I do occasional BIAB batches. Right now I have a rectangular 70Qt cooler that I use for mashing. It’s rather cumbersome because my bag does not fit well in it. The cooler is way larger than the bag. So I end up juggling the bag opening while stirring and getting the mash going. I always feel like I am one small mistake away from having the grains spill out of the bag and into the cooler. So I considered getting a round 10 gallon cooler this spring. So my question is:
with my rectangular cooler the grains are very spread out and and in very good contact with the water. IN a round 10 gallon I would think they would be more restricted and packed together. Does this compaction in the smaller cooler cause any problems as compared to the non compaction of the big rectangular cooler? Does contact with the water make for better mashing or does it not really matter once the grains are wet and warm?
Don’t quote me on this since I’m not a BIAB expert (or brewing expert for that matter), but I don’t think it matters.
Thinking about it, there will still be a sort of grain bed in the bag in the cooler. In one, you’re bed is spread out and thin, in the other it’s very thick. I don’t think it matters as long as it’s all mixed well and wet. It still acts the same, just in different shapes essentially.
wait maybe I just read your post too quickly, but why are you using a cooler at all? One of the benefits of BIAB is that you can just remove the bag from your kettle and you only use one vessel…
Well, yeah. So I guess you could call me sort of a hybrid masher. I like that term. So here’s my deal. My brew kettle is only 8 gallons so it is very hard to get all the grain and water in there. So I got a big cooler and a bag. It allows me to follow the BIAB method of having the grains in a convenient sack that I can just pull out of the cooler when mashing is complete. Then I just drain my wort into my kettle and be on my merry brewing way. Also, the cooler allows me to keep my mash temp solid without wrapping the kettle in sleeping bags or blankets, or having to add heat at any time. I preheat the cooler, add the water, then add my grains. Stir a bit. Mash for an hour. Then just pull out the bag and then drain into the kettle. I threw a piece of vinyl hose with a PVC ball valve onto the cooler drain outlet to make draining more controlled. Seems to work quite well.
So I was considering either buying a round cooler or going to the fabric store and buying the mesh fabric and making my own mega sized bag to fit the cooler I have.
… or going to the fabric store and buying the mesh fabric and making my own mega sized bag to fit the cooler I have.[/quote]
I’d do this^^ or you could order a custom bag to fit your cooler from the brew bag guy. I BIAB’d in a 9 gallon kettle for about a year. 4.5 gallons of water and most grain bills worked out fine, sparge to full preboil volume.
Personally I’d lean toward a bigger kettle and bag but that’s me.
I’m a hybrid BIABer too. I use a two vessel system and am now adding inline thermometer so I can recirc my mash and accurately hold mash temps. Find the system that works for you and dial it in.
[quote=“Pietro”]wait maybe I just read your post too quickly, but why are you using a cooler at all? One of the benefits of BIAB is that you can just remove the bag from your kettle and you only use one vessel…[/quote]I’ve done a few BIABs and I found it to save some time. I then got to thinking about rinsing the grain to get better efficiency, setting up in a cooler, etc. I realized that was kind of defeating the purpose of saving a bit of time so I stuck with batch sparging, plus there’s no lifting and squeezing hot grain bags involved. When I want knock some time off my brew day I no sparge in my cooler and do 45 minute mashes and boils, those 3 things save close to an hour.
You should be able to BIAB in your 8 gallon pot. But if you think it’s to much trouble to wrap your pot then sure use your tun but why use the bag in the tun. just put a screen on your ball valve? That would eliminate the question of efficiency. You have to clean your cooler anyway so what’s the purpose. I tried my first BIAB this weekend. Saved on clean up that’s why I did it.
Yeah, you know you are probably right. I should just look to see about adding a piece of braid to the inside of the cooler and make it a proper tun
[quote=“Brew Cat”]I tried my first BIAB this weekend. Saved on clean up that’s why I did it.[/quote]That’s why I gave it a shot too. The only place I think it saves a little time cleaning up is being able to dump the grain bag rather than scooping out a tun. I can thoroughly hose out my cooler in about 2-3 minutes and you still have to clean your grain bag too.
I think the main reason to BIAB, more so than saving time, is the low cost entry in to all grain, that and it’s very simple. I wish it had been around back when I started AG. Batch sparging was just starting to gain traction at the time and luckily I stumbled across it because all the info on fly sparging was overwhelming to me back then. Had I known it was as simple as getting a paint straining bag and a large enough pot I likely would have took a stab at it after my first couple extract batches.
In winter I need to bring everything inside to clean and it’s a pain to clean the cooler inside. I don’t have to clean the recirculating pot and colander and also don’t have to do the batch sparge . Eliminating the batch sparge alone saves 1/2 hour. I probably knocked off 45 min. In warm weather I’ll go back to ten gallon batches so then I’ll use the tun and clean up outside.
I never considered that BC, I can see where it would save time and effort. I tend to take my brewing situation for granted. I brew in my shop year round and where I clean up there’s a floor drain and a big utility sink.