Equipment for Brew in a Bag (BIAB Homebrew)

Today we are going to touch on one of my most favorite methods of making beer which is the Brew in a Bag method or BIAB for short.

In this post you are going to learn everything you need to start using this method of brewing.

To Include: half drank ale on table

  • The equipment you need.
  • What brew bag you should use.
  • Ingredients & Recipe you need to make your first beer. (and the best place to get them)
  • The Step by Step process to brew your first batch of a BIAB homebrew.
  • How an electric Brew in a Bag system works.

 

But First Why Choose Brew in a Bag?

When I moved from partial mash brewing to making all-grain beers, the brew in the bag was the method I ended up choosing to go with…

The reasons for this were pretty straight forward:

  • Its simple (compared to other methods of brewing it’s a piece of cake)
  • The beer tastes as god or better than the other methods of brewing
  • The cost to get started is a fraction of the cost of the other methods.
  • Clean up is a snap. Only one vessel and a bag to clean.
  • Easy to store the equipment when you finish brew day. Does not take up much space compared to other methods.
  • And yes I already said it but the beer tastes as good or better than other methods!

So to recap… you have a simple, cost effective, easy to clean up, easy to brew on, easy to store the equipment system that makes great tasting beer… dah that is a no brainer!

So I went with that method and I have not looked back… it was a great decision!

 

The BIAB Equipment You Need

As stated above… the great thing about this method of making beer is that the amount of equipment you need is a fraction of what you would need if you chose any of the other methods of brewing.

The following is the list of equipment you need to pick up:

Item #1 You Need: A Brew Kettle… If you are doing 5 – 10 gallon batches (20 – 40 liters) than I recommend you pick up a 15 gallon kettle.

15 gallon is perfect for 5 gallon batches of all sorts. If you are doing large beers with high ABV and as such higher grain bills than 10 gallon batches of those beers will be a bit trickier as you will have to watch for spilling over and such… but for most 5 – 10 gallon batches the 15 gallon kettle is ideal!

Here are two that I recommend: 

Northern Brewer Mega Pot on Amazon

 

Or The Deluxe 15 Gallon from Adventures in Homebrewing

(Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Item #2 You Need: A Brew Bag… The brew bag as you will see moving forward goes directly into the kettle during the mash. You want a very strong brew Picture of the brew bag logobag. There is only one brew bag on the market that I recommend and that is The Brew Bag.

The bags this company make are the strongest and most durable on the market by far. They will even custom make you one to fit your kettle.

Click Here to Check them Out 

 

Item #3 You Need: A Turkey Fryer… This is the stand and propane burner that your kettle sits on. It heats the water to get to strike temperature where you mash in AND it than brings the wort up to boil for your 60 – 90 minute boil.

The Bayou Classic has a good reputation and is used by many Brew in a Bag homebrewers:

Click Here to order it on Amazon

 

Or Click Here to order it on Adventures in Homebrewing

(Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Item #4 You Need: A Mash Paddle… if you are just moving up from brewing from beer kits or partial mash, your plastic kitchen spoon is not going to cut it.

You are playing with the big boys now and need to get yourself a Mash Paddle. A nice big stirring spoon to property stir the wort.

Here are 2 you can pick up that will do the job nicely:

Click Here to order it on Amazon

 

Or Click Here to order it on Adventures in Homebrewing

(Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Item #5 You Need: A Fermenter

I was going to assume that you already have made beer from kits before and as such you would already have a fermenter.

However, I decided I better include this in this post as I would hate for you to get done brew day and than wonder what to do with the finished wort! Lol

So you obviously need to have a vessel to ferment in.

There are two fermenters I recommend to people:

#1: The Coopers DIY KIT…  this is a great option if you are just starting out brewing and do not have any of the equipment.

Because it comes with everything.  A fermenter, thermometer, hydrometer, enough bottles to bottle a full batch of beer, coopers carbonation drops to prime the beer with, a plastic stir spoon, etc etc.

And the price is really incredible for everything you get. And the fermenter it comes with is by far one of my favorite on the market. If you want more information on this kit I did a full review of it:

You can Click Here to read my Coopers Homebrew Kit Review

Or you can order your own here:

 

#2: Speidel Plastic Fermenter…  If you have all of the other equipment already then this is the fermenter for you.

