max lbs of malt in a 5.5 gallon pot?

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Hoochin'Fool

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I'm contemplating a small-batch BIAB, but all I've got to work with is my 5.5 gallon pot, and a separate 2 gallon pot.
It looks like I should be able to mash up to 10 lbs with a little room to spare, if I'm understanding https://brewgr.com/calculators/mash-tun-capacity correctly,. and to be honest that seems like a lot more than I thought would be possible. What am I missing? Also worth noting, my crappy stove-top can just barely boil 3 gallons.
 
I have a 5.5-gallon pot I do stovetop BIAB in. I've managed to get 9.4 pounds of grain into 4 gallons of water, but it's a very close thing. 6 or 7 pounds in 4 gallons is not a problem, though the pot is pretty full. (Incidentally, given grain absorption and boiloff and true loss and fermenter loss, this gives me around 2.5 gallons into the keg.)
 
I'm contemplating a small-batch BIAB, but all I've got to work with is my 5.5 gallon pot, and a separate 2 gallon pot.
If a 5.5 gallon pot isn't enough for your small batch, then how big a "small" batch are you contemplating? Small to me would be 3 or less gallons into the FV. I started with 1 gallon BIAB and have been doing 2.5 gallon for a while now.

I only mash with about a 1/3 of my water volume and then rinse the bag with the other water by dunking it in the other pots.


Also worth noting, my crappy stove-top can just barely boil 3 gallons.
I also do my small batches on a stove top which barely boils 3 gallons. I actually boil in a 3 gallon stock pot and add make up water as boil off occurs to keep the kettle a little over the 2.5 gallon mark. I add boiling water a quart or so at a time from the microwave or another pot I keep boiling so as not to bring down the temp of the boil kettle.
 
Looks like if you mash at 1.5 qt/lb you should be just over 4.5 gallons... It'll be tight but could work...

You could back off the mash thickness a bit to give yourself a little more breathing room...

Use the 2g pot to heat sparge water for a pour over sparge and to top up during the boil..

You could supplement the boil with a cheap electric heat stick ($15-20 or so on Amazon)
 
If a 5.5 gallon pot isn't enough for your small batch, then how big a "small" batch are you contemplating? Small to me would be 3 or less gallons into the FV.
2.5 to 3 gallon batches would be my intention... I've done 6 all-extract batches (all between 2 and 3 gallons), and am just wondering I could skip most or even all of the extract without having to buy anything else, by going the BIAB and/or partial mash route.

I also do my small batches on a stove top which barely boils 3 gallons. I actually boil in a 3 gallon stock pot and add make up water as boil off occurs to keep the kettle a little over the 2.5 gallon mark. I add boiling water a quart or so at a time from the microwave or another pot I keep boiling so as not to bring down the temp of the boil kettle.
Ooh, I'm stealing this idea - thanks!
 
I think I'm unlikely to ever be BIAB'ing anything over a 3 gallon, 1.065 og wort -- so really likely only 6 lbs of base malt, and maybe a few ounces of some adjuncts that belong in the mash, not the steep. How heavy is the bag of 6 lbs malt plus absorbed water going to be, roughly? Definitely no way the missus is going to let me install a hook in the kitchen ceiling.
 
I think I'm unlikely to ever be BIAB'ing anything over a 3 gallon, 1.065 og wort -- so really likely only 6 lbs of base malt, and maybe a few ounces of some adjuncts that belong in the mash, not the steep. How heavy is the bag of 6 lbs malt plus absorbed water going to be, roughly? Definitely no way the missus is going to let me install a hook in the kitchen ceiling.
I lift the bag with one hand and let it drain for a few seconds, then slip a bowl with a colander inside it under the bag and lift it out of the pot. I press down on the bag of grains with a pot lid to get more wort out, then pour that back into the boil pot. Repeat a couple times and then add cold water to the bag, stirring it into the grains so it absorbs as much sugar as possible, then back to pour the collected wort into the boil pot, using the pot lid again to press out more wort.
 
Definitely no way the missus is going to let me install a hook in the kitchen ceiling.

Eye hook in a stud hidden inside the cabinet above.

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Dunk sparge with half the pre-boil volume.

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This was 3.5 gallons into the fermenter at 1.095 with a 5 gallon kettle.
 

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I think I'm unlikely to ever be BIAB'ing anything over a 3 gallon, 1.065 og wort -- so really likely only 6 lbs of base malt, and maybe a few ounces of some adjuncts that belong in the mash, not the steep. How heavy is the bag of 6 lbs malt plus absorbed water going to be, roughly? Definitely no way the missus is going to let me install a hook in the kitchen ceiling.
How much the bag weighs when lifting will depend on how fast you lift it, as wort will be draining out of the bag as you remove it from the kettle. The slower you lift, the lighter it will be, as more wort will have drained out. However, the slower you lift, the longer you have to hold the bag weight with your arms.

