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jfowler1

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It’s been a while since I made a long post on HBT…

I have been brewing all grain for about 15 years. This means 2 things - one, I am old and two, I built my brewery to be a three vessel, 2 pump, fly sparge system. I became re-engaged with the brewing community over the past couple years, and found that even people who mocked BIAB 10 years ago now love BIAB.

Personally, I love the time and equipment savings that BIAB offers, but I hated the idea of pulling the grain bag, plus I already made a large investment in equipment - with that, my 2 Vessel No Sparge system was born. I think it’s the best of both worlds. I’ll walk you though the process with a couple staged pictures.

My HLT/Boil Kettle is the vessel on the left, and my MLT is on the right.

First, the full volume of brewing water is added to the HLT. It is treated with campden tablets, brewing salts, and lactic acid. I use my propane burner to bring the water up to strike temperature. Meanwhile, I mill the grain and add it to the dry Mash Tun. When strike temp is reached, I pump from HLT to Mash Tun, under letting the grain bed. The full volume of water (30 liters) is added to the mash. My kettles are 42 quart, and I brew 5 gallon batches at moderate gravity. Capacity has not been a problem for me. The few ounces of strike water lost to dead space in the HLT can stay right where it is, and it will blend back into the batch after mash is drained. I give the mash a gentle stir, confirm I am happy with temp, cover the MLT and walk away.



After about an hour, I rearrange the two hoses to begin recirculating the mash. I tend to like my beers dried out, so I mash low(149/150), and after at least a 60 minute rest, I begin adding heat while recirculating (via gas burner beneath my MLT) to take me through the higher conversion temps. I kill the heat when mash out temp is reached. This heated recirculating step is probably 15-20 minutes. A more committed brewer could set up the MLT to provide constant temp control during the entire rest through a RIMS tube or a kettle rims (like the gas controlled brew commander), but I really just don’t care to deal with those things these days. The temperature seems to stay pretty stable in a 42 quart kettle that is covered and nearly filled to the brim.



When recirculation is complete, I connect the pump output to the inlet on my boil kettle. The full volume of wort begins to drain and pump from the mash. My bittering hop charge comes via a first wort hop addition. As soon as wort starts to flow, I add my hops and fire up the kettle.



I boil for 60 minutes. At the end of boil, I’ll kill the heat and use a spoon to create a bit of a whirlpool. This is a good time for final hop additions, whirlfloc, nutrient, etc. After about 10 minutes, I drop in my immersion chiller, start chilling, and connect the bouncer to filter out rogue hops on the way to the fermentor. When I am happy with the temp, I gravity drain to my fermentor.



That’s it!

Oh, and remember that third vessel I had…

Well, while batch 1 is in the mash tun, the strike water for batch two is being treated and brought up to temp. As soon as my mash is drained into the boil kettle, I dump the spent grain, add back the fresh dry grain for batch two, and start the process all over again with my third kettle acting as HLT/BK. It’s a very efficient way to make two (or 3) different batches of beer on brew day. There are opportunities for me to speed things up, but with zero cut corners, I can make 3 unique all grain beers (set up to cleaning and pitching) in 8 hours.

Here is a series of pictures to represent batch 2:



I hope someone finds this process interesting, and I am happy to hear any questions or comments.

Thanks for reading!
 
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SonomaBrewer

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Have been thinking about a similar process, really appreciate your sharing this approach @jfowler1. This is a lot like a k-RIMS setup.

I've gone from 3V to eBIAB, and while I don't mind the reduction in efficiency that comes with full infusion, I really don't enjoy pulling the bag and would like to mash in a more heat-efficient vessel (considering SS Brewtech Infussion Mash Tun) so as avoid the need to periodically heat the mash to keep temp.

How much do you find that you have to heat the MLT to keep mash temp (you hinted that using RIMS might help)?
 
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jfowler1

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When I was using a 3 vessel fly sparge, I would put 5 gallons of water in my mash + 10-12 lbs of grain. The tun was maybe 75% full. Sometimes I would start a recirc after 30 minutes, other times I’d start after 60.

The biggest temp battles I had would be from the days with recirculating after 30. It’s nice that my system allows me to heat the mash, but it was still a bit of a hassle to balance a tiny amount of heat from my burners against the heat loss of a smaller mash volume while liquid was constantly passing through tubing (which was probably the biggest culprit for heat loss).