When I buy additional fermenters for my set up this is now my go to.  I love the speidels, they simply rock.  At this point outside of a Cooper fermenter I can not see myself every purchasing any other.

I dig these fermenters so much that they are what I used the larger 1bbl speidel in my Brew Bub (micro brewery).  For home brewing all you need is the 30 Liter.

Here are just a few of the benefits of using a Speidel:

  • They are made of  heavy duty HDPE construction, which make then safer to use than glass carboys.
  • They resist the transfer of oxygen which reduces the chance you will end up with off flavors in your beer.
  • They do not scratch which means that bacteria will not get into scratches and infect your beer.
  • The built in handles are very sturdy and allow you to easily move the fermenter even when full.
  • And the large lid opening allows you easy access to add the wort, add hops, and to clean it.

You can grab one on amazon here:

 

 

Ingredients & Recipe – Where to Get Them

OK not all recipes are the same for biab homebrew.

You will find that there are all kinds of recipes all over the internet, and some are good and some make the beer turn out like shite.

My advice and what I did when it came to sourcing out a recipe and the ingredients for it; is to pick up an all grain beer kit.

Yup they make beer kits for all grain beer and some of them are awesome! Two Pints of Homebrew

You see these kits come with:

  1. The recipe for the beer
  2. The step by step instructions for making the brew
  3. And all of the ingredients (grains, hops, yeast, etc)

It’s a perfect way to get started…

What I ended up doing was buying a few of these kits… than if I wanted to brew them again I just ordered the ingredients that came with this kit on their own instead of ordering the kit again.

Now having said that the cost of these kits is pretty much identical to what it would cost you to purchase the ingredients on their own.

When it comes to the kits I recommend… I have found that Adventures in Homebrewing has the best all grain kits…

There selection is huge and the quality is excellent… Take a look at their selection and just order up whichever type of brew you want to make.

Click Here to see their selection of all grain kits

 

Step by Step Beer Making Process

So as indicated brewing in a bag is easy… if you grab one of the beer kits from Adventures in Homebrewing you will see they come with very detailed and easy to follow instructions… however here is the basic process of what you are going to do.

=> Heat Mash Water… you are going to fill your brew kettle up with the amount of water the recipe calls for and than heat it up to the strike temperature it calls for.

=> Dough In… once you reach your strike temperature, turn the flame off… and than you are going to place the Brew Bag into the kettle… you will than add the grains into the bag. Stirring as you go so that you do not get dough balls. (clumps of grains)

=> Time to Mash… let your grains soak in the warm water. You will need to do your best to keep the water at the mash temperature called for in the recipe. Some people will fire the burner back up if the temperature drops some. What I have found is easiest and works well is to wrap the kettle in a sleeping bag or blanket and place a pillow on top of the lid. This will insulate the kettle enough so that the mash temperature stays within the correct temperature range.

=> Time to Boil… Once the mash is over it is now time to boil your wort. Remove the grain bag. Turn up the burner to high and get that bad boy cranking. Follow directions in your beer kit  for how long you are to boil.

=> Hop Additions… The beer kit will come with the hops required and also tell you when you are to add them to the kettle.

=> Chill Your Wort… once the boil is over you now need to chill your wort. You need to get it down to the temperature that is safe to pitch your yeast.

There are numerous methods available to chill your wort, let’s quickly look at 3 of them:

1) The Good ol’ Fashioned Ice Bath… I did this for many years and although it is a pain in the good ol’arse, it works. This involves simply having your bath tub or a rubber maid container ready and filled with ice and ice water. Putting the kettle in it after the boil is over and letting it sit until it is at yeast pitching temperature.

To speed up the process you can twirl, turn, move the kettle around within the tub or rubber maid. And keep adding ice as it melts.

I picked up a big rubber maid container as I preferred it over putting my beer in a bath tub where people clean themselves! Lol

 

2) The No Chill Method… the Aussi’s invented brew in a bag and they also invented a great way to chill the beer they brewed. Its called the No Chill Method.

So what is involved is… instead of chilling the beer immediately after the boil, they instead pour it into a No Chill Cube… they remove the air from the cube and they let it sit overnight. By morning the beer is a perfect pitching temperature for the yeast.

An ideal no chill cube is BHP free plastic container.

