BREWING THE “BREW IN A BAG” WAY

BREWING THE “BREW IN A BAG” WAY


Welcome to home brewing’ 302: “All-grain the ‘Brew in the Bag Way.” In this video we will go over the equipment and techniques for this simple, enjoyable approach to advanced home brewing and You’ll sit in on a brew session as we make a batch of Keeler’s Dark Ale using Northern Brewer’s Brew In A Bag system. This video assumes that you are already brewing your own beer with a Northern Brewer starter kit, and are familiar with all the processes of fermenting, siphoning, and packaging. You will still use all those techniques and all of that equipment in your all-grain home brewing career. Sanitizing, fermentation, siphoning, and packaging, whether in bottles or keg, are exactly the same for all-grain as they are for extract brews. First, what is brew in a bag? It’s a form of all-grain home brewing. Like other all-grain techniques, the brew in a bag process consists of: Mashing, which is mixing crushed grain malt, or grist, with hot water and letting it sit for about an hour to create wort. Lautering: which is separating the grist from the liquid wort, boiling the wort, cooling the wort, pitching yeast, fermenting and packaging. These steps are conducted just as you would with a batch of extract homebrew. What’s different about brew in a bag? Mashing and boiling in the same vessel. Instead of using a dedicated mash tun with a false bottom or screen, the brew in the bag brewer conducts his or her mash in The same Kettle in which the wort will be boiled, and contains the grist in a large mesh bag. Lautering is just lifting. To separate the solid portion of the mash from the liquid, the brew in the bag brewer simply lifts the mesh bag with the grist out of the kettle. Full volume mash, no sparging. With this system, we’re going to do a full volume mash. That means starting with the total amount of water needed for the batch – Approximately 5.5 gallons to yield 3.5 gallons after the boil, allowing for losses to evaporation during the boil and absorption by the grain, and before losses to chilling and trub. As you’ll notice during our brew day, these key differences make for a much shorter brew session. With less volume, boiling, and chilling happening faster, and the minimal equipment, means less cleanup and less storage space. Speaking of minimal equipment, let’s take a look at what we need for brew in a bag. If you’re already brewing your own beer with a Northern Brewer starter kit, you only need a few more things to step up to brewing in a bag: a large kettle, mesh bag big enough to line that kettle, and an accurate thermometer. First, the kettle. Even though the final batch volume will be 3 gallons, we have to start out with much more water than that to allow for evaporation during the boil, and all the liquid the grain will absorb. The kettle included with the northern brew system allows plenty of volume for grain and water, with little to no risk of boil over while still fitting most stove tops. Second, the mesh bag. Since this is how we’ll separate the grain from the liquid when the mash is done it needs to be big enough to line the kettle. The Northern Brewer system includes a large mesh bag to fit the kettle. Finally, a good thermometer. For this video we’re going to use the KM14 digital thermometer available at northernbrewer.com A couple other pieces of equipment that are very nice to have are an immersion wort chiller and a big spoon for mixing the mash and stirring the wort. Once you have these basic pieces of equipment, the only thing left is to choose a recipe. Northern Brewer offers a range of recipe kits specifically designed for a 3 gallon All-Grain Brew-in-a-Bag system. Brew day is here! We are going to brew a Northern Brewer Keeler’s Dark Ale all-grain recipe kit. Our equipment is set up, so let’s get started. First, put the kettle on the burner and start filling it with water. For most 3-gallon recipes, start with 5.5 gallons of good quality drinking water to allow for loss to the grain and to evaporation. It’s easier to adjust after the boil if the final wort volume is under three gallons than vice versa. To save a little time, you can begin heating the water while you’re still filling. Next, heat the water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or to about eight or ten degrees warmer than the mash temperature specified by the recipe kit. The Keeler’s Dark Ale calls for a mash temperature of 152, So we’re shooting for 160 or 162. When the target temperature is reached, turn off the burner. Once the temperature is reached, carefully line the kettle with the mesh bag. Be safe — both the water and the kettle are hot. With a bag in place, It’s time to mix the grain into the water. Slowly pour the grain into the mesh bag immersed in the water. Stir well to mix it in, breaking up any clumps you find. This mixture of grain and hot water is now called the mash. Get that thermometer. The temperature of the mash should stabilize within one to two degrees of 152 Degrees Fahrenheit, or the temperature specified by a recipe kit. If it’s cooler than that, apply low heat to the kettle while stirring the mash to raise the temperature. Be careful not to scorch the bag by heating too much too fast. If it’s too warm, add cool water a couple cups at a time stirring and measuring after each addition. When the mash temperature is stabilized, cover the kettle and let the mash rest. Rest the mash for 75 minutes. During this rest, enzymes in the malt break down complex starch molecules into simple sugar molecules that will be fermentable by brewers yeast. You can use this downtime to sanitize fermenting gear, transfer a previous batch, or plan your next brew. A mash out is optional. When the 60-minute saccharification rest is finished, use low heat under the kettle and frequent stirring to heat the mash to a temperature of 168 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. rest at this temperature for 10 minutes before proceeding. Including a mash out rest will usually result in higher mash efficiency. More sugars extracted from grist equals higher wort gravity. You may wish to skip this step and proceed directly to lautering from the 60-minute saccharification rest. Skipping a mash out rest will save time on your brew day and won’t harm your beer. When the 75 minute mash rest is over, it’s time to separate the grain from the liquid portion of the mash. At this point the grist, liquid, kettle, and bag will be hot. Here’s a tip: before pulling the entire bag out of the kettle, carefully pull out just the top of the bag. Rest it off to the side of the kettle and let it cool off so it’s easier to hold. After letting it cool for a minute or so, Carefully lift the whole mesh bag out of the kettle, hold the bag above the kettle, and let it drain. When most of the liquid appears to be out of the grain, move the bag to a bucket or spare kettle. Any collected wort can be added back to the wort in the boil kettle. The liquid remaining in the kettle is the pre-boil wort. For most recipes, there should be approximately 4 gallons at this point. We now have a kettle full of wort that is waiting to be boiled, hopped, cooled, and fermented. The process from here on out is just like brewing with malt extract. We will boil the wort for 60 minutes, add hops and any other boil additions according to the recipe, use our immersion chiller to cool the wort from boiling to pitching temperature, then pitch the yeast. At this point, it’s time to have a homebrew. Move that spent grain from the mesh bag into the garbage or compost. Clean up some equipment and take some notes. Having a written record of things like water volumes, temperature, gravity, and tasty notes that you can refer back to on subsequent brew days is the best way to learn, and the fastest way to become a better brewer. There you have it! Your first batch of Brew-In-A-Bag all-grain beer. Pretty awesome. Brew in a bag is an easy, user-friendly approach to all-grain brewing with minimal investment in time and equipment. Whether you are an extract brewer looking to ease into all-grain, or a Veteran home brewer who wants to simplify and save time, brew in a bag is the way for you. For more information and brew-in-a-bag kits, visit northernbrewer.com Cheers

