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BIAB vs. Brewing with Mash Tun, Hot Liquor Tank, Sparging etc.

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BIAB V. Traditional all Grain(Tun, Sparge, Etc.)

  • BIAB

    Votes: 26 55.3%
  • Traditional

    Votes: 21 44.7%

  • Total voters
    47

Dog House Brew

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If I was starting fresh I'd probably go eBIAB but I started out as a 3v brewer and built my system and brew day around that.

I solo brew 15 gallon batches (17 gallons into the fermenter) with typical grain bills in the 30-35 pound range. I know this can be done with BIAB - I actually do use a bag as a fabric filter in my mash tun to make mash tun cleanup easy, but even my largest 20 gallon kettle would be too small for BIAB. It's borderline too small for my current batches as is but in the boil fermcap-S is my friend.

I don't aim for a super short brew day. Usually it looks like this:
60 minutes to collect, treat and heat strike and sparge water, weigh and crush grains and load up the mash tun
90 minute step mash
45-60 minute lauter
15 minutes end of lauter to end of hot break
60 minute boil
20-30 minute whirlpool
30-60 minutes to chill and transfer to fermenter depending on time of year. Hot summer day I'm probably not chilling to pitching temps.
60 minutes clean up (the boil kettle and chiller are only major equipment left to clean at this point)

I guess that is about 7 hours. Normally start at about 10am and wrap up about 5pm. I've got good temperature control on the mash tun but run the HLT and boil kettle burners manually. Burners are all on household natural gas which is a little slower than propane on things like heating the strike water and getting to a full boil but they are super quiet and I never run out. Overall brewing process is pretty hands off but I'm pretty busy throughout the session. In addition to brewing I am also cleaning kegs, kegging my previous batch, and cleaning and sanitizing my fermentor during the brew. I'm pretty tired by the time I'm done but it's a solid process I can handle.

I'm not sure eBIAB would be that much of a time saver for me and none of my current equipment would be able to be used. So I voted traditional.
Sounds like our system is the same. My brew days are 8-10hrs depending on what I’m brewing. I generally run 20g into the fermenter.
 
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I have pieced together my system over the last three years to be a blend of the two systems. I have a kitchen stockpot for HLT, that gets used twice (strike and batch sparge water), a mash tun with a Wilser bag to assist in filtration (just upgraded from orange cooler to SS insulated), and a kettle for wort. I squeeze the poopies out of the bag of grain. Clean up is pretty easy (I was a chef for awhile), as I clean as I go. It's about a 6-hour day, but that also allows for other things like cleaning or moving beers from fermenters to kegs, or something in between.

I would like at some point to move to electric, and if so, I will seriously consider a BIAB system because the footprint of the brewery matters more than the process. Plus I have 220 in the garage already for the air compressor and welder, so that should make the electric BIAB speedy.
 

charlesbrewer

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I contribute my first ever post for up voting BIAB, for it that opened my door into all grain and for this forum of good people that brought me into this wonderful hobby.

BIAB is the best ever method and many newer semi/automatic home brew system out there use this concept by including a mesh basket. BIAB is only about having a bag/mesh to contain all your grain to achieve less mess and possibly when using bag with fine mesh, clear wort without adding funny adjunct. And best of all, the minimum setup allows you to start with only 1 pot from start to finish. Do not get put off by naysayers it cannot do this and that.

That being said when mashing, you do not even need a cooler. A blanket wrapped pot only gets 1-2 degree C drop every 30 min on hotter season and during winter just let the pot keep warm on weak flame. If you fancy it, get an electric pot, pair with temp controller, easy peasy worry free. And better yet, you can programme the controller to do whatever step you wish. BIAB does not stop you from doing any "advance technique".

Then you can decide whether you want to fly sparge, batch sparge or whatever sparge. You can always go fancy with pumps here and there. But really batch sparging can get as easy as the bag on top the pot by a bbq mesh or better yet a steam tray. Pour hot, warm or tap water as you wish. I personally mash 5kg-ish grain in 12L of water and batch sparge 8 liter 70 deg water. Squeeze the bag with bare hands after the last sparge with tap water. But if you can't lift a bag of 10 kg then that's a different story.

And about vorlof, you don't need that. When transitioning from mash to boil, pulling out the bag already taken care the grain bits. Likewise when transferring to fermentation bucket just run the cooled wort pass same or another bag. I personally used a sepearte 250 mesh bag lay into the bucket the same way I do for mashing and pull it out slowly when done. Let it sit on the steam tray while it continues to drip. while I save time by washing my pot.

These are not my personal genius but a collection of wisdom from this forum. With BIAB I have my grain mill to almost flour like. Getting efficiency above 85% consistently. All my gear can actually fit into my 8 gallon pot, except for the gas tank and stove of course.

Not apologising for sounding like a BIAB church believer :p
 

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seatazzz

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I have a three-vessel system, with a pump, that's on a brewstand that a dear friend built for me, on which I recently upgraded the burners. I do MIAB, which in my mind is a more primitive version of BIAB; I get all the benefits of no grain bits in my BK coupled with easy cleanup, and don't have to worry about hefting or squeezing a super-heavy wet hot bag of grain. I can knock out a brewday in about 5 hours, including milling the grain and the final cleanup, although with some pre-planning (milling grain & treating water the night before) I have been known to be done in about 4.

As others have noted before, it's all about how YOU want to brew, and what you are willing/able to spend/tinker with. I've been tempted to go with an all-in-one electric system but just can't justify the expense. I brew great beer on my (mostly hand-me-down) system. If you can find or build a 3-vessel system, I would strongly recommend mash-in-a-bag (yes I too am a charter member of the Dead Horse Society); getting clear wort into the BK with minimal effort, and super easy cleanup, is the shiznit.
 

Bohern

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I started brewing with brother in law and his friends to start with. They use gas fired kettle, HLT and BIAB in a cooler sometimes with a hoist and sometimes just a couple of guys holding the bag up. They always brew in a group of 3 or 4 guys so plenty of help to go around. They make very good beer too I'll add. I was leaning going this way but I brew by myself mostly and was concerned about doing 10G batches by myself. I knew I couldn't be lifting 12 to 13 gallons of very hot wort by myself.

It was then I looked at the all in one systems and also the eBIAB and almost went that way. What I found depending on which one I looked they had their limitations.

It was then I got to go brew a batch of beer of my own (with the help of the brewmaster) at a local brewery. I brewed on their 3V 1BBL pilot system and I was hooked. I would up buying a 3V herms and love it. I will say it is more to take care of but I like it. My brew days take about 5 hours but i don't mind.
 

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