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First BIAB batch- may have a huge problem

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Dan_K

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I brewed my first BIAB with my new system. I failed in many ways.

Batch Details:
11 lbs American 2-row
2 lbs Light Munich 10L
1.75 lbs Rolled Oats (old fashioned)
1.5 lbs UK Pale Chocolate
1.0 lbs Roasted Barley
1.0 lbs Flaked Barley
1.0 lbs Crystal 60
0.5 lbs Carafa II
19.75 lbs

Attempting 5.0 gallons of wort at 1.095 OG

Initial Setup was 8.0 gallons of water (might have been 7.5 gal), heated it to 165, dumped in my grains and stirred. Looked like 155 after mash-in, but 20 minutes later I checked and the thermometer read 160. Was stirring like crazy trying to get temp down, eventually added some ice to try and cool it down. Got down to 153 at 50 minutes in. Decided at 65 minutes I was done.

Then I put it back on the burner and got the temp up to 170 before killing the flame and withdrawing the bag. Had a lot of problems getting water out of the BIAB. I tried to follow the guide at the top, the difference being I don’t have a steel basket for my BIAB, and I don’t have a pully system. Both of those would have been very helpful.
I did not take a pre-boil gravity reading or volume measurement. (I don't have a way to do so). I boiled for 90 minutes, chilled, and poured into the fermenter. At this point I realized I had about 3.5 gallons in the fermenter.

Even though I was attempting a no-sparge BIAB, I really should have sparged, I really needed that extra water to raise my volume and extract the last of the sugars still in there. Even 10 minutes after I started boiling I was able to get a little bit of very thick, syrupy malts out of my BIAB by squeezing it tightly.

My diagnosis: grain bed was too compact (add rice hulls?), initial water volume may have been 7.5 gallons instead of 8, need more equipment to make this work better (basket and hoist), and would have benefitted from a sparge in this case. I also need a way to measure my kettle volume. I also need a better thermometer than my free-mercury floating thermometer that I was using.

Potential Problems:
1) Mash temp was too high. Beer will finish too high.
2) Calculated IBU, with the reduced yield, is exceptionally high (118)

#2 is a big problem. With a calculated IBU of 118, I may have 35 bottles of undrinkable beer.

One potential solution would be to brew 1-2 gallons of this beer with a lower IBU, ferment it out, and blend it in the bottling bucket to form a blend with the proper IBU. I figure 2 gallons with 40-50 IBU would balance out 3 gallons at 118. Thoughts?
 

TheMadKing

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Ok first of all congrats on finishing your first batch.. all seems SNAFU to me!!

Problems I see:

-You need a digital thermometer, mercury floaters just don't respond fast enough to judge mash temp
-You need a pulley system, especially with a giant grain bill like that. I usually hang my bag over my kettle for 20-30 minutes as it's coming up to a boil, then squeeze a little. You don't need rice hulls for BIAB ever. I used Paracord and a cheap pulley on a screw-in bike hook from walmart for years, worked great and cost about $5. I've never used a basket, but it seems excessive to me.
-A grain bill that big does usually benefit from a dunk sparge, and because your kettle volume likely can't hold it
-There was no reason to do a 90 minute boil that I can see

My diagnosis: You couldn't physically hold the bag and squeeze it enough to get the water out with a grain bill that big, and you boiled too long.

My solution: you'll likely be fine but have a very very thick beer. I would honestly just add boiled and cooled water to bring it up to your desired volume. You probably have a very high OG with that much boil off, and if you add water you will still end up with a 1.065 to 1.05 stout which is very respectable

I don't think the IBU's will be an issue.. same amount of grain, just different amount of water. So unless you missed your OG significantly, you shouldn't have deviated from the original IBU's much.
 

ong

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What were you attempting for IBUs? I'm assuming this is an imperial stout, but I would add that you've used an awful lot of specialty grains, including a lot of roasted.
 

petrolSpice

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What did your OG end up being? As mentioned, I would just add water to the fermenter to reach your desired volume or OG.

Ditch the mercury thermometer. If you break it in your beer you will ruin the whole batch.

