first time biab

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fatsputin

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Hello all
I have been brewing for about a year, extract only until this week. I did my first BIAB recipe, 3 gallon batch consisting of
-4lb rahr 2-row malt
-4oz briess caramel 60L
-4oz biscuit malt
0.5 oz citra at 60 min.
I put all of my grains in my bag, lowered in kettle and kept at 156 for 1 hr in 1.5 gallons of water, removed grains, let drip for about 15 min. I then added 2 gallons of water and boiled for 60 min, ended up with just under 3 gallons. I took a hydrometer reading while at 90 degrees (using kveik yeast) and found it to be about 1.01 before correcting for temp. Can anyone explain to me where i went wrong? it appears to be fermenting despite the low s.g. i got, so maybe my hydrometer isnt calibrated correctly?
 

DBhomebrew

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I then added 2 gallons of water
Straight to the kettle? Or as a 'sparge'?

Using the 2gal as a straight kettle dilution does exactly that. If used as a sparge (added to the drained grain, mixed up, then drained again) you'd be rinsing more sugar from the grain mass.
 

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You don't say how the grains were milled, and I don't want to offend, but were they milled?
 

marc1

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Hello all
I have been brewing for about a year, extract only until this week. I did my first BIAB recipe, 3 gallon batch consisting of
-4lb rahr 2-row malt
-4oz briess caramel 60L
-4oz biscuit malt
0.5 oz citra at 60 min.
I put all of my grains in my bag, lowered in kettle and kept at 156 for 1 hr in 1.5 gallons of water, removed grains, let drip for about 15 min. I then added 2 gallons of water and boiled for 60 min, ended up with just under 3 gallons. I took a hydrometer reading while at 90 degrees (using kveik yeast) and found it to be about 1.01 before correcting for temp. Can anyone explain to me where i went wrong? it appears to be fermenting despite the low s.g. i got, so maybe my hydrometer isnt calibrated correctly?
Also, how loose was the bag? Could the grains float freely in the water? Or were they in a tight ball in the bag?
 

wsmith1625

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I ran your numbers through Priceless BIAB calculator and if you did a 2 gal. sparge at 168 degrees, you post boil gravity would have been around 1.050. I'm guessing your did not do a sparge.
 
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fatsputin

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Also, how loose was the bag? Could the grains float freely in the water? Or were they in a tight ball in the bag?
The grains were ordered crushed from northern brewer, and the bag wasnt super compact, had enough room that some grains were freely floating on the top. Im using a 4 gal electric kettle however, so there wasn't a ton of room either.
 
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fatsputin

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I ran your numbers through Priceless BIAB calculator and if you did a 2 gal. sparge at 168 degrees, you post boil gravity would have been around 1.050. I'm guessing your did not do a sparge.
I did not sparge. I suppose that i should have as the grain bill was probably a little light. 1.036 estimated OG using the brewer's friend recipe calculator
 
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fatsputin

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Straight to the kettle? Or as a 'sparge'?

Using the 2gal as a straight kettle dilution does exactly that. If used as a sparge (added to the drained grain, mixed up, then drained again) you'd be rinsing more sugar from the grain mass.
From my own research prior to attempting my brew i had thought that when you put your bag of grains in the kettle it shouldn't be at the full boil volume, even if you aren't sparging. IDK why that would be that case but i had thought i read that. Is that wrong?
 

TestTickle

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This probably won't quite explain the whole issue, but always put the bag in the kettle of strike water and stir in your grains. If you added them to the bag and then lowered the bag in, you most likely had a lot of clumping going on, preventing a lot of the grain from being exposed to the water and therefore preventing proper conversion from happening.
 

marc1

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The grains were ordered crushed from northern brewer, and the bag wasnt super compact, had enough room that some grains were freely floating on the top. Im using a 4 gal electric kettle however, so there wasn't a ton of room either.
You want your grain bag to completely line the pot, with no water outside it, and all the water inside it. As mentioned above, stirring the grains will make sure that there aren't any dough balls.
 

marc1

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I did not sparge. I suppose that i should have as the grain bill was probably a little light. 1.036 estimated OG using the brewer's friend recipe calculator
You basically did a no-sparge 1 gallon batch, then diluted it three fold with water. So, yes, your gravity was way low.
 

marc1

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From my own research prior to attempting my brew i had thought that when you put your bag of grains in the kettle it shouldn't be at the full boil volume, even if you aren't sparging. IDK why that would be that case but i had thought i read that. Is that wrong?
If you aren't sparging, you generally want all of your water in your kettle (more than the total boil volume, because grains will absorb water that you can't get back out of them).
 

