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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: S. cerevisiae on October 23, 2014, 03:45:39 PM

Title: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 23, 2014, 03:45:39 PM
I have been brewing long enough to remember when batch sparging was not a generally accepted all-grain brewing method. When I started brewing all-grain beer, sparging meant continuous sparging (a.k.a. fly sparging, which has to be one of the least descriptive home brewing terms coined in the last fifteen or so years).  Thanks in large part to Denny's evangelism, batch sparging has pretty much displaced continuous sparging as the preferred method for new all-grain brewers.

Lately, I am seeing the same kind of movement that led to batch sparging becoming the method of choice for new all-grain brewers occurring within the BIAB community.  While some brewers convert over time, most brewers tend to stick with the first method that provides acceptable results. Batch sparging caught on because it is not as sensitive to technique and lauter tun design as continuous sparging.   The simplicity of the technique lowered the barrier to entry into the world of all-grain brewing.  BIAB one-ups batch sparging in the simplicity department by eliminating the need to build or purchase a mash/lauter tun; hence, lowering the barrier to entry even further.

With the above said, does anyone other than me see BIAB overtaking batch sparging as the preferred method to make all-grain beer on a small scale?  Please consider the arguments that were used during the continuous/batch sparging wars before answering.  Many of the same arguments are being made by the batch sparging community that were made by the continuous sparging community.
Title: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Stevie on October 23, 2014, 03:50:20 PM
I think it will supplement more than replace or be a sort of bridge for those that have a large enough kettle. Don't have the time to detail my reasonings right now.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: denny on October 23, 2014, 04:01:22 PM
I think that as long as you qualify it small scale, then I'd say "probably".  AFAIAC, BIAB is a very viable method for small batches brewed indoors.  But I think people who want to do full size batches will go another way.  It's not easy to hang a hoist in your kitchen to lift the bag for a 5 gal. batch.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Joe Sr. on October 23, 2014, 04:02:22 PM
I doubt it.  I do BIAB for my partial mashes right now but have planned for the last several years (but not implemented) the move to full AG batches with batch sparging.

I brew higher gravity beers and don't see myself wrestling with a really big bag of wet grain.  My current set-up works fine for me at 5 -6 lbs of grain and starts getting unwieldy at 8+ lbs.  If I'm going to invest in a new set-up, it will be batch sparging in a cooler because it looks so darn simple and I have everything I need already.

I'm also planning to move to 10 gallon batches, so the grain bill grows significantly as do my concerns about a large heavy bag of wet grain.

I agree with Steve that it will supplement, rather than replace.  There are still lots of people who fly sparge.

EDIT: Looks like Denny beat me to it with a much more concise response.  I concur.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 23, 2014, 04:04:23 PM
That same kind of argument was made by the continuous sparging community. 
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Joe Sr. on October 23, 2014, 04:08:50 PM
Which?  Supplement rather than replace?

I am not a new brewer, so perhaps my perspective is off and I've never done fly sparging because it always just seemed too damn complicated, but I do think there are real logistical issues to BIAB on a larger scale.  Not to say they can't be overcome but if one needs a hoist then simplicity is defeated.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 23, 2014, 04:20:18 PM
I think that as long as you qualify it small scale, then I'd say "probably".  AFAIAC, BIAB is a very viable method for small batches brewed indoors.  But I think people who want to do full size batches will go another way.  It's not easy to hang a hoist in your kitchen to lift the bag for a 5 gal. batch.

+1
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: dmtaylor on October 23, 2014, 04:25:40 PM
I think that as long as you qualify it small scale, then I'd say "probably".  AFAIAC, BIAB is a very viable method for small batches brewed indoors.  But I think people who want to do full size batches will go another way.  It's not easy to hang a hoist in your kitchen to lift the bag for a 5 gal. batch.

Bingo.  BIAB is absolutely ideal for small batches.  I brew almost all my batches in a bag because I'm only making 1.7-gallon batches.  And these days I do think there are more and more brewers happier making smaller batches than 5 gallons -- I'm talking about anywhere from 3 gallons on down to the 1-gallon 6-pack brewer.  There are tons of advantages to smaller batches, which I need not mention here.  A mash tun in these cases becomes far more a hinderance than a help.  But for those making the standard 5 gallons and up, a mash tun is usually the way to go.  When I just made a 6-gallon batch this past weekend to be served at the local brewfest, I dragged out my old cooler mash tun and used that of course -- my grain bag and muscles just aren't big enough to handle 6 gallons worth of waterlogged grist.

But will BIAB overtake batch sparging, in an overall average Joe Brewer sense?  No, never, I don't think so.  We might eventually get to the point where we have around 50/50 BIAB vs. mash tunners, but I believe the ratio will remain lower for BIAB forever, because there will always be millions of people interested in making 5 gallons, or 10 or 15.  The American way, at least, is always that more is better... and of course, I believe those millions of Americans are wrong.

My 2 cents.  :D
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: archstanton on October 23, 2014, 05:19:33 PM
 I think that for someone who has never brewed before it is the most logical starting point. Minimal investment and minimal equipment is the method of choice for most new brewers. Makes sense. I believe that it can cement itself as a niche in brewing for the small batch, start up method. 
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on October 23, 2014, 05:23:59 PM
There will always be a process choice based on batch size. I am unfamiliar with any commercial brewery or homebrewer with a large home set up who batch sparges because it's just easier to fly sparge at those volumes. Similarly, for BIAB there's a volume limit to one's ability to hoist a large bag. The number of people with the physical strength or equipment to lift a bag of wet grain shrinks as the weight of the bag grows. Not to mention the decreasing number of options to find a bag of a sufficiently large size. That doesn't mean you couldn't conceive of a way to BIAB a 3BBL batch but the practicality of that process is limited by resources. I don't think the difference in efficiency is a huge issue, at least not for homebrewers. There is a trend in homebrewing to make increasingly larger batches and at a certain volume, due to those resource limitations, moving from BIAB to batch or continuous sparging becomes a necessity. On the other hand, the last few years has seen brewers scale down and that encourages the use of BIAB for its ease and low resource requirements.

I do not believe batch sparging will be displaced to the extent that batch sparging displaced continuous sparging. For small batches I think BIAB will pretty much dominate that volume of brewing but as you go up in batch size the preference for batch sparging also rises. In that five gallon range I expect to see a fairly balanced mix of preferences. Those who can hoist the bag and those who can't. Those who want to build brewing equipment and those who do not.

I guess I'm pretty much saying the same thing as everybody else.

Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: denny on October 23, 2014, 05:31:54 PM
I am unfamiliar with any commercial brewery or homebrewer with a large home set up who batch sparges because it's just easier to fly sparge at those volumes.

FWIW, I consult for a 7 bbl. brewery that batch sparges.  His efficiency is at least 10 points higher batch sparging than fly sparging.  An outlier, for sure, but it is done.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: dmtaylor on October 23, 2014, 05:32:44 PM
FWIW, a friend of mine brews in a bag for all his 15-gallon batches.  His grandmother sewed him a giant pillowcase bag, and he hoists it in his garage with block and tackle.  Works great, but you do need to have a grandmother who uses sturdy material and sturdy stitching.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: denny on October 23, 2014, 05:34:34 PM
FWIW, a friend of mine brews in a bag for all his 15-gallon batches.  His grandmother sewed him a giant pillowcase bag, and he hoists it in his garage with block and tackle.  Works great, but you do need to have a grandmother who uses sturdy material and sturdy stitching.

