Brew in a Bag (BIAB) Down Under – BeerSmith Podcast 10

by Brad Smith on February 24, 2011 · 14 comments

From half a world away in Australia, Patrick Hollingdale is my guest for this week’s episode. We talk about the Brew-in-a-Bag (BIAB) all grain brewing technique that started in Australia but has become popular worldwide. BIAB lets an all grain brewer start with nothing more than a large pot and grain bag and brew a full all grain batch in a single vessel (the boiler).

Pat Hollingdale Pat Hollingdale

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (35:15)

  • This week my guest is Pat Hollingdale from BIABrewer.info – one of the early brewers who helped develop the BIAB technique in Australia.
  • I talk briefly about the BeerSmith Blog – where you can find a lot of articles on home brewing including BIAB techniques
  • We talk about home brewing in Australia which is incredibly popular – they are actually the #2 English speaking country for home brewing in terms of overall popularity
  • Pat introduces BIAB brewing which involves doing the mash over heat in the main boiler using a full boil mash and then lautering with a simple grain bag.
  • He talks about the equipment to get started – nothing more than a full boil pot (about 9 gallons for a 5 gallon batch) and a large polyester grain bag.
  • We talk about the BIAB process
  • Pat discusses the very high water to grain ratio used (essentially the full boil volume plus more is used for the mash) and how that does not necessarily hurt the efficiency of the mash or lead to off flavors.
  • We talk about formulating a recipe for BIAB
  • Pat discusses some of the advantages of BIAB – including lower cost of equipment (its all done from a single boiler) and less cleanup.
  • I have a detailed article on BIAB brewing if you want to learn more and Pat mentions BIABrewer.info and the AussieHomeBrewer forum as two places to find more information

Thanks again to Pat Hollingdale for getting up early and agreeing to do the interview!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Hendry February 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Just to clarify Max Cooper introduced a Homebrew wort kit in 1976 called Brewers Own that was 15 litres of wort that was packaged in a bag in box but in 1984 Coopers installed vacuum evaporators from Alpha Laval to make the Homebrew Concentrates and Malt Extract mainly for the export market .
Brewers Own Ad circa 1977
http://yfrog.com/mk7gip

Brad Smith February 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Thanks Matt,
I know many early brewers here in the states started in the 1970′s and of course before that people brewed at home routinely for centuries using a wide variety of techniques and equipment. I appreciate the feedback!

Brad

Matt Hendry February 25, 2011 at 3:46 am

In the US Pabst and Budwieser also made Hop Flavored Malt Extract during prohibition that must of been used for hop flavored cookies ;) and its still made today by Premier Malt .I think their Hopped extract is used by Mr Beer .

http://www.premiermalt.com/our.history.html

Brad Smith February 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

Thanks Matt,
I appreciate the update – always interesting to discuss the history of homebrewing.

Brad

steve siler February 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Good Day, I haved brewed Full Volume BIAB for over two years in middle south Tennessee. One big difference with full volume BIAB, and normal 3V brewing is the mash hold temperaure. BIAB will turn out much dryer/more fermentable in the low 140F range, and much more malty in the High 150F range, than 3v ever could. The best balance is still 152F, just as 3V has always had. The best benifit is with ONE kettle, with a bag, on a heater, allows very simple STEP mashing. Turn the heat on and off for every step desired.

Brad Smith February 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Thanks!
An interesting observation – I’m not sure why it would be drier or more malty on either end, except to look at the very high water to grain ratio used when mashing. I know (for example) that German triple decoctions done at high water to grain ratios do result in a maltier finish than a single infusion.

Perhaps someone else here has some insight on this effect…

Brad

RalphD February 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for sharing your findings there Steve, that’s all quite interesting to hear. AFAIK, there’s not been much research done (or at least made public) that has objective data and can be used as a direct comparison between BIAB as we know it today and other methods, so it is difficult for me to comment one way or another, but I think that brewers will continue to fine tune their own equipment to progressively obtain particular effects. I would say though that BIAB’s high L:G doesn’t seem to have the negative effects which some critics hypothesise will compromise or ruin the beer (one I know of is a professional brewer), and in fact it may enable manipulation of some characteristics, as Brad relates and you’ve found for yourself.
What we’ve found is that in using just the one vessel for mashing, lautering and boiling, BIAB is really quite attractive to novices hoping to try an all- grain method for the first time. Initially they are faced with a bewildering array of conventional equipment, some of it quite expensive too, which may or may not provide the desired results. That’s quite a big risk to accept just to try all- grain, and then the brewer may not like either the process or the end result. However, with just the one kettle and heat source (even a domestic stovetop in the kitchen, that’s all I use) the BIAB method is really phenomenally low risk (eg. my home brewery AG conversion cost me just A$20 for the stockpot and a few dollars more for the bag material), and as Pat related during the interview, there’s no real negatives, limitations or down- sides in continuing to BIAB in the long term. Competitive results indicate there aren’t compromises to the quality of the final product either, so BIAB really is a ‘win- win’ situation.
BTW, many thanks Brad and Pat for an interesting and helpful interview!

Jay March 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

Well…I tried BIAB this weekend, and what a great process, very simple. I used the calculator from biab.org, but I wasn’t too sure about scaling the recipe. Now that I’ve brewed and found my SG to be a bit lower than calculated, I imagine that was the result of not scaling.

It would be great if BeerSmith had a selection for BIAB, or at least a workaround to get water volumes…

Great podcast, keep them coming.
Jay

Brad Smith March 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Jay,
I’m working with Pat and others to get BIAB mash profiles integrated into the next version.

Brad

Mari December 29, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I’ve been researching my next brew and i was thinking of an all-grain brew. My question is do I have to have a mash tun or can I do a biab for the first time.

Pros, Cons, Comments, Experiences welcome…

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