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Tried Brew-In-A-Bag tonight, got bad efficiency: 1.034 instead of 1.054

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Picobrew

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I tried my first BiAB tonight and although the wort looked nice, I guess it didn't work that well because my OG came out real low. I took the Clone brews Paulaner Hef recipe and cut it in half for a 2.5G batch.

I'm thinking that perhaps I messed up the grain weighing/purchasing and that I should just try this again, to see if I get the same efficiency. Maybe this doesn't work well with wheat??

I used 14qts of water that was about 13qt after a 90min mash (in a giant bag that lined my pot), then boiled down to 10qt (2.5G) after 90m. The OG at that point was 1.034, which is a total let down!

According to BeerSmith this is about 52% efficiency, which sucks.

I'm a bit discouraged, but I'll try it again sometime after I do a few more extract batches.
 
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Picobrew

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42oz Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 51.27 %
38oz Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 46.30 %
2oz Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
0.5 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker [4.00 %] (90 min)Hops 11.4 IBU
1 Pkgs Wyeast 3068 Yeast-Wheat
 

brown_dog_us

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What was the temp for the mash?

Was this your first AG? If not, what is your normal efficiency?
 

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It sounds to me like you just steeped the grain in 14qts of water for 90mins and then just removed the bag. What you should have done was use 6 quarts of water for the mash, then heat about 8 quarts in a separate pot up to 180F. After the mash is done, lift the bag out of the mash pot and put it into the 8 quarts of 180F water and dunk it or stir well for a while. THEN combine both worts into your larger pot for the boil.

You did a no sparge and efficiency is typically about 60% doing that.
 

lustreking

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It sounds to me like you just steeped the grain in 14qts of water for 90mins and then just removed the bag. What you should have done was use 6 quarts of water for the mash, then heat about 8 quarts in a separate pot up to 180F. After the mash is done, lift the bag out of the mash pot and put it into the 8 quarts of 180F water and dunk it or stir well for a while. THEN combine both worts into your larger pot for the boil.

You did a no sparge and efficiency is typically about 60% doing that.
No, he did it the right way for BiaB. The very thin mash and fine grind usually gets me around 75% or more without a sparge.

In my opinion, if you're doing a sparge with BiaB, you might as well just get a cooler and batch sparge.


One thing that you might want to look into (if your measurements were ok) is the grind. You can go with a much finer grind for BiaB. I run my grains through my mill twice.

Also, the wheat malt could be at fault too. I know I used to get poor efficiency using wheat malt and my LHBS's crush. I think the the wheat grains are a little smaller, and don't get crushed as well.
 

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What temp did you mash at? If your temp was too low the you could have gotten bad efficiancy also.
 
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What temp did you mash at? If your temp was too low the you could have gotten bad efficiancy also.
I mashed at 150 and then kicked it up to 156 before removing the bag. Also dunked the bag a bit and squeezed it out. I ground the pale malt twice but not the wheat, which i should have done too. In reference to an earlier question, yes this was my first AG.
 

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I thought the same with my latest batch ( partial mash Belgian Wit) come to find out my thermometer was reading high. Better luck next time! I know I cant wait to brew more!
 

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Well, you're right that he might as well build a cooler MLT, but I'd still want to do a sparge no matter where the mash is being held.

If anyone can regularly get 75% without sparging, HLTs would be few and far between I think.
 

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I do a ramp up to mash out after 60 minutes for my BiaB. Also I stir a few times during the mash and the whole time when ramping up to 170*F for mash out. (about 10 minutes or so) Then i remove the bag and dunk it a couple of times and let it drain out over the pot while the wort is coming to a boil. I have never missed my estimated FG if only by a couple of points. Been a couple of points of above lately. I estimate my eff. at 75% BTW.

The real problem with BIAB is the weight of the grain after it has been soaking. I have a space issue but 10lbs of wet grain is heavy! Not too mention the bag that needs to hold it.
 

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If anyone can regularly get 75% without sparging, HLTs would be few and far between I think.
Apparently in Australia they are -- BIAB has taken over.

I was really skeptical about this, too, but there are enough reports coming back from people that 75% is achievable. I am starting to believe it now, especially after seeing the thread on mashing thin and high efficiencies. Also, when you consider that these guys crush the snot out of their grain (because there is no sparge to worry about getting stuck), then 75% efficiency with no sparge doesn't seem so unattainable.

On my next stovetop batch, I am going to try this for sure. It sounds like it could be the next trend in homebrewing.
 

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If anyone can regularly get 75% without sparging, HLTs would be few and far between I think.
The real problem with BIAB is the weight of the grain after it has been soaking. I have a space issue but 10lbs of wet grain is heavy! Not too mention the bag that needs to hold it.
I've done maybe 10 or 12 BiaB batches and I can definitely say that 75% is possible without sparging.

I like BiaB because I don't have a permanent brewing setup, some of my gear is in the shed, some in the basement. BiaB saves me at least an hour in setup and cleanup alone, plus at least a half an hour throughout the process. BiaB also rocks as a portable system. I can fit my entire BiaB system in the front seat of my car, while I'd have to load up the van for my "real" system.


