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What BIAB brewing actually is (Mythbusting for traditionalists)

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Bilsch

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This year I wish that people could simply enjoy their brew instead of aiming to be the most surreal/exotic brewer on this planet. No more bacon oyster stout but lots of Pilsener and classic IPAs with one bittering and one dry hop addition please.
This is my wish as well but unfortunately Pilsners, good lagers in general, are quite difficult to make properly. And sadly lots of brewers just don't want to put in the effort especially when it's compartively easy to dump in the bacon, oysters, doughnuts, a metric ton of hops or what ever trendy flavoring of the moment is. Maybe Santa will bring everyone a copy of Kunze this year and threaten coal for readers of Brulosophy. That's what I'll be wishing for!
 

Nubiwan

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I'm sitting here catching up on this thread, reading all the posts about clarity, pumps, multiple vessels, RIMS, chilling, etc.........and I hold my beer up to the screen.

In the photo you can see the clarity, the head retention, and the lacing. What you can't see is the great taste and the wonderful mouthfeel. It was brewed single vessel BIAB with no sparge, no re-circulation, no squeeze, and no chill. Fermentation gas purged the keg prior to a gravity powered closed transfer.

Some folks love complexity, and there's nothing wrong with that. I love elegant simplicity. It would bug me to brew on a system that I knew was more complicated than it had to be.

To me that's the heart of what BIAB has brought to the table. It has revealed that home brewers have been unnecessarily complicating the process for a very long time. Some are still trying to justify it, but the cat's out of the bag.

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I got to ask. Why no squeeze? I always squeeze my bag. Every last drop. Stick my bag in a separate pot on top of a colander, and add what drains out to my boil. I do not sparge. Whats you anti squeeze theory? Thats some might clear looking brew you got there too.
 

Nubiwan

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First let me say that I really don't give a damn WHAT method you chose, as long as you enjoy yourself, make beer you like, and are happy. As a brewer who has made beers for 35 years, and has brewed with 3 vessel, BIAB, All-in-one, HERMS, and recently lost ALL of my equipment to fire and thus could choose ANY system or style I liked to rebuild my brewing, I would like to make a couple of observations on this topic - play a little Satan advocate if you will:

For starters, I have not seen this much rationalization and positive affirmation in one place since Stuart Smally was a character on Saturday Night Live! ANYTHING so completely free of flaw, and so wrought full of virtue, simplicity, and utter excellence RARELY needs such devoted and wholesale defense! Odd.

ALL BREWING SYSTEMS - Have issues. All require some attention to water chemistry, can produce unwanted characteristics, and need attention at differing points and times. ALL can and do produce fine beers. ALL can produce excellent beers, and are far more dependent on the cook and the ingredients than the pots and pans used to make it.

Let me look at some of the downsides I EXPERIENCED in my home brewing with BIAB, and why I dropped it to begin with and why I had/have ZERO interest in it as i rebuild. (I know some of these things will come as a shock to many of the readers on this thread since once again a good common sense thread about BIAB, has morphed into an inclusion of LODO, and has gradually devolved into a religious tome wherein the miracles of this system are rivaled only by the resurrection of Lazarus, and maybe the whole loaves and fishes thingy!

I heat my water for mash in a 5 gallon pot on the kitchen stove. I mash in a 10 gallon cooler on the counter. I sparge into a 10 gallon pot, take it on the porch and boil away. I heat a bit more than half my water for the mash. It does not take long on the stove. I crush grain and get parts together while it warms. I mash for an hour which is MORE than enough time to heat sparge water to temp. This sits a few minutes in the mash tun before draining. Pretty typical sort of 3 vessel.

Now when I tried BIAB I had to heat ALL the water at once- but still had to do so on the stove. I could have bought another expensive 10+ gallon pot to do this BUT it would not fit on the stove anyway and even if it did it would have taken a whole lot longer to get it ALL up to temp. Getting the 20 gallon BIAB pot on the stove was out of the question entirely! SURE i could have built a big expensive brew room with heater big enough to heat ALL the water at once in the 20 gal. but I don't want to. SO I had to heat it all in three pots (Still more gear for this SIMPLE system) Then I DID have to buy a much bigger brew pot because my ten gallon pot was not big enough for am huge bag of grain and ALL the water. So more expense AND a BIGGER pot that is more of a pain to store, clean, handle, move when full, etc. Then of course there is that whole LIFTING IT THING. So now I need to install a pulley in my kitchen ceiling (WE already established I do not have time, money or desire to build a dedicated brewery room) I do not WANT a pulley in my kitchen ceiling. So I either need to recruit someone to brew with EVERY TIME I BREW, so we can both stand there like fools holding a hot bag of wet grain. OR jury rig some sort of ladder, tri-pod or other system to hold a pulley to life the heavy wet bag. WAY convenient so far. And so far all i can see i have saved for TIME is the short period of waiting for the sparge to be done the second time, so a few minutes. (I lost all these few minutes dragging the clumsy ladder rig in and out of the house and fussing around with the pulley) So now i have wort, and I gotta tote that big ass 20 gallon pot out the door to the porch to boil. The old 10 gallon was awkward enough but the big pot is a real pain. I prefer to brew alone - and like to brew on MY schedule, not dependent on having someone else on hand all the time. But now i am horsing around giant pots that don't get lighter as I age! They will not for you either. Still, boil and pitch and done!