At that point, with a hoist in the garage, is where I see it losing it's advantage over batch sparging in a tun.  You're already brewing outdoors and a tun isn't gonna be any more effort than building a hoist system. 
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 23, 2014, 05:46:12 PM
Remember what I mentioned earlier about most brewers sticking with the first process with which they achieve acceptable results?  I still continuous sparge.  I learned how to brew when sparging meant continuous sparging.  I continue to do so because it is less effort for me than batch sparging.  However, then again, I have gone through the process hundreds of times.  I have my design and process worked out to the point where I can vorlauf, open the valves on my hot liquor back and mash/lauter tun (MLT), and walk away without fear of the water level rising too high or falling too low in my MLT. 

The continuous sparging community made many of the same arguments about batch sparging that the batch sparging community is making about BIAB.  In my humble opinion, the shift towards smaller batches when combined with natural inclination to remain with what is familiar will result in BIAB becoming the preferred way to make all-grain beer at home over time.  The shift will just require enough cycling through the ranks.  Batching sparging became the preferred method because of the people who entered the hobby after the technique became a popular way to lower the barrier to all-grain brewing.  It was not because those who continuous sparged jumped shipped in large numbers.

BIAB is huge in Australia. Brewers in Australia routinely make 5-gallon BIAB batches, which are actually 6 U.S. gallons in volume because the Australians use Imperial gallons when they use English measurements.  Only time will tell if BIAB scales well. 
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 23, 2014, 05:56:58 PM
I vote no. I think more people want to brew 5+ gallons. I think, generally speaking, that biab has the edge over batch sparging in smaller, stovetop batches only. The reason that the analogy to batch sparge vs. fly sparge doesn't work for me is that the differences in level of complication, time, etc. are greater than batch sparging vs. biab. Batch sparging made it way easier and less intimidating than fly sparging, biab is only a little bit easier and cheaper than batch sparging. The two big reasons I have added biab to my repertoire is that it enables me to brew on weeknights and I don't have a dedicated brewery space. If I didn't have to lug all my equipment from the cellar to outside I would batch sparge more, and still will sometimes despite all that.
Title: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Stevie on October 23, 2014, 06:15:33 PM
No chill is HUGE in Australia and NZ, I personally know one brewer that has tried it here. BIAB is popular because that is how they learned to do it.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: morticaixavier on October 23, 2014, 07:08:19 PM
the perceived benefits of batch over continuous are brew length agnostic. A batch setup will always be simpler and less prone to those issue caused by continuous (channelling, stuck sparge, etc.)

while, as others have mentioned, the perceived benefits of BIAB over batch are less so. As brew length increases the BIAB brewer needs more complex equipment to make it work while the batch sparger just needs bigger versions of the same equipment. and at some point your 'bag' will have to be made of a material so sturdy it will border on the ridiculous (a kevlar sewn carbon fiber filter bag with a 100 qt capacity?).

I think of BIAB as more or less the smallest and simplest batch setup one can build. I started that way. with a bag in my bottling bucket.

historically continuous spargeing evolved out of 'batch' sparging (or 'sparging' as it was known at the time) in an attempt to chase the dragon of higher and higher efficiency (more, smaller batches = increased efficiency). when oppressive tax laws led the Scotts to figure out how to make the most out of a limited grist they took it to an extreme and thus was created continuous sparging. I don't know what knowledge has led to the current state where one can get as good or better efficiency with batch sparging.

However with such good extracts available now I suspect that the new brewer that isn't sure they want to continue brewing will just stick with extract while the brewer that wants to go deeper and with larger brew lengths will move towards batch or continuous. BIAB will remain a choice for small batch brewers.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 23, 2014, 07:12:05 PM
BIAB is popular because that is how they learned to do it.

The same thing can be said about batch sparging or continuous sparging.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 23, 2014, 07:44:05 PM
the perceived benefits of batch over continuous are brew length agnostic. A batch setup will always be simpler and less prone to those issue caused by continuous (channelling, stuck sparge, etc.)

Stuck sparges are the result of crushing one's malt too fine, not lautering technique.  I have never had a stuck mash since I purchased a roller mill, and I never use rice hulls, even working with gummy grains.  I used to get them all of the time when I used a Corona mill.


Quote
and at some point your 'bag' will have to be made of a material so sturdy it will border on the ridiculous (a kevlar sewn carbon fiber filter bag with a 100 qt capacity?).

That problem has already being solved via the introduction of Brew In A Basket.  It's the same technique.

Quote
historically continuous spargeing evolved out of 'batch' sparging (or 'sparging' as it was known at the time) in an attempt to chase the dragon of higher and higher efficiency (more, smaller batches = increased efficiency). when oppressive tax laws led the Scotts to figure out how to make the most out of a limited grist they took it to an extreme and thus was created continuous sparging. I don't know what knowledge has led to the current state where one can get as good or better efficiency with batch sparging.

One cannot achieve better efficiency with batch sparging than can be achieved with continuous sparging when using a properly designed lauter tun and good technique.  If that were true, every major brewer in the world would switch to batch sparging.  The times savings alone would pay for the equipment. 
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 23, 2014, 07:50:10 PM
By the way, I am playing devil's advocate in this thread.  I have no intention of changing the way I brew. I  have just noticed a worldwide trend toward the adoption of BIAB as a first-class way to make beer.  Use of the technique has grown significantly in the last year.  What got me interested in discussing the trend is that an old brewing friend and fellow continuous sparger started playing around with the technique.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Stevie on October 23, 2014, 07:57:22 PM
BIAB is popular because that is how they learned to do it.

The same thing can be said about batch sparging or continuous sparging.


But that does not mean it will become more popular here or that it will become the preferred method for new all-grain brewers. If I were assisting somebody make the jump from extract to all-grain, I would first ask how much they want to make. Less than 3 gallons, I would show brew in a bag, ~5 gallons + I 'd show them Denny's batch sparge techniques. I like BIAB for small stove top batches, and it is a razor thin margin.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: seefish on October 23, 2014, 08:09:44 PM
I started out as a batch sparger with a cooler and went to BIAB with the intention of brewing smaller batches.  That worked out for about 2 batches lol...I went back to 5 gallons but stuck with BIAB.  Didn't seem to make sense to me to transfer to another vessel if I didn't have to.  That being said, my kitchen stove is strong enough to get 10 gallons to a rolling boil and I have a sturdy strainer to hold the grain.  I don't think I would consider going over 5 gal with BIAB.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: dmtaylor on October 23, 2014, 09:37:39 PM
One cannot achieve better efficiency with batch sparging than can be achieved with continuous sparging when using a properly designed lauter tun and good technique.

I have found this to be true only in theory and not in practice.  It is not terribly difficult to achieve 94% efficiency in a batch sparged beer.  While I'm sure it's possible to achieve 94% or higher efficiency with fly sparging... do we really need to?!  I think this is a moot point.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: morticaixavier on October 23, 2014, 09:48:04 PM
One cannot achieve better efficiency with batch sparging than can be achieved with continuous sparging when using a properly designed lauter tun and good technique.

