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What BIAB brewing actually is (Mythbusting for traditionalists)

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matt_m

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Is there anything specific you saw in the video that I can answer for you?
Mainly the boil and chilling process that you said you forgot to record in the video. I'm curious about what you do with the recirc hose during the boil and how you sanitize it at the end.
 

ThenFalcon

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What I want is a system like Bobby's that's able to brew batch sizes below 2.5 gallons in size. :) I know that's counter to the standard "bigger is better" mantra, but it's something I like to do.
I also like to brew small batches (1.5 to 2 gallons) and would be interested in a small system. I'm currently mashing in my oven and then boiling on a stovetop. Temperature control is not precise, but it's been working ok.

What does your piecemeal system look like?
 

McKnuckle

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@ThenFalcon, it's a 4 gallon stainless pail. I installed an SS BrewTech rotating dip tube and run an Anvil pump. Temp "control" (kinda sorta) is provided by an Avantco induction burner, but it's not precise obviously.

Inside the pail is a basket with a handle and a Wilser bag that fits inside it. The basket diameter is smaller than the pail bottom, so it sits on the bottom, on feet, adjacent to the dip tube. The bag doesn't really fit the basket, but is draped around it. Like I said - cobbled together. :)

You can't see the basket's handle in this picture, and the way it fits isn't super obvious either. But I can lift it out with the rope/hook (visible in the first photo) and not disturb the grain bed, producing clear wort.

I drain this to a small, proper kettle and boil on the induction plate.

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cmac62

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I too started with a cooler MT system. When we sold two houses (one a cabin) to move into a newer model my wife allowed me to upgrade my brewery. I went with a prebuilt 3V system with an automated HERMS with one pump and one gravity (Tippy Dump system). The brew day was not better with the fancy system, to the contrary, it was longer and required more lifting than the earlier model. I wish I had looked into BIAB before purchasing the tippy dump, because I recently bought an Anvil. I am three brews in and am enjoying the simplicity. I think my next brew on it will be a no sparge batch to see the difference in brew day. :mug:
 

JohnnyO'

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What I want is a system like Bobby's that's able to brew batch sizes below 2.5 gallons in size. :) I know that's counter to the standard "bigger is better" mantra, but it's something I like to do.

I bought a 10L Braumeister because it's perfect for 2.5 gallons, but the BM lacks the ability to do 1 gallon batches because the malt pipe is too tall. I had to cobble together a piecemeal system and it works, but isn't elegant. Of course I could go old school with such a small batch and mash in a cooler, etc., but why settle for that?
Curious as to why one would not just do 1 gallon batches on their stove top.
 

McKnuckle

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Curious as to why one would not just do 1 gallon batches on their stove top.
  1. Wife uses kitchen
  2. Teenagers use kitchen
  3. All of the above are home 24x7 due to pandemic
  4. Prefer hanging out alone in my brewing cave basement
  5. All other brewing gear is in said basement
  6. Can't recirculate in kitchen
  7. Immersion chiller can't be used in kitchen
  8. Gas stove is less controllable than induction
I could go on. But anyway.
 

JohnnyO'

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  1. Wife uses kitchen
  2. Teenagers use kitchen
  3. All of the above are home 24x7 due to pandemic
  4. Prefer hanging out alone in my brewing cave basement
  5. All other brewing gear is in said basement
  6. Can't recirculate in kitchen
  7. Immersion chiller can't be used in kitchen
  8. Gas stove is less controllable than induction
I could go on. But anyway.
Wow.
 
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Bobby_M

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Mainly the boil and chilling process that you said you forgot to record in the video. I'm curious about what you do with the recirc hose during the boil and how you sanitize it at the end.
I usually dangle the recirc hose into the sink. If I didn't have it nearby, I would put a hook on the end of the hose to hang on one of the kettle handles. How I sanitize that hose is typically by dangling it into the boil kettle right at the end of the boil and pump hot wort through it for a minute. Then I move on to chilling with my immersion chiller and whirlpooling. I've forgotten to do that and just put the entire hose into a bucket of starsan for a few minutes.
 

rkhanso

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If I didn't do electric BIAB, I wouldn't be all-grain brewing at all. I'd still be doing extract on my stove (not that there's anything wrong with that, either).
I don't have the money for a 3-vessel or more "traditional" method. Shiny metal is expensive. And I've spent more than I thought I would on BIAB.

Instead of all the stainless steel, my money was spent on DIY electric controllers, a 25 gal aluminum kettle, 5500w element, small solar pump, steam condenser, plastic conical fermenter with DIY temp control, used window A/C unit and cooler for chilling, a DIY CFC, kegerator and kegs. I've found great deals on all of it, but it still adds up.

BIAB has ALLOWED me to do all-grain the way I want to do it and at an 11 gallon batch size. I've spent well under $1k on my system (maybe about $700?). Ssshh! My wife doesn't know it has been that much.
 
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Jayjay1976

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I'm a BIAB brewer since my first batch and my beers are awesome. I love my system even though it's a homebuilt, it does everything I need, and ~45 batches in I have zero desire to upgrade. Well I guess my one upgrade was switching from paint bags to a wilser bag and pulley system, that made a huge difference.

