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What BIAB brewing actually is (Mythbusting for traditionalists)

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Bobby_M

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I wanted to address a few things that have been touched on in plenty of threads in the past. The readers I'm mostly addressing are those who think Brew in a Bag as a process is inferior, makes subpar beer, or is "okay, but really just a stepping stone to REAL brewing". This is probably going to be pretty disjointed, fair warning.

BIAB is an all grain brewing method where the mash is held in a porous bag or basket within boil kettle. Post mash, the spent grain is removed from the boil kettle, leaving only wort behind. The preboil volume of wort is usually achieved by using enough initial water to yield the desired volume. This is known as full volume mashing. In some cases, the mash is performed thicker and a sparging step is added after pulling the bag or basket. The reasons and/or mechanics of sparging are not really the point of this post so I'll skip it. The premise however is that the defining characteristic of BIAB is that the grain is contained in a mesh "vessel" within the boil kettle and the grain is remove from the wort (not vice versa like in a typical mash tun). That's it. No... I'm serious. That is it.

Some people will read that and think, "yeah, I get it, what's the point?". It's painfully obvious that so many people, even long time regulars here at HBT do not get it based on the comments they make in various threads. Here are some random things you'll find.

1. BIAB is not real all grain brewing (as an outright proposition). False. All grain brewing is very simple to understand. You derive most, if not all, of your wort's sugars from cereal grains through the mashing process. BIAB relies on the same mashing and ends up with the same wort. I get why this is perpetuated. Even HBT has BIAB as a separate forum from All Grain Brewing. If anything, BIAB should be a sub forum to All Grain Brewing.

2. I'll just BIAB until I can afford to upgrade to an all grain system (or some other disconnection of terms due to ignorance). False. See above. BIAB is all grain brewing. You probably mean that you have been drooling over pictures of shiny brewing systems that feature multiple tanks and pumps and you have it in your head that a system like that is the end game for "reasons". That's misguided, but fair. How would you account for the hundreds of people who have owned 3 vessel systems and switched to BIAB?

3. BIAB makes cloudy beer. False. BIAB makes cloudier preboil wort. That's it. My BIAB wort going into the fermenter is as clear as any 3 vessel system beers I've ever made.

4. BIAB is less efficient. Sometimes. Woah, we actually hit on an actual piece of controversy. When you run BIAB as a full volume, no sparge process, it does tend to be lower mash/lauter efficiency than an inherently sparged system. BIAB brewers typically report a mash/lauter efficiency between 65-80% with some fringe examples a bit higher. 3 vessel brewers average more than that. The ultimate impact of these efficiency differences will typically amount to 1-2 extra pounds of grain to buy.

5. I like operating a 3 vessel system because it feels more legitimate. Subjective. If your goal is to prepare yourself for brewing at commercial scale, this is probably the most reasonable argument against BIAB brewing. However, a lot of times this type of argument comes up, it's from people who don't aspire to go pro and have never brewed on anything other than a 3 vessel. My opinion is that the most legitimate brewing method is the one that yields the highest quality beer. There are probably plenty of good reasons one may enjoy 3 vessel brewing but just be aware of tunnel vision.

6. Pulling the bag out is difficult and it makes a mess. Poor planning, poor execution. The BIAB process has this known requirement of pulling the spent grain out and you have to take that into account before brew day. The majority of people who try BIAB and then claim it sucks are the same people who try pulling 40 pounds of hot dripping mess out of the kettle by hand, alone. Shame on you, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Get yourself an overhead with a ratchet strap or locking rope pulley to suspend the bag over the kettle to drain. Long story short, if I get more than a drop of wort on myself or on the floor, that's a lot.

7. Full volume mashing is sloppy, imprecise, has conversion problems, is too thin, [insert some other technical mashing mechanic problem]. What? I've seen all kinds of random statements about how mashes thinner than 2qts per pound will never convert or how the pH will be so screwed up that you'll extract tannins. The tannins argument also comes up regarding the finer crush that BIAB often uses. First, there is most decidedly no issue with conversion with full volume mashes as long as the grist is of typical diastatic power (typical mix of malted base malts with limited adjuncts). The topic of tannin extraction is primarily a topic of mash pH and the water chemistry/grist makeup that gets you there. This topic is in no way tied specifically to the mash vessel. The bottom line is that good brewers know their water and what kind of mash pH to expect on every one of their batches. This goes for all brewing methods. BIAB full volume mashing actually has the most stable mash pH because there is no sparging. Typically tannin extraction occurs when sparging with alkaline water, if the mash pH itself wasn't already out of range.