I have found this to be true only in theory and not in practice.  It is not terribly difficult to achieve 94% efficiency in a batch sparged beer.  While I'm sure it's possible to achieve 94% or higher efficiency with fly sparging... do we really need to?!  I think this is a moot point.

Also I stated "as good or better" and as good is certainly possible.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 23, 2014, 10:14:53 PM

 If I were assisting somebody make the jump from extract to all-grain, I would first ask how much they want to make. Less than 3 gallons, I would show brew in a bag, ~5 gallons + I 'd show them Denny's batch sparge techniques.


+1. 
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: klickitat jim on October 23, 2014, 10:32:59 PM
To answer the original question. No. 100% of the people I brew with on a regular basis use batch sparging with direct fire recirculation. And the folks from that community don't associ8 with folks from the other communities.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Stevie on October 23, 2014, 10:55:24 PM

To answer the original question. No. 100% of the people I brew with on a regular basis use batch sparging with direct fire recirculation. And the folks from that community don't associ8 with folks from the other communities.

Jim, you might be in a cult. Do you need rescuing?
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 23, 2014, 11:07:42 PM
Jim being rescued from a cult is a funny a$$ mental picture for some reason. You don't live in a compound do you, Jim ?    ;)
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: klickitat jim on October 24, 2014, 12:45:15 AM
No cult. No compound. And only one person in my brewing club. So, I'll admit that my pool of data is somewhat limited. But its what I've been observing
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 24, 2014, 12:47:41 AM
No cult. No compound. And only one person in my brewing club. So, I'll admit that my pool of data is somewhat limited. But its what I've been observing

Just being silly anyway, Jim.  Long week !
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: beerlord on October 24, 2014, 01:16:52 AM
I've been doing BIAB for 3 years, the last 2 outdoors, usually 6 gallons each time.  I use a nice, strong mesh strainer and remove about half of the grain into another bag in a 5 gallon bucket.  It takes maybe 10 minutes max to remove half or more of the grain and then, with my nifty and beautiful orange heat gloves I can work with the original mash bag as well as the 'strained' bag removing the liquid from each.
I routinely get 78-80% efficiency and love the ease of BIAB.
But there are times like tomorrow when I am doing 11 gallons and 26 lbs of grain that it may take me 20-25 minutes to remove the grain and it may not be the best method for extra large amounts of grain.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 24, 2014, 02:42:41 AM
No cult. No compound.

But a bumper crop of salmon this year!  Well, that's at least what was reported on National Public Radio the other day.  I was surprised that they mentioned Klickitat because I never heard of the place before joining this forum.

Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 24, 2014, 02:50:20 AM
If I were assisting somebody make the jump from extract to all-grain, I would first ask how much they want to make. Less than 3 gallons, I would show brew in a bag, ~5 gallons + I 'd show them Denny's batch sparge techniques. I like BIAB for small stove top batches, and it is a razor thin margin.

I would do the same thing except that I would recommend continuous sparging instead of batch sparging for larger batches. Becoming a proficient continuous sparger ensures that a brewer will most likely never have to learn a new sparging technique if he/she decides to become a professional brewer.

With that said, what we are doing when we promote our favorite technique is acting as evangelists.   There will come a time when someone in the U.S. steps up to the plate and evangelizes BIAB like Denny did with batch sparging.  It is just a matter of time.  I do not want swell Denny's head, but without his evangelism, batch sparging would be just another way to sparge.  I remember when batch sparging was not part of the home brewing lexicon.

There are product manufacturers who are already jumping on the BIAB bandwagon by making products that are designed to brew larger batches using the technique.  UTAH Biodiesel is offering large stainless steel mesh baskets for BIAB brewers.

http://utahbiodieselsupply.com/brewingfilters.php#biab


With that said, I see a day when five gallons will no longer be the standard batch size.   The batch size was chosen mainly due to the availability of 5-gallon fermentation vessels.  What we will see is a migration to larger and sub-5 gallon batches.  The ratio of 10+ gallon brewers to five gallon brewers is much higher today than it was when I started brewing.  I remember when Jim Busch (BURP and Victory Brewing) was the talk of the town because he had a one barrel brewery. Today, a barrel-size system is nothing special.

The thing that has taken me completely by surprise is the rise of the 1-gallon all-grain brewer.   On the other hand, it is amazing that it took this long for the concept of brewing 1-gallon of all-grain beer at time to take hold.   It seems so logical considering that it can be accomplished with normal kitchenware.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: klickitat jim on October 24, 2014, 05:12:30 AM
No cult. No compound.

But a bumper crop of salmon this year!  Well, that's at least what was reported on National Public Radio the other day.  I was surprised that they mentioned Klickitat because I never heard of the place before joining this forum.

Thats what I hear. I didn't fish this year. Record run but not biting.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: klickitat jim on October 24, 2014, 05:13:56 AM
No cult. No compound. And only one person in my brewing club. So, I'll admit that my pool of data is somewhat limited. But its what I've been observing

Just being silly anyway, Jim.  Long week !

I'm kidding too. Of course I live in a compound. It is EASTERN Washington after all.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: jimmykx250 on October 24, 2014, 08:52:28 AM
Im still realitivley new to the brewing thing with 6 months under my belt but i have been doing 5 gal batchs via BIAB. I understand the weight of the bag consideration but with that said you are still doing all your brewing in one vessel vs 3 so for clean up that has to count for something right?
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on October 24, 2014, 02:15:39 PM
The thing that has taken me completely by surprise is the rise of the 1-gallon all-grain brewer.   On the other hand, it is amazing that it took this long for the concept of brewing 1-gallon of all-grain beer at time to take hold.   It seems so logical considering that it can be accomplished with normal kitchenware.

It shouldn't be too surprising that it took so long for the smaller batch to become popular. Prior to maybe three or four years ago all you heard was about how you would start at five gallons and always go bigger. There was quite a bit of resistance to the idea of going the other direction. Think about how long it took for aluminum pots to become widely accepted.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 24, 2014, 02:56:46 PM
Im still alliterativey new to the brewing thing with 6 months under my belt but i have been doing 5 gal batchs via BIAB. I understand the weight of the bag consideration but with that said you are still doing all your brewing in one vessel vs 3 so for clean up that has to count for something right?
"alliterativey" new? Beginning brewers bring boku brains and bluster to brewing in a bag but benefit from batch sparge bliss.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on October 24, 2014, 03:17:37 PM
I am waiting for someone like John Blichmann to come out with a home brew mash press. That way we can all argue over the 100+ efficiency, amount of work involved, and quality of the beer. It will be good training for working at the few breweries with mash presses (Alaskan and Griffin Claw to name a couple).
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 24, 2014, 03:41:27 PM
I am waiting for someone like John Blichmann to come out with a home brew mash press. That way we can all argue over the 100+ efficiency, amount of work involved, and quality of the beer. It will be good training for working at the few breweries with mash presses (Alaskan and Griffin Claw to name a couple).
I have a small cider press I might try out with my bag of grain at the end of mashing just to see how much efficiency improvement and any effect on taste. I don't want to add something to clean, that would be against the point of biab for my purposes anyway, so any improvement would have to be big to make me use one.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: denny on October 24, 2014, 03:46:29 PM
One cannot achieve better efficiency with batch sparging than can be achieved with continuous sparging when using a properly designed lauter tun and good technique.  If that were true, every major brewer in the world would switch to batch sparging.  The times savings alone would pay for the equipment.

