Your Feedback and Questions on A Guide to Mini-BIAB

For those who like to brew BIAB just using their stovetop.

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Your Feedback and Questions on A Guide to Mini-BIAB

Post by Ralph » 7 years ago

Guys,
it is official- the MiniBIAB guide has left the launch pad!

Many thanks for the constructive feedback and also patience during its genesis, also special thanks to Pat for integrating it into the website and editorial guidance.

Happy to take any questions here, so fire at will!

Also, please have a gander at Beachbum's Electric BIAB, it is a very thorough and helpful guide too, may answer many questions from in here.

Cheers,
Ralph.
Last edited by Ralph on 17 Apr 2010, 14:39, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by AaronP » 7 years ago

Thanks for the great mini-BIAB guide Ralph. This method has inspired me to try my first BIAB and first AG.
I have a couple of questions. You say that the crud leftover from the boil that doesn't go into the fermenter can be filtered and used for yeast starters. Is that crud what is referred to as "cold break"? Also, when you say filtered, do you just mean straining it through something (swiss voile perhaps)? Lastly, why not add the filtered wort to the fermenter?


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Post by Ralph » 7 years ago

Hi Aaron,
firstly welcome and congratulations on getting motivated to get into AG brewing, hopefully you'll find it very simple to achieve but quite rewarding, I know I did! Some excellent questions too!

To clarify, for this method where the wort is boiled and then chilled in the kettle, it should be a mixture of hops debris plus hot and cold break that settles in the bottom of the kettle as it cools. The Electric BIAB method as a feature in its design filters out the hops material (in a hops sock) and some of the break settles in the urn. You can use a hops sock with MiniBIAB however we have skipped it here in the interests of simplicity (but I don't use one anyway, we'll cover exactly why in a later guide).
Basically, the light- brown flecks of muck are a mixture of (I think) hot break which forms during the boil process (which forms, gets broken up and re-aggregates) and also cold break which precipitates throughout the cooling process. Much of the hot break aggregates during the heating and boiling, so your boil is quite soupy- looking even from the beginning, then after the boil is finished and cooling starts, material continues to precipitate as the wort is chilled and that is cold break. (Chill haze is essentially cold break which forms only at lower temperatures, but not the issue here.) So, by the time your wort is cooled to pitching temperature, various break fractions have precipitated, but because we have yet to filter out hops debris, the crud at the bottom of the kettle contains that as well.
Conventional wisdom is that the more of these different break materials and hops debris we exclude from the fermenter the better, although there are differing opinions as to just how bad each of these things really are. I've tried to be slightly cautious and conservative in formulating this guide and catered for the school of thought that says all of them are bad for your beer and make your toes/ old feller drop off/ will kill you/ whatever, but we also want to get more than half of the wort out of the kettle and into the fermenter, because the when you're pouring it out, the first of these baddies will show up only about half way though. But we persevere and because we have a sieve and we can pour the majority of the wort through and still catch quite a lot of the undesirable material, but too much will just overflow your sieve.

Now, you can filter the last bit of really mucky wort that you don't pour directly into the fermenter through the sieve, the reason I don't add this left over fraction to the fermenter is that it isn't likely to be sterile* any longer once it has been filtered, unless you either filter it with a sterile filter and handling process or re- boil it, although you could then add it to the fermenter if you so desire, but bear in mind 'conventional wisdom'.

So, when I filter what is largely just horrible muck from the bottom of the kettle, I have a particular purpose in mind, and I use a cone of filter material which is designed for rejuvenating cooking oil, but voile would probably work well enough, maybe with a few layers in a funnel, cheesecloth might work too. I don't add it to the fermenter, I actually need that bit of extra liquid (usually a litre or so) for starter wort, I dilute it to about 1.040, add yeast nutrient and put it into lab style glass Schott bottles which can handle repeated boiling and cooling cycles (so not just everyday glass bottles). It needs to be boiled before storage, then I utilise this to propagate and then 'park' liquid yeasts in the fridge.

Hope this helps! :)

* When I use the term sterile in this home brewing context, it isn't quite accurate as what I am describing is really just 'sanitary', but at these scales and conditions it is effectively sterile. A technical sterility requires higher temperatures and pressure to achieve.
Last edited by Ralph on 27 Apr 2010, 18:34, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by AaronP » 7 years ago

Thanks for the welcome and the very informative reply.