Simply fill it with the hot wort after the boil is over… put the cover with the spigot on tight… remove the small air vent cover… squeeze all of the air out of the container (use oven mitts!!)… put the small air vent cover back on and let the container sit overnight.

You can get the one I use on amazon by clicking here

 

 

3) Copper Immersion Chiller… This is a great way to get the wort chilled down fast and have it over and done with. An immersion chiller is just coils of cooper with two open ends.

All you do is connect a water hose that is connected to your faucet to one end of the chiller and a drain hose on the other. Put the chiller into the wort and turn on the cold water, making sure the drain hose end is draining into the sink and not into your beer. The cold water running through the cooper lines will chill the beer.

Here are two examples of Immersion Chillers, both will do the job for you:

Click Here to see one on Amazon

Or Click Here to see one at Adventures in Homebrewing

 

=> Bottle or Keg your brew... And lastly you will need to package your beer in either bottles or kegs.  If you pick up the coopers beer kit above it comes with everything you need to bottle your beer.

And if you want to get into kegging your beer, I recommend for further reading you check out this post: Kegging Beer – All You Need to Know

 

Electric BIAB System

OK so the only downside to brewing using the ol’ biab homebrew method is that all of the beer making has to be done outside as the system is an open flame system that uses propane.

Now I love that I get to brew outside… UNLESS it is snowing or raining!

Now brewing in the snow can be fun, and I have done it many times, however it does get awful cold… and brewing in the rain just plain sucks.

So there is a solution… it is an Electric BIAB System. They are also referred to as all-in-one brewing systems.

Basically they are the exact same thing, except they are electric and you can brew inside. They do come with a basket instead of the Brew Bag, but I still recommend you use the Brew Bag (link) as you will get better efficiency which mean better beer.

I recommend a two of these systems and have brewed on both of them:

1) Brewers Edge Mash and Boil… This system is very basic, but incredibly well-built. It is very reasonably priced and will do a great job for you. It makes great beer.

Here is a review I did of this system: Brewers Edge Mash and Boil Review

You can order one for yourself directly from Amazon Here:

 

2) The RoboBrew… This system is a bit more advanced than the mash and boil. It does the same thing except it comes with a few more bells and whistles… such as a recirculating pump, which allows you to recirculate the wort during the mash.

It also comes with an immersion wort chiller. It’s a fun unit and it is actually a fraction of the price compared to other units that have the same bells and whistles, such as the Grain Father.

You can check it out here:

Click here to see it on Amazon

Or Click here to see it on Adventures in Homebrewing

 

Time for You to Get Brewing in a Bag

And that is it my friend… getting into biab homebrew is a great decision and one that I am positive you will not regret.

I have had a lot of great times making beer this way and I have consumed many a delicious pint from these great times.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask me in the comment section below… I always respond!

And that is it for today…

Big Robb is out!

P.s. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, which helps support our site at no extra cost to you.  Thank you!

8 thoughts on “Equipment for Brew in a Bag (BIAB Homebrew)”

  1. Hi Big Robb,

    This is a very comprehensive post about brewing. I wasn’t aware of this method of making beer at home. I was wondering what type of beer that you can make this way. I like to drink Belgian style lager beer. Is it just a case of getting different recipes, or is it down to the method of brewing?

    Reply
  2. Hello Rob, this article is very helpful and informative. I have never done brewing before but this is something I must try. I will surprise my friend with this recipe who enjoy drinking beer. Thank you for sharing such great info. Can I share this on my Pinterest profile, I am sure my friends will like it.

    Reply
  3. I have never tried brewing beer before, although I did the pineapple one once, but not as professional as you are explaining in this post.

    Things have modernised so much now and it is so easy with all the gadgets available to make your own now, I think I would love to give it a try. I am just battling to find hops. I will go and ask the craft beer shop in town where to get some.

    I love the brew kettle you have advertised here and it looks like it will make an impressive amount of beer so I am definitely going to look at getting one of those. 

    Reply
  4. Wow, this is a very comprehensive post about brewing. I wasn’t aware of this method of making beer at home. This article is very helpful and informative. I will surprise my friends with this recipe who enjoy drinking beer. Thank you for sharing such great info. Can I share this on my Pinterest profile, I am sure my friends will like me.

    Again thanks to you now I am sharing your post to my friends.

    Reply

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