Brewing my first (2nd, 3rd, and more) All-Grain Beer (Mini-BIAB)

Discussion in 'Geek Grog & Homebrew' started by Oosh, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    Having brewed on and off for many years, after being introduced to it on OCAU by the venerable Homebrew sticky, it seems fitting I post my newest adventure here.

    I first must give credit to Simon the owner/brewer of BrewBoys who, during a pleasant afternoon sampling his wares, kindly shared some of his knowledge and encouraged me to get back in to the hobby and suggested Brew in a Bag as great way to do All-Grain at home without all the equipment and fuss of traditional 2/3 vessel methods.

    Already having a big pot for extract and speciality grain type kits all I needed was the bag. Which I ordered from CraftBrewer.

    Following the BIABrewer.info 'A Guide to Mini-BIAB', 'The Master Guide Commentary', and using the already scaled example recipe 'NRB's All Amarillo American Pale Ale' I placed an order for the the day before with my LHBS Brewmaker (can highly recommend to anyone in NE Adelaide) to fulfil the following.

    Grain (finely crushed) - 90 min Mash
    • Pale - 2Kg
    • Munich - 400g
    • CaraAmber - 200g
    Hops - 90 min Boil
    • US Amarillo - 12g @ 60 mins
    • US Amarillo - 10g @ 20 mins
    • US Amarillo - 10g @ 5 mins
    Yeast
    • SafAle US-05
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  2. OP
    OP
    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    All in all things went well albeit not necessarily smoothly. ;)

    Edit (26-Apr-2012):
    I've done another three brews since the marathon described below, each one has gotten easier and quicker, my brew day is now ~6 hours incl. cleanup.​

    Mash
    Firstly it turned out my pot is 17L not 19L as I thought, so I couldn’t mash in or boil the full amount.
    Which means my efficiency (which I’m yet to work out ~80%) and hop utilisation will likely be down slightly.

    [​IMG]

    Started before midday by heating 12L of water to 68C, then bag in and added the grain, finally put some top-up water in for 14L total.
    But the mash was 64C (1C too cold), so I reapplied the heat with the bag still, managing not to burn it with plenty of stirring.

    [​IMG]

    I then put the lid on and wrapped it all in a towel and sleeping bag for 90 mins, unwrapping and giving it a stir at 15, 30, and 60 minute marks.
    It didn’t lose much more than a degree throughout.

    [​IMG]

    Even with a half-volume brew, 2.6Kg of grain weighs plenty wet and being quite hot too it’s an effort to remove from the pot.
    At first I was a little dismayed how little liquid was left behind, ~10L and knowing I’d lose some in the boil it didn’t look good.
    But I started squeezing the bag inside my spare fermenter and managed to get ~3L more sweet liquor out of it.
    I must buy some rubber gloves for next time, youch!

    [​IMG]

    I took a sample and reading (1.051), it has a nice sweet malt taste to it, and my wife wanted me to stop there and not ’ruin’ it with hops.
    She drank the rest of the sample and went away disappointed as I moved to the next step.

    Boil
    It took 15-20 mins to bring it to the boil, and my biggest burner at ~80% to maintain a ‘rolling boil’, so this batch size is clearly at the limit of my stove.
    Time to weigh out the hops, but my scale only measures in 2g increments, so I weighed out the whole lot first to not compound any errors then divided it up best I could.
    I put them in at the appropriate time throughout the 90 mins boil.
    Add a more accurate scale to the shopping list.

    [​IMG]

    By this stage I’d been at it for ~4 hours, boil was done and I now had 8L in the pot, took another sample and put it in the fridge to cool (more on this later).

    Cool
    A couple of days earlier I’d filled all the spare tupperware with water and put them in to the freezer.
    I chucked all that ice along with the pot in my laundry tub then filled it with water, after 40 mins wort was ~18C.

    In to the fermenter
    I put my sieve over the fermenter mouth, and started to pour in the wort, almost instantly it clogged up with hop debris.
    So it was pour, unclog, pour, unclog over and again until it was all in.
    I'll want a bigger sieve or a hop-sock for next time to reduce the problem.

    Dilution (attempt)
    Because my pot was too small to mash/boil the full volume I now intended to dilute my wort.
    Bringing the volume up, and gravity down, so went to take a reading before working out by how much.
    Going back to the now cooled sample from earlier, I found the scalding water had warped my test jar to the point my hydrometer couldn’t float freely. :mad:
    I should have simply taken the sample after cooling it down or when it made it in to the fermenter. Duh!