8. I like the repeatability and temperature stability of more sophisticated mashing systems so BIAB is definitely NOT for me. Misinformed. You thought BIAB was limited to a paint strainer bag dunked in a greasy turkey fryer pot but you're wrong. My BIAB system holds rock solid mash temps for as long as I want. I can step mash to precise steps faster than a 3 vessel HERMS or RIMS.

9. BIAB makes subpar beer. False. Everything being equal of course. Let me be very clear. BIAB is a wort production process just like a fly sparged HERMS regulated mash is a wort production process. If you find some correlation between beers brewed with the BIAB process and a lower quality end beer, that's just bad brewing technique. Sure, that's easy to claim. If BIAB is by definition inferior, there would be no examples of BIAB brewers consistently doing well at competitions, especially competitions entered by both BIAB brewers and traditional 3 vessel brewers. Ok, let's look at that.

Here are the final standings for the 2020 New Jersey Homebrewer of the Year. Brewer's are awarded points for medaling in three qualifying competitions throughout the year. The guy that took first place works at BrewHardware and I built his BIAB system about 2 years ago. The guy in 3rd place is also a friend and I built his BIAB rig about 2 years ago. I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure the 2nd place guy uses a 3 vessel system. Certainly the 4th and 5th place brewers are traditional 3 vessel brewers.

1606108995811.png


Ok... here's the previous year. The first place guy... not sure. 2nd and 3rd place, BIAB brewers. I know because I built their kettles.

1606109920959.png


Ok, the last year I have records for. Not sure the method for 1st and 2nd place but 3rd and 4th definitely BIAB.
1606110071815.png


The point is, this isn't just getting lucky at a comp. This is consistent, high caliber brewing. Can we put this subpar BS argument to bed yet?

Edit to add a little more data here. In case anyone was wondering what styles the winning brewers brew, especially for naysayers that contend some styles can't be brewed via BIAB properly, here are some stats.

Larry B's year:
Gold: American Brown
Silver: Altbier
Gold: NEIPA
Silver: German Pilsner
Silver: Kellerbier
Gold: American Pale Ale
Silver: NEIPA
Gold: American Pale Ale
Gold: Altbier
Silver: Belgian Blonde
Silver: Kellerbier
Bronze: NEIPA

Tom D's year:
Gold and 1st Best of Show for a Gose
Silver: Munich Helles
Bronze: Belgian Trippel
Gold: Double IPA
Silver: German Pilsner
Silver: NEIPA
Gold: NEIPA
Bronze: Rye IPA
Bronze: Baltic Porter
 
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NTBeer

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Well said Bobby. I have been brewing since 1979, using many different methods. BIAB is no less brewing than any other method. It has a much lower initial investment than most other methods. We should encourage new brewers to do what is economical and effective when entering the hobby. Far fewer will leave if they don't perceive the hobby as being a never ending money pit.
 

McKnuckle

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And don’t forget; the incredibly popular electric systems such as Grainfather, Anvil Foundry, Clawhammer, UniBräu, and Braumeister are all purpose-built basket solutions based on the BIAB foundation.

in other words, BIAB is mainstream, competitive, and lucrative from a market perspective because it works.
 

RM-MN

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Isn't BIAB the quickest way to do small batches? If I wanted to carpet bomb a competition that's what I would use.
I don't know if it is the quickest way as I have never brewed on anything but BIAB once I quit extract. However, I normally expect about 3 hours from recipe to wort chilling with all equipment put back in storage. I don't have a wort chiller but still can do a 3 gallon batch in less than 4 hours with a water bath for chilling. The way to do that is to take advantage of the bag as the filter and mill the grain much finer. With the finer milling, the starches are readily available and since gelatinization of the starches is usually the limiting factor in the speed of conversion this can make your mash period shorter. I usually only do a 30 minute mash but the limitation on that is how long it takes to extract the flavors, not the conversion which happens long before flavor can be extracted. One limitation I have is doing the boil on my kitchen range. With a good burner I could bring the water to strike temp faster and bring the wort to boil faster and thus cut my brew day even shorter.
 
