First BIAB yesterday

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orono

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Yesterday was my first ever BIAB. I was like a kid on Christmas...I used my new grain mill(3 roller Malt Muncher), new electric system (Wort Hog EBC-130 with 15g BK), and already transferred to my new conical (Spike CF5). I made a Munich Helles and did my calculations off of Brewers Friend. Here are my questions:
1. Water volume was 8.39 gallons and mash (#10.5 grain bill. I did not sparge - only stirring occasionally) for 1 hr at 148*. I hit those numbers dead on! I did squeeze the bag. After mashing, my volume was still over 8 gallons. Recipe said I should have had a volume loss. I didn't really notice one. I do have a recirculating lid and pump but did not use them. Wanted to keep this first attempt as simple as possible. Is it common to not have a water volume loss after mashing? Should I mash with full volume of water?
2. Pre-boil OG was 1.042. Post boil w/hops (2oz total) OG was 1.050. Goal was 1.047 I guess that is good, correct? Is it common that the gravity increase post boil?
3. I used Wilser bags for the grains and hops. I used their pulley system to hoist the basket and bag. That worked great! IMO I had a lot of "gunk" in the bottom of my BK. Could this be from squeezing the bag? I moved the basket and bag out of the way before the boil. Should I have just let it hang there during the entire boil?
4. Post boil (1 hour boil time) wort was under 6 gallons by the markings on my BK. The recipe was to put 5.5 gallons into the fermenter. I struggled to get to 5 gallons without tilting my BK and putting way more "gunk" into the fermenter. With brewing with electric, is it common to have my "boil-off" than using propane?
5. I pitched 2 packets of Saflager 34/70 at about 10 pm last night and at 6am this morning it was already starting to bubble (coming out of the blow-off tube) in the Star San.

Lots of questions above that I am hoping will help my future BIAB's. Overall, I I consider my first BIAB a success. My process needs tweaking and with your help, I can improve.
 

Kenmoron

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1. When BIABing and squeezing I've found much less volume loss than the predictions. Just adjust your recipe/profile for the next brew.
2. Gravity will always increase from pre-boil to post-boil. Think about it, water evaporates but sugar doesn't so you have the same amount of sugar per less volume of water (i.e. more concentrated).
3. I've found BIAB to produce a bit more trub than 3-vessel brewing. This would also depend on your grain crush (crushing more fine will produce more fine particles and trub). However, crushing fine is good for efficiency. I've always felt that a bunch of trub is a good thing for yeast health and everything from my BK goes into the fermenter. It's up to you whether you let it hang or not. I've heard of people doing it both ways (you may get just a bit more liquid if you let it hang, but this might not be much if you squeezed well enough).
4. As I mentioned in 3, I put everything from my BK into my fermenter, trub (gunk) and all! It is still debated on whether you should or shouldn't, but I'm in the camp that it results in a healthy yeast ferment.
5. Is this a question? Seems like you have a nice, healthy fermentation so far! (as long as you are at your goal fermentation temps) Congrats!
 
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orono

orono

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Kenmoron,
Thank you for your reply. Yes it makes sense that post boil would have a higher gravity. Here's another question that came up during today's brew. Yes, I brewed last night and again this afternoon. That's 3 batches in two days. That's a lot for me.

We (neighbor and I) brewed 2 batches today side-by-side. One using my electric system and one using propane. During the boil, my electric system gave off way more steam than the propane one did. I noticed a lot more steam coming from my BK last night, too than I had been use to with propane.

Question: is it more common to see a lot of steam (oodles more) coming from an electric system versus a propane one?
 

brew703

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I have the same HG system as you but with the 10.5 gallon kettle. I've only brewed with it twice.
My boil off has been less with the electric like .85 gal/ hr. I'm still dialing in my system.
My strike water volume has been about 8.2 gallons compared to 8.6 gal on propane. That's with a grain bill between 11 to 14 lbs.
I transfer 5.75 gal to fermenter.
I have been circulating off and on during the mash which I find has helped with Gravity.
As for your steam question I haven't noticed more or less than using propane but I find when the humidity is high I see more steam.
 
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orono

orono

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I have the same HG system as you but with the 10.5 gallon kettle. I've only brewed with it twice.
My boil off has been less with the electric like .85 gal/ hr. I'm still dialing in my system.
My strike water volume has been about 8.2 gallons compared to 8.6 gal on propane. That's with a grain bill between 11 to 14 lbs.
I transfer 5.75 gal to fermenter.
I have been circulating off and on during the mash which I find has helped with Gravity.
As for your steam question I haven't noticed more or less than using propane but I find when the humidity is high I see more steam.
Good morning brew703,
When you say circulating during the mash, do you mean with the lid and pump? If yes, because I wanted to keep it as easy and simple I did not circulate during my mash. I just stirred the mash with a spoon several times. My LHBS told me to sparge with heated clean water but I did not do that either.

