Introduction to BIAB (How to BIAB)

Discuss all things BIAB (Brew In A Bag)
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Jimmy
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Introduction to BIAB (How to BIAB)

Post by Jimmy » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:28 pm

What is BIAB?

BIAB (Brew In A Bag) is one of many processes that can be used to brew all grain. It involves the use of a fine mesh bag to filter the grains from your wort after the mash.

How does it work?

The basic procedure typically involves mashing with all your grain and total water requirements for the batch. Once your strike water reaches the proper temperature, you add the bag of grains and stir to break up any dough balls. After your mash is complete, it's as simple as pulling the bag of grains out and starting your boil. Some people prefer to "mash out" by raising the temperature of the mash to ~168* before pulling the bag out. The idea of the mash out is that by raising the mash temperature, the sugars become more fluid, thus raising your extraction efficiency.

Why use the BIAB method?

There are many reasons people use the BIAB method, below is a list of the common ones:

-Low cost of investment: The only equipment you really need is a large pot (~15g would be recommended), a heat source (turkey fryer is a cheap option), and the bag. A chiller of some sort would also be recommended, however there are other options available.

-Less space required: Since there is only a single vessel required, BIAB is ideal for those tight on real estate dedicated to brewing.

-Less cleanup: Again, since you're only using a single vessel there is a tremendous time savings on cleanup.

-Quicker brew day: A combination of the process, as well as the reduced cleanup time makes for a quicker brew day. A typical 5 gallon BIAB batch can be brewed in 3.5-4 hours from start to finish, whereas the traditional method is closer to 6.

-Easier to learn: Because of the simplicity of BIAB, it's an easier platform for a new brewer enter the world of all grain brewing. No worrying about stuck sparges, heating sparge water, accounting for drops in strike water temperature due to vessel temperatures, etc.

What will it cost me?

It really depends on what you want to spend. You can get into an elaborate BIAB setup and spend as much as you want, however, for a new brewer that is buying new equipment, the pricing below would be a good baseline:

Pot: $119 from Ontario Beer Kegs
http://www.ontariobeerkegs.com/15_Gallo ... -2weld.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Burner: $59.99 from Kent Building Supplies
http://www.kent.ca/kbs/en/product.jsp?n ... logId=1198" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Bag: $20-$30 from Jimmy on the BrewNosers forum
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1679" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; or http://www.biab-brewing.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Chiller (optional): $99 from Hop Dawgs Home Brewing Supplies
http://hopdawgs.ca/Equipment/Wort-chill ... uct_id=339" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by dean2k » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:33 pm

I'm very new to brewing in general, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But if someone wanted to experiment before plopping down $30 a high-quality custom-built voile bag, you can get 1gal. and 5gal. nylon paint strainer bags from Kent for $2-$3. Used the 5gal. bag for a 1-gal batch (and the 1 gal. bag as a hop sock) over the weekend and they worked like a charm.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by Jimmy » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:35 pm

dean2k wrote:I'm very new to brewing in general, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But if someone wanted to experiment before plopping down $30 a high-quality custom-built voile bag, you can get 1gal. and 5gal. nylon paint strainer bags from Kent for $2-$3. Used the 5gal. bag for a 1-gal batch (and the 1 gal. bag as a hop sock) over the weekend and they worked like a charm.
Oh for sure. The 5 gallon paint strainer bags are great for smaller brews, but when you get into 5 gallon batches and you're talking 10-15lbs of grain you need something a lot bigger. Noble Grape actually has some bags that are better than the paint strainer bags, but still too small for 5 gallon brews.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by dean2k » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:39 pm

Good to know!
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by wortly » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:54 pm

I agree that it is an excellent gateway into full-blown all grain. I did it myself for the better part of a year when I was in transition.

Just a couple of quick notes:
- My brew day is 3.5-4 hours using a fly sparge and a pump for 10 gal.
- Some downsides of BIAB include reduced overall efficiency and a reduced mash size. The bigger the mash, the lower your efficiency will be. This really needs to be taken into account when you are planning your recipes.

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by Jimmy » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:19 pm

wortly wrote:I agree that it is an excellent gateway into full-blown all grain. I did it myself for the better part of a year when I was in transition.

