So what's the catch?

Discuss all things BIAB (Brew In A Bag)
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jtmwhyte
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So what's the catch?

Post by jtmwhyte » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:37 pm

I did my first ever BIAB last week scaling back from 2 vessel (Cooler MT and Pot). It seemed way too convenient, easy, and time friendly (3 hours excluding pre-brew list of crushing and measuring). I nailed everything on my brew sheet exactly including volumes, OG, and temps (despite a bit of fucking around to hit mash temp initially, but I didn't account for cold grain. It only took 3 miniutes or so to adjust with my eKettle). Fermentation took off like a bullet with US-05 and finished dead onto the gravity I wanted and the gravity sample tasted great.

Sound too good to be true? I think so too... what's the catch? I've heard that there can be body problems associated with a full mash, but I'm thinking that's a red herring given some of my latest reading.

When things seem too good to be true they usually are, but I can't see myself doing cooler mash ever again if this turns out so great.

So let's hear some problems people have had with BIAB
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Jimmy » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:42 pm

It's a solid method that a fair number of the members on here use to brew and I don't think you'd ever find that it produces an inferior beer. The biggest issue I can think of is the size of the pot that's required to do BIAB as compared to multi-vessel setups.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by GuingesRock » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:45 pm

I've only ever done BIAB. You've done both now. Here's a 3 vessel brewer turned BIABer. He's on Basic Brewing Radio a lot.

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by RubberToe » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:53 pm

For me the caveats are:

- More trub, which takes up valuable fermenter space.
- Harder to do 10 gallon batches but I can accomodate. The bag is more unwieldy and harder to squeese. I get slightly less efficiency and a bit higher wort los to absorption vs the 5 gallon batches.
- If I want to go with 15 gallon or larger I'll be doing it with two vessels. I's still do full volume, no sparge.

It's hard to lift a really heavy grain bag and let it drain. A block and tackle is the answer to that.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by CorneliusAlphonse » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:55 pm

biggest downside is like jimmy said, need almost the same size pot to do a 5gal BIAB as you do to do a 10gal regular batch. and i dunno if anyone does 10 gallon biab (edit - apparently rubbertoe does!). so it works great but doesnt scale up super well. i too find it super convenient and speedy, but also do pot and cooler batches from time to time.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Keith » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:55 pm

Trevor, heard you had success. I'm switching from extract to bias on my next batch. However confused to shit on how to calculate my efficiency.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by jtmwhyte » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:02 pm

Keith wrote:Trevor, heard you had success. I'm switching from extract to bias on my next batch. However confused to shit on how to calculate my efficiency.
Efficiency is just a function of your what your OG is based on your grain bill and volume. I look at it as how close I get to my volume and OG and never really stress out about it anymore. Even on the most horribly inefficient batches I've made great tasting beer.

I set my software to 75% usually.

For example, if I build a recipe at 75% efficiency and the OG is supposed to be 1.050 and I hit 1.055 with the same volume then I know I got better efficiency and tweak the numbers in the software to find out what I had. If I got 1.049 I do the same. I'm usually around 77% with cooler MT but my BIAB attempt was dead onto 80%
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by GuingesRock » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:17 pm

Potential catch ...changing from a system you know well to a different one can take a while to perfect your brewing on the new system. BIAB is simpler so less room for error and it must be easier to go from 3 vessel to BIAB than it would be to make a move the other way. No worries about over-sparging. I spent the longest time doing BIAB plus a 4 gal batch sparge so I could get a double batch from a 16 gal pot. Now I have a 20 gal BIAB mash pot and doing full volume mash. I like to pump into a second boiling pot rather than pulling the bag for my 10 gal batches. Less mess in the kitchen, and I have a boiling pot with a built in cooling coil.
Last edited by GuingesRock on Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by jtmwhyte » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:20 pm

GuingesRock wrote:Potential catch ...changing from a system you know well to a different one can take a while to perfect your brewing on the new system. BIAB is simpler so less room for error and it must be easier to go from 3 vessel to BIAB than it would be to make a move the other way. No worries about over-sparging. I spent the longest time doing BIAB plus a 4 gal batch sparge so I could get a double batch from a 16 gal pot. Now I have a 20 gal BIAB mash pot and doing full volume mash. I like to pump into a second boiling pot rather than pulling the bag.
The beauty is I'm using the same pot with the same boil off rate and require the same pre-boil volume, so once I plug the numbers in I get exactly what I need. Electric is super easy to ensure consistent boil off simply by marking the knob where you feel comfortable with boil off.
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Tap 1: Festa Brew Scotch Ale
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"Fill with mingled cream and amber,
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Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today." ~ Poe

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Woody » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:20 pm

