Author Topic: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.  (Read 3637 times)

Offline bigchicken

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Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« on: June 19, 2011, 08:45:25 AM »
Hello to all!

I have been extract brewing a couple years and would like to make the jump to all grain brewing, but would like to do so without getting more equipment (if possible). I have a very large grain bag that will hold enough for a 5 gallon all grain batch. I'm wondering if it would work, advantages, disadvantages, of using my boiling kettle as a mash tun. I plan to hold my grain in the grain bag ,lift it out and place it in a strainer, and then run water through it to rinse right back into the same kettle. My kettle holds approximately 6.5 gallons of liquid, so I realize I may need to top off a bit in the fermentor to get it back to 5 gallons, like an extract brew.

If this won't work, I will be making a system like Denny recommends on his site, but am curious if my "cheap" method would work. I should also say that I still plan to extract brew the majority of the time, but want the all grain option.

Thanks in advance.
TJ Cook
Proud paying member of the AHA since 2013.

Fermenting: NOTHING!
In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer

Online euge

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 10:14:25 AM »
It's called "Brew in a Bag" or BIB and it's an Aussie homebrewing approach. There's plenty of info and some experience with it. According to JZ's Australian experience and testimony BIB makes some pretty darn good beer.

Go for it, I'd observe proper mashing ratios up to 2 quarts per pound. Or liters per kilogram... ;)
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline denny

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 10:16:48 AM »
There are a lot of people who use the BIAB method.  I hear you can make good beer with it, but to me the logisitics of dealing with a bag of grain that weighs 10-15 dry and a lot more wet, kinda outweigh the supposed simplicity.  Give it a try and see what you think, but I'll bet you'll be switching to a cooler after a few batches.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 11:14:35 AM »
When I first started doing all grain batches, my first three I think, I used my bottling bucket with a grain bag as a mash tun. It has a spigot so it was basically like a cooler tun but I only had to spend the 5 bucks for the grain bag (more like 3 I think) It was fine for normal gravity beers in five gallon batches. did a belgian pale ale as my first attempt and it came out yummy.

I would fit my grain bag into the bucket and tie it around the lip with a bungie or something. Add grain and then water, Used beersmith or some online calculator to figure out the right temp/amount. and then just wrapped that puppy in all the comforters I had in the house and waited. It lost a few degrees in an hour but not too many. If you are going for a less dry beer you might want to overshoot your strike temp a bit. or use more comforters. If I were to do it again I would add the water first. other than that... or and then you can batch sparge. I think the classic BIAB method is usually no sparge so you have to use more grain and a higher water/grain ratio.
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Offline bigchicken

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 02:22:13 PM »
I appreciate the quick feedback.I hadn't thought about the weight of the grain after it has been soaking. It may be more than my strainer can handle! I may give it a try with a partial mash batch first and see how the strainer takes it. If I have to spend money on a stronger strainer, I might as well invest in the cooler. The no sparge option may be worth a try too. 
TJ Cook
Proud paying member of the AHA since 2013.

Fermenting: NOTHING!
In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2011, 02:24:57 PM »
I appreciate the quick feedback.I hadn't thought about the weight of the grain after it has been soaking. It may be more than my strainer can handle! I may give it a try with a partial mash batch first and see how the strainer takes it. If I have to spend money on a stronger strainer, I might as well invest in the cooler. The no sparge option may be worth a try too. 

I did not have much of a problem with the weight. If you batch sparge in your bottleing bucket as I described it's not a big deal to dump the grain when you are all done. But I now have a 70 qt coleman extreme with braid and i love it.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline bigchicken

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2011, 03:22:43 PM »

I did not have much of a problem with the weight. If you batch sparge in your bottleing bucket as I described it's not a big deal to dump the grain when you are all done. But I now have a 70 qt coleman extreme with braid and i love it.
[/quote]



After reviewing a quick online video of the process, I realized I can sit the strainer on a stainless grate over the kettle. I have a round thin strainer that fits fairly well on the rim of my kettle and buckets. Using the grate will prevent too much weight from bowing out my strainer. I appreciate the feedback. I'll be giving this a try soon.
TJ Cook
Proud paying member of the AHA since 2013.

