Five Awesome Beginner Recipes for BIAB

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If you've frequented any online homebrewing forums in the past few years, you've undoubtedly noticed the increasing popularity of Brew In A Bag, or BIAB. This method of one vessel, no sparge brewing leads to a much simpler brew day with less time spent on the mash and sparge as well as fewer things to clean. This can be especially good for brewers lacking the space for a traditional system, or brewers who want to shorten their day but still want the control of all grain brewing.

With all of these advantages though, BIAB does have its drawbacks. Perhaps the most limiting factor of BIAB brewing is a decreased efficiency when brewing beers with a larger grain bill. Some also argue that they see a lower efficiency in general with BIAB. This can be somewhat mitigated by milling your grain finer, providing enzymes easier access to starches. Often running your grain through the mill twice will achieve a grist fine enough to gain some additional gravity points. It's also important to make sure your water chemistry is in check. Similarly, efficiency can be increased with a modified sparge, reserving a portion of your strike water, heating to 170, and pouring it over the bag at the end of the mash. Lastly, mashing out at 170 degrees will decrease the viscosity of your wort making it easier to drain from the grain bag, bringing more fermentable sugar along. With my setup, I routinely get 78% mash and brewhouse efficiencies when using 12 lbs of grain or less. The efficiency gradually decreases as the grain bill increases.
For my home brewery, I employ a 44 qt Bayeux Classic kettle as a mash tun and boil kettle. I use 5-gallon paint strainer bags to hold and strain the mash. A two pack from Lowes costs $3.78 and fits my particular kettle perfectly. A sleeping bag wrapped around the kettle provides more than adequate temperature stability during the mash. On a 90 minute mash, I lose on average 1 degree during the winter, and the temperature stays steady for my usual 60-minute mash. I mash out at 168F for 10 minutes and then squeeze my bag with the kettle lid, pressing over a bread cooling rack. Pretty high-tech, I know. So let's brew some beer! Here are five recipes I brew throughout the year using BIAB. All of these recipes are written for five-gallon batches and aside from the Belgian Wit have whirlfloc added at 10 minutes. All recipes call for a 60-minute mash and a 60-minute boil.

5 Must Try BIAB Recipes


Coconut Oatmeal Stout, Oatmeal Stout

Traditionally the Oatmeal Stout is a full bodied ale, somewhat sweet, and usually a seasonal beer. This Oatmeal Stout, with the addition of coconut, is somewhat out of style and perhaps should be listed as a spice, herb, vegetable beer. The roasty, chocolate flavor accompanied by the toasted coconut is reminiscent of Almond Joy or Mounds. I’ve found it’s usually a big hit with people who “don't like beer.”
GrainsHop ScheduleYeast

  • 9lbs/66.7% Special Pale
  • 1 lb 8 oz/11.1% Flaked Oats
  • 12 oz/5.6% Biscuit
  • 12 oz/5.6% C60
  • 12 oz/5.6% Chocolate
  • 12 oz/5.6% Roasted Barley
1.5oz Willamette @ 60min
  • 1 pkg US-05
  • 1 pkg US-04
Notes: Toast 24oz unsweetened coconut, no additives, and dry hop in a steeping bag for five days if bottling. If kegging, add bag before purging with Co2 and "dry hop" in the keg. Ferment at 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
OG: 1.062 FG: 1.010 ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 29.1 &empsp; SRM: 36

IIPA, Imperial IPA

This is a beer that in some shape is probably in everyone’s arsenal. The Imperial or Double IPA is a high ABV, hoppy beer that remains drinkable. The hop bill for this provides an underlying dank quality from the Zeus hops that is overlaid with super citrusy, grapefruit notes from the Cascade and Citra Hops. The light brown sugar gives a bit of color and the appearance of body through flavor that could be toned down by using dextrose.
GrainsHop ScheduleYeast

  • 12/75% lbs Pale 2-row
  • 1 lb 8 oz/9.4% biscuit
  • 8 oz/3.1% C40
  • 2lbs/12.5% light brown sugar

