up a hot sticky bag and holding it there and squeezing etc. And I don't have a good way to set up a pulley system either. I know about grates too but it's just another piece to clean.

My kettle isn't big enough for full volume mash plus grain. There's no spigot on my kettle so there's no way to circulate the mash or vorlauf without some sort of messy pump system.

If I'm not doing full volume mash I'm not sure how sparging would be easier than mash in bag in a cooler.

Lastly and probably least, I don't have "old blankets" just lying around to insulate my pot. Which means I would need some other form of insulation. Why invest in some insulation when a cooler is exactly that?
 

IslandLizard

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Please explain why BIAB isn't suitable for LoDO. Are you saying that the disturbance of removing the grain by lifting the bag is introducing too much O2? I BIAB w/o a lot of concern about removing the bag. Of course, BIAB has no impact on the boil or the fermentation. I also pressure ferment and do closed transfers, so both my pilsners and IPAs are still fantastic 3-6 months after kegging. Maybe my LODO standards are just too low. I'm sure someone like SanPancho can point out why my 40+ point beers are crap from burnt flour and too much trüb in the fermenter.
I would think no-sparge, transfer-free BIAB brewing would be advantageous for LoDO? Issues arising from dough-in/removing bag?
There are more than a few references in the LoDO subforum why a typical single vessel BIAB process doesn't lend itself to LoDO processes. Not being able to underlet the grain is one of the major reasons.
Here's one thread specific on that topic:
 

cbier60

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Here's one thread specific on that topic:
Thanks for the reference. I may adopt some of those LoDO practices, but I'm definitely not as all in as the hardcore crowd.
 

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I found the quality with BIAB to be very good. Easily as good as my igloo cooler I used to use. However the igloo was much easier to clean than my particular bag was...
Whenever I hear the ease of cleaning argument in these BIAB debates/discussions, I'm always left wondering how do people who claim cleaning their cooler mash tun is just a quick spray with the hose get the spent grain out of their cooler? For myself, BIAB is easier to clean since the grain is fully drained of all wort (spent grain from a cooler mash tun is a lot more wet by comparison), and I can just flip the bag inside out into the compost/trash and it's done. Using a cooler without a bag like I used to do, I would scoop as much of the spent grain out as possible first (which still left enough grain to make a mess after spraying out the cooler) and then take the cooler somewhere to finish rinsing it out. IME, BIAB is faster, cleaner, and easier regarding the cleaning process. Have I just been doing something wrong with the cooler (no bag) method that is making the process more difficult than it should be?
 

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[...]
Vorlauf is to set the grain bed on a conventional mash tun where you might get a significant amount of grain through the drain until the bed is set and begins filtering. You then would return the grain filled wort to the mash tun. With BIAB there shouldn't be big grain particles but the wort will be cloudy. No problem. Clear wort is not needed for clear beer. You're going to a lot of work for no real gain. Just collect the wort, sparge if you want, and start the boil.
It is correct that the bag prevents large grain particles from escaping, but with the wheat beer there was a lot of finer particles that made it through.

Adding back my traditional sparging with the slotted manifold cut down the amount of sediment that made it into the fermenter from four inches to the usual one inch, which makes cleaning the fermenter a lot (one could argue by a factor 4) easier. I prefer the easier cleanup with the combination of bag and sparging. The better yield is an added bonus.
 
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Thanks for the reference. I may adopt some of those LoDO practices, but I'm definitely not as all in as the hardcore crowd.
I have helped develop the low oxygen setups for Spiedels, so it can certainly be done. A bunch of info here on the blog as well.
 

Yooper

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There are no disadvantages.
I can't lift and squeeze a bag with 27 pounds of grain plus the water that it absorbed (another 27 pounds). I brew indoors, so no room for a hoist or dripping. For small batches, I can manage it. So one of the disadvantages is for large batches in a normal homebrew setting.
 

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I would think no-sparge, transfer-free BIAB brewing would be advantageous for LoDO? Issues arising from dough-in/removing bag?
Yup. Even if you underlet, bag removal can be iffy unless you go very slow, which in and of itself can introduce atmospheric oxygen. Definitely not impossible though. I don’t want to fear monger here.

Without underletting though, we’ve shown there’s really no hope at all of maintaining a low oxygen mash. Dissolved oxygen levels spoke pretty considerably on dough in when lowering in a bag, basket, etc.
 

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Yooper, you could try a combination of old-fashioned ladling with lifting the remainder in the bag. This should still make final cleanup easier.
 

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Yup. Even if you underlet, bag removal can be iffy unless you go very slow, which in and of itself can introduce atmospheric oxygen. Definitely not impossible though. I don’t want to fear monger here.

Without underletting though, we’ve shown there’s really no hope at all of maintaining a low oxygen mash. Dissolved oxygen levels spoke pretty considerably on dough in when lowering in a bag, basket, etc.
I wonder if there's any benefit (or any noticeable difference at all) to an intermediate level between "normal" practices and LoDO. E.g. yeast deoxygenation of strike water, reduced splashing during the mash/whirlpool, but no underletting and no sodium metabisulfite.
 

Big Monk

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I wonder if there's any benefit (or any noticeable difference at all) to an intermediate level between "normal" practices and LoDO. E.g. yeast deoxygenation of strike water, reduced splashing during the mash/whirlpool, but no underletting and no sodium metabisulfite.
At that point it would probably just be better to focus on the cold side of things. Although underletting could be as simple as a line running into the top of the kettle to the bottle under the grain and Sodium or Potassium Metabisulfite is very cheap and easy to use in powder form.
 

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Step mashing, not being able to sparge, brewing big beers (because of the two problems mentioned before), less control over the mashing process (thickness, sparge, temperature, etc), cloudy wort (I'm a believer that it affects finished beer).

I switched to 3-vessel from BIAB, it added only 1 hour to my brew day, and a ton more flexibility in the methods I can use brewing. I have no regrets at all.
 

lowtones84

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Step mashing, not being able to sparge, brewing big beers (because of the two problems mentioned before), less control over the mashing process (thickness, sparge, temperature, etc), cloudy wort (I'm a believer that it affects finished beer).

I switched to 3-vessel from BIAB, it added only 1 hour to my brew day, and a ton more flexibility in the methods I can use brewing. I have no regrets at all.
Only if you're doing single vessel biab. I do 2-3 steps plus a sparge on every beer that I brew. Brewing big beers also not a problem for me, but only because I do 3 gallon batches. Also perfect control over mash thickness/temp and I don't consider my wort much more cloudy than when I brew on my friend's 3 vessel.

You just need two pots :) And don't mill as fine as a lot of BIAB guys do. I don't think it's a big problem personally, but I crush about the same as people doing 3 vessel and have a nice bag. Don't really get much in the wort. Just can't vorlauf really.
 

TheMadKing

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Only if you're doing single vessel biab. I do 2-3 steps plus a sparge on every beer that I brew. Brewing big beers also not a problem for me, but only because I do 3 gallon batches. Also perfect control over mash thickness/temp and I don't consider my wort much more cloudy than when I brew on my friend's 3 vessel.

You just need two pots :) And don't mill as fine as a lot of BIAB guys do. I don't think it's a big problem personally, but I crush about the same as people doing 3 vessel and have a nice bag. Don't really get much in the wort. Just can't vorlauf really.
Not trying to be argumentative, just curious what advantage are you gaining by using the bag other than slightly faster cleanout of the grain and insurance against a stuck mash?
 
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