Author Topic: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum  (Read 532 times)

Offline KCguy

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BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« on: March 20, 2019, 06:25:54 PM »
Its always bothered me that step mashing, or even single infusion one temp rests are just accepted as fact.  Reality is, the temps vary all over the kettle, from middle, to middle top, to sides, to the bottom.  All too often Im on my way to the next temp rest and the bottom reads a good 4-6 degrees higher than the middle or top.  Sides are somewhere in between.  No wonder my beers dont taste as expected - my mash steps are shotgun blasts of temperature ranges all over.  Id like them to be more uniform. 

Seems to me it would be great to have a little drum or some sort of stirring element (something that wont tangle the bag) in the kettle, running off a small motor.  Nothing fast, just a slow turning action, to make sure the temps I read are an average, and not spot checks. 

Anyone make something like that or know of something available commercially? 

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Offline tommymorris

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BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2019, 06:57:56 PM »
I have a Grainfather. I have made the mistake of stirring an otherwise nicely recirculating mash too close to sparge time. I ended up with a stuck sparge. Be careful.

Offline denny

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2019, 07:27:51 PM »
I think it's called a "spoon"....:)
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Offline Robert

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2019, 08:45:56 PM »
I think it's called a "spoon"....:)
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2019, 09:00:29 PM »
I’ve seen a video where the brewer used an ice cream churn motor to fashion a set of rakes to stir his mash.  Hope this helps.

https://youtu.be/__Q5WUSca4Y


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Offline Richard

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2019, 01:25:04 AM »
I’ve seen a video where the brewer used an ice cream churn motor to fashion a set of rakes to stir his mash.  Hope this helps.

https://youtu.be/__Q5WUSca4Y


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I have tried various home-built mechanized stirrers for BIAB with no success.  I have a mechanized whirlpool stirrer for after the boil, and it works great, but it has not worked at all for the mash. The slow speed of the ice cream churner may keep it from twisting up or catching on the bag, although I would have gone with lexan or ABS for the top instead of wood. I think a recirculation pump would do just as good a job as a stirrer without worrying about catching the bag, at the expense of a bit more complicated cleanup. The pump and external plumbing would contribute to temperature loss, but with an electric kettle that could be compensated for with ease. FWIW, I now use an occasional stir with a spoon and let it go at that.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2019, 01:37:11 PM »
There is more heat content in the wort than in the grist solids. In addition, it is far easier to move wort than the grist. If you want more uniformity in mashing temperature, pumping the wort through the mash is the way to go.
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Offline goose

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2019, 01:44:02 PM »
I think it's called a "spoon"....:)
+1,000,000

I love that, Denny!!!!!
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Offline hmbrewing

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2019, 04:46:12 PM »
There is more heat content in the wort than in the grist solids. In addition, it is far easier to move wort than the grist. If you want more uniformity in mashing temperature, pumping the wort through the mash is the way to go.

This is exactly what I do with my BIAB. Works great.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2019, 07:27:30 PM »
Perhaps you are mashing too thick?  Above ~1.5 qt/lb the mash is loose and it is much easier to get the temperature reasonably uniform.

Some people have had success with sous vide circulators.

Offline Robert

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2019, 07:35:02 PM »
Perhaps you are mashing too thick?  Above ~1.5 qt/lb the mash is loose and it is much easier to get the temperature reasonably uniform.

Some people have had success with sous vide circulators.
I don't BIAB but do find this to be quite true.   I've found the magic ratio starts right around 1.6 qt/lb, where just a few strokes of my mash fork get everything mixed quite homogeneously and even temperatures are easily maintained with neither recirculation nor continuous stirring.
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Offline KCguy

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2019, 11:52:16 PM »
Perhaps you are mashing too thick?  Above ~1.5 qt/lb the mash is loose and it is much easier to get the temperature reasonably uniform.

Some people have had success with sous vide circulators.

I didnt think so, but once I used more water in the mash it really did seem to help.  Im a little resistant to a pump and recirc, for the additional cleanup and hassle, but might have to go that way eventually.  Pumps are expensive too....
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Offline Kevin

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2019, 02:32:05 PM »
Perhaps you are mashing too thick?  Above ~1.5 qt/lb the mash is loose and it is much easier to get the temperature reasonably uniform.

Some people have had success with sous vide circulators.

I didnt think so, but once I used more water in the mash it really did seem to help.  Im a little resistant to a pump and recirc, for the additional cleanup and hassle, but might have to go that way eventually.  Pumps are expensive too....

I don't think a pump could be any more expensive than whatever automated stirring element you have in mind. Seriously, just use a spoon or mash paddle.
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Offline KCguy

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2019, 02:38:36 PM »
I don't think a pump could be any more expensive than whatever automated stirring element you have in mind. Seriously, just use a spoon or mash paddle.

The whole POINT in asking was to see if better efficiency could be had by automating the stirring action.  I have a  spoon and use it just fine, but thanks for the condescending tone and advice.  I was hoping something better was around. 
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Michael B
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Offline narcout

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Re: BIAB setup - need an automatic stirring arm/drum
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2019, 06:04:59 PM »
Seems to me it would be great to have a little drum or some sort of stirring element (something that wont tangle the bag) in the kettle, running off a small motor.  Nothing fast, just a slow turning action, to make sure the temps I read are an average, and not spot checks. 

Anyone make something like that or know of something available commercially?

There are at least two brewers on the lowoxygen forum that use something like what you are describing.

Below is a picture of one of them.   I've tried, but I cannot find the second picture.  It was a device similar to the below, but the agitator looked more like a big drill auger.

I hope Tomabrew doesn't mind my posting this here.  If you join the lowoxygen forum, you could reach out to him directly for more info.






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