Also you don't need to "mash out" with BIAB. This is more for the guys with normal mash tuns to thin the mash and stop conversion. To stop conversion with BIAB we simply lift the bag out.

You also don't need to sparge. Yes it will add a few points to your efficiency, but is offset by the extra time, equipment, and complexity. You would only need to sparge if your kettle is too small to hold all of the water and grains. I typically underestimate efficiency so I can add water to get the correct SG, I'm happy to have more beer than less assuming my fermenter can hold it.

Essentially you need to streamline the process a little bit, brew a few batches, and you'll begin to dial in the process and be able to hit OG and volume pretty close. Even after 10 BIAB batches or so I don't hit OG or volume exactly. But I measure these along the way and make the corrections (add water and/or DME) to get back on track.
 

wilserbrewer

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Well you may just be surprised and end up with some palatable beer, I haven't lost hope and neither should you at this point.

You set the bar high for your first AG. A smaller grain bill without the oats would have likely been a bit easier.

A ratchet pulley is extremely handy part of bag management allowing you to slowly raise and click lock as it comes up, and drains as you go without having to hold it.

A few marks in your brew spoon will allow you to monitor volume as you go, so no surprises post boil.

Better luck next time. Cheers
 
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Dan_K

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It's an Imperial Stout yes. I actually overshot the OG by a little bit. My OG was 1.103 I believe, I initially read 1.108 and I was having trouble with the hydrometer sticking to the sides of the tube with the thick/syrupy wort.

Target OG was 1.097
Target IBU was 80

I think the extra time heating to 170, plus the extended boil, didn't do me any favors. I also wonder if the flaked grains retained a lot of water.

I know it's an ambitious recipe for first BIAB, but I wanted to get my imperial stout done and bulk aging before it gets super cold and I want to be drinking said beer.
 

Aristotelian

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My advice is start out with a simple 1.060 beer that will be edible regardless of whether you are off by 10 or 20 points. Better to keep everything as simple as possible for a new system. Once you get a sense of your efficiency, then you can start to tweak your process and work your way up to bigger and more complex recipes.

As for IBU and volume, could you top off with some sanitized water? That would get your volume up and IBUs down. You might end up under your target gravity but I think you would end up with a better beer.

I would not be too worried about mash temp. 153 seems about right for a big malty beer like that. The mash temp does not affect your SG as much as your FG. The overall sugars are about the same, but you will end up with a maltier wort due to more unfermentable sugars. I think the bigger factor in missing your target was the volume. You definitely want to sparge or even top off with plain water.
 

TheMadKing

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It's an Imperial Stout yes. I actually overshot the OG by a little bit. My OG was 1.103 I believe, I initially read 1.108 and I was having trouble with the hydrometer sticking to the sides of the tube with the thick/syrupy wort.

Target OG was 1.097
Target IBU was 80

I think the extra time heating to 170, plus the extended boil, didn't do me any favors. I also wonder if the flaked grains retained a lot of water.

I know it's an ambitious recipe for first BIAB, but I wanted to get my imperial stout done and bulk aging before it gets super cold and I want to be drinking said beer.
You should be absolutely fine just adding water to increase volume then, no problems at all! You're going to need a helluva yeast to eat all that sugar though. I would also pitch a huge amount, and ramp the temperature up as fermentation slows to boost yeast metabolism.
 

cegan09

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I'd recommend a dunk or rinse sparge, especially for a beer that big. I do one because my 8.5 gallon kettle can't hold full volume mashes with BIAB, and it helps grab the rest of the sugars out of the removed grains.

You don't need a pulley system, though it helps. My "sparge" setup is a 5 gallon bucket with a ton of holes in the bottom that I set into my 6.5 gallon bottling bucket. Pull grain bag, place in top bucket. Let it drain a little, then pour the top up "sparge" water over the grains to rinse them. Drain the collected wort into the kettle. Helps me make larger batches in my limited equipment, as well as squeeze a few extra points of efficiency from the mash.
 
