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

Chancellor Hellmann
You mention this is a 5 gallon batch, but I assume this is after you boil and after the grain has soaked up a fair amount of liquid? So, how much water do you start out with?
For the Coconut Oatmeal Stout, do I need to get a packet of US-05 and US-04 each, or is it just telling me I can pick one of those yeasts? Thinking of brewing this in a few days.