My BIAB Bubble Burst

I was looking to simplify my brewday and my outlook on homebrewing.  Things got a bit ahead of me in 2013 and I soon found myself in over my head.  My solution was to give BIAB (Brew in a Bag) brewing a whirl.  BIAB promised to reduce the length of a brewday by a couple of hours as well as allowing me to brew at short notice – no more scrabbling around in the roof to find my kit – just one stock pot and the stove. 

I got off to a positive start and brewed a couple of SMASH (Single Malt and Single Hop) beers, the first using Amarillo and the second with Apollo*.  Despite BIAB being the supposed answer to ALL of my problems, I soon realised that All Grain / Full Mash brewing wasn’t really the issue at all, it was more a case of me allowing beer – in general – to muscle its way to the top of my priorities list.  The problem with this – for me personally – is that even when I managed to brew, it was usually at the expense of time spent doing more important things.  The result of this was that the enjoyment I used to get from homebrewing soon faded.  So, what’s changed? and why do I think that brewing at home will be different this time? I don’t know that it will be different, but I’ve drastically reduced the number of evenings spent in the pub; attending other beery events – of which there were many – and partaking in less casual drinking on the sofa, all mean that I can set some time aside that doesn’t need to be a rush job, or spoilt by the guilt from knowing that I should be probably be somewhere else.

BIAB#3 or AG#30, it doesn’t really matter which, but my next brewday will be soon, and I’m looking forward to it, and getting back to blogging.

Happy new year!  

* Both BIAB brews turned out ok, pretty thin in body, despite a high mash temp, something I will work on next.  I think both beers will be perfectly acceptable lawnmower beers come the summer months.

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BIAB#2 Apollo Pale Ale

Following up from my first BIAB (Brew in a bag), I thought it would be interesting to brew a series of SMASH (single malt single hop) beers.  My first post talks you through the process – if you’re interested.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.040
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 4.0%
Colour: Pale
Bitterness (IBU): 45ish

2.500 kg  Golden Promise Pale Malt

9g Apollo (19.5% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (Boil)
50g Apollo (19.5% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (Boil)

Same volumes and temperatures as the first brew (or as near as possible). 6.25L of mash liquor with roughly a quarter of a Campden tablet.  80C strike temperature (to achieve a mash temp of somewhere around 70C).  Sparged with 7.00L liquor at 78C strike temp.

60 minute addition (20g) Apollo hops.  At 15 minutes from the end of the boil I added quarter of protofloc tablet and the Immersion Chiller.  At 0 minutes (flame out / hob off) I added my second addition of Apollo hops (50g) and turned IC on.

I collected 9L of 1.045 wort and pitched half packet of US05 yeast at 19C.  BIAB#1 stopped at 1.025 with half a packet.

Next brew will be same again, different hop.

BIAB#1 Amarillo Pale Ale

It’s been a little while since I’ve brewed at home, but recently bought a 10L BIAB (Brew in a bag) kit, or what has been dubbed – the stove top pilot kit.   I bought it online from Massive Brewery for a mere £100 and you can check the site out to see what you get for your money, or tweet Steve @MassiveBrewery

Original Gravity (OG): 1.040
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 4.0%
Colour: Pale
Bitterness (IBU): 40ish

2.500 kg  Golden Promise Pale Malt

20g Amarillo (8.7% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (Boil)
50g Amarillo (8.7% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (Boil)

If you’re not familiar with BIAB brewing, then in summary, you have one vessel (in this case an 11L stock pot), a bag or two for your grain, and a bag or two for your hops.  The bags keep your brewing liquor and your barley and hops apart, and is essential when you come to transferring to your FV, as there is no hop stopper or tap on this kit.

For anyone who is thinking of trying this, I’ll describe what the brewday entails.  There’s nothing complicated to do, and I tried to be laid back about temperatures etc.  I used the Massive Brewery Excel spreadsheet to calculate the volumes and temperatures for the mash and sparge liquor and treat the 6.25L of mash liquor with roughly a quarter of a Campden tablet.  I used a combination of kettle and warm tap water to get an 80C strike temperature (to achieve a mash temp of somewhere around 70C), then put the two grain bags and the 6.25L into the pot, gave the grain a good stir in each bag to make sure there were no dry spots, then hung the grain bags over the side of the pot, put the lid on and left it for 60 minutes.  Towards the end of the 60 minute mash, I boiled a couple of kettles of water and added them to a large pan (not part of the kit) and added tap water to hit 80C, and in preparation for the sparging. 

To sparge – I lifted each grain bag out in turn and squeezing as much of the wort from the bags and into the stock pot (turning the hob on at this point to start bringing it towards the boil – just as a bit of a time saver).  Then using the plastic fermentation bucket (part of the kit) and a large colander (not part of the kit) I poured the sparge liquor from the additional pan, through the grain bags, each in turn.  I let them sit a while, give the grain a stir and then transferred the wort from the fermentation bucket into the stock pot, squeezing the bags again to get as much wort (sugars) as possible. 

Once the wort in the stock pot reached boiling point I added a 60 minute addition (20g) Amarillo hops.  At 15 minutes from the end of the boil I added quarter of protofloc tablet and the Immersion Chiller (part of the kit).  At 0 minutes (flame out / hob off) I added my second addition of Amarillo hops (50g) and turned the chiller on.  It was

Mashing

I collected 9L of 1.045 wort and pitched half a packet of US05 yeast at 19C.  After 3 days it was down to 1.025 and tasting/smelling great.

I’m impressed with the kit.  It’s basic, but it gives you exactly what you need to brew a beer in about 4 hours, which is a big plus for me at the moment. 

Also included in the kit price, but not shown in the photo: Digital thermometer, hydrometer, bottle capper, crown caps and ingredients for your first beer.  You may need to borrow the odd item from your kitchen, but other than that, the only things you’ll need to buy are some sanitiser and some protofloc (copper finings).