Critique my process please

Make grain beers with the absolute minimum of equipment. Discuss here.
Meatymc
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Critique my process please

Post by Meatymc » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:21 pm

I'm just getting into water treatment at the moment so thought this was the opportune moment to ask for comment on my current process to see how that can be improved. Seems little point in playing around with 'chemicals' if the process is crap to start with.

Be brutal please - I'm trying to get as best as I can with what I've got.

I brew in the garage which has no water supply (have to cart from the house). The only dedicated kit I have is a 33L pan and a gas burner/stand hence use propane to heat - my process has really been determined by these restrictions.

I mash with c20L of water (depending on the grain bill) at c67 degrees and for between 60 and 90 minutes (both depending on the recipe).

With 15 minutes to go, I heat up around 12L of water to c70 degrees to sparge - starting in the house in my 'ham boiler' and transferring to a small camping stove in the garage to keep it hot enough.

At 'mash-out' I fire up the pan and lift the grain onto a large (Ikea) colander to drain back into the pan for 5 minutes.

I than transfer the grain into a plastic bin and pour the sparge water over. I gently stir for 5 minutes then drain the bag again and pour the resulting liquid into the pan to bring to the boil.

Not exactly scientific so comments please.

aamcle
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by aamcle » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:00 pm

Your doing more work than you need to.

Mash in a a biab bag with a stand under it to keep it from getting burnt.
Lift it out and dunk into a bucket containing your sparge water and mix.
The sparge water does NOT NEED to be hot which saves a bit of messing about, lift the grain bag back out of the bucket and add the sparge back to your boiler.
I was getting up to 86% efficiency that way depending on how successfully I had treated the water.


Good luck. aamcle

Meatymc
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by Meatymc » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:05 pm

Cheers aamcle. How come cold sparge water - I thought it need to be hot (but not above 75 degrees) to extract?

aamcle
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by aamcle » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:33 pm

The sugars are in solution by the time the mash has ended and remember that 5 kg of hot wet grain will warm the water so a mix will do the job.
Don't need hot water to sparge a GF either which is a good thing or it would end up 3 v!!


aamcle

Meatymc
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by Meatymc » Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:50 pm

Of course it would have been irrelevant if I'd had the wit to get the 50L pan rather than 33L!

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Kev888
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by Kev888 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:24 pm

A bigger pan could have let you do full-volume BIAB mashes, which some consider to be true or original BIAB, but many people like to do some kind of sparge anyway for higher efficiency, so it depends upon your philosophy.

I'm not a fan of crudely pouring water over the suspended grain & bag as some people do, but the 'dunk sparge' that aamcle mentioned is also fairly convenient and IMO rather better, in fact not too far from being a batch sparge, which is a well established technique in 3-vessel brewing. EDIT: it doesn't seem a million miles away from what you are already doing, just a bit easier.

Personally I would use warm sparge liquor, but then it is easy for me; in your case it sounds like this is a real pain.
Last edited by Kev888 on Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Kev

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Re: Critique my process please

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:27 pm

^ what Kev said:

Pouring water off a suspended bag will just run off without washing through.

Put the bag in a bucket and resaturate with 4-5 L of water. You can heat it in a hob or use your kettle. Give it a stir, then rehoist and squeeze. You should get 4-5 L of liquor at 50%+ of your kettle gravity.

It makes a difference when you are trying to push your finished beer volume.

I used to do batch sparge a lot before I upgraded my kettle. Now my grain bag is too big for my sparge bucket.

Meatymc
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by Meatymc » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:45 pm

cheers guys but just to be clear, I transfer the bag to the bucket and then add the sparge water, allow to soak for 5 minutes whilst stirring gently then lift out the grain to drain before adding the resulting liquor to the pan as per suggestions. This takes me close to the maximum level in the pan to avoid boil over.

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Re: Critique my process please

Post by aamcle » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:00 pm

Have you time to brew smaller batches more often it's good for variety?

If you can 30L will be fine, http://www.biabcalculator.com/ is a handy calculator 15L would be very comfortable in a 30l pot even 19 looks manageable.

Meatymc
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by Meatymc » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:47 am

Because of limited space and kit I can only have 1 brew on at a time and, to be totally honest, if I regularly drop to 3 litres (which I have done a couple of times) it would hardly get into the bottle before it's gone!

Bribie

Re: Critique my process please

Post by Bribie » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:40 am

You are pretty much on the right track. For the last 8 years I've done a full volume BIAB in a 40L hot water boiler (urn) but it's been playing up lately. Fortunately I have a 20L urn that I bought off Gumtree Australia, so I've adopted my method to a BIAB mash and dunk sparge.