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Post by robbie d » 7 years ago

Great guide guys, keep it up.
I used a cheesecloth bag for my first BIAB the other night and while the boil off was happening, I cleaned out the cheesecloth and used that to filter the wort going into the fermenter.
I didn't measure my SG going into the boil and coming off the boil.
My SG into the fermenter was 1.032, not far from the 1.040 estimated by the recipe.
I think perhaps a longer mash may have improved my yield, is there any problem with running a few litres of water through the bag after removing it from the kettle, a sort of "light sparge"?


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Post by Ralph » 7 years ago

Hi robbie d, glad it worked out satisfactorily, we should be able to improve your efficiency to increase the SG in the fermenter (known as OG- Original Gravity).
Yep, how long was the mash? An hour is fairly standard, but I'll mash for 90 minutes or two hours quite often.
Your grain, was it well- milled?
What is your water like? I.e. rainwater, tap water, bore water- the pH is what I'm thinking of foremost, so long as it isn't really alkaline is the main thing, although it isn't a major factor.
Just be careful with your cheesecloth as a filter, it really needs to be scrupulously clean if you're putting cooled wort through it. Hot less of an issue, but cool really needs to be sanitary, anything that contacts cooled wort needs to be so. Hopefully that's not an issue for you.
The sparge we use for Maxi- BIAB started just like you described, running a few litres though the bag! Its quite OK, we kept it out of Mini- BIAB just to keep it as simple as possible.
It sounds like the few extra litres of sparge may have contributed to the lower OG though, do you know what volume you've got in the fermenter? If it is more than the brewlength then that's the probable cause.

Anyway, well done! :thumbs:
Last edited by Ralph on 11 Nov 2010, 06:38, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by robbie d » 7 years ago

Thanks Ralph,
My mash was a 60 minute one, kept between 67 and 72 degrees.
The grain was double milled as they knew I was BIABing.
The water is rainwater, tested ph 7.0
Ahh yes, the cheesecloth was well washed, and considering the amount of chlorine in our tap water here seemed to be good.
My final volume was to be 20L but end of cooling and into fermenter only yielded 10L exactly. I didn't sparge this time, but squeezing the bag later gave so much more wort, I thought it may have helped. This was my first AG brew. I had planned a combination extract/grain brew but in the end bought the big pot and went for the AG straight off.
Using nottingham ale yeast, it had dropped from 1.032 to 1.020 in just under 2 days, and tasted quite ok.


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Post by Ralph » 7 years ago

Question from a new member about the Ritchie boiler's grain bag (The Ritchie is a commercial 'Bucket of Death'-style boiler popular in the British Isles and it comes with a grain bag.):
oz11 wrote:Hi all!

Oz from Kent, UK
Have done one kit and two extract brews, now looking to do a mini BIAB following the guide and the Amarillo APA recipe. Is the finished brew anything like an SNPA? The missus is a big fan of that beer so if it's similar that'll get me some mega brownie points!

Hoping to be able to use my ritchie's boiler and the mash/sparge bag that came with it as a way into AG without extra expenditure. Is the bag going to be okay for this method does anyone know?

The instructions that came with it say to mash in the boiler then run-off and sparge into a separate vessel leaving the grain in-situ, but I'm liking the idea of just removing the bag without worrying about sparging and needing to clean up another bucket.

Many thanks
Sorry Oz, I don't think the finished beer will be all that close to SNPA as it has loads of late Cascade hops (off- site SNPA thread), but it should be just fine as an APA nevertheless. :yum:
If you wanted to really angle for those brownie points though, you could just substitute the last two additions of the recipe for Cascade, that might get much closer! Let us know if you want to do this and need help converting, will need to know the %AA of your Cascade. Also keep in mind that the bottled SNPA does not seem quite as good as the cask version sold domestically in USA.

Now, that's a really good question about the Ritchie bag, I don't know for sure, but it would be worthwhile trying it out with the Mini-BIAB method and put to bed questions I've had in my mind from a mildly unpleasant debate had somewhere else. ;) The only concern I have is that it may need slow, steady lifting as, if I'm not mistaken, it has poorly- draining canvas sides? That may lead to slower lautering (draining), but if you suspend it to drain then this should be fine regardless of how slow drainage progresses.
As far as the mechanics of the bag being suited to BIAB, it should work and achieve all you need though. If there's a picture, I'd love to see it, they seem to be like hen's teeth. Please let us know how this goes! :drink:
Last edited by Ralph on 18 Dec 2010, 06:22, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by oz11 » 7 years ago

Many thanks for the reply, I'll probably follow the recipe "as is" for the first attempt, but it doesn't look like it'll be until after Christmas (a little snow and everything grinds to a halt over here!).

