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Mash in a bag and slow lautering

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Velnerj

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Hey everyone,

Just finished up another brew day. My set up involves a 5 gallon round Igloo cooler as a mash tun. I used to use a braid to filter the mash but had a few stuck sparges when using wheat and rye etc. Since then I have converted to mash in bag, so instead of my braid I now use a fine mesh bag to mash inside my cooler. But I noticed that my lautering is very slow compared to my old set up with the braid (when I didn't get a stuck sparge!). I believe there is some suction building up as the liquid goes down and I can release it if I lift the bag a bit, but I was wondering if there is an easier and more consistent fix to this issue.

I usually batch sparge (and sometimes double sparge if the recipe calls for it) and makes my mashing/lautering time very long. I believe, after a 60 minute mash it took over an hour to lauter all my wort (this did include two batch sparges with 10 mintue "rests"). I feel like that is too slow, as before I could lauter in just a few minutes.

What might I be doing wrong?

Thanks!
 

Bramling Cross

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I had a similar issue when I ditched my braid for a bag. After a few iterations, I settled on a cheap plastic cutting board, drilled with a great many holes, affixed to the area above the cooler's drain with food grade silicone sealant. While ugly as sin, it's incredibly effective. I can throw the ball valve directly to full open on a full-volume/no sparge mash and it will drain at wide open throttle until empty. Doing this on a wit mash gives you a fleeting glimpse of what pure unadulterated power must feel like.
 
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Velnerj

Velnerj

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I had a similar issue when I ditched my braid for a bag. After a few iterations, I settled on a cheap plastic cutting board, drilled with a great many holes, affixed to the area above the cooler's drain with food grade silicone sealant. While ugly as sin, it's incredibly effective. I can throw the ball valve directly to full open on a full-volume/no sparge mash and it will drain at wide open throttle until empty. Doing this on a wit mash gives you a fleeting glimpse of what pure unadulterated power must feel like.
Well it's good to know I'm not the only one with this issue. I figure mash in a bag is not that novel of an idea there's gotta be a quick fix somehow...

Does that mean you have a false bottom that can't be removed? How do you clean under there?

I might have to explore false bottom ideas as well and see if people are running into the same lautering problems.
 

Bramling Cross

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It isn't really a false bottom, it only covers the area over the drain hole in the cooler. Its sole purpose is to keep the bag from being sucked tight against the outlet and increase the surface area of the bag that has access to the outlet. In that respect, it's more of a large filter screen.

Here are some pictures I snapped in a very dark basement. The lighting isn't terribly flattering to my mash tun--please cut me some slack, it's an old war horse. It actually is pretty clean, it's just stained from over a decade of use and a few hundred batches.

Anyway, you can see how it keeps the bag up and away from the outlet and provides a very large surface area through which the bag can drain. The red "disks" that you see at each corner aren't actually disks, they're just globs of food grade silicone sealant. You can lift up the perforated cutting board easily enough. The silicone is a sealant, not an adhesive. It only serves to cancel the buoyancy of the plastic cutting board and keep it located over the drain.

I'll concede that this is an ugly, Billy Bob approach to the problem. BYO will never feature my Hooptie Rig in the Systems that Make you Drool section of the magazine. Nevertheless, it is extremely effective and has displaced other more cosmetically appealing designs. It's ugly, but it makes beautiful beer.

I hope you find this useful.

IMG_0433.jpg
IMG_0431.jpg
 
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Velnerj

Velnerj

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A picture paints a thousand words. I see now. I was actually thinking about some sort of basket that could fit around the spigot in my cooler. I have a round cooler and the spigot is off to the side so I'd have to be a bit more creative than the plastic cutting board idea.... But I see your proof of concept and I'll probably have to come up with my own but similar solution.
 

hottpeper13

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I put my bazooka screen back in my cooler tun after the first run as mash in a bag. My mill is set to .028 and i can do 70% wheat grain bills and 30% rye without rice hulls and less then a 30 min run off. Just put your original manifold back in and get one of those 18" whisks for stirring.
 