Using the smaller urn with the same grain bill as if I was using the 40L urn, I did a thicker mash, hoisted the bag and drained the strong wort back into the urn and ramped up to boil.

While ramping up, I moved the bag to an adjacent bowl and did a batch sparge, drained as much as possible into the bowl then re-hung the bag over the urn to drain thoroughly, with the spargings remaining in the bowl.

I removed bag and disposed of grain, then gradually added the spargings from the bowl to the urn in stages as the wort level boiled down.
It was a strong stout:

Here, the original runnings have come to the boil while I do a batch sparge in the bowl.
maxibiab 1.jpg
Then the bag is re-hung to drain into the boiler, with the spargings in the bowl to be added a bit at a time.
maxibiab 2.jpg
At the end of the boil (this is another brew shown here, a pale ale) I have an almost full boiler of wort, around 19L that is actually quite strong 1.060 so I can dilute this in the fermenter back to around 1.050 to end up with a 22L brew length as I would normally get with the 40L urn. My overall efficiency was actually a bit better than doing just a single full volume BIAB brew in my 40L urn without sparging.
maxibiab 3.jpg

I did a cold water sparge. If your boiler has a good heat source you don't really need a hot sparge, it's just rinsing at the end of the day.

Meatymc
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Re: Critique my process please

Post by Meatymc » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:20 pm

Thanks again - encouraging I'm not too far off with what I do. Not heating the sparge water as much as I currently do will make things a lot easier - and I take the point the 'work' has already been done in the mash and all I'm doing is 'rinsing out' any remaining sugars to get the boil volume up.

andyisavinit

Re: Critique my process please

Post by andyisavinit » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:50 pm

I do a similar thing to the original poster on this forum - But what I do is mash in a bag in the BK with approx 26L water, after mashing I put the grain bag into a bucket (#1) with a million drilled holes in the bottom which is inside another bucket (#2) with a tap. There's about 3" of space at the bottom on the bucket #2 as the first bucket #1 sits on the tap nut.

I then pour the wort left in the BK into another bucket (#3) then using a 2L jug and a colander I pour over the grain, which then filters through the grain in bucket #1 then into bucket #2 and then out the tap into the now empty BK.

I also have sparge water, 10L, waiting that I pour over the grain after running all the wort through the grain.

This all seems a major faff and a lot of buckets to clean after, BUT I am doing all this because when I was doing full volume BIAB (no sparge) my preboil wort was extremely cloudy. I read and asked questions about how clear the preboil wort should be. The general feedback and research said that it should be as clear as possible.

So now my wort is a LOT clearer going in the BK.

I also skim off the hot break as it forms in an attempt to clear the wort even more.

I have been extremely pleased with the results - since then, 4 batches now, my beer has been the best Ive ever brewed. Ive been brewing biag for 3-4 years. Previously I have always been frustrated with my final grav readings too. Never reaching 1.010 - 1.012. Always finishing at 1.014 or 1.013 at best. Now I'm consistently hitting 1.010 - 1.012.

Worth mentioning that I treat my water too and sparge water (testing ph levels).

Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

The only puzzle for me now is that after running the wort through the grain and then sparging I don't end up with my preboil volume as I would have done if I did a full volume biag job. My mash water + sparge water is the same as if i was doing a full volume biag mash. So why is the grain absorbing more water, as this is the only place it could be going. I have to top up with water. Good thing is that after topping up to the correct pre boil volume my preboil grav is correct.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks a lot for reading all this. Sorry if I'm hijacking, but seemed relevant.

andyisavinit

Re: Critique my process please

Post by andyisavinit » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:15 am

After reading my last post with all the buckets. I reckon I should just get a mash tun. #-o

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Re: Critique my process please

Post by wolfenrook » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:13 pm

Just to comment on the hot vs cold sparge debate. I've done a lot of reading, and the reason given for the hot sparge is that the sugars when cold become sticky and viscous, clinging more to the grain. Warmer water warms the sugars enough for them to become much less viscous, making it easier to get them into solution, making the sparge more effective.

It's a long debated topic though, I even found an interesting thread right here on the topic viewtopic.php?t=16963.

I wont detail my method, as folks will get upset if it seems to contradict their methods, and what works for me may not work for everybody. Is it right? Well it's right for me, right now. lol I may one day decide it's no longer right, and try another method, who knows. I can say though the times I tried not sparging, my efficiency really stank and so did my volume into boil as my boiler is just too small for full volume mashing a decent quantity.

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