Poll

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

Yes
9 (22.5%)
No
31 (77.5%)

Total Members Voted: 39

Author Topic: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?  (Read 8652 times)

S. cerevisiae

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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.

Offline Stevie

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Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
« Reply #1 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.

Offline denny

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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.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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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.
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S. cerevisiae

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That same kind of argument was made by the continuous sparging community. 

Offline Joe Sr.

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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.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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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
Jon H.

Offline dmtaylor

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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
Dave

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Offline archstanton

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 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. 

Offline reverseapachemaster

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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.

Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing

Offline denny

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Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
« Reply #10 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.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
« Reply #11 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.
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Offline denny

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Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
« Reply #12 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. 
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Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
« Reply #13 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. 

Offline pete b

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Re: Will BIAB displace batch sparging as the method of choice for new brewers?
« Reply #14 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.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 05:58:56 PM by pete b »
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