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Old 12-05-2013, 04:18 PM   #1
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Default Modified BIAB Process Thought

I've done a few BIAB brews using Beersmith, and I'm not wholly impressed with my results. I'm studying up on the way mash time and temp impacts the end beer to address that part, but I need to be able to better manage the process as well. I think my process was negatively impacting the mash.

I have a 30 qt pot that based on actual measurement is more like 28 (7 gal). For full batch mashing this is too small, but a bigger pot is not an option. I'm too 'invested' in this one, plus I think my modified process will resolve this.

The last 2 brews I did were with 24 qts of water in the pot which leaves enough room for a good grain bill. After the mash is over I lift the bag out (and into the 'steamer basket' that came with the pot - more on that later) and do 2 batch sparges for about 2 more gallons and leave it to drain while I start the boil. I've hit my preboil volume and OG fairly close this way so far.

I'd like to use Beersmith to accurately build the full recipe and brew process, but as soon as I click BIAB it sets the initial water to 28+ qts, and won't let you edit it. What I'm wondering is if it's possible to use a standard single infusion process in Beersmith and adjust my water numbers to target my desired 24 qts. I know that BIAB is supposed to be full volume no sparge with results that can compete with regular AG, but I really think I can make my process very efficient without loosing any benefits of BIAB.

The hardware I'm looking to use in future brews would be a hanging basket that fits the pot as closely as possible to minimize dead space around it, and holes only in the bottom. The steamer basket I have now is way too small to use in the pot to start so I have to lift the bag out, then squeeze it into the basket along with flexible plastic cutting boards around the bag to block the holes in the sides of the basket. With them open the water just runs off the top. This works, but it's messy, hot, and no fun.

With a close fit basket, I drop that in the pot during the initial heat to strike temp, then add BIAB bag and grains. My bag hook doubles as a grain bucket support so I can pour the grain with 1 hand while I stir it in with the other. No lumps!
When the mash is over I hoist the bag & basket up, fire up the boil, batch sparge with 1 gallon then a second. I'd leave it hanging as long as I can while I bring up the boil, and then it's done without squeezing. Anything that continues to drain out by the last 15 min of the boil would be a "late addition".

Anyone else doing a similar process, and are you using Beersmith and NOT BIAB mash? I've played with the single infusion mash, but not enough to know if I'm on the right track with it.
Any ideas would be appreciated!
John

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Old 12-05-2013, 04:39 PM   #2
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from your post, I can't quite tell why you aren't happy with your process or what exactly is wrong? Maybe you can share what it is that you're trying to improve. I do not like using Beersmith to calculate my mash volumes (I do BIAB), I prefer to use this for mash volumes: http://www.simplebiabcalculator.com/.

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Old 12-05-2013, 05:21 PM   #3
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Maybe I'm just dumb but I gave up trying to get Beersmith to calculate BIAB water volumes, etc. I only use it for recipe tracking. I've learned how my particular system works through trial and error. My mash water volume varies depending on the amount of grain for each recipe. For a 5 gallon batch it usually is somewhere between 7 and 8.5 gallons of total mash/strike water.

There are other calculators out there, like this one. Maybe play around with them to see if they help.

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Old 12-05-2013, 06:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackGoat View Post
from your post, I can't quite tell why you aren't happy with your process or what exactly is wrong? Maybe you can share what it is that you're trying to improve. I do not like using Beersmith to calculate my mash volumes (I do BIAB), I prefer to use this for mash volumes: http://www.simplebiabcalculator.com/.
The beer is not as good as I was making with extract. My MASH specifics are the root of this, and the process is what I'm trying to refine for ease of method and consistent results. Too 'thin', too sweet, too dry, that kind of thing.

Beersmith wants full volume, but it won't fit in the pot even though I've got equipment settings right. BIAB full volume seems to trump what fits, in the calculations. When I 'override' this in my pot, the data is no longer in agreement with beersmith. I'd really like to stick with 1 tool if I can figure out a way to adjust the numbers.

