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What BIAB brewing actually is (Mythbusting for traditionalists)

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doug293cz

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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.
Likewise, when I was a baby brewer, I went to a Big Brew Day run by the club I had just joined. I spent a lot of time hovering around the 3 vessel brewers, and asking a lot of questions. There was a guy off to the side (happened to be the club prez) doing BIAB, and my first impression was: "that looks pretty bush league."

Well, I did my first all-grain with BIAB, and have stuck with it for six years. Don't feel a need to change from BIAB.

Brew on :mug:
 

RichBenn

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Bobby, I agree. But I can’t resist a couple comments with a objective to further expand BIAB for 3 vessel brewers.

I designed and built an electric HERMS system A few years back. I designed it to be able to do fly sparging, batch sparging, and BIAB. Comments follow:

1. Almost all my brews are BIAB now, mostly 80% efficiency with no sparge. That says volumes.
2. Technique - with a pump, recirculating BIAB is the bomb. I don’t use the HERMS; I heat with the boil kettle with a free flow false bottom like thing Bobby makes for BIAB electric. Recirculating keeps the element from scorching the wort.
3. Water chemistry is required with a very thin mash used in no sparge. It’s always required for max efficiency, but more important than usual to avoid astringency, as Bobby stated. Nothing new for most advanced brewers, just more brewing salts added.
4. Played with grind size for BIAB. Wound up close to batch sparging grind size.
5. Time to fermenter is faster with BIAB(no sparge).
6. Cleanup is faster with BIAB.

Finally, it’s not a religion. There is more than one path to great beer.
 

matt_m

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A long time brewer I work with recommended BIAB to me when I got into brewing. He has a 3 vessel system but said if he was starting over he'd do BIAB based on what he saw from people in his club. I built a pretty high end system for about what a low end 3-vessel system would have cost and brew behind the bar in my basement which is working out great for our lifestyle. I couldn’t even fit a 3 vessel system there nor would I likely have gotten approval for a less-shiny system there so I’d probably be brewing in the garage or next to the furnace.
 
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renstyle

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Thanks for the good read. 😉

My first few AG batches were batch sparged from a round cooler. It was quite an uptick in equipment to move to a full-blown 3 vessel system, so started reading up on this new fangled "uber specialty grains steep" method...

Once I saw folks using a bag, it clicked for me. Rather than do a full volume mash, in a bag, in the kettle... I got a brew bag and do the MIAB utilizing the cooler I already had.

The 10gal cooler allows a full volume mash for the vast majority of recipes (4.5 gal into corny keg), or still batch sparge.

It's the CLEANUP that makes the bag a HUGE winner. I still use MIAB because that works best for me, but I never want to scoop grain out of a mash tun ever again!

Thanks brew bags! 😍
 

alnick

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Thanks Bobby. I was already subscribed to your youtube channel. I haven't had a chance to see all the videos yet. Watching now.
 

WNKbrew

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I also BIAB, but with 3 vessels. 2 are biab, 1 is HLT. I can brew 2 different 10 gal batches, offsetting mash in by 30 minutes (only 1 chiller) in a 5.5-6 hour brew day. Can't think of a traditional 3V system capable of that.
Hot Rod Heat Sticks and propane heat water and wort FAST.
If I add another pot, burner, and bag I could do 3 10gal batches in a brew day, but may be divorced soon after.
 
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BarryBrews

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BIAB makes cloudier preboil wort.
Cloudy preboil wort is the elephant in the room! Does it matter? What do you want in your boil kettle?

I'm out in left field and hence get more hits. I have a 2 vessel, RIMS and pump system. I under let the strike water and NEVER stir the grist in a mash tun equipped with a false bottom and brew bag. The grist bill is premixed and crushed directly into the mash tun keeping the grain dust contained. By pump recirculating and NEVER disturbing the grain bed I get perfectly clear wort to transferred to the boil kettle. I believe this approach minimizes stuck mash potentials and lowers boil over risks. Besides, it's a whole lot less handling. Try it.

BTW, I also use a soup skimmer, prior to the hops addition, to get those nasty denatured proteins. Over the top?
 

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WNKbrew

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Cloudy preboil wort is the elephant in the room! Does it matter? What do you want in your kettle?

I'm out in left field and hence get more hits. I have a 2 vessel, RIMS and pump system. I under let the strike water and NEVER stir the grist in a mash tun equipped with a false bottom and brew bag. The grist bill is premixed and crushed directly into the mash tun keeping the grain dust contained. By pump recirculating and NEVER disturbing the grain bed I get perfectly clear wort to transferred to the boil kettle. I believe this approach minimizes stuck mash potentials and lowers boil over risks. Besides, it's a whole lot less handling. Try it.
I'm not sure cloudy wort matters. I've underlet before, and rather than lift bag, pumped to kettle. Can't be sure it mattered with only a few brews done this way. I think all my beers are good 😆
 
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Bobby_M

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Cloudy preboil wort is the elephant in the room! Does it matter? What do you want in your kettle?

