Brew in a Bag (BIAB) with Jake Keeler – BeerSmith Podcast #77

by Brad Smith on March 11, 2014 · 4 comments

BSRadioThis week Jake Keeler joins me to discuss how to Brew in a Bag (BIAB). Brew-in-a-bag is a popular alternative to traditional all grain beer brewing methods and saves on both time and equipment needed to get into all grain brewing.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (46:55)

  • Jake Keeler is my guest this week. Jake is chair of the American Homebrewer Association governing committee, chair of the industry subcommittee and Marketing Manager at Brewer’s Supply Group. Jake is also a former host of Brewing.TV and has a personal web site at 20AcreCarcass.com
  • Jake tells us what Brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) is and why it is starting to really catch on with many home brewers.
  • We talk about some of the advantages of BIAB over traditional brewing including cost of equipment and time saved
  • Jake shares his thoughts on BIAB equipment needed from the perspective of a home brewer transitioning from extract to all grain
  • We talk about the bag required and where to get one
  • Jake walks us through the BIAB mashing process
  • We talk about efficiency with BIAB, as well as some tips on getting the most out of it
  • Jake brings us up to date on what he’s been doing since leaving Brewing TV
  • We talk about the brewing industry as a whole and how home brewing has really exploded the last few years
  • Jake shares his thoughts on fly fishing, art, his web site why we brew beer and his experience with Brewing TV
  • I highly encourage watching the video this week – Jake really did a great job with this interview!

Thanks to Jake Keeler for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick Hollingdale March 12, 2014 at 8:09 am

Hi there Brad,

As you know, BIABrewer.info is the primary source for BIAB information. I’m probably regarded as the main BIAB pioneer and have spent the last seven years gathering data, researching and writing on BIAB and this is why you approached me for numbers and advice on BIAB for BeerSmith2 a few years back. S0me of that advice you were able to incorporate into BS2 and hopefully some other advice will appear down the track. There does not seem to be a link to our Beersmith podcast on BIAB on this page. I think it might be good to include that.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to make some corrections to the above podcast…

1. Jake mentioned that he had browsed some sites such as BIABrewer.info and then made comments that implied that some BIAB brewers make things complicated. BIABrewer.info actually strives to make things simple. For example, Jake said that these sites (but it came across as mainly BIABrewer.info) say things like, “you got to sparge.”

BIABrewer.info has researched just this one subject for many years and written thousands of words explaining exactly why sparging with BIAB has absolutely no advantage. So, this point needs a public correction. Years of hard, unpaid research should not be ignored.

2. Double Milling – This is not good advice and it is unnecessary to achieve excellent efficiency into kettle. See http://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=28 for an explanation.

3. “Efficiency” – BIABrewer.info has a lot of information on this subject. There is a massive amount of misinformation out there on BIAB efficiency and efficiency in general. BIAB is highly kettle efficient (and therefore ‘fermenter efficient’). If someone is not getting extremely high efficiency from BIAB, they should study http://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=771&p=9207#p9207. The main culprit is people trying to do a BIAB in 60 minutes. See #11 of that link.

4. BIAB is not “no-sparge” – As mentioned in our podcast, BIAB involves a hidden or passive sparge. There is a lot of wrong info out there on this. “No-sparge” brewing as originally described by George Fix, has no relation to BIAB brewing or many articles that you see these days on “no-sparge brewing.” Correct info can be found at http://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=89&t=617&p=6657&hilit=definition#p6657

5. As you said Brad, BIAB will handle high gravity brews very well. It will handle then as well as any other method. It will also handle decoction but then you need a second vessel which bends the rules of BIAB which is to be a single vessel, single burner, full-volume all-grain method.

6. Quality – BIAB brews have proved already to be at least equivalent to traditional three-vessel brews. There is a lot of logic and science to say that three-vessel brewing is actually a compromise. I occasionally write on the reasons why but it is not an important subject for BIABrewer.info. Our only point is that BIAB is certainly not inferior to three-vessel methods.

7. Jake, probably inadvertently, also implied that some BIAB brewers were fanatical. He mentioned this at the same time as you displayed BIABrewer.info. But, if researching carefully, writing carefully and making things simple for new brewers is fanatical, then we’ll be up for that – lol. At BIABrewer.info, we also have a culture of accepting when we get something wrong. It’s all part of the learning process. I hope that the above information, which is accurate, is seen as helpful. The more people/forums/websites etc that pass on quality information, the better for all of us.

All the best,
Pat

Brad Smith March 12, 2014 at 8:37 am

Pat,
I have personally had very good efficiency (equivalent to traditional methods) with BIAB. I did not mean to imply that BIAB.info complicates or is “fanatical” – in fact I had the site bookmarked before the show because it is a very useful source of information. I believe the word I used was “passionate” – it applies to BIAB as well as many aspects of homebrewing. So thanks to BIAB.info – as they provide an outlet for people who want to share their passion for brewing!

Brad

Patrick Hollingdale March 12, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Thanks Brad ;),

I think that 1 and 7 above was just a bit of unlucky timing for us.

One more thing I probably should mention is in the maintaining of mash temperatures. This is very easy in normal size batches (assuming you aren’t brewing in a blizzard) due to the large volume of water. A simple application of heat whilst stirring once or twice during the mash is usually all that is needed to maintain temperature. Some people don’t even do this, they just use insulation as mentioned in the podcast. Also because of the high volume, strike temperature for most set-ups only needs to be a few degrees higher than mash temp.

Stovetop brews can be harder to maintain temperature with due to the smaller volume. The pots used are usually thin which does not help much either. One way around this for stovetop BIAB is to put the kettle in the oven during the mash assuming you have good temp control in the oven.

Whichever method you use, I recommend stirring the mash and checking its temperature several times during the brew until you have a good feel for how your set-up behaves. For example, if you have heavy equipment, radiation from that equipment will actually cause the temperature of your water or wort to rise even after you turn off the flame which can cause a bit of head scratching for new brewers :).

Thanks again,
Pat

Michael Benoit March 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Brad… it was great to see Jake on video again – I was/am a big BrewingTV fan and dig seeing the boys spreading the word. And thank you for having him on to discuss a topic that for me is rather timely. I’m getting ready to do my first 3 gallon BIAB (had done 1 gallons previously), and found the information helpful, and provided confirmation of what I learned doing the the 1 gallon batches. I’ve also set my profiles in BeerSmith up for BIAB, so I should be good there. Next, I’ll be having a look at BIABrewer before I do the brew just to make sure I have all the info I need to get brewing.

Mike

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