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Tamaster

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If you had only a single thing to spend your money on to make great BIAB beer, what would it be? The "key" component?
 

jtratcliff

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A big enough kettle for full volume mashing and a quality bag (I use a Wilserbrewer bag 😉, so I agree with Mike, shameless plug not withstanding. 😀 )
 

andrewmaixner

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Without knowing what you have, that's an effectively impossible-to-answer question.
 

cyclonebeer

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A heat source other than your wife's stove. keep peace in the family.
 

schematix

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There's no "1" thing...

A basic list though
1. Fermentation temp control
2. Reverse Osmosis water system (i think this is as important as fermentation temp control)
3. Full volume mashing (wish i had considered this when i built my system!)
4. Mash temp control (must have ability to step mash)
5. Erlenmeyer flasks and stir plates to grow mass quantities of yeast
6. Kegging set up
 

eric19312

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Fermentation temp control far and away sets your limit on quality. Rest of that stuff is nice to have but if it was between an extract brewer with solid temp control and a brewer with everything else on shematix's list and no temp control I'd bet on the extract brewer.
 

schematix

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Fermentation temp control far and away sets your limit on quality. Rest of that stuff is nice to have but if it was between an extract brewer with solid temp control and a brewer with everything else on shematix's list and no temp control I'd bet on the extract brewer.
No matter which route you go temperature control of the fermentation is #1.

If the choice is between extract brewing with temp control, or all grain without, i would choose to buy commercial beer. Cost is the same and quality is almost always better.
 

eric19312

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No matter which route you go temperature control of the fermentation is #1.

If the choice is between extract brewing with temp control, or all grain without, i would choose to buy commercial beer. Cost is the same and quality is almost always better.
Actually around batch 75 I went back and brewed an extract batch. It was excellent. I find extract boring and expensive, but it is capable of making good beer.
 

schematix

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I almost made an extract lager for my last brew (#72) a few weeks ago... in the end i decided that 18lbs of Marris Otter was cheaper than 5lbs of DME and would result in a better product, so i just did it all grain instead.

Maybe one day i'll try it again for kicks.
 

kh54s10

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A heat source other than your wife's stove. keep peace in the family.
If you are outside a boilover can be cleaned with a hose.

There's no "1" thing...

A basic list though
1. Fermentation temp control
2. Reverse Osmosis water system (i think this is as important as fermentation temp control)
3. Full volume mashing (wish i had considered this when i built my system!)
4. Mash temp control (must have ability to step mash)
5. Erlenmeyer flasks and stir plates to grow mass quantities of yeast
6. Kegging set up
Good water is key, reverse osmosis is not necessary if your municipal water is good. And it is expensive.

Step mashing gives you options but is not necessary to make good beer.

Cut down some cypress trees, cut into lumber, build wooden mash tun, and brew more traditionally. ;)
Or mash in an animal water trough, then stir with your magic yeast stick.

No matter which route you go temperature control of the fermentation is #1.

Most definitely. This, if it doesn't make your best beers better, it will certainly make your average beer better and all of them more consistent.

If the choice is between extract brewing with temp control, or all grain without, i would choose to buy commercial beer. Cost is the same and quality is almost always better.
Extract is expensive, but if you have good water, use quality, fresh ingredients there is no reason your extract beers shouldn't be just as good as an all grain beer. The key is temperature control for both.
 

lump42

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There's no "1" thing...

A basic list though
1. Fermentation temp control
2. Reverse Osmosis water system (i think this is as important as fermentation temp control)
3. Full volume mashing (wish i had considered this when i built my system!)
4. Mash temp control (must have ability to step mash)
5. Erlenmeyer flasks and stir plates to grow mass quantities of yeast
6. Kegging set up
3. I don't think full volume is key, you can make great beer with a more traditional mash volumes and sparging is still an option with BIAB

4. Great beer can still be made with single temp infusions done all the time with or without BIAB

5. Yeast propagation isn't necessary since multiple packs could be used instead. Or a growler/ gallon jug could easily be used to propagate with shaking.

6. Bottling has its merits. Some people actually prefer it and find it relaxing.

I would say the "key" component for specific to BIAB beer would be a large enough kettle to hold the mash and a bag. Quality is really nice but not necessary for great beer. I think someone could make great BIAB beer lining a bucket with a paint strainer bag as long as their other practices are sound. It's more how you use the equipment than what equipment you have.
 

applescrap

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If you had only a single thing to spend your money on to make great BIAB beer, what would it be? The "key" component?
Did I already mention water, yep water is "key"

Let me clarify, imho if one was to take bad water and ingredients, but control that fermentation temperature....the beer would be FAR worse than one who used the best water and ingredients without fermentation temperature control, within reasonable limits of course.
 

tofuguy

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Here was my progression into homebrewing...

1. Extract kits on stove top
2. Propane burner
3. All grain with cooler mash tun
4. Yeast starter
5. Keezer
6. Fermentation chamber
7. eBIAB setup

If I did it over again... Fermentation chamber would be sooner. And I would have skipped the cooler mash tun setup and done a propane based BIAB.
 
