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BIAB Volume for larger batch

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wasteofliam

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Here's my situation:
I am planning on (finally) jumping from extract brewing to brew in a bag, as I am sick of buying extract and I want more control over my finished beer.
I am planning to brew a NEIPA batch that I will be split into 2 fermenters, which will each get different dry hops, yeast and fruits. One will be , and was planning on each batch being 4 gallons(I could settle for 3-3.5).
My grain bill is coming out to 18lbs total, and as I've never done all-grain before I'm realizing my possible volume issue. I have a 10 gallon kettle at the moment. Is this feasible? Do I absolutely HAVE to get a bigger pot, or decrease my volume?

Or will the below option work?:
Heat and mash with 7 Gal and then do a rinse/sparge with another gallon of heated water to rinse the bag and gain a little volume and efficiency, then top off with water in fermenters if needed to get to ideal volumes.

Is it okay to top off when using BIAB?
Can I make a more concentrated wort using this method, then add water, or do my volumes have to be correct and set in stone?
Will my 10 gallon kettle fit 7 gallons of water and 18lbs of grain?

Any thoughts appreciated before I dig into this.

Edit: Worth noting that I very rarely do this size(8 gallon) batches. Normally 5 gallon batches, which should be fine with my 10 gallon kettle.
 
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McKnuckle

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Let me issue the first of probably several replies to say... are you sure you want to jump into all grain BIAB like this? Why not get a handle on the basic process by brewing a single 5 gallon batch without all the complexity of a double batch, NEIPA recipe (difficult to brew), etc.?

You'll be introducing so many new variables to your process, which may make it impossible to troubleshoot for the next time. And you will need to troubleshoot, it's a given.

It's far more common in AG brewing to produce the amount of wort you need without post-boil dilutions. But there's no rule that you can't do it, of course. Just be aware of the effect on OG and IBUs.

Your mash will take up about 8.44 gallons of space. So you should have enough room to mash in a 10 gallon kettle.
 

doug293cz

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Second what @McKnuckle said.

You are much better off efficiency wise doing a pour over sparge to get a full volume boil, rather than topping up with water after the boil. Boiling 9 - 9.5 gal in a 10 gal kettle can be done, but you must watch for boil overs like a hawk. Having a spray bottle with water is a quick way to knock down potential boil overs.

Brew on :mug:
 
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wasteofliam

wasteofliam

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Let me issue the first of probably several replies to say... are you sure you want to jump into all grain BIAB like this? Why not get a handle on the basic process by brewing a single 5 gallon batch without all the complexity of a double batch, NEIPA recipe (difficult to brew), etc.?

You'll be introducing so many new variables to your process, which may make it impossible to troubleshoot for the next time. And you will need to troubleshoot, it's a given.

It's far more common in AG brewing to produce the amount of wort you need without post-boil dilutions. But there's no rule that you can't do it, of course. Just be aware of the effect on OG and IBUs.

Your mash will take up about 8.44 gallons of space. So you should have enough room to mash in a 10 gallon kettle.
It's a good point! Why add more variables than needed? Definitely a valid concern, and something I have spent some time thinking about.
That being said, in this case I do feel confident, the base wort that I am making and splitting into the 2 batches is very simple & straightforward, most of the complexity will come in on the cold side. I really just wasn't sure about the logistics of the volume. But I definitely agree with the sentiment. No pain no gain? I guess? haha.

As to the volume assistance I really appreciate it! Seems like my sparge idea will work okay.
 
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wasteofliam

wasteofliam

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Second what @McKnuckle said.

You are much better off efficiency wise doing a pour over sparge to get a full volume boil, rather than topping up with water after the boil. Boiling 9 - 9.5 gal in a 10 gal kettle can be done, but you must watch for boil overs like a hawk. Having a spray bottle with water is a quick way to knock down potential boil overs.

Brew on :mug:

Got it, thanks for the tip. I'll go with my smaller volume mash and then sparge my way to my full volume boil. Thanks!
 

McKnuckle

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Sounds like you're good to go, and yes, you are right that the tricky stuff is on the cold side. And Doug mentioned the "make up volume with a sparge" approach which is preferred to topping up in the fermenter.

Good luck. You'll never go back to extract!
 

LittleRiver

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When you get close to your boiling temp, turn down the heat then slowly ramp up to boil. Be mindful that when you toss in those first hops a significant amount of foam can be produced. Boilovers are a bitch to clean up. I do 5gal batches in a 15gal kettle so I don't have to worry about them.
 