However, regarding the bag, there is a pic on this thread http://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/view ... 24&t=37189 that shows the sort of bag being lifted.

Cheers
Oz


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Post by Ralph » 7 years ago

Thanks Oz, I thought that might've been the one. It should be fine to use, I think the main trouble folks have with it when using that style of boiler is scorching or burning of the bag on the electric heating element. We licked that problem years ago by either using a cake rack or upturned colander over the element, or simply by not heating when the bag was in place. With the latter, some lagging to insulate during the mash is simple and very effective, while briefly lifting the bag out/ up to heat for either a stepped mash or mashout step solves most hassles.
A little while back there was some concern expressed by a quite senior member of that forum about the apparent lack of boilers appropriate for BIAB, but I think it was more of an armchair concern dealing in hypothetical situations without much consideration or awareness of the fact that other folks have actually tried various approaches with various kettles/ boilers and solved that problem a long time ago.
Hope the snow eases, as much as I love the stuff it can be one big PITA for doing constructive things, transporting goods etc, plus getting on with life!
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Post by cipher » 6 years ago

Good day,

Did my first Mini-BIAB yesterday. Did the Amarillo recipe and the whole process went very smooth. Only concerns I have are that my OG was a mere 1.040. Unfortunately I did not measure efficiency (I was too eager to get started). How will this affect my brew? Will it only mean a lower alcohol level or a "watery" beer as well?

I used an ale yeast, how long in primary before I can bottle or does it first need to go to a secondary fermenter (which I do not have)?

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Post by hashie » 6 years ago

Good on you cipher for your first mini BIAB.

An OG of 1040 will simply mean a lower alcohol beer(~4%), it should not be watery.

"How long in primary before you can bottle?" Depends on the vigour of the ferment, the temperature of the ferment and the attenuation levels of the yeast. All that aside though, you should be able to bottle after 7 days or so in primary. Just make sure the gravity is stable, somewhere around 1012 - 1008.

There is debate and conjecture about the merits of a secondary, some do and some don't. For now, just use your primary. If you want to play around you can buy a secondary later, but it will be personal choice.

Sit back and enjoy the hobby without stress :)
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Post by cipher » 6 years ago

Good day,

Thank you for all the responses. This was my first All-Grain ... and second brew EVER :party:

My first brew was a kit and, even though it came out fine, it did not feel like MY beer. It's like making pizza ... either buy frozen which is ready in a few minutes, or start out with just flour, water and yeast(which is best and you have more control).

I will take a gravity reading coming Sunday. Just as I thought our Spring is coming (I'm from South Africa) and it is safe to do an ale without the schlep of water bottles\blankets, we have a cold front coming and snow falling on the mountains! :idiot:

I'll let you know how it went, watch this space.


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Post by Ralph » 6 years ago

Cheers cipher, glad to hear you've got it underway! :thumbs:

Wow, your 2nd ever batch was an all- grain? I'm still in awe! :salute:

Sigh... home- made pizza... :dream:
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Post by cipher » 6 years ago

Thanks Ralph, bottled on Sunday and tasted the "young" beer. It was delicious :drink: !

It fermented to 1.010 (about 4.5% ABV taking priming into account?). Can't wait for my next brew!


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Post by truman42 » 6 years ago

Im having problems trying to understand the calculator spreadsheet if someone could please explain a few things to me.

If I input a figure into brew length of 20 litres it says my water required is 31.26 litres. Im doing this in a 19 litre pot. It also says my end of boil volume is 23.60 litres. Even if I change my brew length figure to 10 litres it still says my water required is 20.07 litres.


Brew Length 20.00 lts How much beer you want to end up with.
Fermenter Trub* 1.00 lts Volume left in fermenter after kegging/bottling.
Volume into Fermenter 21.00 lts End of boil volume less kettle trub & buffer.
Kettle Trub & Buffer* 2.60 lts Grain & hop trub plus some breathing space!
End of Boil Efficiency* 79.00 % Derived from a collection of brewers' records.
End of Boil Gravity (OG) 1.046 Deg. Derived from your recipe or beer style.
End of Boil Volume 23.60 lts The first point at which OG can be established.
Boil Length 90 min 90 minutes recommended.
Diameter of Kettle 31.00 cms The widest diameter of your kettle.
Evaporation Per Hour* 3.23 lts/hr Stays fairly constant regardless of batch size.
Evaporation for this Brew 4.85 lts Derived from boil length & evaporation per hr.
Expected Start of Boil Gravity 1.038 Deg. Derived from grain bill and pre-boil volume.
Start of Boil Volume 28.45 lts End of boil volume plus evap, for this brew.
Grain Bill Required 4476 grams Grams of grain needed in this brew.
Grain Absorption* 2.81 lts How much liquid is retained in the spent grain.
Water Required is... 31.26 lts How much water you need for this brew.
Approximate Mash Volume 34.21 lts Approximate volume of your mash.