Btw, brewhardware is a great supplier and has never let me down.
 

beerisyummy

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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”.
I got back into brewing after a long hiatus, did about 30 extract brews and have been BIAB for about 30 since. I stretch the Wilser bag over the sides of the kettle and put an insulated "hat" (something they use to keep frozen raw dog food frozen, repurposed :cool:) over the kettle during the mash, holds temp very nicely. Then I just hoist the bag up and let it drip for a few minutes - it's good exercise! - before proceeding to the dunk-sparge. No muss, no fuss, unless I myself am clumsy.
 

porterguy

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I don't know about this BIAB stuff. I'm pretty sure the ancient Egyptians used all stainless, 3V system, with everything sized big enough to produce beer for 5,000 while they were building the pyramids (although 5,000 could lift a pretty big grain bag, with the right pulley system of course). :mug:
 

Brooothru

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I don't know about this BIAB stuff. I'm pretty sure the ancient Egyptians used all stainless, 3V system, with everything sized big enough to produce beer for 5,000 while they were building the pyramids (although 5,000 could lift a pretty big grain bag, with the right pulley system of course). :mug:
Yeah, and how 'bout them old Mesopotamian fellers, too? That wus like 10,000 years ago, or was it ten million...I ferget.

"Hand me another of them 'ice teas' there, will ya' Pee Wee?"
(Dizzy Dean to Pee Wee Reece, numerous times on Saturday Baseball broadcasts, circa 1950s)
 

Iseneye

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@ mcknuckle If you don't mind wasting grain and hops then just brew more than you need to get to 2.5 gallons and dump the excess. Shouldn't need to use a different system.
 
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I sometimes fill a growler before I fill my get if I know I'll have a quart or two extra. Of course then folks will say "Oh, don't do that, that glass isn't made for pressure." Can you imagine the folks in the glass plant telling one another, "Hey, make this a little weaker than the twelve ouncers .. It's a growler!"
 

bjlesm

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If you cant rig a pulley system, I bought the Sentinel Boil Over Minder on sale from NB for $20ish, I just slide that under the bag as I pull it up, easily holds over 20lbs of grain while it drains, you can push all you want on the bag to squeeze, its pretty well built
 

Nubiwan

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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.
Well said. Im just glad im not the only one. I dont even bother trying to keep mash temps constant any more. I throw the grains in at 158, and maybe in an hour or two its hovering in the mid to high 140s. My FGs are consistently under 1.008, so anyone thinks i (denatured?) the beta amylase with my high temps has some explaning to do. My beers all taste great, and similar from one batch to the next (rather anecdotally i admit).

In my humble one, the only reason youd want to maintain steady mash (and why large scale breweries need to) is if you are somehow wanting to achieve uber consistency in the finished product. At the homebrew scale of 10-20 gallon batches, i'm yet to be convinced you would see marked differences in the same recipes mashed 3-4 degrees apart. Perhaps with obtuse grain bills, this might be the case, but with the stuff 70-80 % of what people are brewing, I really wonder. Yet people religiously tout their mash temps as if any other temp will result in something approaching bilge water. Simply not the case. Dont sweat your temps.

As stated earlier, BIAB is very forgiving, and unless you really screw up process, or comtaminate, a decent recipe will deliver. Even 3-4 degrees off mash temp. Its all voodoo, i say :)
 
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Nubiwan

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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:
Bush League! That just tickled me. We're all Bush League Brewers.

When i look at large systems, all i think is, whats them other two containers used for? Surely it just eats up more of your precious time. BIAB is "quick and dirty", in a good way, and final product is excellent. Im the envy of the neighbourhood, cos i can turn grains into nice beer.

Welcome to the Bush League!
 

Bilsch

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I wanted to love BIAB because obviously it's a lot less complicated but sadly there is no good way to stay low oxygen on the hotside and exclude all the trub from the fermenter. So for those reasons I'm out.
 
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Nubiwan

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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?

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.
A case in point for "what seems to me" like a very typical HBT topic. Strike and mash temp management. Putting pillows and jackets around kettles. Adding cold water. Ambient Grain temps. Worrying about freezing weather out in the garage. Do i leave the lid on or off? Keep the burner on low, risk scorching my grains or worse, my bag. Maintaining constant mash temps. Is it all phooey?

Why do we do it? Should we even care? Can someone point me to examples of the same beer recipes mashed at different temps, or mashed just a few degrees apart, taste substantially different? Is either dryer, or one with more mouthfeel? This is what we are lead to believe. Is it true?
 

bjlesm

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Mash temp matters, obviously a beer will end up different if you mash at 155 or 140, but the difference of 153 and 151 its going to be noticeable to anyone. When I built my BIAB 240v system, I went with the cheaper Blichman controller for that reason, I can manually keep my mash temp within a couple degrees, close enough for my purposes
 

Brooothru

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I dunno about that YOS stuff, the dude that came up with that is kinda sketchy.
I must say, YOS is probably the easiest LoDO process to incorporate into a brew session, and as your data show, it is extremely effective in virtually eliminating D.O. in strike water. I'm definitely a believer.