BiaB is not perfect, however, as adam pointed out. The biggest grainbill that I've brewed was 12 lbs, and that was just about too much. I actually use a modified BiaB method, which lets me fit more grain in, but I'm still limited by how much I want to pull out.
 

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75% with no sparge? Wow! I always sparge. I have done 5 BIAB's and I have yet to undershoot my OG. I usually overshoot by .005 -> .010.

Thew method I use is simple, Mash in 5gal SS pot, heat sparge water in 5gal Tamale pot. Mash, drain, sparge, drain, dump into 7.5gal kettle, get the show on the road.
 
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Thanks for all the comments everyone. I want to try this again to see if I can get my efficiency up. Has anyone tried this with wheat or in a 2.5G batch? I'm wondering if the ratios were just off for me, and if a 5G batch would work better.

I like the idea of heating up to 170 before yanking the bag, perhaps that would have helped. I will also triple-crush my grain next time, as I didn't really do a good job of that.
 

RedIrocZ-28

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I think the issue was that you didn't sparge. If you would have, you would have had more extraction, and probably have hit your OG. The reason I say this is because your crush is probably tailored to a doing a sparge. Also, your initial mash was VERY thin. You had 5.5lbs of grains to mash and you used 14qts of water, thats almost 2.5qts/lb! 11qts would have been 2qts/lb. Next time try with 8-9qts and sparge with another 8qts. This should net you 3.5+gallons and with a 90 minute boil should get you down to 2.5gallons.

Let us know. :)
 
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Picobrew

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I think the issue was that you didn't sparge. If you would have, you would have had more extraction, and probably have hit your OG. The reason I say this is because your crush is probably tailored to a doing a sparge. Also, your initial mash was VERY thin. You had 5.5lbs of grains to mash and you used 14qts of water, thats almost 2.5qts/lb! 11qts would have been 2qts/lb. Next time try with 8-9qts and sparge with another 8qts. This should net you 3.5+gallons and with a 90 minute boil should get you down to 2.5gallons.

Let us know. :)
Yes this makes sense to me - with the crush I had, perhaps I needed to sparge. But regarding the super thin mash - isn't that what BiAB prescribes? I'm a little bit of a nonbeliever with this whole thing (half expecting the poor efficiency I got), but I was trying to be a good sport and roll along with the whole BiAB system, which I thought meant adding ALL of the water at the start, and intentionally not sparging. I guess I can try this again with some super fine grains, but it's hard to believe that a bit more grinding would kick me from 50% to 75%. Perhaps with a 2.5G my mash is especially thin, considering I have to account for a similar boiloff rate whether I am doing a 2.5G or 5G batch.

This makes me want to buy a 50lb bag of grain just to do various mashing experiments. Has anyone used an Aeropress coffee maker? I have wondered if a similar technique would work for a filtered super-sparge driven by compressed air.
 
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Picobrew

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Now I'm also thinking about how to save this brew. I pitched yeast yesterday at about 10pm. I'm thinking I'll boil up a 1lb in DME in as little water as possible and add that to the batch. Is this crazy? According to beersmith, this should bring my gravity within range.
 
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Your safe for aeration for 24 hours. Actually the optimum time for O2 is 14 hours after pitch. That is when the yeasties are most O2 hungry.

So yeah the DME could work though if you don't boil long enough you may have extra proteins (no hot break) but I wouldn't worry about it. You could also boost the a/v with some sugar.
 

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The whole point in BIAB is not to sparge. It is a single vessel brewing method.

With that said doing a modified BIAB is fine if that is what it takes.

I think the crush is important. A finer crush will get your efficiency up. I get a good percentage of flour but I don't shred the husks.

So far my efficiencies have been between 75 and 82% over 5 batches so I'm pretty happy.
 
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For those not yet familiar with BIAB, go here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/new-byo-aussi-brewing-article-104892/

No sparge necessary. That's the point of the method... simple simple simple. Seems like heresy, but if you get it right there's no need for a sparge.
I'd love to get there! I'm gonna try this again with finer crush and higher temp mashout. If that doesn't work, I'm gonna switch away from wheat.

Anyone have any specific tips for 2.5G BiAB? I'm wondering if I'm running into some conditions unique to the smaller batch size.
 
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Hi Picobrew,

I think you will benefit from reading this thread: The Brewing Network &bull; View topic - How to go from Extract to AG for < $10.00.

Before I tried my first (and still only) BiaB batch, I read that thread (above), lustreking's posts regarding BiaB, and adamjab19's post https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/b-i-b-first-all-grain-79675/ (which includes an all-grain 2.5-gal. recipe of an American Wheat). I hit 75% as the final gravity, and that batch was delicious. I will surely do BiaB again (as soon as I receive a 40 Qt. aluminum stock pot I recently ordered).
 

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I ground the pale malt twice but not the wheat, which i should have done too.
Somehow I missed reading this before. I'm 90% certain that was your problem. Like I said before, I always had problems with efficiency of wheat beers before I started milling it myself. I always mill wheat malt twice, even if I'm using my batch sparge system.