See, there's part of your problem right there.  There is no reason to assume that what commercial brewers do has any bearing on what homebrewers do.  Commercial breweries have an incentive to design a perfect lautering system.  In the homebrew world, such systems are few and far between.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 24, 2014, 03:53:38 PM
One cannot achieve better efficiency with batch sparging than can be achieved with continuous sparging when using a properly designed lauter tun and good technique.  If that were true, every major brewer in the world would switch to batch sparging.  The times savings alone would pay for the equipment.

See, there's part of your problem right there.  There is no reason to assume that what commercial brewers do has any bearing on what homebrewers do.  Commercial breweries have an incentive to design a perfect lautering system.  In the homebrew world, such systems are few and far between.
I am waiting for someone like John Blichmann to come out with a home brew mash press. That way we can all argue over the 100+ efficiency, amount of work involved, and quality of the beer.

 Yeah, it would get some good debates going !  All the same, I think I'll spend 2 or 3 bucks more on malt and live with 80%.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 24, 2014, 03:55:06 PM
One cannot achieve better efficiency with batch sparging than can be achieved with continuous sparging when using a properly designed lauter tun and good technique.  If that were true, every major brewer in the world would switch to batch sparging.  The times savings alone would pay for the equipment.

See, there's part of your problem right there.  There is no reason to assume that what commercial brewers do has any bearing on what homebrewers do.  Commercial breweries have an incentive to design a perfect lautering system.  In the homebrew world, such systems are few and far between.
I agree with this. I don't mind adding $2.00 worth of grain to make up for less than optimal efficiency.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on October 24, 2014, 04:13:16 PM
I am waiting for someone like John Blichmann to come out with a home brew mash press. That way we can all argue over the 100+ efficiency, amount of work involved, and quality of the beer. It will be good training for working at the few breweries with mash presses (Alaskan and Griffin Claw to name a couple).
I have a small cider press I might try out with my bag of grain at the end of mashing just to see how much efficiency improvement and any effect on taste. I don't want to add something to clean, that would be against the point of biab for my purposes anyway, so any improvement would have to be big to make me use one.

At Griffin Claw the grain get hammer milled, the husks are removed, and the fine flour goes into the mash press. That is how they don't get astringency. Homebrew hammer mill needed too.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 24, 2014, 04:59:25 PM
I am waiting for someone like John Blichmann to come out with a home brew mash press. That way we can all argue over the 100+ efficiency, amount of work involved, and quality of the beer. It will be good training for working at the few breweries with mash presses (Alaskan and Griffin Claw to name a couple).
I have a small cider press I might try out with my bag of grain at the end of mashing just to see how much efficiency improvement and any effect on taste. I don't want to add something to clean, that would be against the point of biab for my purposes anyway, so any improvement would have to be big to make me use one.

At Griffin Claw the grain get hammer milled, the husks are removed, and the fine flour goes into the mash press. That is how they don't get astringency. Homebrew hammer mill needed too.
Good to know, that's a game changer. Although if you didn't press too much I wonder if astringency would be an issue.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: majorvices on October 24, 2014, 05:03:21 PM
I don't know that I have too much to add to this convo but for years I fly sparged 5 gallon batches and when I wanted to go up to 10 gallon batches I tried Denny's batch sparge method because it was easier and cheaper to use a cooler with a braid and I didn't have to worry about a manifold or channeling. The method made great beer so I stuck with it.

I also remember the BYO article in which Denny introduced his batch sparging method. In fact, I had an article in BYO either the issue just before or after - can't remember. And that was back when I didn't know who the heck Denny was, or vice versa. :)
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: denny on October 24, 2014, 05:16:30 PM
I don't know that I have too much to add to this convo but for years I fly sparged 5 gallon batches and when I wanted to go up to 10 gallon batches I tried Denny's batch sparge method because it was easier and cheaper to use a cooler with a braid and I didn't have to worry about a manifold or channeling. The method made great beer so I stuck with it.

I also remember the BYO article in which Denny introduced his batch sparging method. In fact, I had an article in BYO either the issue just before or after - can't remember. And that was back when I didn't know who the heck Denny was, or vice versa. :)

You have no idea how I had to fight to get them to publish that article!  Ashton Lewis was technical editor at the time (maybe he still is).  He kept arguing that batch sparging wouldn't work, even though he'd never tried it and based his opinion on commercial brewing.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 24, 2014, 05:24:47 PM
See, there's part of your problem right there.  There is no reason to assume that what commercial brewers do has any bearing on what homebrewers do.  Commercial breweries have an incentive to design a perfect lautering system.  In the homebrew world, such systems are few and far between.

My comment was in response to Johnathan's claim that batch sparging can be more efficient than continuous sparging.  In inexperienced hands, batch sparging is more efficient than continuous sparging.  That's why batch sparging has grown in popularity.  It lowered the bar to obtaining acceptable results, which has allowed the all-grain ranks to grow to where they are today.  That's a good thing. 

I know several people who gave up on all-grain brewing out of frustration because they could not achieve acceptable extraction rates with continuous sparging and batch sparging as an accepted first-class sparging technique was still a few years off.  One of these guys ran over his mash tun with his Jeep Wrangler out of frustration.  We did not know back then what we know today.  My own early results with the technique were unimpressive to say the least.  I need to check my logs, but I believe that my first extraction rate in PPG was in the mid-teens.  Luckily, that snafu happened when I was still partial mashing about 5lbs of grain and making up the difference using DME.   
 
 
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 24, 2014, 06:26:42 PM
when I wanted to go up to 10 gallon batches I tried Denny's batch sparge method because it was easier and cheaper to use a cooler with a braid and I didn't have to worry about a manifold or channeling.


False bottom design is an Achilles' heel when continuous sparging.  The use of slotted manifolds or braids and non-cylindrical tuns are the major reasons why home brewers obtain subpar results from continuous sparging. Continuous sparging is only better than batch sparging if a brewer pays attention to physics.  Continuous sparging is an exercise in applied fluid dynamics because it works by displacing the sugars in the mash with water.  Batch sparging works by diluting the sugars in the mash with water.  Equal dilution is much easier to obtain than equal displacement.  Unequal displacement (a.k.a. channeling) is a recipe for subpar results when continuous sparging.

False bottom design was the last thing that I groked about continuous sparging. The percentage of open space and the shape of the holes is critical to maximizing the technique.  The 3/32" on 5/32" domed stainless steel false bottoms that are available on the web have far too much open space to be good continuous sparging false bottoms, and the round holes can clog leading to channeling.  Examining the false bottoms that are used in commercial tuns revealed that they have been 15 and 20 percent open space.  They also have sloted holes, which help prevent clogging.  I decided to take a chance when I noticed that Adventures in Homebrewing was offering a 16% open space false bottom.   My average extraction rate shot from 30/31 PPG to 33/34 PPG with the occasional 35 PPG batch.   I did not make single change in my process other than switching to a different false bottom. 

