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Noah0504

BIAB Success and Semi-Failure

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After another short brewing slump, I'm back in full force. I've brewed up a couple of MR.BEER recipes and also an extract brew with steeped grains. One of these beers is already in the bottle while the other two are fermenting and due to be bottled within the next two weeks.

I've had so much fun lately, I decided to take things to a new level and make an all-grain recipe from scratch.

I wanted to start simple, so I decided to make a cream ale. I did my research on the style and came up with the following recipe for a 2.5 gallon batch.

2 lbs. Pilsner Malt
1 lbs. American 6-Row
1/2 lbs. Crystal 10L
1/2 lbs. Flaked Maze

90 Minute boil with .25 ounces of Cascade at 60 and 20 minutes. Dry hop with .25 ounces of Willamette.

Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast

This put me well within the style. My OG was estimated to be 1.044, 1.011 for a FG and 17.8 for IBUs.

I placed an order with Austin Homebrew Supplies (they're located one state over so shipping is nice and quick) and brewed last night after everything arrived.

It went pretty smoothly. I was able to steep my grains for one hour at 154-156 degrees. I did check the temperature once in the middle of the mash just to check on things. It seemed to be right on target, so I wrapped it back up with a nice thick blanket to keep it insulated.

After one hour, I lifted the grain back out of the pot and placed it in a colander I put on top for my sparge. Once done, I had 2.5 gallons of wort ready for a nice long boil.

The boil went smoothly and after a quick ice bath in the sink, it went in the LBK. The 90 minute boil left me with just over a gallon of wort left, so I topped off off to 2.5 gallons with cold water I had set aside. I aerated the wort and pitched the yeast.

Once everything was mixed up and the lid was on the LBK, I took a hydrometer reading and it was only then that I realized the big mistake I made.

The OG reading was about 1.035. At first I panicked trying to figure out what went wrong. It then hit me that I didn't account for my mash efficiency. Now, there's no way I would have known what it would have been before hand, but I should have known better to aim lower than the defaulted 75% of Beer Calculus. If I would have take a post-boil or even a pre-boil reading, I would have probably realized it sooner and I could have topped off with less water bringing the beer back within the style guidelines.

I'm not discouraged from the results. I'm still confident that I will have a nice light ale with a good medium bitterness. It's going to be refreshing for sure. Also, it was a good learning experience. I'm putting together another recipe for an English Bitter I want to try, and this time I'm accounting for the lower efficiency that I'm going to get using the BIAB method on my stove (as I get better, maybe I can get this up a little higher).

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I hope this post provides some useful information for anyone who wants to try to start using grains with their beers or even make the jump to all-grain, even if it is only a BIAB!

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I can relate; I'm still 'dialing in' to the best stovetop procedure for my setup. One of the owners of my LHBS recommended having some light LME on hand, that you could add late in the boil if your pre-boil reading looked too low for your recipe. Save that batch!

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I've brewed lots of all grain but only have participated with BIAB but technically BIAB is done with ALL the water added at the time of mash with no sparging.
There is some argument of whether you should squeeze the bag to get all the sweet goodness out of it or not. Some say just the act of raising the bag of grains out with the water in it is enough pressure to release everything while others say squeezing releases too many tannins.
I can't say which is the correct way but I think the addition of water after the mash caused your OG to be low.
But, I bet you had fun and it'll only get better.
Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Rebel_B wrote:

I can relate; I'm still 'dialing in' to the best stovetop procedure for my setup. One of the owners of my LHBS recommended having some light LME on hand, that you could add late in the boil if your pre-boil reading looked too low for your recipe. Save that batch!

That's exactly what I've done a couple of times when my OG was looking to be way off... The one I've tasted thus far came out quite nice.

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Beer-lord wrote:

I've brewed lots of all grain but only have participated with BIAB but technically BIAB is done with ALL the water added at the time of mash with no sparging.
There is some argument of whether you should squeeze the bag to get all the sweet goodness out of it or not. Some say just the act of raising the bag of grains out with the water in it is enough pressure to release everything while others say squeezing releases too many tannins.
I can't say which is the correct way but I think the addition of water after the mash caused your OG to be low.
But, I bet you had fun and it'll only get better.
Thanks for sharing your experience.

