1st All Grain Brew in a Bag (BIAB)
Without a lot of brewing experience, I decide to jump into all grain. Now, most guys have a nice big brewing rig. And, one day, I might. I was even going to buy my second burner and start the build, but then I ran across Brew in a Bag (BIAB) and thought if I could save some money and still get good beer, I'm in!
You more experienced guys, check my numbers would ya?
First, the night before, I put some sandwich size containers half filled with water into the freezer. This becomes important later.
9.5lbs of mixed grains: 5lbs Pale Malt 2 row, 4lbs Wheat Malt, .5lbs Crystal Malt 10L, .5lbs Wheat Flaked, .25lbs Caravienne Malt. I had read on this forum that double milling the grain would increase efficiency and that with BIAB size really doesn't matter. I don't have a mill yet, but I do have a blender.
Before and after. After at least 10 trials of different amounts and speeds, I came up with 1 cup of mixed grain and a 3 second pulse on the lowest speed. Pretty tough to tell from the picture but I found quite a few whole kernels of barley in the grain bag, before my blender milling.
On my trial run of the burner, to season the pot, this damn timer got me just before time for flame out. So, it won't bother me again. I trimmed the zip ties but they are tight enough to hold the timer from turning yet loose enough I can slide them up and still use the timer.
My $40 Bass Pro turkey burner. This is the heart of this set-up.
There's that pesky timer trussed up. Flame is on at this point, heating strike water. At no time, in no way, am I telling anyone, anywhere, to defeat the safety timer on their turkey burner.
Doughing In: Strike water is at 167f and I don't have enough hands to take pictures and do the actual work too. But it went like this, heat water, flame out, put bag in water, put grain in bag in water, stir grain, cover, wait.
Mashing: sorry for no picture of the grain in the water, but it's in there. I was getting pretty relaxed because everything was going pretty good. Even the homebrew I was drinking. And, they were so good, I was probably drinking them WAY to fast.
A closer look. I was shooting for a 152f mash. I'm pretty damn close. Now, here's the neat part: At no time during the 70 minute mash did I have to crank the burner on. It sat at the same temp, or within a degree or two, that wasn't noticeable on my thermometer. Yup, this ain't the best temp gauge, but it's got a long probe that sticks to about the middle of the kettle and it's tested accurate.
Here's my entire AG set up, left to right: Simon Thewonderdog (look for him on Facebook), grain kit box with blendered grain on top, sparge kettle, propane tank, MLT/boil kettle, red cooler ice water recirculation system (detailed here) propped up on two milk crates.
Things were moving right along and going smoothly. I even had a flock of Ibis come around.
A total of at least 35 birds spent a while debugging my grass. The darker colored ones are juveniles. Simon Thewonderdog was very interested in these guys but I hushed him and he sat watching them intently.
Again, not enough hands to take pictures during the action. I've moved the grain bag into the sparge water and I'm stirring it. There's that damn toe shot again. When I picked the grain bag out of the mash tun, it held quite nicely. At no time did I feel insecure about it ripping. And, I twisted it up pretty good. There was still a lot of wort I couldn't squeeze out of the grain, more on this later.
1st Runnings. Mmmm, sweet smells of BEER!
Sparge combined with 1st Runnings, slapped the thermometer on there and it's flame on.
Here comes the boil, hop spider in place.
The sun is setting on my brew day but I'm done. Flame out!
Whirlpooled the brew and racked to a fermenter. Notice the wort color in the racking tube? Nice.....(nodding)
Forgot to take a preboil hydro reading. Hey, I was drinking, you know. But, this is the post boil, at 80f. Yeah, temp is high, it actually went up during the racking, I had cooled to 75f with the RIC. But, this is SW Florida and it was still in the mid 80s when I was doing this, after dark. So, add .003 for temperature differential.
Fermenter into the closet, with a blow off tube and a large wine bottle catch basin. But wait, there's more....
Sipping the sample, I noticed how much was settling out and how fast. I expect to have 2 inches of gunk on the bottom of the fermenter. Maybe. Should be interesting to see. And, man, this stuff is sweet! But, more on that in a minute.
Anybody interested in a lump of hops? This is what it looks like when I turned it out of the hop spider (separate thread here). This was bagged and put into a lidded can.
Got rid of the hops but used the spent grain to make puppy treats for Simon Thewonderdog.
Simon Thewonderdog getting his first taste of spent grain puppy treats. Hey, it's gone already!
Okay, if you've stuck around this long, here's the numbers for you:
5lbs Pale Malt 2 row
4lbs Wheat Malt
8oz Crystal Malt 10L
8oz Wheat, Flaked
4oz Caravienne Malt
10.25 total grain
Mashed in 70 minutes with 16qts at 152f. Sparged 15 minutes with 8.5qts at 170f. 60 minute boil.
Beersmith puts me at Estimated O.G. of 1.056.
But, you saw the reading of 1.58 with a temp adjustment to 1.061 (per Beersmith). And it says my efficiency was 81.51%!
BTW, the Belgian Blond kit says S.G. of 1.043 - 1.047.
I'm absolutely tickled with that efficiency. I'm thinking the blendered grain does okay with BIAB. Just don't get too aggressive with it.
Not only did I hit temps, and amounts, but I got a higher efficiency than I dreamed I would and when I racked to the fermenter, it was EXACTLY 5 gallons. Spot on!
Okay, the water I showed at the beginning, that was ALL the ice I used. With the RIC, I started on the garden hose, that ran about 16 minutes and got me to 100f. Hose water was at 86f so I figured I wouldn't get much more cooling out of it very quickly. It too me 3 minutes to switch to the ice water recirculation. I dumped the ice blocks into the cooler and added the 86f hose water to them. So, the ice had to cool that water before it could start cooling the wort. Once the ice water recirculation was going, it took me to 75f in 13 minutes. Total cooling time from 212f to 75f, 29 minutes. I'm very happy with that but next time plan to pre-chill the cooler water. I might get close to cutting that time in half.
PS, I took the spent grain inside to measure for the dog treats and I'm pretty sure I could have pulled at least a small beer out of it with another good sparge. It was super sticky sweet. If I'd had another fermenter free, it'd be in there. (and, that was SWMBO's idea)
Thoughts, responses, criticisms? Someone want to check my (Beersmith's) math?
Also, estimated 275 minutes (4.5 hours) per Beersmith. Flame on: 1427, Pitch: 1903: 4 Hours 36 minutes.
Looks like a very cool brew day. I'm doing my first All-Grain tomorrow and I've got some ice ready to cool down the wort. Going over your process and pictures is helping me plan my day tomorrow.
Thanks for the post. I have been wondering about the possibilities of all grain in a stovetop-type setup. Thanks for the inspiration. Are you using the 30qt kettle that came with the propane burner? I am seeing a lot more BIAB threads so I will get researching lol!
I do pretty much the same thing and I'm getting close to 80% efficiency. I do the sparge water dip and also a half gallon from a tea kettle and rinse over a cool little stainless steel mesh colander I found at Bed, Beth and Beyond.
I dig the spider... I may have to look into making one!
Here's a link to that colander:
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