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Well thought through Bobby. Thanks for posting. One thing to potentially add to your item number 4 is an idea from the recently passed Pat Holingdale who did so much to pioneer BIAB over in the land of Oz (as in Australia).
We often compare BIAB with a 60 minute mash to a three vessel system with a 60 minute mash and an x minute fly sparge or batch sparge. Let's say lauter and sparge take 20 minutes. So the real comparison should be 80 minute BIAB mash to 80 minute mash, lauter, sparge and transfer of wort to boil kettle. Pat always said 90 minutes was a better estimate and therefore recommended a 90 minute BIAB mash.
Given that, the extra 1 or 2 pounds of grain you mention may not be necessary at all - each brewers experience will tell.
Not that the 1 or 2 pounds of grain is not one way to skin that cat. It is.
The other piece with a longer mash may be revealed above by RM-MN.. Take time enough to extract the sugars, but also the unique blend of flavors in a specific recipe.
Thanks again for posting this.
 

LittleRiver

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Great post Bobby.

My only comment is regarding additional grain. With a no sparge no re-circulation BIAB process I've never had a need to add grain to a recipe (developed for traditional systems) to hit or exceed the target OG.
 
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Great post Bobby.

My only comment is regarding additional grain. With a no sparge no re-circulation BIAB process I've never had a need to add grain to a recipe (developed for traditional systems) to hit or exceed the target OG.
While I mostly agree, the goal was to leave no misplaced BIAB CON unaddressed. This point has a ton of nuance to it as well. If you take a recipe out of brewing classic styles (the book) for example, the expected efficiency of 70% is low for most systems and kind of in the wheelhouse of BIAB. If you download a recipe off of BS cloud or any other online recipe database, you have no idea what efficiency the author was using. They could have had it set to 91% and of course you'd have to scale and add more grain. The point I conceded is that assuming leverage of any given system's maximum extraction efficiency, BIAB is going to be lower than a fly sparged system. There are enough benefits that BIAB brewing to lean on so we don't need to die on the "the efficiency is the same" hill.
 
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Bobby_M

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Isn't BIAB the quickest way to do small batches? If I wanted to carpet bomb a competition that's what I would use.
BIAB is the quickest way to brew most batch sizes within the limits of batch size practicality anyway. The guys I quoted as using BIAB and winning comps brew at least 6 gallon batches but most of them brewing 12 gallons at a time. I know you weren't suggesting they won by carpet bombing via small batches but I didn't want anyone mistakenly making that connection.
 

beernutz

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IMO BIAB Mythbusters should be sticky thread.

When Alabama finally legalized homebrewing in 2013 I decided to celebrate by building a nice 3 vessel natural gas powered, PID controlled, HERMS system (and a keezer). I have used it for many years but a few years ago I decided to give BIAB a try because I wanted to brew away from home so I bought a Wilser bag.

At first I started out doing maybe a quarter of my brews with BIAB but that has gradually changed where I now haven't used the 3 vessel system in over a year. I'm no master brewer but in my case the beer made with the 3 vessel is not distinguishable from the BIAB brews.
 

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And don’t forget; the incredibly popular electric systems such as Grainfather, Anvil Foundry, Clawhammer, UniBräu, and Braumeister are all purpose-built basket solutions based on the BIAB foundation.

in other words, BIAB is mainstream, competitive, and lucrative from a market perspective because it works.
I was about to say exactly ^^^THAT^^^^

Like many others, I went from rudimentary kits to extract brewing to 3V coolers to BIAB to finally (7 years ago) a Braumeister. Now don't tell my wife since she's been told this was an evolutionary and NECESSARY part of my growth as a brewer. Same with all that shiny stainless steel gear (he, he).

Fundamentally the Braumeister is the same as BIAB except for the continuous recirculation. Or as a local professional brewer exclaimed when I described the process to him, "Oh, like a continuous vorlauf."