So now the clean up - AH YES the clean up, where BIAB REALLY kicks ass! So in stead of wiping out my ONE water pot and storing it, I now have three. STILL is is only water, so easy. Then I have to go outside and dump my grain out of the cooler, and rinse it out with the hose. THAT takes pert-near 5 minutes. When I did BIAB, I had to drag the bag outside and dump it, then clean it out. Thing is AFTER draining the wort initially, I STILL had a messy bag hanging there, and it was still dripping. SO I needed a pot to catch the drips which had to be cleaned (another item to clean) And it took a good half hour to get ALL THE CRAP off the bag, and get the bag washed up. So I cannot see the clean up advantage to BIAB, I gotta clean a tun or a bag one way or the other, and I need something to catch the drips or else i have to mop up the mess when done. After the boil, I gotta clean a big heavy 10 gal pot or an even bigger heavier 20 gal pot. Point is, I still gotta clean up pots and bags and utensils and saying that BIAB is less dirty, easier clean up, simpler, is just self- deluding.

So far I have had to buy more water pots, OR try to fit a big old 20 gallon pot on my stove (Even if I could do this and was willing to wait half a day for it to get to temp, I still at SOME POINT need to move this WHOLE POT full of water or i can't use my rigged up pulley to lift things. So for necessity I HAVE TO heat the water separately and add it to my BIAB pot.) I need to clan a bag or a mash tun, I need to move a big pot or bigger pot to boil. I have to clean my pot. I do not yet see any savings on cost or convenience - NONE

Now you can argue, that I am twisting some things, or that my circumstance is different than yours - True to some extent on both counts. I COULD put my heavier, more costly 20 gallon pot out on the porch and heat it there. I COULD rig my jury rigged ladder pulley outside over the top. Then I could just heat in one pot, drain, boil, WOOHOO!!!! But I still gotta buy heavier more expensive gear. Rig a pulley. Put a catch pot under the drippy bag. clean out a mash bag. AND adjust my grind, recipe, water chemistry, etc from all my old recipes. Now ALL while freezing my ass off 8 months out of the year on the porch. BIG FUN THAT! Thank you BIAB preachers! Thank you!

The fact is as I said to start: ALL SYSTEMS have negatives. All have positives> If yours fits your environment, lifestyle, brewing needs, etc. THEN ENJOY IT and be happy. But I would suggest that endless rationalization and defensiveness really does nothing to further the cause for ANY brewing style. And it feels to me like more than ANY other system the BIAB seems to foster a sort of zealous insistence that new brewers must join in and old brewers must convert than anything else i have seen. In my circumstance/environment I found BIAB at BEST an inconvenient PITA. It does not mean you will or should. In a different circumstance I might find it a joy. When I had a large dedicated space, I also had a HERMS system and did not mess with BIAB, perhaps in that environment it would have been great. But in my original kitchen set up, then in the kitchen set up at our home that burned, as well as the one we are in now - it offers nothing but bulky gear, and mess. I brewed for the first time since the fire on a hotch-pot assortment of a 3-vessel system that friends and family fixed me up with as a surprise! Currently it is THE BEST system I ever had! Had I had the spare cash, I probably would have gone to an all-in-one of some sort. I had an anvil for a short period that I sold to a nephew before our fire - I liked it. But the igloo cooler, water pot, 10 gallon boil kettle works like a charm and fits our current kitchen and porch just dandy.

NO SYSTEM is perfect- use what you like and do not work so hard to prove yours is best. It is really only BEST for YOU. There is a difference.
If that was how someone explained to me that this is how BIAB worked, then no one would be at it.

You are correct, you have described your circumstance, and thats the main difference. Id say many of us just go out in the garage, fire up a burner, or switch on the power, and let the kettle heat up. Not heat three or four pots on the stove. Wheres the fun in that? :)
 
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Nubiwan

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This is my wish as well but unfortunately Pilsners, good lagers in general, are quite difficult to make properly. And sadly lots of brewers just don't want to put in the effort especially when it's compartively easy to dump in the bacon, oysters, doughnuts, a metric ton of hops or what ever trendy flavoring of the moment is. Maybe Santa will bring everyone a copy of Kunze this year and threaten coal for readers of Brulosophy. That's what I'll be wishing for!
If i had a nickel for every time i raised an eyebrow when someone told me they were adding coffee grinds, melons, or a pound of rhubarb to their beer, then i'd be able to buy a 3 vessel system, which i'd tire of using in 3 months, then go back to BIABing.

I can only conclude these people who make these fancy creations just do not like the taste of good old beer....... honestly.
 

Nubiwan

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If I didn't do electric BIAB, I wouldn't be all-grain brewing at all. I'd still be doing extract on my stove (not that there's anything wrong with that, either).
I don't have the money for a 3-vessel or more "traditional" method. Shiny metal is expensive. And I've spent more than I thought I would on BIAB.