I’ve done 3 beers in my garage this fall (NJ) with the full volume mash, and just left it alone for the 60 minutes. My dial maybe dropped from 150 to 149 over the 60 minutes with my mash undisturbed. As I started my heated recirc, the dial may have dropped another degree or two (which I’ll assume to be the more accurate picture of mash temp). All to say, the larger volume definitely improved my systems ability to maintain temperature.

For my favorite beers, which lean towards pale and dry (Grisette, Pils), I welcome a mash that starts at 150 and drops to 148 over 60 minutes - especially if I know I am going to walk it all the way up to about 168. I recognize that approach doesn’t work for everyone and every style.

I see the insulated tun as a trade off item, which I guess can be echoed for the non-insulated tun. The insulation should be better for retaining/maintaining heat, but you can’t heat it directly if you want to make a correction at dough in, or step mash, or mash out. This means you are looking at HERMS, RIMS, or infusions. My mash is not insulated, so it should lose more heat during its rest, but the trade off is that I can heat it directly, which I find a lot less cumbersome.
 
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Brewdog80

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Works. Similar to a three vessel I used, but didn't go back to water vessel. Other than that, if you like it use it. I don't like dealing with propane for brewing any more, and I love single vessel electric. Oh, you aren't old. My first brew was in 1984.....
 
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jfowler1

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Lol - thanks. I was alive when you brewed your first beer. I turned 39 this year. Started all grain brewing around 23/24. I’m not sure where those 15 years went.
 

Basspaleale

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I use pretty much the same process however I brew primarily Lagers, so I use the 3rd kettle to add pre-frozen ice blocks and water, which I pump through my immersion chiller to hit 48 deg. ferm temps.
 

madscientist451

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I became re-engaged with the brewing community over the past couple years, and found that even people who mocked BIAB 10 years ago now love BIAB.

Personally, I love the time and equipment savings that BIAB offers, but I hated the idea of pulling the grain bag,

I hope someone finds this process interesting, and I am happy to hear any questions or comments.

Thanks for reading!
Thanks for the detailed and well written post.
I can remember being told (here on HBT) that I should learn to brew the "right way" instead of using BIAB.

Your method is interesting, but I'm way to lazy and am not interested in cleaning all the hoses, the pump and the extra kettle.
Looks like you're brewing in a pretty nice garage and it would be a simple matter to get some kind of cheap electric hoist rigged up.
No transfers, less to clean, faster brew day, but without recirculation some will say less efficiency, but that hasn't been a problem for me.
With the three kettles, you could run three brews at once!
Just my 2 cents, not intended as criticism, thanks again for posting.
:mug:
 

Komodo

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I like this. I’ve been changing a lot of things in my whole setup, and mash temp control is my next frontier. I’ve brewed for 30 yrs, and always used simple infusions in two round coolers. I stack them, slide a sleeping bag over them and can hold an hour with a 1-2 degree drop. I’ve done mostly Belgian ales, and wasn’t concerned with slightly high or low mash temps. RDWDAHB right? Well, now I’m doing some lagers, decoctions, etc where I’m wanting more precise control. I did a doppelbock brew yesterday that was kind of a 💩 show. I overshot my strike water temp, tried to pull some off in a bucket to drop a couple degrees, did the infusion and the mash settled too low probably because I hadn’t preheated the coolers. I did some quick psuedo-decoction / mash heating to bring the mash up, which seemed to work well. I’ve never really cared about direct fire mash before, but now I’m liking its potential as long as it doesn’t add more gear. I really try to simplify as much as possible, but always seem to multiply the amount of gear.
 
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jfowler1

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Thanks to everyone who read and commented. I took the week off and brewed two beers yesterday morning. Brew day started at 6 am, and the second beer was in the fermentor by noon. I took some pictures so you could see the process in action.

Here is a series of pictures for batch 1, starting with strike water, and finishing with chilling/transfer.



And some shots from batch 2. I thought the last picture is a good one. It shows one of the advantages of a modular system. Clean up is finished for two thirds of my brewery while the final batch is boiling.



Two beers in their fermenters. WY2124 @ 65F FTW!