I'm out in left field and hence get more hits. I have a 2 vessel, RIMS and pump system. I under let the strike water and NEVER stir the grist in a mash tun equipped with a false bottom and brew bag. The grist bill is premixed and crushed directly into the mash tun keeping the grain dust contained. By pump recirculating and NEVER disturbing the grain bed I get perfectly clear wort to transferred to the boil kettle. I believe this approach minimizes stuck mash potentials and lowers boil over risks. Besides, it's a whole lot less handling. Try it.
On the contrary, my understanding is that 2 vessel kettle rims has the potential for even more grain debris in the kettle than BIAB if the mash is put over a standard false bottom. However, I see that you are adding additional measures such as a bag to minimize that.

It does really come down to whether reducing boil kettle particulates makes better beer or not and if so, is it to a degree that justifies another vessel. We already know single vessel doesnt make bad beer. Designing a comparison experiment may prove difficult.

I would say the biggest sample size in this regard will be the hundreds of Spike solo customers who get up to a couple pounds of grain into the boil. If they win comps with that. I think the bag-fines folks are OK.
 

balto charlie

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Long time 15 gallon keggle brewer here, I was never aware that BIAB was looked down upon. I started brewing smaller batches, 3 gallons in recent years and started using my stove top. I now realize that my stove method is basically BIAB. I always thought BIAB had all types of fancy gear. I do make a bit of a mess, my efficiency is only slightly lower but I end up with many more styles of beer albeit smaller volume. So to augment my 4 tap kegerator I started bottling from the kegerator and now serve a far greater number of beers......win, win:)

I still like to crank out the keggles but only for the family favorite recipes.
 

cheesebach

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I would say the biggest sample size in this regard will be the hundreds of Spike solo customers who get up to a couple pounds of grain into the boil. If they win comps with that. I think the bag-fines folks are OK.
I've been enjoying this thread and have even learned a few new things, which I wasn't necessarily expecting having switched to a simple propane BIAB setup (no recirc) about 5 years ago after starting with Denny's batch sparge method. Over the past 1-2 years, I've been looking at upgrading to some sort of electric eBIAB system, with the hopes of removing some of the more annoying parts of my brew day - having to constantly check the temp of the strike water to get it where I want, mash temp variation that depends on the outside temp that day, the pain of doing any sort of step mash without recirc, and constantly going in and out of the house to split the time between brewing and family duties.

Regarding the Spike Solo, is this high amount of grain that makes it into the boil something you've personally observed, based on the early user reports, or something that Spike themselves has mentioned? I'd expect there to be a little more material that makes it through since the slots in the bottom of the grain vessel are probably a bit wider than what a bag would have, but more than a few ounces sounds a bit excessive to me, not to mention a few pounds. Then again, I haven't ever measured how much I'm getting with my current method. I expect this would be a similar issue on some of the other all-in-one systems with a similar design (Unibrau is another I've looked at)? Or is there another aspect of the design of the Spike that makes it more susceptible to this?

There are 2 other drawbacks with some of the all-in-one systems that I've been seeing while doing my research, that have kept me on the fence with this for so long. The first is that the systems with solid grain pipes/vessels all tend to limit the max grain bill relative to a simple bag system of the same size, and some are worse than others. The Spike seems to be the worst offender here with the tapered basket design, as they list a max grain bill of 12lbs on the 10 gal system. I'm not sure I'd want to jump up to the 15 gallon, since that seems a bit much for the ~4 gallon batches I'm usually doing (I'm a corny keg fermenter guy), but I can't imagine I'd be able to reach an OG much above 7% on that system in a 4 gallon batch. Many of the others I've been looking into at seem to do better in this regard (Unibrau, Clawhammer, Brewtools, Grainfather), but it does seem to be a drawback (especially at the ~5 gallon batch size) vs. the simple bag with a false bottom method. Of the ones I've looked at, the brewtools B40 seems to probably do the best at getting around this issue as well as the grain making it into the boil, but dang, that thing is pricey and doesn't look to be easily repaired with standard parts should a pump, heating element, or controller fail.

The other "issue" that has been a concern to me with some of the AIO systems is how they spray hot wort all around almost as if they're purposefully trying to aerate the wort (Grainfather, Brewtools, BrewBoss, Braumeister). I get that they're trying to avoid the pump from drying out the heating element and I'm not following a LoDO hot-side process, but it is something that I'd like to minimize as much as possible. I didn't realize there was actually a low oxygen kit available for the Braumeister before @Brooothru mentioned it here, but that's something I'm definitely going to have to look into that might bring that system back into consideration for me.

