Sous Vide BIAB

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
I'm new to home brewing and decided to bypass extracts and go straight to BIAB.

My wife and I bought a sous vide machine a few years back. We used it a couple of times then it got stored away.

When researching BIAB, I read a lot about temperature control and the sous vide immediately came to mind. I watched a few videos of people using the machine directly in the mash, but the sous vide is designed to heat water to a stable temp forming a bath to cook.

So, this is the approach I took. After, adding my grain to the brew bag, I moved it to a sous vide bath in a cooler. Here is a pic:



The logistics involved were a bit more complicated than the photo implies.
 
Last edited:

Frilock

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 9, 2007
Messages
164
Reaction score
52
Neat.

I had thought about doing something like that, only without the continuous heat. Just add a bunch of water to +1 my desired mash temp to the cooler, heat strike water to normal put the pot in the water, mash in and throw a blanket over the top. I like your idea better though! :mug:
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Hey, thanks! It worked really well at maintaining the temperature in the pot. Plus, I already had the sous vide sitting around not being used.

The tricky part was finding a pot and cooler that fit together. I wanted to brew 2.5 gallon batches for a number of reasons and that made it easier. This is a 26 quart turkey cooker($50) and a big Igloo cooler($25). It would be trickier with bigger batches.

Another thing was the setup. The water level has to be high enough for the sous vide to work. With no pot inside the cooler, the water isn't high enough. Luckily, I had a similar pot that I loaded with bricks while heating my strike water. I also put bricks in the bottom of the cooler to displace more water. The pot sits on top of these bricks.

Finally, it is much easier to heat the water to 150 and add it to the sous vide bath. It is great at maintaining a temp, but slow to heat it up.

Overall, I don't know if this is easier than other methods, but after the setup, it was pretty much dialed in for an hour.
 

shetc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2013
Messages
2,235
Reaction score
2,041
What do you think would be the max volume of a full volume Mash BIAB that the Anova could handle?
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
I think it could do a big batch, since it is circulating and only maintaining a temperature.

The challenge might be finding a bigger insulated container to hold a bigger pot without lots of dead space. However, dead space can be reduced like I did by adding bricks or maybe rocks. Really, the pot just needs to be surrounded by water, not necessarily a lot of water.

I cleaned the bricks really well to make sure crap didn't circulate in my sous vide.
 

SirMontalbon

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
21
Reaction score
3
Great use of a sous vide, especially if you no longer use it. IIRC, the Anova has an 800 watt heating element. NutriChef makes one a little cheaper with a 1200 watt heating element, incase anyone else wants to try this method with a little more heating and temp holding power. Plus, it makes a mean steak or perfectly poached egg!
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Thanks!

I have the second half of my 5 gallon grain bill left to try it again. This time I may just add the strike water and stick the pot in my big cooler with the lid on it. This first time I didn't sparge and started with 3.75 gallons. I ended up a little short of 2.5 gallons. This time I am going to mash it with 3 gallons and sparge it with a gallon. I have a strainer that fits well on top of my pot that I was thinking I would put the graain in to sparge after squeezing the bag.

Also, I used a siphon to get it into my carboy. This time I am going to pour it through a huge funnel with a paint strainer inside.
 

shetc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2013
Messages
2,235
Reaction score
2,041
11 gallon Bayou Classic with basket plus bag, wrapped in Reflectix. Will it mash with the Anova?

20170808_215837.jpg
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
I am only using the Anova to heat and circulate the water surrounding the pot. It is not in the pot itself with the mash. I'd say it would be way too much effort to make a bath tub that big and heat the water so the Anova could maintain it.
 

koolvik91

New Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2017
Messages
2
Reaction score
1
I read through the thread, including your initial post in which you mentioned that the sous vide is designed to heat water to a stable temp forming a bath to cook, and am wondering if that is your only reason for not using the Anova directly in the wort?

I have searched online and I think we all have come across the same 5-10 instances of people using the Anova (or other sous vide circulator) directly in the wort, along with the BIAB method to keep the grains away from the Anova. It seems like it works well and does not impart any unwanted flavors on the beer. And from what I understand, the primary mechanics of the device are further up in the unit, out of the water, so the lubricating oils or other unwanted "stuff" do not contaminate the wort.

...

On a separate note, for your "double boiler" method (I know you are not actually doing the boil that way), you should search Amazon or online for sous vide insulating balls. I just came across them after reading through various links, and they seem like they might work to help your water bath maintain its heat better, since they would limit the surface area of the water bath that is in contact with the air, and thereby limit heat transfer/loss. I think.
 