In a couple weeks I’ll follow up and show how I close transfer from fermentors to kegs.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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It’s been a while since I made a long post on HBT…

I have been brewing all grain for about 15 years. This means 2 things - one, I am old and two, I built my brewery to be a three vessel, 2 pump, fly sparge system. I became re-engaged with the brewing community over the past couple years, and found that even people who mocked BIAB 10 years ago now love BIAB.

This is essentially my setup except I use electric elements in a 10 gallon kettle / HLT. I live in an apartment and run two 120v elements (***separate circuits***) in the kettle/HLT. @Bobby_M Brewhardware.com built me a custom controller & kettle to handle the two 120v elements. My kettle is spike 10g. My mash tun is a 10g SS Bretech InfuSSion Insulated mash tun,

I heat the strike water (with salt additions, etc.) in the HLT/kettle and mash in at about 1.5 quarts per pound ~6.5 gallons for 1.050 OG beers (use a pump and underlet like you do, but with my removable whirlpool arm). I boil the remaining volume ~4 gallons on my stove top in a 5 gallon pot then perform a quick mash out after 60 min mash by adding the boiling water to the remaining capacity of the mash tun and give it a few stirs. After mash out, I vorlauf (using a pump and loch line in a port at the top of the mashtun) for a few min until clear, then transfer to the kettle/HLT (I again use the removable whirlpool arm to underlet). Whatever remaining volume is left in that 5g pot I use to top off in the boil kettle. I find the mash out helps with efficiency vs. mashing the full volume of water. I could boil the mashout/topoff water in the HLT, but I find it easier to just do it on my stove top in the smaller pot.

My BH efficiency is usually crap at 55%, but it doesn't bother me as it is a sacrifice for LODO. My max OG is 1.062 which is plenty for the kinds of beers I brew nowadays. I use the yeast scavenging method to deoxygenate the strike water & use mash/boil/HLT caps and dose strike water to 20ppm SMB. The mashout top off water I boil vigorously for 5 min to deoxygenate and dose with 20ppm SMB + salt additions + Brewtan B + ascorbic acid.

My beers and shelf life have never been better! My hot side DO levels are always < 0.7ppm

Here it is in action! This is the xfer post vorlauf to the boil kettle. Notice the clarity. The ping pong looking balls are my mash cap. Pharmaceutical grade polypropylene balls that are graded to 330 Farenheit.

 
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jfowler1

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Thanks for showing off your system. Yes, very similar process. It seems the biggest process variables we have are that I do the full volume mash and directly heat the mash tun to step temperature, while you do a more traditional mash, and boil the final addition separately to bring you up to a mash out via a second infusion. I’d imagine that step works for you two fold. One, the SS Infusion Tun can’t be heated so boiling water in a separate vessel (be it stove top or your kettle) is a requirement, and two, LODO best practice suggests pre-boiling your brewing water. Correct?

I have not gone too far down the LODO rabbit hole, but I did see the opportunity in my process to consciously incorporate a few LODO practices in my brew day. Namely, under letting the mash at dough in, returning the mash recirculation beneath the surface, and transferring back to brew kettle via the lower valve.

One of my favorite things the 2 vessel set up allows for is under letting the mash. It makes for such an easy dough in.

And my recirculating arm is a hacked MoreBeer ultimate sparge arm. I took their stock product, removed the ball valve, and cut both ends of the return elbow - I made it it much shorter and removed the big disk that sprays water during the sparge. Returned wort just spins gently around the top of the mash tun (I’ll link a video below). I like that I didn’t have to drill holes in my mash tun, and most importantly for me, it’s removability allows it to swing from the left side of my tun to the right side for my second batch. That second point is really unique to my system and my propensity to make 2 beers on brew day, but it does make me happy.

Here is a video of the mash recirculating:

 

Unicorn_Platypus

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Correct, I boil the mash out water to get rid of the O2. Also the SSbrewtech infussion can't be direct heated. However since it's insulated I'm happy without doing a recirculation.

I'm sure your efficiency has to be better than mine though with the recirculation.

I didn't think you could direct fire a mash tun due to the risk of scorching. But seems like you aren't applying much heat. Are you just using the heat to account for the temperature drop when you begin to recirc? Any reason you wouldn't just use a higher strike temp? Or are you doing a kind of step mash?

