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Brew in a Bag: A Starters Guide

Are you thinking about Brew in a Bag as an All Grain Brewing option? In this ‘starters guide’ you gain a broad overview of the popular method and if it will suit your needs.

What is Brew in a Bag?

Brew in a Bag or ‘BIAB’ as it’s commonly referred to is an All Grain brewing method thought to have been first developed out of Australia (up for debate).

What makes this method unique is that it only requires a single vessel to complete the brewing processes required for All Grain Brewing.

Put this in comparison with traditional All Grain brewing methods which typically require 3 seperate vessels:

1. Hot Liquor Tank (HLT)

A vessel used for heating up the water required for your brewing process.

2. Mash Tun

A vessel to hold the grain/water mixture for converting starches into sugar.

3. Boil Kettle

A vessel to boil your sugary wort to further add in hops and other required ingredients.

This is where BIAB sets itself apart…

With the use of a specific mesh ‘Bag’, the BIAB method combines the hot liquor tun, mash tun and boil kettle all into one single vessel!

Brew in a Bag is CHEAP & AFFORDABLE

The most attractive aspect of ‘BIAB’ for brewers thinking of leaping into All Grain Brewing is the minimal outlay of equipment required.

Prior to BIAB, a major roadblock for moving into All Grain Brewing was the expensive upfront equipment required.

Using the BIAB method helps solve this roadblock….

Keeping your BIAB equipment costs to a minimum initially is easy. Especially when you factor in that a lot of your cold side equipment (fermenter, spoons, hydrometer etc) you will already have on hand if you’re upgrading from Extract Brewing.

 

To keep costs at an absolute minimum, here’s what you need for brewing 23–25L batches:

1 x Brew Pot and Lid (35–40L)

1 x Thermometer

1 x Gas Burner

1 x Large Brew Bag

WHAT ABOUT COOLING?

If you’re really at a pinch and trying to do this as cheaply as possible, performing ‘No Chill’ brewing means you won’t even require a wort chiller!

WANT TO PIMP OUT YOUR BIAB RIG?

Once you have your basic BIAB essentials, you can then slowly upgrade and add on bits of equipment to suit your brewing needs.

An attractive BIAB upgrade option is to add in an electric element to your kettle. This essentially converts your system into a hybrid Gas/Electric system.

ADVANTAGES OF GAS/ELECTRIC HYBRID

Having a hybrid systems adds a lot of flexibility into your brewday.

3 Major Advantages Of Gas/Electric Systems Include:

1. Flexibility to get up to your desired temperature/boil quickly (Gas) and also automatically maintain mash temperatures accurately (Electric).

2. Saves time (fast ramp up times) and gas (switching to electric throughout the mash).

3. Flexibility when using an external temp control unit to switch out and use it for your fermentation fridge.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL BIAB BREW DAY LOOK LIKE?

STEP 1

Fill your brew pot with water to the required level for your particular batch (for a 23L batch, this is generally 30–35L)

STEP 2

Line your brew pot with your mesh bag and turn on the gas burner to heat your water to strike temperature. This ‘strike’ temperature can be determined from the target mash temperature of your recipe. HINT: You want to heat your strike water 3–5c above your target mash temperature. The reason being that when you add your grains to the water the temperature will tend to drop a few degrees.

STEP 3

Add your milled grains to the brew pot and give everything a good stir to make sure you remove all the lumps of grain.

STEP 4

Take a temperature reading to see if your mash is within your designated mash temperature. If it’s a little low, turn on gas burner to raise temperature. Once you’re happy with temperature, put a lid on your kettle to help maintain your temperature and let it sit for 45–60 minutes.

STEP 5

At the conclusion of your mashing period, remove lid and hoist your bag out of the brew pot and let the remaining fluid from the grain drain back into your brew pot.

Dispose of your grains.

STEP 6

Turn back on your gas burner and bring your wort up to a boil. At boiling begin your hop additions specific to your recipe.

STEP 7

At the conclusion of your boiling period, turn off gas burner, chill and transfer to your fermenter ready for fermentation.

DONE!

SO IS BREW IN A BAG FOR YOU?

We hope this has given you some insight into whether BIAB is an option for your All Grain Brewing.

Moving into All Grain Brewing shouldn’t be intimidating and we think that the BIAB method helps remove this intimidation factor. So if you’re thinking of taking that leap, don’t hesitate! DO IT!

 

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