If you mash 6 lbs of grain in 4 gal of water, the mash will weigh: 6 lb + 4 gal * 8.33 lb/gal = 39.3 lb. If you could lift fast enough so that no wort drained before you had it lifted, it would weight almost 40 lb. If you lift slow enough that most of the wort drains while you are lifting (grain absorption of 0.2 gal/lb), then you would leave about 24.4 lb of wort behind, and the bag would weigh about: 39.3 - 24.4 = 14.9 lb. If you then let the bag drain down so that grain absorption drops to 0.1 gal/lb, you would have about 29.6 lb of wort (3.4 gal @ 1.047 SG) in the kettle, and the bag would weight about 39.3 - 29.6 = 9.7 lb.

Brew on :mug:
 
I lift with both hands, brace one hand against the cabinet above the range, and squeeze the bag with the other hand. The bolt in the cabinet idea is genius, though.

If you do even smaller batches, the bag weighs less. When I do 0.25-gallon BIAB, I pick up the bag and squeeze it in one hand.

Welcome to all-grain brewing and BIAB! It’s a ton of fun.
 
I think I'm unlikely to ever be BIAB'ing anything over a 3 gallon, 1.065 og wort -- so really likely only 6 lbs of base malt, and maybe a few ounces of some adjuncts
If your mash efficiency is up in the 90% or better then you'll need far less malt. And if you are aging and getting tired of the higher ABV beers and wanting to tone it down, then you can even get by with just 3lbs of malts or a tad less for a 2.5 to 3.0 gallon brew.

I've not actually calculated what my mash efficiency is for my BIAB. But in order to get the water volume, OG and other things to match in my recipe software to what I actually did, I have to use a 90 - 95% as the Efficiency value.

I mill my own with a very fine grind in a old coffee mill. If I had a roller mill it would be a very fine crush. I have noticed that the finer the grind, the more the bag will plug up if you have a fine mesh bag.
 
You only need to stock six base malts at 55-pound quantities.
You are a little bit more serious into your beer making and/or you have a lot of friends gulping it down.

I've only used one base malt, Rahr 2-row this entire year. Though that's changing now that I'm moving from IPA's and lighter ales to Porters of various styles.

But I've got to use up the remaining Rahr 2-row even if it is somewhat inappropriate country of origin for some of the recipes I'm doing.
 
At that price for 4, I'd just try it and see if you like it. You can get others if they don't work.

I have noticed that the different sellers on Amazon seem to get confused about whether they are reporting the micron or mesh. Different ways to report essentially the same thing but the number will be way different between them.
 
I got this kind of bag when my other 2 wore out.

https://www.menards.com/main/paint/...11-c-8076.htm?tid=-2520785401081124376&ipos=2
I preferred the bags from Home Depot as they were a little coarser weave but they quit carrying them in the 5 or so years it took to wear out a pair. The last brew I did was a wheat beer with oatmeal and that sticky mass of grains just didn't want to give up its wort with the fine mesh.
 
(paint strainer bags from Menards)

I preferred the bags from Home Depot as they were a little coarser weave but they quit carrying them in the 5 or so years it took to wear out a pair. The last brew I did was a wheat beer with oatmeal and that sticky mass of grains just didn't want to give up its wort with the fine mesh.
That's actually what I have currently been using for my steeping grains (and a separate one for pellet hops) -- I've thought the mesh wasn't fine/narrow enough, because it lets a lot of the tiny flecks of grain hulls escape into the beer! My electric coffee-grinder makes it way too easy to pulverize everything into a fine powder.
 
You are a little bit more serious into your beer making and/or you have a lot of friends gulping it down.
2-row, English pale, Pilsner, Munich,Vienna, and wheat! Just the basics. I’m partly kidding the OP, though — “you think one bulk bag takes you down the rabbit hole…”

I need more friends that drink. Overproduction is my big problem. I’ve gotten ruthless about dumping anything sub-standard, and I’m still filling kegs I don’t have taps for yet…
 
How much the bag weighs when lifting will depend on how fast you lift it, as wort will be draining out of the bag as you remove it from the kettle. The slower you lift, the lighter it will be, as more wort will have drained out. However, the slower you lift, the longer you have to hold the bag weight with your arms.