Ajae

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
120
Reaction score
17
Location
Woodbridge
I've done this with some of my small batches, my setup is a bit different. I just heat up water to my mash temp and put it into a cooler, then stick sous vide machine into it. I then dump bag with grains directly into cooler and mash for 60mins. Then drain off and rinse grain with sparge water. With these small batches in usually just do full volume mash, however with a bigger batch I would do something like 1.4qt to pound or higher. If the mash is too thick the wort will burn on the heating elements.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Hey koolvik91!

I choose to keep the Anova out off the wort for two reasons.

1. I didn't want risk ruining it with gooey wort.
2. I think I read somewhere that the mash needs to soak and not be constantly circulating.

I did another brew day without the sous vide and just set the pot directly in the warmed up cooler with the lid closed. It wasn't near as exact and I had to add boiling get water to the cooler to keep the temp up above 150. I was constantly monitoring it. With the sous vide it was set it and forget it. However, the setup time on the sous vide bath may not be worth the effort.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,533
Reaction score
5,301
Location
Solway
Hey koolvik91!

I choose to keep the Anova out off the wort for two reasons.

1. I didn't want risk ruining it with gooey wort.
2. I think I read somewhere that the mash needs to soak and not be constantly circulating.

I did another brew day without the sous vide and just set the pot directly in the warmed up cooler with the lid closed. It wasn't near as exact and I had to add boiling get water to the cooler to keep the temp up above 150. I was constantly monitoring it. With the sous vide it was set it and forget it. However, the setup time on the sous vide bath may not be worth the effort.
How long did it take to get complete conversion? Once conversion is complete, exact temperature isn't as important. You may be working hard to do something that doesn't need done.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
I have no idea. I just let it sit for an hour at about 150F. First time I used all the water and squeezed afterward. The last time I used 3/4 of my water and rinsed(sparged) with 1/4 with little squeezing.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,533
Reaction score
5,301
Location
Solway
I have no idea. I just let it sit for an hour at about 150F. First time I used all the water and squeezed afterward. The last time I used 3/4 of my water and rinsed(sparged) with 1/4 with little squeezing.
Most people do not have any idea of how long it takes to get conversion. It isn't simple to know as the crush of the grain can vary the amount of time it takes. I've used iodine to check for remaining starches in the grain particles as an indicator of conversion and found it to be incredibly quick on grains that are milled finely. The water in the mash must gelatinize (wet through) the starches for conversion to happen. Many people get their grains milled at the LHBS and that may be a bit coarse but it does avoid the stuck mash or sparge. For them the mash needs to be an hour long or more. Unless you test your grains you should just keep on mashing for the hour.

I mill the grain very fine. With that I get full conversion in much less than an hour. I don't mash longer than half an hour any more and may cut that time some if I'm in a hurry. I still don't recommend that anyone else mash for less than half an hour and even that should only be done if one knows that the conversion is complete.
 

wilserbrewer

BIAB Expert Tailor
HBT Sponsor
Joined
May 25, 2007
Messages
11,256
Reaction score
2,816
Location
New Jersey
I applaud your effort coming up with a unique and effective method to keep a stable mash temp, I really do.

But for my lazy self it sounds like too much effort.

For small batch brewing I would strike and get the mash reasonably close to temp and place the pot in a pre warmed oven and be done with it.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Ha, I agree! It was fun once, but way too much effort to do every time.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Is my innovation enough to get a trial version of your biab bag? I have been using the competitor's and have just become aware of yours. It would be interesting to compare.

I used mine this last weekend for hops as well after seeing a video recommending it. It worked fine, but I'm not too thrilled about the residue and cleanup.
 

SanPancho

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
2,511
Reaction score
718
Location
SF
i use mine in the mash. not a problem. cleans easily.

i think what you are missing is that fact that you can now do extended whirlpool/hop stands. dump the hot mash temp water and fill with fresh cool water. put the kettle back inside and you got stabilized temps.

i usually do something like a hop addition at 190, then set the unit for 180. when it beeps i set it for like 170. that way i can keep some sort of track of how fast its cooling on its own vs how much i need the unit to keep the temps up.

now i need to figure out a cooler that will hold my kettle......
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Does this mean after the boil you are steeping and whirlpooling the hops before chilling? Pardon my newbness.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
I may give this a try. My wort is pretty low in my kettle though, so I will have to rig up a diy bracket for the Anova to keep it at the right level.

Does it improve the taste of the beer vs. just throwing the flameout hops in, waiting a few minutes, then chilling?
 

