Author Topic: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?  (Read 1239 times)

Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« on: August 11, 2014, 07:05:46 AM »
I'm getting ready to buy a brew kettle for BIAB and want to separate what's necessary from what's for show.  I'm a results-oriented guy that's willing to pay for reasonable convenience, but don't care about "one-upping" other home brewers.

I'm going to do mostly 3-gal batches with the occasional 5-gal batch.  I'm planning on getting a 10-gal pot and if the OG goes too high for the 10-gal size for some particular recipe then I'll simply scale it down to the 3-gal batch size for that brew.

My questions are:

Aluminum or stainless steel?

Spigot or not or should I just siphon the wort to the fermenter?

Kettle equipped with large thermometer or forgo that and dip a digital thermometer in occasionally?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Offline denny

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 08:21:30 AM »
My questions are:

Aluminum or stainless steel?

Spigot or not or should I just siphon the wort to the fermenter?

Kettle equipped with large thermometer or forgo that and dip a digital thermometer in occasionally?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

1. doesn't matter

2. if you want...easy to live without

3. When you mount a thermometer, you only know the temp in that one location.  In addition, the probe sticking inside the kettle can get in the way
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2014, 09:42:04 AM »
My questions are:

Aluminum or stainless steel?

Spigot or not or should I just siphon the wort to the fermenter?

Kettle equipped with large thermometer or forgo that and dip a digital thermometer in occasionally?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

1. doesn't matter

2. if you want...easy to live without

3. When you mount a thermometer, you only know the temp in that one location.  In addition, the probe sticking inside the kettle can get in the way

So true! But here's my take on it.

1. I like my stainless because I have welded fittings.

2. I really only think a ball valve is needed if you're going to be pumping the wort. If you don't have a ball valve then you're kind of forced to use an auto siphon to transfer wort after whirlpool and chilling, which means that you have an opportunity to get cleaner wort transfered if you're careful. Whereas if you have a ball valve and are impatient like me, you tend to suck up some break material and hops.

3. I like my mounted brewmometers,  but a digital with a long probe (to keep fingers out of hot wort) and a large readout (so you can read it through the steam) would be better. Actually,  even with a mounted thermometer you still need a good digital one to calibrate the mounted one.


Offline ram5ey

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2014, 01:44:29 PM »
No clue about aluminum vs ss but I do love my stainless.  I hate racking so for me the ball valve is a big plus.  I really don't tank you get much out of a mounted thermometer for biab.  You will want to be measuring all around the mash not just that side spot.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2014, 01:49:23 PM »
I really like my spigot. It's not hard to start a siphon but it's harder than opening a ball valve.

I don't have and have never felt the need for a built in thermo but I was really glad when I got my kettle with valve.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 02:54:29 PM »
I brew in a bag most of the time, brew small batches, and have none of the fancy spigots or thermo probes or any of that garbage, and never will unless I receive it as a gift or prize.  I'm perfectly happy with my ghetto brewing method.  It's very cheap and very effective.
Dave

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Offline alestateyall

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BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2014, 07:38:42 PM »
You can add a spigot after the fact. Try without then get the gear online if you want to add the spigot.

I have AL. It works fine. It is not as pretty as SS. The inside of an AL kettle turns yellowish brown and has ugly scratches all over the place. SS gets scratched but maintains a nicer look. But, my 10.5G AL kettle was much cheaper than any SS I could find.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2014, 04:58:02 AM by alestateyall »
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Online erockrph

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2014, 08:15:13 PM »
BIAB can be as cheap and low-tech as you want and still crank out damn good beer. That's one of the benefits of BIAB.