Here is a picture of the the steam coming out of my electric vs propane BK. Both boiling for reference. I ended up opening 2 doors in my shed for cooler drier air to keep the steam amount to an appropriate level.
IMG_6215.jpg
 

LittleRiver

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...Water volume was 8.39... After mashing, my volume was still over 8 gallons. Recipe said I should have had a volume loss. I didn't really notice one... Is it common to not have a water volume loss after mashing?...
You didn't say how much over 8 gallons your post mash volume measured. If it's just over 8, then you lost about a third of a gallon. That's not an insignificant volume.

...I did not sparge - only stirring occasionally... I do have a recirculating lid and pump but did not use them. Wanted to keep this first attempt as simple as possible...
That's a good plan. With fine milled grains you will be just fine without sparging, re-circulating, or stirring during the mash.

I never re-circulate. I only sparge when doing high gravity beers. I never stir during the mash, only at the beginning and the end. I consistently exceed recipe targets with this simple process.

... Should I mash with full volume of water? ...
That works very well, it's my standard procedure.

As stated above, I only sparge when doing high ABV beers. Then I mash with 50% of the water, and sparge with the other half.

... I used Wilser bags for the grains and hops. I used their pulley system to hoist the basket and bag....I had a lot of "gunk" in the bottom of my BK. Could this be from squeezing the bag? I moved the basket and bag out of the way before the boil. Should I have just let it hang there during the entire boil?...
Great choices on the bag and setting up an overhead hoist point. The overhead hoist is one of the simplest and best enhancements that can be made to a BIAB rig.

I let the bag hang over the kettle during the entire boil. Squeezing is a hot sticky mess that is best avoided. If you let gravity fully drain the bag, there will only be about a cup of liquid left in the grains. That amount is not worth the sticky mess of squeezing.

Another benefit of a gravity drain is that that the bag is cool and lightweight when it comes time to dispose of the grains.

... The recipe was to put 5.5 gallons into the fermenter. I struggled to get to 5 gallons without tilting my BK and putting way more "gunk" into the fermenter....
There are techniques for leaving more gunk in the kettle, such as whirlpooling, and there are various devices to help keep the gunk away from your drain valve. But there is no need to be afraid of the gunk. It will settle out in your fermenter.

I've done it both ways: carefully whirlpooing then trasferring as little "gunk" as possible, and dumping every last bit of gunk into the fermenter. Both beers came out tasting great, with great clarity.

Cold crashing for several days at the end of the fermentation is all I do to enhance clarity. I don't use any of the fining agents.

..Overall, I consider my first BIAB a success...
Absolutely it's a success. You did good!
 

brew703

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Did your system come with a pump? If so, just circulate it during the mash with the lid on. I throttle back the flow quite a bit during the mash. I find my wort is much clearer using the electric system. Not sure if it's due to recirculating or not.
Looks to be a decent amount of steam. Maybe my electric does produce more steam vs propane. Never really paid much attention to it and do not think it would be an issue or of any concern.
Brew Hardware makes the SteamSlayer, https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/steamslayer.htm
 

kh54s10

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The amount of steam would be different depending on several factors. For the electric producing more - was it boiling more vigorously than the propane? That would be the most likely answer. Was there a cool airflow through the space. If cool air was passing the electric one then the propane rig the cool air would produce more steam from the electric and the heated air would then keep the propane steam down.

Temperature and humidity will make the amounts of visible steam change even if boil levels were consistent. I wouldn't worry to much about that,
;
As to volumes, you will need to make adjustments to your water amounts as you dial in your system until you consistently get the proper amount into your fermenter.
 
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orono

orono

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The amount of steam would be different depending on several factors. For the electric producing more - was it boiling more vigorously than the propane?
Both BK's looked to be boiling equally.

Was there a cool airflow through the space. If cool air was passing the electric one then the propane rig the cool air would produce more steam from the electric and the heated air would then keep the propane steam down.
Yes there was cool air after I opened 2 doors in the shed. I was thinking that the BK using propane had less amounts of visible steam because of the warm air coming up around the BK off of the burner. However, there was visually "less steam" inside the BK on propane, too

Temperature and humidity will make the amounts of visible steam change even if boil levels were consistent. I wouldn't worry to much about that
I'm not too terribly worried about the liquid loss during the boil. I just thought that it was very odd to have both BK's reacting differently given that all other variables were equal.

As to volumes, you will need to make adjustments to your water amounts as you dial in your system until you consistently get the proper amount into your fermenter.
Great advice. You are correct that I need more BIAB experience to make necessary adjustments. I imagine "fine tuning" will be necessary for some time to come...if not perpetual
 
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orono

orono

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You didn't say how much over 8 gallons your post mash volume measured. If it's just over 8, then you lost about a third of a gallon. That's not an insignificant volume
Did you mean to say not an insignificant amount? If yes, I interpret that to say "You lost a significant amount." Is 1/3 of a gallon a lot to lose post mash?



With fine milled grains you will be just fine without sparging, re-circulating, or stirring during the mash.

I never re-circulate. I only sparge when doing high gravity beers. I never stir during the mash, only at the beginning and the end. I consistently exceed recipe targets with this simple process.
I'll attach a picture of my milled grains. Please give me your opinion about if they are milled fine enough. Also, what do you consider or what in general is considered a high gravity beer? Plus, I'll try your stirring at the beginning and end of the mash.
IMG_6214.jpg



As stated above, I only sparge when doing high ABV beers. Then I mash with 50% of the water, and sparge with the other half.
Good idea with half water mashing and half sparging. Do you heat your sparge water? If yes, to what temp?



