Sous vide BIAB

Methods, ingredients, advice and equipment specific to all-grain (mash), partial mash (mini mash) and "brew in a bag" (BIAB) brewing.

Sous vide BIAB

Postby Oliver » Monday Jul 01, 2013 1:57 pm

I had an interesting brew day yesterday. The publican at our local and I got together and brewed two beers, a honey porter in my Braumeister and a BIAB Mountain Goat steam ale clone. I supplied the brewing ingredients and homebrew to drink during the day and he provided roast lamb lunch and tap beer. We each had a few friends along, including a couple of fellow homebrewers.

I'd planned to use my urn to do the BIAB but he suggested using his sous vide immersion pump and heater for the mash instead.

(For those of you who don't know, sous vide is a cooking method whereby food is sealed in a plastic bag then immersed in a water bath and held at temperatures much lower than normal cooking temperatures. Cooking is slower - sometimes taking days. If you've ever watched MasterChef you have probably seen food cooked sous vide. More information on Wikipedia if you're interested.)

We set the sous vide heater/recirculator to 65C and the only thing we had to worry about during the mash was giving everything a stir every now and then.

As an aside, here is something that should cause concern to a few AG brewers: The sous vide machine is calibrated regularly to make sure it maintains the correct temperature. One of the other guys and I both had the same model of hand-held digital thermometer, which cost about $30. His was a few months old and mine is two-and-a-half years old. His read about 2C lower than the sous vide heater and mine was about a degree. Time for a new, better quality thermometer for me.

The pre-boil gravity was only out by a point, so I reckon that the exercise was a great success.

This is a close-up of the sous-vide contraption in the the brew pot. We had to use a pot with a large diameter because the other pots at the pub were quite tall and the sous vide machine wouldn't reach the liquid. We also needed to stretch the bag across the pot to make sure its bottom wasn't dragged into the inlet of the sous vide machine and onto the heating elements. The tea towel is for a bit of insulation.

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Probably the only hitch was the amount of foam that was produced, which you can see well in this picture. The Braumeister is in the background, mashing away.

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The lads on brew day.

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The steam ale that we mashed using the sous vide machine was boiled on the stove in the kitchen. Because of the large diameter of the pot the boil-off was a lot greater than I'd planned so we needed to top it up several times. Thankfully, one of the guys had brought his refractometer. I've gotta get me one of them!

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Both brews were chilled overnight in the pub's coolroom and yeast is to be pitched this afternoon.

Having a commercial dishwasher on hand meant I could sit back and have a few more beers a little earlier than otherwise!

Cheers,

Oliver
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Geoff » Tuesday Jul 02, 2013 10:34 am

Sous vide: French Braumeister.
Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour. Teach a man to brew and he wastes a lifetime.
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby emnpaul » Tuesday Jul 02, 2013 10:14 pm

Brous Vide, I think is the technical term. :D

Do I even want to know what one of these is worth?
2000 light beers from home.
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Oliver » Wednesday Jul 03, 2013 1:18 pm

I'm told it was $900 a few years ago.

While I was thinking and researching the possibilities I came across Ratek heaters and circulators.

This one in particular looked interesting because you can have nine stepped programs: http://www.ratek.com.au/products/TH8500 ... lator.html

So I made an inquiry about whether it's food safe and how much they are.

The answers were "Yes" and "$1,950.00/each ex GST".

Ouch! That's basically a Braumeister!

Then there's this one, which can't do steps but is "only" $1450, ex GST: http://www.ratek.com.au/products/TH8200 ... lator.html

With either one it's likely you'd still need to provide another heat source to boil the wort.

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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Guru » Wednesday Jul 03, 2013 6:15 pm

Nice write up Oliver, thanks for sharing. Good to see all those blokes standing around drinking beer while you do the work. :lol:
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby weizgei » Wednesday Jul 03, 2013 11:10 pm

Oi hang on, in that last photo that's ME doing all the work while Oliver stands around! :o
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Oliver » Friday Jul 05, 2013 12:20 pm

Whoops. Busted!
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby warra48 » Monday Jul 08, 2013 3:49 pm

Just on the note about the refractometer, yes, I bought one, and it's great on brewday to measure pre-fermentation wort.
You only need a few drops to get a reading, rather than sticking the hydrometer into the kettle etc.

Not so great for post fermentation readings, but with the appropriate adjustments, it's still OK.
I tend not to use mine post fermentation. I always know when my brews are done, and I've really never suffered from under attenuation since going AG. I still like to take a hydro sample before bottling, just so I can taste it!

Looks like the brewday was a lot of fun.
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby weizgei » Wednesday Jul 10, 2013 11:51 am

I agree Warra, I've picked up a refrac that I use during the boil now to make sure I'm hitting my expected gravity, but then revert to my hydrometer to test gravity after I've pitched my yeast. Very convenient combination.
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Pogierob » Saturday Jul 13, 2013 10:57 pm

Warra, Would you mind explaining why the refract isn't so good for post fermentation?
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Oliver » Sunday Jul 14, 2013 12:39 am

Hi PR (or is that PGR?),

Someone will, I am sure, be able to explain the exact "problem", but my rudimentary understanding is that a refractometer is designed to measure the gravity of a liquid based on the refraction of light through a solution of water and sugar(s). This works fine when the solution is water and sugar, but once you introduce alcohol into the mix (i.e. when fermentation has begun) the alcohol affects refraction and therefore affects the accuracy of the reading. Adjustments can be made for the presence of alcohol, but they are not precise and therefore a hydrometer is best used after the yeast is pitched.

Over to an expert to explain the issue more fully!

Cheers,

Oliver
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Oliver » Sunday Jul 14, 2013 12:39 am

Hi PR (or is that PGR?),

Someone will, I am sure, be able to explain the exact "problem", but my rudimentary understanding is that a refractometer is designed to measure the gravity of a liquid based on the refraction of light through a solution of water and sugar(s). This works fine when the solution is water and sugar, but once you introduce alcohol into the mix (i.e. when fermentation has begun) the alcohol affects refraction and therefore affects the accuracy of the reading. Adjustments can be made for the presence of alcohol, but they are not precise and therefore a hydrometer is best used after the yeast is pitched.

Over to an expert to explain the issue more fully!

Cheers,

Oliver
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby warra48 » Sunday Jul 14, 2013 7:21 am

Yes, what Oliver said !

You can use it post fermentation, but you need to use an adjustment chart to get the corrected SG from the raw reading.
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Re: Sous vide BIAB

Postby Pogierob » Sunday Jul 14, 2013 8:40 am

Great! Thanks for the info guys.
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