Instead of all the stainless steel, my money was spent on DIY electric controllers, a 25 gal aluminum kettle, 5500w element, small solar pump, steam condenser, plastic conical fermenter with DIY temp control, used window A/C unit and cooler for chilling, a DIY CFC, kegerator and kegs. I've found great deals on all of it, but it still adds up.

BIAB has ALLOWED me to do all-grain the way I want to do it and at an 11 gallon batch size. I've spent well under $1k on my system (maybe about $700?). Ssshh! My wife doesn't know it has been that much.
I dont want to harp on about this, but it always occurs to me that a large part of the expense of brewing equipment is tied to maintaining mash temps within a tenth of a degree. Is it really necessary?

I feel i have to ask this question. Has anyone ruined a beer because they miscalculated the strike temp, grain volume temp, and / or let their mash temp waiver 2-3 degrees? I suggest not.

I read earlier about the guy mashes in his oven. I'm thinking to myself, as long as he keeps that within 2 -3 degrees of his target temp, then there is no need to sweat it, as it appears.

Said it before and I'll repeat, mass producers need accurate mash temps in order to maintain consistency of end product. Not because some fluctuation in mash temp will make it all taste crap. For homebrewers, there are no such concerns, unless maybe your competing. Even then.....

Has all the money and discussion spent on maintaining pinpoint mash temps really been validated? I honestly invite the evidence.
 
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Bilsch

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I dont want to harp on about this, but it always occurs to me that a large part of the expense of brewing is tied to maintaining mash temps within a tenth of a degree. Is it necessary?

I feel i have to ask this question. Has anyone ruined a beer because they miscalculated the strike temp, grain volume temp, and / or let their mash temp waiver 2-3 degrees? I suggest not.

I read earlier about the guy mashes in his oven. I'm thinking to myself, as long as he keeps that within 2 -3 degrees of his target temp, then there is no need to sweat it, as it appears.

Has all the money and discussion spent on pinpoint mash temps really been validated?
It has an effect however small. And if it seems like no big deal to cut one corner then why not a few more? Eventually you have to start adding coffee grounds, melon or a pound of rhubarb to your beer trying to make it palatable. Just saying.
 
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rkhanso

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I dont want to harp on about this, but it always occurs to me that a large part of the expense of brewing equipment is tied to maintaining mash temps within a tenth of a degree. Is it really necessary?

I feel i have to ask this question. Has anyone ruined a beer because they miscalculated the strike temp, grain volume temp, and / or let their mash temp waiver 2-3 degrees? I suggest not.

I read earlier about the guy mashes in his oven. I'm thinking to myself, as long as he keeps that within 2 -3 degrees of his target temp, then there is no need to sweat it, as it appears.

Said it before and I'll repeat, mass producers need accurate mash temps in order to maintain consistency of end product. Not because some fluctuation in mash temp will make it all taste crap. For homebrewers, there are no such concerns, unless maybe your competing. Even then.....

Has all the money and discussion spent on maintaining pinpoint mash temps really been validated? I honestly invite the evidence.
I brew and ferment in my garage, and here in MN it can be -30F outside and still single digits above zero in my garage in the winter - or it can be 95F and very humid in the summer. I need the fermentation temp control for sure.

I don't have the controllers as much for exact temp control for brewing as I do for convenience.
Brew control is less critical, as you mention. But since I'm building a controller to control fermenter temps, I might as well do the same for brewing. Plus, the convenience and automation for brewing is nice. But controlling temps for brewing is a bonus, at a minimum.

However, there are different reasons for me going electric and using automated controllers than are reasons for using BIAB vs. traditional 3-vessel. For me that is cost, ease of process and cleanup. I'd still go controller/automation in a 3-vessel setup to control the fermenter temps at least.

There's also the fun and hobby part of building equipment. I'm also doing home automation now, with ESP8266, Raspberry Pi's, various sensors, lights, switches. The building electronics/control equipment is as much of a hobby as brewing beer for many. I also have a Heatermeter temperature control for my Kamado smoker/grill.
 

LittleRiver

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I got to ask. Why no squeeze? .... Whats you anti squeeze theory? ....
It's a hot sticky mess that is just not necessary if you let gravity fully drain the bag.

After the mash I hoist the bag, and immediately fire the heat for the boil. The bag is left hanging over the kettle during the entire boil. By the end of the hour there is only an occasional drop coming from the bag.

Twice I've gone to the effort of seeing how much additional wort I could squeeze out of a bag that had been fully gravity drained. It was about a cup. To me that is definitely not worth the effort of squeezing.

Other benefits of a full gravity drain are that when it comes time to dispose of the grains the bag is much lighter, and it has cooled off.
 

ChiknNutz

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It's a hot sticky mess that is just not necessary if you let gravity fully drain the bag.

After the mash I hoist the bag, and immediately fire the heat for the boil. The bag is left hanging over the kettle during the entire boil. By the end of the hour there is only an occasional drop coming from the bag.

