Your Feedback and Questions on A Guide to Mini-BIAB

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

skridgy
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Post by skridgy » 6 years ago

Finished my first mini biab. :thumbs:

Thanks for the guide Ralph! :clap:

I took the mini biab NRB's All Amarillo American Pale Ale recipe to the home brew shop since that was the one Ralph used in the guide. While I was chatting with the brew shop guys I mentioned that I'd prefer to be doing a Belgian Wit. So, they gave me up a Wit recipe for the same vessel volume, water required, brew length etc.

A few questions and other notes I have after the process:

Question 1:

Do I need to make sure that the whole 18.49 litres of water goes in?

The way Ralph described it, he got 15 litres up to strike temperature. Then added the grain. Then added "the remaining 3-odd litres of water to fill the pot right up".

We started with 15 litres. Then the grain. But all we could fit was another 1.7 litres. Maybe my recipe has grains that displace more water?

I wasn't sure whether it was crucial to put all of the 18.49 litres in. So, when we took the bag out, we used 1.8 litres to sparge the bag in a big bowl as described in the maxi biab guide.


The SG after the mash and sparge was 1032 with about 15.5 litres volume. I was worried that I may have diluted it too much by adding the sparge water, but maybe my recipe doesn't yield as much.

After the boil, it was SG 1042 and about 13 litres volume.

Question 2:

We got a strike temperature of 68 degrees celcius before we added the grain. After we added the grain and topped up the water, we were at 66 degrees. We left the probe thermometer in. By the time an hour had passed, we were down to 62 degrees. At the end of 90 minutes, we were at 60 degrees.

We had the pot pretty well insulated. There were two towels underneath it (one folded a few times). A towel, then a zipped up fleece jacket then another towel around it. And a couple more tea towels on top.

Should we have started with a higher temperature? Is this much temperature loss normal or did we get our insulation wrong?

Question 3:

We ended up with 9.5 litres in the fermenter. We poured untill we were just getting to the murky stuff in the bottom of the fermenter. Afterwards, we poured the murk into a measuring jug and it turned out we had two litres of it. Ralph said leave the last one litre or so. So, it's probably splitting hairs to ask this, but my question is: should we have poured some more of the murk into the fermenter?


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Post by PistolPatch » 6 years ago

Congratulations on first batch skridgy :clap:,

Great questions too!

I'm not sure where Ralph has gone??? I do remember when he first wrote his guide, it had no numbers in it so I tried to give him a hand to give new brewers like yourself something to follow. It was a busy time then and I'm not sure how successful this was especially given the fact that I have never done a mini-BIAB :P.

Hopefully some others can help you out better than I can.

Here's a few thoughts...

Firstly, reading what you have written, I think you did a great job. I can't see any mistakes that you personally made. You should be very happy with what you achieved :salute:.

Q1.

Depending on your home brew shop, unless you can double-check the weights of grains yourself and understand the recipe, a lot can go wrong. Before your next brew, I'd post up here what you want to achieve and then give the shop your order.

An incorrect grain bill is probably the reason why you failed to reach your target OG howver you should also study this post.

Q2.

I personally think it is a mistake to advise any new brewer to leave a mash alone. Some equipment and environments lead to little loss in temperature during a mash but plenty of them don't. My advice is to regularly agitate the mash and monitor it's temperature until you develop a feel for your equipment. A mini-BIAB has very little 'thermal capacity' so frequent agitation and temperature checking I think is doubly important. Perhaps get rid of the insulation on your next few brews so as you can easily apply heat and agitate.

Q3.

You shouldn't pour 'murk' into your fermenter as a general rule. Garbage in still equals garbage out. That being said, a bit of 'muck' won't do any harm. Some brewers throw in a lot of muck and swear 'no harm' and, on many recipes, I think they are probably right.

Another thing you can do is put all the muck into a jug and let it settle out in the fridge. Once settled, you could ad this to the fermenter but this involves a small amount of risk as your 'jugged' wort has no yeast in it to compete with other bacteria. Sometimes, gaining an extra bit of wort can come at a high price.