FWIW, I've done my BIABs both ways now, and I'm finding I am getting better efficiency, closer to doing a mash in my old MLT, by doing a thicker mash, and then tea bag sparging my grains and then adding the second runnings back into my pot. EDIT: in case that wasn't clear, I mean I'm mashing with less then my boil volume instead of full volume, and then using the sparge / second runnings to bring me up to my boil volume.

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Beer-lord wrote:

I can't say which is the correct way but I think the addition of water after the mash caused your OG to be low.


I thought this was the case as well, but changing my efficiency in the brewing program put my OG to almost exactly where it wound up. It's really hard to say for sure what it was because I didn't take a pre or post-boil hydrometer reading.

I'd rather be able to do a true full boil, but for my first time, I used what I had on hand as far as equipment. I'm going to need a bigger pot even for just a 2.5 gallon batch.

EDIT:
So, I went into BeerSmith and configured a recipe replicating what I did for this brew. That even means boiling about 2.5 gallons of wort and topping it off at the end in the fermenter. Using an efficiency of 75% puts the recipe exactly where it was when I configured it with Beer Calculus and QBrew. Dropping the efficiency to 60-65% puts it around where I measured after putting it in the fermenter.

This leads me to believe that it WAS my inefficiency and not the water I added after the boil. Having said that, I'm going to configure another recipe taking into account the poor efficiency and go ahead an place an order for my grains. After I brew that batch in a week or two, I'll be able to post back and tell you how it went. If it goes well, I think I will have figured out the method I want to continue with for awhile.

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on my first BIAB i used a 5.5 lb grain bill.
just in case....

my OGs were in the 1.054 range.

my recipes were not that great.

i will do better next time.

brewon

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goblin wrote:

on my first BIAB i used a 5.5 lb grain bill.
just in case....

my OGs were in the 1.054 range.

my recipes were not that great.

i will do better next time.

brewon


Well, it will be another month or so before I'm able to try this one, so there's no telling how good it will be... or how good it would have been. Haha. I still think it will be a nice refreshing brew.

I've been trying to recipes from scratch by doing research on the style and grains used. Hopefully I'm coming close with what I'm making.

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Well, I've since bottled this beer that I made and everything turned out alright. It's not quite done with the carbing/conditioning stage, but I have sneaked a bottle and it was quite good. So, even though it didn't go into the fermenter as planned, it still turned out tasty!

I just finished making another BIAB; this time an English bitter. I planned the grain bill with a lower efficiency in mind. This time I came out a little bit higher on the OG (but still pretty close). I think I just mashed a little better this time. So, I think I've got everything figured out. Next time I'll shoot for about 70% and I think I will nail it. Just not sure what to make this next time. Any ideas?!

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Noah0504 wrote:

Well, I've since bottled this beer that I made and everything turned out alright. It's not quite done with the carbing/conditioning stage, but I have sneaked a bottle and it was quite good. So, even though it didn't go into the fermenter as planned, it still turned out tasty!

I just finished making another BIAB; this time an English bitter. I planned the grain bill with a lower efficiency in mind. This time I came out a little bit higher on the OG (but still pretty close). I think I just mashed a little better this time. So, I think I've got everything figured out. Next time I'll shoot for about 70% and I think I will nail it. Just not sure what to make this next time. Any ideas?!

Hey Noah! How would you like to collaborate on a nice Irish Ale? I've been thinking about putting a BIAB recipe together once I brew my IPA, which I have planned for tomorrow afternoon. Let me know.

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packerduf wrote:

Hey Noah! How would you like to collaborate on a nice Irish Ale? I've been thinking about putting a BIAB recipe together once I brew my IPA, which I have planned for tomorrow afternoon. Let me know.


Count me in!

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Noah0504 wrote:

packerduf wrote:

Hey Noah! How would you like to collaborate on a nice Irish Ale? I've been thinking about putting a BIAB recipe together once I brew my IPA, which I have planned for tomorrow afternoon. Let me know.


Count me in!
OUTSTANDING!!!

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