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Old 12-22-2008, 02:44 PM   #1
captainjay
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Default My first all grain experiment with BIAB

A couple of nights ago I attempted my first all-grain batch... Because I haven't got the ball-valve plumbing sorted out for my cooler mash tun, I decided to go the brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) route. I've read a lot of posts about it, and it seemed like others have had some success with it...

So with my brand-new digital thermometer from Canadian Tire in hand ($10 on sale!) I took my freshly milled grains for a little 2.5 gallon batch and began... Based on some of the calcs I've seen other people use for this process, I started with about 4 gallons of water. Everything seems right in the world.

I deviated from traditional wisdom in a couple of instances, however, and was wondering what I should expect as a result....

ISSUE #1: I couldn't find a 5 gallon paint strainer bag to use, so I used three 1 gallon bags,suspended like tea bags in the pot. I stirred a number of times and tried to ensure there was a little circulation between the bags as best I could. Could this still be a problem?

ISSUE #2: Because there were 3 feet of snow outside, I figured that would be the easiest way to cool the wort... So with my handy-dandy digital thermometer from Canadian Tire, I went out into the snow. The temperature seemed to drop pretty quick, then stall around 90 degrees. Half an hour later I realized something was up, so I brought it inside and used a traditional thermometer - the temp fell below 50 degrees! Grrr, my digital thermometer lied to me! So I heated the batch up on the stove to get it up to 65 or 70 degrees before pitching the yeast. Is this a danger? Have I killed my beer?

In less than 24 hrs my airlock is bubbling away in the basement, so I don't seem to have surprised the yeast too badly. The OG (at 65 degrees or so) was about 1.056, a little higher than I expected but I guess not a huge concern. I am also slightly concerned about infection from the snow... While I was in the snow bank it started to snow. I had the lid on, but I'm not 100% sure a few flakes didn't make it in.

Overall a fun brew day experiment! I would like to try BIAB again, but with a proper bag. I got my wife a sewing machine for X-Mas, so I'll have to get her to sew me up a proper bag.

Jay

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Old 12-22-2008, 08:47 PM   #2
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I wouldn't worry about over cooling and then reheating the beer will taste great. Here is a link to a bigger bag: EZ Strainer Paint Strainers

I've never used it so be carefull and support the bottom so it doesn't tear when you lift it out of the wort

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Old 12-23-2008, 02:25 PM   #3
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As long as you were able to maintain your mash temp in the pot and were able to get enough circulation through the grains, you should be fine. Cooling in the snow is handy (done it a few times) but you do risk infection. If you can fit the pot in the sink and fill it with snow, that might be a way to control it. (You'll have to refill the sink quite often, so a bucket with snow on hand and an ice scoop might work). A bigger bag is the way to go, but be sure you clean and sanitize the crap out of it, I shuddered when I smelled the chemicals on the last bag I got. Also, a colander on the bottom of the bag to support it will help keep it from ripping when you pull it up.

Good job, and let us know how it comes out!

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Old 12-23-2008, 03:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captainjay View Post
So with my handy-dandy digital thermometer from Canadian Tire, I went out into the snow. The temperature seemed to drop pretty quick, then stall around 90 degrees. Half an hour later I realized something was up, so I brought it inside and used a traditional thermometer - the temp fell below 50 degrees! Grrr, my digital thermometer lied to me! So I heated the batch up on the stove to get it up to 65 or 70 degrees before pitching the yeast. Is this a danger? Have I killed my beer?
Heating it up on the stove isn't an issue, but if your thermometer was wrong, what temp did you mash at? If your thermometer was also reading high at mash temps, you may end up with a very thin, dry beer.
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Old 12-25-2008, 02:57 AM   #5
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Heating it up on the stove isn't an issue, but if your thermometer was wrong, what temp did you mash at? If your thermometer was also reading high at mash temps, you may end up with a very thin, dry beer.
Hmmm, I hadn't thought of that... I figured the thermometer crapped out during the temperature drop, but you're right - I may have been getting false readings all along.

I will be sure to follow up with the results. In the meantime, I'm going to be shopping for a hardier digital thermometer!

Jay
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Old 12-25-2008, 03:05 AM   #6
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Could the temp suprise just be because you didn't stir the wort and it only read at one spot. Once you moved it and it mixed up the temp stabilized? Just a thought.

I always grab my IC and move it around in a gentle circle to move the wort around and it cools much quicker..

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Old 12-25-2008, 01:41 PM   #7
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Could the temp suprise just be because you didn't stir the wort and it only read at one spot. Once you moved it and it mixed up the temp stabilized? Just a thought.

I always grab my IC and move it around in a gentle circle to move the wort around and it cools much quicker..
I wouldn't think a 2-3 gallon pot could have a 40 degree hot spot, though I've been wrong before.

I've had themometers get stuck going up or coming down... if you tap the face and it jumps to the correct temp, then it probably just stuck coming down, and was fine at the higher temps.

I just ordered a 19.99 digital thermometer from Northernbrewer so that I can RDW.
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Old 12-26-2008, 05:47 PM   #8
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I have several digital thermometers, a multimeter with a thermocouple and the only thermometer that I own even when all are calibrated that is consistently correct is the $6 glass one from the brew store. Advice: Don't trust 'em 'till you test 'em. Especially the cheap digital ones.

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Old 12-26-2008, 06:25 PM   #9
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i find the floating glass thermometers work the best. i even use them in my keggles, in conjunction with the metal ones installed on the unit. just don't break them in the beer

sounds like you had a pretty good brew day. i wouldn't worry about the beer at this point. your mash temps were probably fine...i'd say your thermometer froze outside.

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Old 01-10-2009, 02:22 PM   #10
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I moved it into a 3 gal carboy for secondary fermentation last weekend, since I didn't have time to bottle. It smelled pretty good, much better than my last batch.

The OG was around 1.058 and the gravity when I moved it to the secondary was around 1.012, I think.

Can't wait to try it!
Jay

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