    Pitch it!
    Now past the 5 hour mark I decided the to pitch the yeast, seal it up and put it in the brew fridge.
    Had a couple minor issues there too but nothing worth writing about as it was more a function of my tiredness.

    Sending off for results
    I messaged a mate who lives nearby to see if I could pop round to use his measuring kit, but didn't hear back from him til hours later.
    So at 9:00PM I turn up on his door step with a warped jar of wort. :lol:

    Result was 1.069, more like an Imperial IPA, but I want something a little more sensible and more of it.

    Dilution (for real)
    Erring on the side of caution, I thought I would boil, then cool the diluting water.
    I filled my 2x 1.5L Grolsch bottles out of the kettle, bunged them in the freezer, and sat down to watch ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ on TV (it wasn’t bad).

    Just after midnight the fermenter was almost down to 17C but the bottled dilute water had overshot and hit 15.5C.
    I left them on the bench for a while, then took the lid off and poured it down the side of the fermenter, gave it a gentle stir and sealed it back up.

    I took a sample and reading. I now have 11L of 1.050 wort. Perfect!

    Bedtime
    After 13 hours elapsed my brew-day had come to an end.

    The morning after
    Checked it in the morning before work and she’s bubbling away happily. Success!

    Conclusion
    Time consuming as it was, I had a lot of fun, and the whole process smells wonderful at each step along the way.
    With practice it shouldn't take nearly that long, I'll relax a little instead of hovering around like an expectant father, and it'll be less draining I'm sure. :D

    I can't wait to taste my latest creation and get brewing another!
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
  3. OP
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    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    Coming Later - The Final Results

    Edit: See Post 27.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  4. spankyofoz

    spankyofoz Member

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    That sounds painful for a half batch. And to think I find an 8 hour brewday too much for a 20-23 litre batch.

    But the results will make it worthwhile, you'll refine your process and improve your gear.
     
  5. arytel

    arytel Member

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    Sweet good to hear oosh. Results will be worth it.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    I certainly managed to turn it in to an endurance event. :tired:
    Just tasted the sample I'd left in the fridge last night and things are looking good. :leet:
     
  7. Quadbox

    Quadbox Member

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    It's one of the main reasons I do 45 litre batches. Well not just the brewday come to that, makes kegging and filtering and carbonating that much less torturous too, just get a lot of it done at once (not to mention cleaning, I usually clean and sterilise every empty keg I own every time I do it just for maintenance reasons, which is often as much as 8 kegs)

    (Just to answer the inevitable question, anything left over after trub and yeastcake and whatever that doesnt fit in two 19L kegs I put in a mongrel keg which becomes a blend of every batch till it's full, it's usually only like 2L anyway per batch after all that, becomes this grand wildcard experiment :p you never really know what's been blended in the mongrel keg, it's a party challenge :p. Hey, I've got 10 kegs, why not. Sometimes they end up pretty awesome. Too damned hard to reliably end up with enough after say a 40L or 41L batch to fill two 19L kegs completely, esp as I variously repitch, use starters, use fresh yeast, etc, so the amount of yeast cake and trub is all over the shop. Rather have too much and have some fun with the bit of excess)
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  8. bl4ck32

    bl4ck32 Member

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    Its one of the main reasons I stopped brewing for the mean time...even with a regular batch that people start with (20L) it takes a few good hours. Ive got pretty much everything here to go 45L batches as well now, just no time to assemble my all grain setup, nor a whole day to spare to make it. Just need some kegs though and id have more motivation to do it....:Paranoid:
     
  9. aXis

    aXis Member

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    Awesome, well done. :)

    Some hints:
    - For 2.6kg of grain, you should have been able to get away with a lot less water in the initial mash. Generally 2L/kg is condsidered thick mash, 4L/kg is thin - yours was 5.4L/kg.

    - 90 minutes is about the limit for mashing, and you need to be carefull about over-extracting tannins. You can help prevent tannin extraction by controlling the pH of the brew to be slightly acidic - a thick mash will provide a natural buffer, but if you do full mashing (not BIAB) you need to be carefull about the SG of the final runnings as below 1020 is risky. Personally I use a pH 5.6 buffer compound to take the stress out of it, you can get this from brew shops. Also, squeezing the bag will supposedly exacerbate tannin extraction, so be carefull there too. Personally I just suspend my mash bag out of the liquid for 20 mins and let it drain gently for a while.

