Saturday, April 18, 2009

An idea from Down Unda' for all-grain brewers

Those Aussies come up with some pretty clever stuff now and then. Vegemite... wine in a box... boomerangs... we have one more to add to the list.

John recently found some Aussie homebrewers online discussing the use of a large grain bag that allows them to mash in your boiling kettle. This eliminates the need to transfer water to the mash tun then back to the boiling kettle. The bag needs to be large enough to wrap around the outside of the pot (see pictures below) but clearly not too big. A couple of weekends ago we went on down to Joann crafts and bought the following items:
  • 2 yards of polyester voile (in the drapery section). It must be polyester - no cotton!
  • 1 nylon drawstring, 2 yards long (the one I got was about 1/4" diameter)
  • 100% polyester thread
I cut the voile in such a way that the bottom edge was at the fold of the fabric and the measurements were about 42" wide by 50" tall. I sewed up the sides & top hem (with a machine), strung the drawstring, and voila - brewing bag! I reinforced the bottom corners with several lines of stitching and double-stitched the sides, just to make sure it would be strong enough to hold some very heavy spent grain. This bag is big enough to use with a half-barrel keg if you like.

We've now made 2 batches with the bag, and it has cut off about 1.5 hours of our brewing time, inclusive of clean-up. We used to use the ol' Coleman cooler mash tun, but now we just mash right in the boiling kettle. Once the water is to the right temperature, we put the grain bag in and let the grain mash for about an hour. Once mashing is complete, we just remove the bag, squeeze as much liquid out as possible, then proceed with the boil. John's found that the mash efficiency has increased as well, so we'll be using less grain in the future as a result (our special bitter became an extra special bitter!).

Here are a couple of pictures I took right after we added the grain. The binder clips are just there to hold the bag in place while we ensured there were no grain clumps remaining prior to the mash. For reference, this is a 10-gallon kettle.


  1. Interesting. I stumbled across an article about this recently online or in a beer magazine and was curious if it actually did work well. I think I may have to try this. Could be a good suggestion for extract brewers who are hesitant to get into all-grain brewing as well.

  2. Absolutely! It's basically a bigger version of steeping the specialty grains, really... (and no messy extract to add...) Great point, Steve.


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