37 thoughts on “BREWING THE “BREW IN A BAG” WAY”

  1. I tend to hit the same efficiency as my recipe suggests about 85% of the time. If I don't I tend to add a bit of corn sugar of DME to the brew to bring the sugar level up.

  2. Turn the heat off. It should hold temperature for the duration of the rest. Check about 15 or 30 minutes in and make sure. If it has dropped significantly add LOW heat and stir until you get back to the mash temperature.

  3. It's a great way to brew. I was a traditional 3V Rims brewer & went to Biab for the simplicity. Produces fantastic beers with very minimal effort. I brew in a 40lt electric hot water urn. Full volume, no sparge & consistently achieve low to mid 80% efficiency into the fermenter. I do a 90min sacc rest & ramp up temp to 78deg C for mash out. Once I hit 78deg C, turn off the urn & hoist the bag. Boil as normal for 60mins adding hops according to recipe. I also no chill. No DMS, no HSA. Great beers

  4. Is there any reason why you couldn't soak the "spent" grain in a second batch of water as a sort of sparge and top up the pre-boil volume a bit?

  5. Save your spent grain and make beer grain bread, don't feel like baking after a brew day? Put some grain, typically 3-4 cups of wet grain, in a bowl and place in fridge and bake tomorrow, or, freeze in freezer bags in 3-4 cup portions. There are lots of recipes, Google a few, search "Spent Beer Grain Bread". Great way to use spent grain and the recipes I have found are simple, plus, the bread is awesome!

    Just watch out for dark roasted grains, they can be a bit bitter in the bread if you don't add enough sugar. When baking bread using grains from a Stout or any Dark Roasted grains, I add 1/2-1 cup of honey to the recipe leaving out about the same amount of water or an additional 1/2-1 cup of brown or white sugar to taste. It takes a few tries to get it perfect as far as sweetness, but, once you have it down pat, you have great bread that would cost quite a bit in the store!

  6. It should be noted this is a genius Aussie invention and all Australians should be thanked for brew in a bag, and wifi. You're welcome.

  7. Grab a metal strainer and place it upside down at the bottom of the kettle then place grain bag on top when mashing.

  8. I have a 15 gal. stainless kettle and typically do 10-12 gallon extract batches (buying extract in 30+ gal buckets). Can I do 10 gallon or larger batches using BIAB?

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