BIAB Beginings

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Smiling Frog

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I am trying to find out more information as to how and when the method we now call Brew-In-A-Bag started. Googling is not of much help and the best information I can get is the Wikipedia article on Homebrewing which mentions that it started in Australia and was pioneered by a Patrick Hollingdale. It makes no mention of the time frame or how the whole idea came about.

I personally began brewing in the mid 1990s. Back then, the HBD (Homebrew Digest) was the best source of brewing information I could find. I have no recollection of BIAB ever being discussed on the HBD (and I faithfully read every digest for many years). In fact, I suspect that many contributors to the HBD would have pooh-poohed the idea claiming extremely low efficiency, harsh tannin extraction, extremely cloudy wort, an just an overall waste of time and malts.

By the early to mid '00s, I was doing the three vessel brewing game and was annoyed by the amount of time sparging was taking. The HBD was either dead, or at best, a old relic that saw little traffic. I remember a homebrewing newsgroup that, while had a whole lot of noise, had some interesting contributors. It was then that I began batch sparging and I remember reading posts from a Denny Conn who was advocating "No Sparge" brewing. As I recall, Denny would mash at the usual 1.25 qt/Lb, but at the end of the mash, he would add his entire sparge volume to the mash tun, vorlauf until clear, and flow into his brew kettle as fast as he could. At this time, I was satisfied with my batch sparging techniques, but in those discussions, I don't recall anyone mentioning Australia or anything about a bag. This would have been 2005-2007.

In the early '10s, I moved across the country and my brewing was halted for a year or two. As I was setting things up again, I had to look into replacing some equipment and I started hearing talk about a brewing technique from Australia called BIAB. Throw out the notion that if your mash was too thin, you wouldn't get any conversion. Throw out the idea that if you compressed the grains you would extract harsh tannins. Don't worry about a needing a couple more pounds of grain, the time is worth it. This would have been 2013 or so. I see this sub-forum apparently started in 2011, so I assume that by that time, the term BIAB was coined and in use in the US. Knowing how slowly things can move, would that put the development of the process in Australia sometime around 2005?

If I have mis-remembered anything, or stated wrong facts, if anyone can correct me, I would be grateful. Any additional information would be welcome, as well.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Somewhere in my (currently very off-line) brewing notes, I think I have a link to a 2007-ish article on BIAB. In the mean time, these may be helpful in the search:

[Basic Brewing Radio] April 2, 2009 - Brew in a Bag
Australian home brewers Dan Walker and Geoff Hammond explain the all grain technique of Brew in a Bag, which they advocate as a good way to get into brewing with grain.​

Australian Brew-in-a-Bag Technique; John Palmer; BYO Mar/Apr 2009; Australian Brew-in-a-Bag Technique - Brew Your Own (free at the moment).​
 

CascadesBrewer

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There are two links at end of article. Link to aussiehomebrewer.com is broke, but was captured in the "Internet Archives":
Interesting! The bottom of that "guide" post has the following:

BIAB was inspired by discussions/thoughts and ideas posted to the All In One Brewery thread by James Squire. BIAB is a gas version of the full volume brewing method originally proposed by James in the thread. James and others are working on an electric version of full volume brewing and brewers who do not have gas available should follow that thread for further developments. James, your original post has created a monster - top stuff mate!

The "All In One Brewery" thread is captured by the Internet Archives. It is a bit hard to navigate but it looks like it was started on
Jul 14 2006 by James Squire (real name?). He throws out the idea and there are a number of follow ups..."it just might work"..."hey I tried the experiment"...etc.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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This is the article from 2007 that was in my notes:

How to go from Extract to AG for < $10.00; The Brewing Network (via Internet Archives); Mar 15 2007​
eta: The 2nd paragraph in the article may help with timeframes:
"Over the last 18 months or so, there has been a move towards a very different technique of AG brewing in Australia. It has its good points and it has its bad points, but its main feature is this. "
The article was written in March 2007, 18 months earlier would be Oct 2005.
 
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Smiling Frog

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Thanks, all. This is exactly what I was looking for, and it seems to fit my memories fairly well.
 

dtashmore547

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I started brewing in 1980, no brewing method called BIAB but it is effectively what I was doing just didn't have a name, used a converted 30lt boiler and suspended a bag full of grains of around 20lts of water on a motorised holder to maintain constant water temperature (via a homemade temperature regulator), just my own interpretation of Dave Lines (bigger book of brewing) methods. worked a treat so never changed my methods.
 
