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Old 04-18-2013, 02:29 PM   #1
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Default All Grain Vs BIAB - Pro's & Con's (5 Gal Batches)

I was interested if anyone would like to discuss the Pro's-Con's of beer brewed via AG and the BIAB method.

Is there a major difference in the end result of AG vs BIAB ?

The idea seems to be generally the same, just minus the equipment that AG requires.

With BIAB, you still mash, still have the options of mash out, and sparge. And after the boil the other procedures are identical. Cool the wort, gravity reading, pitch yeast, put in primary, etc.

It seems with AG the brewer receives higher efficiency, but I've seen threads on BIAB where the brewer still hit 70 %


Let's have a friendly discussion. What are the Pro's-Con's of each method ?

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:16 PM   #2
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Both methods are AG (all grain). One requires a mash tun, the other does not.

I BIAB all my batches. I also mill my own grain and I mill it very fine. It would never work in a conventional mash tun because it is too fine and the hulls are too badly mangled to make a filter bed. With this finely milled grain I typically get 80% or better efficiency, usually 85% or better if I do a modified sparge to get the extra sugars out of the grain bag.

I have to lift the bag of wet grain out of the pot to let it drain. Some people have equated that to torture but I let mine drain into the pot for less than 30 seconds and then slip a bowl that has a colander inside it under the bag so it doesn't drip and set that on the counter to finish draining/getting the wort squeezed out. Why would I want to have to dig the wet grain out of the mash tun and try to not disturb the false bottom/braid/bzooka screen/mainfold while doing so. Once I have the wort squeezed out of the bag of grain it is so simple to take the bag out to the compost and turn it inside out to empty the bag. A quick rinse in the sink and hang it to dry and it's ready for the next batch.

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:44 PM   #3
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Lifting the bag realistically limits the amount of grain you can mash in BIAB. Unless you have a pully system, no one with a typical brewer's body can lift, hold, and squeeze 20+ lbs of wet grain.

If anything, I find it easier to get high efficiency with 5 gallon BIAB batches. The fact that you can mill finer typically means higher efficiency compared to AG. I average 78% efficiency on my BIAB system with no tricks besides a double mill and a mashout.

The guy I brew with does traditional AG, and I'm always done an hour before he is. I typically have everything cleaned and put away by the time he starts his immersion chiller.

I'm BIAB all the way, and think it really is more convenient and flexible compared to traditional AG brewing for 5-6 gallon batches. Once you get into larger batches, traditional AG brewing starts to make alot more sense.

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Old 04-18-2013, 04:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopherM View Post
Lifting the bag realistically limits the amount of grain you can mash in BIAB. Unless you have a pully system, no one with a typical brewer's body can lift, hold, and squeeze 20+ lbs of wet grain.

If anything, I find it easier to get high efficiency with 5 gallon BIAB batches. The fact that you can mill finer typically means higher efficiency compared to AG. I average 78% efficiency on my BIAB system with no tricks besides a double mill and a mashout.

The guy I brew with does traditional AG, and I'm always done an hour before he is. I typically have everything cleaned and put away by the time he starts his immersion chiller.

I'm BIAB all the way, and think it really is more convenient and flexible compared to traditional AG brewing for 5-6 gallon batches. Once you get into larger batches, traditional AG brewing starts to make alot more sense.
I too am a BIAB'er all the way and I agree with you in that the only con I see is doing bigger beers and if you have a pulley system, that's really not an issue either. I have a pulley system but I have yet to brew a beer with a large enough grain bill that I had to use it.

I just like the convenience and time saving that BIAB gives you.
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Old 04-18-2013, 04:52 PM   #5
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It looks like BiaB is pretty well-represented here. I've done BiaB (both partial and full mash) for quite a while, but recently switched to AG with an MLT and HLT setup.

The most important point I want to make is that they both produce beer; in fact, they both produce good beer. In my experience, however, I got lower efficiencies with BiaB, around 60-65%, whereas with my AG batches I am up around 75-80% consistently. For most of today's well-modified grains, the difference between fine crush and course crush is generally negligible at around 1-2% (correct me if I'm wrong). I crushed the piss out of my BiaB grains to get higher efficiencies, but it never really got higher. It's probably do to my sparging method (letting it rest in sparge water for 15 minutes), but this also caused me to do a lot more squishing of my bag, trying to extract the sugars, which isn't necessarily a good thing. I may be full of ****, but my last few partial mash brews seem to have more of that herbstoffe astringency associated with husk degradation and phenol extraction.

I guess I would just like to add that It's more fun for me when all of the mechanical and technical components of mashing and fly sparging with an MLT and HLT come together to create wort, rather than just dunking a bag into a couple pots of water. In the end, they both make beer, so they both must be good.

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Old 04-18-2013, 04:57 PM   #6
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I also BIAB - 2.5 and 5 gallon batches. I solved the big beer issue (for me) by double mashing for a barleywine - basically you mash with half the grain, pull out and drain, empty bag, fill with other half of grist and mash again. Takes longer, but it worked great (66% mash efficiency - 1.102 OG - this was before I got my corona Mill, I bet I could get it closer to 75% now this way)

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Old 04-18-2013, 09:05 PM   #7
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Both BIAB and the cooler MLT are relatively low cost methods to make AG beer.
Add a grain mill and you can start buying base grains in 50lb sacks and offset the equipment cost.
I am getting 75-80% efficiency on my BIAB 5 gallon batches with FG in the 1.05 to 1.07 range.

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Old 04-18-2013, 09:26 PM   #8
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I also BIAB but I do have a conventional cooler MLT as well. I hardly ever use the cooler though for the reasons previously mentioned (quicker/less mess), but also because I like being able to direct fire my mash using BIAB. I never have to worry about under shooting my mash temps and its a breeze to mash out. I use a stainless steel false bottom in my kettle to help prevent scorching my grains and that works pretty well. Just stir a lot when heat is being applied (careful not to splash!)

Using this approach and the mash out I routinely hit 85% brew house efficiency. For big beers where I would need more than 20 lbs of grain (which I rarely make) I "cheat" and supplement a 15-20 lb grain bill with DME.

The only way I could see giving up BIAB all together is if I decided to step up to 10 gallon batches, in which case the grain bills would get quite heavy even in moderate strength beers. For my purposes though, I can't see myself ever moving above 5 gallon batches.

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Old 04-18-2013, 09:34 PM   #9
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I do BIAB. Wouldn't be doing AG brewing otherwise. I don't have the space for the extra stuff. I have done 2 ten gallon batches before. The last one was 22 lbs. those were difficult. In fact I will likely not do that again. I have yet to brew any beer over 1.060. I prefer session beers so BIAB works great for me.

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Old 04-19-2013, 05:12 AM   #10
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Been doing standard cooler-mash AG for my 5 gallon batches, but am planning my first 2.5 gal BIAB in a couple weeks for an experimental beer (Rooibos African Ale). Will report back with a verdict on which method I prefer, though I don't think I have the capacity for 5 gal BIAB batches with my setup, so that may dictate some...

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