Biab vs extract

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weeple2000

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Could anyone comment on how long it would take to brew full boil extracts vs biab? A guy at my lhbs suggested extracts instead of biab.
 

Kharnynb

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full boil extract will take at the minimum 1 hour or so less, as you have no mash-time.

But i've never seen the point of full-boil extract, it's such a small step from just going full-on biab.
 

kh54s10

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A typical ale:
Full boil extracts, ingredient prep, boil for an hour, chill, then clean up.
BIAB, ingredient prep, mash for an hour, sparge if necessary, boil for an hour, chill, then clean up.

So, the difference is the mash time, usually one hour and any sparge time, (varies with procedure). Add at least 1 to 1 1/2 hour
 

mkyl428

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The nice thing about mashing is it gives you time to do everything else you need to go to setup your brewday measuring hops, cleaning equipment, etc.

Once my grain is in the mash I am free for an hour or so to do everything else all I have to do is stir and check the temp every now and then.

I don't think it will add much cleanup to your brewday to do BIAB either since it is all done in the kettle, the only additional cleaning is the bag, which is easy, I throw mine in the washing machine with no soap and hot water.

AG is nice too because of the variability you have with your recipes that you just don't get with extract. Not that extract is bad, there is just more you can do with AG.

I started out AG BIAB and skipped extract entirely, it was a bit of a learning curve, but it was worth it and I have yet do produce a beer I couldn't drink!
 

MaxStout

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Curious...why did the LHBS guy recommend extract brewing?

For BIAB, you can expect your brew day to be about an hour longer than with an extract brew.
 
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weeple2000

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Curious...why did the LHBS guy recommend extract brewing?

For BIAB, you can expect your brew day to be about an hour longer than with an extract brew.
He mentioned issues with sparging, squeezing the bag producing off flavors, I can't remember everything. I feel like a lot of that stuff people probably have different opinions about. I was just curious if I'd save time to make it more worthwhile.
 

theseeker4

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He mentioned issues with sparging, squeezing the bag producing off flavors, I can't remember everything. I feel like a lot of that stuff people probably have different opinions about. I was just curious if I'd save time to make it more worthwhile.
I did two extract brews first, then went to BIAB. I wouldn't go back to extract even if it saved be 3 hours per brew day (which it wouldn't). Nothing is wrong with extract, but to me, the enjoyment of going from actual grain to beer makes the time and effort worth while. Even if the extract brews I made were as good as the all grain, I still would rather go through the all-grain process, because to me it feels more like I am making the beer from scratch.

The squeezing producing off flavors is a myth, and if you don't mind the hit in efficiency, you don't have to sparge BIAB at all (in fact it was created to be a no-sparge method). If you have the time and patience, and the interest in doing the extra work, I would definitely go with BIAB.
 

kh54s10

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He mentioned issues with sparging, squeezing the bag producing off flavors, I can't remember everything. I feel like a lot of that stuff people probably have different opinions about. I was just curious if I'd save time to make it more worthwhile.
Just from the statement that squeezing the bag causing off flavors makes me suggest that you don't take too much stock in that guy's advice. Squeezing the grain should make no difference in the final product.

All grain does take longer but gives you more control over what ingredients go into your beer. You never know what ingredients and in what proportions the extract is made from.

If time is your main concern you need to stick with extract. If you enjoy creative control and the processes of making the beer without concern for the extra time all grain is nice. But it is all about enjoying the hobby and making BEER! So whichever you do is great.
 

ACbrewer

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I don't think that the squeezing of the grain bag is the problem. The astringency comes from high temps on the grain - that is over typical mash temps. And it happens with extract brewing also, if you use grains. Basically the higher temps cause tanins (bitterness) to come out of the grains - much like a tea.

The answer is to pull your grain before you crank up to boiling.

I'm not aware of other items of difficulty from the squeezed bag - other than it is really hot.
 

chickypad

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My guess would be the lhbs guy has never brewed BIAB before. IME most folks who have bad things to say about it have not actually tried it. In his defense, if you were asking strictly about time then extract would probably be the way to go. I can tell you that for overall ease as well as length of brewday I find smallish (3-5 gal) stovetop BIAB to be awesome. Some of that is just batch size but some is definitely related to technique. I've also got the big 3 vessel system but I now brew BIAB 2-3 times more often than those batches.
 

chickypad

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What are your biab sparging methods? How much water do you use?
Many folks do full volume mash with BIAB - no sparge. I can't usually fit that in my pot so I do a dunk batch sparge. If you decide to try it priceless has a good calculator here.
 