TestTickle

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The grains were ordered crushed from northern brewer, and the bag wasnt super compact, had enough room that some grains were freely floating on the top. Im using a 4 gal electric kettle however, so there wasn't a ton of room either.
With a 4 gallon kettle, you would definitely have no choice but to hold back some water for either sparging or for kettle top up after mashing. To make things simple, you could mash with 2 gallons which would still leave you plenty of room in the kettle, even for higher gravity brews. You could refer to an online calculator like the one at Brew in a Bag (BIAB) Calculator ~ to make sure your volumes are correct.

For the additional water, which would probably be close to 2 gallons, you could heat it in a separate pot to around 170 when your mash is finishing up and then place the bag into that pot when the mash is finished. If you want, cover and let it sit for 10 minutes, or just give the grains a good stir. Drain the bag and combine that water and the wort in your brew kettle. This is a BIAB sparge technique that a lot of people use. Or, if you have a colander, you could place that in a large bowl or if it fits, on top of your brew kettle. Then, slowly pour the heated sparge water over the bag. Either method will help to rinse additional sugars from your grain.
 

marc1

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With a 4 gallon kettle, you would definitely have no choice but to hold back some water for either sparging or for kettle top up after mashing. To make things simple, you could mash with 2 gallons which would still leave you plenty of room in the kettle, even for higher gravity brews. You could refer to an online calculator like the one at Brew in a Bag (BIAB) Calculator ~ to make sure your volumes are correct.

For the additional water, which would probably be close to 2 gallons, you could heat it in a separate pot to around 170 when your mash is finishing up and then place the bag into that pot when the mash is finished. If you want, cover and let it sit for 10 minutes, or just give the grains a good stir. Drain the bag and combine that water and the wort in your brew kettle. This is a BIAB sparge technique that a lot of people use. Or, if you have a colander, you could place that in a large bowl or if it fits, on top of your brew kettle. Then, slowly pour the heated sparge water over the bag. Either method will help to rinse additional sugars from your grain.
Good advice here!
If you are not worried about taking longer to get to a boil, you can sparge with unheated water as well.

Edit: DB beat me to it! LOL
 

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You can also sparge by putting the water in a bucket, then pulling your grain bag out of the kettle and dropping it into the bucket of water, aggitate/stir well and pull that out. Add new wort back to the kettle.

Adding plain water to a batch, as you might do with extract brewing, is not TYPICAL with all grain brewing because it's not efficient.

A four gallon kettle can handle 3.5 gallons of water plus 4.5 pounds of grain (which only displaces .3375 gallons). You'll still need to sparge with about .5 gallons after removing the grain bag to account for the boil off volume reduction.

I would recommend dropping down to 2.5 gallon batches if you want to keep that kettle.
 

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Yesterday, I had a somewhat (although less extreme) experience as did Fatsputin. I did a partial mash 7.2 lbs of milled grain in a muslin bag in about 2 gallons of water at 152-153 F. After 1 hour mash, I sparged the bag in a collander with about 1 gallon of 170 F water (until the liquid was lighter in color) , did a 90 minute boil, I added my LME. I had targetted 1.056 OG but only hit 1.041, so I made it up to 1.050 with DME.

From what I was reading, I wonder if my mash water to grain ratio was too low. I have been able to hit my OG when I use only 4 lbs of grain and more LME in the past. The grain bag was also very full, so my circulation was also probably not good with that much grain. Next time I may also try a larger bag that can allow the grain to move more freely in the mash.