Twice I've gone to the effort of seeing how much additional wort I could squeeze out of a bag that had been fully gravity drained. It was about a cup. To me that is definitely not worth the effort of squeezing.

Other benefits of a full gravity drain are that when it comes time to dispose of the grains the bag is much lighter, and it has cooled off.
I am curious if this constant addition of wort to the boil has any ill-effect (which is a constantly reducing amount over time). Research indicates there are many reasons a 60 minute boil is employed. I have no evidence there is an ill-effect, just curious if there could be.
 

LittleRiver

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I am curious if this constant addition of wort to the boil has any ill-effect ... there are many reasons a 60 minute boil is employed...
I've thought about this, and come to the conclusion that there are no ill effects.

The majority of the wort drains out of the bag in the first couple of minutes (or less). The amount of wort draining out near the end of the boil is very small, just an occasional drop. That small amount is falling into boiling wort (i.e. no contamination worries).

There's another reason I've concluded that there are no ill effects -- years of success doing it this way. Good tasting beers of many styles, with no problems with efficiency, hop isomerization, or infections.
 

LittleRiver

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... maintaining mash temps within a tenth of a degree. Is it necessary? ...
It has an effect however small.
I'd like to read up on that claim you're making. Can you provide links to studies that prove such tight control of mash temps has a discernible effect?

And if it seems like no big deal to cut one corner then why not a few more? Eventually you have to start adding coffee grounds, melon or a pound of rhubarb to your beer trying to make it palatable. Just saying.
You're saying that if you don't care about maintaining temps to within a tenth of a degree then the beer produced is of such inferior quality that all kinds of things must be added to make it palatable.
 
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Gusso

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I am curious if this constant addition of wort to the boil has any ill-effect (which is a constantly reducing amount over time). Research indicates there are many reasons a 60 minute boil is employed. I have no evidence there is an ill-effect, just curious if there could be.
I've moved to mostly 30 boil time. Except for different hop schedules, I haven't noticed anything different in my beers. Saves on propane, too.
 

Gusso

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It's a hot sticky mess that is just not necessary if you let gravity fully drain the bag.

After the mash I hoist the bag, and immediately fire the heat for the boil. The bag is left hanging over the kettle during the entire boil. By the end of the hour there is only an occasional drop coming from the bag.

Twice I've gone to the effort of seeing how much additional wort I could squeeze out of a bag that had been fully gravity drained. It was about a cup. To me that is definitely not worth the effort of squeezing.

Other benefits of a full gravity drain are that when it comes time to dispose of the grains the bag is much lighter, and it has cooled off.

Not arguing with your technique, but I still think squeezing gets more from the bag. I've tried gravity vs squeezing and squeezing does get more out. More work? Yes.
 

LittleRiver

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Not arguing with your technique, but I still think squeezing gets more from the bag. I've tried gravity vs squeezing and squeezing does get more out. More work? Yes.
You are spot on. Squeezing the bag (a fully gravity drained bag) will result in a small increase in wort volume.

Is the increase worth the effort? That's a subjective matter. The "correct" answer will differ from brewer to brewer.

For me, I am happy to donate a cup of wort to the compost bin to eliminate the sticky mess of squeezing.
 

Gusso

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Yeah, again I'm not arguing. But for me, I use my rubber bbq gloves, squeeze the scrap out of it, then spray my gloves with the hose (which is less than 5' away). Not much of a mess for me. To be honest, if my ladder was tall enough, I would let the bag sit over the kettle, but it's not. Now, I leave my cooler mash tun (on the ground) under the ladder while my wort boils in the pot. I usually squeeze a few minutes before boil. Mind you, I've been brewing for many years but I'm new to BIAB.
 

Beermeister32

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I've moved to mostly 30 boil time. Except for different hop schedules
I'd suggest you revisit this. 60 minute is pretty much standard, and 90 mins for batches high in Pilsner malt. I did a Pilsner once using someone else's recipe using their 60 minute boil, had that vegetal cabbage DMS taste. Never again!
 

NSMikeD

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I used to squeeze the bag and made a mess. Then I switched to pouring some hot water over the bag while it was draining (note the additional pots) and add that to the boil, of course making the proper adjustments to water volume. This, for me was easier and slightly better efficiency. I used the oven to hold mash temps. As a 2.5 gal batch brewer mash temps would swing more than 5* even in the oven. Still good beer. But this bothered me. So I upgraded to the Anvil 6.5. While there are a number of factors other than the Anvil related to improving all aspect of my brew process, if one was is ones budget, I would recommend starting out with the anvil Foundry. While I cannot prove it’s better, The recirculating pump, the controlled temp and the stainless steel mash pipe (bucket) make for a much less stressful brew day for me.

I’ve been misunderstood when I tell people that BIAB is a great next step from extract brewing. I didn’t mean to imply that it’s in any way an inferior from of all grain brewing. IMO, it’s can be a very easy progression for extract brewers who may (like myself way back when) be intimidated with the all grain methods and their equipment. An easier leap of faith as it were.
BIAB can be as simple as a pot a bag and a bucket or it can rival the most complex set ups. It’s up to the brewer how far he or she wants to tinker.