Great choices on the bag and setting up an overhead hoist point. The overhead hoist is one of the simplest and best enhancements that can be made to a BIAB rig.

I let the bag hang over the kettle during the entire boil. Squeezing is a hot sticky mess that is best avoided. If you let gravity fully drain the bag, there will only be about a cup of liquid left in the grains. That amount is not worth the sticky mess of squeezing.

Another benefit of a gravity drain is that that the bag is cool and lightweight when it comes time to dispose of the grains.
Pulley was a great idea. I did squeeze and I didn't think it was all that sticky. I used insulated rubber gloves. I didn't measure the volume that came out of squeezing but I thought it was worth my time.


There are techniques for leaving more gunk in the kettle, such as whirlpooling, and there are various devices to help keep the gunk away from your drain valve. But there is no need to be afraid of the gunk. It will settle out in your fermenter.

I've done it both ways: carefully whirlpooing then trasferring as little "gunk" as possible, and dumping every last bit of gunk into the fermenter. Both beers came out tasting great, with great clarity.

Cold crashing for several days at the end of the fermentation is all I do to enhance clarity. I don't use any of the fining agents.
I appreciate your responses. I did whirlpool and let sit for 10 minutes. In the future I will probably transfer everything into my CF5 until I reach the appropriate level and let the "gunk" settle to the bottom. After all, that's one of the reasons you use a conical. I did use whirlfloc and I have generally fined my beers with gelatin. Plus I cold crash in my fermentation chamber or keezer.



Absolutely it's a success. You did good!
I agree it was a success. Thanks! This hobby is very much like others I have. We are usually harder and more excessively critical of ourselves than others are. Now I just hope that this beer tastes good! Feel free to stop by for a beer(s) but don't forget your snowshovel!
 
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kh54s10

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What I was thinking was that if the cool air was passing by the electric BK first it would show a lot of steam. If that somewhat heated air then went past the propane BK, there should be less steam. The electric element internal to the kettle would make most of the heat go through the wort. The heat going around the outside of the propane BK may lessen the steam. IDK, I am not up on my physics, chemistry, etc. to really know - just hypothesizing.
 

Kenmoron

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Since you have two different systems it makes sense that the "steam" would be different. Your propane and electric systems are not putting out an identical amount of energy. If you have the option to reduce the power output on your electric system you very well could, but it isn't required. Just keep track of all your losses and make adjustments with each successive brew. Most people lose around 1 gal for a 60 min boil. This depends on the diameter of your kettle, ambient temp/humidity/wind, and your heat output. I lose about 0.5 gal on my stovetop 3 gal batch setup in a 5 gal kettle. If all of those factors remain the same for each brew it will get very easy to anticipate your losses.

In regards to circulating your wort during the mash, as long as you are happy with your efficiency there may be no need to. I've heard of some people getting better efficiency with recirculation but I've also heard of people getting worse efficiency with recirculation. I think it is theorized to be due to rate of flow (want to recirculate slow), temp swings during the recirculation, and crush size (may want to go slightly more coarse if recirculating otherwise your grain bed may get too compacted). With BIAB we are trying to keep things simple...so I say crush fine and don't worry about recirculation. Also, don't stir any more frequently than 15 min...want to keep temps stable.
 

LittleRiver

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Did you mean to say not an insignificant amount? If yes, I interpret that to say "You lost a significant amount."...
In your initial post you were saying you didn't lose a lot of water to the grains. But the numbers you were giving left room for there to be up to about 1/3 gallon. If it was that much, I would say that's a significant amount.

... my milled grains. Please give me your opinion about if they are milled fine enough. Also, what do you consider or what in general is considered a high gravity beer?
Your grind looks pretty good. I keep my mill gap set to .025", and get great efficiency without sparging.

If the target OG is about 1.070 or above, I consider that high gravity. That's when I'll sparge, and definitely do a yeast starter (or if I'm using a saved yeast slurry, pitch an extra amount of it).

... Good idea with half water mashing and half sparging. Do you heat your sparge water?...
I can't take credit for the 50/50% idea, I picked it up here on HBT. I've sparged with both hot and cold water, both work equally well. If I plan to use hot water I'll heat the whole volume up to strike temp, then drain half of it into a bucket. Last time I sparged I just used water coming out of my hose (RV type potable water hose).

Here's the easiest way I've found to do a BIAB sparge:
  • Mash with half of the total water, drain the wort into a bucket. Leave the bag and grains in place.
  • Add the second half of the water to the grains and stir.
  • Raise the bag and tie it off, fire the heat for the boil, pour the bucket of wort into the kettle. Leave the bag hanging over the kettle during the entire boil.
...I didn't measure the volume that came out of squeezing but I thought it was worth my time...
It was worth your time only because you were squeezing a bag that was not fully drained. Let gravity fully drain it and you can skip the squeeze. You still can squeeze if you want to, and you will get some liquid out, but to me the amount is so small it does not justify the effort involved.
 
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