  • 1 oz Zeus @ 30 min
  • 1 oz Zeus @ 15 min
  • 1 oz Cascade @ 10 min
  • 1 oz Citra @ 10 min
  • 1 oz Citra @ flameout, steep 15 minutes
  • 1 oz Citra, dry hop 7 days
  • 1 oz Cascade, dry hop 7 days

  • US-05
Notes: Ferment at 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
OG: 1.072 FG: 1.007 ABV: 8.7%
IBU: 79.5 &empsp; SRM: 10.5

LKPA, American IPA with Lilikoi

This beer is especially close to my heart and stomach, as it's brewed and named in honor of my son, whose initials and Hawaiian name were the inspiration for this beer. It is a fairly standard West Coast style India Pale Ale, with Galaxy and Citra hops to compliment an addition of passion fruit, which is known as Lilikoi in Hawaii. Although this beer falls within range of the OG for style it finishes drier and with a higher ABV than is called for.
GrainsHop ScheduleYeast

  • 9 lbs/72% Pale 2-row
  • 1 lb/8% Biscuit
  • 8 oz/4% C40
  • 2 lbs/16% Dextrose

  • 2 oz Centennial @ 30 min
  • 1 oz Amarillo @ 5 min
  • 1 oz Citra @ 5 min
  • 1 oz Galaxy @ flameout, steep 15 min
  • 1 oz Galaxy, dry hop 7 days
  • 1 oz Citra, dry hop 7 days

  • US-05
Notes: Ferment at 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 16.9oz of passion fruit concentrate at end of primary fermentation, 2-3 days before adding dry hops. I use Maguary concentrate from Brazil, ordered through Amazon.
OG: 1.067 FG: 1.006 ABV: 7.8%
IBU: 78 &empsp; SRM: 7.7

Rye Brown Ale, American Brown Ale


This may be one of my favorite beers of all time. Brown Ales are immensely drinkable, yet full bodied enough to almost count as a meal. Unlike a traditional American Brown Ale, this beer has a subdued hop presence but makes up for that with the spiciness of a large rye malt addition. Shameless plug, this recipe was adapted by my local brewery, Broomtail Craft Brewery, and has become one of my favorite beers to buy as well as brew.
GrainsHop ScheduleYeast

  • 6 lbs 8 oz/51% Pale 2-row
  • 3 lbs/23.5% Rye
  • 2 lbs/15.7% Biscuit
  • 12 oz/5.9% Chocolate
  • 8 oz/3.9% C60

  • 0.5 oz Zeus @ 60 min
  • 0.5 oz Willamette @ 5 min

  • Nottingham or WLP039
Notes: Ferment at 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
OG: 1.057 FG: 1.012 ABV: 5.9%
IBU: 27.5 &empsp; SRM: 26.5

Sophie Wit, Witbier

I’ve gotten into the habit of brewing beers named after newborns in my family, and this is another one of them. A fairly straight forward Belgian Wit, this uses 2-row rather than pilsner malt, but that could easily be substituted. An excellent summer beer, the wit is light, crisp, and with a hint of citrus and high carbonation is very refreshing.
GrainsHop ScheduleYeast

  • 5 lb/50% Pale 2-row
  • 5 lb/50% Flaked Wheat

  • .75 oz Willamette @ 60 min

  • WLP400
Notes: Ferment 67 degrees Fahrenheit, allow to free rise after two days until fermentation is complete.
.75 oz Coriander Seed @ 5 min
.75 oz Bitter orange peel @ 5 min
OG: 1.047 FG: 1.008 ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 16.1 &empsp; SRM: 3.4

