Does BIAB beer suffer from poor clarity?

Post #1 made 9 years ago
[Mods- I'm putting a thread here to keep it out of the way of the My First Post thread. Move it if you want.]
scarer wrote:Hi there

I'm in the UK and have been brewing all-grain at home for about 2 years but I'm interested in brewing in smaller batches so that I can brew a wider variety of styles because 21lts of beer lasts me ages!

I also brew for a craft brewing club and smaller batches would make it easier to keep up with the brewing schedule.

I'm intrigued to find out if BIAB will produce beers as good as the traditional method (no offence!) particularly where clarity is concerned.
Hi Sara, that's a really good question and no, I'm not offended at all!

Now, I know you didn't say this explicitly, but reading between the lines, I'm not sure where the link between cloudy runnings and cloudy beers comes from, however it would seem intuitive anyway as BIAB does indeed yield quite cloudy runnings. However, the wort boil takes care of the aggregation and precipitation of particulates and complexes which form cloudiness and haze and there seems to be no carry over of poor clarity into the finished beer, particularly when using cargeenan, PVPP and so forth.
Let there be no mistake though, there's plenty of cloudy BIABs out there and I've made quite a few myself, but there's also plenty of cloudy kit, extract and 3V beers too, but I'll put my neck on the block- there's no direct link between BIAB and poor beer clarity! However, BIAB has just as much likelihood of cloudy beer as any other method.
I've found that a few things should help clarity, regardless of method: Whirlfloc (cargeenan), a longer boil (90 to 120 minutes), scum skimming at the start of the boil (debatable), water profile, yeast strain, gelatine/ agar, cold conditioning, Polyclar (PVPP). IMO clarity is mainly a cosmetic feature and haven't really invested much effort in it, so long as it is not excessive I don't think it has that much impact on flavour and aroma, but competitions demand it so I have to oblige, but I'm not likely start filtering beer.

As far as 'beers as good as the traditional method' goes, how's this lot sound for competition results, also the Brisbane Club winner last year too (BABB- BeachBum may elaborate). In this year's Queensland State competition (QABC), the fact that BIAB has taken out two of the three places in the Pale Lager category is probably significant, it has always been regarded as a particularly tough nut to crack for BIAB. But, as I say, BIAB isn't likely to have clarity issues any more than other methods, so I don't actually support that assertion (I'm just narked that we didn't win it... Oh well, there's always next year!). Oh, first place in New South Wales state competition in Pilsner, plus other placings too. :cool:

Hope this helps, always happy to discuss!
Last edited by Ralph on 04 Oct 2010, 07:39, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #2 made 9 years ago
Hi there Sara and welcome to the forum :).

Regarding the questions in your first post, I think Ralph might be the man to assist you in brewing small batches. He has done heaps!

Regarding your second question (a good one) BIAB will certainly give you a beer as good as a traditional. I used to 3 vessel and now don't but this was not before doing a couple of blind tastings etc, etc.

You can and should get a non-cloudy wort from BIAB. If your bag or grain crush combines to give you a cloudy wort, this is not a problem though. You can either let your kettle settle after the boil and drain it carefully as most traditional brewers do or you can even let the trub through as it quickly settles.

Lots of information I have read says that a cloudy wort is a good thing (e.g. Briggs) but I aim for a clear wort with BIAB and get it easily.

For several years, I couldn't understand why I got higher efficiency and just as clear wort with BIAB. I actually even used to write posts saying you'll probably get cloudier wort with BIAB (even though I never did :)). Recently it all came clear to me why BIAB worked and I wrote some thoughts on this here.

But, one of the nicest beers I brewed was a disaster clarity-wise. It's a long story but we basically pumped the contents of the kettle into the fermenter.

It was a very good beer that one and actually turned out very clear.

;)
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 04 Oct 2010, 21:21, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #3 made 9 years ago
Hi, thanks for your comments. I've ordered a bag and I'm definately going to give this a go. I must admit that a couple of things I've read have made me go :shock: like squeezing the bag, stirring the mash every 15 mins and the high liquor to grain ratio but I'm intrigued!

But I'm happy to go with experience and give them a try and if I feel something's not working for me than I'll try something different. But I am a bit reluctant to keep stirring and prodding at the mash. Currently I mash in, stir so there are no dough balls then I leave it. Do I really need to stir that often if I can keep the temp constant?

Don't you lose more beer during racking off to trub at the bottom of the fermenter and isn't there a higher risk of off flavours because of more trub? I know a bit of trub is beneficial to the yeast but it can cause off flavours as well. Would you recommend racking off to a secondary? I don't with my 3 vessel system.

I've also been reading that several people seem to use hop socks, but if I leave my leaf hops loose as I currently do, then they would assist in filtering the wort during the run off also but slow the run off process down. This wouldn't be a problem but one of the benefits I'm looking for is a shorter brew day, but I guess I'll get that anyway because I'll be brewing small batches (10lts or so).

Sorry for rambling on or for some of the newbie questions, I haven't read all the content on the forum yet but I'm keen for this method to work for me. :D
Sara.

