Thursday, August 7, 2014

Custom BIAB Review

Full disclosure: The person that made this bag is a good friend of mine. That being said, this review is focused on the bag. The construction, the material and the use of the bag. I do not get commission on this. Only thanks from a friend if she sells some of these. These are listed on etsy on her shop. I bought one and am thrilled with it, hence this review.

I asked my friend Misty to make a bag for me to brew with because the cheap piece of shit bag I was using was a cheap piece of shit and was starting to fray and tear anyway. I know there are other established options out there, but I also don't need a pulley or anything else and didn't really want to spend $35+ on a bag. I'm not a "cheap" person per se, but I find it hard to justify that. I realize it's a custom made bag to the dimensions of the vessel it's going to fit into, but still.

Misty informed me she could certainly do it for $25 shipped, and so the challenge began.

Here is bag #1

As you can see, it's a tad small for my cooler. Not a big deal, as it is bigger than my previous bag and the construction is solid. But this was a learning experience and she quickly went and did another one, making it slightly wider to fold over the top. I subjected this bag to the same testing as the second one I'm reviewing further below, and for someone with a narrower kettle for BIAB than my cooler, it'd work great. It's my backup now, though I'll probably give it away to someone I know that may start brewing soon.

Here is bag #2:

As you can see here, it is wider and overlaps the cooler just fine.

Here it is in use:

The recipe used above:
6lbs 2row
4lbs pilsner
3lbs rye
1lb C40

.5oz Galena @60

WLP300 stressed to produce banana esters.

Looks weird? Yep! We'll see what happens. Either awesome or terrible but this is the price of experimentation.

I wound up at 1.070 with 6 gallons of wort. I could have boiled it down more, but the pilsner malt addition was a last minute decision. I wasn't sure what to expect on efficiency with a new bag so figured wtf I'll toss in more grain and see what happens. Well, 81% ain't too shabby.

The grist used for this one isn't particularly heavy at 14bs of grain total. But it isn't that light either when soaked. The handles are very well secured on there and at no point did it feel like it was stressed in any way detectable to me.

On to the construction and material. It is made with cotton poly voile, and polyester thread. Very sturdy. The first thing I did when I got it was try to break it by pulling it apart. I have a luggage scale (not the exact same but same weight limit) and maxed it out without any visible stress on the bag. Pulled a little harder after that, but didn't put all my strength into it because there was no point beyond that. Grain won't be putting more stress than I just applied to it, and certainly not the way I applied it.

The bag has an extremely fine mesh. This is ideal for super fine crush, but it does require some patience in draining the bag. Not really a problem for me as I lift and spin the bag to squeeze it out a bit before I set it on a rack above the cooler to drain before I (batch) sparge if I'm going to do so. This is going to be the tradeoff for a super fine mesh though on any bag. Coarser mesh and it'll drain faster, but you'll also end up with a lot more grain bits in there. I personally am very happy with this compromise. So is my efficiency.

Cleaning. Extremely easy. It is made in such a way that if you can hose it off, you'll be set. All I did was flip it inside out while dumping, lay out on the cement and spray it down. Pick it up, rinse the grain off the ground and lay it down again for another spray. Hang it up to dry, give it a shake and it's grain free and looks like new again.

Using my five star rating system:
Construction/Materials: 5
Durability: 5
Awesomeness: 5
Value: 5

I highly, highly recommend this bag. Make sure you measure height and diameter of your vessel properly. It ships USPS Priority Mail, and the shipping is included in the price of the bag.

Want an awesome, extremely durable and reasonably priced bag? You can purchase one at this etsy link. Comments? Questions? Let me know and I'm happy to answer.

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