Two questions regarding an all electric biab system

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by beer1965, Feb 25, 2020.

  1. beer1965

    beer1965 Active Member

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    I want to get a bigger kettle. I don't see my batch size growing beyond say 5 - 7 gallons. So i think 10g is enough. And I don't want to have a HLT, mashtun, kettle etc. So i"m valuing simple and space saving.

    I'm thinking it might be easiest to get something that's all in one like this: https://www.clawhammersupply.com/collections/all-products/products/starter-home-brewing-system-biab I'm not saying I'm going to buy this one, but it's an example of what I can cobble together.

    Two questions:

    - how many of you use a system like this all in one and does your efficiency suffer because you're not sparging the same way you would in a cooler mash tun that you then send into a brew kettle with a hose?

    - how many of you use electric versus propane or gas stoves and is there any real difference other than the relative cost of each energy/heat source?

    As always, thanks!
     
  2. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I use to BIAB, I think efficiency was high 60's, maybe 70. Don't be concerned about the efficiency, grain is super cheap really. A batch might cost an extra dollar with lower efficiency.
    For all in ones there is grainfather, robobrew, and I think a couple others.
     
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  3. beer1965

    beer1965 Active Member

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    After I posted I thought : what's my goal?

    Best efficiency I can create?: It would be nice as I think it might be an extension of improving skill over time.

    Best beer I can make?: Also would be nice to know how to make it better. If by doing biab all in one kettle system I am making beer that's ok but not great then I'd feel like I'm doing a half crappy job even if nicely drinkable.

    Simplicity?: Definitely would be a plus to plug and play in a single kettle/container system and an electric temp controller.

    Plastic: I know it's debated to death - but I've just had an experience that's personally got me to decide I'm going to get out of the plastic mash tun game. So this would help with me having now having a metal mash tun.

    The only downside i can see is that I wouldn't be as efficient with extracting all the starches out of the mash buy hoisting up the metal strainer and pouring water over it to wash the grains as my sparge process after mash time is up.

    Other than that i'm not sure if this would limit me to styles of beers I could make. But I figure I could make enough nice and interesting styles with this type of system. Tell me if I'm missing something.

    Thoughts?
     
  4. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    I brew with a single vessel BIAB. 2.5 gallon batches, 4 gallon vessel. I get about 75-77% efficiency. I also do a modified batch sparge. I'll start with about 2.0 gallons in the mash. I'll take the grain bag out and rinse with about 1.5 gallons of 160 degree water. I do this after I've turned the heat up to boil, so I minimize the extra time for the sparge.

    You can make good beer with either a BIAB system or a traditional system. Just depends on your skill and knowledge.

    Difference between electric and propane? Easier setup with electric, so I brew more often. And I think that is a great benefit.
     
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  5. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    #5 Mark Farrall, Feb 25, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
    I've ended up spending five years moving from simple stovetop BIAB to a DIY system very much like the clawhammer example. The only differences are recirculation, very simplistic temp control and a couterflow chiller. All of which would be easily added to that system.

    The all in one systems have been keeping pace 6-12 months behind what I've built. If the current generation of the brewzilla had existed 5 years ago I'd have been much better off getting that. But it didn't exist then and I wonder what I'd have missed if I didn't have to do the reading to work out what would be the next step in the journey.

    Last batch was mid 80% pre-boil efficiency with a full volume step mash. Well within the range people wouldn't question for batch sparging in a traditional mash tun. So I don't see efficiency as all that important in the decision (though I would say buying a grain mill is the best single improvement to efficiency that I've made). I've only just added recirculation so numbers haven't settle down yet.

    Can't think of much that I want to brew that the system stops me brewing and I want to brew most things. Fermentation temp control was more important than the brew system in stopping me brew lagers and kettle sours.

    The other advantage of that Clawhammer approach as opposed to the other all in one systems is it's pretty easy to buy 1-2 more kettles to add onto that kettle to get a more traditional multi-vessel system.
     
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  6. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    I moved into a Grainfather this year and love it. There is still a learning curve to it, but I get better and more efficient with every brew. The Grainfather is one of the more expensive units and if I hadn't been a bit tanked and it hadn't been on a great sale, I would have gotten the Anvil Foundry 10.5 unit with pump. For the money, it's probably the better unit with the ability to go from 110v to 220v with the flip of a switch. Grainfather has some bells and whistles that I really like and don't like at the same time.
    I think @BOB357 and @Bulin's Milker Bucket Brews have electric all in ones also and like them. Digiboil maybe?
     
  7. beer1965

    beer1965 Active Member

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    Thanks for the feedback! It's helpful!
     
  8. beer1965

    beer1965 Active Member

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    Thanks very much! Question : why would it be better to go from 110 to 220?
     
  9. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    Time to reach a full boil is significantly faster on 220.
     
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  10. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    Comes down to the boil
    Faster and better/bigger boil.
     
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  11. beer1965

    beer1965 Active Member

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    How much faster? But then need to install a 220 outlet. Worth it?
     
  12. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    If you are brewing small batches (3 gallons or smaller), a 110V system does fine. For 5 gallons batches, a 110V system will work, but you will find heating from mash temperatures to boiling to be slow. This can be improved by adding additional insulation. Some people will go to the extent of adding an immersion heater (connected to a different circuit) to help speed up the boil of a 110V system.

    Larger commercial systems will use a 480V, 3-phase power system.

    If you have a 220V circuit available in your brewing area, or if it can be easily installed, I would use 220V for 5 gallon batches. If 220V is not available in your brewing area, you could do any of these things:

    1. Use the 110V system and be okay with the longer heating time. Many people find it to be fast enough.
    2. Use the 110V system and add an immersion heater to speed up boiling.
    3. Brew smaller batches.

    Hope this clarifies a few things.
     
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  13. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    To properly describe the difference between 110 and 220, 220 is far more efficient. Think of voltage as pressure, and amperage as flow. Now, simultaneously wash a car with low pressure water, and wash another with high pressure water. The high pressure wash will get done quicker, and use far less water than the low pressure wash.
    To illustrate, I have a 220V 4500W heater in my double car garage, heats it up nicely, and does not have much of an impact on my electric bill. Keeping garage at 40F, and using it to keep the garage at 60F a couple times a week for several hours, adds about $30 to my bill. Conversely, running a 110V 1200W heater can't keep up with heat loss, and would never warm up my garage, and uses vastly more electricity.
     
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  14. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    I've been using the DIgiboil all in one for the last 6 or 7 batches with great results.This is a bare bones system and I'm very happy with it. Being an old goat, bells and whistles aren't important to me, so it's a good fit. My average BHE is about 74% with mash/lauter efficiency at about 84%. Every bit as good as I got with traditional batch sparging or BIAB, and my beers have improved too. The best part is not having to brave the extreme temperatures here in the high desert. I love brewing in the kitchen.
     
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  15. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    Up to you. All things considered, 110v has worked just fine for me.
     
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  16. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I use a diy all in one style electric brew rig that I ramshackled together a little over a year or so ago now or may be more. Probably trying to emulate grain father.
    Last batch of beer I made I hit my best brewhouse efficiency at 90% I was 2 lt up at same expected gravity .
    It averages 83% that was an exception.

    What I love about electric
    It's quiet. No roar of the gas.
    Once mashed in I can set and forget and come back later when mash is done.
    It's less hands on than gas.
    Using the pump there is also less lifting involved. I pump straight from kettle straight into ready and waiting fermentor in ferm chamber.
    Because of these above things it makes brewing more enjoyable so I WANT to brew more often.
    I even find clean up is easier.
    Cheers
     
  17. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    The 110 volt systems are slower, but you can be doing other things while you're waiting. You can weigh out and mill your grains, measure out your mineral additions and add them to the grist weigh your hop additions, measure sparge water, etc. while the strike water heats up. You can get pretty much get everything cleaned up and put away, other than the boiler, while you're heating up to a boil. My brew day is about the same timewise as when I did BIAB on a propane burner.
     
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  18. Bulin's Milker Bucket Brews

    Bulin's Milker Bucket Brews Well-Known Member

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    Actually I'm building a three vessel system with a 220v Digiboil as my only heat source. The big 220 Digiboil is a great piece of gear. Should be running the first batch with it on Sunday....Blonde on Blonde.
     
  19. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    I should have mentioned in my earlier post that I used the Digiboil boiler as part of a 2 vessel MIAB system prior to getting the masking kit for it. Here's a link with a pic and description:
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/emiab-2-vessel-system.11338/
     
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  20. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if the other systems have it, but one thing I really like about the Grainfather is the timer delay start. I can input the recipe the night before and get up the next morning ready to dough in. That said, my last couple of brew days I've been short on time so I do as @BOB357 said above. I get everything ready while I wait, and it really doesn't take long to get around 4 gallons of mash water up to temp.
     
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