....

I honestly think your beer will still be lovely even though the OG looks low. All-grain beers have an inbuilt robustness so you shouldn't be scared at all when a recipe doesn't match your measurement expectations.

Please let us all know how you think it tastes when it's ready.

:salute:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 03 Dec 2011, 23:47, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by BrickBrewHaus » 6 years ago

skridgy wrote:Do I need to make sure that the whole 18.49 litres of water goes in?
Nope. I think the way you did it is just fine. You'll want the most water that you can fit in your kettle, but don't stress if you can't fit it all, it can always be added later. For my process, I target a pre-boil volume that will barely fit in my kettle without boil overs. This means that I can't fit all the water in the mash. I'll take a gravity reading and top up with the appropriate amount of water to hit my desired pre-boil gravity. I never worry about volumes, only the gravity, which I think makes the most sense for brewing smaller batches.
skridgy wrote:Should we have started with a higher temperature? Is this much temperature loss normal or did we get our insulation wrong?
This sounds pretty normal for mini-BIAB. Like PP said, you have less thermal mass and everything will lose heat faster. Your goal should be to start at the correct mash temperature, then try your best to stay close to that temp. If you have any way to heat your insulation, you'll see a slight improvement. I do this by wrapping the kettle with the insulation while bringing the water to strike temperature, be careful not to light it on fire :)
skridgy wrote:So, it's probably splitting hairs to ask this, but my question is: should we have poured some more of the murk into the fermenter?
I think this is a personal preference. If you don't think that the trub affects the flavor, then pour the whole thing in there. If you don't like all of that in your beer, then leave it out.
Last edited by BrickBrewHaus on 06 Dec 2011, 07:14, edited 10 times in total.


skridgy
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Post by skridgy » 6 years ago

Thanks a lot for the advice guys!

I think I'll give serious thought to buying an urn before my next brew. The mini biab was interesting and fun, but pretty low yield for all the time it took.

If I boil in an urn, can I turn my back on it? Or do I have to watch it like a hawk for the whole 90 minutes in case there's a boil over?


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Post by ynotnamlac » 5 years ago

So, I am getting ready for my first mini-biab on Saturday. Am following the American Pale Ale recipe. I have the Safale US-05, 11.5 grams, and on the packet it says that it is good for 20-30 litres. Does this mean that I should use half for a 11 litre brew?


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Post by jarvo_325 » 4 years ago

This is a great method for BIAB and look forward to making one real soon.

I know the worted started at around 18L so I was wondering with this method how much beer did it actually produce after the boil and fermentation?

Cheers :drink:


PistolPatch
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Post by PistolPatch » 4 years ago

[MOD NOTE - 7th January, 2013: It looks like PP thought he was replying to this thread when he wrote the below. The right answer to this question depends on many variables. The BIABacus makes this easy. See this post to get started or feel free to ask questions here.]

Hi there jarvo and welcome to the forum. Sorry you haven't got a faster answer here yet to your question. Maxi-BIAB is a pretty tricky area though.

For example, the maxi-BIAB example given in this thread is very extreme. You really don't want to be filling kettles to the brim when mashing and boiling. It is very laborious and messy. So, treat this thread more as an extreme brewing thread.

It's very important to understand the limitations of maxi-BIAB. Have a read of this post and also the summary at the end of this post. These will help you to keep things sensible and I think might provide a better answer to your question.

The BIABacus also automatically estimates volumes and many other things for you and will let you know if your brewing plan starts to get extreme. It's the only software that does this so allow some time to learn it and ask questions before you do your first brew.

:peace:,
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 25 May 2013, 20:04, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by nicko » 3 years ago

Hey Ralph, thanks for making the guide. I've got a 70L kettle and have been doing some large VIF brews lately. I really want to brew more often though so I can test different recipes, so I think that stovetop BIAB is ideal!
Thanks, Nick.
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