BIAB Convert!

Just did my first brew in a bag (BIAB) after about 60 extract and all grain beers. WOW, I think I’m a convert – hit all our numbers, easier, less to clean, all positive on the FUN scale.

 

The Method: read up on Brulosophy, and ordered the same BIAB Bag they recommend – a very nice bag – should last forever and can easily handle the quantiy and weight of 5 (or even 10) gallon batches

Here is the site for the brew bag ( I also ordered the clips and gloves – glad I did)
The Brew Bag


Here is the bag, clipped into the pot

My son and I brewed up a batch of Oatmeal stout. 5 gallon batch, used Beersmith 2.0 to set it up, with the ’10G Electric Urn BIAB profile’, this profile shows 70% BH efficiency and 80% Mash Efficiency. We actually beat our numbers by a point. In fact, we got a higher overall efficiency than I’ve been getting in with my 5G water cooler mashtun.

The setup, really didn’t need the Top Tier for this one – but still very handy

 

The day was SUPER HOT (106*F) here in lovely Nor Cal. So we didn’t do anything to insulate the 10G stainless steel mashtun, and our pitch ended up a littler hotter than we wanted – but it dropped about 4*F over the 1 hour conversion – all starch converted. We slowly heated to 168*F, and pulled out the bag of grains. With about 13# of total grain – we didn’t need a pulley hoist – though it might have been nice. I squeezed the bag a bit while my son lifted. Then we set it in another pot, to let the grains naturally drain while we brought the wort to a boil.

aint no beer without hops

Bag O’ Grain, squeezed over the pot a bit, then into another pot to capture about 1 quart more

We poured in the remaining wort into the pot. From there, it was pretty much a standard brew day. I’d guess overall, saved maybe an hour or more from the brew time. HIt all our numbers, should be a great beer. Pitched with WLP002 that I’d harvested from a batch of ESB. 002 is a nice yeast, attenuates well, but also leaves a little sweetness behind.

into the ferment fridge

Brew On!

 

If I started all over…

I started brewing in 1992, a white food grade bucket, lid, bubbler, a can of wort syrup, and a packet of yeast. That combined with hot Houston summer yielded some *interesting* brews. Over time I moved to cooler climates, upgraded equipment, etc.

What I realized…I did it all wrong, I purchased my equipment backwards. I should have started with a fermentation fridge this (along with good cleaning and sanitation) has had the biggest impact on my brewing.

If I were to start today, I’d buy a fermentation fridge (craigslist), a temperature controller (or at least a light timer to limit ON times), a bucket, lid, bubbler, wort syrup, and White Labs or WYEAST (though the dry yeasts are actually quite good).

Next would be full wort brewing, a kettle large enough to boil down from ~7G to about 6 gallons of wort.

Next would be all grain. This does add a lot of fun and control to what you can do. Plus, you *feel* like a real brewer. At this point, I would also decide what direction I want to follow, and spend *MORE* than I’d like. I’d buy up to the brew sculpture and equipment that would last me, and potentially grow with me. For example, I’ve ended up with a Top Tier (used) which I love. A mix of pots and a 5G cooler (mashtun).

In the discard pile, I have two burners (one Crawfish boiler – I did mention Houston, and one turkey Fryer). One brew bucket (I now use glass carboys). I guess that’s about it.

Likely soon in the discard pile, the 5G water cooler (Mashtun, it was actually originally for soccer practice), As I’m looking to move to a Metal pot Mashtun, capable of no sparge mash.

Another direction I’ve considered, and still want to try. Some of the all in one brew systems, ‘GrainFather’ or ‘Brau Supply Unibrau System’ or the Blichman. The upfront cost of these systems is high….but it’s all there.

Brew On!

Fermentation Fridge

Image

Finally setup a fermentation fridge. I started from a used, abused, and ignored LARGE dorm fridge. This is a real fridge with compressor etc. This would have accepted a 5 gallon

carboy with little modification, but I was using my 6.5 gallon carboy, so more modification was required. What I needed to do,
1. remove the shelves
2. remove the door liner (plastic liner that also includes soda shelves) This was held in place by about 20 screws, and also holds in the rubber door gasket
3. had to carve out some of the door insulation


The carboy sits fine in the fridge. Next was temp control. I have a johnson control on order, but was impatient. So I set the fridge to a warmer temperature (turns out to be about 55*F). I would then manually plug and unplug to maintain temp. It holds temp pretty well – there is a lot of thermal inertia in the 5 gallons of wort. Then one night, I forgot to unplug, and by morning my wort was down to about 60*F. So, now I’ve added a timed controller, which will turn on the unit for about 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon. I then run an extra cycle if needed to hold to about 65*F.  I’m surprised how well the unit holds temp.  I have a arduino based temperature module that tracks temp, average, high and low*. I’ve taped the temp sensor to the side of the carboy, and it reads very close to what the temperature tape shows.  It does average a bit with ambient temp – but not too bad.

Brew On!

 

notes: * yes there is a bug in my code, and the low sometimes gets wonky (showing a very large negative temp here)