I would definitely look at your wheat's crush before you tried sparging in a BiaB brew.
 
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Somehow I missed reading this before. I'm 90% certain that was your problem. Like I said before, I always had problems with efficiency of wheat beers before I started milling it myself. I always mill wheat malt twice, even if I'm using my batch sparge system.

I would definitely look at your wheat's crush before you tried sparging in a BiaB brew.
Thanks lustreking. I'll try this next time.
 

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How coarse are the bags for the BIAB? I have a nylon bag desugned for straining paint and has a very fine mesh, would this be okay to use? It is the same as any nylon grain bag I have seen but much finer. I just wonder if it is not course enough or if fine mesh is better. Anyone got any ideas?
 

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I tried my first BiAB tonight and although the wort looked nice, I guess it didn't work that well because my OG came out real low. I took the Clone brews Paulaner Hef recipe and cut it in half for a 2.5G batch.

I'm thinking that perhaps I messed up the grain weighing/purchasing and that I should just try this again, to see if I get the same efficiency. Maybe this doesn't work well with wheat??

I used 14qts of water that was about 13qt after a 90min mash (in a giant bag that lined my pot), then boiled down to 10qt (2.5G) after 90m. The OG at that point was 1.034, which is a total let down!

According to BeerSmith this is about 52% efficiency, which sucks.

I'm a bit discouraged, but I'll try it again sometime after I do a few more extract batches.
I've done three BIABs so far, an my effeciency stinks, too, but got a bit better each time as I started paying more attention to draining bag, as I really don't sparge. Hey ... it's a bag, not a tun. It can't possibly be as good, but it works well enough to make me want to do it. Like they say, just add a little more grain than the recipe calls for.
I don't see how you guys are doing it on large batches, though. For a 2.1 gallon mrbeer batch, I've been mashing 4lbs of two row ... it's just about manageable, and I just make it on the cool down. Anything bigger I don't think I could do in my kitchen. And the small batch BIAB is certainly not time efficient ... eesh ... but it's a labor of love. Four hours to make a just under a case of beer, four and a half counting bottling, five with all the cleanup .... yeah, five hours .... heh heh :D

What are you using to boil, a propane burner? I'm doing two gallon batches on my kitchen electric stove, but it just about keeps it boiling. Also, my first BIAB had a ridiculous low OG at the fermenter, but I was shocked that yeast was hungry, and brought the FG way down, I ended up with a 4% ABV, which was less that what it should have been (should have been over 5) but do NOT dump that beer.
 

Saccharomyces

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I've done three BIABs so far, an my effeciency stinks, too, but got a bit better each time as I started paying more attention to draining bag, as I really don't sparge.
The two keys to efficiency with no-sparge are:

1) Crush... your grain MUST be crushed fine or your eff. will tank with no sparge. If you don't own a grain mill, have your LHBS mill your grain twice, or if they can, ask them to crush at 0.035. Since you are using a bag there isn't any chance of a stuck sparge so lots of flour is just fine!

2) You must mash with all of your water in the pot. If you have to top up before the boil your efficiency will drop, and you should probably consider doing a single sparge with a second pot.

See the no-sparge brewing thread linked in my sig for more discussion about the technique... as well as a spreadsheet that shows you your grain weights and water volumes for 5 or 10 gallon no-sparge batches.
 

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If you want a really fine crush you can always toss it in the blender. It'll stick if you try to run it through a mash tun, but it might be fine in a bag.
 

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The real problem with BIAB is the weight of the grain after it has been soaking. I have a space issue but 10lbs of wet grain is heavy! Not too mention the bag that needs to hold it.
True... the few times I have tried BIAB I simply put it in my cooler and drain from the bottom of the cooler. I don't take the bag out.
 

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Thanks. I did buy a hand crank grain mill the other day, and my next BIAB, the efficiency was 60%. Next time, I'm going to really crush the grain, and then really drain the bag a bit when I'm done. I'll bet I can hit 70%, which is acceptable. Meantime, my last BIAB I added one cup (which isn't much) of sugar for a crisp, 5% brew.
 

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I've done 70gal with BIAB this year and i regularly get 75-80% I've even gotten 85 once or twice. I dont rinse my grain either . It sounds like your doing what your supposed to. It was your first, everyone's first isnt always all that good. Heres what i do. First i crush pretty fine, i would say almost very. and then bring water up to about 125-130 and dump in the grain. i slowly ramp up the temp till i hit my target mash temp. I them mash for 90 min, checking the temp and stirring every 20 min and adjusting when needed. Then i preform a mash out and bring the temp up to 170 and then pull the bag out. I let the bag drain for a while and then squeeze the crap out of it. I think its a misnomer about tannin extraction from squeezing the grain. I do all this and get good efficiency. I did a 1.096 imperial stout last weekend with 18LBS of grain last weekend and got 85% eff. Dont ask me how i have no clue. that is my limit in my 15 gal pot. I was about an inch from the top. Well good luck with your next batch.
 
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