Brooo Brother
 

Brooothru

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I throw the grains in at 158, and maybe in an hour or two its hovering in the mid to high 140s. My FGs are consistently under 1.008, so anyone thinks i (denatured?) the beta amylase with my high temps has some explaning to do....

... Dont sweat your temps...

...As stated earlier, BIAB is very forgiving, and unless you really screw up process, or comtaminate, a decent recipe will deliver. Even 3-4 degrees off mash temp. Its all voodoo, i say :)...
Beta is still active at 158F, but indeed much of it has been denatured at that point. It's just that it has exceeded its most efficient temperature of ~145F. Alpha hasn't yet reached its peak temperature of 162F. Alpha will further debranch so that the remaining Beta can convert them into usable sugars.

Reaching FG of 1.008 isn't proof that you haven't denatured Beta with 158F strike water, but the science indicates that you have denatured 'some'. Now if you dough(dunk?)in at 158F, your initial mash temp is likely ~153-155F which is a very good compromise single temperature mash for both Beta and Alpha amylase, so it's no wonder that you're making good beer. But there are also numerous other factors at work here that determine FG, such as pH, yeast strain, yeast heath, yeast volume pitched, O2 available in the wort for yeast propagation, fermentation temperature, and on and on.

As long as you're making good beer and you're happy, the nuances don't matter. But that doesn't mean that there's not room for improvement. Some people chase efficiency, some chase simplicity, others chase consistently. Others like to experiment (me). Still others are anal and obsessive about their protocols and procedures (like I would be were it not for ADHD).

I've done simple kits (it was fun), extract brewing (getting better), 3V (starting to appease my inner mad scientist), BIAB (looking to streamline my process without sacrificing quality), stainless electric brewing (control, step mashes), ss fermenters with all manner of TC connections and devices (more control, more mad scientist). You get the idea.

I first brewed in the mid 80s, so I've been riding this illusive unicorn for 35 years or so. Where I am today is not the final destination but rather a way point in a long journey. Not sure where it's headed, but I hope I never get there since it sure is a fun trip.
 
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Nubiwan

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I wanted to love BIAB because obviously it's a lot less complicated but sadly there is no good way to stay low oxygen on the hotside and exclude all the trub from the fermenter. So for those reasons I'm out.
I Bottle condition, so the O2 conundrum is definitely on my radar. Recently did a NEIPA and have taken steps to mitigate oxidation in the fermenter, and bottling process, by merely adding Ascorbic Acid, and a more careful bottling process. I have just bottled, and will report my 'anecdotal' evidence in this thread.
 

Brooothru

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I Bottle condition, so the O2 conundrum is definitely on my radar. Recently did a NEIPA and have taken steps to mitigate oxidation in the fermenter, and bottling process, by merely adding Ascorbic Acid, and a more careful bottling process. I have just bottled, and will report my 'anecdotal' evidence in this thread.
Since you're already dosing with ascorbic, might as well include NaMeta and BrewTan B to make it a 'perfect trifecta'. I've found that it really helps with long term stability and perceived freshness. I dose 1.8 grams in the mash and 1.4 grams in the late boil, 3-5 minutes before adding WhirlFloc. In addition to lowering DO levels, I've been obtaining remarkable wort clarity after whirlpooling and getting very clean wort into the fermenter.

Brooo Brother
 

Brooothru

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Beta is still active at 158F, but indeed much of it has been denatured at that point. It's just that it has exceeded its most efficient temperature of ~145F. Alpha hasn't yet reached its peak temperature of 162F. Alpha will further debranch so that the remaining Beta can convert them into usable sugars.
Here's an interesting graph that @day_trippr posted a few months ago that visually illustrates the point I was trying to make, and why your beers are turning out so well. You can clearly see that that the intersection of Beta and Alpha curves occurs precisely at 153F, smack dab in the middle of the "Brewer's Window" as well as the proximate midpoints of the declining Fermentibility curve and the increasing Dextrines curve. So if your strike water is 158F and your "settled water temperature" after doughing-in is 153F, you are at the perfect balance point for a single temperature mash. As long as your temperature holds at at least 147F until the end of mash, your entire mash process will remain within the Brewer's Window.

1607539654279.png
 
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Bilsch

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Taket_al_Tauro

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I could do my BIAB Kveik NEIPA if you want all the latest trends.
Latest trends = clear NEIPA?
"Make (NE)IPA clear again", wasn't there a thread like that going on here?
I bet a "BIAB Kveik NEIPA" is so crystal clear that you'll be able to see the original screen again as if you had it in front of you.
 

Miraculix

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Dear Santa,

This year I wish that people could simply enjoy their brew instead of aiming to be the most surreal/exotic brewer on this planet. No more bacon oyster stout but lots of Pilsener and classic IPAs with one bittering and one dry hop addition please.

Leave the kveik for the people who don't own a temperature control but please take the fancy shmancy stuff with you, thanks.

M.
 
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