6 Tips and Tricks for BIAB (Brew in a Bag)
Brewing a bag or BIAB, is brewing all grain beer in a single vessel system. It is by far the fastest and most affordable way to all grain homebrew. Below are some tips and tricks for BIAB.
BIAB Tip #1
Be aggressive milling your grain.
Since you cannot get a stuck mash, you’re not transferring your wort where you can get it stuck -you’re just pulling the bag out. Use a grain mill, mill it twice, mill it three times, adjust your rollers so the gap is smaller, put them in a coffee blender. If you want to spend all day milling grain, go for it.
BIAB Tip #2
Use a barbecue tray, but if you don’t have a barbecue tray, use an oven rack over a pulley system. Pulley system is great if you’re doing big batches and you’re solo but oven racks work great for five-gallon batches.
If you have an oven, then you have an oven rack, which means you don’t have to spend any money. I do have a pulley system but I’m not going to use it until I ever go back to 10-gallon batches.
BIAB Tip #3
What bag to use?
BIAB Brew bags work okay – it’s the more traditional approach but I’m always spilling out the sides and my sparge gets all kind of lumpy and it looks like it’s only coming through some of the bag. So, I like to go with a BIAB metal grain basket. It’s more money up front but it’s light years easier to clean and I get a way better sparge. I’ve got a few of them and some of these will last you forever. And any product that outlives you, well that’s a good product.
I’m buying mine a la carte, you really need to hone in your dimensions if you plan on using a metal grain basket. Use a ruler to check out the dimensions of your boil kettle and then find something online that’ll fit inside. And really quick I do not recommend DIYing this, I tried to find a big stainless-steel pail and wanted to drill a ton of holes in it but I quickly found out it was not worth it. Some things in life you DIY, some things you don’t.
BIAB Tip #4
This is optional, maybe use some heat gloves this is kind of your call if you BIAB brew long enough sooner or later, you’re going to get burned, electrocuted or maybe even cut a finger once or twice. So, these gloves are just an affordable preventative measure – I’ve burned my eyebrows off twice, been electrocuted a couple times and I burn myself every single time I try to use pumps. So, I’m always kind of worried about being cautious without breaking the bank – these are thirty dollars but I do use them for food handling meat, barbecuing etc.
BIAB Tip #5
Temp control is kind of the tricky one with brewing in a bag (BIAB) if you’re not using an electric
System. Some people use a heat wrap, I’ve used a heat wrap I never really had success with it and I got electrocuted.
Some people use sleeping bags or coats with bungee cords you can jimmy rig it to save some money but it can be pretty messy. What I recommend is using a sous-vide stick – mine works up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-gallon batch – so that’s more than good for mashing and sparging. The colder place you’re brewing the faster you’re going to lose temperature so I especially recommend the sous-vide stick if you’re living in colder parts of the world.
BIAB Tip #6
Use an Ink bird digital temperature controller if you want a bigger grain basket, your thermometer probe might stick out and block your grain basket so it can block your grain from being submerged. Not a big deal – you could just keep stirring it and stirring it in but if you want to make sure it fits snug unscrew your thermometer, screw on one of these things. And to stress this point enough you really do want to make sure your kettle and your grain basket go hand in hand if you want to go the stainless-steel basket route. The power move is grinding the legs off your grain basket, I haven’t done it yet but I’ve certainly thought about it. Check out more BIAB Brew in a Bag information here. Cheers!