Does this make sense?
 

marc1

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Yesterday, I had a somewhat (although less extreme) experience as did Fatsputin. I did a partial mash 7.2 lbs of milled grain in a muslin bag in about 2 gallons of water at 152-153 F. After 1 hour mash, I sparged the bag in a collander with about 1 gallon of 170 F water (until the liquid was lighter in color) , did a 90 minute boil, I added my LME. I had targetted 1.056 OG but only hit 1.041, so I made it up to 1.050 with DME.

From what I was reading, I wonder if my mash water to grain ratio was too low. I have been able to hit my OG when I use only 4 lbs of grain and more LME in the past. The grain bag was also very full, so my circulation was also probably not good with that much grain. Next time I may also try a larger bag that can allow the grain to move more freely in the mash.

Does this make sense?
Yes, if the grain is tight you won't get good results. Also, 1.1 quarts/pound is kind of thick for a mash.

Use a calculator to see how much grain/water can fit in your kettle.

Get a bag as big as your kettle. Put it in the kettle. Add your grains. Stir to make sure there is no clumping.
 

balrog

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Stirring helps @jcfontario . And your ration of just over 1qt/lb is within the range typically recommended when doing mashing (1 to 1.5 qt/lb).

I BIAB and have a 10gal kettle and typically have a ratio of around 3qt/lb and I stir at 30m when I take a sample for pH.

Stirring helps.
 

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Yesterday, I had a somewhat (although less extreme) experience as did Fatsputin. I did a partial mash 7.2 lbs of milled grain in a muslin bag in about 2 gallons of water at 152-153 F. After 1 hour mash, I sparged the bag in a collander with about 1 gallon of 170 F water (until the liquid was lighter in color) , did a 90 minute boil, I added my LME. I had targetted 1.056 OG but only hit 1.041, so I made it up to 1.050 with DME.

From what I was reading, I wonder if my mash water to grain ratio was too low. I have been able to hit my OG when I use only 4 lbs of grain and more LME in the past. The grain bag was also very full, so my circulation was also probably not good with that much grain. Next time I may also try a larger bag that can allow the grain to move more freely in the mash.

Does this make sense?
Larger bag, more water, make sure the grain is very thoroughly crushed. The crush is the biggest effect on extraction.
 

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Get a bag as big as your kettle. Put it in the kettle. Add your grains. Stir to make sure there is no clumping.
Ideally, the bag should be just big enough to put your kettle inside the bag, and 3 - 4 inches taller than the kettle.

Brew on :mug:
 
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fatsputin

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Hello everybody. So i took the advice from this thread and have done 3 more batches. My efficiency has been averaging in the mid sixties. My current process is roughly
around 5 lbs of 2-row depending on recipe
about 8-12oz of specialty malt
3 gallons of water at 156, kept at that temp for 1 hr with an electric kettle. My bag is bigger than i need for my 4 gallon kettle, kept just above bottom of kettle with the help of clothes pins, but still plenty of room for grains.
After 1 hr, i do a cold water sparge for at least 15min in about 1 gallon of water or more, then add sparge water to kettle to top off wort to around 3.5-4.0 gallon which boils down to about 3 gallon.
60 minute boil with hop additions then cool, pitch etc. Any thoughts?
 

marc1

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Much better!

1) Your grain might need to be crushed finer
2) how accurate is your mash temp?
3) how accurate are your volumes?
 

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Hello everybody. So i took the advice from this thread and have done 3 more batches. My efficiency has been averaging in the mid sixties. My current process is roughly
around 5 lbs of 2-row depending on recipe
about 8-12oz of specialty malt
3 gallons of water at 156, kept at that temp for 1 hr with an electric kettle. My bag is bigger than i need for my 4 gallon kettle, kept just above bottom of kettle with the help of clothes pins, but still plenty of room for grains.
After 1 hr, i do a cold water sparge for at least 15min in about 1 gallon of water or more, then add sparge water to kettle to top off wort to around 3.5-4.0 gallon which boils down to about 3 gallon.
60 minute boil with hop additions then cool, pitch etc. Any thoughts?
Sounds like you are getting there.

