Author Topic: BIAB advice  (Read 2545 times)

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2014, 04:16:03 PM »
[...] I get you can make things at home cheaper, but that's not really what I was comparing. I could've stitched my bag too, but since we are comparing buying the bag the alternative is buying a mash tun.  I've seen mash tuns like yours and thought about that, but for me brewing on my stovetop it was less appealing.  Without an extra burner to make a gravity system or buy a pump I'd have to stand there and sparge by hand and I'd still have to buy another kettle big enough to heat and hold my hot liquor.  I guess I could use multiple pots and sparge by hand, but it's just more work.

A 20 lb bag would absorb maybe 2 gallons of water, so 36 lbs.  Yeah, I've got that by hand, no problem.  Like I said others may not and that certainly would take away from the ease of my system.  Without a doubt..  If I had to rig some kind of pulley system it would pretty much eliminate me working in my kitchen.  At that point, I wouldn't have stuck with it.  Where I live it's just too damn cold to be brewing outside most of the winter and I hate dealing with propane tank refills and keeping an extra.  My electricity bill really doesn't change much by brewing inside.

I was more trying to give the OP the advice he asked for and some additional advice based on my BIAB experiences.  It's also important for him to keep in mind that no matter what system you use, the vast majority of people will debate their system is better and won't acknowledge the merits of your system.  This is amplified with BIAB.  It seems to be polarizing for some reason.  There are people who are open minded to it but many more who say nay, regardless of the points you make. 

I really don't think you can debate that it is cheaper to get into AG, that it is a faster brew day and cleanup, and that it still provides you with plenty of flexibility as long as you can lift the weight of your grain bag.  My brew days for 60 minute boils and mashes take me from turning on the stove to pitching yeast 3.5 hours.  half hour to heat mash water, hour to mash, half hour to dunk sparge and come to boil, hour boil, half hour cooldown.  All I have to clean afterwards is my brew kettle, hot stick, spoon, a short section of 1/2" tubing, Immersion chiller, and dump and clean my pond pump and cooler set up.  Cleanup could take a half hour if I wanted it too. 

It works for me and if the OP doesn't have stuff for AG, it will work for him too.  Especially since he has the 10 gallon kettle already.  You'll pay for the bag with the first two beers you do.  I'd recommend doing lighter ones since you'll love the color you couldn't get with extract and get to figure out your system with a smaller bill.  You'll be impressed at the difference of the beer over extract.  I would wager the difference will be so stark that even if you decide BIAB isn't for you, you will decide you want to do AG over extract badly enough to buy the stuff for a more traditional method of AG brewing.

Oh and.. quit hating on us BIAB'ers!!!

I'm not knocking BIAB, I started in AG that way myself, as I said. I'm just debating your arguments that it's significantly cheaper and easier.

'building' my mashtun took 30 minutes and I am NOT mechanically inclined. I have 1 kettle, 1 burner. I heat mash water, add to tun, mix in grain, heat sparge in the same kettle. use my fermenters to run off first runnings into. I brewed on my stovetop for the first 5 batches I made with this system and it was just fine.

Again, not knocking BIAB just pointing out that a lot of the supposed advantages are only valid when relating to a big, complicated, expensive system and that's not the only kind of BIAB system available. you said it's cheaper than buying a mashtun, HLT and burner and that's true but a BIAB bag is not a HLT or a Burner, it's just half a mashtun. it's still cheaper than my 50 dollar mashtun, not saying it isn't but it's also not comparable to my 50 dollar mashtun in terms of what you can or can't do with it.

BIAB has some real advantages over a cheap and easy system; if you can make sure the bag doesn't contact the bottom of your pot you can add direct heat during the mash. that would be awesome if I could do that but I can't. if you've already got a kettle or even just a bottling bucket you can get into BIAB for less than 10 dollars which is awesome and which is why I did that at first.

when people ask be about going all grain and worry that there is too much equipment involved I always tell them about my old bottling bucket and grain bag system and suggest they try it. it's a great way to make an AG brew without lot's of new equipment purchases.

so I wasn't hating on BIAB I was just pointing out that the reasons you, in particular, sighted for why it is better are not 100% accurate to the reality of all non-BIAB systems.

BIAB is great and I recommend folks try it. I'm sure that for some folks it will be the final answer but it is does not have all the abilities of a full size mashtun.

that's all I was saying. go forth and mash, in a bag, in a cooler, in a 5000 dollar three tier sculpture, in a 12000 dollar automated one touch brew system. No hate here.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2014, 04:30:37 PM »
Same here - not hating on BIAB whatsoever. Making AG beer is a blast however you do it. But www.dennybrew.com is as advertised - cheap'n'easy. I spent years fly sparging and was blown away by how easy batch sparging really is. But let's all brew it the way we like. Cheers !
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 04:37:35 PM by HoosierBrew »
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Offline bdrinkrow

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2014, 04:44:41 PM »
That was meant to be kind of tongue in cheek.  I guess that really doesn't come through on forums.  I've never really been much of a forum guy, but none of my other hobbies are really like brewing and, well, you know.. It turns into an obsession!

