BIAB - Brew in a Bag! Part I - Brew Day!
Actually, I call it MIAB - Mash in a Bag .... because it's the mash part that is in the bag. The brew part, the hop boil is the same as extract brewing or a wort that came from a lauter tun. Anyway, this is how I make beer from grain. It's very simple ... but very time consuming. Many people BIAB (that's what they all call it, so I will too). This is my version.
First, y'all gotta crack some grain. Here we have my handy dandy not-the-best-if-you-have-tennis-elbow mill (it uses elbow grease for power). That's a 50lb sack of American Two Row Malted Barley back there. The hopper in the mill holds 2lbs to the top, so I don't have to weigh anything until I've cracked about what I want (usually 8.5 lb grain bill), and then weigh it to check and add a little if it fell a little short. I brew a lot of SMaSH's (single malt and single hop), but when I use specialty grains, e.g. a half pound of crystal, whatever, it just goes in the total grain crack process. You can see black from some roasted barley that's in there, so this is a stout. I run a hopper into that bowl, and pour the two pounds of grain into the 5gal paint strainer bag (yes, one that's not been used to strain paint, heh heh). This is BIAB, so I have the mill set on fine (pulverize! heh heh.)

























First two pounds is in the bag.


























One of these small size One-Step containers holds 1/2 pound of grain, so 4 of 'em will fill the 2 pound hopper.


























Meanwhile, while I'm cracking grain, I have water in my 16qt stainless steel pot on my induction burner. I bring it up to a strike of temp of 174 deg. When my grain bill is weighed and tweaked, I carefully lower the bag into the pot at strike temp. I just drape the top of bag over the sides. I gently stir grain until it's dissapated. It settles at 152-156 deg. I use standard stick/gauge type brewing thermometers as you'll see.


























Once the mash is settled in and mashing, there's plenty of time to sanitize stuff for the fermenter ... spouts, etc. Also the hydrometer and tube. I use one-step for this. I'm not so worried about the spoon, as it stirs the boil as well, as you'll see. But, I usually sanitize it too ... in this case, I'd already sprayed it with starsan (I keep a solution in a spray bottle handy). I had a few instances of plastic spigot failure, so I went to Lowes and got some serious brass stuff for the fermenter ... certified negligible lead content. I've never got any metalic tastes. You'll see it hooked up. I sometimes use the MrB gaskets, and have some other ones I got from various places.


























That mash is holding nice around 154 deg. I rarely have to add heat during the mash, but if I do, I do it gingerly. Turn on for a minute, and turn it off, don't wait for thermometer reading to change. Wait and see if it goes up within a couple more minutes ... an induction burner makes the bottom of pot heated, it takes a bit ... Don't say, "bring it up to 155" ... it will keep going a few degs after you turn it off. It's easy once you know this, could do it in my sleep. Or drunk. Don't ask me how I know, heh heh. The popcorn is recommended. The beer is ESSENTIAL.


























I generally mash about 75-90 minutes. For the last 10-15 minutes of the mash, I check that it's a little above 152, and put it on the floor. This frees up the induction burner to heat some sparge water in my teensy 8 qt pot. Here it looks like around 156-158, I must have just brought it up a touch so it will stay in mash range on the floor a while. 152 is best for mash, I think, but I mash anywhere 152-158, and it's all good. They say 152 made mash will attenuate a bit more than 158 ... I've never noticed a diff. Anyway, the range per Homebrewing book, is 152-158, and I stay in there. Don't go higher.


























Here's the sparge water getting heated. They say don't make it too hot due to tannins. Pfffft. I get it hot around 180, and I like the taste of my beer. This isn't going to be full volume boil, and I want to sparge as much of the wonderfull maltose as I can get into that brew pot. I love saying "80% Efficiency!"


























I LOVE THIS PART ... When the sparge water is almost hot enough, I go back to the mash/brew pot (yah, that stuff stays in one pot the whole time!), lift it up and slide that grill under it, on top of the pot. It came with a Farberware broiler my Mom and Dad got us decades ago. Thanks Mom and Dad! I set the bag on it, and marvel at how nice it drains. Pick it up, and set it down again a few times really speeds that up.


