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Tamaster

Tamaster

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I would have to say that lump42 has the answer that seems like the right one.
Kettle and Bag
And the kettle needs to have a heavy duty multi-ply bottom for more even heating and less scorching the bag.
 

patsan

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A really good lift system! It is a pain in the a$$ to lift 18lbs of grain by hand out of the pot. My lift has made my beer life so much easier. Plus I can do the brew without any help. All it took was a board, ladder and a cable. Works perfectly!

Brewing is therapy on steroids!
 

crunch1224

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If you had only a single thing to spend your money on to make great BIAB beer, what would it be? The "key" component?
It takes more the (one thing) to make great beer. To even try to answer your question is like playing with a loaded gun.

I would have to say the most important thing you need to make great beer is knowledge. All the equipment in the world doesnt make a damn bit of difference if dont understand the craft.
 

mongoose33

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It takes more the (one thing) to make great beer. To even try to answer your question is like playing with a loaded gun.

I would have to say the most important thing you need to make great beer is knowledge. All the equipment in the world doesnt make a damn bit of difference if dont understand the craft.
This, of course, is absolutely true. OP might be better served by thinking about process instead of equipment. When one does that, the equipment needs become apparent:

Here are the things that, IMO, have the greatest potential impact on one's beer (and BIAB isn't the important part--if you're doing all-grain, it's the same for BIAB and 3-vessel systems).

1. Fermentation temperature control. Implies some controlled cooling mechanism, though you can do it with a swamp cooler.

2. Mash temperature control. Implies some way to insulate the mash tun or BIAB kettle, or to apply additional heat to a cooling mash, but also a way to reliably measure temperature. A good thermometer, plus either a cooler or insulated vessel matters here.

3. Water. You may get lucky and have local water that works for the kind of beers you're brewing, but many do not (I don't). I use mostly RO water as my brewing liquor (starting water), but I also work to ensure it has the right mix of minerals plus alkalinity. Implies, if you're really focused on water, a pH meter to assess this and adjust it.

4. A big enough kettle for boiling and, if you're doing BIAB (as you are), to hold the strike water and grist without making a mess. For a 5-gallon batch, implies a kettle that's 10 gallons minimum.

It is said by many (and I think they're right) that fermentation temperature control is the biggest leap a new brewer can make in quality of his/her beer. Even that can likely be done for the most part by a swamp cooler, which is a very inexpensive option.
 
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Tamaster

Tamaster

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O.K. Parameters Check
BIAB Equipment
Assume knowledge is not an issue (experienced brewer)
Simplification of the PROCESS is the goal (Mash, Sparge, Boil)

I realize that brewing is Art and Science, but let's just keep the discussion on BIAB focus.

It's about simplification isn't it?

Maybe I've got it all wrong and thermometer and refractometer are the answers.

I'm asking the question here because I want to know what experienced BIAB brewers would have bought first if they had to do it all over again.
 

JONNYROTTEN

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Lots of talk of fermentation control but it seems like lately people are going out the ideal temp range using lager yeast at ale temps with good results and stating yeast is most versatile than we give it credit for
 

mongoose33

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Lots of talk of fermentation control but it seems like lately people are going out the ideal temp range using lager yeast at ale temps with good results and stating yeast is most versatile than we give it credit for
I think you can do that if the style and malt bill is ok.

I brew a California Commons at ale temps (64 degrees) using Wyeast 2112 or WL810.

I also brew a Rye beer using the same yeast at ale temps. That's a wonderful beer.

But I'm not allowing the temperature to rise into the upper 60s or low 70s which, depending on the vigor of the fermentation, the wort might rise to.

I still think it's worth controlling ferm temp, and the lager yeast at ale temps is kind of a different question.
 

deks77

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i bought one of those kits from my lhbs.. then i bought a small fridge (30 bucks on offer up) and temp controller. I live in the south. Ale at room temps taste like crap..Its like smoking meats up north you get a better cold smoke than what we do. Then i Bought a burner and a bigger pot.. I got coolers from work they threw them away cause the spigots where leaky then I bought two bags and its been down hill.. lol

I could totally do homebrew up north without a temp control. it doesn't help here that swamp coolers dont work in the humidity.. how are you gonna evaporate water into saturated air..
 

ebstauffer

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Temp control. Fridge
+1. You should read "Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation". (http://amzn.com/B00FE0LQ9A) and you'll realize how important the fermentation portion of beer making is. My beer quality took a huge jump after I (1) pitched the correct amount of yeast cells and (2) controlled fermentation temp.

To answer the OP, a big basket and hoist from Harbor Freight made my life oh so much simpler.
 

fragged

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Well that's not really BIAB specific....I temp control w/ fridge, perhaps ice, or perhaps a month that has an R....

Back at the OP's question, I would have to say a quality BIAB bag.....ok shame me for a self indulgent plug.....
Thanks
Wilser
After using mine for the first time yesterday, I'll say this plug is well earned. The thing that bothered me most about BIAB was apparently the old bag I was using. Being able to fit the bag over my kettle and cinch it down, along with being able to suspend the bag so I can work with it (read: squeeze the hell out of it) made all the difference in the world to my brew day.
 
OP
Tamaster

Tamaster

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Thanks to everyone who has commented on my question.
I have been acquiring what I consider to be the most important pieces for my eventual move to a hybrid extract/grain brew process.
I realize that there are tradeoffs to be considered, but for me this seems to be the best path to take.
 
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