For me, I only brew 3-gallon batches, so I have no problem picking up and dumping my 5-gallon kettle. I got a decent one with a clad bottom that works well on my stovetop, and I've been using it since my first partial-boil extract batch. I have no need or want for a spigot, and my relatively inexpensive probe thermometer works perfectly fine for my purposes.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2014, 04:05:54 AM »
Aluminum will discolor if subjected to extended contact with some of the alkaline cleaners.  I found out when I mixed up some BLC in my gallon sized aluminum pitcher to clean my beer lines.  No great harm, but it now has a ring at the one quart mark....
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Offline beerstache

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2014, 02:23:44 PM »
#1 important thing is the BAG!  I got a supposedly biab bag from a home brew shop and it was way too coarse and let in way to much trub and grain particles and the wort was very cloudy.  Look for a high quality fine mesh bag large enough to fit your kettle/vessel.  I use a 5 gal stainless polarware kettle with a ball valve.  I also use a small winch type device to suspend the bag over the kettle for draining, works great!

Offline alestateyall

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2014, 05:41:40 PM »
This bag from morebeer is cheap and effective. I used one probably 12 times before switching back to batch sparge.

http://morebeer.com/products/bag-29-brew-biab.html

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Offline Brewtweak

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2014, 06:56:40 AM »
I made my own bag. It took about 45 minutes and I made it to fit my kettle. Bought sheer curtain material from Walmart for a couple bucks. I double folded the seams and double stitched it with some upholstery thread I got from a fabric store. Since I too am a half batch brewer, i've got no problem hoisting the bag but there are lots of inventive ways to lift a bigger bag. Like erockrph, I use a 5 gallon clad bottom pot I got from walmart for $50.  A bit of advice, make some sort of false bottom for your kettle, then you can direct fire without melting the bag.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 07:02:11 AM by swlusk »
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Offline thatgeekguy

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2014, 10:27:16 AM »
Go as simple or as fancy as you want on the kettle, as others have mentioned you can easily add a valve and thermometer later yourself. Stainless is good if you have the cash, easier to clean and stays pretty :)

Don't skimp on the bag. I started with the large cheap bag from MoreBeer, but it really is too coarse if you crush your grain as fine as you should. Also, it's a square bottom bag so it has a tendency to hang out over the kettle when lifting and draining. I ended up with a custom bag from WilserBrewer that is made specifically for the dimensions of my kettle, and has a rounded bottom for better draining. Prices are fair and quality is top notch, check it out at http://biabbags.webs.com/
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Offline S. cerevisiae

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2014, 09:06:55 AM »
2. I really only think a ball valve is needed if you're going to be pumping the wort. If you don't have a ball valve then you're kind of forced to use an auto siphon to transfer wort after whirlpool and chilling, which means that you have an opportunity to get cleaner wort transfered if you're careful. Whereas if you have a ball valve and are impatient like me, you tend to suck up some break material and hops.

I was recently perusing my old brewing logs.  There was a period in the late nineties where almost every batch that I brewed was fantastic.  I wanted to know what I did different during that period.   What I realized is that I used an unmodified Vollrath 38.5-quart stainless steel stockpot as my kettle.  I had briefly left the hobby and sold all of my gear in 1998; however, it did not take long before I realized that doing so was a mistake.  The kettle that I sold was a St. Pat's of Texas modified Vollrath 38.5-quart stainless steel stockpot.  It had a bulkhead that consisted of a Swagelok fitting that was welded directly to the kettle, which resulted in a low-profile design.  For some reason, I was unable to purchase another St. Pat's kettle, so I went to racking out of an off-the-shelf Vollrath stockpot.

Here are a couple of recent photos of my old St. Pat's kettle that I obtained from the brewer who now owns it:





Anyway, getting back to the non-modified kettle.  Well, what I discovered was that racking out of the kettle was the major difference between the good beer that I made earlier with the St. Pat's kettle and the great beer that I made during this period. Racking immersion chilled wort resulted in bright cast-out wort, which, in turn, resulted in cleaner tasting beer.  I eventually replaced the non-modified Vollrath stockpot with a first-generation Polar Ware brew kettle with welded fittings and a false bottom (I have always used whole hops). Reviewing my notes revealed that there was a small drop in beer quality when I did so.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 09:09:18 AM by S. cerevisiae »
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: BIAB: What's necessary and what's not?
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2014, 02:18:18 PM »
Ya ive been consistently lazy lately and drain using my pump. But on my next brew day I am going to force myself to let the whirlpool settle well then rack using my auto syphon. Just to see if I notice a difference in the end product