Sous Vide Brewing Experience?

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GoodTruble

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I've been looking into a new setup, and weighing different options (actually, I'm looking for a backup plan because everywhere is out of everything I actually want).

I stumbled across a couple of articles discussing using a sous vide wand for a heating option.



And even a kickstarter for a "brewvide", brewing-specific sous vide heater and pump (which seems awesome if it actually worked)......


.....So, I think I am going to test this method this weekend with a wheat kit. The kit is only a few pounds of actual grains and then 7 pounds if DME. So my plan is to use the sous vide wand to heat the grains and BIAB step mash in a smaller kettle (about 3 gallons of water) and then just dump that wort into a larger kettle with the additional water and DME for a boil (using the stove top).

Has anyone else tried this? Any suggestions?

If it works (and doesn't destory my sous vide wand), my hope is that the sous vode wand mostly frees me up to do other stuff during 2-3 hours of step mash stages. But I'm guessing it will actually just create more problems than it solves. Will see.

Any suggestions/tips/warnings welcome!
 

ITV

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I have sucessfully expermented with a sous vide to control mash temps: Sous Vide Link

The pros were being able to control mash temps with 1 Deg F.
The cons were having the mash level within the limits of the sous vide and not being able to step mashes quickly.

I have since upgraded to a RIMS system that I am very pleased with: RIMS Link
 
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GoodTruble

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@ITV - Thanks for the link. I tried searching "sous vide," but didn't find any threads (which surprised me). - I like the insulation lid you fit around the wand. And the suggestion to keep it below 1 pound o grain per 1.25 quarts of water makes sense.
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, "Search" has never, ever been a strength of any of the forum runners used on HBT. Ever.
Much greater chance of landing somewhere meaningful via Google search...

Cheers!
 

sicktght311

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Way back before my Herms system, i was doing stovetop 3 gallon batches with a sous vide stick. It does well with maintaining mash temps, BUT you will get some temperature stratification unless you're using a pump. I would invest in a small DC solar pump to recirculate through the mash, because the Sous Vide stick's little propeller doesnt move enough liquid aroudn, especially with a thick mash in a mash bag.

Also make sure you put the stick outside of the mash bag. Dont put it directly in the mash
 

ITV

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@ITV - Thanks for the link. I tried searching "sous vide," but didn't find any threads (which surprised me). - I like the insulation lid you fit around the wand. And the suggestion to keep it below 1 pound o grain per 1.25 quarts of water makes sense.
I believe that the default search criteria is only for recent searches. If you go to advanced settings you can specify on a date to start the search.
 

youngdh

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I do it with my 5G BIAB mashes (Target vol into ferm is 3G). I use an Anova sous vide stick inside a stainless hop spider to keep grains out of the device and sucking my BIAB bag into the stick. The sous vide stick isn’t powerful enough to heat up to mash temps but can hold mash temps after heating either with propane or on your stove top. I do wrap my kettle with reflexit insulation wrap especially when it’s cold out.
133FBE45-3646-4CFF-BC2A-45177BFFF2A8.jpeg
 
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GoodTruble

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@youngdh - That's great. I ordered the same hop spider (I think) yesterday, but I hadn't thought about attaching the wand to the hop sider (which allows the wand to sit lower in the kettle). - Do you do anything to stabilize the hop spider so it doesn't spin or tip over?
 

enkamania

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I do it with my 5G BIAB mashes (Target vol into ferm is 3G). I use an Anova sous vide stick inside a stainless hop spider to keep grains out of the device and sucking my BIAB bag into the stick. The sous vide stick isn’t powerful enough to heat up to mash temps but can hold mash temps after heating either with propane or on your stove top. I do wrap my kettle with reflexit insulation wrap especially when it’s cold out. View attachment 736176
I heat my strike water with the sous vide for 6 gallon batches, no problem. Takes longer, but it works.
 

youngdh

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@youngdh - That's great. I ordered the same hop spider (I think) yesterday, but I hadn't thought about attaching the wand to the hop sider (which allows the wand to sit lower in the kettle). - Do you do anything to stabilize the hop spider so it doesn't spin or tip over?
Depending on the volume in the kettle I either hang spider on side of kettle or let it sit on bottom of kettle to ensure the liquid level is between min and max marks on the sous vide stick. For BIAB don’t sit spider on kettle bottom while heating water with gas or electric burner or you might scrotch your bag.
 