Overall, I love the way the system works and the ease with which I can do step mashes. I can't remember a mash in over a year when my efficiency was less than 90% (mash). BH efficiency is generally mid-to-high 70s.

Best of all, the beer tastes great!

Brooo Brother
 
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And don’t forget; the incredibly popular electric systems such as Grainfather, Anvil Foundry, Clawhammer, UniBräu, and Braumeister are all purpose-built basket solutions based on the BIAB foundation.

in other words, BIAB is mainstream, competitive, and lucrative from a market perspective because it works.
I agree. There are plenty of people who think the all in one systems ARE a form of BIAB brewing AND think they are a half measure stepping stone to a 3 vessel system. Since I didn't say it explicitly in the first post, all the systems listed above, as well as the Spike Solo, Mash N Boil, Brewzilla, Brewtools and probably a few more ARE indeed BIAB systems. Remember, the mash is being held within the boil kettle and the grain is removed from the wort.

There are a lot of usability variations between all those systems that can be discussed at length of course but they are BIAB systems.
 

RM-MN

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So the real comparison should be 80 minute BIAB mash to 80 minute mash, lauter, sparge and transfer of wort to boil kettle. Pat always said 90 minutes was a better estimate and therefore recommended a 90 minute BIAB mash.
The amount of time needed to extract the soluble starches depends on the crush of the grain and this time should be about the same for any system. If you get the average crush the 60 minute mash will get you a certain amount of sugars. If you were to mash longer that amount would go up, but how much it would go up might mean a waste of time because most of the sugars would already have been converted. If your LHBS gets you a really coarse crush then the extra time pays off if you can maintain the temperature. The finer you can crush the better you can convert the starches to sugars but with the conventional tun, the limit is being able to drain that tun. BIAB gets around that with a bag that provides the filter so the finer crush improves the mash efficiency.
 

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I had (still have just don't use) a 3 vessel RIMS tube bought from Bobby. The 3 vessel system looked cool and was relatively complex and I made good beer on it. I moved to BIAB electric system and I make as good beer if not better. The difference is that, my system is much less complex an makes my brew day much more relaxed. Clean up is easier too. I will not go back and to be quite honest don't know why anyone would want to use a vessel system.
 

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Overall, I love the way the [Braumeister] system works and the ease with which I can do step mashes.
I agree! I have the 10L model which is perfect for my standard 2.5 gallon batches. It's not exactly a bargain product, but then again, it doesn't perform like one. I'm currently whirlpooling Bramling Cross in a 30 minute hopstand for a best bitter as we speak/type.

For me, the Braumeister is the evolved endgame of the BIAB concept. There are numerous other systems in the same family, as listed above. But... you can go with a kettle and a bag and it's essentially the same thing!
 

Nick Poggetti

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+1 for someone who brewed on 3 vessel herms for a few years then switched to biab, and modeled my design after Bobby's youtube video from this past year about his 2020 brew system.

Just one step of many I've taken to streamline and make my brewdays (and brewing) easier and less work.
 
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Bobby_M

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For me, the Braumeister is the evolved endgame of the BIAB concept. There are numerous other systems in the same family, as listed above. But... you can go with a kettle and a bag and it's essentially the same thing!
Ultimately I custom built my rig to achieve the same functionality. Maybe a better way to say it is that I built it to exploit all the advantages of BIAB brewing but with greater heating and temp stability than the all in one systems. The clear downside to fully integrated all in ones is that they are inherently proprietary. The controller, the pump, etc. In many other cases, the power is a little anemic.
 

North_of_60

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Thank you for an excellent write up on BIAB.

BIAB is very forgiving. Assuming that your crush, water chemistry, and grain bill is correct you will get good beer. I have missed my mash temperature by 5 degrees. I’ve mashed 60 minutes, 90 minutes, and over night. I’ve been anal about holding mash temperature for the a full 60 minutes and stirring the mash every 15 or 20 minutes, I’ve also stirred in the grist, checked the temperature, covered the kettle with a sleeping bag and returned 90 minutes later (or over night) to pull the bag. My OG is always with in a point or two of B.S. estimated and I cannot tell and difference in the finished product.
 