SanPancho

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
2,511
Reaction score
718
Location
SF
you dont have to put it in the kettle. you can keep it outside in the cooler like you had it set up, and just give the wort a good swirl with a spoon every 5 minutes or so for actual whirlpooling the wort.

if you dont stir like a crazy man and introduce a bunch of oxygen then yes i think whirlpool is better than just hopstand (tossing at flameout and letting them sit). seems to get better extraction vs just letting them sit. your mileage may vary.
 

christyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2012
Messages
508
Reaction score
69
Location
Chino Hills
I have a slightly different method of utilizing an Anova. I deem it my "Ghetto eHerms". Basically, I heat my sparge water to 180 on a burner while my mash water is heating with the Annova. I dump my sparge into my cooler to preheat my cooler, then after a few minutes, transfer it to my boil kettle for the short term. If the Anova has not heated the strike (it hasn't, it's slow to heat a few gallons of water), I finish off on the burner, transfer to the cooler, dump in and stir my grains, then check temps. I transfer my sparge to a waiting old, smaller, boil kettle, where I put the Anova and my old wort chiller. I hook up the outlet of my MT to the inlet of a cheap little pump off amazon ($25 - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01G305PK0/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20), then into my old wort chiller sitting in the sparge water with the annova, then back into the mash tun through one of those little spray tips binder clipped to the top of my MT. I set the Annova to around 3-4 deg over my mash, and hope that my once 180 deg sparge from the preheat is cooled enough now. If not, I'll run the pump and it will pull heat from it fairly quick, or add ice to drop it. The Anova keeps it at mash temp, i get to circulate and clarify my wort, and keep my sparge water warm. I can't exactly "Mash Out" with this, but the boil will handle that. Once the mash/sparge rests are complete, I just move the pump outlet to my kettle, through my hop screen to catch any stray grain.

20170416_130330_resized.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
l believe the technique I described in my original post would be really good for step mashing. I brewed a hefeweizen today that used the following mash schedule:

Protein Rest: 122° F for 20 minutes
Beta Sacch’ Rest: 149° F for 30 minutes
Alpha Sacch’ Rest: 158 F for 30 minutes
Mashout: 170° F for 10 minutes

It was a pain in the butt to try and raise to the correct temp and maintain with my standard BIAB technique. I am going to try it again with the sous vide bath. The sous vide doesn't raise temps very fast, buy I should be able to get from 122 to 149 quickly by draining some water from my cooler and adding boiling water. I have one of those water boiling pitchers that makes this very easy.

Also, I have been using the sous vide for post boil hop addition whirpooling as suggested. It works great!
 

farmersteve

Active Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
7
Location
Woodinville
I have have completely switched to a sous vide + BIAB or Full Volume mash (depending on grain bill and me buying a larger pot). It's pretty effortless and I don't know why anyone wouldn't give it a shot if they have the sous vide equipment already.

I'm a lazy brewer so what I don't want to lift a bunch of pots and move water around. If I am doing a Sous Vide/BIAB in a single pot. I'll just put the water in the pot and put the sous vide (Anova in my case) in the water and set it for strike temperature a couple hours before I want to get things going. When I hit strike temperature, I dump the grains in.

What I do different is I stick the Anova DIRECTLY into the mash. People might gasp in horror but what ends up happening is that the vast majority of the grain sinks to the bottom and doesn't go through the circulation motor. I've tried putting the heater outside the bag and also in a hop spider, but after I tried it this way I said why bother. I know it might wear out the motor slightly quicker, but I heard from someone else around these part and he said he burned out his and contacted Anova and they sent him a new one!

I've done step mashes with it and I always do a mashout. In the picture below, I did it in my cooler with a false bottom and full volume mash. Then I drained after mashout but the steps are the same for BIAB. People say I could just put the lid on and be fine which is true also, but what the hell these things are only $100 and if I make it through 20 mashes I figured it's paid for itself...

IMG_2821.jpg
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Sounds great. A guy at my LHBS told me the mash shouldn't circulate. I can't remember if he said why, but that kept me from trying your method. I have been sticking mine in the wort for hop whirlpooling. It doesn't seem to have a problem with it. I just give it a good rinsing afterwards.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
After my post above I read a bunch of threads on stirring mash and it seems the main issue people have is with heat loss. Of course, with the sous vide, that isn't a problem. Also, some mentioned that commercial brewery mash tuns have stirring mechanisms. So, I'm definitely giving your method a try.

I have a few issues though:

1. My kettle is tall and the sous vide doesn't reach the liquid. I've been tying it to my kettle handle and lowering it in for whirlpooling, but I guess I need to make a special mount.

2. How do you keep the bag from sucking in to the sous vide?

3. Is it super slow doing a step mash? With the outside cooler method I can just drain some water and add boiling water to quickly get to the next step.

Thanks!
 

farmersteve

Active Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
7
Location
Woodinville
After my post above I read a bunch of threads on stirring mash and it seems the main issue people have is with heat loss. Of course, with the sous vide, that isn't a problem. Also, some mentioned that commercial brewery mash tuns have stirring mechanisms. So, I'm definitely giving your method a try.

I have a few issues though:

1. My kettle is tall and the sous vide doesn't reach the liquid. I've been tying it to my kettle handle and lowering it in for whirlpooling, but I guess I need to make a special mount.

