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Old 06-28-2009, 04:42 PM   #1
dwarven_stout
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Default "Big Brew"- in a Bag info:

(BBIB? New acronym! Sweet!)



This thread will be notes from my 1.125+ Russian Imperial Stout Brew in a Bag experience, for anyone interested in trying something similar.

I haven't been brewing long, and I got bitten right off by the all-grain bug. I had two 5gal pots when I started out, making full boils impossible, and neither an object remotely resembling a mash tun nor the funds to construct one, so I went for the BIAB method. I did a few session beers that way, then got to itching for an Imperial Stout to age the summer away down in the basement.

First off- big beers + BIAB = giant PITA. Don't do it this way if you have another option, such as a friend with brewing equipment or whatever. That said, it is completely feasible to make a big beer in a bag.

To do this, I had a 7.5gal pot and a 5gal pot, and 14.5lbs of grain. I could have bumped the 2-row up to make a total of around 16-18lbs and still fit it all in the pots, but I chose to make that up through late additions. I did a decoction mash to keep the water volume lower, which was actually super simple with the BIAB. I boiled down to a 4gal end volume- I spent too much time on this beer already to want to watch it go out the airlock!


Here's the recipe:

Grain bill:
10lb Pale 2-row
1.5lb Aromatic
1.5lb Roasted Barley
1lb Special B
0.5lb Black Patent
2tsp Gypsum in mash

Dough in 14.5lbs grain with 20qt of water at 130 degrees
Rest at 122 degrees for 15 minutes
Added 10qt water at 155 degrees
Immediately pulled 8qt thick mash for decoction- just pull up the grain bag and dip out of it.
Rest at 133 degrees for 30 minutes while decoction boils
Add in decoction
Mash at 150 degrees for 60 minutes

Ran off 7.25gal at 1.050 corrected gravity – 74% efficiency
Boiled down to 5gal before starting 90minute hop schedule.

Hop bill:
2oz Northern Brewer (8.4% AA) @ 90m
1oz Northern Brewer (7% AA) @ 90m
1oz Warrior (18.4% AA) @ 90m
0.5oz Willamette (4.8% AA) @ 20m
0.5oz Willamette (4.8% AA) @ 10m
0.5oz Willamette (4.8% AA) @ 5m

Late sugar additions:
5lb Pale 2-row
3lb Sucanat Sugar
3lb homemade Belgian candy syrup (280 degree - estimated 200 SRM)
0.5oz Willamette (4.8% AA)
Mash grain, boil down to 1.5gal with sugar. Add 0.5gal on days 3,6 and 9. Targeting a 1.130 composite OG here. The hops is to act as a preservative while jars of syrup sit in the fridge.

Misc:
0.25 oz star anise @ 10m boil
1 tsp WLP1000 yeast nutrient @ 5m boil
2oz medium toast oak chips in secondary

Yeast:
400mL thin slurry from White Labs WLP530 yeast cake



I racked this baby to primary at 6:30 last night- 4 gallons in a 5 gallon carboy, with slurry from the yeast cake of the Belgian Golden I had just taken out. I had airlock activity within the hour. This morning it has a 2.5in krausen. Glad I took it down to 4 gal!

I'll update here with progress for anyone who's interested.



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Old 06-28-2009, 05:15 PM   #2
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Lessons so far:

1) High efficiency is possible with BIAB methods, even with moderately large grain bills, so long as the mash is long and low.
2) Decoction mashing is actually easier with BIAB, and is in fact strongly indicated by the space limitations of BIAB kettle setups.


Some BIAB methods do a mash, pour off the wort, and then do a ghetto "sparge" with 175-180 degree water. For this grain bill, I was at 74% efficiency without a sparge, so I chose to sparge 4 gallons for a Black IPA partigyle. I got 16% efficiency on that, for a total of 90% (did a quick mini-mash with 3lbs of 2-row to bring the partigyle up to 1.048). We'll see how much of it is fermentable- my gut says that the 16% I got the second time is mostly fermentable sugar. The color of the wort was dark brown with a reddish tint against the light, and had very little roast aroma or flavor from the barley, special b and black patent.



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Old 07-01-2009, 07:12 AM   #3
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Did the first sugar addition tonight. I ended up going with 3lbs of x-light DME instead of mashing more grain simply so I didn't have to boil down more water.

I mixed all the sugar additions up at once, boiled down to 1.5gal, and poured 1 gal off into pre-warmed quart mason jars for the second and third additions. It was thicker than corn syrup.

I also checked gravity on the main batch, and tossed the sample into the boil for the sugar additions so I didn't lose the beer. It was 1.032- wow! That's 60 points in 3 days! I tasted a swallow of the hydro sample before adding it to the boil- it tastes like a RIS already. There's a deep coffee taste, just a hint of licorice, and a solid residual bitterness that should mellow a little in time. This is going to be a good beer!

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Old 07-01-2009, 01:03 PM   #4
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I've been getting mid-80's with BiaB for mid range beers (haven't tried anything THAT big yet). Good job!

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Old 07-01-2009, 10:46 PM   #5
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The parti-gyle black IPA is at 1.010 now, and I think it'll go a point or two further. Hydro sample feels very thin in the mouth- I might steep some crystal and add it in for a little more body and sweetness to stand up to the lingering mild roastiness and hops.

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Old 07-12-2009, 06:27 AM   #6
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All the sugar additions are in now. I ended up doing a quart jar of prepared syrup about every day and a half instead of 2 quarts every 3 days in an effort to keep the carboy from blowing off. I didn't get much krausen on #5 and #6, so I roused the yeast on #6. Checked gravity today- it's at 1.041, which is about where I'd expect at this point. I'll give it another week or so and then rack to secondary with oak chips.

The black IPA is ready to bottle. I added a mini-mash of 1/2 lb 2-row and 1lb crystal 80 to raise the FG and color a bit, and dry-hopped with .5 oz Amarillo and Cascade. It's not going to be the best beer, but I'll wait until it's bottle conditioned to speak too much ill of it.

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Old 07-23-2009, 12:47 AM   #7
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Racked the stout over on top of the oak chips yesterday evening. It was 1.033 at racking. Tastes great so far... this is one of the few beers I've actually enjoyed pre-bottling. There's a lot of distinct flavors in there that I can't wait to taste melded together.

Here's a couple photos:

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Old 07-25-2009, 12:06 AM   #8
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*in for results

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Old 08-22-2009, 02:03 AM   #9
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Racked it off of oak after 12 days into a tertiary. Still had a bunch of what I'm betting is suspended protein mass (looked more like hot break than yeast), so I added a teaspoon of gelatin to help drop it out. I'm planning to bottle this weekend, adding a dose of fresh yeast along with 4oz corn sugar.



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