RM-MN

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When you get close to your boiling temp, turn down the heat then slowly ramp up to boil. Be mindful that when you toss in those first hops a significant amount of foam can be produced. Boilovers are a bitch to clean up. I do 5gal batches in a 15gal kettle so I don't have to worry about them.
[/QUOT

I fill my boil pot to a scary level and let the temperature come up as fast as I can until the temperature reaches about 195F, then turn the heat down and watch the pot very closely, using a wire whisk to stir down the foam. When the foam starts to settle down just after the boil starts I add the hops one pellet at a time until the foam produced by that subsides, perhaps repeating until half a dozen pellets are in there, then add the rest. If I just dump them all in at once I will have a boil-over.
 

wsmith1625

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I use Priceless BIAB Calculator and I entered your numbers, knowing your grain bill and goal of 8 gal. finished beer. With those numbers and 4 oz. of hops in your boil (I guessed), you will have a pre-boil volume of 10.08 gallons (adjusted for 212 degrees). I've use Priceless for all my brews and it's very accurate. I'm thinking you may need to settle for 3.5 gal. batches.
 

jtgoral

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I use 8.25 gallon of water to get 5.5 gallon batch after 60 minutes mashing at ~150F and 60 minutes boiling. I made 220 batches most of them BIABs. Same for both: ales and lagers.
 

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Use a biab calculator to determine max water you can use for 18 pounds of grain then remove grain and sparge to your comfort level in the boil kettle. You’ll get better efficiency this way too.
 

wsmith1625

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Use a biab calculator to determine max water you can use for 18 pounds of grain then remove grain and sparge to your comfort level in the boil kettle. You’ll get better efficiency this way too.
Adjusting the sparge volume does not change the pre-boil volume. It only changes the kettle volume while mashing.
 

charlesbrewer

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Partial (volume) mash is makes very little difference from my experience. Been doing that since I reserve the volume for batch sparge. I think you are on the right path: mash thick, boil thin.
 

EDF713

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Two things I've done in addition to all the other suggestions, you can boil less vigorously to have a lower boiloff volume and therefore a lower pre-boil volume (I boiloff a half gallon an hour, most calculators assume a gallon or more). The second is I add fermcap to the wort before it starts boiling to reduce the boilover.
 

wsmith1625

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Two things I've done in addition to all the other suggestions, you can boil less vigorously to have a lower boiloff volume and therefore a lower pre-boil volume (I boiloff a half gallon an hour, most calculators assume a gallon or more). The second is I add fermcap to the wort before it starts boiling to reduce the boilover.
Good point about the evaporation rate. Boiling covered will reduce evaporation a lot, plus it takes less energy (propane in my case) to maintain the boil. I read a good article somewhere and can't find it or I'd add a link, but they said that DMS is easily boiled off. They suggested that you boil completely covered for the first 30 minutes, and partially covered for the last 30 minutes and would still effectively remove the DMS.

With a lower boil off rate, you could start with a lower pre-boil volume and hit your target finished volume.
 

EDF713

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Good point about the evaporation rate. Boiling covered will reduce evaporation a lot, plus it takes less energy (propane in my case) to maintain the boil. I read a good article somewhere and can't find it or I'd add a link, but they said that DMS is easily boiled off. They suggested that you boil completely covered for the first 30 minutes, and partially covered for the last 30 minutes and would still effectively remove the DMS.

With a lower boil off rate, you could start with a lower pre-boil volume and hit your target finished volume.
Thanks, I wish I could find some of the posts, but I remember seeing it mentioned several times in the electric brewing forums for 120v brewers. I use an 8 gallon kettle that can handle up to 11 or 12 lbs of grain for a 5 gallon batch if I boil gently. I also use a hop bag and squeeze out as much wort as I can from it while cooling.
 

Kickass

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Adjusting the sparge volume does not change the pre-boil volume. It only changes the kettle volume while mashing.
It absolutely does. Biab mash and kettle are the same vessel. Op can’t fit 18 pounds of grain and 9-10 gallons of water in a 10 gallon kettle. By shorting the mash volume, removing grains at the end of mashing, then rinsing or sparging grains over mash tun/kettle, they can adjust preboil volume.
 

wsmith1625

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It absolutely does. Biab mash and kettle are the same vessel. Op can’t fit 18 pounds of grain and 9-10 gallons of water in a 10 gallon kettle. By shorting the mash volume, removing grains at the end of mashing, then rinsing or sparging grains over mash tun/kettle, they can adjust preboil volume.
I BIAB in a 10 gallon kettle and I do a dunk sparge when I need to bump my gravity a bit. But after the sparge is complete, the sparge volume is added back to the boil kettle. With the numbers I plugged in for his grain bill, sparge or no sparge, his pre-boil volume was over 10 gallons.

He can play with the numbers a bit to make it fit, but it will change his gravity numbers and effect the finished product. Not necessarily a bad thing, but as-is, I don't see his recipe fitting.
 

wsmith1625

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Thanks, I wish I could find some of the posts, but I remember seeing it mentioned several times in the electric brewing forums for 120v brewers. I use an 8 gallon kettle that can handle up to 11 or 12 lbs of grain for a 5 gallon batch if I boil gently. I also use a hop bag and squeeze out as much wort as I can from it while cooling.
Steam condensers look pretty sweet for the electric setups. I do propane in my garage, so I just plan for the evaporation.
 