I just got back from the LHBS and even they with 2 yrs use of Beersmith had no idea you can't change the strike volume. We tried both BIAB and Single Infusion, and both allow you to edit some data in the mash steps, but not volume.
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:42 PM   #5
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A senior moment (or longer...) has passed. Beersmith has Mash tools built in, doah! The brew sheet will still be wrong, but I can save it and edit it before I brew. Sure would be nice to change the numbers.....


Still looking for any thoughts/comments on the basket and sparging part.

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Old 12-05-2013, 08:12 PM   #6
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Gotcha. I still would look toward using the web-based calculators, they would only take 1 minute of your time and you'd get it right every time. The basket method you describe sounds good to me. For what its worth, my method is to do my mash in my kettle per the usual, then pull the bag and place it into two buckets that I have nested into each other, the top one having a bunch of small holes drilled out of the bottom. This allows the bag to drain, and lets me pour over sparge water (I just use cold sparge) to extract whatever last bit of sugar I can. Then I will take the lid from a stock pot and push down on the bag to squeeze out any sugar I can. My method is really similar to what you have in mind, its costed me $10 for the two buckets and its super simple, I never have to touch the grain bag other than pulling it out of the mash.

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Old 12-06-2013, 02:58 AM   #7
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I spent some time with Beersmith tonight, and somehow managed to get it to allow me to modify the mash in volume. Not quite sure how I got there now though.

Still working on using standard mash profiles instead of BIAB so I can control the numbers better. The only problem I see is that I still have more pre-boil water than I do pot volume, but that's partly to do with the expectation of using multiple vessels for AG.

On my last brew I did 2 1 gal sparges, then let bag drain in the basket over the pot till it was about to boil, and there was very little dripping left. What continued to drip during the boil was maybe another quart, but did not check the gravity.

On an earlier brew I was still refining my sparge/squeeze methods, and forgot about the grain till I was done. I rinsed with 1 gallon and the squeeze out had a gravity of only about 1.020, so I used it for starters rather than dump it. The boil was done by then, but with the low gravity it would have reduced my batch gravity.

Based on what I'm seeing the sparge is better than squeezing for me. Raise the bag, flame on, pour in 1 gallon of boiling water wait 15 min or so and add another gallon. I end up with just about the perfect volume in the pot, and no extra effort with the grain bag (or distraction from the about to boil over pot!). It goes out for the local wildlife after it cools.


John

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Old 12-06-2013, 11:06 AM   #8
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Don't over complicate the process, I would mash in your kettle close to the full volume(say a gallon shy of the top) check mash volume using "can I mash it",
http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml

Then add a hot / boiling water addition after the mash to max out your kettle, remove the bag, then run sparge water slowly over and thru the bag with it suspended above your kettle, in a basket, colander or whatever you can manage, simply sparge until you reach preboil volume in your pot.

Regardless of what the software tells you, monitor what you have in the kettle by making simple volume marks on your brew spoon. With a 7 gallon kettle and a 5 gallon batch, it is very simple as you basicly need to almost fill the kettle...there is no room to over sparge, so simply sparge near the top and boil down.

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Old 12-06-2013, 11:26 AM   #9
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A kettle of that volume indicates you are doing batch sizes of 5 gallons or so. The wet grain weight is small enough you can move it around and use a separate bucket for sparging.

Like you, I use a pot about that size and use less than the full BIAB volume to start. I use an online calculator to estimate strike water temp for the mash volume used, I do not use BeerSmith for that.

After mashing, I dunk sparge in a separate bucket.

  • I lift the bag and give it a spin (slowly!) to squeeze out most of the wort,
  • then transfer it to an empty bucket,
  • add a gallon or so,
  • stir the heck out of it
  • Then squeeze out the bag as best I can.
  • Done with grain.
  • The thin wort in the bucket is poured into the kettle.
  • Add makeup water to the kettle to the desired volume
  • I scratched lines inside the kettle to indicate gallons and liters
  • Continue with the boil
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:29 AM   #10
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When I wet up my BIAB process in BeerSmith, which includes a batch sparge. I set it up using a single infusion profile modified for my equipment. Ignore the BIAB setting in BeerSmith and get some accurate readings on grain absorption, mash volumes, sparge volumes, and specific gravity at every stage of the process. You can then use the results from a couple of batches to re-tune the equipment and mash profile to meet your process.

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