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Dan_K

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You should be absolutely fine just adding water to increase volume then, no problems at all! You're going to need a helluva yeast to eat all that sugar though. I would also pitch a huge amount, and ramp the temperature up as fermentation slows to boost yeast metabolism.
I used a 3L starter for what turned out to be 3.5-4 gallons of wort. I hope I have enough yeast. Think I can / should add some boiled and cooled water to my fermenter now, 4 days into fermentation?
 

TheMadKing

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I used a 3L starter for what turned out to be 3.5-4 gallons of wort. I hope I have enough yeast. Think I can / should add some boiled and cooled water to my fermenter now, 4 days into fermentation?
Yep, it shouldn't hurt anything, just make sure you make the temperature match the beer temp as closely as you can. You don't want to thermally shock your yeast.
 

PADave

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My advice is start out with a simple 1.060 beer that will be edible regardless of whether you are off by 10 or 20 points. Better to keep everything as simple as possible for a new system. Once you get a sense of your efficiency, then you can start to tweak your process and work your way up to bigger and more complex recipes.
X2 Keep it simple for trying out a new system.
 

bigplunkett

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When i use to biab i eould dunk sparge at 175 or so right ehen it was done so it mashes out at the same time help get all the dugars out its bern a ehile im sure theres a way to figure the temp out. Also the few times i did big beers on that system i made it 1070 then bumped it the rest with some light dme. I had s hard time with biab any higher then 1070
 

STMF

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When i use to biab i eould dunk sparge at 175 or so right ehen it was done so it mashes out at the same time help get all the dugars out its bern a ehile im sure theres a way to figure the temp out. Also the few times i did big beers on that system i made it 1070 then bumped it the rest with some light dme. I had s hard time with biab any higher then 1070
What?
 
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Dan_K

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I pulled a sample yesterday. 10 days in. Gravity is at 1.044 right now, which is about 18 points too high. However, I did get a chance to taste the beer, and it tastes good, even flat and 65 degrees. Loads of chocolate flavor and some roast, hops are pretty heavy but not overpowering. So in essence, RDWHAH.

I am considering transferring to secondary and/or pitching another smackpack of yeast to try and bring the grav down a little more. My buddy said it takes time- I'm just not sure how healthy the yeast are at this point.
 
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Dan_K

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Took a gravity reading last night. 1.049. I don't know how the grav supposedly went up. Anyway, I'm officially stuck. I pitched some yeast nutrient and WLP0090 San Diego Super Yeast. No activity after 6 hours. I am going to move it to a warmer area today when I get home from work.

Tasted 2 samples yesterday. It tastes pretty good, almost like a dark barleywine. I can't believe how much I like it considering the grav is at least 20 points too high. It doesn't taste real boozy, it's about 7% right now. Tons of chocolate, some roast, and a bit of hops flavor with quite a bit of bitterness to balance it out.
 

TheMadKing

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Took a gravity reading last night. 1.049. I don't know how the grav supposedly went up. Anyway, I'm officially stuck. I pitched some yeast nutrient and WLP0090 San Diego Super Yeast. No activity after 6 hours. I am going to move it to a warmer area today when I get home from work.
Gravity can't go up, so either your beer temperature was different from the calibration of your hydrometer (usually either 60 or 68F), or your beer has CO2 in it.

Either way it sounds like your beer might be done if it hasn't moved in this long, this batch may be a sickly-sweet dumper, I'm sorry to say :(
 
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Dan_K

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I pitched some WLP0090 San Diego Super Yeast. No additional activity.
(should have make another starter and pitched at high krausen)

So here's the list of issues that most likely lead to this:
  1. Mash Temp too high
  2. Didn't test for conversion
  3. Too many adjuncts (although diastatic power was fine)
  4. Poor Oxygenation
  5. Fermentation temp a bit too low
  6. Possibly need more yeast cells than I pitched.

The real question is can I overcome these issues next time. If I make 2 bad batches in a row, that will kill a lot of my enthusiasm for brewing.
 