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Post by truman42 » 6 years ago

Thanks Sigurdur, so in other words if Im doing Maxi-BIAB I shouldnt really use this calculator anyway and just go with whatever the recipe says because Im going to add water to bring it up to the recipes total volume once in the fermenter anyway?


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Post by truman42 » 6 years ago

So just to clarify this if I was going to do a mini BIAB in my 19 litre pot and I put 10 litres into the calculator and it gives me these figures below. How much water do I put in my pot to start with? 17.45 litres?


Brew Length 10.00 lts How much beer you want to end up with.
Fermenter Trub* 0.80 lts Volume left in fermenter after kegging/bottling.
Volume into Fermenter 10.80 lts End of boil volume less kettle trub & buffer.
Kettle Trub & Buffer* 1.80 lts Grain & hop trub plus some breathing space!
End of Boil Efficiency* 79.00 % Derived from a collection of brewers' records.
End of Boil Gravity (OG) 1.048 Deg. Derived from your recipe or beer style.
End of Boil Volume 12.60 lts The first point at which OG can be established.
Boil Length 90 min 90 minutes recommended.
Diameter of Kettle 31.00 cms The widest diameter of your kettle.
Evaporation Per Hour* 3.23 lts/hr Stays fairly constant regardless of batch size.
Evaporation for this Brew 4.85 lts Derived from boil length & evaporation per hr.
Expected Start of Boil Gravity 1.035 Deg. Derived from grain bill and pre-boil volume.
Start of Boil Volume 17.45 lts End of boil volume plus evap, for this brew.
Grain Bill Required 2494 grams Grams of grain needed in this brew.
Grain Absorption* 1.57 lts How much liquid is retained in the spent grain.
Water Required is... 19.01 lts How much water you need for this brew.
Approximate Mash Volume 20.66 lts Approximate volume of your mash.


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Post by truman42 » 6 years ago

Thanks Sigurdur. I've already had my grain mixed for 10 litres so I guess Im going to have to sparge with the extra 2 litres.But I at least understand now what figures I need to be looking at.


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Post by Engbrewer » 6 years ago

Good forum, I'm going to give a mini-BIAB a try.

1 question: Does the amount of yeast need to be adjusted for a smaller batch? I normally brew 5 gal of extract kits but this looks like it comes in at about 2.5 gals.


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Post by BrickBrewHaus » 6 years ago

Engbrewer wrote:Good forum, I'm going to give a mini-BIAB a try.

1 question: Does the amount of yeast need to be adjusted for a smaller batch? I normally brew 5 gal of extract kits but this looks like it comes in at about 2.5 gals.
I guess that depends on how much you were pitching into 5gal and if that was too much or too little. But in general, I wouldn't worry about reducing by half the amount of yeast you're using.

If you check out Mr. Malty, most beers 1.050+ (2.5 gal) will benefit from a small starter (1L). But I think this is just a general suggestion to ensure higher yeast health and viability.
Last edited by BrickBrewHaus on 20 Oct 2011, 02:55, edited 10 times in total.

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Post by hashie » 6 years ago

Hi Engbrewer, it's debatable. Some would suggest you need to count the individual yeast cells to ensure you don't under/over pitch.
Me, I'd just put in a sachet of dried yeast and let it do it's thing. I seriously don't think it will make a scrap of difference.

Happy brewing
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Post by joshua » 6 years ago

Good Day, Typically the Mini_BIAB 2.5 gallon will work well with everthing at 50% of a 5 gallon recipe, But, the better the starter is, the faster the fermentation will be, and less off flavors can be made.
So a Pint(16oz) or more of starter is good.
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Post by lambert » 6 years ago

My first 12 brews were all Mini_biab (2-3 gal) and in all cases I've pitched a yeast as if it was a 5 gallon recipe. No problems at all!


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Post by stux » 6 years ago

Generally half an 11g packet or a full 100billion liquid would be good

Most people under pitch 2:1 if they're not making starters anyway

For a lager a whole 11g yeast packet is good
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