I'll have to check his site out.  I'm always up to try new stuff.  One day I'd like to get into 10 gallon batches and I'm not doing BIAB with 10 gallons.  It seems like way too much of a pita.  But, I doubt that will happen for years.

You make good points, the only part that turned me off about a traditional mash tun and how I wanted to brew was sparging by hand.  It's key for me to be able to help around the house while I brew, or else I couldn't brew as much as I do.  It makes my wife really happy that if I need to, I can walk away from the mash for an hour. 

I haven't tried heating with the bag in because I don't want to get a false bottom.  Not just because I'd rather spend it elsewhere now, but I have read a lot of stories about people scorching their wort.  So, I can't really do step infusions easily.  I'm sure I could rig something to partially lift the bag, but I just haven't needed to step infuse badly enough to do it yet.

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2014, 05:32:36 PM »
I have the capability to brew 5 or 10 gallons, cooler mash tun or direct heat mash tun, fly sparge, batch sparge, no sparge and I prefer biab most of the time.
I mash 16# of grain in a $6 bag from the lhbs in 8 gallons of water in a 10 gallon pot and yield 7 1/4 gallons of 1.059 preboil wort.

Offline surfin.mikeg

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2014, 06:27:12 PM »
I have the capability to brew 5 or 10 gallons, cooler mash tun or direct heat mash tun, fly sparge, batch sparge, no sparge and I prefer biab most of the time.
I mash 16# of grain in a $6 bag from the lhbs in 8 gallons of water in a 10 gallon pot and yield 7 1/4 gallons of 1.059 preboil wort.

I'm thinking of trying a few BIAB for a small-batch pilsner (~1g), to see if I can get that clean snappy taste before going for a larger batch.  Do you do anything to filter the mash trub before boiling?
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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2014, 06:47:44 PM »
I have the capability to brew 5 or 10 gallons, cooler mash tun or direct heat mash tun, fly sparge, batch sparge, no sparge and I prefer biab most of the time.
I mash 16# of grain in a $6 bag from the lhbs in 8 gallons of water in a 10 gallon pot and yield 7 1/4 gallons of 1.059 preboil wort.

I'm thinking of trying a few BIAB for a small-batch pilsner (~1g), to see if I can get that clean snappy taste before going for a larger batch.  Do you do anything to filter the mash trub before boiling?
As for the extra solids I get in the wort from biab compared to conventional sparging, I just target an extra half gallon or so postboil. Then, after everything settles, I can simply rack off the clear wort and leave the trub behind.
The main reason I prefer biab is time. I can knock out a 5 gallon brew in 3 1/2 hours on the stove top or 3 hours on my propane burner. This allows me to brew more often. Biab is a simple technique that doesn't compromise quality.

Offline bdrinkrow

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2014, 08:44:05 PM »
I have the capability to brew 5 or 10 gallons, cooler mash tun or direct heat mash tun, fly sparge, batch sparge, no sparge and I prefer biab most of the time.
I mash 16# of grain in a $6 bag from the lhbs in 8 gallons of water in a 10 gallon pot and yield 7 1/4 gallons of 1.059 preboil wort.

I'm thinking of trying a few BIAB for a small-batch pilsner (~1g), to see if I can get that clean snappy taste before going for a larger batch.  Do you do anything to filter the mash trub before boiling?

Some people scrape the scum off as the break is happening with pilsen malt.  I haven't done that yet, but the only style I brew close to that is kolsch.  My ball valve leaves a gallon in the kettle and with a grain bill that size I really don't get much at all in the primary so I brew to 6.5 gallons and rack 5.5 to the primary.  But, my kolsch could be better too, so maybe I'll scrape it next time.  I don't worry about that last gallon anymore than people worry about a 5% difference in efficiency.  I usually filter that last gallons worth in a rudimentary fashion to take a sample and just dump it.

But.. I'm about to get a hop rocket and modify it a little to act as a filter when empty.  If it works as planned, I'll be tilting the kettle and filtering every last bit of wort, which will change all my recipes volume wise, but that's easy to adjust for in beersmith.  For beers say, over 1.060-70 I add another half gallon pre boil and again, don't skim. 

This is the one part of my system I'm trying to improve at this point..  The brewer's hardware filter looked nice, but I think if I cut a circle out of a stainless steel splatter screen I have in the kitchen I can rig it into the hop rocket and use that instead as I think that is a more versatile piece of equipment.  If any of you who are more experienced have any ideas I'd be all ears.  I have used bags and a funnel, but after a few times with that I said screw it and just started burning a gallon.
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Offline Jeff M

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2014, 08:48:55 PM »
A dip tub attached to the inside fitting of your Ball valve my server you better then tipping your kettle.  Best of both worlds eh?

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Offline bdrinkrow

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2014, 09:05:46 PM »
good point. I'll add that after I try this modified hop rocket for the first time and make sure I don't clog up.  Thanks.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2014, 10:03:03 AM »
The ability to control your brewing process means it comes with the opportunity to make more mistakes and end up with undesirable results like low efficiency. Those are things you will learn to fix with experience. If you are looking for an easier approach and avoid some of those problems then continuing down the path of extract brewing (perhaps with some partial mashes) might be the right path for you.