MaxStout

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He mentioned issues with sparging, squeezing the bag producing off flavors, I can't remember everything. I feel like a lot of that stuff people probably have different opinions about. I was just curious if I'd save time to make it more worthwhile.
With BIAB, sparging is not necessary. Mash, remove bag and let it drain into the kettle, then bring to a boil.

The fear of off-flavors (tannins) from squeezing the bag has been debunked long ago. You get tannins from over sparging (not an issue with BIAB), sparge water too hot, or mash pH that is too high. You can squeeze the grain bag like it owes you money and you won't get tannin off-flavors from it.

The bottom line is...you can make great beer with extract or BIAB. Extract brewing does take less time and if time is an issue for you, that may be the best option.
 

Jim311

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Extract can make chilling easier too since you can do a partial boil and top up with 2+ gallons of very cold water to bring the wort temp down. I've only brewed a couple BIAB recipes so far but I much prefer the flavor to the extract versions I've made. That could be having a year or so of experience under my belt now, though.
 

obie

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Extract is for time, All Grain is for cost. If you can spare an extra hour All Grain is the way to go
 
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Whatever you do, don't take a pipe wrench to the head of the LHBS guy. Let me do that :)

I still do extracts on occasion, mostly if I am pressed for time or have a kit that I really like, but I almost always BIAB and it is no hassle, makes great beer and does not take much longer than a kit with grains.
 

kh54s10

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if you are really pressed for time and don't care about making great beer you can do prehopped extract. Just stir in the extract, add the yeast, and wait.... Yuck! :p
 
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weeple2000

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My guess would be the lhbs guy has never brewed BIAB before. IME most folks who have bad things to say about it have not actually tried it. In his defense, if you were asking strictly about time then extract would probably be the way to go. I can tell you that for overall ease as well as length of brewday I find smallish (3-5 gal) stovetop BIAB to be awesome. Some of that is just batch size but some is definitely related to technique. I've also got the big 3 vessel system but I now brew BIAB 2-3 times more often than those batches.
That's an interesting perspective. I thought he said he had done a few batches BIAB though. I didn't ask about time, I was just thinking that if the general consensus was against BIAB perhaps time would be an additional reason to switch to extracts after what he was saying. He suggested extracts rather than BIAB.

I have an electric stove, and I shudder to think about how long it would take to get water up to the correct temperature. It's something to consider though.
 
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weeple2000

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Extract is for time, All Grain is for cost. If you can spare an extra hour All Grain is the way to go
Even if you aren't buying grain in bulk? 2.10 per lb of Maris Otter seems like its still expensive.
 

chickypad

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I have an electric stove, and I shudder to think about how long it would take to get water up to the correct temperature. It's something to consider though.
But you're going to have the same problem with full boil extract batches. So options would be partial boil (usually extract, but I also do some partial boil all grain batches), full boil with smaller batch sizes, heat stick, or outdoor burner.
 

slym2none

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if you are really pressed for time and don't care about making great beer you can do prehopped extract. Just stir in the extract, add the yeast, and wait.... Yuck! :p
Hopped malt extracts have come a long way since they started out. When Coopers took over Mr. Beer, the HME cans got bigger, using more malt, and they gave a fair amount of yeast to go with it. There are a few HMEs that have fans, and the MrB craft series ones, as well as their seasonal ones, are all 3 pounds or more of HME, and many of them make beer that is far from "Yuck!"

:)
 

kh54s10

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Hopped malt extracts have come a long way since they started out. When Coopers took over Mr. Beer, the HME cans got bigger, using more malt, and they gave a fair amount of yeast to go with it. There are a few HMEs that have fans, and the MrB craft series ones, as well as their seasonal ones, are all 3 pounds or more of HME, and many of them make beer that is far from "Yuck!"

:)
Well I have never done one. Never will, so????
 

