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Old 12-27-2013, 05:47 AM   #1
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Default BIAB all grain vs "regular" all grain brewing

I am looking to brew my first all grain batch. I would like some advice or recommendations as to which method to use, BIAB or the "regular" all grain brewing since it is my first time brewing an all grain batch. Any tips or other advice welcomed.

Thank you!

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Old 12-27-2013, 05:59 AM   #2
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BIAB is convenient and requires no equipment upgrade if you already have a large BK, however, you might not get great efficiency using the BIAB method. You are also restricted to relatively low ABV beers due to less grains. Really all you need is a cooler converted MLT and you're set. This can be had for under $50.

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Old 12-27-2013, 05:59 AM   #3
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I would go for the BIAB method first. It requires much less equipment and the results are just as good. Unless you are 100% certain that home brewing will be a life-long hobby, BIAB is the best way to experience all-grain brewing without investing a very large sum of money. Of course even BIAB setups can become expensive and elaborate, but in general it really is a simplification of the proceedure. Truth be told, I do BIAB brewing and I have no desire to expand beyond it. My setup is simple, I get great results, and I'm super pleased with the beers I'm making. It is working for me perfectly.

btw, I've hit 90% efficiency doing BIAB mashing once with a very long mash time (2 hrs). Although my average is between 80-85%. These are good numbers. When I keep to the schedule I have solid consistancy. Of course, I also mill my own grain and the crush is a tad finer than what you would use with anything other than BIAB.

My setup was designed to create great beer while keeping my materials cost low.
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:17 AM   #4
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Another vote for BIAB. From a purely practical standpoint, BIAB is a much less-expensive way to try out all-grain, unless you're brewing on borrowed equipment, and there aren't really many drawbacks to the method.

I also don't really agree with the statement (which comes out regularly) that BIAB requires a huge kettle to do high-gravity beers. 'Traditional' BIAB is to mash in 100% of your brew water, which can certainly push the limits of a brew kettle's capacity on higher-gravity beers, but there's no real reason you can't mash thicker and sparge or even simply top off once you pull the grain bag out of the kettle.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:42 AM   #5
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Yet another BIAB vote given the assumption that you have the equipment for extract brews. All you need to add to your gear is a bag -- and maybe a bigger pot. You can always upgrade your gear to go traditional all grain.
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:55 AM   #6
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I am also going to recommend BIAB. You don't need a ridiculous pot if you're willing to take ten minutes to sparge, and you really don't have to buy anything equipment wise. I keep thinking about building a conventional mash tun, just can't convince myself to spend the time dialing in new equipment when I get 80+ efficiency on every batch already. If you do a thick mash you can get about 10lbs into a 15 litre pot, which fits a paint bag just about perfectly.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:00 PM   #7
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I also will say BIAB. The lack of extra equipment enticed me to it. Normally I averaged 80% efficiency on my old system and am confident I could have made as big of a beer as I wanted.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:04 PM   #8
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Both methods are pretty simple and yield good results. I switch between BIAB and batch sparging with a cooler MT. I can say that neither is vastly superior to the other. Kind of depends on your skill set, if you have an old cooler b/w 20 - 48 qts it can likely be converted inexpensively.

You can also order the conversion parts on line from BobbyM at for a reasonable price and a prettier result.

5 gal. paint strainer bags work fairly well and are also cheap. Sewing a bag is not that difficult either!

At the end of the day, both methods work well and it comes down to personal preference.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:33 PM   #9
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I've done about a dozen BIAB batches with a 5 gallon pot and a paint strainer bag. I mash with about 2 qts/gallon,"sparge"up to 4.25 gallons and yield 3.5 gallons after a 60 minute boil. I've hit gravities in the upper 70's without a special crush or anything. The only thing I had to buy was a $2 bag and the beer is much better. Sure, I'm not making high gravity beer, but I've learned a ton. I'll probably be upgrading to a bigger pot and bag soon, but BIAB is a great way to try AG with minimal cost.
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:13 PM   #10
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BIAB is totally worth doing if you really want to do AG and don't yet have the equipment for traditional homebrew mashing.

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