Another thing you could do in addition to what @marc1 suggested (a finer crush) is to stir the mash about every 10 to 15 minutes. As a bonus at this time, you can also check that your mash temp is still on point. If it's too low, apply heat while stirring until it's back up to where you want it. Stirring while heating is important to keep the mash more evenly heated and to keep bottom of the mash from getting too hot. I personally do not crush my grains very fine, maybe just slightly smaller than a standard crush, but not much at all. There is some powder, but still a generous amount of cracked husks. I average around 78% mash efficiency.

Another thing that you may want to consider at some point once you get your process down is water chemistry. A mash pH in the proper range will help with conversion.

A tip that has little or nothing to do with efficiency - if you sparge with hotter water, it'll take less time for your combined wort to get to a boil. You could be heating your sparge water during the last 15 minutes of your mash. This is completely optional, but it will shave a little time off of your brew day.

[EDIT] Oops, my memory is crap. I forgot that we already covered the option of heating sparge water. I also see that @balrog already suggested stirring. Guess I should have gone back and read before replying.
 
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I always let the mash go longer than 60 minutes. Watch it for 60 and then walk away and do something else on the honey do list for a half hour. Or even mash before bed and let it go overnight. You'd be surprised.
 
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fatsputin

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1. I haven't looked into water chemistry at all, looks complicated. I do have a water filter that should be removing chloramines.
2. I do an occasional stir, but will be doing that more often going forward, I'll start doing 90 minute mashes as well. I run my grain through my mill twice, i haven't adjusted the gap at all since purchase, grain looks very fine after the second run through the mill.
3. As far as water volumes, as long as i end with the correct amount of wort how much does it matter? I assume that more water in the mash will extract sugars more effectively, but is about 3/4 of boil volume in the mash and 1/4 for the sparge a good method? or should i be sparging with less water and mashing with more? Currently as i said above im aiming for 3 gallons in the fermenter so i do 3 gallons for the mash, 1 gallon for the sparge then with boil off and water lost to the grain i finish with just about 3 gallons.
 

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1. I haven't looked into water chemistry at all, looks complicated. I do have a water filter that should be removing chloramines.
2. I do an occasional stir, but will be doing that more often going forward, I'll start doing 90 minute mashes as well. I run my grain through my mill twice, i haven't adjusted the gap at all since purchase, grain looks very fine after the second run through the mill.
3. As far as water volumes, as long as i end with the correct amount of wort how much does it matter? I assume that more water in the mash will extract sugars more effectively, but is about 3/4 of boil volume in the mash and 1/4 for the sparge a good method? or should i be sparging with less water and mashing with more? Currently as i said above im aiming for 3 gallons in the fermenter so i do 3 gallons for the mash, 1 gallon for the sparge then with boil off and water lost to the grain i finish with just about 3 gallons.
2. How much dead space is there between the bag and the bottom? Dead space in the mash can hurt efficiency if you aren't stirring a lot. I don't think you would need to heat the whole time. Losing a few degrees during the mash won't make much difference. Are you sure of the temperature that it is being held at?

3. Are you sure that the final 3 gallon volume is accurate? If you have 3.5 gallons instead, that would be ~17% more diluted compared to 3 gallons. As far as volumes goes, IIRC you get the best efficiency with around equal mash and sparge, but it's not critical to getting good results. I use ~65/35 mash/sparge and don't have efficiency problems.
 

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1. I haven't looked into water chemistry at all, looks complicated. I do have a water filter that should be removing chloramines.
2. I do an occasional stir, but will be doing that more often going forward, I'll start doing 90 minute mashes as well. I run my grain through my mill twice, i haven't adjusted the gap at all since purchase, grain looks very fine after the second run through the mill.
3. As far as water volumes, as long as i end with the correct amount of wort how much does it matter? I assume that more water in the mash will extract sugars more effectively, but is about 3/4 of boil volume in the mash and 1/4 for the sparge a good method? or should i be sparging with less water and mashing with more? Currently as i said above im aiming for 3 gallons in the fermenter so i do 3 gallons for the mash, 1 gallon for the sparge then with boil off and water lost to the grain i finish with just about 3 gallons.
Double crushing your grains should be good enough.

Maybe start out with stirring a couple of more times during the mash. A longer mash certainly won't hurt, but I do 45 minutes and have no issues (granted, I also treat my water which helps). See how much these things help for your next batch. I might consider changing one thing at a time to see how much it improves your efficiency before adding a second or third change to your process. Changing a few variables at once will most likely help, but you won't know specifically which one(s) helped and could end up adding a step that turns out to be a waste of time or energy.