To put things into context, Briess claims that their average DBFG percentage is 80.5% (http://www.brewingwithbriess.com/Assets/PDFs/Briess_PISB_2RowBrewersMalt.pdf), which translates to 46 x 0.805 = 37 PPG.  An extraction rate of 35 PPG translates to an extraction efficiency of 35 / 37 = 95%.  Now, that is a non-weighted efficiency because there are usually other lower yielding malts in the tun.

With that said, I am not trying to convert anyone to continuous sparging.  Brewers that are happy with their results should stick with what they are doing.  There is nothing more frustrating than switching to another technique and achieving less than desired results.  However, for those who may be curious about trying continuous sparging, mash design is a huge part of the equation.  One cannot throw just anything together and expect good results.  That's the major strength of batch sparging as I see it.  Crush is also important.  However, what constitutes a good crush when continuous sparging is different than what constitutes a good crush when batch sparging.  Double milling or setting the rollers on a 2-roller mill much closer than 1mm usually results in lower extraction rates when continuous sparging because husk integrity is critical to the technique.  A continuously sparged mash bed needs to be stratified with the largest particles on the bottom in order to promote equal flow through the bed.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: majorvices on October 24, 2014, 06:27:46 PM
I don't know that I have too much to add to this convo but for years I fly sparged 5 gallon batches and when I wanted to go up to 10 gallon batches I tried Denny's batch sparge method because it was easier and cheaper to use a cooler with a braid and I didn't have to worry about a manifold or channeling. The method made great beer so I stuck with it.

I also remember the BYO article in which Denny introduced his batch sparging method. In fact, I had an article in BYO either the issue just before or after - can't remember. And that was back when I didn't know who the heck Denny was, or vice versa. :)

You have no idea how I had to fight to get them to publish that article!  Ashton Lewis was technical editor at the time (maybe he still is).  He kept arguing that batch sparging wouldn't work, even though he'd never tried it and based his opinion on commercial brewing.

Really, cause my article was total crap and they published it with no questions asked (paid me a couple hundred bucks, too.)
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on October 24, 2014, 06:55:02 PM
Really, cause my article was total crap and they published it with no questions asked (paid me a couple hundred bucks, too.)

I did not know that BYO paid that much for an article.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Stevie on October 24, 2014, 06:55:36 PM
Tangent --- With the rise in popularity of 1 gallon batches, why are we not seeing smaller packs of yeast? I tend to do a series of 1 gallon batches and will create one starter that a divide across multiple batches, but where are the 3 gram dry yeasts?
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: dmtaylor on October 24, 2014, 07:03:16 PM
Answer to tangential question: Cut tiny corner from dry yeast packet.  Pitch about 1/4 packet.  Fold corner over a couple of times.  Tape shut.  Place back into refrigerator.  Open and repeat up to ~3 years later.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: Stevie on October 24, 2014, 07:10:24 PM
I don't know if I like that solution. While my sanitation practices aren't strict, I do sanitize my scissors and the smackpack or vile. I imagine the yeast makers would want to capitalize on the new market. Look at the popularity of those 8oz soda/pop cans. I see those things everywhere.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: dmtaylor on October 24, 2014, 07:19:26 PM
Yeah, but if a 1-gallon recipe gets contaminated due to poor sanitation... well heck, just make more!  :)
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 24, 2014, 07:23:24 PM
When I make 2.5 gallons of APA (1.050ish) to experiment with hops, I just pitch a Wyeast pack, no starter. It works out numbers-wise in a ....gulp....yeast calculator. Not as cheap as dry obviously.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: denny on October 24, 2014, 08:39:15 PM
Answer to tangential question: Cut tiny corner from dry yeast packet.  Pitch about 1/4 packet.  Fold corner over a couple of times.  Tape shut.  Place back into refrigerator.  Open and repeat up to ~3 years later.

Tried that twice and both batched ended up contaminated.  Coincidence?  Maybe....
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: dmtaylor on October 24, 2014, 10:13:25 PM
So THAT'S my problem!  No... I still blame it on the plastic buckets.  Still no problems after switching to glass, even with half packets of old dry yeast.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: erockrph on October 25, 2014, 02:30:13 AM
At Griffin Claw the grain get hammer milled, the husks are removed, and the fine flour goes into the mash press. That is how they don't get astringency. Homebrew hammer mill needed too.
Good to know, that's a game changer. Although if you didn't press too much I wonder if astringency would be an issue.
If your pH is good and your mesh is fine enough to keep husks from passing through to the boil, then squeeze away. No hammer mill necessary, no astringency.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 25, 2014, 01:16:09 PM
At Griffin Claw the grain get hammer milled, the husks are removed, and the fine flour goes into the mash press. That is how they don't get astringency. Homebrew hammer mill needed too.
Good to know, that's a game changer. Although if you didn't press too much I wonder if astringency would be an issue.
If your pH is good and your mesh is fine enough to keep husks from passing through to the boil, then squeeze away. No hammer mill necessary, no astringency.
My bag is fine and I have a feeling there is some highly concentrated fermentables still in there after squeezing by hand.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: majorvices on October 25, 2014, 01:21:39 PM
I am waiting for someone like John Blichmann to come out with a home brew mash press. That way we can all argue over the 100+ efficiency, amount of work involved, and quality of the beer. It will be good training for working at the few breweries with mash presses (Alaskan and Griffin Claw to name a couple).
I have a small cider press I might try out with my bag of grain at the end of mashing just to see how much efficiency improvement and any effect on taste. I don't want to add something to clean, that would be against the point of biab for my purposes anyway, so any improvement would have to be big to make me use one.

At Griffin Claw the grain get hammer milled, the husks are removed, and the fine flour goes into the mash press. That is how they don't get astringency. Homebrew hammer mill needed too.

We considered going with a mash filter ( never heard it called mash press) on our next system but decided against it. The increase in efficiency is great, but damn - it's expensive. Plus I had some concerns about tannin extraction.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: erockrph on October 25, 2014, 02:56:15 PM
If your pH is good and your mesh is fine enough to keep husks from passing through to the boil, then squeeze away. No hammer mill necessary, no astringency.
My bag is fine and I have a feeling there is some highly concentrated fermentables still in there after squeezing by hand.
You'd think that, but I have measured the gravity on my "bag drippin's" on several occasions, and it has always been the same as the rest of the mash. In other words, I squeeze my bag into another vessel after I pull it. The squeezed wort is the same gravity as the wort in the kettle from when I first pulled the grain bag.

Even though it seems that the remaining grain is rather sticky, by the time the mash is done all the sugar is dissolved in the mash. The grain material is just like a sponge holding wort. This is a big reason why doing a sparge with BIAB isn't really going to net you much extra extract over using the full volume of liquor and doing the mash/sparge in one step. You're not "rinsing sugar" off the grain, you're diluting the remaining wort and then collecting the excess. Since a full-volume mash is already thin, there isn't as much sugar left in the grain. And if you squeeze your bag, then you're collecting a lot of that anyways.

Full volume BIAB is like doing a batch sparge in a mash tun with zero dead space and less than half the grain absorption.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 25, 2014, 03:24:52 PM
If your pH is good and your mesh is fine enough to keep husks from passing through to the boil, then squeeze away. No hammer mill necessary, no astringency.
My bag is fine and I have a feeling there is some highly concentrated fermentables still in there after squeezing by hand.
You'd think that, but I have measured the gravity on my "bag drippin's" on several occasions, and it has always been the same as the rest of the mash. In other words, I squeeze my bag into another vessel after I pull it. The squeezed wort is the same gravity as the wort in the kettle from when I first pulled the grain bag.