Brooothru

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I agree! I have the 10L model which is perfect for my standard 2.5 gallon batches. It's not exactly a bargain product, but then again, it doesn't perform like one. I'm currently whirlpooling Bramling Cross in a 30 minute hopstand for a best bitter as we speak/type.

For me, the Braumeister is the evolved endgame of the BIAB concept. There are numerous other systems in the same family, as listed above. But... you can go with a kettle and a bag and it's essentially the same thing!
Totally agree. Braumeister was, I think, the first all-in-one system. As the many others have been rolled out I wondered to myself whether I was an early adopter too soon. But with each new entrant I can see compromises in design and robust construction. That's not to say that Braumeister doesn't have some shortcomings, but I still think it's the best of the bunch.

I don't regret my purchase and am very satisfied with the beer it makes. Well designed and stands up to the load I put in it. The LoDO kit ups the capacity, though requires extra cleanup, but also helps improve beer quality and stability. Spare and replacement costs would be high if the thing ever breaks, but so far it just keeps chugging away.

Brooo Brother
 
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doug293cz

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... If anything, BIAB should be a sub forum to All Grain Brewing. ...
IIRC BIAB did use to be a sub-forum of "All-Grain Brewing." I wasn't part of the change, so don't know the rationale.

Also, this thread is now a sticky.

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Velnerj

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Alright I'll be negative Nancy (perhaps for discussion sake so don't get pissed).

I think this is a bit of a strawman argument. Perhaps I need to read a lot more (though I do my fair share) but I don't really hear anyone aspousing any of the myths that are spelled out here.

Maybe one could make the argument concerning extract vs all grain but I've really never seen biab pitted against other brewing systems.

There was a thread looking for disadvantages of biab and though you may disagree with the opinions expressed on that thread, I can't recall anyone mentioning that biab was inferior in any way. Mostly people said that it just wasn't for them.

The only point that you made that I'll fight directly against is point #6. Some people do not have any overhead to attach a pulley system to nor a step ladder (or other diy solution) and pulling a hot sticky bag out by hand may be their only option (speaking from experience). So it may not be the most suitable option for them. This says nothing regarding the quality of Biab nor its inferiority to other systems. Just not suitable to all situations.

Thankfully there are many brewing systems which can accommodate many differing brewing environments (and budgets) and BIAB is just one of those systems.
 

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Debating 3 vessel systems vs BIAG can be like discussing politics, it ends in disappointment on both sides.

I've done batch sparging , fly sparging and BIAB. I've settled on what gives me consistent result while exerting the least amount of time.

I wish we could put the time and energy we spend debating the hot side of the brewhouse on other things, like recipe creation, or the cold side where is beer is actually made.
 

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I think this is a bit of a strawman argument.
I wish it were, but I've seen this stuff recently. A thread the other day got sidetracked by someone negging BIAB and spouting some of these arguments. You may have missed it because the mods had to come in and delete some things after it got a little heated. Most folks on here are respectful of everyone's methods, but unfortunately some are not.
 

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To the “Hot sticky bag” argument. An overhead pulley is not the only way to remove the bag. See the picture below. The bag is inside the basket. After setting the basket and bag on the grating I use a pair of heavy rubber gloves to squeeze the bag. I do 5.5 gallon batches so there is anywhere from 9 to 14 lbs of grist in the bag (plus water) when I pull it. No mess, no fuss.

I have thought of trying the pulley system but my Dad always said; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
 

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Alright I'll be negative Nancy (perhaps for discussion sake so don't get pissed). I think this is a bit of a strawman argument. Perhaps I need to read a lot more (though I do my fair share) but I don't really hear anyone aspousing any of the myths that are spelled out here.
Look harder. I mean, BIAB is relatively new but I've been reading this forum since 2006 and I'm telling ya, I didn't make these up. Also, as an equipment vendor for the past 10 years, I get a lot of these arguments via email and over the phone so I'm listing all the ones I've seen on forums and heard in person.

