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Mash tun or BIAB that is the question

For large batches 15 gallons or more a kettle tun of course. 10 gallons is debatable but 5 and under brewers is who I’m interested in . It seems that the cooler tun became a standard and that’s how I started. Then I heard about this biab at first I was sceptical. But more and more people were switching over so I gave it a try . Now it seems not just here but also over at brewers friend forum , which by the way has alot of Australian brewers, are going that . Anyone think this will become the new standard.

What are your best techniques for small batch BIAB. Eight pounds of grain and less. A few things I would like to learn more about.
Full volume mash.
Dunk sparge versus batch sparge.
Amount of sparge water, SG of runnings, and tannin extraction.

I prefer a dunk sparge but you can do full volume you just won’t get as much extraction but that can be adjusted with the grain bill. Another thing you can do is do a full volume in one pot then a dunk spare in another smaller beer and get 2 beers

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One kettle, a basket and a pump. I will recirc the whole time, driving the out put hose into the grist. I git 80% and better. I compared to using a mash tun and the only differences I found is, time savings, and less to clean up and storage. I can do 10 gallons but that has my basket maxed out, so then I have to use a bag along side for higher gravities. I won’t be going back to my mash-tun. Next set up will be much better. Sneezles61

I use a cooler, but follow standard mash & sparge. The BIAB is simply there in place of a false bottom or bazooka. My 3-gal batches top-out around 10 lbs of grist.

For my 2 cents. I think the bag makes clean-up super easy. I’ve never brewed without the bag, but how do y’all get the spent grain cleaned out? I imagine you have to dump the grain and take a garden hose to the cooler? I pull the bag, dump it out; rinse it a bit in the sink, wait for it to air dry, then shake it out.

My boil kettle is my mash tun…10 gallon…and i can get close to boilovers doing 3g batches. I pull the bag…dunk a few times in the wort…then drop it in a strainer…wait awhile…squeeze…stir it up good…take a gravity reading…boil :slight_smile: dump bag of grain into a plastic bag and it goes in garbage…turn bag inside out and rinse it off a bit…then hang it on deck to dry…when dry all the leftover grain comes right off. My biggest grain bill to date was 12#…most are around 6-7.

If you can boil over 3 gals in a 10 gal kettle you need to turn your burner down Unc! you’re wasting precious fossil fuels!

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I’m a diehard BIABer. I built my brew cart, with 2 burnners and 2 16gal bayou classic 1064 kettles, around the process I thought worked best for me. It still works great. I’m still threatening to convert to electric brewing and if/when I do I’ll likely keep all the same gear.

One kettle is the MT/BK. The second kettle is the HLT.

Typical 11 gal pils batch I’ll heat 9 gals strike in the MT/BK. Why 9 gals? Because I can use a false bottom to keep the bag off the bottom for applying heat and still have room to spare in the kettle. Heat to boil another 8-9 gallons in the HLT. Once boiling circulate through the lines, pump, chiller to sanitize. This volume gives me enough to sparge and a couple gallons for cleaning up after the boil is finished.

Pull the bag and let it drain, twist to speed draining, drop output hose into top of the bag and slowly pump water into the grain bed sparging until I get my pre-boil volume of 13.25 gals. When I start sparging the water is generally under 200 degrees, usually in the 180-190 range. No I’m not concerned about tannis from the hot water because I adjust the pH to 5.4 prior to boiling.

Am I concerned about tannis from twisting/squeezing the bag or as some have asserrted just allowing gravity to “squeeze” down on the grain bed as it hangs suspended? I haven’t been…I’ve given it a good deal of thought but I personally have never noticed an issue. I’m not a 'super taster" by any stretch. No one else has mentioned it and I have a few buddies who are beer judges.

I have a ratchet lift to pull the bag from the kettle. Otherwise I couldn’t do this size much less heavier bills for bigger bears. I use this exact process and about the same mash ratio for my 5.5 gal batches.

I get very high but more importantly predictable and consistent efficiency with this system and process. I’m happy with it and enjoy my brew days. It evolved from my 1 kettle BIAB. My 9 gallon kettle couldn’t full volume mash all the beers I wanted to brew so I used typical cooler MT mash ratios of 50/50 first and second runnings. I’d boil water first and store in a cooler, then mash in the kettle and use 2L pyrex measuring cup to “pour over” sparge.

So far all baggers. Doesn’t anyone use a tun anymore. I would like to hear some reasons other than I don’t like to lift a bag.

I use a direct fired MT with a false bottom. This came as a system and that’s how I learned to brew.

I went from mash tun to BIAB, and then back to mash tun once I got a bazooka tube and resolved all my runoff issues. I personally don’t care for BIAB, but for not so great reasons. I find it annoying to stir the mash in a bag, and I don’t like cleaning the bag afterwords. Washing grain particles out of a mesh bag is just something I find excessively annoying. Same thing with pouring wort through a paint strainer bag. Just don’t like cleaning it afterwords. But a mash tun? Easy, carry it to the compost pile, dump grains onto ground. Rinse with the hose or in the utility sink, and dump again.

I turn it down after the hot break…but if I don’t keep an eye on it…the 4.5 gallons can reach the top of the kettle :grinning:

I just shake it out and toss it in the laundry

With the wife and three kids, I have even less time for laundry than I do brewing.

I’ve never tried BIAB. I stick with the batch sparge in a cooler (blue). I should give the bag a go one day, but I hate change. I like starting in my kitchen, heating water on the electric stove. Doing everything over propane in the garage seems a little messy.

Glad you have your priorities straight

I mash on the stovetop :grinning:

Batch sparge in a cooler in my garage with a propane burner. Simple, easy to clean, right around 75% efficiency consistently. Spent grains go into compost pile. Clean out the cooler with the garden hose and let it dry before it goes back into the basement. I’ve never tried BIAB but really enjoy my current brewday and can run a standard batch in roughly 4 hours. I guess I just don’t see how BIAB could make my brewday any simpler.


That’s how I learned and it’s a great process. Basically a one pot biab is faster yet not but not that matters to me either. less cleanup. I use my cooler tun with a bag so I don’t do a traditional. I just cut out the vourlof and dunk sparge to my brew pot and fire it on the dunk then drain the tun while heating. I rinse the bag and tun with hot chiller water. Also I get better extraction because i can crush smaller and never get a stuck runoff. I’m not saying one is better than the other I just like to hear all the different ways people get to the same point.

@brew_cat I like the tun because I when the grav hits around 1.040 I can grab some for my next starter. I suppose you could also just take some from the kettle with the bag. So maybe not

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