Obviously, these "drawbacks" aren't drawbacks of BIAB brewing itself, but I could see how someone comparing electric 3V systems or electric all-in-ones could make some arguments against a lot of the systems that are currently out there. That being said, if none of the fancy all in ones seem like they'd be a good fit for me, I'd probably end up a simple bag and false bottom before adding 2 more vessels to deal with during my brew day.
 

LittleRiver

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... having to constantly check the temp of the strike water to get it where I want, mash temp variation that depends on the outside temp that day....and constantly going in and out of the house to split the time between brewing and family duties....
Try an alarm thermometer with a remote probe. I set mine to beep me when the mash water is a few degrees below target, then I go grind grains and do other things. That takes away the need to constantly check the temp. It's all the automation I need.

For stable mash temps, I just use a kids sleeping bag as insulation. That's all -- no re-circulation, no heating during the mash. On my last brew it was 47F outside, the mash stayed at exactly 150.1F for the entire hour. During that hour I drove into town to do an errand.

The Priceless BIAB Calculator is spot on for water volume & temp calculations, if you give it good info (measure the temp of your grains).
 

McKnuckle

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...they spray hot wort all around almost as if they're purposefully trying to aerate the wort (Grainfather, Brewtools, BrewBoss, Braumeister).
The Braumeister is actually unique among the AIO gadgets in that it pumps up from the bottom, through the mash pipe, and the wort cascades very gently over the top like a waterfall. It does not spray anything around or dribble it down. So even absent a low oxygen kit, I think it's a relatively low aeration mash process.

Also, you can reduce this even further by doughing in, putting the filter plates and clamp in place, and then adding additional hot liquor until the mash pipe is entirely covered. Then there is not even any cascading over the top.
 

BarryBrews

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I'd probably end up a simple bag and false bottom
A brew bag and false bottom in a mash tun allows the wort to be drawn off without disturbing the grain bed and releasing small particular matter into the brew kettle wort. And I would imagine a BIAB system with a SS basket lined with a brew bag would also allow removal of the grain without disturbing the grain bed. But when it comes to squeezing the bag....does not sound like fun.

Personally I noticed an improvement in flavor and lower harshness when I started my clear wort brewing. Clear wort into the boil kettle and equally important clear wort into the fermenter, sans cold break.
 

dtashmore547

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great thread and I completely agree with the sentiments expressed here.

I have been using the BIAB system since I started in 1979, never had the interest in changing as I get great results. since joining this forum I have picked up a few ideas such as lautering, I have also dispensed with the bag in favor of a basket which I can lift onto a frame fitted to the top of the 3kw 40lt boiler I use, the lautering has built my efficiency from the mid 80s to the mid 90s. I also find that a course grind to my grain gives better results(I was always taught not to get too much flour in my mash as it causes the must to be too cloudy). I get very good temperature stability (helps mainly to get reproducible results) by using a digital temperature controller and agitation of the bag/basket from a top mounted motor. it is a simple and easily cleaned setup so I have no interest in upgrading and no experience in multi tier brewing systems.
my high cost brewing experience came with a move into kegging and dispensing, but my brewing is cheap and mostly home made.
 
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Bobby_M

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I've been enjoying this thread and have even learned a few new things, which I wasn't necessarily expecting having switched to a simple propane BIAB setup (no recirc) about 5 years ago after starting with Denny's batch sparge method. Over the past 1-2 years, I've been looking at upgrading to some sort of electric eBIAB system, with the hopes of removing some of the more annoying parts of my brew day - having to constantly check the temp of the strike water to get it where I want, mash temp variation that depends on the outside temp that day, the pain of doing any sort of step mash without recirc, and constantly going in and out of the house to split the time between brewing and family duties.

Regarding the Spike Solo, is this high amount of grain that makes it into the boil something you've personally observed, based on the early user reports, or something that Spike themselves has mentioned? I'd expect there to be a little more material that makes it through since the slots in the bottom of the grain vessel are probably a bit wider than what a bag would have, but more than a few ounces sounds a bit excessive to me, not to mention a few pounds. Then again, I haven't ever measured how much I'm getting with my current method. I expect this would be a similar issue on some of the other all-in-one systems with a similar design (Unibrau is another I've looked at)? Or is there another aspect of the design of the Spike that makes it more susceptible to this?
Many users on the Facebook Spike User group report the issue with pictures and have tried many different mill gaps. It's also exactly what I'd expect to happen knowing the slot profile being used. If you scoop all the grain out of a spike mash tun, and then lift the FB out, you'll find 1-2LBs of grain under there too.