Small batch BIAB is how I got back Into home brewing after a decades long break from 5gal extract and I am so glad I did. It gave me a better understanding of what goes into making a great beer and that has giving me a deeper appreciation when I sample beers at the pub.
When I turned 18 attending U Buffalo we had to drive to Canada to get good beer. Now I have a pat on my own shoulder Kolsh on tap in my living room. A pot, a bag and a bucket .....
 

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Everyone enjoys and brews beer in their own unique way. For some it's just find the easiest, quickest and most economical way to make beer and that's it, done. For others it's a hobby with a goal to make ever better beer. The hobbyist enjoys the pursuit of perfection through thoughtful consideration, lengthy research and continuous upgrades. These brewers use state of the art techniques, equipment and continuously educate themselves on all things beer. The hobbyist is open minded and acknowledges that a better beer can be made. So I ask you, what kind of brewer is in your garage?
 

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It has an effect however small. And if it seems like no big deal to cut one corner then why not a few more? Eventually you have to start adding coffee grounds, melon or a pound of rhubarb to your beer trying to make it palatable. Just saying.
I am not convinced that such a high degree of temperature control is possible, much less necessary. Unless you are going to have multiple sensors at different locations in the mash bed, how can you ensure the temp is constant throughout the mash?
 

Ogilthorpe2

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Dear Santa,

This year I wish that people could simply enjoy their brew instead of aiming to be the most surreal/exotic brewer on this planet. No more bacon oyster stout but lots of Pilsener and classic IPAs with one bittering and one dry hop addition please.

Leave the kveik for the people who don't own a temperature control but please take the fancy shmancy stuff with you, thanks.

M.
 

BarryBrews

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I am not convinced that such a high degree of temperature control is possible, much less necessary. Unless you are going to have multiple sensors at different locations in the mash bed, how can you ensure the temp is constant throughout the mash?
Sorry eshea3, but the prerequisite to your question shows an indifference and a blind spot to a helpful answer. But let me try anyway. As far as the temperature equilibrium within the mash, after a good stirring or pump recirculating the wort, you should be able to check the temperature yourself with a long probe thermometer. I would assume most brewers are like me and have no problem hitting their mash in temperature and then holding it within a degree. Whether it's exactly held or not is not as important as it's reproducibility for future attempts to make the same beer. The temperature of your wort is just one of many parameters you can control that influence the character of your beer. It is all about the details and the ability to reproduce your brewing steps. I'm sure your beer excellent and very enjoyable, but consider a pragmatic approach.
 
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I am not convinced that such a high degree of temperature control is possible, much less necessary. Unless you are going to have multiple sensors at different locations in the mash bed, how can you ensure the temp is constant throughout the mash?
I have checked my grainbed at various locations at different time periods of the mash and I'm within 1F of my controller's set point everywhere. There is a predictable decrease in temp directly in contact with the sidewalls of the kettle, but never more than 1F lower. How? With subtle recirculation and active heating.
 

Nubiwan

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I have checked my grainbed at various locations at different time periods of the mash and I'm within 1F of my controller's set point everywhere. There is a predictable decrease in temp directly in contact with the sidewalls of the kettle, but never more than 1F lower. How? With subtle recirculation and active heating.
Question I posed was not really "if temp can be kept consistent", which a lot of extra gear (pumps, recircs, probes, elements) can surely control, rather "what difference a 2-3 degree (even higher) mash temp swing would make"

I make standard Amber and have mashed at 153 religiously, give or take a degree or 2 (the old blanket wrapped etc). The same bill allowed to swing from 158-148, and I am challenged to note a difference. Now, never had them side by side, but the grain bill rather provides the same beer at the end of the day, no matter how it is mashed.

Again, I'd suggest a more robust grain bill would produce noticeable taste difference. Even my own, but how much?
 
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Nubiwan

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Everyone enjoys and brews beer in their own unique way. For some it's just find the easiest, quickest and most economical way to make beer and that's it, done. For others it's a hobby with a goal to make ever better beer. The hobbyist enjoys the pursuit of perfection through thoughtful consideration, lengthy research and continuous upgrades. These brewers use state of the art techniques, equipment and continuously educate themselves on all things beer. The hobbyist is open minded and acknowledges that a better beer can be made. So I ask you, what kind of brewer is in your garage?
Hmm - when I was at school, the guy with the newest and most up to date football boots (soccer) was rarely the best player in the school. It was often those kids who used second hand gear that shone. Both could be considered dedicated to the sport. Their gear was immaterial to the end product. Not sure its a fair comparison, but there are many ways to skin cats.
 
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Nubiwan

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I brew and ferment in my garage, and here in MN it can be -30F outside and still single digits above zero in my garage in the winter - or it can be 95F and very humid in the summer. I need the fermentation temp control for sure.