Atlmustang

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Whew....lots going on here. First, let me start with the simple. I brew 5 gallon BIAB. My grain bill is normally about 14-15 pounds. You had 5 more pounds of grain that I use, which is expected from this imperial, but you only used 7.5-8 gallons of strike water. I typically use 8.5 gallons of water for my 14-15 pound grain bill. With a nearly 20 pound grain bill, I might expect a 9.5-10 gallon volume for your mash. I think you ended up a tad short due to grain loss. That's definitely a big grain bill for a 5 gallon batch and probably should have compensated with additional strike water.

Also, that's lots of sugar for a single pitch. What yeast did you use? Normally for a 1.060 OG beer for 5 gallons I use one packet of US-05 on my ales. For this one, I would have pitched 2 packets to ensure proper attenuation. You may have stressed the yeast with all of that sugar.
 
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Dan_K

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I pitched a 3L starter initially. I later (2 weeks later) pitched the envelope of White Labs yeast straight from the package after warming it up to room temp.

10 gallon pot- I guess I can't reasonably brew with 20 lbs of grain in that instance.
 

Atlmustang

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Well...it's not out of the realm of possibility to do a fly sparge. You could get a strainer and set inside of a large pot such that the bottom of the strainer doesn't touch the bottom of the pot. Heat 1 to 1.5 gallons of water to 170 and run the water over the grains (Still in the bag) and you should be able to yield a running to make up the difference in wort. That could be a way to extract additional sugar and ensure you have enough to yield a 5 gallon batch.
 

parrothead64

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I have a chin up bar in my garage that has been used much more for beer than chin ups. One time I was brewing in my back yard so I used a ladder and a broom. Put the ladder through the handles on the bag, lean it on a step of the ladder and lift the broom up on your shoulder. Much easier than holding the bag. Have a garbage bag in your hand put the bag in when your done. I also agree that you need more water. Try using beer smith or another calculator.
 
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Dan_K

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I think the main problem was high mash temp, secondary problem was poor oxygenation.
Oak-Aged Chocolate Frosted Sugar bombs finished at 1.050 (the real TenFidy haha)
Liquid Diabeetus finished at 1.046
 

Kaz

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I mainly do 5 gallon BIAB batches in a 15.5gal keggle. When doing grain bills this large, I've found it helpful to break the grains up into 2 or even better 3 bags. This makes the weight more manageable and you have an easier time squeezing them out. As for the other issues, it can be a real fight to get accurate measurement equipment that you can trust. I've gone through my fair share of thermometers and hydrometers until I found ones that I like.
 
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Dan_K

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I poured 1 gallon of my bottles back into a 1 gallon jug with some Amalayse enzyme. It's taken several days just to decarb the beer and I have seen no indication of fermentation to this point. We'll see.
 

doug293cz

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I poured 1 gallon of my bottles back into a 1 gallon jug with some Amalayse enzyme. It's taken several days just to decarb the beer and I have seen no indication of fermentation to this point. We'll see.
Have you been monitoring SG after adding amylase? Don't expect to see active fermentation like you would with fresh wort. The amylase works slowly at fermentation temperatures, so there will never be large amounts of sugar for the yeast to eat at any particular time.

Brew on :mug:
 

NSMikeD

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re measuring volume: A thin dowel, a cheap tape measure and excel.

Measure the height and diameter of your kettle (I prefer to use cm since the smaller units require no guessing). Volume = H*R^2*π π=3.142

I pre plug my kettle numbers into the spreadsheet (I plug my kettle volume into beermith) and then do another row so I can plug in the H that I measure with the dip stick. I have columns that automatically covert the liters into quarts and gallons for quick reference.

No need to sanitize the dip stick pre boil, but spray it for your final volume numbers. Evaporation rates can vary among equipment and location and with this method you can quickly and efficiently decide if you need to lengthen your boil or add water.

Overfilling a fermenter with diluted beer is no fun (not to mention messy) as is coming up short.
 
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Dan_K

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I bought a cheap wooden yardstick from Ace Hardware. The numbers appear to be "dyed" on and not painted. It's doing the trick so far. I calculated my kettle volume to be 1.55" per gallon.
 
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