The only point that you made that I'll fight directly against is point #6. Some people do not have any overhead to attach a pulley system to nor a step ladder (or other diy solution) and pulling a hot sticky bag out by hand may be their only option (speaking from experience). So it may not be the most suitable option for them. This says nothing regarding the quality of Biab nor its inferiority to other systems. Just not suitable to all situations.
The point is that if you don't have a method to suspend the bag or basket, you shouldn't attempt the method. To put it another way, if someone said they had a really hard time using a cooler mash tun because bits of grain keep pouring out and you later found out they didn't install a filter or false bottom, well duh.
Part of BIAB brewing is that you need a way to suspend. If you don't have a hook overhead, install one. If you can't, build something. I'm just saying, lifting the bag out by hand and then complaining that it sucks is a non starter.
 
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2 things -
1. I mostly do 3 gallon batches with the occasional 5 or even 10. With 3 gallon brews it is never an issue to pull the bag by hand and set in in a colander to drain. I do those on the stovetop. 5 gallon or more I am outside and use a bag hoist. Not hard to figger out.
2. I know that I am looked down on as a BIAB brewer. Even in the local club or at our now defunct LHBS I have "junior" status. The only problem is - I don't care what others think😊 So I breathe in, breathe out, and move on.
 

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I don’t know how much this advances the conversation, but...I have only done BIAB since I entered the hobby. I read a lot of these type threads just to see if I missed any feasible reason to do three vessels. To be fair, I have an igloo HLT and a mash tun (bought them for $20 total on impulse from someone getting out of the hobby but have never used them).
So far, the only partial argument I have (as it applies to my setup) is that I want to occasionally do 10 gallon batches. I don’t think I have the kettle volume available to do a full volume BIAB for anything over 1.040 OG and would need to break out the 3 vessel. I’m sure there are ways to sparge which would fix that, but again, with my setup I haven’t found it.
For 5 gallon batches though, I see no reason.
 
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2 things -
1. I mostly do 3 gallon batches with the occasional 5 or even 10. With 3 gallon brews it is never an issue to pull the bag by hand and set in in a colander to drain. I do those on the stovetop. 5 gallon or more I am outside and use a bag hoist. Not hard to figger out.
2. I know that I am looked down on as a BIAB brewer. Even in the local club or at our now defunct LHBS I have "junior" status. The only problem is - I don't care what others think😊 So I breathe in, breathe out, and move on.
While I wrote the post to be informative, of course it is also a battle cry to the subjugated BIAB brewers among us. Actually, the point is that the common denominator in a group of homebrewers is the beer. You have those who really like beer and the process is a means to an end. You have those who really like beer and also like tweaking their hardware. You have those who really like beer and like tweaking recipes. If you roll into a homebrew club meeting with a fantastic beer and you still get snarky remarks because of the method you brewed it with, tell them I said to said eat my shorts.

In my club, it's the exact opposite. We just taste the beer. A lot of the discussion surrounds recipe choices and cold side handling because that's where the rubber actually meets the road. Often times new members are surprised to find that about half of the top 10 brewers use BIAB as the wort production method and then we move on to more important topics.

Oh, a snobby LHBS is now defunct? I wonder why, seeing as how welcoming and inclusive they were.
 
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I don’t know how much this advances the conversation, but...I have only done BIAB since I entered the hobby. I read a lot of these type threads just to see if I missed any feasible reason to do three vessels. To be fair, I have an igloo HLT and a mash tun (bought them for $20 total on impulse from someone getting out of the hobby but have never used them).
So far, the only partial argument I have (as it applies to my setup) is that I want to occasionally do 10 gallon batches. I don’t think I have the kettle volume available to do a full volume BIAB for anything over 1.040 OG and would need to break out the 3 vessel. I’m sure there are ways to sparge which would fix that, but again, with my setup I haven’t found it.
For 5 gallon batches though, I see no reason.
Batch size definitely came up quite a bit in other comparison threads. Every system you can build is based on a finite vessel size that gets selected. You can drop your card down and buy a 20 gallon 3 vessel system from Spike, SSbrewtech, Blichmann and others. No one that buys that system would suggest that it's an inferior system because they can't brew a full 1BBL batch in it. It wasn't sold as capable of 1BBL batches. Then somehow, when it comes to BIAB, the fact that any given size kettle can't magically handle the "next batch size up" is an argument against the method.