Something that I always preach to new all grain brewers is to not focus too much efficiency but rather on consistency. The cost of the extra grain you would need to add to reach your desired OG is not going to break the bank at the homebrew level. As long as you figure out your system, tweak your process and get consistent results, the difference between 65% and 75% efficiency is pretty much meaningless. Don't let yourself get too caught up in that.
 
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CascadesBrewer

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Hello everybody. So i took the advice from this thread and have done 3 more batches. My efficiency has been averaging in the mid sixties.
Mid 60% is not bad. I generally tune my stove top BIAB around a 70% efficiency (I crush my own grain quite fine). If you are starting with grain pre crushed from a store like Northern Brewer, I suspect you are pretty close to where you can expect.

It also depends a bit on how and where you are measuring your efficiency. All efficiency calculations require accurate volume AND gravity readings. Efficiency measured based off volume into the fermenter can look higher if you add all your hops and trub into the fermenter, vs leaving them behind in the kettle which would make your efficiency on paper lower.
 

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3. As far as water volumes, as long as i end with the correct amount of wort how much does it matter? I assume that more water in the mash will extract sugars more effectively, but is about 3/4 of boil volume in the mash and 1/4 for the sparge a good method? or should i be sparging with less water and mashing with more? Currently as i said above im aiming for 3 gallons in the fermenter so i do 3 gallons for the mash, 1 gallon for the sparge then with boil off and water lost to the grain i finish with just about 3 gallons.
When batch sparging, you get the best lauter efficiency when both the initial run-off and the sparge run off have the same volume. This means you need to have slightly more strike water than sparge water to compensate for grain absorption (there is no additional absorption during the sparge.) However, the lauter efficiency changes very slowly as you go from 60:40 inintial:sparge run-off volume all the way to 40:60. An easy rule of thumb is to use 60% of you total brewing water for strike, and the remaining 40% for sparge. This will give you close to a 50:50 run-off ratio. Total brewing water volume = target pre-boil volume + expected grain absorption volume.

If you have a large volume under a basket or false bottom, then you may need to use more strike volume (and less sparge volume) to make sure your entire grain volume is covered with liquid during the mash.

Brew on :mug:
 

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If you are not crushing your own grain you're probably losing a good bit of efficiency. BIAB benefits greatly from a fine crush. You really need your own grain mill.

Keep tuning your process.. You should be able to get into the high seventies pretty easy.
 
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1. I haven't looked into water chemistry at all, looks complicated.
It's not (complicated). It's a series of questions / decisions, starting with knowing the mineral content of the source water.

With RO / distilled water, the series of questions / decisions is well known.

With tap water (of a known, and stable over time, mineral content) I suspect the list of questions is a little longer and the math is easier using spreadsheets. I brew with RO / distilled, so I can't help with the list of questions / decision points for tap water.
 

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It's not (complicated). It's a series of questions / decisions, starting with knowing the mineral content of the source water.

With RO / distilled water, the series of questions / decisions is well known.

With tap water (of a known, and stable over time, mineral content) I suspect the list of questions is a little longer and the math is easier using spreadsheets. I brew with RO / distilled, so I can't help with the list of questions / decision points for tap water.
@fatsputin, it may be worth getting your water tested just to get you going. As @BrewnWKopperKat said, it’s not too complicated…at least not with knowledge of your source water and the use of some software (Bru’n Water for one). If you can get a water report from your municipality (assuming you’re not on a well) then that should work, but you can order a test from Ward Labs and get a specific test for home brewers. In fact, since you are using a filter, I would recommend Wars Labs and send them a sample of your filtered water.

From there, it’s just about plugging in the numbers and your grain bill to get an idea of what minerals you may need to add and what your mash pH is. There are plenty of resources here and people who will help you make sense of it all.

As I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t worry too much about it until you get the basic parts of your process down. It’s very possible that your water is just fine and is not affecting your efficiency, but water and temp controlled fermentation are both things that can take your beer to the next level.
 

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