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GoodTruble

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Depending on the volume in the kettle I either hang spider on side of kettle or let it sit on bottom of kettle to ensure the liquid level is between min and max marks on the sous vide stick. For BIAB don’t sit spider on kettle bottom while heating water with gas or electric burner or you might scrotch your bag.
I use a raised stainless false bottom (from brewhardware Stainless Steel False Bottom for Brew In a Bag (BIAB) - 13'' Diameter ). So I think I could just set the hop spider on that with no problem. -I'm just worried about it tipping over. And if I hang the spider from the side, I think the minimum water level will be about 7 gallons (which probably too much).

I usually do 4-5 gallon biab mash and then add 1-2 sparge gallons to get 5-6 gallons of post-boil wort into the fermenter). I could just boil more off, but that may eliminate some of the advantages of sous vide altogether.
 

RevDroz

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I've been looking into a new setup, and weighing different options (actually, I'm looking for a backup plan because everywhere is out of everything I actually want).

I stumbled across a couple of articles discussing using a sous vide wand for a heating option.



And even a kickstarter for a "brewvide", brewing-specific sous vide heater and pump (which seems awesome if it actually worked)......


.....So, I think I am going to test this method this weekend with a wheat kit. The kit is only a few pounds of actual grains and then 7 pounds if DME. So my plan is to use the sous vide wand to heat the grains and BIAB step mash in a smaller kettle (about 3 gallons of water) and then just dump that wort into a larger kettle with the additional water and DME for a boil (using the stove top).

Has anyone else tried this? Any suggestions?

If it works (and doesn't destory my sous vide wand), my hope is that the sous vode wand mostly frees me up to do other stuff during 2-3 hours of step mash stages. But I'm guessing it will actually just create more problems than it solves. Will see.

Any suggestions/tips/warnings welcome!
One of the beers I make is an extract kit but with some steeping involved. I use one of my sous vides just for this purpose. It works perfect and I am very pleased with it. I am also going to be using it for biab. I have a basket that I can put my bag in to avoid the bag getting stuck in the sous vide.
 

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I use a raised stainless false bottom (from brewhardware Stainless Steel False Bottom for Brew In a Bag (BIAB) - 13'' Diameter ). So I think I could just set the hop spider on that with no problem. -I'm just worried about it tipping over. And if I hang the spider from the side, I think the minimum water level will be about 7 gallons (which probably too much).

I usually do 4-5 gallon biab mash and then add 1-2 sparge gallons to get 5-6 gallons of post-boil wort into the fermenter). I could just boil more off, but that may eliminate some of the advantages of sous vide altogether.
I'd think if the spider is surrounded by grain it won't tip over. But sure, it's a concern. Maybe something could be rigged up to hold it steady but it becomes extra work.

I'd probably want a lid as well to keep the heat inside. But then you might need to have a sous vide stick that is rated for being submerged if it's sitting in that kind of environment (not submerged on purpose, but could accidentally and may be surrounded by steam and condensation beyond what they normally are subjected to).

On your volumes, you could consider no-sparge and revising your grian bill accordingly. Like always things are a trade-off. Consistency, convenience, cost, time, whatever.
 
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GoodTruble

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Thanks for all the advice/tips.

My new hop spider (from AIH) arrived yesterday. And it occurred to me that with the heat coming from the sous vide wand and not a burner beneath, I don't really need the false bottom grate (I'll just suspend the BIAB by tightening draw string over the kettle handles). That puts the hop spider and sous vide about 3 -4 inches lower and into the perfect 4-6 gallon range. Below are photos with and with out the false bottom. -I will also tie off the sous vide power cord so that if it tips, it won't have enough slack to sink further down).

So hopefully this weekend I will get a chance to try this out. I'm doing a wheat recipe with about 3-4 pounds of grain, and the rest is DME. So I plan to sous vide the grains, and then remove the sous vide (and BIAB), add DME & hops, and boil (I may or may not sparge in an extra gallon). Wish me luck!


27880653-1AD0-4D15-AA37-E1B6E3C54196.jpeg
DBE0DAEE-E753-4FC6-B262-E0E2CADF89A1.jpeg
 

BrewinInPA

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I just tried this, and the sous vide heating coils got Hella gunked with burnt on wort sugar. No idea how the hell I am gonna clean this. Fail.
20210723_182630.jpg
 

ITV

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I just tried this, and the sous vide heating coils got Hella gunked with burnt on wort sugar. No idea how the hell I am gonna clean this. Fail.
Did you recirculate your wort?
A scouring pad with bar keepers friend should bring the shine back.
 