Kickass

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as-is, I don't see his recipe fitting.
I agree. They’ll probably need to focus on 7-7.5 gal post boil volume. My point to Op is that even with biab, one doesn’t necessarily have to do a full volume mash if their system won’t allow for it. Options and creativity drive this hobby to some fantastic places!
 

charlesbrewer

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I BIAB in a 10 gallon kettle and I do a dunk sparge when I need to bump my gravity a bit. But after the sparge is complete, the sparge volume is added back to the boil kettle. With the numbers I plugged in for his grain bill, sparge or no sparge, his pre-boil volume was over 10 gallons.

He can play with the numbers a bit to make it fit, but it will change his gravity numbers and effect the finished product. Not necessarily a bad thing, but as-is, I don't see his recipe fitting.
I think that's exactly what OP is asking, not to have full volume mash? I see no reason why he cant just do with 5-6 gal water and result in 7-8 gal volume mash and be just fine. 2.5L/kg mash thickness is quite the standard I reckon.
 

wsmith1625

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I think that's exactly what OP is asking, not to have full volume mash? I see no reason why he cant just do with 5-6 gal water and result in 7-8 gal volume mash and be just fine. 2.5L/kg mash thickness is quite the standard I reckon.
The less water you use in your mash, the more sparge water you will be using to hit your pre-boil volume. However, if the OP is okay with topping off in the fermenter, than he can use whatever volumes he wants. I don't like topping off with water for some reason. Not sure why, but even when I started brewing extracts, I did full volume boils going against what the recipes called for. The only downside to the full volume boil is that I got better hop utilization, so I had to use less if I wanted to follow the recommended IBUs the recipe. I never had any issue with scorching either and my light beers came out with a nice light color because of this.
 

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The less water you use in your mash, the more sparge water you will be using to hit your pre-boil volume. However, if the OP is okay with topping off in the fermenter, than he can use whatever volumes he wants. I don't like topping off with water for some reason. Not sure why, but even when I started brewing extracts, I did full volume boils going against what the recipes called for. The only downside to the full volume boil is that I got better hop utilization, so I had to use less if I wanted to follow the recommended IBUs the recipe. I never had any issue with scorching either and my light beers came out with a nice light color because of this.
It comes down to this, either sparge or top off. Both work.

+ for sparging, better hop utilization and everything in the fermenter has been boiled
+ for top off, it's simpler, you can top off with cold water to speed up chilling, and you don't have to worry about water chemistry for the sparge water as long as you don't have chlorine/chloramines in the water

- for sparging, have to move water around, yo should mind sparge water chemistry, and watch out for boilovers
- for topoff, lower hop utilization, need to ensure clean water

Me personally, I would top off. It's simpler and hop bitterness isn't a big key to NEIPA (though I don't know what the difference would be for whirlpool additions). But each their own, both will work.
 

charlesbrewer

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The less water you use in your mash, the more sparge water you will be using to hit your pre-boil volume. However, if the OP is okay with topping off in the fermenter, than he can use whatever volumes he wants. I don't like topping off with water for some reason. Not sure why, but even when I started brewing extracts, I did full volume boils going against what the recipes called for. The only downside to the full volume boil is that I got better hop utilization, so I had to use less if I wanted to follow the recommended IBUs the recipe. I never had any issue with scorching either and my light beers came out with a nice light color because of this.
OP is making a NEIPA, probably a tons of late addition and bittering is not priority. He can well boil with just mash volume if he does not bother sparging then top up with cool water in the end. Save gas, save time on both heating and cooling.
 

IslandLizard

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I'll go with my smaller volume mash and then sparge my way to my full volume boil.
Dunk sparges are more efficient than pour overs, IMO.

Use a large bucket with 1-2 gallons of water (or more) and lower your dripped out (or squeezed) grist bag in there. Dunk (bloom) a few times, raise, let drip out or squeeze.

Notes:
The sparge water can be cold or warm.
You could do a double sparge using half the volume in each sparge, for (slightly) better efficiency.
 

Spivey24

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Good point about the evaporation rate. Boiling covered will reduce evaporation a lot,
Do NOT boil 8 or 9 gallons in a 10 gallon pot covered. You WILL boil over in a heartbeat and have quite a mess. Lol. Maybe partially covered if you watch it very closely.

I do a similarly full pot where I do a true double batch ipa in a 15 gallon pot of up to 27 lbs grain. I’ll do a mash of around 1.5 qts per lb, but it will be very easy to spill over the top pulling the bag. Then a dunk sparge in a bucket. I will make up any water necessary before the boil, during the boil (by boiling a gallon of water on the stove and adding it halfway into the boil), or just at the end (which helps cooling). Its not enough percentage of the water to make a large difference in the final beer, but maybe slight. Take good notes on exactly what you did and adjust accordingly next time.

One other thing, with that much grain that bag is going to be very heavy to pull, so if you have any access to something overhead like in a garage, you will want a hoist. This will help reduce spillage too Since it gives you better control. Home Depot sells a simple locking clip hoist thing that works well and is only 12 bucks.

As you see the theme to my post, you will likely spill some wort at some point so plan accordingly. :)
 
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