I think the only valid angle on this argument is that the specific small-batch BIAB method of hand lifting a bag and wringing it out or setting it in a spaghetti strainer doesn't scale much past the 5 gallon batch size. I concede that as true, but it kind of plays into my #6 point. Know what you're getting into. Plan the system out well across all requirements.

Sure, there is a practical batch size limit for BIAB and that is going to be different for everyone. You do have some production breweries using something like the BrewHa BIAC system or literally lifting mesh bags out of a 2BBL kettle with a fork lift, but those are extremes. In my personal experience, I've seen a half BBL batch brewed on a system I built (25 gallon kettle). The system was designed with a dual pulley system (not quite block and tackle) that was also attached to a piece of overhead Unistrut with a trolley anchor point. It takes some doing to get the bag up over the pot, then the trolley is rolled forward to clear the pot and drop the bag down into a garbage can or wheelbarrow. I think the exact setup would scale up to maybe a 1BBL batch in a 50 gallon kettle with a 6 pulley block and tackle or a small motorized winch.

To some, that would seem like a LOT of trouble, but I would submit that scaling any system up to a 1BBL is a lot of trouble. Can you imagine dumping a 50 gallon mash tun of it's spent grain, crawling inside to pull the FB and clean everything?

Personally I think a 25-31 gallon pot is about as big as I would go for a BIAB system with a max batch size of a half BBL, fermenting maybe 17 gallons. That's just me. Given that, if you're only brewing 5 to 10 gallons, batch size is not a pro or con with regards to BIAB.
 

rappell

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Hey Bobby. I’ve been brewing for 16 years and have used all kinds of home made systems like most people and Ive been a pro brewer. One thing I would like to point out to people is what you’ve done for scores of DIYers. Your videos and products have enabled so many people to build affordable systems at home without access to sanitary welding. I’m thankful that you’ve been there with products and advice. I ultimately migrated to Biab about 6 years ago and never looked back. I regularly achieve efficiency in the 85-90% range and have some medals that say I make quality beer. So let me say thanks for your hard work helping us DIYers! I’m glad your business is a success and wish you more of the same🙏🙏🍻
 

Brooothru

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Batch size definitely came up quite a bit in other comparison threads. Every system you can build is based on a finite vessel size that gets selected. You can drop your card down and buy a 20 gallon 3 vessel system from Spike, SSbrewtech, Blichmann and others. No one that buys that system would suggest that it's an inferior system because they can't brew a full 1BBL batch in it. It wasn't sold as capable of 1BBL batches. Then somehow, when it comes to BIAB, the fact that any given size kettle can't magically handle the "next batch size up" is an argument against the method.

I think the only valid angle on this argument is that the specific small-batch BIAB method of hand lifting a bag and wringing it out or setting it in a spaghetti strainer doesn't scale much past the 5 gallon batch size. I concede that as true, but it kind of plays into my #6 point. Know what you're getting into. Plan the system out well across all requirements.

Sure, there is a practical batch size limit for BIAB and that is going to be different for everyone. You do have some production breweries using something like the BrewHa BIAC system or literally lifting mesh bags out of a 2BBL kettle with a fork lift, but those are extremes. In my personal experience, I've seen a half BBL batch brewed on a system I built (25 gallon kettle). The system was designed with a dual pulley system (not quite block and tackle) that was also attached to a piece of overhead Unistrut with a trolley anchor point. It takes some doing to get the bag up over the pot, then the trolley is rolled forward to clear the pot and drop the bag down into a garbage can or wheelbarrow. I think the exact setup would scale up to maybe a 1BBL batch in a 50 gallon kettle with a 6 pulley block and tackle or a small motorized winch.

To some, that would seem like a LOT of trouble, but I would submit that scaling any system up to a 1BBL is a lot of trouble. Can you imagine dumping a 50 gallon mash tun of it's spent grain, crawling inside to pull the FB and clean everything?