The other "issue" that has been a concern to me with some of the AIO systems is how they spray hot wort all around almost as if they're purposefully trying to aerate the wort (Grainfather, Brewtools, BrewBoss, Braumeister). I get that they're trying to avoid the pump from drying out the heating element and I'm not following a LoDO hot-side process, but it is something that I'd like to minimize as much as possible. I didn't realize there was actually a low oxygen kit available for the Braumeister before @Brooothru mentioned it here, but that's something I'm definitely going to have to look into that might bring that system back into consideration for me.

Obviously, these "drawbacks" aren't drawbacks of BIAB brewing itself, but I could see how someone comparing electric 3V systems or electric all-in-ones could make some arguments against a lot of the systems that are currently out there. That being said, if none of the fancy all in ones seem like they'd be a good fit for me, I'd probably end up a simple bag and false bottom before adding 2 more vessels to deal with during my brew day.
I couldn't agree more about the spraying BS. It's why I used a locline tube for my recirc, to put the outflow below liquid. I understand the attraction to a cohesive "system" but I've built clones of my personal rig for people weekly for a while now and you end up with nothing proprietary.
 
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Bobby_M

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A brew bag and false bottom in a mash tun allows the wort to be drawn off without disturbing the grain bed and releasing small particular matter into the brew kettle wort. And I would imagine a BIAB system with a SS basket lined with a brew bag would also allow removal of the grain without disturbing the grain bed. But when it comes to squeezing the bag....does not sound like fun.

Personally I noticed an improvement in flavor and lower harshness when I started my clear wort brewing. Clear wort into the boil kettle and equally important clear wort into the fermenter, sans cold break.
I believe you, if not a bit anecdotal. I think the way to prove it to myself or judge worthiness is to create a wort per normal BIAB process, pull the bag and then give the wort some time to settle. Then rack the top half of the wort to a separate boil kettle. That one will be clear preboil and the other half will be double sediment.
 

Transamguy77

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Great write up Bobby! And +1 to What @rappell said about your products and info over the years.

I started brewing 10 years ago and after about a year or so I moved to BIAB and did that for about another year or so, I was the only one in my Homebrew club that made beer that way and it was not ever seen as a negative or an inferior way to brew, actually most people were intrigued that I made great beer and the process to make it.

I did eventually move on to a 3 tier system and 10 gallon batches, at the time there was not much info on building a pulley system or maybe I would have considered it. I looked at what my end goal was and how I wanted my process to be, I wanted a system that needed no lifting (Only lifting is to empty the mash tun) no pumps, to use gravity and chill with a large IC.

I think there are pros and cons to every method and what determines them is based on the brewer and what their needs are. For me I like my 3 vessel system and I have used it for so long now there is very little guessing on volumes and efficiency I know what I can expect from the final product.

There has been a lot of good info and conversation about the method in this thread and I’m glad it’s in one place.
 

BarryBrews

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Hey Bobby - Pre-boiled wort does not settle well. Maybe a clear wort split and a handful of spent grist thrown in one. Followed up with the boiled clear wort settling over night before transfering to a fermenter.

As for the clear wort brewing, it's right out of the textbooks. Die_Beerery has been nice enough to previously post quotes pertinent to this discussion. Thank you Die_Beerery.

For the last 2.5 years, 26 batches, I've practice the no-stir mash (under let only), clear wort to BK and clear wort to the fermenter without ever having a stuck mash or BK boil over or fermenter blow out (even with a hefeweizen). Clear means no suspended particles, just to be clear.

I'm sharing this information as a way of paying forward and hope it's not perceived as too controversial. Almost everything I've learned about brewing has come from other homebrewers willing to share their experiences. Cheers.

"Fix in “Principals of Brewing Science (2nd Edition)”:

“The group of interest here is the long-chain, unsaturated fatty acids that are derived from malt. They are typically found in wort trub (i.e., particles suspended in the wort), which can consist of as much as 50% lipids (Meilgaard, 1977). Cloudy wort can contain anywhere from 5 to 40 times the unsaturated fatty-acid content of clear wort, an important fact because unsaturated fatty acids can have a significant negative effect even at low concentrations. On the positive side, fatty acids contribute to yeast viability via a number of mechanisms (see chapter 3), and they also inhibit the formation of some less pleasant acetate esters during fermentation (see chapter 3). On the negative side, they work against beer foam stability, as any fatty material does. Even more significantly, they play an important role in beer staling (see chapter 4). Thus, some investigations have reported that wort clarity (via trub removal) is essential (Zangrando, 1979), whereas other investigators have found some carryover of unsaturated fatty acids in the trub to be beneficial (Hough et al., 1981). In spite of these advantages, brewers still prefer clarified worts with minimum trub carryover, if for no other reason than the negative role wort-derived fatty acids play in beer staling. Another class of beer-staling constituents consists of fatty acids. In beer, fatty acids come from two sources, namely, unsaturated fatty acids from wort trub and saturated ones from yeast metabolism. As discussed in chapter 3, the saturated fatty acids can react with alcohols to form esters. The unsaturated fatty acids, on the other hand, are major players in beer staling. They tend to be fairly resistant to oxidation and spill over into the finished beer where they tend to produce “fatty or goaty notes.””

