Brew in a Bag?
While surfing the homebrew forums I came across this great idea that is being refined in Australia and is sweeping the homebrewing world. It is called Brew in a Bag or BIAB. It's a very simple technique for mashing in the kettle with a bag made of fine-weave polyester. The water is added to the kettle, then the bag, then the milled grains go into the bag. When mash temperature is correct, the whole thing is covered up for 90 minutes. If temperature adjustments are needed, just a burst of flame to get the temp up again is required.
After mashing, you simply (with some physical effort mind you) lift the bag o'grains out and let them drain into the kettle. No sparge required. I did read an article from a guy in Florida that sparged as well with high efficiency. Once the wort is sitting pretty in the kettle, fire up the gas and boil as normal, adding hops etc. Chill, aerate and pitch the yeast.
There is some issues raised with the fact that the mash is so thin (like 30 plus litres of water) and the pH of the mash. The mash is usually much thicker (less water for the grain) . This has been addressed by the authors of a very well put together document on AussieHomebrewer.com. For pictures and play-by-play see this site.
The biggest benefit of BIAB is the cost. A picnic cooler can set you back a few bucks and if everything is working with your extract brews why bother playing with all-grain?
Today, I am going to see if I can find some polyester fabric so I can give this system a try. I will also try an experiment with a polypropylene woven seed bag. That is about the right size for my smaller stock pot.
Gee, I also need to start malting again, so it's off to the barley shop. Wish me luck!