Next I lift bag up one more time, and put this bucket that I've cut the bottom out. No bottom! And set the bag down in it. This allows me to squeeze down on bag with a plate ... squeeze more out, and also it pushes grain to the sides, so when I sparge, the sparge water goes through the grain, not "around" it.


























I generally do the sparge in two steps. Here's the first one. I've learned in the early days of this method, that 8 qt pot of sparge that was 3/4 full, will bring that brew pot back up to almost the top. There's not a lot of margin in these partial boils, but it ain't hard. I love hearing more maltose trickling into that brew pot.


























I usually cover it while sparge is going. Warm is good.


























The rest of the sparge water is added after the first has drained.


























I'll start sanitizing a 5 gal fermenter pail around now. I spray it good with starsan, and wipe it around good with paper towel. You're wiping starsan around, so you don't have to worry about goobs in the paper towel. When done you can mop up residual starsan from the bottom, and make sure the spigot hole is sanitized as well. I spray under the lid good, too, wipe off any excess.


























After sparge, I take the grain bag out, and plop it in the smaller, now empty, sparge pot. You'll be surprised what drains out that can still be poured into the brew pot. Did I mention 80% efficiency (or close, usually)?


























That wort, in the same pot it mashed in, is now on it's way to 212's-ville!


























With a partial volume boil, you're limited with this size pot to 8.5 lbs or so of grain, so 4.5% abv or so. But, I add a half pound, or a pound of sugar sometimes. It's a dryer 5.5%abv beer than using DME, and I like it. Cane sugar is fully fermentable, so it all becomes CO2 and alcohol. I use DME or LME sometimes, instead. This technically makes it a partial mash, but many times I just stay AG, as I get 4.5% or so, and they taste great, too. As you can see the percentage of adjunct is very low, even when added.


























Oohhhhhhhhhh .... Hops! I love Galenas!


























Allocating to match my planned hop schedule. It looks like this one I did 2 ozs, 0.667 50, 0.667 20 and 0.667 10 minutes. But, I make IPA's with more hops, too.


























Keep notes.


























Boiling! Hot break never too crazy with this method, especially if AG, no DME.


























This is my super expensive, ultra high-class hop spider. Small 1 gal strain bag and a coat hanger. Like I say, my hop introductions run the gammet. I've done 60 min dogfish head things, and normal three-introduction Pale Ales as well. For those who don't brew, you add the hops in recipe or predetermined amounts and times during the boil. I use Qbrew to tweak my batches before I start.


























At flame out, I start a sink bath ... just cold tap, no ice. I empty and fill the sink at least three times during this process. I stir the pot, and move it around. I am able to get down to about 90 deg in 20-25 mins ... too high to pitch, but it doesn't matter, where going to top off in fermenter with cold water. Remember, this is a 16 qt pot.


























Thanks, hops ... I'll be tasting you in about 6 weeks!


























Cooled down wort gets poured right into fermenter pail. Sanitized spigot and gaskets have been installed and checked that it's closed.


























Bring it up to 5gal level with cold tap water. Stir like crazy with sanitized spoon. I take my hydrometer reading right from the spigot ... it's sanitized so it can go back in. In this pic, I've just pitched the yeast. It will get stirred again soon. I've never pre-hydrated my dry yeast, and I've never had anything other than great results.


























Lid on, and airlock installed. I did not take pics of cleaning the pots, or any of that stuff. That's pretty much it for Brew Day. About 4.5 hours start to finish, with cleanup included. Don't forget to mark down what time the mash started so you'll know when to mash out, and what time the boil starts, so you can mark down when to add the hop schedule. But, you know all that. I usually ferment 14 days, so bottling or kegging will be in two weeks. Thanks for listening! I mostly keg now in 5 gal corny kegs, and natural prime. I'll have pics soon, I hope. If I bottle, it's another couple hours, if I keg, it's about a half hour more on that day. I don't rack ... it's fermenter to keg or bottles! You can see the fermenters are tipped back with books a little to minimize trub by the spigot. I hope to have pics up of bottle day or keg day soon ... I have easy way to sanitize kegs, including the inside tube, and easy way to sanitize the hose used to go from fermenter to keg or bottling wand. Enjoy!


























Part II Bottling/Kegging! Coming Soon!