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Mashing in a bag

I’ll be attempting my first all-grain brew soon, and I have an idea on how I might save some money on equipment. I bought an Igloo Cube cooler to serve as my mash tun because at $24, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a ten-gallon round cooler. It has a drain hole with plug at the bottom, so here’s what I’m thinking: I’ll line the cooler with a large fine-mesh bag and pour my grains inside the bag. Then, when I’m ready to sparge, I’ll open the drain plug, drain the cooler into a bucket, replace the plug, and pour in my sparge water. Then I’ll drain again to complete my wort.That way, I won’t have to buy any valve hardware, false bottom, tubing, etc. It will be an all-grain setup for about $30. My question is will this work? It seems so simple, yet I haven’t heard of anyone else doing it, which worries me. Is there something I’m missing here?
Thanks for any comments or advice!

For about the same amount of money, you can construct a MLT that will likely work much better. See www.dennybrew.com.

Search BIAB, lots of people do this. Although if you have the cooler, I’d suggest Denny’s method. Not sure if the Cubes are the best choice since they have an angled drain hole. I bought a 48qt marine cooler for $28 at Wallyworld, its rectangular with a horizontal spout and a small trough to help the liquid drain completely.

Also, I went for several years without a valve on my MLT, just have enough hose to keep the tip above the liquid level. Did graduate to a valve not long ago though.

I’ve found BIAB to be a tremendous PITA for batches more than a few gal. Obviously, others disagree with that. But I’m right! :wink:

My endorsement of BIAB below. Still sticking to it and loving it. 5.5 gallons of saison into the fermenter this way on Saturday while brewing alongside it in a SS, tri-clover clamped, etc. etc. RIMS system. The latter was about a 6 hour brewday. Mine was about 3 1/2 hours. Now we did yield about 15 gallons of 1.095 RIS in the latter, but thats another story :mrgreen:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=115208&hilit=biab+endorsement

The Cube with the angled or drain port on the bottom might be good (no dead space). Here’s a good method I might look into if my current setup doesn’t pan out in the long run. Just gotta get the custom bag.
Looks super easy. It’s brew in a bag, cooler-style. No lifting a heavy bag out of the wort, no worries of stuck run off, can crush nice and fine, and, the guy in the thread says, there’s no need to vorlauf. Check it oot:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-new- ... up-365526/

[quote=“Beersk”]No lifting a heavy bag out of the wort, no worries of stuck run off, can crush nice and fine, and, the guy in the thread says, there’s no need to vorlauf. Check it oot:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-new- ... up-365526/[/quote]

All of that is true of a Cheap’n’Easy system, also. I’m not knocking BIAB, but based on my own experience I just don’t find it easier than using a mash tun.

I have gone back/forth between BIAB & traditional mash tun a few times. I am not going back to biab; for a little more money you can add a valve & braid to your cooler. I have less than $30 invested in my mash tun.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“Beersk”]No lifting a heavy bag out of the wort, no worries of stuck run off, can crush nice and fine, and, the guy in the thread says, there’s no need to vorlauf. Check it oot:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-new- ... up-365526/[/quote]

All of that is true of a Cheap’n’Easy system, also. I’m not knocking BIAB, but based on my own experience I just don’t find it easier than using a mash tun.[/quote]
I agree, I do the cheap’n’Easy system, also, and it rocks. But this is just a different approach that I think is pretty damn cool and combines both methods into one.

Knowing how much the water splashes when you open a cooler valve to drain ice water, I recommend putting a piece of tubing in the drain hole. You can skip the valve Denny uses if you keep the hose above the level of the water in the cooler.

Right, and the flow control can be with one of those tubing clamps. That’s what I use and it works just fine. The guy in the video has an elbow coupler on the inside of the cooler to drain out every last drop, which is a pretty good idea.

Thanks everybody. Great advice! I’m really looking forward to my first AG batch!

Gotta agree. 10lb of malt saturated with water is a little more than I want to lift and hold. If I were going this route I’d rig up a block and tackle or at least something I could hang the bag on while it drained.

[quote=“Beersk”]The Cube with the angled or drain port on the bottom might be good (no dead space). Here’s a good method I might look into if my current setup doesn’t pan out in the long run. Just gotta get the custom bag.
[/quote]

I just don’t if it would work for a braid, it would have th braid sticking up into the tun more than running along the bottom. It’d be fine for BIAB though. As it is, I tip my cooler MLT to get as much first runnings off as possible.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]

It’d be fine for BIAB though. As it is, I tip my cooler MLT to get as much first runnings off as possible.[/quote]
Same here. I was thinking it was a pain in the a$$ using this new chest cooler, but then I saw this guy’s video and realized you can take the lid off and just have it as a separate piece. That made cleaning MUCH easier. Problem solved for me. And I truly believe that the longer braid gives a better filter than a bazooka screen for some reason. Or maybe it’s the longer versus shorter. Because I used to get stuck runoffs all the time in my round cooler with 6 inch bazooka screen. But am not in the chest cooler with longer braid. So it might be from a shallower grain bed coupled with the longer braid that does the trick. At least that’s what I’m thinkin’…

Gotta agree. 10lb of malt saturated with water is a little more than I want to lift and hold. If I were going this route I’d rig up a block and tackle or at least something I could hang the bag on while it drained.[/quote]

If you’ve gotta have a lift, it pretty much negates the supposed ease of BIAB. Might as well build a mashtun at that point.

Shallower grain bed might help. My experience is that length of braid doesn’t matter.

Denny - do you just back-flush with some water to clean the braid?

[quote=“Denny”]If you’ve gotta have a lift, it pretty much negates the supposed ease of BIAB. Might as well build a mashtun at that point.[/quote]Or use multiple bags - 5-gal paint bags easily hold 5lbs of grain plus another 4-5 lbs of absorbed wort, so they’re easy to remove and drain. But once you’re using more than 15 lbs of grain, a mashtun with a braid is less work.

My experience is that most of the wort comes through the first couple inches of the braid. I e used long and short and had the same runoff rate.

I take the lids off my MLTs too.

I hose down the inside of the cooler, which pretty much does it. I do run water water back up the drain tubing, but that’s more to clean the tubing than the braid.

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