2. How do you keep the bag from sucking in to the sous vide?

3. Is it super slow doing a step mash? With the outside cooler method I can just drain some water and add boiling water to quickly get to the next step.

Thanks!
1. I have seen some people use a hop spider if you can't get the heater into the liquid. Just plop it in there without attaching it to anything. Most hop spiders are much deeper than the Anova.

2. When I've done BIAB/Sous Vide and just stick the heater in the liquid in the bag I've never had any problems.

3. Yes, it's slower, but more precise (I could never get the temperatures right when I dumped boiling water in) and completely hands free as you can change the temperature remotely through bluetooth.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,533
Reaction score
5,301
Location
Solway
After my post above I read a bunch of threads on stirring mash and it seems the main issue people have is with heat loss. Of course, with the sous vide, that isn't a problem. Also, some mentioned that commercial brewery mash tuns have stirring mechanisms. So, I'm definitely giving your method a try.

I have a few issues though:

1. My kettle is tall and the sous vide doesn't reach the liquid. I've been tying it to my kettle handle and lowering it in for whirlpooling, but I guess I need to make a special mount.

2. How do you keep the bag from sucking in to the sous vide?

3. Is it super slow doing a step mash? With the outside cooler method I can just drain some water and add boiling water to quickly get to the next step.

Thanks!
1. Your batch size is just too small. There isn't anything magical about a 5 gallon batch. Just a little calculation and you can easily brew a 6 gallon batch if that is what it takes to reach the liquid.

3. There are several ways to get a faster heating for a step mash. First it to forget about it. Most people cannot tell the difference between a step mash and a single infusion. Second is exterior heating supplement. Third is starting a little short on the mash water and add boiling to bring the temp up part way quickly, then use your sous vide to get the precision you desire. Fourth would be a decoction mash with the sous vide providing the final push to get the precise temp.
 

farmersteve

Active Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
7
Location
Woodinville
I wish I could lobby anova to change the device to allow for a longer drop into liquid. Not sure what that would look like and also allow a larger gap for the screw on holder. Some coolers are thicker than the gap allows.

I agree on the step mash thing. I just do a mash around 150 most of the time and then mashout at 168. I think there is a Brulosphy experiment where he can't tell the difference between step mashing and a single temperature mash. I'm not sure he even does a mashout with his setup.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,533
Reaction score
5,301
Location
Solway
I wish I could lobby anova to change the device to allow for a longer drop into liquid. Not sure what that would look like and also allow a larger gap for the screw on holder. Some coolers are thicker than the gap allows.

I agree on the step mash thing. I just do a mash around 150 most of the time and then mashout at 168. I think there is a Brulosphy experiment where he can't tell the difference between step mashing and a single temperature mash. I'm not sure he even does a mashout with his setup.
Unless you are fly sparging there isn't any need for a mash out. You'll be draining the mash tun before the mash out would have any effect.
 

christyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2012
Messages
508
Reaction score
69
Location
Chino Hills
I don't feel like an Annova can get anywhere NEAR quick enough times for step mashing or mashouts for my liking. Agreed on the mashout being unnecessary, enzymes will be denatured in the quickly ensuing boil. You always want to be circulating/agitating your mash if possible, the only reason not to, for me, was to get the grain bed settled for batch sparges, with this, the recirc sets the bed just fine. I made a very rudimentary hanger for mine using a few bucks worth of steel strap from the hardware store. I'll try to take a pic if anyone's interested.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
I'm completely committed to 2.5 gallon batches. Too many reasons to list. Here is my "rudimentary hanger" to give farmersteve's method a try:

IMG_20170928_190136.jpg
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Also, I have a larger aluminum pot that is bigger than this stainless steel kettle I brew in. I think I will use it as a double boiler to raise the heat between steps on my hef. I even went out and bought a 5 gallon carboy to give me extra headspace for my 2.5 gallon batch. Between trub and the crazy hefeweizen yeast I'll need it. I usually ferment in a 3 gallon carboy.
 
OP
oddcopter

oddcopter

Active Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
41
Reaction score
17
Double boiler farmersteve method works great. I tried it today. Double boiler ramps fast and the Anova holds the mash temp. No clogs.

IMG_20170930_154403.jpg
 

farmersteve

Active Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
7
Location
Woodinville
Hey that's cool. I never thought about a double boiler, but with the Anova I would think it could keep up with temperatures of an uninsulated pot. I routinely do mine in an 8 gallon SS kettle without insulation and don't have any trouble keep up the temperatures.
 

kyosho

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
Messages
48
Reaction score
11
Location
Helsinki
Damn! Why haven't I thought about this the other way! I thought of buying to me a sous vide machine but they cost 120€ here and I have Bulldog brewery that I could use to make some nice meat! Now I have to buy a vacuum machine :)
 
Top