Kunze in “Technology of Brewing and Malting (5th Edition)”:

During malting the lipids are partly broken down and this breakdown is continued during mashing. This breakdown will later be of great interest to us. A large part of the lipids is later precipitated with the trub. Cloudy lautering and poor trub excretion lead to large amounts of free fatty acids in the wort, which the yeast cells require to produce new cell substances, but which can also contribute to a reduction in flavour stability.

Removal of the coarse break (coarse trub). The break from the cast wort is now called coarse break, as well as boiled or hot break. It consists of large particles, 30 – 80 μm in size, which are slightly heavier than the wort and in general settle down well to form a compact mass if they are given sufficient time. The coarse break must be removed since it is not only of no value in further beer production,but also actually detrimental to quality:
• Hinders wort clarification

• Increases the amount of break-rich sediment and thereby increases the loss

• Makes beer filtration more difficult if it is not removed at the right time.

Whirlpool – Whirlpools have been installed for break removal in increasing numbers since about 1960. It is the most elegant method for hot break removal and is the least costly alternative of all trub removal methods.

Cold break – At about 60 °C the previously clear wort will start to become turbid. This turbidity is due to small particles about 0.5 μm in diameter. This is therefore called fine, cool or cold break (cold trub). Because of its small size, cold break settles only with great difficulty…It has the property of adhering to other particles, e.g. yeast cells or air bubbles. When it adheres to yeast cells it decreases the yeast contact surface and thereby reduces the fermentation rate. This is referred to as “coating” the yeast. Cold break consists of protein-polyphenol compounds which precipitate to a greater extent in relatively cold media and partially dissolve again on warming. This means that wort on cooling to 5 °C still contains 14% of the total cold break in dissolved form. A residual amount of cold break at discharge of 120-160 mg/I dry matter is desirable [199]. A reduction of the cold break content to approximately this value can result in:

• A more rounded beer flavor, particularly in the bitterness

• An improvement of the beer foam (as a result of the precipitation of fatty acids),

• An improvement of the flavour stability

• A more intensive fermentation.

To remove the cold break the following methods can be used (Sect. 3.9.4):
• Filtration (using Perlite)

• Flotation,

• Sedimentation or

• Separation.
The cold break is only formed later after the coarse break has already been removed. Separate equipment is therefore required for the removal of coarse and cold break. Nowadays the cold break is not usually removed. A prerequisite for this, however, is an optimal hot break removal and fermentative yeast (assimilation yeast). With a powerful course of fermentation, a distinctive flavour, good flavour stability and good foam stability can be expected.



So what does this mean for Joe low oxygen brewer. I think if we break it down it means this:

Achieve as clear of a mash wort as we can.
Get a nice good hot break.
Utilize a whirlpool when chilling to concentrate and remove hot break.
Chill fast to precipitate cold break, allow for it to form and then remove it.
Try and get clear beer into the fermenter
I think with minimal effort we can make something work for us as most people are already doing many of the steps. Here are some examples of what I do.

Mash:

I utilize a HERMS recirculating mash, that recirculates the entire time. This is going to help us in many ways, homogeneous mixing for consistent temperatures and gravities, and using the husks as a filter bed are two of the main ones. I took this one step further and I use a custom mesh bag in addition to a custom false bottom in my mash tun. I also use the technique of grain conditioning. All these process’s combine for allowing me to leave all the undesirables in the mash tun (fats, lipids, tannins, etc) and give me a pristine wort preboil. Here are some photos of my preboil wort."

Taken From my blog here:
Trub Seperation- Why and How - The ****************


Prost!
 

Beermeister32

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When using BIAB, just increase the batch size by one gallon. The first 5 gallons goes into the carboy. The last gallon goes into a one gallon jug to ferment separately. The jug beer will be rougher tasting but can produce 5 or so beers, sometimes OK. This way the main batch is unaffected by excess kettle trub.
IMG_1951.JPG
 

Miraculix

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Hey Bobby - Pre-boiled wort does not settle well. Maybe a clear wort split and a handful of spent grist thrown in one. Followed up with the boiled clear wort settling over night before transfering to a fermenter.

As for the clear wort brewing, it's right out of the textbooks. Die_Beerery has been nice enough to previously post quotes pertinent to this discussion. Thank you Die_Beerery.

For the last 2.5 years, 26 batches, I've practice the no-stir mash (under let only), clear wort to BK and clear wort to the fermenter without ever having a stuck mash or BK boil over or fermenter blow out (even with a hefeweizen). Clear means no suspended particles, just to be clear.