Fermenting: NOTHING!
In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2011, 04:10:02 PM »
There are a lot of people who use the BIAB method.  I hear you can make good beer with it, but to me the logisitics of dealing with a bag of grain that weighs 10-15 dry and a lot more wet, kinda outweigh the supposed simplicity.  Give it a try and see what you think, but I'll bet you'll be switching to a cooler after a few batches.

Big screw hook in joist/rafter above and some purchase with a tackle setup. If I was space constrained (like in a small appartment) I would definitely think about it.
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Offline bigchicken

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2011, 02:43:53 PM »
There are a lot of people who use the BIAB method.  I hear you can make good beer with it, but to me the logisitics of dealing with a bag of grain that weighs 10-15 dry and a lot more wet, kinda outweigh the supposed simplicity.  Give it a try and see what you think, but I'll bet you'll be switching to a cooler after a few batches.

I went ahead and gave this a try over the weekend. Denny wasn't kidding about the weight of that bag! 10 pounds of grain sure gets heavy when it's wet and you have to hold it out of the kettle to avoid the bag scorching to the bottom. The whole process was fairly simple, my brew pot just didn't hold it's temperature as well as I thought it would. I had to fire up my burner half way through the mash to get the temp back up a little. It only took a few minutes, but it felt like a long time holding that bag up.
The biggest pain of this brew day was the grain bag itself. It is a reusable nylon bag and it didn't want to come clean. It took nearly a half hour to get all the grain particles out of it when I was done. If I wasn't so cheap, I'd have thrown it away.
So after the BIAB experience I can say it will be my last. I went out and bought a cooler that I can turn into a mash tun, similar to the setup Denny has on his site.
TJ Cook
Proud paying member of the AHA since 2013.

Fermenting: NOTHING!
In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer

Offline dano14041

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2011, 11:16:38 AM »
Have you ever seen Alton Brown's "Turkey Derrick"?
If you are using a turkey fryer type you could use something like this to hold the grain bag for you.

Edit to add link:
http://www.altonbrown.com/pdfs/AB_turkey_derrick.pdf
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2011, 11:43:26 AM »
i have done this in the past with small batches.  there is a learning curve though.  the first time the wort did not reach through the entire bag well. when i dumped the grain there was a bunch of dry flour in the middle.  poor efficiency. next time i mixed it up a bit.  worked better.  it is kind of nice because you can do steps right in the kettle and just pull the grain out if you want to.  overall i am going back to a small tun i made out of one of my bottling buckets with a spigot on it.  it is cumbersome to rinse the grain well in the bag method with out squishing it like a tea bag or elevating it well to rinse.  just as easy for me to carry my bucket to compost.
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Offline denny

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2011, 12:39:30 PM »
Have you ever seen Alton Brown's "Turkey Derrick"?
If you are using a turkey fryer type you could use something like this to hold the grain bag for you.


Sure...but for a lot less money and effort you could also make a cooler mash tun.  I can see BIAB for small batches, but for normal 5 gal batches it just seems like more hassle than benefit.
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Offline dano14041

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2011, 12:52:32 PM »
Have you ever seen Alton Brown's "Turkey Derrick"?
If you are using a turkey fryer type you could use something like this to hold the grain bag for you.


Sure...but for a lot less money and effort you could also make a cooler mash tun.  I can see BIAB for small batches, but for normal 5 gal batches it just seems like more hassle than benefit.

I agree cooler mash tuns are much cooler!  ::) I have only done one BIAB and it was for a 2 gallon batch.

But if you are going to fry turkeys and BIAB, AB has a good idea.  :D
Tulsa, OK

Offline denny

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2011, 02:11:39 PM »
But if you are going to fry turkeys and BIAB, AB has a good idea.  :D

No doubt about that!
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline bigchicken

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Re: Using a grain bag for the mash......in the boil kettle.
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2011, 02:24:33 PM »
I have seen that type of derrick setup before. I bet it works well for frying and a BIAB setup. I found that I had to do quite a bit of stirring in the bag which was a pain. Not being able to hold my temps is a big reason I'm stepping up to a cooler tun.
TJ Cook
Proud paying member of the AHA since 2013.

Fermenting: NOTHING!
In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer