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Brewing Topics => Brew In A Bag (BIAB) => Topic started by: Chris Roe on January 05, 2015, 09:36:01 AM

Title: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: Chris Roe on January 05, 2015, 09:36:01 AM
I'll post this to the General Discussion and All-Grain forums as well, but...

With Brew-in-a-Bag methods these days, is there any real "advantage" or "benefit" to doing more "traditional" all-grain brewing techniques for most beer recipes???  Can't the same things be achieved via BIAB???  As a beginner, BIAB seems really easy, and I'm wondering why I "should" spend more money on buying/building mash tuns, and other equipment.

Thanks for the opinions/input.
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: brewfun on January 05, 2015, 07:30:34 PM
I was going to ignore this question until I remembered that you were having trouble understanding a Hefeweizen just last October. So, in that light, the question seems genuine. Though posting in 3 forums is pretty close to click baiting/trolling.  ;)

A: The point of a hobby is to enjoy it.

B: All breweries do the same thing: Extract sugar from grain, boil to sterilize and develop flavors, cast out fermentable wort. That's it, no matter how large or complicated.

It's a simple balance; If A is enhanced by B, do more of it. If A is inhibited by B, do less.

A simple BIAB method makes beer. It has advantages and limitations, just like any other method. Since you're new, you may find that you want to explore other methods for making wort. It'll make you a better brewer to do so, but that might not be enjoyable.
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: Chris Roe on January 05, 2015, 11:02:54 PM
I appreciate the response.  ...I'll admit I was a little shocked at the lack of responses to my question on this site, given the number of seemingly knowledgeable folks on here.  I asked this question on another site and had a TON of great info and dialog within hours.

As I have stated in nearly all my posts, I'm new to Homebrewing.  I assumed my statement of such in this recent question further established that, but if there were confusions, apologies.  The post to three "sub-forums" was due to my past experience in other forums where people with different passions and insight often parsed themselves out into different "communities," seldom venturing into the topics of other "sub-forums" outside their areas of specific interest; posting in two very specific sub-forums, and the general forum was my attempt to get info from the "die-hard BIAB" folks, those that might be more of the committed "mash-tun" crowd, and the general folks as well.  Per your trolling/click-baiting comment, I guess I never perceived this site to be a place where that was an issue. 

While I understand that - indeed - to each is own in how they develop their wort, my question is - why?  What makes some people favor "mash-tunning" (as if that is a thing) over BIAB?  Are there tangible benefits of using a mash tun over BIAB that I am - as of yet - unaware of?  I ask because I'd like to know if there is a legitimate reason I SHOULD move toward using a mash tun, sparging, etc. and buying/building the apparatus to do so, or is it simply "another way," that is simply a matter of "to each is own" that isn't something I need to worry about right now?  As I start to solidify my equipment needs and comfort in my current brewing efforts, do I NEED to start to move toward using a mash-tun, learning the necessary sparging techniques, etc., or is it simply a different version of doing the same thing?  What are the differences (if there are any) so I can make more educated decisions/choices in the future?

I appreciate your opinions...
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: brewfun on January 06, 2015, 03:50:27 AM
my question is - why?  What makes some people favor "mash-tunning" (as if that is a thing) over BIAB?  Are there tangible benefits of using a mash tun over BIAB that I am - as of yet - unaware of? 

Yes. And No. It depends on your goals as a brewer.

You may as well ask if there is a compelling reason to go hiking when there are so many roads you can just drive on.

The issue is going to be one of volume, space, time and control. At 5 gallons, lifting a bag of grain and water isn't a big deal. At 10 gallons, maybe that becomes an issue. In an apartment, or a busy house with small kids, a lot of equipment could be problematic. There's the DIY aspect of brewing where showing off just a pot as the brewery isn't as satisfying as a brew stand.

Is the actual beer going to be any better? Or easier? That's a huge "maybe." It's going to depend on who you ask and what their skill level is. I don't think there's an objective answer to that question. I don't think there's data on the percentage of BIAB brewers that win awards vs. any other method.

I started brewing before there were the "choices" of how it's done. Before there was a Palmer, Jamil or a single podcast. Heck, there were only a handful of books and most were garbage. I like the satisfaction of making all the parts work together the way some guys like building engines.

I also like the creativity of homebrewing and the challenge of troubleshooting the details. This lead me to seek out a lot of technical, perception and professional applications and credentials.

I will say that if you get the itch to go commercial, you will absolutely need to know a lot more than BIAB. Lots.
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: durrettd on January 06, 2015, 12:52:07 PM
Check Denny Conn's discussion/description/directions for a very simple, inexpensive and effective brewing system at

There are a lot of people using Denny's system to brew excellent beer. His system adaptable to a wide range of electric and propane brew pots. I transitioned an electric BIAB system to a sorta' DennyBrew system at a cost of ... $0.00.

Denny participates in the Northern Brewer forum at    as do many other BeerSmith users.
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: Chris Roe on January 06, 2015, 10:42:21 PM
Thanks!  I've definitely been checking out Denny's "system" and have learned a lot from NB folks as well.  So far it seems that for "smaller" batches, however/whatever way you can hit your numbers and get your wort - it doesn't matter, just get it, and move on.  For larger batches, the logistics of dealing with heavy, spent grain start moving the discussion, and techniques, more toward MTs as opposed to BIAB.  Makes sense. 
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: durrettd on January 07, 2015, 01:32:19 AM
You might consider starting with a BIAB system - where the "system" consists of a bag and a turkey fryer kettle - to get the feel for mashing, sparging, and boiling. Then evolve the system to suit your interests and beer consumption. Even if you start with a 5-gallon kettle, you'll probably find it useful when/if you go to a larger, more elaborate system (some will disagree with my small kettle comment). I still use my original BIAB bag inside my mash tun because it's easier to drop the bag full of spent grain into a garbage bag than it is to hose out my mash tun in my wife's laundry room - not complaining; I'm glad it's her laundry room and not mine.
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: BILLY BREW on January 11, 2015, 07:49:03 AM
Personally, I do a bastardized version of BIAB. Primarily because I am about the laziest brewer you will ever meet.
I put a bag inside a GOTT cooler and add the grains into the bag. Let it sit for the normal amount of time, then slowly hoist the bag out to drain it as much as possible.
THEN I put it back in and run a sparge thru it to clean up the wort.
Yank the bag and dump the grains. BADDA BOOM BADDA BING! No sticking screens or crap to muck out. Cuts my work load and nobody has bitched about the beer!
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: BugHunter on January 12, 2015, 02:21:11 PM
I've made a number of BIAB recipes but the lifting is what makes me shy away from that and into a mash tun.  Doing even a 5 gallon batch with a 12-14# grain bill was quite a challenge to lift and deal with while the bag drains.   I'd like to say the mash tun has paid for itself ($100) with a year of brew batches through it but that might be a bit optimistic.  Still, there's no way I could do a 10 gallon batch without the tun. 

From a beer quality standpoint, I think there is very little difference (if any) between biab and mt.  I think the tun does give you a little better control over mash temps but if you're diligent you can achieve the same with a pot and biab. 

Like most basic equipment, you'll forget about what it cost not long after it becomes part of your normal brewing process. It's the items you don't use for every batch that look like a pile of 20s sitting in the drawer or on the shelf.
Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: Johnh3nry on January 18, 2015, 09:28:26 AM
I went from a mash tun to BIAB last summer after an unfortunate Mash Tun incident where I forgot to clean it out and it sat outside all week creating the worst stench I have ever encountered. To be honest, I haven't noticed any appreciable difference in the beer itself but I have noticed that my clean up is much faster and easier. The lifting was a bit of a problem for me too initially, but then I quit trying to sparge. I just hold it up and let it drain for a minute or two and count that as my work out for the day. I should point out that I'm using a 10 gallon pot and making 5 gallon batches. I usually start with about 8 gallons that displaces the wager nearly to the top of the brew pot. After I let it drain, I'm ready to boil. Obviously I am adding a little grain to make up for the lack of sparge and I do a double mill to get as much out of the grain as I can. I am also more careful of the temperature, because I understand that BIAB can more easily release tannins and other off flavours in the higher and lower ranges of the mash. My first few mashes were too high because I overcompensated for mashing in my brew kettle instead of my mash tun. Lately I have been very happy with the results of a 150 degree mash for most standard ale styles.

In the end, I really agree with the statement above about enjoying the process. I might go back to a mash tun in the future if I have a specific reason, but for now BIAB makes me "happy".

Title: Re: Mash Tun vs BIAB
Post by: Maplecitybrewer on February 15, 2015, 08:11:32 AM
I have been doing AG brewing for a little over 10 years. After having a minor surgery I couldn't do much lifting. So I thought I would try 3gal BIAB batches. I found it a good way to brew while I recover and actually have fun doing it. It does have some limitations but it also has some advantages. Because I'm dealing with a smaller volume, I can do multiple mash temps easier than with 5 and 10 gallon batch. Since I only do 3 gallon batches the weight of grains is low, and I can brew it on the stove(currently it is 7 degrees F and 24" of snow on the ground). I'm mashing as I write this. I don't think this is something I would want to do for a 5 gallon batch or bigger. I haven't really seen much of a drop off from the batches I do in a mash tun and sparge set up. And my buddies still have their hands out wanting more. ;)

Like brewfun said earlier, it's a hobby have fun with it. If you're happy with the results that's all that matters. But if you want to grow as a brewer, I think you should explore all brewing methods. You will learn a lot, I know I have. Not to mention, if Billy Brew is doing it, you're in good company.  :D