FatDragon

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What are your biab sparging methods? How much water do you use?
I do 23L/six gallon BIAB in a 35L/nine gallon kettle. I use two identical 25L buckets for measuring and grinding grain, and a third has holes drilled in the bottom for draining the grain bag. After a 20-22L mash (volumes dependent on grain bill), I hold the bag over the kettle for a couple minutes for an initial drain, then put it in the drilled bucket, which is nestled in one of the grain buckets. I do two 4-5L sparges by pouring water (sometimes hot, sometimes cold, no real method to it, both give roughly the same results but hot sparge water saves a bit of time reaching the boil while cold water saves your hands some grief if you're squeezing the bag manually) over the still-open grain bag, where it proceeds to drain into the grain bucket. I switch the draining bucket between grain buckets as needed, pouring the sparged wort into the kettle whenever I switch. When the second sparge is drained, I use a nylon potato masher kind've like this to squeeze the grain a bit more. During the whole sparge process, which usually takes 15-20 minutes, I'm also running a flame under the kettle to work up to the boil and doing other assorted tasks like measuring my hops if I haven't already done so.

I find sparging my BIAB brews gives me better efficiency and allows me to do bigger grainbills without buying a bigger kettle, and it doesn't extend the brewday (well, cold sparging adds 5-10 minutes to the time it takes to reach a boil), so I like it. It also makes me spend a bit more time hands-on with the brewing process, which I like.
 
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Owly055

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Clearly TIME is the issue here. YOU CAN make good beer from extract.... Some folks love to "bully" people into the idea that you are not a real brewer unless you go all grain. I brew all grain, but recognize that with the kind of beer I brew which tends to be heavily hopped, it really doesn't make any difference.

I've cut my brew day down drastically, by developing a system for a 20-30 minute mash, rapid heating and cooling methods. I was able to achieve a 2.5 hour start to finish including clean up (grain pre-crushed). Most all grain brewers are looking at in excess of 4 hours. I no longer "race the clock" ...... I plan things to fit my schedule so I can multi task, and sometimes leave a mash from noon until about 6 pm...... or even over night. The trick really is to break up the tasks so they fit with your schedule. I recently brewed a beer that was intended to be an "afternoon mash" to be finished in the evening.....It rolled over to the next morning due to "circumstances".......the beer was excellent.

The point is that you need NOT be locked into one way of doing things. Do what works for you.


H.W.
 

RM-MN

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If you do an extract batch with steeping grains or BIAB with grains that are milled fine so you can get by with a 30 minute mash, extract and all grain (BIAB) will take exactly the same time but the dollars amount will be different.
 

FlyDoctor

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If time is a real issue, you can make a good hoppy pale ale with extract, some steeping grains, and a 15 minute boil. Some have, reportedly, even won competitions with that recipe! With a good fermentation, it comes out great.

Search for the "15 minute pale ale" thread, but essentially you "hop burst" by loading more hops added at 15, 5, and 0, and the extract has already need boiled - and only needs a short boil for sterilization.

Also - totally agree with all others - there is nothing wrong with extract - as long as it's fresh. If your buying from a small local HBS, go with dry. If you shopping from a large online seller that goes through extract quickly, then LME is great and expands your options.

The apparent issue, aside from bad extract, with extract brewing is often that people brewing extract (often beginners) have not learned many of the associated fermentation techniques required to make good beer. A temp controlled fermentation with proper pitch rate - added to a wort made with fresh extract - will give you every bit a good beer as the same recipe made AG.
 

slym2none

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Until my post, that is. Which you then sorta crapped all over.

:(
 

kh54s10

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Until my post, that is. Which you then sorta crapped all over.

:(
I will agree that prehopped extracts are better than they were. And they do fill a niche. But, I need more proof that they are on par with good extract with fresh hops, Partial mash, or all grain.

Of all the "my beer isn't good", Mr. Beer and similar seem to account for a large percentage of those.

Of course this is my opinion, If you want a hobby why settle for the entry level. Again my opinion.
 

slym2none

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Everyone has to start somewhere, and sometimes it is MrBeer that does it.

I imagine if you had given all those people even an extract kit instead of an HME, some would give up before starting. Some would probably make just as bad of beer, because it is their first time.

Can you imagine those same noobs with an AG kit? Double the amount would make bad beer their first time, and feel like a failed mad scientist.

:)
 
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