BIAB question: is there a downside to double crushing grains?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Buck89, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Buck89

    Buck89 Poo-Bah (2,330) Feb 7, 2015 Tennessee
    Premium Trader

    I have brewed about 30 batches using BIAB, and I have always had my LHBS double crush the grains, giving me efficiencies in the high-70s (I also squeeze the bag and "sparge" to bring the volumes up). I now have a larger kettle and now have the room to move to a no-sparge process and more grain in the kettle if needed. I'm now trying to figure out the best crush size for the beer quality with less concern for mash efficiency. Today, my first no-sparge brew with a single-crushed grist of 95% 2-row/5% C-40 had a mash efficiency of 62% at a pH of 5.3 and temp of 152. This is OK, but I'm wondering if there is a downside to increasing the grain crush. Obviously no worry about a stuck sparge with BIAB, but are there other concerns? Any thoughts are appreciated.
     
  2. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (250) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I’ve never done biab but I do crush pretty fineeeee and use rice hulls on every batch almost. I would say since you biab it’s most likely not a problem to double crush.
     
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  3. fuzzbalz

    fuzzbalz Disciple (313) Apr 13, 2002 Georgia

    I biab, and I also don't sparge. Although I don't double crush my grains, I do have my mill set for a fine crush. I adjusted the gap til I got about 72% eff, and I'm pretty happy with that. The only down side I can see from double crushing is maybe a cloudy beer to start out with, and may take a little longer to clear if kegging.
     
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  4. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (877) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    This isn't going to help you with your question, but why don't you buy a cooler and make yourself a proper mashtun? It's really cheap and only requires minimal effort.
     
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  5. Buck89

    Buck89 Poo-Bah (2,330) Feb 7, 2015 Tennessee
    Premium Trader

    I thought about it, but I really like the simplicity of BIAB and the small amount of time it saves me on brew days. With a 15 gal kettle, I can handle high gravity/large grain bills without too many problems (outside of efficiency). Works for me.
     
  6. Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse

    Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse Initiate (131) Jul 20, 2016 Arizona

    I really don't like the implication that single vessel brewing is somehow "improper." I've built up what I consider to be a pretty "proper" single vessel system - certainly a step up from an old soup pot and a nylon paint strainer bag. I made a conscious decision to move in that direction over a three tiered system for many reasons. I wish that every time someone asked for advice on this forum about BiaB, someone didn't suggest "just get a mash tun."

    In response to the question, I'd say it depends on your system and the tightness of the mill. For me, setting my mill to the tightest gap and milling once gets me 80%+ efficiency most of the time with no clogging issues. However, I use a rather wide and shallow stainless steel mesh basket instead of a bag, and you have no control over the gap of the mill at your homebrew store. I haven't noticed any flavor issues, or haze issues in my non-hoppy beers. I'd say keep double crushing, and if you ever get your own mill, set the gap tight.
     
  7. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (877) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    While I understand what you're saying, I'm not saying that single vessel brewing is bad or improper. Just that there is an upper limit to efficiencies with batch sparging. Sorry for suggesting what I simply assumed was an easy "fix" and/or an actual upgrade to his brewing set-up.
     
  8. Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse

    Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse Initiate (131) Jul 20, 2016 Arizona

    Fair enough. Pros and cons to everything. It's up to each brewer to decide what works best for their individual situation.
     
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  9. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (877) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    An important point, yes.
     
  10. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    If by "proper" you mean one that won't scald you, require you to have disposable bags, or give you semi-shitty efficiency...I agree. :slight_smile:
     
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  11. Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse

    Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse Initiate (131) Jul 20, 2016 Arizona

    My efficiency is usually 80%+, I've never been burned while brewing, and the stainless steel mesh basket I use is less disposable than a plastic cooler. Again, a mash tun is not necessarily an "upgrade" for everyone.
     
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  12. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I guess you are really a BIASSMS not a BIAB guy :slight_smile:
     
  13. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,756) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Premium

    Average efficiency of my first 31 BIAB batches (March 2016-Present): 71.6%
    Average efficiency of the 31 previous batches, cooler mash tun (batch sparge): 71.0%
    P=0.71,NS.

    I have not disposed of my original bag yet, it cleans up as well as a cooler, and takes up less space. Of course, I didn't throw out my old cooler because it makes a for a nice coffee table (with a convenient storage spot for my BIAB-bag)

    I never suffered anything worse than second degree burns, a small price to pay for convenience and semi-shitty efficiency.
    (But if you want to squeeze some efficiency out of your beer, these will help)
     
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  14. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (877) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Are you fly sparging with this set up?
     
  15. Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse

    Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse Initiate (131) Jul 20, 2016 Arizona

    No. I probably could manage it, but it seems like I would have to run it off into a separate boil kettle. Of course, that would make my current "single vessel" essentially a mash tun. I just squeeze the grains by smashing them with a stainless steel stock pot lid, give them a cold water rinse, and smash again.
     
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  16. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (542) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I mash in a bag. I mash in a cooler then pull the grains and transfer to my boil kettle. I always ask for a double crush or fine crush. I have noticed a better efficiency with zero down side. I never called in Grau. Orders for My Uber LHBS and noticed a drop in efficiency so I started calling ahead and asking for a double crush. Now I get about 5% efficiency when I ask for a double crush.

    Personally can’t see a downside.
     
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