I don't have the controllers as much for exact temp control for brewing as I do for convenience.
Brew control is less critical, as you mention. But since I'm building a controller to control fermenter temps, I might as well do the same for brewing. Plus, the convenience and automation for brewing is nice. But controlling temps for brewing is a bonus, at a minimum.

However, there are different reasons for me going electric and using automated controllers than are reasons for using BIAB vs. traditional 3-vessel. For me that is cost, ease of process and cleanup. I'd still go controller/automation in a 3-vessel setup to control the fermenter temps at least.

There's also the fun and hobby part of building equipment. I'm also doing home automation now, with ESP8266, Raspberry Pi's, various sensors, lights, switches. The building electronics/control equipment is as much of a hobby as brewing beer for many. I also have a Heatermeter temperature control for my Kamado smoker/grill.
Now that I can see. If you live in a hot place were temps swings, or just ambient temps, require you to manage fementation, then that's a tough proposition. That would prove tricky for me.

Fortunately, I live in a place that basically guarantees ambient basement temps of 60-65 degrees, which I do all my brewing at, plus a much cooler porch (winter time) which I can cold crash in, so its one benefit of living in the "Great White North".
 

eshea3

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Sorry eshea3, but the prerequisite to your question shows an indifference and a blind spot to a helpful answer. But let me try anyway. As far as the temperature equilibrium within the mash, after a good stirring or pump recirculating the wort, you should be able to check the temperature yourself with a long probe thermometer. I would assume most brewers are like me and have no problem hitting their mash in temperature and then holding it within a degree. Whether it's exactly held or not is not as important as it's reproducibility for future attempts to make the same beer. The temperature of your wort is just one of many parameters you can control that influence the character of your beer. It is all about the details and the ability to reproduce your brewing steps. I'm sure your beer excellent and very enjoyable, but consider a pragmatic approach.
I have checked my grainbed at various locations at different time periods of the mash and I'm within 1F of my controller's set point everywhere. There is a predictable decrease in temp directly in contact with the sidewalls of the kettle, but never more than 1F lower. How? With subtle recirculation and active heating.
The post to which I responded was suggesting temp control at .1 degree,not 1 degree. Yes I can recirculate and get readings in several spots that confirm I am within 1 degree my temp and I, like you, can do that regularly. But what I - and you - can't eliminate is the possibility that hot and cold spots exist elsewhere in the mash bed simply because you've taken the temperature at a few spots.
 

Nubiwan

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The post to which I responded was suggesting temp control at .1 degree,not 1 degree. Yes I can recirculate and get readings in several spots that confirm I am within 1 degree my temp and I, like you, can do that regularly. But what I - and you - can't eliminate is the possibility that hot and cold spots exist elsewhere in the mash bed simply because you've taken the temperature at a few spots.
The fact that many wont, don't or cannot recirculate, or test various mash zones further validates the theory that you are not going to make substandard product because of temp differences throughout the mash. What you might achieve (with these tools) is consistency from beer to beer.

At 5-20 gallon batches, how much does it matter? Do we all aim to make the same beer every time? A brewery making 120,000 barrels a day would have to care more about consistency and process.
 

Nubiwan

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This answers a lot of my questions when asking for anecdotal evidence.

Found here: Mash temps.....

When I first started developing the core beer for the brewery I run I ran several mash tests on our flagship Blonde Ale. I kept all variables the same except I mashed batch 'A' around 148f, batch 'B' around 152f, and batch 'C' around 154f. This beer was 97% 2 row base malt, 1.5% victory malt, and 1.5% carapils malt. All three batches had the same preboil gravity and all three batches had the same post boil/original gravity going to the carboys. All three carboys received the same yeast pitch and were fermented at the same temps for the same number of days (10 days @ 66f, 3 days at 31f, keg + carb). Batch 'A' attenuated to 89%, 'B' to 85%, and 'C' to 81% which resulted in roughly a 0.5% abv difference from 'A' to 'C'. The important part.... all three beers had the same head retention (I timed them with a stop watch), all three beers had the same perceived mouth feel (with several panels of "judges"), and all three beers tasted the same (with several panels of "judges").

So, were they different? Yes!
But, were they really different? Nope.
 

bobtheUKbrewer2

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I BIAB but do not worry. I get strike water to 73 deg C then add 11.25 lb grains slowly with stirring to avoid dough balls. Temp is then typically 67 deg C. Over about 10 minutes I heat up to 70 deg C and at the end of the 75 minute mash temp is 67 to 67.5 deg C. I run off the liquid into the electric boiler at max power and then skim off the brown sludge over the next 20 minutes. Once it boils I adjust the voltage until I have a gentle rolling boilI allow to cool for 2 hours (outside location) then transfer to a 13 L and a 9 L stainless steel fermenter and place in a cold water bath until at 21 deg C when I pitch the yeast. Fermentation usually takes 6 days when I bottle. On the 7th day I brew again. No, no bottle bombs, no contamination, very clear beers ( I use protofloc for last 15 minutes of boil and add Clarex on day 3 of fermentation). Any questions ?
 