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Velnerj

Velnerj

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I put my bazooka screen back in my cooler tun after the first run as mash in a bag. My mill is set to .028 and i can do 70% wheat grain bills and 30% rye without rice hulls and less then a 30 min run off. Just put your original manifold back in and get one of those 18" whisks for stirring.
Indeed I started that way. But even with the bazooka I was having issues. So I made a modification where I added an elbow joint to mimic a dip tub so that it can take wort out below the spigot line. That worked great but still get the suction issue with the bag...

When you say less than 30 min runoff, that still seems slow to me. I remember running off in 10 min or less... Or am I going crazy and my memory is off? Isn't that speed possible?
 
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Velnerj

Velnerj

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I'm thinking of using a steam basket like the one pictured below. I'd set it on the bottom and put the grain bag on top of it.

Has anyone tried this? Do you think it'll work?
 

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bruce_the_loon

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I'd be a bit worried about those petal-like side panels possibly cutting the bag. It should work as it will lift the bag away from the spigot, allowing for free flow.
 

dwightr8

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I'm thinking of using a steam basket like the one pictured below. I'd set it on the bottom and put the grain bag on top of it.

Has anyone tried this? Do you think it'll work?
I use one in my all-in-one biab setup to keep the bag from contacting the heating element and it works great. Never had a problem with it.
 

marc1

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Since your cooler is round you could also try something like this:


You might be able to get one that's sized perfectly.
 

dwightr8

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Since your cooler is round you could also try something like this:


You might be able to get one that's sized perfectly.
Needs legs.
 

wstumper

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Try adding bolts with nuts to the pressure cooker rack. I do wonder about the strength of those racks. Laying flat on the bottom, or stacked onto top of other jars, works. But with a 5 gallons of water and a bag full of wet grain, it's going to need some strategically spaced supports!
 

hottpeper13

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I'm guessing that because I use a Coleman Extreme with a channel for the drain that mine does what it does. My friend took some silicone 1/2" brewery hose and cut slits facing the bottom and his flo is the same as mine.
 

hamachi

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I have been homebrewing for just a few months now, but I have settled on the following approach to mash-in-a-bag that works well for me and which you might or might not find helpful (and which might or might not be obvious to those of you who have been doing this for much longer than me).

I use a 10 gallon orange round cooler which I line with a bag with a drawstring. After the mash, I tighten the drawstring, lift the bag against the side of the cooler so it's above the wort (and away from the drain), and wrap the end of the bag around the cooler handle to hold the bag up and let it drip.

I don't use a pully or anything to lift the bag up. Rather, I put the cooler in one high-backed chair while I stand on another chair next to it and let the cooler press against the chair back (and my knees supporting the back) while I pull the bag up. This allows me to raise the bag and get it secured against the side of the cooler without lifting its full weight and without tipping over the cooler.

After most of the first run is drained, I tilt the cooler to get the rest. Then I loosen the bag and drop it back down, undo the drawstring and wrap it around the cooler lid, pour in the sparge water, and repeat the process. With this method, there's never any issue of the bag clogging the drain because it's kept well above it and out of the wort.
 

apache_brew

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I switched to mash in bag for similar stuck recirculating sparge reasons. Worrying about there still being blockage issues prior to even using my Wilser bag in my 120 qt cooler, I just built a 3/4" CPVC manifold and slipped it into the drain port. The bag sits on top of the manifold and I can drain the full volume of the mash tun with a wide open valve very fast without any hesitation. The manifold is upside down in the picture for reference. It's all just snugged together, no glue. I crush my grain with a .025" gap on my mill. I don't know what to do with 10 lbs of rice hulls I have left over...

false bottom.jpg
 

Bramling Cross

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Interesting stuff, Apache. I tried a similar rig, but used the old-fashioned hacksaw gill slits technique and it was a disaster. While my current, but undeniably hideous rig works great, you've got me thinking...

At any rate, your rig looks sexy. Mine looks like Danny DeVito in a G-string doing a happy dance.
 
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