If you mash 6 lbs of grain in 4 gal of water, the mash will weigh: 6 lb + 4 gal * 8.33 lb/gal = 39.3 lb. If you could lift fast enough so that no wort drained before you had it lifted, it would weight almost 40 lb. If you lift slow enough that most of the wort drains while you are lifting (grain absorption of 0.2 gal/lb), then you would leave about 24.4 lb of wort behind, and the bag would weigh about: 39.3 - 24.4 = 14.9 lb. If you then let the bag drain down so that grain absorption drops to 0.1 gal/lb, you would have about 29.6 lb of wort (3.4 gal @ 1.047 SG) in the kettle, and the bag would weight about 39.3 - 29.6 = 9.7 lb.

Brew on :mug:
You are a little bit more serious into your beer making and/or you have a lot of friends gulping it down.

I've only used one base malt, Rahr 2-row this entire year. Though that's changing now that I'm moving from IPA's and lighter ales to Porters of various styles.

But I've got to use up the remaining Rahr 2-row even if it is somewhat inappropriate country of origin for some of the recipes I'm doing.
No reason you can't keep using Rahr 2-row. Most people would be hard pressed to tell the base grain in a Porter.
 
Finally doing this! Other than hand-cranking (cereal killer) 6.5 lbs of grain, seems like it's not all that much more work. I tried using my electric power drill, but it didn't do anything. BIABcalculator.com said I needed 3.8 gallons water at 160F, to get to a mashing temp of 153F -- in actuality, it took about five minutes to cool down to 153. Now I just gotta wait. On a side note, felt like I could have easily fit another 2 to 3 lbs of grain into this amount of water.

Mash done, had a little temperature control issue, but it stayed between 145 and 155 for the full hour. Squeezed the hell out of the bag. A 70% efficiency (I might be misusing the term) suggested I should have a pre-boil gravity of 1.042, but I ended up with 1.048 - not sure how meaningful that slight difference is, but I'm glad it's a few points over the expected, rather than under!

Post-boil gravity was 1.059, recipe was expecting 1.054, so I think that went pretty well.
 
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After it finally cooled down, I was kind of shocked at how much sludge was in the pot, and that came thru the siphon into my bucket. Wish I'd bagged the hops, as that was part of the issue, but wow there was a lotta crap in there! Anything I can do to lessen that in the future?
 
After it finally cooled down, I was kind of shocked at how much sludge was in the pot, and that came thru the siphon into my bucket. Wish I'd bagged the hops, as that was part of the issue, but wow there was a lotta crap in there! Anything I can do to lessen that in the future?

I drain the kettle into a strainer bag in the bucket so I can catch almost all of the hop matter and some of the other sludge. I still end up with a good bit of flour in my bucket, but it packs pretty tight by the end of fermentation.
 
I drain the kettle into a strainer bag in the bucket so I can catch almost all of the hop matter and some of the other sludge. I still end up with a good bit of flour in my bucket, but it packs pretty tight by the end of fermentation.
Google leads me to think my extremely gentle boil might have been a factor in the sludge not really settling down to the bottom of the kettle, is that an actual thing, or just an old wives brewers tale?
 
I have done similar but one 5gal cream can and 3 gallon sparge pot with close to 9.5# stove top for several brews. Used nylon paint strainer for grain mashed in 5gal and rinsed in 3gal. Stirring is essential in both mash and rinse. Even after all said and done I had to boil some wort in separate kettle as the 5gal was not big enough to contain it all. And honestly some of the best beers I have made were done this way.
 
After it finally cooled down, I was kind of shocked at how much sludge was in the pot, and that came thru the siphon into my bucket. Wish I'd bagged the hops, as that was part of the issue, but wow there was a lotta crap in there! Anything I can do to lessen that in the future?
Sure! Close your eyes as you dump it all into the fermenter. The yeast seem to like at least some of what is in that "sludge". Let the yeast have all the time they want so they can do their thing, give them more time to clump up and settle out, and a little more time for the "sludge" to compact in the bottom of the fermenter. Once it is compacted you can siphon the beer off above the "sludge" and discard it when finished.
 
Followup: The 5.5 gal pot can fit 7.5 lbs grain and 3.5 gal water easily (BIAB), and I bet I could make up to 9 lbs grain work. Biggest upgrade was getting some Reflectix insulation (or this cheap alternative) to keep my mash temp stable, and make it possible to get a good boil going, even with more than 3 gal water.
Still haven't purchased my first 50 lb sack yet, but probably soon :D
 
Would a 5 gal bucket be big enough to store 55 lbs of base malt? How about a 6 gal bucket? Does anyone use those little desiccant packs to keep moisture out of their grain?
Two 6 gallon buckets would do it. I use two 5 gallons and standard lids, and have a little bit left over. I leave that in the bag and tape it up; use it in my next brew.
 
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