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Before Pat H died, he established a site called biabrewer.info There is a lot of valuable information on the site including some BIAB history. I think the site struggles a bit to find solid footing after Pat's passing, but you can register and access most threads.
Edited .. The site is biabrewer.info
 

odie

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the BIAB method probably dates back decades...there was a lot of stuff "discovered" and forgotten long before Al Gore invented the internet...likely many disconnected people have stumbled upon this or "created" it for themselves, shared it or learned of it by word of mouth, forgotten about it, etc...I seriously doubt one person can rightly claim to have invented it. The person who first "spread the word" in mass media was likely many times removed from the first person who ever tried this method.
 

cbier60

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CascadesBrewer

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Make some time to listen to the Apr 2009 BBR podcast I mentioned.
I gave it a listen while I am "working" from home. Good stuff. They were trying to dispel many of the same myths that still circulate (poor efficiency, cloudy wort, squeezing, etc.).

I only got into BBR 2 or 3 years ago. I think I need to binge listen to many of their old episodes as they have covered a lot of good topics over the years.
 

Lubrication

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Like dtashmore547 I am an old timer; started brewing around 1977. I can confirm what he says about Dave Line using the Brew in a Bag method. He just didn't call it that. I still have a copy of his 'Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy' published in 1978 by the Amateur Winemaker Publications. Sparging is clearly illustrated on page 36 with the grain bag full of mashed grain 'supported in a polythene bucket' with a tap. I used to put a pan lid over the tap inlet to facilitate running off the wort into my kettle. Happy Days!
Like dtashmore547 I still use the same method, except my bucket is now stainless steel with a perforated base.
 

dtashmore547

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hi @BrewnWKopperKat I have no idea where you can obtain Dave Lines "bigger book of brewing" or "brewing beers like those you buy" or even if they are still in print, My original copy of the bigger book of brewing was dog eared and half missing until 2019 when my father passed away, I found his copy in great condition and made a pdf of it, the processes are still good even if there are better ways to do things these days, I still refer to the book. I am not sure if I am allowed to make my pdf copy available through this forum.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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@dtashmore547, it looks like the book that @soccerdad referenced is the 2nd edition of the book that you have. Just looking for a confirmation as I'm interested enough to spend a few dollars on this.

I would assume the book is still under copyright, so posting too much content from the book may be a 'bad thing' to do.
 

Lubrication

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Hi @BrewnWKopperKat
My copy of The Bigger Book of Brewing long since fell to pieces but I can tell you that the ISBN number for 'Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy' is:
0 900841 51 6
It is certainly an interesting read for anyone interested in the history of home brewing although the style of it is somewhat dated as you would suspect.
For instance, the instructions for making a grain bag begin 'To make one, buy your wife/girlfriend a box of chocolates and ask her to do it for you!'
Well, it was the seventies......
 

CascadesBrewer

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Like dtashmore547 I am an old timer; started brewing around 1977. I can confirm what he says about Dave Line using the Brew in a Bag method. He just didn't call it that.
Was he doing full 5-gallon batches in the bag? I could definitely see where a basic grain bag that would be used for steeping grains would be a natural fit for a partial mash or a small batch. I am not sure at what point homebrew stores would have started selling bags large enough to fit a 10-gallon kettle. I know at one point I lined my bucket-based lauter tun with a bag that was designed to fit a bucket. I suspect it was sold more for wine making or for filtering out fruit. I still have that bag and have been using it for 1-gallon batches.

I looked at my 1988 version of "The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing" by Dave Miller. I could not see any references to using bags for mashing. His process for a partial mash involved mashing in a pot, then straining and sparging with a kitchen strainer.

The online version of "How to Brew" is a bit comical in its partial mash coverage. John jumps right into making cooler mash tun and moves into pictures of a 3-vessel keggle setup! And you wonder why people used to think that all-grain brewing was so hard?? Partial Mash Option - How to Brew
 

Lubrication

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In 'Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy' (1978 edition), Dave Line gives 3 methods of mashing a 5 gallon all grain brew. The first 2 involved mashing in the kettle with kind of basic temperature control and transferring to the grain bag before sparging. The third (which I used) was mashing in a grain bag inside a plastic bucket with a tap. You had to float the whole bucket in a large, lidded bin filled with hot water. I threw a duvet overview the bin to further insulate it. At the end of the mash you lift out the bucket and open the tap to drain the wort into your kettle. You then re-circulate (manually, using a large pitcher) and sparge. Dave Line gave instructions for making a grain bag because you couldn't buy them back then in a big enough size.