Personally I think a 25-31 gallon pot is about as big as I would go for a BIAB system with a max batch size of a half BBL, fermenting maybe 17 gallons. That's just me. Given that, if you're only brewing 5 to 10 gallons, batch size is not a pro or con with regards to BIAB.
Super thread, Bobby, and thanks for starting up the debate. Excellent points (and counter-points). Not sure if it'll move people off their hide-bound and deeply held positions on the subject, but perhaps some people might gain some understanding as to what and why the 'other side' mashes the way they do. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, since in the end We've made BEER!.
 

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Batch size definitely came up quite a bit in other comparison threads. Every system you can build is based on a finite vessel size that gets selected. You can drop your card down and buy a 20 gallon 3 vessel system from Spike, SSbrewtech, Blichmann and others. No one that buys that system would suggest that it's an inferior system because they can't brew a full 1BBL batch in it. It wasn't sold as capable of 1BBL batches. Then somehow, when it comes to BIAB, the fact that any given size kettle can't magically handle the "next batch size up" is an argument against the method.

I think the only valid angle on this argument is that the specific small-batch BIAB method of hand lifting a bag and wringing it out or setting it in a spaghetti strainer doesn't scale much past the 5 gallon batch size. I concede that as true, but it kind of plays into my #6 point. Know what you're getting into. Plan the system out well across all requirements.

Sure, there is a practical batch size limit for BIAB and that is going to be different for everyone. You do have some production breweries using something like the BrewHa BIAC system or literally lifting mesh bags out of a 2BBL kettle with a fork lift, but those are extremes. In my personal experience, I've seen a half BBL batch brewed on a system I built (25 gallon kettle). The system was designed with a dual pulley system (not quite block and tackle) that was also attached to a piece of overhead Unistrut with a trolley anchor point. It takes some doing to get the bag up over the pot, then the trolley is rolled forward to clear the pot and drop the bag down into a garbage can or wheelbarrow. I think the exact setup would scale up to maybe a 1BBL batch in a 50 gallon kettle with a 6 pulley block and tackle or a small motorized winch.

To some, that would seem like a LOT of trouble, but I would submit that scaling any system up to a 1BBL is a lot of trouble. Can you imagine dumping a 50 gallon mash tun of it's spent grain, crawling inside to pull the FB and clean everything?

Personally I think a 25-31 gallon pot is about as big as I would go for a BIAB system with a max batch size of a half BBL, fermenting maybe 17 gallons. That's just me. Given that, if you're only brewing 5 to 10 gallons, batch size is not a pro or con with regards to BIAB.
Some others have went a bit bigger.
 

alnick

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Hi Bobby, thanks for posting. What kind of BIAB system do you have? I'm also a BIAB fan. Thank you.
 

shrews824

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I'm a new brewer and went to BIAB after about 6 extract brews. At first I thought BIAB was just a "stepping stone" to 3 vessel brewing, but I quickly realized it wasn't when I began seeing all of the aforementioned all in one brewing systems that are being sold.

The only thing I might add is I would like to try the 3 vessel system just to know how to do it and the entire process behind it. Watching videos can only take me so far. Eventually, I need to try it for myself to really understand the nuances behind each method. I'm not saying that any one system is better or worse than the other however.

I love BIAB and will continue to utilize and use it. I'm having a blast and I'm making much better beer. I also believe practice makes perfect with any system and I love practicing!!!
 
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The only thing I might add is I would like to try the 3 vessel system just to know how to do it and the entire process behind it. Watching videos can only take me so far. Eventually, I need to try it for myself to really understand the nuances behind each method. I'm not saying that any one system is better or worse than the other however.
Absolutely. I hope it's very obvious that this threads is more a rebuttal to the idea that BIAB is inferior, most specifically for people who don't even understand it. I personally think it is a very good method for most people, certainly for me, but I'm all for brewing on many different systems for fun or educational purposes.
 

shrews824

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Absolutely. I hope it's very obvious that this threads is more a rebuttal to the idea that BIAB is inferior, most specifically for people who don't even understand it. I personally think it is a very good method for most people, certainly for me, but I'm all for brewing on many different systems for fun or educational purposes.
Without a doubt. Even though I've yet to try the 3 vessel method I definitely don't think BIAB is inferior. Like I mentioned, at first when I was researching and was ignorant to it I would have thought so, but not now.

Cheers.
 
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