We've built this single-vessel electric BIAB system for customers for a few years, but always on a custom quote, custom build basis. Brewhardware owners and employees alike have been brewing on some version of this system for even longer. Long story short, we have access to any brewing system out on the market at wholesale pricing but we all brew on THIS ONE. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. It is so choice.
Spike Brewing Kettle (your choice of size based on your desired batch size.) The build on the 2 Horizontal NPT based kettle offering.
10 Gallon for low to moderate gravity(up to 8%ABV) 5 gallon batches (a full homebrew keg).
15 Gallon for 5-6 gallon finished batches with no upper ABV limit. Also capable of low ABV(4%) 10 gallon batches.
20 Gallon for 5 or 10 gallon batches with practically no upper ABV limit.
COMING SOON: 30 Gallon for 10 to 15 gallon batches with practically no upper ABV limit. Note that once you get to this size, we highly recommend using the Riptide pump option.
Note: ABV limits listed above are approximate based on average mash efficiencies of 68-72% and may vary from your experience.
BIAB coarse mesh false bottom to hold the bag above the heating element and drain. This will be appropriately sized for the kettle size you choose.
5500 Watt, TC integrated heating element with L6-30P locking male plug, TC clamp and gasket to install in the TC port welded in to the kettle. Note that we install the element TC port on the right side of the kettle (at the 3 o'clock position if the front of the kettle is 6 o'clock) We can install it at 12 or 9 o'clock by request.
Pickup tube- Edge style pickup tube, threaded into the welded drain bulkhead. Note that the base kit of this system does NOT include a ball valve on the outside of the drain port. If you select the Topsflo pump kit, the pump will thread in directly. If you get the Riptide pump kit, it does include a valve for this port. If you have your own pump setup already, keep in mind you'll need an extra valve and QD for this port.
Whirlpool return, BrewHardware Spincycle shorty threaded into welded whirlpool port.
3-Way TEE style valve on the whirlpool port. This is the main operator for the different modes of kettle operation. This valve selects between whirlpool/kettle stir only, Recirculate only, and both. Whirlpool is used during initial water heat up as well as during immersion chilling. In the "both" position, wort is recirculated over the grain to distribute new heat input as well as whirlpooled to keep the lower layer fully mixed and at the same temperature during the mashing phase. This recirculate and stir feature is not found on any competitor systems and is the real key to perfect temperature. This cannot be emphasized enough. Many users of recirculating BIAB systems complain about temperature stability issues along with pumping too quickly over the top and possibly dry firing their element. This dual flow path system is the solution to both problems. Finally, the recirculate only mode is great for filling your fermenter. Instead of this hose going up to the lid mounted locline port, it gets quick disconnected from the lid and dropped into or connected to your fermenter. This 3-way valve is equipped with a BLQD-F (male QD) on the inside side and a mini ball valve and additional BLQD-F on the recirculation output side. The mini ball valve is used to throttle the recirculation.
Everything listed above represents the common "base" kit that all share the same components regardless of which pump add on you select. The price listed is for the base build by kettle size. The cost of the pump kit add on is the same regardless of which kettle size you select.
Pump Choice (You will add one of the two pump kits as a separate cart item)
- For $155 The Topsflo TD5 24 Volts DC brewing pump kit option is recommended on the 10, 15 and 20g kettles.. This is shown in the main picture of this item. CLICK HERE TO ADD THE TOPFLO KIT OPTION TO THE CART
- For $299 The Blichmann Riptide Pump kit option is a larger, bulkier, louder and more powerful pump and is recommend for the 30 gallon size. It would also be a slight whirlpooling performance upgrade for the 20g size (and would double as a spray ball CIP pump for your conicals regardless of kettle size) if it is within your budget. CLICK HERE TO ADD THE RIPTIDE KIT OPTION TO THE CART
Hoses/Quick Disconnects (what is included with either pump kit?)
When you select the Topsflow
TD5 pump kit, you will thread the pump directly into the drain port of the kettle. The pump output gets a high flow elbow barb, a length of silicone tubing and a set of BLQD quick disconnects to couple into the 3 way valve on the whirlpool.
When you select the Riptide pump kit, we include a 3pc ball valve on the kettle drain and all the male/female quick disconnects to make two hose assemblies. One hose goes from the drain to the pump and another from the pump up to to 3way valve. The added cost of of the extra hardware is built in to the pump choice selection and is not just the price difference between the pumps alone.
Temperature Controller (You will add as a separate cart item if you do not already have a controller)
The recommended temperature/power controller is the $374 Blichmann Brewcommander which you will add to the cart as a separate item. We don't include the controller in the package by default because some customers build their own controllers or have other ideas. If you do add the Blichmann Brewcommander to the cart on the same order, we will install the temperature probe into the kettle for you. The commander has very short input and output cables on the back of the enclosure. A 10ft extension cord is included but it will either be used between your wall outlet and the controller or the controller and the heating element. The latter can be done if you build a small shelf that sits directly in front of your L6-30R wall outlet. While you can sit the controller close enough to the kettle to directly connect the output cable to the element, it puts it in close "splash zone" proximity. You may want to pick up an extra extension cord which we offer as accessories in various lengths on the right. More options and descriptions can be found on the full controller product page, otherwise you can
CLICK HERE TO ADD THE COMMANDER CONTROLLER TO THE CART
Pump: As stated above, a pump upgrade kit is optional. The picture of the system shows the topsflo pump installed.
Drain Ball Valve and QD : This is included in the Riptide pump add on kit and not required with the Topsflo kit.