I'm sharing this information as a way of paying forward and hope it's not perceived as too controversial. Almost everything I've learned about brewing has come from other homebrewers willing to share their experiences. Cheers.
These are valid points speaking for clear clear and clearer wort and might be a hint to why I sometimes have poor head and why some of the beers I had in Slovakia had great head, although being Pilsener without any wheat.

I always dump everything in, hot break, cold break.... Don't even have a cold break as I chill over night in a water bath, which isn't fast enough for cold break formation.
 
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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.

View attachment 707560

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.

View attachment 707561

Ok, the last year I have records for. Not sure the method for 1st and 2nd place but 3rd and 4th definitely BIAB.
View attachment 707562

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
Very well put together. I was a 3 vessel brewer with a herms until 2 years ago. I then went onto a 2 tier full recirculation, full volume no sparge. 83% efficiency. i upgraded to a bigger kettle 200ltr with a false bottom,but kept my 80ltr SS Brewtech mash tun.
I now mash in the Brewtech and shut the lid. I then use a huge bag in the 6kw kettle, and recirculate another mash of the same recipe. Then use a temp mash out recirculated at 68 degree, and then combine both worts. My efficiency???? 83%
The final beer in my opinion is a more superior wort.
I have now got a bag for the Brewtech mash tun, as i find clean up easy,digging out 20+kg of grain is messy.
 

RM-MN

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I always dump everything in, hot break, cold break.... Don't even have a cold break as I chill over night in a water bath, which isn't far enough for cold break formation.
I use a water bath and with a light color wort so I could see it have seen cold break form in minutes from setting the kettle into the cold water.
 

RM-MN

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Maybe my wort is just too cloudy :D
I believe my wort was probably from a cream ale which was very light color and had good clarity. It's the only time I had noticed that, possibly because most of the time I have a lid on the kettle before I set it in the water bath. Your water might be a bit warmer than mine too as I live pretty far north in Minnesota where we have short summers and long winters.
 
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When using BIAB, just increase the batch size by one gallon. The first 5 gallons goes into the carboy. The last gallon goes into a one gallon jug to ferment separately. The jug beer will be rougher tasting but can produce 5 or so beers, sometimes OK. This way the main batch is unaffected by excess kettle trub.View attachment 707931
There are different layers of discussion here too. Do mash particulates in the boil make a huge difference in wort flavor? Do mash particulates that make it into the fermenter make an impact? Does hot break in the fermenter matter? Does cold break in the fermenter matter? I think the extremes would end up being noticeable. That is to say if a bunch of grain bits and other particulates made it into the kettle and then that and all the kettle trub made it into the fermenter, that would make one beer. The other extreme is a perfect vorlauf with clear wort going into the kettle and then a chill in place, whirlpool, settle and careful run to the fermenter (or alternatively using a conical where trub gets dumped prior to yeast pitch).

Without worrying too much about any of that stuff other than whirlpooling and settling in the kettle, I see beers scoring in the high 30's and low 40's. That's good recipe design, good pH/water management, yeast health, fermentation temp management and oxygen avoidance throughout, including packaging. If any of the particulate stuff from the bag being in the boil is hurting the beer, it's probably a degree of a few points. That's not to shrug it off by any means because everything in the list above is a few points. Do none of it and you have 25. Do all of it and it's a 40.
 

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I agree about keeping particles and trub out of the process when possible. One will still get clear beer without worrying about it, and that's why I stay away from those arguments. But I do believe there's some flavor and shelf life compromises. It's just one of the many small things we can do to preserve our product.

Lately I have been chilling to a warmer temp, thus wasting less water, then racking everything without aeration from the kettle to a 3 gallon carboy (2.5 gallon batch).

I refrigerate that for a couple/few hours down to pitch temp, then siphon the clear wort into the FV. Last time I did this I dumped the remaining stuff into a small vessel to see how much was discarded. It was about 6 cups worth. This particular beer, while still young, is a pale lager that bursts with flavor compared to similar ones I've brewed without worrying over trub inclusion in the FV.

Granted I also practiced cold side LoDo to the extent possible with my system. It all matters. It also doesn't matter for less experienced brewers, folks who we're trying to encourage and keep things simple for. :) I think that nuance gets lost in the discussions sometimes.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1aa4.jpg
 
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Cyclman

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I I went from 3v to BIAB. Brew outside, use a buck Boss tripod, and SS grill grates and clamps to squeeze big mash bills. No tannin issue, could use 3v, but don’t. I recirc. And use your heating elements. Get great mash temp stability.
 

matt_m

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When using BIAB, just increase the batch size by one gallon. The first 5 gallons goes into the carboy. The last gallon goes into a one gallon jug to ferment separately. The jug beer will be rougher tasting but can produce 5 or so beers, sometimes OK. This way the main batch is unaffected by excess kettle trub.
Interesting. I do as well but just dump it in compost with my spent grain and hops. My reason was to avoid transferring too much hop material from hoppy beers but the side affect is I rarely transfer much trub as well. I can frequently see right through my sight glasses but once in a while I'll dump a pint or so to get there. That does destroy my efficiency but I really don't really care.
 

