Author Topic: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag  (Read 2007 times)

Offline homebrewdad7

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Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« on: July 09, 2015, 03:08:33 PM »
I'll admit it.  I have never cared for BIAB following a couple of less than super experiences with the process.  But recently, Rex from The Brew Bag contacted me to sponsor the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge, and he talked me into trying out one of his cooler-sized bags as a fabric filter for my normal process.

I have to admit, it worked really well.  Here's a full review, if you care to read (or like pictures).

Offline denny

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2015, 03:46:46 PM »
I'm sure the bag works well.  It's the whole process that I personally find unwieldy.
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Offline homebrewdad7

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2015, 03:53:25 PM »
It really wasn't any different, Denny.  I lined the cooler with my bag (it was custom made to fit).  Everything else, I did entirely as usual, save two minor revisions:

1. I had a little slippage, as I mentioned.  Next time, I plan to secure the bag's handles with bungees.

2. When I was done draining as normal, I picked the bag up a bit, which frees more wort.

Cleanup was no longer than usual; it may have been easier. 

What exactly do you see as being the unwieldy part?

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2015, 03:55:41 PM »
I'm sure the bag works well.  It's the whole process that I personally find unwieldy.

In this usage, though, it's not a true BIAB setup where you need to hoist the bag out of the kettle and let it drain.

It seems like the bag is essentially replacing a false bottom or braid and acting as the filter on your mash.
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Offline homebrewdad7

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2015, 03:58:41 PM »
Joe Sr., you nailed it.  I personally do not enjoy the traditional BIAB process.  This setup basically made the need for a false bottom, braid, etc, superfluous. 

I did the normal batch sparge with a cooler process, it's just that my braid really didn't have to filter anything. 

Offline Stevie

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2015, 04:12:27 PM »
I like the idea of these, but it's not a "need" for me right now. One thing I don't like is it's another item to clean.

Offline homebrewdad7

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2015, 04:15:49 PM »
I wholeheartedly agree that it isn't a need, it's an enhancement.

Honestly?  Cleaning was not really any tougher than without.  It's not like the LHBS grain bags, where you get tons of little husk pieces stuck in them.  This thing is really slick and smooth.  Dump the grain out, rinse it off.  It's that simple. 

Sure, rinsing the bag is a little effort - and I do mean a little - but it saved me having to rinse my braid over and over while more grain bits (where do they keep coming from?!?) float out of it.  Once rinse of the cooler and it's done.

Offline denny

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2015, 05:07:52 PM »
It really wasn't any different, Denny.  I lined the cooler with my bag (it was custom made to fit).  Everything else, I did entirely as usual, save two minor revisions:

1. I had a little slippage, as I mentioned.  Next time, I plan to secure the bag's handles with bungees.

2. When I was done draining as normal, I picked the bag up a bit, which frees more wort.

Cleanup was no longer than usual; it may have been easier. 

What exactly do you see as being the unwieldy part?

I thought you were doing traditional BIAB and I found that lifting a hot, wet, dripping bag was a no go for me.  But I see that you're just using the bag for lautering.
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Offline denny

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2015, 05:09:00 PM »
but it saved me having to rinse my braid over and over while more grain bits (where do they keep coming from?!?) float out of it.  Once rinse of the cooler and it's done.

That shouldn't happen.  I'm gonna send you a good braid to try.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline homebrewdad7

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2015, 05:10:26 PM »
No, I don't care for traditional BIAB at all.  This is basically just a filter liner for the cooler.

Heh, thanks for the braid!  Beware, though - my four year old can be killer with a mash paddle.

Offline denny

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2015, 05:27:57 PM »
No, I don't care for traditional BIAB at all.  This is basically just a filter liner for the cooler.

Heh, thanks for the braid!  Beware, though - my four year old can be killer with a mash paddle.

Mine is beat to crap and still works fine...although I haven't put it to the 4 year old test!  But you can shorten it down to a few inches so it makes it hard for him to hit it.  I'll email ya for an address after I make a trip to town to grab the braid.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline jimmykx250

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2015, 05:31:54 PM »
I don't understand why people don't like BIAB. Only one kettle to clean-  I have one eye bolt with a ratchet to hoist it out with (custom bag here to) Whats not to like? Simple and one kettle to clean not a cooler and a kettle- I guess its like they say make it as complicated or as simple as you want. Maybe its because its the only way i have brewed but i cant see wanting to have multiple items to clean vs one. 
On another note Bob Stempski turned me on to the no chill method and man I cant see going back to chilling either. Pull bag, boil, drain into no chill container pitch the next morning. Save me so much time and clean up!!!! Thanks Bob.

Jimmykx250

Offline homebrewdad7

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2015, 05:34:58 PM »
I don't like BIAB because I make a mess doing it.  I also have a really hard time maintaining mash temps, whereas in my cooler, I can almost "set and forget" it. 

I think that no chill is interesting, but all of the more in depth stuff I look into says it's not a great method for hop heavy beers (IPAs). 

Of course, I have a Hydra immersion chiller from JaDeD, which chills 5.5 gallons to pitching temps in under six minutes.  So I'm pretty happy with that.

Denny - that sounds awesome.

Offline pete b

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2015, 12:21:08 PM »
Actually the way you use it as a liner for batch sparging in a cooler would work great for me. Do they make them for round coolers? It seems it would be easier for me to just pull the bag, give some grains to the chickens and the rest to the compost. Its a piano (Edit PIA: damn autofill) to dump from the cooler with a false bottom.
As far as biab goes I love it for 2.5 gallon batches on weeknights in the winter in my kitchen and its made me a better brewer because I have been able to do way more batches. That being said, if I have the time and the weather is OK I prefer batch sparging outside and I wouldn't want to do 5 gal biab.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 01:59:46 PM by pete b »
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Offline leejoreilly

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Re: Brew in a Bag in a Cooler - I review the Brew Bag
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2015, 12:25:20 PM »
I don't understand why people don't like BIAB.

Jimmy, I don't think it's so much "don't like BIAB", and it is "don't see enough benefit in BIAB to change". I've honed my process to the point where it's dependable and repeatable, I enjoy doing it, and my beers come out great. There's little to entice me to change it; refine it, sure, but change it, not so much. And cleaning up my mash tun isn't on my "critical path" - I do it during the boil - so I'm not likely to save any time overall. Plus, I've never had a stuck sparge (talk about tempting fate by mentioning it...), so no benefit there either.

On the other hand, BIAB is likely a fine method for a new all-grain brewer to try, assuming your brewery can handle whatever method you use to lift and drain the bag (I brew in my kitchen, could be problematic for me).