BIAB definitely comes with way, way more trub. It's especially a problem if you mill too finely and get a lot of flour in your grist. I don't know what the magical solution is, I'm still thinking through it, but it seems building in the loss to deadspace in the recipe and leaving behind what settles out in the kettle will help out with that process.
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Offline udubdawg

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2014, 10:37:14 AM »

BIAB definitely comes with way, way more trub. It's especially a problem if you mill too finely and get a lot of flour in your grist. I don't know what the magical solution is, I'm still thinking through it, but it seems building in the loss to deadspace in the recipe and leaving behind what settles out in the kettle will help out with that process.

I do BIAB quite often. There is certainly a lot of trub.  I've had good results over-chilling, racking everything to a fermenter (Better Bottle with spigot) and letting it settle there.  Wife and I go to lunch and afterwards I rack off the half gallon or so of trub into a second fermenter.

many a person has asked why I don't just use some sort of pickup device in the kettle that keeps that trub out.  I dunno - this just works, and I like being able to see into the fermenter to how it is settling.  No opening a kettle lid or trying to seal the hole in the lid my chiller goes through.  Just watch the level of trub drop, set the spigot pickup to right above that when I'm satisfied, and rack.  Occasionally I even recapture the leftover wort and save some for my next starter, even though it's not an ideal yeast growing environment.

...many ways to skin this particular cat.  Given the crappy weather for about 2/3 of the year, I was very pleased to discover BIAB some years ago and haven't gotten frostbite/heatstroke since. 

Offline alestateyall

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2014, 06:27:18 PM »

The ability to control your brewing process means it comes with the opportunity to make more mistakes and end up with undesirable results like low efficiency.

When switching to all grain it is a good idea to have some DME on hand (a few pounds). If you miss your target specific gravity you can bump it back up with DME. There are tools on line to calculate the amount of DME to add based on wort volume, current specific gravity, and desired specific gravity.

If you don't need the DME for fixing efficiency issues you can use it for yeast starters.
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Offline phytenphyre

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #27 on: February 24, 2014, 11:31:39 AM »
I've only brewed the BIAB way after I attempted a couple extract kits and I have had great success.  Here is another forum strictly about BIAB: http://www.biabrewer.info/  I learned a lot, as I have here as well.  I ended up making my own bag for about $15 and a little bit of time.  I'm using a 15.5 gallon pot and love how simple the process is.  I wanted to get into the traditional all grain, mash tun, sparge, hlt, etc etc, but for me, it was cost prohibitive.  I have personally found this is a great way to start all grain brewing without the cost of 3 vessels, mash tun, etc.  On this BIAB site, there is even a calculator specifically designed for BIAB brewing.  It took me a little bit to figure out the calculator, but I have had great success following the learning curve.  I hope this helps any of you whom may be interested.  Maybe one day I'll get into the traditional all grain method, but for now I am quite happy with my set up and the beer I have been able to produce.

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Offline gandelf

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2014, 05:41:00 AM »
[quote: Oh and.. quit hating on us BIAB'ers!!!]

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Offline bdrinkrow

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Re: BIAB advice
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2014, 06:29:14 AM »
I have the capability to brew 5 or 10 gallons, cooler mash tun or direct heat mash tun, fly sparge, batch sparge, no sparge and I prefer biab most of the time.
I mash 16# of grain in a $6 bag from the lhbs in 8 gallons of water in a 10 gallon pot and yield 7 1/4 gallons of 1.059 preboil wort.

I'm thinking of trying a few BIAB for a small-batch pilsner (~1g), to see if I can get that clean snappy taste before going for a larger batch.  Do you do anything to filter the mash trub before boiling?

I've been experimenting with modifying a hop rocket by cutting an additional filter to place inside the wiper seal with the small filter out of a splatter screen.  So far It's working pretty good.  I've tried running it backwards and with stainless scrubbies in it so far..  A bunch of stuff.  But, the best has been running it like they say to, on the ground with the inlet on the bottom.

My next experiment is taking a manual camping pump I have, one of those dual action ones you use to blow up air mattresses and I have that tee'd into my 1/2" line from the kettle to the rocket.  It's connected with an inline check valve and once the hop rocket quits due to not enough pressure, I close the ball lock on the kettle and pump.  Then, drain the rest into the line and repeat.  I have an inline hepa filter on the pump for the 3/8" hose.  So, I'll be able to pump and force ever bit of wort through the rocket.  Obviously, I don't want to buy or deal with a march pump since I am brewing in my kitchen.

I think I'll be able to get down to close .25 gallons of loss to trub with an incredibly clear wort with this technique.  Since I've switched from the auto siphon to a stainless one I can get just about every bit of wort out of my fermenter too.

One of the funnest things about incorporating new techniques is re adjusting all my Beersmith calcs, imho.  When I started BIAB I was using 9 gallons to start with.  I should be down to 7.5 on this next batch.  I'm going to use that same pump and filter to aerate my wort as well. I did the calculations on how much air it moves vs. an aquarium pump and it pushes much more air.  I just shake now and it works well for me, but this will be easier. 
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