NewJersey

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First let me say that I really don't give a damn WHAT method you chose, as long as you enjoy yourself, make beer you like, and are happy. As a brewer who has made beers for 35 years, and has brewed with 3 vessel, BIAB, All-in-one, HERMS, and recently lost ALL of my equipment to fire and thus could choose ANY system or style I liked to rebuild my brewing, I would like to make a couple of observations on this topic - play a little Satan advocate if you will:

For starters, I have not seen this much rationalization and positive affirmation in one place since Stuart Smally was a character on Saturday Night Live! ANYTHING so completely free of flaw, and so wrought full of virtue, simplicity, and utter excellence RARELY needs such devoted and wholesale defense! Odd.

ALL BREWING SYSTEMS - Have issues. All require some attention to water chemistry, can produce unwanted characteristics, and need attention at differing points and times. ALL can and do produce fine beers. ALL can produce excellent beers, and are far more dependent on the cook and the ingredients than the pots and pans used to make it.

Let me look at some of the downsides I EXPERIENCED in my home brewing with BIAB, and why I dropped it to begin with and why I had/have ZERO interest in it as i rebuild. (I know some of these things will come as a shock to many of the readers on this thread since once again a good common sense thread about BIAB, has morphed into an inclusion of LODO, and has gradually devolved into a religious tome wherein the miracles of this system are rivaled only by the resurrection of Lazarus, and maybe the whole loaves and fishes thingy!

I heat my water for mash in a 5 gallon pot on the kitchen stove. I mash in a 10 gallon cooler on the counter. I sparge into a 10 gallon pot, take it on the porch and boil away. I heat a bit more than half my water for the mash. It does not take long on the stove. I crush grain and get parts together while it warms. I mash for an hour which is MORE than enough time to heat sparge water to temp. This sits a few minutes in the mash tun before draining. Pretty typical sort of 3 vessel.

Now when I tried BIAB I had to heat ALL the water at once- but still had to do so on the stove. I could have bought another expensive 10+ gallon pot to do this BUT it would not fit on the stove anyway and even if it did it would have taken a whole lot longer to get it ALL up to temp. Getting the 20 gallon BIAB pot on the stove was out of the question entirely! SURE i could have built a big expensive brew room with heater big enough to heat ALL the water at once in the 20 gal. but I don't want to. SO I had to heat it all in three pots (Still more gear for this SIMPLE system) Then I DID have to buy a much bigger brew pot because my ten gallon pot was not big enough for am huge bag of grain and ALL the water. So more expense AND a BIGGER pot that is more of a pain to store, clean, handle, move when full, etc. Then of course there is that whole LIFTING IT THING. So now I need to install a pulley in my kitchen ceiling (WE already established I do not have time, money or desire to build a dedicated brewery room) I do not WANT a pulley in my kitchen ceiling. So I either need to recruit someone to brew with EVERY TIME I BREW, so we can both stand there like fools holding a hot bag of wet grain. OR jury rig some sort of ladder, tri-pod or other system to hold a pulley to life the heavy wet bag. WAY convenient so far. And so far all i can see i have saved for TIME is the short period of waiting for the sparge to be done the second time, so a few minutes. (I lost all these few minutes dragging the clumsy ladder rig in and out of the house and fussing around with the pulley) So now i have wort, and I gotta tote that big ass 20 gallon pot out the door to the porch to boil. The old 10 gallon was awkward enough but the big pot is a real pain. I prefer to brew alone - and like to brew on MY schedule, not dependent on having someone else on hand all the time. But now i am horsing around giant pots that don't get lighter as I age! They will not for you either. Still, boil and pitch and done!

So now the clean up - AH YES the clean up, where BIAB REALLY kicks ass! So in stead of wiping out my ONE water pot and storing it, I now have three. STILL is is only water, so easy. Then I have to go outside and dump my grain out of the cooler, and rinse it out with the hose. THAT takes pert-near 5 minutes. When I did BIAB, I had to drag the bag outside and dump it, then clean it out. Thing is AFTER draining the wort initially, I STILL had a messy bag hanging there, and it was still dripping. SO I needed a pot to catch the drips which had to be cleaned (another item to clean) And it took a good half hour to get ALL THE CRAP off the bag, and get the bag washed up. So I cannot see the clean up advantage to BIAB, I gotta clean a tun or a bag one way or the other, and I need something to catch the drips or else i have to mop up the mess when done. After the boil, I gotta clean a big heavy 10 gal pot or an even bigger heavier 20 gal pot. Point is, I still gotta clean up pots and bags and utensils and saying that BIAB is less dirty, easier clean up, simpler, is just self- deluding.