Just a couple of quick notes:
- My brew day is 3.5-4 hours using a fly sparge and a pump for 10 gal.
- Some downsides of BIAB include reduced overall efficiency and a reduced mash size. The bigger the mash, the lower your efficiency will be. This really needs to be taken into account when you are planning your recipes.
You're doing a 10g, fly sparged, 3 vessel brew in 3.5-4 hours? Everything from setting up to cleaned and put away?

As far as efficiency is concerned, the mid-high 70's is easily attainable with BIAB. Is it as high as fly sparging? No. Is it the same as batch sparging? Roughly. You also have to remember that a high efficiency isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to the flavor of the beer.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by wortly » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:18 pm

I use hot water out of my hot water heater that seems to speed things up quite a bit. My total brew for 10 gal is definitely in the 4 hr range when everything happens the way it should (which I guess is never). Less for 5 gallons.
I'm always looking to increase my efficiency in any way possible. It means less of a cost for grain and it is a serious pain in the ass when you don't hit the numbers and you end up with less beer.
I am all for BIAB, it is a great stepping stone when you are learning how to brew.

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by Jimmy » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:22 pm

wortly wrote:I use hot water out of my hot water heater that seems to speed things up quite a bit. My total brew for 10 gal is definitely in the 4 hr range when everything happens the way it should (which I guess is never). Less for 5 gallons.
I'm always looking to increase my efficiency in any way possible. It means less of a cost for grain and it is a serious pain in the ass when you don't hit the numbers and you end up with less beer.
I am all for BIAB, it is a great stepping stone when you are learning how to brew.
That's a pretty quick brew day - I'd never be able to do it! :cheers2:

I went from 3 vessel to BIAB. I don't see BIAB as a stepping stone, it's just as another method for all grain.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by RubberToe » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:26 pm

BIAB is just as much all grain as using a 3v system. It is an alternate method of mashing and to discount it as a stepping stone in learning how to brew is ignorant.

It does however have it's limitations in brewing on a commercial scale. I wouldn't be hauling out a bag for a 1bbl brew. 3 vessel setups are more in line as to how the larger commercial brewers do things.

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by wortly » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:56 pm

Jimmy wrote:
wortly wrote:I use hot water out of my hot water heater that seems to speed things up quite a bit. My total brew for 10 gal is definitely in the 4 hr range when everything happens the way it should (which I guess is never). Less for 5 gallons.
I'm always looking to increase my efficiency in any way possible. It means less of a cost for grain and it is a serious pain in the ass when you don't hit the numbers and you end up with less beer.
I am all for BIAB, it is a great stepping stone when you are learning how to brew.
That's a pretty quick brew day - I'd never be able to do it! :cheers2:

I went from 3 vessel to BIAB. I don't see BIAB as a stepping stone, it's just as another method for all grain.
Agreed. I guess for me BIAB was a stepping stone for me about 5 years ago. I did some great brews with the BIAB . I think that I did 20 batches or so, which is probably a fair shake. I'm definitely not looking back from my 3-vessel though. It just happened to work the other way for you. :cheers2:

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by derek » Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:15 pm

wortly wrote:
Jimmy wrote: I went from 3 vessel to BIAB. I don't see BIAB as a stepping stone, it's just as another method for all grain.
Agreed. I guess for me BIAB was a stepping stone for me about 5 years ago. I did some great brews with the BIAB . I think that I did 20 batches or so, which is probably a fair shake. I'm definitely not looking back from my 3-vessel though. It just happened to work the other way for you. :cheers2:
I also got rid of two vessels. Until (and I can't imagine it ever happening) I start producing more than 20 gallons at a time, I can't see any use for those other two vessels. BIAB is certainly not a stepping stone, just an alternate brew method, just as we have multiple methods of sparging.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by Woody » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:03 am

JImmy thanks for the video and all the items one needs to go AG it's a great help. The BIAB really has me interested. One my 6th extract batch after a year plus of kits and ready to go AG. Is the OBK 15 gal pot going o be big enought for high gravity brews like Russian Imperial Stouts, Triples etc? Something about heat in plastic turns me off so I'm thinking BIAB and in the pot and drain over a stove rack I will place on top of the pot. Another questions is should I order the false bottoms from OBK to keep the bag off the bottom when heating if not using a cooler. I hear you can use other things but thought it would be worth having.

