BIAB vs all-in-one electric system

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fun4stuff

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What are the benefits of an electric all-in-one system over BIAB?

Right now i do no sparge BIAB in a large 20 gallon pot in my garage (all year around). Usually get in the 80s for efficiency. Takes 4-5 hrs to brew including cleanup. I add fermcap to my boils and haven’t had a boil over in years, so I’m usually doing a lot of other stuff around the house while I’m brewing.

is there any point to switching to an all-one system? I keep going back and fourth but it sounds clean up and brew days would take longer and my efficiency would drop.
 

kh54s10

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It really depends on what all-in-one system you are comparing to. Some are just electrified BIAB, some have re-circulation, some have step mashing automatically, some have hop addition automatically. Etc.

Grain grind is the most important factor in BIAB, some you can grind almost to flour and get good conversion, some will clog if you grind too fine and will have a less efficient conversion.

I recently received my UniBrau which is a recirculating BIAB, You can do full volume or you can sparge, this would change the efficiency. I went that route to get electric so that I can brew in the A/C during the summer. With propane my brew area would often go above 105 degrees. I also picked it since all the parts are off the shelf so if a particular part fails you can just go order a new one. In particular is the heating element. With the ones sealed in the bottom of the unit, if it fails you have to send it to the manufacturer for repair or possibly just throw it away.
 

whovous

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I've done electric recirculating ever since I stepped up from one gallon brews on the stovetop. I have no interest in trying anything else.

That said, if your system works for you, there is probably not a lot of value in learning a new and different way to brew. Stick with what works for you. Neither one is intrinsically better than the other.
 

madscientist451

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is there any point to switching to an all-one system?
Its hard to say; for me, its something that would be nice to have, but I don't really need it. Sure it would be nice to have equipment that recirculated the wort and kept the temperature stable, but I'm making good beer without that.
For some, it may depend on how much they can afford to spend on brewing stuff and how much room they have.
If you don't have fermentation temperature control and kegging capability, my 2 cents would be to get those things first. You don't need a complicated "system" to make wort, (some may say YOU DO NEED a complicated, expensive rig, but to each their own) but controlling your fermentation will make better beer, and kegging just makes brewing and drinking your beer more fun. Having more stuff to clean, put away and take care doesn't sound like fun to me. I used to use a cooler mashtun and spent time carefully fly sparging, but now I simply BIAB in a pot, sometimes adding a side pot for a "dunk sparge".
So if you have the space, the cash, and just want nicer equipment, go for it
 

firerat

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I use a mash & Boil unit.

Here's my Pros and Cons:

PROS

-it's electric and 120v so I can brew inside if I want and not die.
-it has a delay timer so I can heat water to strike temps overnight (best part for me)
-it's easy to clean
-I can use it to distill. I never have, but I can if I wanted to.


CONS (for me, YMMV)

-it's kind of small. (I think like 7.5 gallons). You can do 5 gallon batches but nothing huge.
-the grain tube kind of sucks. I don't know what I'm doing wrong but I get horrible efficiency with it (as low as 54%!!!). I tried recirculating with little to no help. Now I do a modified BIAB and keep the bag off the temp probe. I'm back to my standard 80% I was with my old set up.
-You can't really just set the temp and mash with it on as the temps jump like crazy as it doesn't kick on until it's like 5° below set point and stays on unitl its 5° over. I just turn it off and wrap it with reflectix.
-if using extract, you have to be very mindful of getting any undissolved on the temp probe or you'll get the error code. And oh what fun resetting the damn thing as the reset button is on the bottom of the unit.

Honestly, I like using electric over propane for a few reasons and I like being able to preheat water over night, but for me I don't think I'd buy one again.
 
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fun4stuff

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Its hard to say; for me, its something that would be nice to have, but I don't really need it. Sure it would be nice to have equipment that recirculated the wort and kept the temperature stable, but I'm making good beer without that.
For some, it may depend on how much they can afford to spend on brewing stuff and how much room they have.
If you don't have fermentation temperature control and kegging capability, my 2 cents would be to get those things first. You don't need a complicated "system" to make wort, (some may say YOU DO NEED a complicated, expensive rig, but to each their own) but controlling your fermentation will make better beer, and kegging just makes brewing and drinking your beer more fun. Having more stuff to clean, put away and take care doesn't sound like fun to me. I used to use a cooler mashtun and spent time carefully fly sparging, but now I simply BIAB in a pot, sometimes adding a side pot for a "dunk sparge".
So if you have the space, the cash, and just want nicer equipment, go for it

Yeah, I have that stuff... Upright fridge turned into a 7 tap kegerator, fermentation chamber, build my water up from RO and target mash pH.

I also happen to have some Xmas money that I could use to buy an all in one system. I guess the things I like about these is I could set temp to have water up to temp in the morning and I would have a dedicated spot inside to brew. Now, I brew in my garage so I have to move everything into position every time I brew. I'm in Michigan so it's pretty cold in the winter, although the propane burner warms the garage up pretty quick.

I guess it could also be nice to have the wort recirculated and temp controlled during the mash. I definitely have more of a targeted range for my mashes. I wrap the pot in a sleep bag by it still loses 5-10 deg during the mash. Maybe I should try using my sous vide heater to keep water warm and circulating? I have read of people doing this (keep the sous code heater outside the grain bag).
 

brew703

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I have the High Gravity 120v that I bought used. From a heating of strike water to boil it's about the same as with my propane system. Since switching to the HG system my brew days have increased by 2 hrs, due to the extra time it takes to clean and recirculate through the pump. I've only used it about 5 times so I'm still making tweaks to the cleaning process to shorten my time.
Other than that, I'll probably never go back to propane. I will eventually get a 240v system- Just didnt want to spend the extra bucks to run a line.
 

Beholder

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I have the High Gravity 120v that I bought used. From a heating of strike water to boil it's about the same as with my propane system. Since switching to the HG system my brew days have increased by 2 hrs, due to the extra time it takes to clean and recirculate through the pump. I've only used it about 5 times so I'm still making tweaks to the cleaning process to shorten my time.
Other than that, I'll probably never go back to propane. I will eventually get a 240v system- Just didnt want to spend the extra bucks to run a line.
I also have an HG system, 240V 20 gal setup. If I were to do it again, would go with the double coil to enable faster ramping, as it can take a good 30-45 min to come up to temp for mash and similar time for boil.

With a smaller system (or when I do 10 g on the system) the ramp times are naturally be faster, so could get away with a single coil 240 V.
 

brew703

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I also have an HG system, 240V 20 gal setup. If I were to do it again, would go with the double coil to enable faster ramping, as it can take a good 30-45 min to come up to temp for mash and similar time for boil.

With a smaller system (or when I do 10 g on the system) the ramp times are naturally be faster, so could get away with a single coil 240 V.
It takes me roughly 60 min to get to mash temp and about the same to get to boil. These times are basically the same as when I used propane.
In the next couple years I will definitely upgrade to a 240V system, most probably the HG with a 15 gal pot and possibly a basket instead of the bag. I do like the boil coil and the price point is reasonable compared to other systems on the market.
 
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