So far I have had to buy more water pots, OR try to fit a big old 20 gallon pot on my stove (Even if I could do this and was willing to wait half a day for it to get to temp, I still at SOME POINT need to move this WHOLE POT full of water or i can't use my rigged up pulley to lift things. So for necessity I HAVE TO heat the water separately and add it to my BIAB pot.) I need to clan a bag or a mash tun, I need to move a big pot or bigger pot to boil. I have to clean my pot. I do not yet see any savings on cost or convenience - NONE

Now you can argue, that I am twisting some things, or that my circumstance is different than yours - True to some extent on both counts. I COULD put my heavier, more costly 20 gallon pot out on the porch and heat it there. I COULD rig my jury rigged ladder pulley outside over the top. Then I could just heat in one pot, drain, boil, WOOHOO!!!! But I still gotta buy heavier more expensive gear. Rig a pulley. Put a catch pot under the drippy bag. clean out a mash bag. AND adjust my grind, recipe, water chemistry, etc from all my old recipes. Now ALL while freezing my ass off 8 months out of the year on the porch. BIG FUN THAT! Thank you BIAB preachers! Thank you!

The fact is as I said to start: ALL SYSTEMS have negatives. All have positives> If yours fits your environment, lifestyle, brewing needs, etc. THEN ENJOY IT and be happy. But I would suggest that endless rationalization and defensiveness really does nothing to further the cause for ANY brewing style. And it feels to me like more than ANY other system the BIAB seems to foster a sort of zealous insistence that new brewers must join in and old brewers must convert than anything else i have seen. In my circumstance/environment I found BIAB at BEST an inconvenient PITA. It does not mean you will or should. In a different circumstance I might find it a joy. When I had a large dedicated space, I also had a HERMS system and did not mess with BIAB, perhaps in that environment it would have been great. But in my original kitchen set up, then in the kitchen set up at our home that burned, as well as the one we are in now - it offers nothing but bulky gear, and mess. I brewed for the first time since the fire on a hotch-pot assortment of a 3-vessel system that friends and family fixed me up with as a surprise! Currently it is THE BEST system I ever had! Had I had the spare cash, I probably would have gone to an all-in-one of some sort. I had an anvil for a short period that I sold to a nephew before our fire - I liked it. But the igloo cooler, water pot, 10 gallon boil kettle works like a charm and fits our current kitchen and porch just dandy.

NO SYSTEM is perfect- use what you like and do not work so hard to prove yours is best. It is really only BEST for YOU. There is a difference.
Is this a joke? I am asking you sincerely.
 

fun4stuff

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There is very little reason to not BIAB. It is the best way to brew beer. Hands down.

You can make good beer with a 3 vessel system...but why bother?
 

eshea3

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The fact that many wont, don't or cannot recirculate, or test various mash zones further validates the theory that you are not going to make substandard product because of temp differences throughout the mash. What you might achieve (with these tools) is consistency from beer to beer.

At 5-20 gallon batches, how much does it matter? Do we all aim to make the same beer every time? A brewery making 120,000 barrels a day would have to care more about consistency and process.
1. Some of the most rigorous process control is in macro breweries that make some of the most uninteresting beer, IMO.

2. People make great beer while doing step mashes and decoction mashes that are the antithesis of holding mash temps to such a precise degree of .1F.

3. Mash temp is but one of many factors. Variability exists in ingredients like malts and hops, to name one, that will impact some utopian view of consistency.

I could go through several more points, but I'll just leave it at this - assertions that are not supported with citation to data are really just one person's opinion. Somebody's not a better brewer nor do they produce better beer because they adhere to brewing mythology.
 

Nubiwan

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I think you will effect your resultant beer more by alterations to grain bill, and type of yeast used, than any fluctuaions in mash temp. Bit of a "no **** Sherlock" statement, but point is the former have a greater impact on flavour than the latter, so perhaps they are thins we should endeavour to experiment with when seeking to either clone or acheive a certain taste in beer.
 

Nubiwan

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Beer is really made in the fermenter, anyway. 🤷‍♂️
I suggest beer is made by grain bill going in the mash, then the other controls you have in the fermenter would be yeast, temp and time. Think yeast, grain bill and hop schedule carry more clout than anything else to affect your final product. I am not convinced mash temp control has as great an influence.
 

Taket_al_Tauro

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I suggest beer is made by grain bill going in the mash, then the other controls you have in the fermenter would be yeast, temp and time. Think yeast, grain bill and hop schedule carry more clout than anything else to affect your final product. I am not convinced mash temp control has as great an influence.
Don't forget the water... It's by far the main ingredient in beer and it can have a huge impact as well.
 

Nubiwan

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I've moved to mostly 30 boil time. Except for different hop schedules, I haven't noticed anything different in my beers. Saves on propane, too.
I Trust boil can be used for several things in final product. Hop additions for bitterness for one. You can also control OG by the amount you boil off, or not. Be intriguing to manipulate factors to see if boil length has appreciable Impact on flavour. Couple of posts on here, people swear by long boils doing wonders.

Is it necessary? Is boil simply the process of killing any nasties? Sterilising? Or does itimpact flavour, head retention and other stuff?
 

Nubiwan

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Don't forget the water... It's by far the main ingredient in beer and it can have a huge impact as well.
Good point. This is another thing i neglect in my rather lazy process, for the mere fact that i start out with a pretty mineral and alkaline free water. I wonder a few drops of gypsum etc. would do to my creations. You wouldnt know i have the blandest beer in Canada. Its not imho, but could it be better, with some water additions?
 
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