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GoodTruble

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I just tried this, and the sous vide heating coils got Hella gunked with burnt on wort sugar. No idea how the hell I am gonna clean this. Fail.
View attachment 736562
Oof. That's my biggest concern. This would be a minor convenience at best, and gets cancelled out pretty quickly if I ruin the sous vide or have to spend a lot of time cleaning it.

What I read previously was to immediately move sous vide wand to a pot with fresh water and part vinegar and just let it recirculate and clean itself. Did you try anything like that?
 
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BrewinInPA

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I did... the sugar was WAY too burned on. I was able to clean it somewhat with bartenders friend and steel wool, but there was no good way to scrub the inside of the coil. I did a three step mash though, and let the sous vide do all of the heating to the various rests. Perhaps that is what caused the problem. Just holding temps would probably involve the element heating for far less time so less chance of burning on sugar.
 

youngdh

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I'd think if the spider is surrounded by grain it won't tip over. But sure, it's a concern. Maybe something could be rigged up to hold it steady but it becomes extra work.

I'd probably want a lid as well to keep the heat inside. But then you might need to have a sous vide stick that is rated for being submerged if it's sitting in that kind of environment (not submerged on purpose, but could accidentally and may be surrounded by steam and condensation beyond what they normally are subjected to).

On your volumes, you could consider no-sparge and revising your grian bill accordingly. Like always things are a trade-off. Consistency, convenience, cost, time, whatever.
I have a piece of reflexit to lay on top of kettle with a rectangular flap cut out for the top of Sous vide stick to clear. I also turn the display side of stick with adjusting thumb wheel facing away from the flap to prevent steam from collecting on the sous vide display and/or reflexit flap from rolling the adjusting wheel every time I remove the reflexit top to stir the mash a bit (yes, this happened the first time with this set up). Unfortunately I don’t have a picture to post. I do occasionally stir the mash as the sous vide propeller doesn’t always provide a strong enough recirculating depending on the amount of grain in the recipe. It’s better than no recirculating for sure.
 
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GoodTruble

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I did... the sugar was WAY too burned on. I was able to clean it somewhat with bartenders friend and steel wool, but there was no good way to scrub the inside of the coil. I did a three step mash though, and let the sous vide do all of the heating to the various rests. Perhaps that is what caused the problem. Just holding temps would probably involve the element heating for far less time so less chance of burning on sugar.
What was the highest temp you set sous vide? Sounds like you attempted exactly what I was planning to do. Now I'm having second thoughts after seeing your photo. =c)
 

BrewinInPA

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What i did first time worked better. Put an all metal colander at the bottom of the kettle to keep the bag from scorching and wrapped the kettle in a sleeping bag.
 
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Crazy idea that wouldn't be worth it - use the sous vide to heat water that would get pumped through a wort "chiller" that is placed in the mash.
I thought about a double boiler set up where you put mash kettle inside a larger kettle with water controlled by sous vide. But at some point, this becomes too elaborate of a work around to just buying an electric brewer.
 

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This is a reasonable way to hold mash temps in a BIAB rig that will be fired on a burner for the boil phase. I much prefer to electrify the entire kettle including the boil process so in that case, the heat source is already sorted for the mash phase as well. Conversely I find my recirculating eBIAB kettle to be a better Sous Vide rig than any drop in immersion deal out there. Faster heat times and better water movement, not to mention almost unlimited space.
 

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I've been using this technique for years without any real issues - I have an Anova that I bought for cooking and I just attach to the side of the kettle outside the bag. You have to fiddle with the rotation of the device to avoid having the bag sucked in, but once you get it dialed in the temp differential across different parts of the mash is at most 1-2 F. Because I already had the device this was a way to do BIAB for just the cost of the bag.

I haven't seen the issue with caramelized wort burning on - but I haven't tried it with high gravity beers. I'm doing a full-volume mash, so that might be the issue. I just clean it off with PBW (or in a pinch, dish soap...).

Edit: And it can certainly hold 154 F just fine even without kettle insulation, although it can't raise 7.5 gal to strike temp in a reasonable amount of time. I brew stovetop so the Anova is just a little boost for the gas stove.
 
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