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by Juniper Hill » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:42 am

Did my first AG brew using BIAB last week. Worked out great. Super easy to use and clean up afterwards :thumbup: . I used the bag in my brew pot and just added heat as needed to maintain mash temp. I used a stainless steel colinder as a "false bottom" to keep the bag from being scorched.

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by Jimmy » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:56 am

ddwood94 wrote:JImmy thanks for the video and all the items one needs to go AG it's a great help. The BIAB really has me interested. One my 6th extract batch after a year plus of kits and ready to go AG. Is the OBK 15 gal pot going o be big enought for high gravity brews like Russian Imperial Stouts, Triples etc? Something about heat in plastic turns me off so I'm thinking BIAB and in the pot and drain over a stove rack I will place on top of the pot. Another questions is should I order the false bottoms from OBK to keep the bag off the bottom when heating if not using a cooler. I hear you can use other things but thought it would be worth having.

It would be close with the 15g pot. If I was going to do a BIAB RIS in a 15g pot, it would likely be a smaller batch size (I'm not sure how small you'd actually have to go). You could go with a 20g pot, though that's quite big for a 5g boil..or your other option would be to top up with extract for those high gravity brews.

As far as a false bottom is concerned - I've never scorched a bag and I've done BIAB with/without the false bottom. It is nice to have something there for peace of mind, but you should be good as long as you're not direct firing the kettle while the bag is sitting on the bottom of the pot.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by LiverDance » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:59 am

I would stick with the 15G pot and top up your big beers with extract as needed. After 1.080 you efficiency takes a nose dive when doing all grain so it's very upredictable.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by Woody » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:06 am

Thanks for the help and tips including the other guys as well for their input. The 15 gal pot makes sense and top up with extract for the high gravity brews. Look forward to going AG.

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by dexter » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:31 pm

Does anyone bring the wert up to 168-170 for a rest aftert the mash ? I've read conflicting methods?

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by sleepyjamie » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:46 pm

dexter wrote:Does anyone bring the wert up to 168-170 for a rest aftert the mash ? I've read conflicting methods?
i used to when i did BIAB in a pot.

but now i do my BIAB in a cooler and i dont do a mash out.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by dexter » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:53 pm

sleepyjamie wrote:
dexter wrote:Does anyone bring the wert up to 168-170 for a rest aftert the mash ? I've read conflicting methods?
i used to when i did BIAB in a pot.

but now i do my BIAB in a cooler and i dont do a mash out.

is it essential?

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by dean2k » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:04 pm

I don't mash out with BIAB. One of the listed reasons to make the mash more fluid, which is pretty much taken care of with full volume BIAB.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by sleepyjamie » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:06 pm

dexter wrote:
sleepyjamie wrote:
dexter wrote:Does anyone bring the wert up to 168-170 for a rest aftert the mash ? I've read conflicting methods?
i used to when i did BIAB in a pot.

but now i do my BIAB in a cooler and i dont do a mash out.

is it essential?
not on my system. im getting between 75-77% efficiency, with no mash out and without squeezing the bag either. that's good enough for me
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by dexter » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:38 pm

Cool, I didnt do it on my first crack at it and I was close enough to 75% as well so Ill stick to being an even lazier brewer...

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by sleepyjamie » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:39 pm

dexter wrote:Cool, I didnt do it on my first crack at it and I was close enough to 75% as well so Ill stick to being an even lazier brewer...
as long as you are satisfied with the results i think that's most important.
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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by RubberToe » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:43 pm

Yeah, waste of time with a full volume BIAB mash IMO. 80% + efficiency here, no mash out.

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Re: Introduction to BIAB

Post by GuingesRock » Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:21 am

I noticed what I thought were some negative misconceptions about BIAB in this thread.

Has anyone listened to Pat Hollingdale’s podcast on the BeerSmith site? He is Australian and one of the pioneers of BIAB.
http://beersmith.com/blog/2011/02/24/br ... odcast-10/

Pat has a "mate" called Bob Stemski in the US who made a short video on BIAB. Good video and funny, especially his little dance at the end. He also discusses the Australian No-Chill method.


I gave up “pulling the bag” as it makes a mess (I brew in the kitchen), and instead I drain the wort from the ball valve through a silicone tube into another pot. Different version of BIAB hybrid I suppose, from the one in your video (nice video). I don’t insulate the mash in the first pot as I don’t think it is necessary but most people wrap the pot. An old parker works well.
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