Even though it seems that the remaining grain is rather sticky, by the time the mash is done all the sugar is dissolved in the mash. The grain material is just like a sponge holding wort. This is a big reason why doing a sparge with BIAB isn't really going to net you much extra extract over using the full volume of liquor and doing the mash/sparge in one step. You're not "rinsing sugar" off the grain, you're diluting the remaining wort and then collecting the excess. Since a full-volume mash is already thin, there isn't as much sugar left in the grain. And if you squeeze your bag, then you're collecting a lot of that anyways.

Full volume BIAB is like doing a batch sparge in a mash tun with zero dead space and less than half the grain absorption.
That's good to know. Makes me less likely to want to add a press as something to clean.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on October 25, 2014, 03:36:11 PM
Answer to tangential question: Cut tiny corner from dry yeast packet.  Pitch about 1/4 packet.  Fold corner over a couple of times.  Tape shut.  Place back into refrigerator.  Open and repeat up to ~3 years later.

I do the same thing although I am extremely careful about sanitizing the packet, including the interior of the hole, before pouring out more yeast. So far no problems.

I also portion out liquid yeast by pouring about half of the packet in the one gallon batch and pouring the rest into a well-sanitized mason jar with boiled water. Not ideal but I also have not had problems with this approach.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: shuckit on October 30, 2014, 10:18:34 PM
Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?

I see it happening with about half of new all grain brewers in my area. People are choosing it for the simplicity of a single vessel system when they are just starting out.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: stpug on October 31, 2014, 02:33:55 PM
I interpret these as different questions, so I'll answer them separately:

Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?

No, not batch sparging specifically. <--that's my simple answer

Yes, it has already re-proportioned the forms of all grain brewing that rely on additional, cost-incurred equipment, which includes both batch and continuous sparging methods.

BIAB is a logical step in the strive to brew all grain beer, assuming the brewer isn't already set to attain a goal using a different method. Once a brewer tries a partial mash brew, the next logical step is to simply leave out the extract and up the base grains next time and viola! you have BIAB. Since the equipment difference between partial mash and BIAB is minimally different, it's easy to move to this as your next step with potentially NO additional costs.

(Very) Generally speaking, brewers start off simple and move progressively more complex, and I see where BIAB fits perfectly in that scenario, AND if the goal is simply "all grain beer" then brewers may choose to stop at that method once they get there. Generally, the steps to all grain go something like this (with the brewer skipping a step or three along the way):
-Beer kit
-Extract
-Extract plus character grains
-Partial Mash
{All grain methods}
---BIAB
---Batch
---Continuous

BIAB comes before batch and continuous so it can be a logical stopping point for some.

..., does anyone other than me see BIAB overtaking batch sparging as the preferred method to make all-grain beer on a small scale?

I can't say for everyone else, but I don't. Do I see it as a step in the process to brew all grain beer? Absolutely! A step that some may stop with since it achieves their goal and simplifies their (brewing) lives. And I would venture a guess that nearly everyone here on this forum is considered "small scale" ;)

BTW, your questions are specifically aimed at BIAB overtaking/displacing BATCH sparging when in fact the choice to brew all grain beer using the BIAB method "overtakes" or "displaces" both batch and continuous sparging. Of course, when a new option is introduced the masses, it's going to displace or re-proportion the "competitors" percentage of the entire share - that's just how it works.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: erockrph on October 31, 2014, 03:36:35 PM
(Very) Generally speaking, brewers start off simple and move progressively more complex, and I see where BIAB fits perfectly in that scenario, AND if the goal is simply "all grain beer" then brewers may choose to stop at that method once they get there. Generally, the steps to all grain go something like this (with the brewer skipping a step or three along the way):
-Beer kit
-Extract
-Extract plus character grains
-Partial Mash
{All grain methods}
---BIAB
---Batch
---Continuous

BIAB comes before batch and continuous so it can be a logical stopping point for some.
I have to disagree on a few points here. I think most beginner kits are extract + specialty grains nowadays, with the exception of Mr Beer. So the first three steps can be lumped together. I also think that many brewers are skipping the partial mash step nowadays, since partial mash is basically all-grain with an added step of adding extract.

My biggest disagreement is that there is a hierarchy for all-grain methods. While there are varying degrees of complexity between each method, they are really on equal footing as far as the quality of beer they produce. BIAB isn't necessarily a step towards batch sparging any more than batch sparging is a step towards fly sparging.

..., does anyone other than me see BIAB overtaking batch sparging as the preferred method to make all-grain beer on a small scale?

I can't say for everyone else, but I don't. Do I see it as a step in the process to brew all grain beer? Absolutely! A step that some may stop with since it achieves their goal and simplifies their (brewing) lives. And I would venture a guess that nearly everyone here on this forum is considered "small scale" ;)
In the realm of homebrewing, I would define "small-scale" as anything less than 5 gallons, which is still considered by many to be the standard batch size for homebrew. I do see advantages for BIAB at that scale, as the weight of the grain bag is much more manageable, and you can easily brew in the kitchen with the same gear used for partial-boil extract batches. In fact, that is why I brew BIAB - I moved from extract to 3-gallon all-grain using BIAB. I was able to keep using most of the same gear.

If I were going to brew 5 gallon batches, I would probably change to a 3-vessel batch or fly sparge system outdoors. For me, my choice of all-grain method is based solely on scale.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: pete b on October 31, 2014, 04:14:27 PM
I agree with the points that Eric makes. BIAB makes sense for <5 gal batches and is not necessarily a "step" towards something else. In fact I have moved from batch sparge to biab, but only for smaller than 5 gallon batches. And I definitely don't see batch sparge as a step to fly sparge, its where most end up because they are happy with the results and effort I think.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 31, 2014, 04:33:09 PM
And I definitely don't see batch sparge as a step to fly sparge


^^^^^^^^^^.  Having made beer using all three methods, I don't see any inherent difference in beer quality. I wouldn't BIAB again over 3 gallons but agree it is a good option for batches that small and under. And I moved from fly sparging to batch sparging, finding it quicker and easier. The best method for any brewer is the one they like best that also meets their needs best.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: stpug on October 31, 2014, 04:39:33 PM
Good points. Speaking (very) generally doesn't work so well for me :P

...and I should have diagrammed my order like this
Code: [Select]
             All Grain
                 |
                 |
    ┌--------------------------┐
    |            |             |
    |            |             |
    |            |             |
   BIAB        Batch      Continuous

Oh well, next time :D
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: erockrph on October 31, 2014, 04:50:21 PM
Good points. Speaking (very) generally doesn't work so well for me :P

...and I should have diagrammed my order like this
Code: [Select]
             All Grain
                 |
                 |
    ┌--------------------------┐
    |            |             |
    |            |             |
    |            |             |
   BIAB        Batch      Continuous

Oh well, next time :D
S'alright. This diagram I can get behind. I guess my point was that there are pros and cons to each of these all-grain methods, and it's not really a step forward or step back to go from one to the other. But I do get your point on how BIAB can be a stepping-stone for some as it is probably the simplest introduction to all-grain, but may not be the best long-term solution for everyone.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: blackislandbrewer on October 31, 2014, 10:09:03 PM
I can't speak to whether or not BIAB will supplant Batch Sparging, but I don't see why not. There are guys who look at me sideways when I say I continuous sparge and have never batch sparged. But like many have said, I stuck with what first worked for me, and since I switched from extract to all grain in 1997, batch sparging wasn't even on my radar.