Being able to do a hochkurz mash or step mash is something I'd like to do, but I've just been sticking with a single infusion do to my equipment constraints.

Your not too far from going full lodo if you built a mash cap and reboiled the excess water in the hlt

Love your setup and I also prefer the two vessels vs. having to lift a grain basket in an all in one. More lodo friendly too.

I used to batch sparge with 75% efficiency pre LODO rabbit hole. Unfortunately batch sparging isn't very LODO friendly. If I had space, I'd consider using a 3rd vessel to fly sparge for higher OG beers. For most of my stuff 1.060 gravity is the max I would generally need and the simplicity and time savings of no sparge is worth the loss in efficiency
 
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jfowler1

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I’ve always built recipes assuming 70% mash efficiency. I’ve been coming in around 72-75% with my system.

In a perfect world, I complete a 60 minute rest without dosing any heat to the mash tun during the initial rest (145-148F). Brewing in my garage at 19F on Monday was not a perfect world. I was able to balance the heat from the burners with recirculation to maintain that temp in extreme conditions, but I really don’t like doing things that way. As I said, ideally I want to dough in and walk away for the first 60 minutes.

After 60 minutes I will add heat and recirculate to bring the mash up about 1 degree per minute all the way to 168F. My theory is that I give the long rest at the lower end of the mash range, and then walk it up through the upper levels of conversion temperatures all the way through mash out.

As for scorching, I’ve never found an issue. I suppose that if you try hard enough you can scorch the mash, but there is a lot of liquid in there, it is constantly moving, and the Blichmann burners can put a pretty gentle heat across the kettle.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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Ahhh, I got it now. So you already mash for 60min at the dry/medium range before applying additional heat before ramping up.

So you got a bit of a step mash thing going at the end there.

Scorching isn't concern at that point anyway as conversion is basically complete. I like what you're doing 🍻

My setup is still pretty new so hopefully I'm able to dial in the process a bit better. If I do very low OG all pils beers I hit closer to 65%, but for most medium gravity I'm hitting like 55% especially if any wheat or any specialty malts in there

I'm at a bit of a handicap without a constant recirculation, and ability to do steps. But hey the beers are tasting good!
 
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jfowler1

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Yes, definitely a bit of a step mash thing - lol.

I said it early, but I do find this setup to take lots of nice things about 3 vessel sparge systems, and lots of nice things about BIAB, and it kind of puts them together.

This is probably obvious, but there are really two populations that may enjoy this setup/process. The first are the people who already have a multi vessel system, but want to find a way to reduce their footprint and streamline the process.

The second is a newer brewer that does not like the idea of having to remove the bag or malt pipe from their kettle, and they find the opportunity cost of 1 extra piece of equipment to be favorable to the bag/malt pipe option.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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Yes, definitely a bit of a step mash thing - lol.

I said it early, but I do find this setup to take lots of nice things about 3 vessel sparge systems, and lots of nice things about BIAB, and it kind of puts them together.

This is probably obvious, but there are really two populations that may enjoy this setup/process. The first are the people who already have a multi vessel system, but want to find a way to reduce their footprint and streamline the process.

The second is a newer brewer that does not like the idea of having to remove the bag or malt pipe from their kettle, and they find the opportunity cost of 1 extra piece of equipment to be favorable to the bag/malt pipe option.

I fall into the second camp here. I'm 41 and don't wanna lift a hot sticky bag. I live in a rental and can't install a hoist either.

The blichmann breweasy system was actually something I was looking at. If you aren't familiar with it its worth checking out. Its also a two vessel no sparge system, but the mash is recirculated between both vessels rather than just one. Its a "Kettle RIMS" system. There is a heating element in the kettle that's used for the mash steps. I decided against it for two reasons.

1) it required a dough in for 15 min without the full volume of water. Only after dough in can the recirculation to the HLT with remaining volume begin. This meant PH would be a bit trickier to control. The PH for the first 15 min would be different than once the remainder volume if mixed assuming I treat the water all at once

2) the autosparge system and the way wort is splashed back into the kettle is not LODO friendly and looks like there would be significant HSA

I like your setup better!