I hope this is of interest, historically speaking!

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BrewnWKopperKat

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@Lubrication , @soccerdad , @dtashmore547 : thank you for additional links (both past and future).

As hobby time permits, I'll look into getting copies of these books. There's also a Brew Strong podcast episode that I haven't listened to.

I do appreciate the additional information (see #23). I'm listening, just not responding to the content. I want to take the time to do an in-depth read / review of the new material before contributing more here.
 

bwible

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You are probably right Odie, but the Aussies (Pat was one and biabrewer is an Oz site) are generally regarded as early adopters of the method.
The first time I recall ever seeing it or hearing of it was in a department store. I think it was around Christmas time, when these stores will sell anything. I had been brewing for maybe 1 or 2 years at the time. I forget which store, but they had a bin full of “brew in a bag” kits from Australia. “Make your own all-grain craft beer at home.”

At the time, the bag was a cheap looking burlap kind of sack with all the grains and hops and yeast inside it. Sitting in a bin. Unrefrigerated. From Australia. I would estimate this was somewhere around 1998 - 2000 based on other things I know.

It was one of those “yeah, right.” moments.

My what the monster has become.

This past weekend I was looking in a shop on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ where they sell records and healing crystals and there’s a girl doing temporary tattoos. Under one of the tables were several small boxed kits. Home beer making, home wine making. The little boxed kits with the 1 gallon jug. Same kind of thought. “Yeah, right.”
 
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RufusBrewer

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Years ago there was something called beer (maybe brew) in a bag kit. Predated the Mr. Beer kits.

IIRC, it was extract and you brewed in something like a wine botta bag. You mixed the stuff up in the bag, added the yeast and eventually served it out of the bag. You kept the bag in the fridge.

I never saw one in action. I had a coworker that used one. He said he followed the instructions "To A T" and it was lousy beer.
 

jpakstis

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Years ago there was something called beer (maybe brew) in a bag kit. Predated the Mr. Beer kits.

IIRC, it was extract and you brewed in something like a wine botta bag. You mixed the stuff up in the bag, added the yeast and eventually served it out of the bag. You kept the bag in the fridge.

I never saw one in action. I had a coworker that used one. He said he followed the instructions "To A T" and it was lousy beer.
Heh I remember a buddy in college (probably ’96) got one of those and we filled it up before we went home on winter break. Basically all you did was filled up the bag with water and let it ferment. I think it came pre-hopped. It was awful!
 

CascadesBrewer

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Years ago there was something called beer (maybe brew) in a bag kit. Predated the Mr. Beer kits.
The Brew Dudes have a few videos on brewing and tasting one of those kits. It is nothing like all-grain BIAB, and I could even debate that it is not even "brewing" beer, but like the Mr. Beer kits it might be a good entry point into the hobby.
 

youngdh

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The Brew Dudes have a few videos on brewing and tasting one of those kits. It is nothing like all-grain BIAB, and I could even debate that it is not even "brewing" beer, but like the Mr. Beer kits it might be a good entry point into the hobby.
Instructions don’t mention sanitization or dechlorinating the water. I’d be surprised if this beer doesn’t finish with off flavors.
 

youngdh

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Instructions don’t mention sanitization or dechlorinating the water. I’d be surprised if this beer doesn’t finish with off flavors.
Here is the tasting review from these dudes.
 

BeerAndTele

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Years ago there was something called beer (maybe brew) in a bag kit. Predated the Mr. Beer kits.

IIRC, it was extract and you brewed in something like a wine botta bag. You mixed the stuff up in the bag, added the yeast and eventually served it out of the bag. You kept the bag in the fridge.

I never saw one in action. I had a coworker that used one. He said he followed the instructions "To A T" and it was lousy beer.
Yep, I received one of these as a gift, years and years ago. Added water to the bag, kept it in the basement, and fermentation inflated it like a balloon. It had a built-in spigot and you served it straight from the bag. It wasn't very good, but we drank most of it anyway.
 

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