However, you might find it interesting that I do brew some batches BIAB. It came about when I was asked to teach a homebrewing class at one of our local community colleges. They let me write the class curriculum, and since we have tons of homebrew shops within a 30 mile radius that teach extract brewing, I wanted to do something different. Michael "Mufasa" Ferguson of BJ's fame has been known to suggest that potential brewers should skip extract all together and go right into all grain. I saw BIAB as a possible way to teach all grain brewing right off the bat while keeping equipment to a minimum. I brewed (on my own) in my first BIAB session a 5 gallon modified version of Mike McDole's "Janet's Brown", found it to be very similar to the 3-vessel continuous sparge version I like to keep on hand. The first class of seven students went through a 6 week class, where we were able to brew on week one and pop the caps on week 6. Some had never brewed before, some had brewed a few extract batches but was not happy with the results, one even had built a 3-vessel system but wanted to learn more about the process. But by starting with BIAB, I was able to skip sparging all together, and do everything in a single vessel, which made the instruction easier, and made it easy to see the scalability and simplicity of BIAB. In the end, the guy with the brew stand said he wished he'd taken the class first, one of the students planned to start with BIAB but expects he'll move to 3-vessel, one found BIAB perfect for her apartment, doing small batches on the stove, one plans to start with extract and specialty grains but doing full-volume boil (with a BIAB bag for the specialty grains) and one is not sure he'll ever brew, but said the class was one of the best he's ever had. The rest were planning to start with the method I demonstrated, a 10 gallon aluminum pot with a bag, a propane burner, and an immersion chiller.

What I tried to do in the class, however, was to not tout any method as being superior over the others, but to weigh the pros and cons in an open discussion and let them decide for themselves which way to go. I also tried to make sure they had plenty of other resources to consult, and to not just take my word for it.

And I guess the only other thing I would add to the conversation is my own observation: I don't know what it was like when the batch spargers were debating with the continuous spargers over whether it was a comparable technique - I wasn't on rec.craft.brewing or the Home Brew Digest much when that was going on - but if it was anything like the way some of the "BIAB/No-Chill/No-Mashout/20-minute-mash" advocates currently engage in the conversation - adversarial, argumentative, condescending - it's no wonder that even today there seems to be a divide where none need be.

Of course, I may be completely wrong.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: a10t2 on October 31, 2014, 10:25:05 PM
I don't know what it was like when the batch spargers were debating with the continuous spargers over whether it was a comparable technique - I wasn't on rec.craft.brewing or the Home Brew Digest much when that was going on - but if it was anything like the way some of the "BIAB/No-Chill/No-Mashout/20-minute-mash" advocates currently engage in the conversation - adversarial, argumentative, condescending - it's no wonder that even today there seems to be a divide where none need be.

I think the earlier "generation" hadn't yet figured out that as long as you don't use your real name, there are no consequences to being a dick online.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on October 31, 2014, 10:30:54 PM
I don't know what it was like when the batch spargers were debating with the continuous spargers over whether it was a comparable technique - I wasn't on rec.craft.brewing or the Home Brew Digest much when that was going on - but if it was anything like the way some of the "BIAB/No-Chill/No-Mashout/20-minute-mash" advocates currently engage in the conversation - adversarial, argumentative, condescending - it's no wonder that even today there seems to be a divide where none need be.

I think the earlier "generation" hadn't yet figured out that as long as you don't use your real name, there are no consequences to being a dick online.

Absolutely. It was ahole-ish trolling at its finest.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: biertourist on November 03, 2014, 04:33:01 PM
Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?

I don't think it's displacing batch sparging, I think it's displacing brewing with extract and steeped grains.  It just makes all grain brewing more accessible and gives it a higher "wife acceptance factor".

Adam
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: erockrph on November 03, 2014, 06:08:43 PM
Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?

I don't think it's displacing batch sparging, I think it's displacing brewing with extract and steeped grains.  It just makes all grain brewing more accessible and gives it a higher "wife acceptance factor".
I think that's an excellent point. BIAB definitely makes it easier for an extract brewer to make the jump to all-grain, especially if you're OK with brewing smaller batch sizes.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 03, 2014, 06:15:01 PM
Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?

I don't think it's displacing batch sparging, I think it's displacing brewing with extract and steeped grains.  It just makes all grain brewing more accessible and gives it a higher "wife acceptance factor".
I think that's an excellent point. BIAB definitely makes it easier for an extract brewer to make the jump to all-grain, especially if you're OK with brewing smaller batch sizes.

+2. Good points.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: blackislandbrewer on November 03, 2014, 11:57:48 PM
Since I'm teaching new brewers to START with BIAB instead of extract and grains, I agree with the idea of it being a simple way to start. But I keep chuckling inwardly about the "small batch" notion. I teach 5 gallon batches on a propane burner, but why not 500 liters?

http://www.vigoltd.com/Catalogue/Braumeister-brewing-system/Braumeister/500-litre-Braumeister-brewing-system-93053
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: a10t2 on November 04, 2014, 12:25:44 AM
I keep chuckling inwardly about the "small batch" notion. I teach 5 gallon batches on a propane burner, but why not 500 liters?

The whole point of the "small batch notion" is that a (relatively) complicated hoist arrangement like that is what's needed to handle the spent grain when you get much over 5 gal. Building a simple MLT is no more complicated or expensive, so those advantages of BIAB don't apply at larger volumes.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 04, 2014, 12:29:08 AM
[ Building a simple MLT is no more complicated or expensive, so those advantages of BIAB don't apply at larger volumes.


Yup.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: blackislandbrewer on November 04, 2014, 04:56:32 AM
I keep chuckling inwardly about the "small batch" notion. I teach 5 gallon batches on a propane burner, but why not 500 liters?

The whole point of the "small batch notion" is that a (relatively) complicated hoist arrangement like that is what's needed to handle the spent grain when you get much over 5 gal. Building a simple MLT is no more complicated or expensive, so those advantages of BIAB don't apply at larger volumes.
I keep chuckling inwardly about the "small batch" notion. I teach 5 gallon batches on a propane burner, but why not 500 liters?

The whole point of the "small batch notion" is that a (relatively) complicated hoist arrangement like that is what's needed to handle the spent grain when you get much over 5 gal. Building a simple MLT is no more complicated or expensive, so those advantages of BIAB don't apply at larger volumes.

