Simple all grain electric beer brewery BIAB

Picture of Simple all grain electric beer brewery BIAB
Home brewed beer can not only be "as good" as commercially made beer but sometimes even better.  Many home brewers use extracts to create their beer, but the best beer is frequently made from all grain.  This approach can get complicated with pumps, multiple vessels and gas powered burners.  Electric brewing can change this.  

After years of brewing beer in the cold garage using a gravity fed 3 vessel propane powered brewery, I thought it was time to simplify and start brewing indoors where it was warmer.  While some electric brewers go with complicated recirculating pumps, PID controllers and digital temperature displays, I wanted a simpler (less expensive) way to brew electrically.  The result is a one vessel, manually controlled brewery that uses a beer brewing method referred to as "Brew in a bag" or BIAB for short.  

This brewery is easy to use, fast heating, small sized and a snap to clean up.  It sets up on the washing machine in the laundry room and stores easily on a shelf.   I love this adorable little brewery and will not be returning to the cold days in the garage any day soon.

Want to make one?  Let's get the parts we need.  
cborger1 year ago

How do you keep the basket from touching the heating element? Or is it okay for the basket to sit on the heating element?

funkhouserb (author)  cborger1 year ago
The basket hangs from the top of the pot and won't touch the element but wouldn't be the end of the world if it did. The grain bag, on the other hand should NEVER touch the element as it is much more fragile and meltable. Thanks for writing!
funkhouserb (author) 1 year ago
Hi tim_n. I didn't worry about the difference between the two liquids. I honestly found it easiest to just shut the unit off during mashing and wrap a blanket around it . I achieved good conversion an hour later and never overshot my temperature. If you do the same, you can go without the strainer as the element will be off while the bag is in the wort. If you keep the element on, there is a chance the element could touch and burn the bag if there was no strainer. The strainer was not nearly as useful as I originally thought it would be. Thanks for writing!
I've eventually found a 15 gallon stockpot in the uk for £62. The guy selling it has sorted the holes for me for £11 - I've had a 1/2" hole for the ball valve, 1/4" for the temp gauge, 1 1/4" for the heating element and a 5mm hole (2/10") for the probe. Not bad. £15 P&P bringing it to £93

I ended up buying two PIDs, one was a £11 jobbie from China which had a 30A SSR inbuilt. Seemed like a good idea, but it was an RTD sensor - not a PT100. Oops. Ended up buying an auber SYL-2352 (£40 imported), 40a SSR (£5) and stainless steel PT100 (£4)

Cost of getting a suitable 1" locknut imported from the states was prohibitively expensive so I ended up getting one from China (99p) and sourcing a few o-rings in the UK (75p). Very difficult to source!

Got a custom large washer lasercut as it was cheaper than importing as well (£5.50)

I've just run a new power cable into my garage so I've got somewhere to plug into. It's a 32a circuit with a RSD breaker on it. I've added a socket which'll run my arc welder and a spare cooker I've been given. I have a friendly electrician help me which cut down the cost (I ran the cable through the loft, he wired it up for me). Wire cost about £80 (bought too much). Consumer unit, switched 32A socket and three plugs £70.

So, I get the stockpot at Christmas, SSR and heatsink should arrive in the new year hopefully be brewing before easter! :)
tim_n1 year ago
Excellent stuff - how do you find the temperature differential between the contents of the strainer and the outside wort? I've seen it mentioned a few times and am wondering whether it's better to import this exact set or just use a more basic without steamer model. Importing the same one you used is £164, I can buy a similar but with no strainer for £114
volto2 years ago
How do you clean underneath and between the poles on that heating element? Just boil some water in there? Thanks, and great instructable, this has to be the simplest method I have seen to brew beer.
funkhouserb (author)  volto2 years ago
Boiling some water is a great idea. I have simply used a scrub brush and a sponge with a good rinse. Thank you.