Nice witeup, thanks. I think the rye brown ale is definitely going to get brewed this year.
for starting biab/allgrain, the best is smash, to try out hops and malts.
too many of these recipes are a bit over complicated for beginning, also sticking to dry yeast would reduce one more variable.
What temp do you mash in at?? Do you always mash at the same temp? I would assume the Wit and the brown would mash in at different temps?
My mash temp varies, usually between 148 and 152. The Wit and the brown are both close, 147-49, though the stout I mash higher, around 151-2.
I misspoke in my earlier reply. Just checked beer smith and the following are my mash temps.
Coconut Oatmeal Stout 148
Belgian Wit 151
Brown Rye 152
IPA 148
Lkpa 148
Why no sparge? For simplicity sake or because it doesn't help on BIAB?
That rye brown sounds interesting. I love brown ales. Never heard of rye brown ale. I'll have to try one.
So do you typically just mash out and then squeeze? No sparge?
The Rye Brown Ale sounds really good. I am new to brewing but, mostly have done BIAB, so forgive me for all the questions.
- You mash it for 60 minutes at 152 degrees, right?
- You boil it for 90 minutes, right?
- How long do you ferment (both primary and secondary) it for at 67 degrees?
With BIAB typically all of your brewing water, mash and sparge, is put into the kettle at once. When you lift the bag out, the wort drains ending your lauter step.
I mention in the article that you can reserve some of the strike water for a modified sparge, pouring over the grain bag. I've used this method a few times, particularly with large grain bills where all of my brewing water won't fit in the kettle.
To answer your question, it is for simplicity's sake, however a modified sparge can sometimes be useful.
Follow the instructions at the beginning of the article. The Author has laid it out a plan of action for everyone to do a BIAB brew. Also "all recipes call for a 60-minute mash and a 60-minute boil." That was a direct quote from the article. Also, you don't really need to use a secondary. If you did, leave it in the Primary for one week. Then leave it the secondary for another week.
It's one of my favorites.
60 minute mash and 60 minute boil. I don't do a secondary unless I'm aging something with wood or it's a really big beer. It usually ferments out in 4-6 days, though I usually leave beer in primary for two weeks minimum.
Man, I did cooler mashtun for 2 years, probably 20+ batches. Then I said what the heck, let's buy one of those brew bags and try out some stovetop 2.5 gal batches. That was 6 brews ago and my mashtun hasn't left the shelf in my basement since. It won't come out again, even for 5-gallon batches, unless I'm mashing more than 10 or 12lbs of grain. Still working on a good system for lifting it out of the kettle though. I've made a mess on my blichmann burner once or twice :(
As a fellow BIABer, this is a good writeup and some tasty-looking recipes. A couple of suggestions for would be BIAB folks:
1.) Be really careful about burning a hole in the bag when heating up to mash out. You can use a colander or something as a false bottom to keep the bag off the bottom of the kettle. It sucks to have to dump a batch 'cuz you burned a hole in your bag and scorched a bunch of grain. No one wants a smoked NE IPA :)
2.) Those $5 paint strainer bags do work just fine, nothing wrong with 'em! However, for the lazy folks like me, or when you want to brew a 1.1 Imperial Stout, picking up the bag and squeezing it with a lid (I used a potato masher...) isn't a ton of fun. Here's a shameless plug for WiserBrewer's BIAB bags: The bags are awesome, and the pulley system makes draining the bag much easier.
Agreed on both points.
I melted a bag on another system (never assume you can transfer methods between equipment!) and ruined a batch being brewed as a demo for my homebrew club. Never a fun day.
Is the roasted barley in the coconut oatmeal porter the 300L variety or the 500L (called black barley by some)?
I've had some coconut on the shelf a few months looking for the right recipe. I think this is it!
I am going to try the Rye Ale. I am using a Colorado Brew system which is basically BIAB but with a basket. I let you know how it turns out.
For the Coconut Oatmeal Stout--where can I find the 66.7% Special Pale? My Google fu is failing me.
Duh...just realized the 66.7 is % of total bill. Still, suggestions on a source for the Special Pale?
I just brewed your rye brown ale. I made a mistake and added an extra 1/2 pound to a 10 gallon batch. What do you think this will do to the flavor profile?
It will make it a bit darker and will probably give it a richer flavor, more chocolate and little roast. I’m sure it will be good.
The secret to not melting the bag is to use simple clamps to hold the bag to the side of the kettle and off the bottom. No stupid colander needed.