Except for, of course, the smaller foot print, single vessel, less equipment, less cleaning. Mind you, I'm not giving up my 3-vessel, but the chorus of "for smaller batches" doesn't ring true, especially at the homebrew level. For Sierra Nevada, sure. But writing off BIAB for homebrew-sized batches...nope.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: erockrph on November 04, 2014, 05:19:00 AM
Since I'm teaching new brewers to START with BIAB instead of extract and grains, I agree with the idea of it being a simple way to start. But I keep chuckling inwardly about the "small batch" notion. I teach 5 gallon batches on a propane burner, but why not 500 liters?

http://www.vigoltd.com/Catalogue/Braumeister-brewing-system/Braumeister/500-litre-Braumeister-brewing-system-93053
What I mean by "for small batches" is that for 3 gallon batches or smaller no propane burner is necessary. You can brew on your stovetop using all the same equipment as partial-boil extract batches. For kitchen/apartment brewers, 3 gallon BIAB may be the only reasonable way to brew all-grain.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on November 04, 2014, 03:29:34 PM
Since I'm teaching new brewers to START with BIAB instead of extract and grains, I agree with the idea of it being a simple way to start. But I keep chuckling inwardly about the "small batch" notion. I teach 5 gallon batches on a propane burner, but why not 500 liters?

http://www.vigoltd.com/Catalogue/Braumeister-brewing-system/Braumeister/500-litre-Braumeister-brewing-system-93053

I don't think anybody is suggesting that BIAB is effective for small batches because it can't be done at a larger scale but that for batches smaller than five gallons BIAB is easy with a low equipment entry point to all grain brewing. No need to perform a conversion on something into a mash tun, no hoist for a heavy grain bag and no sparge arm. Just a regular arm and a bag. All the heating can readily be done on a generic kitchen stove.

I believe there were commercial brewhouses at least a couple centuries ago somewhere in western Europe that operated essentially the same way as the system you have linked to. So BIAB is not exactly new it's just new-again for us. For larger systems it's usually more efficient to let gravity or a pump pull liquid away from the grain than use some kind of lift to push up all the grain out of wort. Hence the reason why commercial breweries opt not to use these basket systems anymore.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 04, 2014, 03:31:01 PM
Since I'm teaching new brewers to START with BIAB instead of extract and grains, I agree with the idea of it being a simple way to start. But I keep chuckling inwardly about the "small batch" notion. I teach 5 gallon batches on a propane burner, but why not 500 liters?

http://www.vigoltd.com/Catalogue/Braumeister-brewing-system/Braumeister/500-litre-Braumeister-brewing-system-93053

I don't think anybody is suggesting that BIAB is effective for small batches because it can't be done at a larger scale but that for batches smaller than five gallons BIAB is easy with a low equipment entry point to all grain brewing. No need to perform a conversion on something into a mash tun, no hoist for a heavy grain bag and no sparge arm. Just a regular arm and a bag. All the heating can readily be done on a generic kitchen stove.

I believe there were commercial brewhouses at least a couple centuries ago somewhere in western Europe that operated essentially the same way as the system you have linked to. So BIAB is not exactly new it's just new-again for us. For larger systems it's usually more efficient to let gravity or a pump pull liquid away from the grain than use some kind of lift to push up all the grain out of wort. Hence the reason why commercial breweries opt not to use these basket systems anymore.

+1
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: archstanton on November 04, 2014, 03:46:16 PM


Except for, of course, the smaller foot print, single vessel, less equipment, less cleaning. Mind you, I'm not giving up my 3-vessel, but the chorus of "for smaller batches" doesn't ring true, especially at the homebrew level. For Sierra Nevada, sure. But writing off BIAB for homebrew-sized batches...nope.
[/quote]

"Smaller footprint, single vessel, less equipment,  "  yes,  except of course those are all the same thing. Less cleaning- are you throwing the bag away or do you clean it? The chorus for smaller batches is saying BIAB is the best for smaller batches. Beyond 5 gallon batches the chorus is saying BIAB starts to lose any advantages it had. It absolutely rings true.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: 69franx on November 04, 2014, 04:17:04 PM


Except for, of course, the smaller foot print, single vessel, less equipment, less cleaning. Mind you, I'm not giving up my 3-vessel, but the chorus of "for smaller batches" doesn't ring true, especially at the homebrew level. For Sierra Nevada, sure. But writing off BIAB for homebrew-sized batches...nope.

"Smaller footprint, single vessel, less equipment,  "  yes,  except of course those are all the same thing. Less cleaning- are you throwing the bag away or do you clean it? The chorus for smaller batches is saying BIAB is the best for smaller batches. Beyond 5 gallon batches the chorus is saying BIAB starts to lose any advantages it had. It absolutely rings true.
[/quote]
Exactly. Nobody is saying that BIAB doesn't work with larger scale batches, just that BIAB really does not seem to have the same benefits to the brewer on the larger scale. You can in theory BIAB 1bbl at a time, but not with the same simple pot(no valves, no lifting mechanism, etc) or with the same heat source (kitchen stove top). Its just a matter of diminishing returns
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: denny on November 04, 2014, 04:30:40 PM
Except for, of course, the smaller foot print, single vessel, less equipment, less cleaning. Mind you, I'm not giving up my 3-vessel, but the chorus of "for smaller batches" doesn't ring true, especially at the homebrew level. For Sierra Nevada, sure. But writing off BIAB for homebrew-sized batches...nope.

Well, that hasn't been my experience.  For anything over maybe 3 gal. I find BIAB to be more hassle than using my mash tun.  As to single vessel, sure it you do no sparge. You can do that with a mash tun, too.  If you sparge BIAB, you need 2 pots just like you do for conventional batch sparging.  I appreciate your point if view, but keep in mind that it isn't always the case.
Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: blackislandbrewer on November 05, 2014, 05:45:21 AM
Well, that hasn't been my experience.  For anything over maybe 3 gal. I find BIAB to be more hassle than using my mash tun.  As to single vessel, sure it you do no sparge. You can do that with a mash tun, too.  If you sparge BIAB, you need 2 pots just like you do for conventional batch sparging.  I appreciate your point if view, but keep in mind that it isn't always the case.
I'm thinking that I may have stepped into a "continuous sparge vs. batch sparge" kind of hornet's nest. It wasn't my intention, I swear.

The initial question, "Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?", assumes that we're talking about new brewers, no equipment, starting fresh. I "chuckled inwardly" about the choruses of "only for small batches", when it, in my opinion, isn't unreasonable to do larger batches, say 10 gallons, using BIAB. Is attaching a pulley and hoisting a bag that much harder than building a mash tun? In my mind it seems easier. And as for process, not having to learn _any_ sparging seems easier - lift bag and let drain, easy peasy. So, I'll stand by my opinion: even for larger homebrew batches, BIAB could have a lot of appeal to new brewers.

Title: Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
Post by: thatgeekguy on November 14, 2014, 07:15:22 PM
As a 5+ gallon BIAB'er, I guess I'll 'weigh in' here . The largest dry grain bill I've done was for an IIPA and weighed in at about 19 lb. I don't use a hoist or pulley, but can lift the bag by hand to drain a few minutes before dropping it into a perforated nested bucket arrangement to finish draining. I can drop another bucket on top of that, plunk my fat butt down, and voila!: Instant grain press. I can also use the same bucket setup to batch sparge before pressing by holding back a gallon or so of my total mash water to pour over the bag.

Three buckets are cleaned in about a minute by a quick hose rinse, no other grain mess since all the grain is still in the bag. Cleaning the grain bag takes about two minutes after dumping.

I had originally looked long and hard at building a 3V system, then discovered BIAB. At this point, unless I go beyond 10 gallon batches, I can't see doing anything other than BIAB.