BIAB Setup

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16 thoughts on “BIAB Setup

  1. How has the heating element worked out? It looks great…one thing, on the homebrewstuff website the element is listed as 1500watts not 2000. Have they changed the product? Have you found any scorching with the element?

    • Element has worked great, no scorching at all. I’d be more concerned with scorching in systems with 5500W elements. I’m not sure if they have switched elements or not, it looks identical to the one I have.

      • What I noticed when you click to enlarge the picture of the element on the stores website, the title reads 2000watt element. Any ways, I really enjoy reading your blog. You have a clean/quality way of putting together your DIY projects. While brewing on your 120V small batch system, do you recirculate through a RIMS tube or do you just stir every now and then to maintain a consistent mash temp with the element in the kettle? You mention recirculating in one of your posts but I wasn’t sure if you planned on doing that or you currently do. I’ve used the preheated oven method to do a couple 2 gallon batches. The first one went well but during the second one my thermometer probe was reading high and I mashed too low and got a bad efficiency. A little frustrating since I researched thermometers and decide on a Thermoworks item that claimed you could submerge the whole probe. The company has since sent me a new probe but I’ve yet to brew again with it. I’d love to move towards a more plug and play system like yours but I’m a little leery of the costs.

      • Steve,

        I am glad you enjoy my blog, it was my hope that other brewers would enjoy my writings and maybe even gain something from it or at least make them think a little differently about brewing.
        I have begun recirculating as when using a basket I have found that the wort below the basket tends to get much warmer than the wort at the top of the mash. Stirring does help but recirculating from the bottom of the mash to the top gets the entire mash temperature equal throughout and quickly. RIMS or HERMS are one way to increase the temp of the mash if you don’t have an element in the kettle like I do. I found that when I don’t use a basket, such as doing a BIAB batch on the stove, stirring every once and awhile is more than adequate. I will be writing more about recirculating and a great little $20 pump that is awesome for this. I have all but ditched digital thermometers since I cannot calibrate them. Except for the temperature probe for the controller I use dial thermometers I calibrate against a standard glass thermometer.
        As far as cost of a system like mine goes, it is very minimal and I did a little at a time, always looking for the cheapest price for the components I wanted to use. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist but if you are taking the time to do something you enjoy why not do it right and have something you can be proud of. Cheers

  2. Love the setup and am looking into building a like setup on a larger scale. I’m currently upgrading from my electric extract setup to a keg which I was going to use to biab due to simplicity and space savings. I have only ever done 5gal batches but would like to be able to do 10’s on my future setup. Been reading that brewing a high gravity 10gal batch will really push the limit of a kegs capacity, and thats when I ran along your setup and started looking into 20gal bayou’s. So my question to you is how well does the new basket preform? Do you also use the basket during the boil to contain the hops? Read a few comments of pple having problems with the basket causing quite a bit of splashing while boiling? I’ve just been torn between these keg vs kettle, recirc vs not recirc, bag vs basket things and was looking for advice from someone who has dealt with it!

    • Thanks and glad you found my blog.

      General rule for BIAB kettle size is at least twice the size of your batch so if you are going to do 10 gallon batches a 20 gallon kettle would be a good choice and you can still do 5 gallon batches. Bayou makes a 82 quart stainless Bayou classic that is priced great, check Amazon. They also make a matching basket for it or you could have a mesh basket made for it too. Bayou basket runs about $100 so I would see how much a custom mesh basket would run. I don’t know if you are running 120V or 240V element on your current setup but if you step up to 10 gallon batches you’ll need at least a 4500W 240V element but 5500W is advised.

      I love the mesh basket because of great liquid flow-thru, I can recirculate at full flow and when comes time to drain I think it actually drains better than my bag did.

      I think it might be a good idea to start with a bag and brewinabag.com can make a very nice bag for $35 plus shipping. That way you can get the hang of the process and see how you want your system to ultimately be. You might be happy with the bag and just want support and ease of lifting/draining and then get the matching Bayou basket. If you really want recirculation efficiency then you can go with a mesh basket. I recirculate because I want consistent and controllable mash temps but I also do not insulate my kettle so it helps a ton to recirculate. If you use a bag you will need to fashion something to keep bag off the element so it doesn’t burn should you decide to turn on the element momentarily to bring the temp up. I do not use my BIAB basket for hops in the boil (too big and overkill in my opinion). I have a smaller mesh basket for that purpose that I got from same company that made my BIAB basket. Paint strainers work great also.

      Hope that helps some.

      Cheers

  3. This is exactly what I want to do with my kettle! Do you have a build guide and price/item list? What was the total cost of the build minus the kettle.

    • Unfortunately that element is no longer available but brewhardware.com has a 120V stainless 2000W element for $29 and their element housing is $24 and you would need at least 12ga power cord. Ball valve and weld less drain bulkhead would run you around $40. The temp probe with cable would set you back another $45. The controller cost I never kept track off as I had a lot of the bits and pieces laying around. My guess it could easily be done for around $150-$175

  4. Can you elaborate on the little pump that you use for your BIAB for recirculation. AKA, where did you get it and such… thanks

    • Hi. I got the pumps off eBay. If you search for “12V hot water circulation pump” you’ll find them. They do a great job on small systems, they handle 212° wort and they are very quiet. You’ll need a 12V wall adapter that’s at least 1 amp to power them. Be sure a clean by circulating PBW through it and then clean water.

      • Do they seem to last? I found the one you have and then several similar ones. I’m asking as it seems the biggest gripe about them is that they last a few months at best and that the plastic npt connections are prone to cracking from applying a connection to them.

      • I’ve been using one for two years and another for about a year. I use Blichmann Quick Connectors to attach hoses to mine and they work great, seal with only hand tightening. I don’t attach valves directly to the pump but use inline valves instead. Too much stress on any plastic will cause failure including the poly head Chugger and March pumps. The key to making these little pumps last is keeping them clean and not running them dry. At the end of my brew day I recirculate warm water and PBW through the whole system thus cleaning fittings, hoses, valves and the kettle itself. Then run clear water through and done. I didn’t do that once and next brew day it wouldn’t run so had disconnect everything and stick a paper clip in through a pump opening to turn the impeller and I was good to go but lesson learned. The nice thing is they are so inexpensive having a spare is not a big deal. For a small system they are great and almost silent. Tip…control flow from output with valve, don’t try to use speed control circuitry. They don’t like varying voltage.

  5. I’ve been wondering about the end tip (not the wire/threaded end, but the other one) of this types of heating rods you are using in your BIAB setup. I saw one 1500W with similar stainless steel tubing. However, the end tip was not SS, but rather something ceramic-looking/feeling. I was wondering whether something like that would be safe to use. Judging from the photos, the rod looks quite similar to the one you are using, but I couldn’t see how the tip in yours looks like. How is it with the rod you’re using—is the tip of the stainless tubing SS sealed, or similar to what I saw? Thanks!

    • The end of my element is similar to what you saw. Mine is ceramic epoxy. There some cartridge immersion heating elements that are sealed with lead. Definitely not good if that is the case although your exposure through brewing would be less than the lead in most municipal water system.

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