Brew in a Bag or Mash Tun

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daksin

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I'm a professional brewer now, but at home I am a BIAB guy. This is strictly a matter of opinion (I predict the debate will be energetic), but I love that I never had to acquire any equipment at all to brew all grain. I can mash 23 pounds of grain in my 8 gallon pot, do a batch sparge in my 7.5 gallon kettle, combine the two, and make a kickass barleywine without doing the work to convert an MLT. Nevermind the money- I love spending my free cash on beer gear, but it's just a bonus that I never had to shell out for a craigslist gatorade cooler or stainless braid, nor invest the time to build my system. I get great efficiency with my hybrid-BIAB method and make award winning beers that I love to drink. Can't beat that in my opinion.

I totally have MAD respect for those who build their three-vessel systems though. That *redacted* is wicked! Some of yall have systems in your garages I would frickin' love to have at the brewery. All automated and junk. Crazy awesome!
 

mikeysab

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I have both, and prefer biab. Cheaper, quicker, and easier. I get better efficiency on my biab system, too. For bigger beers i'll use the MLT, a 52 qt coleman extreme with copper manifold. Last weekend I did 10 gallons of mild on my biab, a 10 g round cooler and it was a breeze.
 

makemyday21

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BIAB baby! Love the simplicity, except when my "Tim-the-toolman Taylor" side comes out and I have that urge to add some "improvement" (i.e. unnecessary complication) to my set up!

My humble blog (see link in signature) tells my story....

Someday maybe I'll get to the Outback and shake that man's hand who got BIAB started!
 

Runyanka

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jetmac said:
Not to highjack a thread but, I am having a hard time wraping my brain around how to BIAB. Any good links for learning?

Northern brewers "brewing tv" did a whole episode on this.
 

Pie_Man

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Mash Tun because it only costs 40 bucks and fuels the DIY in most homebrewers. And it looks cooler.
Nice pun, looks cooler...

I use both methods and I don't have a favorite yet. I started doing BIAB, since I had a burner and pot, all I needed was a bag. Here are some of the pros and cons that I've experienced.

BIAB:
Pros - No extra equipment required except a bag. You can do step mashes using direct heat to raise the mash temp, just keep the bag off the bottom of the kettle so it doesn't scorch the grains.
Cons - Depending on your outside temperature and the insulation around the pot, it might lose more heat during the mash, but that's easy to correct. My BIAB brews have turned out a little bit cloudier, maybe because there's no vorlauf. This could just be me as I don't have a false bottom on my BK.

Mash Tun:
Pros: The cooler mash tuns maintains heat pretty well. It typically allows for a larger grain bill than BIAB. I've experience clearer wort, probably due to vorlaufing. It's a little easier to manage the mash tun than a hot bag of grain.
Cons: Costs more, although it's less than $100 for the cooler and all the parts to add on the valve and braided hose. It takes up more room when stored.
 

knuckleheadbrewing

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I've done BIAB before and I made great small beers (less then 1.045 OG) any time I tried to approach 1.060+ it always turned into a mess....

I know brew on my RIMs system and frankly I will never go back to a cooler, BIAB, or any other method...My system is wonderful I love it and it has thrown gasoline on my already burning fire and love of homebrew!
 

billf2112

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I did biab and just did my first batch using a mash tun. The mash tun was easier and I got a much higher effiiciency. Clean up was easier too. I hated ckeanibg my grain bag. Having my mash tun set up on a table above my brew pot a burner made it so easy to transfer the liquid to my brew pot and just let the spent grains sit until clean up. I then simply dumped the grains and washed the tun out then ran star san through it.
 

mb82

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I looked into both before making the switch to AG a few weeks ago. I decided on BIAB simply because I didn't have to really purchase any new equipment. Went to Wal Mart and got a sheer curtain, had Mom sew up a bag for me and that was it. It probably is not a perfect system, but it makes beer. And in reality isn't that all we really want?
 

olefattguy

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BIAB, for simplicity. I turned allgrain BIAB about a year ago, mainly out of stinginess, I had spent all my beer money on a big urn and a mill...
I hate cleaning the bag, and it does make a bit of a mess when I manually lift it up to drain. I'll soon turn my garage into a brewery and then I'll fix some type of pulley and gallows or something to eliminate the manual lifting.

I have been planning to convert a cooler for the really big beers, like DIPAs and Barley Wines, but I regularly brew (partigyle BIAB) first runnings 1065 IPAs, no problems.
 

djt17

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I have done 10 biab batches; I have now done 12 batches with a cooler & ss braid. I prefer the traditional mash tun; it isn't as messy, I think it's just as easy & I get better efficiency. If you have an old cooler laying around, it isn't much more expensive either.
 

DerekJ

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I have done both and I really don't think you could definatively say that one is better than the other. It is a matter of personal preference. The pros and cons of each have been pointed out. I chose BIAB at first so that I didn't have to purchase additional equipment but I quickly found that large grain bills were a little bit difficult to handle by myself.
 
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