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I'm really thinking about a solution of how to get as little trub into my fermenter as possible....

I think the only thing I can do is to manually remove as much of the hot break as possible, as long as it floats on the surface, as I fill my fermenter with the boiling hot wort and there's not enough time for everything to settle in the pot I boil and biab in.

I would need a two vessel system at least to be able to recirc etc. ..... Damn it, am I thinking about building a mash ton now?!
 

BarryBrews

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I'm really thinking about a solution of how to get as little trub into my fermenter as possible....
There is definitely lower efficiency with clear wort production. It can be produced without any special equipment beyond what almost all homebrewers already have, a brew bag and some sort of wort chiller. And if you don't have a bag, it's worth the money. I believe this is one of the many techniques that beginner brewers can set as a goal for beer improvement. And as for BIAB brewers, they are already making the best wort with the full boil volume mash!

The NEIPA is a good example of an extreme trub wort to clear for the fermenter. I accomplish this by cooling to 160F in order to whirlpool lots of hops for 20 minutes and then cooling down to less than 80F for the cold break to happen. At this point the top is sanitized and placed on the boil kettle securing the wort for the over night settling. Now comes the decision, do I want the trub (cold & hot break, hops, denatured proteins...yuck) in my fermenter or go ahead and wait over night to put clear wort in my fermenter the next morning? The extra space left in the fermenter without the trub is appreciated as is the ease of yeast harvesting. Try it.
 
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Miraculix

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There is definitely lower efficiency with clear wort production. It can be produced without any special equipment beyond what almost all homebrewers already have, a brew bag and some sort of wort chiller. And if you don't have a bag, it's worth the money. I believe this is one of the many techniques that beginner brewers can set as a goal for beer improvement. And as for BIAB brewers, they are already making the best wort with the full boil volume mash!

The NEIPA is a good example of an extreme trub wort to clear for the fermenter. I accomplish this by cooling to 160F in order to whirlpool lots of hops for 20 minutes and then cooling down to less than 80F for the cold break to happen. At this point the top is sanitized and placed on the boil kettle securing the wort for the over night settling. Now comes the decision, do I want the trub (cold & hot break, hops, denatured proteins...) in my fermenter or go ahead and wait over night to put clear wort in my fermenter the next morning? The extra space left in the fermenter without the trub is appreciated as is the ease of yeast harvesting. Try it.
The only problem I got with this, is that I would lose my favourite part of dropping the boiling liquid into the fermenter, it sanitises everything.
 
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I agree about keeping particles and trub out of the process when possible. One will still get clear beer without worrying about it, and that's why I stay away from those arguments. But I do believe there's some flavor and shelf life compromises. It's just one of the many small things we can do to preserve our product.

Lately I have been chilling to a warmer temp, thus wasting less water, then racking everything without aeration from the kettle to a 3 gallon carboy (2.5 gallon batch).

I refrigerate that for a couple/few hours down to pitch temp, then siphon the clear wort into the FV. Last time I did this I dumped the remaining stuff into a small vessel to see how much was discarded. It was about 6 cups worth. This particular beer, while still young, is a pale lager that bursts with flavor compared to similar ones I've brewed without worrying over trub inclusion in the FV.

Granted I also practiced cold side LoDo to the extent possible with my system. It all matters. It also doesn't matter for less experienced brewers, folks who we're trying to encourage and keep things simple for. :) I think that nuance gets lost in the discussions sometimes.

View attachment 707933
I'll use your post as an excuse to drift this thread a bit. Apologies to the LoDO haters.

So, I started incorporating LoDO into my routine about two years ago in hopes to improve upon a truly disastrous year in competition brewing. I had really gotten slammed by judges on a few entries, and justifiably so. Opinions varied, but after a process of elimination the common culprit appeared to be oxidation. I made major changes not only in my processes but also in equipment, so I can't say that incorporating hot side and cold side LoDO practices (where practical) was the key to better beer, but it did lead almost immediately to clearer wort going into the BV and into the fermenter.

Coincidence? Don't know, but the next competition yielded me 3 First Place, 1 Third Place, and Best of Show, so obviously something worked.

The one technique that I believe really helps with clear wort is using "Trifecta" (NaMeta, ascorbic acid, and BrewTan B) in both the mash and especially late boil. All the hot break, cold break and tiny bits in the wort fall out like bricks after rapid chilling and a :45 minute whirlpool/hopstand.