    - Definitely get a hop sock, that stuff just clogs like mad.

    - If you can get 80% efficiency then well done, my first all grain (with full mashing equipment) was 65% and I've managed to tweak it up to 75% over a few goes and some improved techniques.

    Finally relax, dont worry, and have a home brew :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  10. OP
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    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    Based on my understanding (limited as it is):
    • BIAB aims for a full volume mash, which is very thin by 2/3 vessel standards, later water additions aren't a mortal sin but you try to get it all in at the start. It is part of reason the efficiency is ok without a sparge (for all but the highest grav beers).
    • Again with no sparge I think the 90 min mash is also a part of re-gaining some efficiency.
    • As for squeezing, based on 'The Commentary' (added a link in OP) from BIABinfo it describes tannin extraction as impossible at these temperatures.
      Edit: That being <65C, it is somewhat ambiguous re: grain that has seen a 78C mash-out.

    I have some uncertainty in my pre-boil volume, but I have a good idea of the lower and upper bounds, using an online calculator I got 79-81% respectively. From what I read this is pretty much at the limit without a sparge.
    If I managed that straight off then great but frankly I don't care too much, so long as I can be consistent and it's not in the toilet, a few bucks saved on grain is of little consequence to me.

    Of course time will tell how successful it is and I've been doing this long enough to realise a brewers greatest virtue is patience.
    If this doesn't work out I'll just continue to refine the process and try again. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  11. OP
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    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    Took my first sample, read 1.017 already (OG 1.050), then chilled and drank it.

    Tasting it along side a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I found mine to have a stronger yet differing floral hop note, and a similar level of bitterness to the after taste.
    It was noticeably sweeter and had more body but unsurprisingly so since the ferment still has some way to go.
    There was no hint of astringency or cardboard notes - unlike my last (extract & steeped grains kit) brew - that would indicate tannins.

    All in all I'm very happy with progress thus far. Only downside is large about of suspended matter affecting the cloudiness.
    Skipping the Whirlfloc may have been ill advised but I'll let it sit and settle for some time post-ferment and prior to bottling.
     
  12. bl4ck32

    bl4ck32 Member

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  13. OP
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    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    That level of filtration feels to me a little too much like macro-brewing techniques.
    Not to mention I have no intention of ever force-carbonating so removing the yeast is counter-productive (unless I ever take a crack at an Orval clone ;))

    Even the idea of using Whirlfloc leaves me feeling cold for some reason, despite reading plenty of commentary that it doesn't have any negative effects when used at correct dosages.
    I guess it's coz I'm not after anything crystal clear and would rather only include the bare necessities.

    I think my next (small) step in this area would be to whirlpool and siphon.
     
  14. aXis

    aXis Member

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    I find whirlpooling really doesnt help my all grains, I think the vessels are too small /speeds too low to have a significant effect.

    Whirlfloc and a good cold break however make a big difference, and if you can achieve this the material will settle out on it's own within 30 mins - 1 hr. Based on the cooling scheme you mentioned earlier I think this will work a treat for you - just add the whirlfloc a few mins before flame out.

    I've also fitted a weldless valve in the side of my vessel, and fortunately it's just above the level of the trub so it's easy to drain without dirturbing the material.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  15. OP
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    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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  16. spankyofoz

    spankyofoz Member

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    It hasn't finished fermenting yet, of course there's going to be yeast floating about. remember Ale yeasts are top cropping, unlike lagers which sit more at the bottom.

    <random bold cos all the kids seem to be doing it>
     
  17. OP
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    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    This is more than yeast, it may be my first AG but it isn't my first brew, and the emphasis is not random but an attempt to aid comprehension in longer communications.
     
  18. aXis

    aXis Member

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    Oh, not sure if I was clear, but even though I dont bother much with "whirlpooling", siphoning or otherwise decanting the clear wort from the top of the flocculated trub is definitely important. Fermenting with the trub still all mixed in can lead to soapy flavours when fats react with the alcohol.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Oosh

    Oosh Member

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    What I've read on that in the past suggests it's only an issue if left in the fermenter too long after primary has finished.
     
  20. aXis

    aXis Member

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    Yeah that's true, it's generally only noticable with extended primary times. That said, I like to leave my primary for two weeks and dont want to risk adding off flavours.

    The suspended protien is obviously also an issue with clarity.
     

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