Post #4 made 9 years ago
Hi again,
yeah, there's a few things which bugged me initially, but I had two options: i) Do it or ii) Don't do it and see what happens! Some of the annoying things are small incremental changes and not critical, so if you don't want to stir the mash, then don't! I suspect you've been reading the Master Guide, I do things differently as I stir it once in >90 minute mashes, mostly just to check the temperature, but my stockpot is well insulted while mashing. If you're happy that the mash temperature is stable, then you can just leave it be.

The high L:G issue has probably had its day. I think a low ratio probably has its roots in poor diastase malts where concentrating the small amount of enzymes in a small volume of fluid was important for reasonable mash efficiency, these days with modern malts it just isn't a problem and the results speak for themselves. I realise some experienced, traditional brewers, and probably some professionals too could probably point to a journal citation highlighting why low L:G is so important, but honestly, the results tell another story...

I don't rack as a rule, mine usually stay in the primary FV until bottling, occasionally I will though for competition brewing to minimise the amount of bottle sediment (just in case!). Most of the extra particulates stay in the kettle with the kettle trub, so don't end up in the fermenter. I don't lose a great deal more to trub and no, there's no flavour issues, IMO that's a bit of an old wives tale to be honest.
Picking a yeast strain which flocculates madly can be helpful in condensing the fermenter trub, but that's not altogether necessary and may not suit your requirements.

With the leaf hops and run off, it really depends on your kettle's pickup. I think many brewers will use a hop sock if their pickup is going to get blocked by hops debris. I don't use a pickup or a hop sock, but a ruddy great sieve and I pour my cooled wort through it, some leaf hops there is really quite helpful in filtering break material. But I cool in- kettle, see the MiniBIAB guide, but also the MaxiBIAB for more ideas.

Actually, I hate to disappoint, but I don't think you'll have much shorter brewdays with smaller batches, about the only savings to be made are in less time to grind grain, reach strike temp, and come up to the boil, all of which are relatively small savings and most other processes stay at the same duration. However, smaller batches should be easier to manage and I'd recommend that for your needs.
As an aside, the reason I developed MaxiBIAB is that I was continually disappointed by the small brew length of no- sparge/ straight BIAB, so I found a means to increase it without much more time or effort but also using the same 19L stockpot. It yields almost double the wort (commonly 24L as opposed to 13L) in the fermenter at a cost of about an extra half hour, plus a couple of steps but it also brings with some clever volume advantages which make life much easier on brewday. Swings and roundabouts...

Hope this helps, feel free to let us know if you hit any snags! :D
Last edited by Ralph on 05 Oct 2010, 05:59, edited 6 times in total.
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Post #5 made 9 years ago
Ralph wrote:
The high L:G issue has probably had its day. I think a low ratio probably has its roots in poor diastase malts where concentrating the small amount of enzymes was important for reasonable mash efficiency, these days with modern malts it just isn't a problem and the results speak for themselves.

:D
One or two biab blogs out there advocate a mash out phase, but with modern malt that's not necessary- when brewing in the traditional way. Would you agree that it's necessary in biab, I don't see how?

Thanks again and cheers
Last edited by scarer on 05 Oct 2010, 06:06, edited 5 times in total.
Sara.

Post #6 made 9 years ago
No, you're quite right- a mashout is not necessary. I wouldn't delay though between lifting the bag (i.e. lautering) and the boil, but no one does that willingly anyway.
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Post #8 made 9 years ago
A mashout isn't necessary, however my efficiencies are higher with one. The sugars wash out a bit more with a fresh water dunk sparge too.

I've dumped the entire kettle into my fermenter, trub and all and never had any problems. I now shoot for a final volume slightly higher than my carboy will hold and leave a little in the pot, build it into your recipe if you are worried. You'll notice that the wort tends to be a bit cloudier but it all drops out just the same.

I rarely use a secondary but you can.

I use a hopsock and as above, it will all settle out in the end.

Just look at this one:
Image
Came out fine.
Last edited by Two If By Sea on 05 Oct 2010, 09:08, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #9 made 9 years ago
Wow look at that trub!

Thanks for sharing your experiences, I'm looking forward to brewing this way and tasting the result. I think I will avoid getting lots of trub into the fv although some will get through which is ok and the yeast will enjoy it. I will squeeze the bag, but I don't think I'll mash out, I'm not too fussed with efficiency when brewing 2 gallons, I'll just add a bit more malt if need be. So long as a get around 70%.
I'm going to use whole hops loose in the kettle and run off the wort through the hop bed after using some Protafloc to filter the slimy trub out.

I'm going to use this method for the first time to brew a beer for our homebrew club. In November we have agreed to brew a beer using the same ingredients but we can use them however we like. I will mash in my Burco then the process afterwards will be the same as I currently do, I'll boil then chill with an immersion chiller.
Last edited by scarer on 05 Oct 2010, 15:33, edited 5 times in total.
Sara.

Post #12 made 8 years ago
Ralph wrote:...... IMO clarity is mainly a cosmetic feature and haven't really invested much effort in it....

Couldn't agree more, I have never really cared if a brew was little cloudy. I grew up drinking Coopers Pale and Sparkling Ales, so a really clear beer always looks a little soft/light weight to me. When ever mine clear up spectacularly in the secondary I am always worried there wont be enough yeast left in suspension to carbonate the bottles.
Last edited by Mick71 on 18 Jan 2011, 20:44, edited 5 times in total.
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