20200915_142544.jpg

Exhibit A, just before transferring into the fermenter.

That was 5 brew sessions ago, and it's typical of the clarity I now get regularly. The beer tastes great, flavors seem to last longer (though in fairness I had one brew where the hops did fade after a month or so), and most importantly the long term stability has shown marked improvement. Even if you're not interested in LoDO, you might want to consider using Trifecta if clear wort is your goal.

*We now return this thread to its regularly scheduled ranting *

Brooo Brother
 

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The only problem I got with this, is that I would lose my favourite part of dropping the booking liquid into the fermenter, it sanitises everything.
Pouring boiling wort into a fermenter does sound exciting, but.....danger Will Robinson.

The best practice I've seen in nine years of brewing is clean with PBW and sanitize with StarSan. The perfectionist approach can't be overstated when it comes cleaning and sanitizing everything that touches your wort after leaving the boil kettle!
 

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Hey Bobby - Pre-boiled wort does not settle well. Maybe a clear wort split and a handful of spent grist thrown in one. Followed up with the boiled clear wort settling over night before transfering to a fermenter.

As for the clear wort brewing, it's right out of the textbooks. Die_Beerery has been nice enough to previously post quotes pertinent to this discussion. Thank you Die_Beerery.

For the last 2.5 years, 26 batches, I've practice the no-stir mash (under let only), clear wort to BK and clear wort to the fermenter without ever having a stuck mash or BK boil over or fermenter blow out (even with a hefeweizen). Clear means no suspended particles, just to be clear.

I'm sharing this information as a way of paying forward and hope it's not perceived as too controversial. Almost everything I've learned about brewing has come from other homebrewers willing to share their experiences. Cheers.
Clear wort can easily achieve by either filter with another bag pre boil or let post boil cool a little slower say 2 hours or so. Most heavy stuff dropped to the bottom and you can use siphon to draw out crystal clear wort from the top. I have done that multiple times, but never see any improvement. In fact I pour everything into the fermentor and had not issue at all beside wasting 1 litre or so in the end.
 

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Pouring boiling wort into a fermenter does sound exciting, but.....danger Will Robinson.

The best practice I've seen in nine years of brewing is clean with PBW and sanitize with StarSan. The perfectionist approach can't be overstated when it comes cleaning and sanitizing everything that touches your wort after leaving the boil kettle!
That is certainly true.

It is just that the perfectly sanitised fermenter due to heat and steam gives me a bit mor confidence in my over night no chill practice (due to the absence of a wort chiller... Ok, I might actually buy one now...), which I would loose. Letting the wort sit over night in a pasteurised state is a different thing than letting it sit over night in a brew pot and then dump it from there into the fermenter which is not as clean as it would with all the heat going on with the hot wort. Also my brewing pot is not air tight, it is just a basic pot with a lid, condensation might drop into it... condensation that has formed the day before and probably contains a bit of nutrients and microbes... you know what I mean :D

Anyway, I might just invest in a wort chiller plus a setup that can be connected to a kitchen sink and be done with it!
 

BarryBrews

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I'll use your post as an excuse to drift this thread a bit. Apologies to the LoDO haters.
Actually it seems to me that Low Dissolved Oxygen methods should be part all brew procedure discussions. For example pre-boiling your strike water then cool to the strike temperature and not splashing hot side wort can be done by any brewer and perhaps should be. The real game changer for me in reducing the oxidation in my beers was moving from bucket bottling to closed beer transfers to kegs. Also stopping the dry hop practice which was too risky. The true is I tell people using kegs are so much faster and easier in every way over bottling. After a certain amount of brews you'll ask yourself am I committed enough and tired enough of bottling to make the change. It's like a brewer before the era of BIAB considering paring down his brewing footprint.
 

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(due to the absence of a wort chiller... Ok, I might actually buy one now...)
Without a pump, an immersion chiller is the best choice and is also inexpensive. For a Counter Flow Chiller the Kegco CFC type should be considered for it's ease of cleaning over the plate chillers. I actually sold my Therminator! To me brewing has to be the lowest amount of work for the greatest possible beer. That's part of the fun.

Your concern about leaving the wort in the boil kettle over night is really not needed after all the whole system is sanitized during the boil and the top can be sprayed with StarSan solution.
 

BarryBrews

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The one technique that I believe really helps with clear wort is using "Trifecta" (NaMeta, ascorbic acid, and BrewTan B) in both the mash and especially late boil. All the hot break, cold break and tiny bits in the wort fall out like bricks after rapid chilling and a :45 minute whirlpool/hopstand.
Sodium Metasulite for the oxygen, ascorbic acid for scurvy eh mash pH, but where are you finding the BrewTan B for sale?
 
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