I love BIAB. I have a 15 gallon pot and single batches are a breeze. If I do double batches I can only mash 42-43 litres plus grain in that pot so I need to us my 15 L pot with 12 L plus around 5 lbs of grain I hold back. A larger pot would solve this issue but my efficiency is great and by doing this I save a few lbs in weight when I pull the bag. I use the small pot mash for a little sparge after I pull the bag and pour it over the larger grain bag. I need fermcap as its pretty close to the rim when I start the boil. Higher gravity brews can be harder as it thickens the mash and I can loose efficiency but for my Double IPA's I add some corn sugar to dry it out and it solves that issue.
Last edited by Woody on Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by jtmwhyte » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:27 pm

I'm planning to rip out an American Stout this week for my second BIAB. I can't see the necessity of 10 gallon brewing if it only takes 3-4 hours to make a 5.5 gallon batch
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"Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
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Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today." ~ Poe

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Woody » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:37 pm

jtmwhyte wrote:I'm planning to rip out an American Stout this week for my second BIAB. I can't see the necessity of 10 gallon brewing if it only takes 3-4 hours to make a 5.5 gallon batch
10 gallon batches can come in handy if you have a friend that wants to split on a batch and it's not that much extra time to do it! Welcome to BIAB, it's addictive and very straight forward.

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by gm- » Thu May 01, 2014 1:08 pm

One catch that is pretty important to me is the mess. There is no way I could have a dripping hot bag of grain around in my kitchen, with my 2 vessel set up, I drain my mashtun into the kettle, empty the spent grains into a garbage bag mess free. Apart from that and the need for larger kettle, I don't see many drawbacks and I might make the switch if I start brewing outside again.

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by jtmwhyte » Fri May 02, 2014 9:05 pm

Just did an American Stout. I hit two points over my OG with more volume than expected.
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Tap 1: Festa Brew Scotch Ale
Tap 2:
"Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
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Quaintest thoughts - queerist fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today." ~ Poe

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Jimmy » Fri May 02, 2014 10:28 pm

My efficiency went up when I switched to BIAB as compared to batch sparging.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by sleepyjamie » Sun May 04, 2014 11:21 am

TimG and I are doing biab in a cooler. Even easier than traditional biab.


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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Jimmy » Sun May 04, 2014 11:31 am

sleepyjamie wrote:TimG and I are doing biab in a cooler. Even easier than traditional biab.


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Yeah, the cooler BIAB works pretty slick. No lifting the bag, your mash temps are more stable, and you can increase your batch size by adding a "sparge" or using a larger cooler. It was a good trade-off between straight up BIAB and the traditional batch sparge method with a false bottom/manifold.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by jtmwhyte » Sun May 04, 2014 12:24 pm

Jimmy wrote:
sleepyjamie wrote:TimG and I are doing biab in a cooler. Even easier than traditional biab.


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Yeah, the cooler BIAB works pretty slick. No lifting the bag, your mash temps are more stable, and you can increase your batch size by adding a "sparge" or using a larger cooler. It was a good trade-off between straight up BIAB and the traditional batch sparge method with a false bottom/manifold.
My 36qt Coleman extreme is set up for this, but I need the wife to make me another bag. The one she made for my pot is awesome enough that I'm making her a pineapple Pale Ale as a reward.
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Tap 1: Festa Brew Scotch Ale
Tap 2:
"Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain -
Quaintest thoughts - queerist fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today." ~ Poe

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by jtmwhyte » Sun May 04, 2014 9:52 pm

I also remembered that I have a 150qt Igloo Marine cooler at the old homestead in Cape Breton. That would be a beast for full volume BIAB with 10 Gallon Batches.
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Tap 1: Festa Brew Scotch Ale
Tap 2:
"Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain -
Quaintest thoughts - queerist fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today." ~ Poe

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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Barr » Sun May 04, 2014 10:11 pm

I don't believe there is a catch. Or at least not one big enough to discourage the average home brewer from biab. I think a lot of brewers are impressed by fancy gear and tend to over complicate things. I think that many American brewers learned to brew from the big breweries post prohibition so a lot of big factory techniques were brought home and are not really nessisary at that scale. If you look at Australia for example it's almost exclusively biab.

I could be wrong but that's my understanding.
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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by BrewG » Sun May 13, 2018 4:06 pm

I BIAB and love it!!! I have done many batch sparges and have the cooler and tried different ways. BIAB less equipment and simple. I rest my mash bag over the kettle using the center rack from the oven. Then slowly trickle the sparge water over the grains. I get about 80% efficiency with this method.


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Re: So what's the catch?

Post by Jonaconda » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:09 pm

Have you found the downside yet?

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