If you got a 15 gallon kettle for the mash tun you could even do high gravity! If the Infussion came in a 15g model I would have gone for that. They only make a 10 though.

 
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jfowler1

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Yes, very familiar with the breweasy. It’s an interesting set up. High Gravity also did a video a couple years back of a large volume side by side 2 pump breweasy style system, which is kind of interesting too. It does give the opportunity to do larger grain bills, but the days of big beers may be over for me too. Everything I design is at 4.5% or below. It works better for guests, and when you have 2 little kiddos and a 5 am alarm, big beers can make for trouble.

There are a couple upgrades I am toying with.

The first is to upgrade my chiller. I think the Jaded Stainless Hydra could wrap up chilling on batch 2 faster than my current stainless chiller. It will not improve the product, but it could save me a bit of time. Not a necessity, but time has value.

The second upgrade would be the brew commander gas controller. Its spendy, but I like it best of all the options to control mash temp.

If I found a good deal on the 15 gallon polar ware kettle to match my system, I’d consider it to give the option of higher gravity beers, but I am not sure how often it would be put to use.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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I wanted to get the Jaded Hydra SS chiller too, but they've been out of stock for quite some time.

I ended up picking up one of these 50 footers for $150 and it gets me down to temp very quickly. I had to stretch the coils a bit so the wort is able to recirculate through the coils via the whirlpool arm

With a whirlpool arm and this thing I get down to temp in 15 min or less. I use a prechiller in an ice bath to get the ground water nice and cool too.

I skip the prechiller and run straight ground water to get down to hop stand temp of 165. Once I hit temp, I remove the chiller and whirlpool for 15 min hopstand. It holds pretty steady even when running the pump.

Adter the hop stand I add the chiller back to the kettle and go full blast with the icy prechillered water.
 

Unicorn_Platypus

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That is the exact chiller I own. Just swapped the garden hose fittings to work with my QD’s.
Haha, nice! Are you moving the wort as it chills? Definitely helps speed it up. Even if you aren't using a whirlpool arm, an occasional stir definitely helps
 
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jfowler1

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I did the Jamil-o-chiller (immersion+recirc) for a pretty long time. I stopped when I began to value ease over speed.

After boil, I do a manual whirlpool, cover the kettle, come back after 10 minutes, and gently place the chiller into the hot wort. I then begin chilling. I purposely do not interrupt the wort from this point on. It can can take a little while to reach final temp, but I suppose that gives my wort a little extra time to settle before I send to fermentor. I really don’t care how long batch 1 takes to chill on a 2 batch day, but it might be nice to save some time on batch 2. I might stir up some funds and make the hydra happen when it is in stock.
 
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jfowler1

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Back to the comparison to the BrewEasy/K-RIMS setup, one gripe I’ve read is that you can end up with a lot of particulate in your boil kettle during the recirculating process. I have not used such a system, but I do know the wort that is cycled through my MLT is a bit chunky in the beginning, and doesn’t really clear until both the grain bed is set and conversion is complete.

If that is truly an issue for K—RIMS, then my system has the advantage of recirculation being isolated to the MLT. Wort is exceptionally clear by the time it is ready to pump over to the brew kettle.
 

k-daddy

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Thanks for the detailed and well written post.
I can remember being told (here on HBT) that I should learn to brew the "right way" instead of using BIAB.

Your method is interesting, but I'm way to lazy and am not interested in cleaning all the hoses, the pump and the extra kettle.
Looks like you're brewing in a pretty nice garage and it would be a simple matter to get some kind of cheap electric hoist rigged up.
No transfers, less to clean, faster brew day, but without recirculation some will say less efficiency, but that hasn't been a problem for me.
With the three kettles, you could run three brews at once!
Just my 2 cents, not intended as criticism, thanks again for posting.
:mug:
I agree. My old 2 vessel, KRIMS system was fun but overly complicated and, like everything with this hobby, it kept growing with valves, etc. It felt like I was outsmarting myself and ended up spending too much time in the garage cleaning all the equipment. At the beginning of this year, I built this recirculating BIAB system based on the Bobby's Brewhardware design. I installed a hoist for the grain bag so no issues there. Beer just as good, brew day more fun and shorter in duration. I think, as a senior citizen, this is a much better option for me. Happy Thanksgiving!
 

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