If this is your first venture into electric powered brewing, you're probably psyched about the prospect of brewing indoors, maybe in a garage or a dedicated brew room in your basement. Don't be caught off guard by the amount of steam that builds up in enclosed places when you boil for an hour or more. If you set up near a window, you can do a reasonable job of venting with a small fan blowing out. If you want to keep the brew day as silent as possible and keep your heated/air conditioned air inside, read all about the the Steam Slayer product on its dedicated product page. If you think you may want to implement the Steam Slayer into your kettle, even if it's in the future, it would be most economical to have us install the appropriate TC port into the kettle while we're already building the system for you for about $50. You can cap it off in the meantime.
In order to make ordering easier, you can
make this system "STEAM SLAYER READY" by CLICKING HERE.
This will add all the parts and labor to the cart to weld a TC port in which can receive the Steam Slayer. If you plan to use it immediately don't forget to add the Steam Slayer kit to the cart as well.
We do not include a standard chiller because the "best" type of chiller is so highly debated. If you're asking for recommendations, we prefer a high efficiency immersion style chiller. Unlike plate chillers, you do not need to worry about hop debris clogging. The whirlpool action keeps hops in the middle of the kettle and also makes the immersion chilling process much faster than static chilling. Immersion chilling "in place" within the kettle also allows for a post chill settling phase to run VERY clear wort out to the fermenter. We REALLY like the Cuss Brewing "Short and Stocky" chiller for the 10,15 and 20 gallon kettle version of this system. CLICK HERE to purchase the chiller from Cuss Brewing. Note that we'll get a small referral commission if you purchase using the link. We vouch for this chiller. You'll love it.
With the endless system options out there, what sets this one apart? That is a completely reasonable question and we're going to spend a good portion of time explaining why the whole staff chose this configuration and why some of the more popular systems fall short (for us).You can use this information to make an informed decision for your own system. There are a few different aspects to compare and contrast so we'll break it down by topic rather than brand specifics.
NOTE: FREE SHIPPING ONLY ON 10 and 15 Gallon kettle sizes. Some shipping charge will be assessed on 20 gallon and larger kettle versions but we will still be subsidizing most of the shipping cost there as well.
Bag vs Basket
We chose a food grade mesh bag for our system, in contrast to systems that use a rigid stainless steel basket (sometimes called a malt pipe). For one thing, it reduces the overall system cost. There are some low cost systems that use a rigid basket but they are flimsy and generally only drain at the bottom. The premium basket systems have a substantial price increase and is frankly no easier to use than a bag. The flexible bags tend to drain wort more completely due to the teardrop shape that forms due to the grain weight. It also allows for more wort extraction with a gentle squeeze with a gloved set of hands.
The last, and perhaps the most important thing to consider with basket designs is if they allow an undesirable amount of grain particles to pass through and into the boil kettle. Unfortunately some designs use the same hole/slot pattern on baskets that you would regularly find on a mash tun false bottom. False bottoms could get away with letting grain through since a recirculation in a dedicated mash tun would clean that up and allow clear wort into the boiler. In a BIAB system, any grain that gets through is now in your boil for good.
But doesn't the basket keep the grain off the heating element? Yes, but we've custom designed a coarse mesh false bottom to keep the bag from touching the element and to form an adequate liquid-only area to receive and disperse heat from the element.
Contrasted to All In One "URN" style systems
Proprietary vs modularity: One of the biggest downsides to the full system, small foot print coffee urn style systems is the proprietary nature of all the components. The heating element has to be sourced from the manufacturer if it burns out. If that model or brand is discontinued and the parts market dries up, you will have to discard the entire system. A similar issue exists with some systems that have built in temperature controllers and recirculating pumps.
On the other hand, we use standard modular components that have existed in the market for long enough to ensure long life, serviceability and if all else fails, a suitable open market substitute can be purchased at any time. For example, install industry widely accepted heating elements using the Triclamp standard. You are never stuck buying elements from any one vendor. The same can be said for the pump and whatever controller you use.
Power/Time Investment: Most all in ones are painfully under powered. While they get the job done eventually, the ramp times for heat water initially as well as ramping the wort up to a boil are quite long. Even the systems that offer 240 volt input options still use lower wattage elements than we prefer. We put a hefty 5500 watt element in our systems. For comparison's sake we can take 6 gallons of strike water up to 160F in 15 minutes while the same would take 55 minutes on a 1600 watt URN system. That's a 40 minute difference just for the water heat up step. In almost all cases, you're never waiting for something to heat up with this system. It's usually hot already and waiting for you.
Batch Size Scaling and Future Upgrades
This is a similar contrast as the topic of modularity, but specific to batch sizes. When you buy an URN system, you are buying something cable of typically one batch size and that's it. There is no upgrade path without buying a whole new system. On a modular system like ours, the only thing you need to change to upgrade your maximum batch size is the kettle, false bottom and bag.You'll use the same heating element, pump, controller and accessories. The kettle is the cheapest part of the whole system.
What is Brew In A Bag? This all grain brewing method is purported to have been born in Australia based on minimalist pragmatism. The rest of the world started catching on and most of the big manufacturers have finally released their versions of this simple type of system.
This process involves mashing your grains directly in your slightly oversized boil kettle. Grain is contained within a large, fine mesh food grade bag and the spent grain is removed from the wort by pulling the bag out. The concept of sparging (rinsing extra sugars off the grain) is not impossible with this process, but the vast majority of BIAB brewers run a full volume, no sparge mash which means the removal of the grain leaves the desired pre-boil volume. The method makes perfectly good, award winning beers and the brew day is simple and the gear is easy to clean up.