As you will see in these Brew in a Bag Instructions (BIAB) there are a lot of similarities between making a cup of tea and making beer. The concept is pretty much identical however the end result is a delicious homebrew instead of a cup of tea.
I am excited to share this method of brewing with you as it is my favorite method due to its simplicity, cost effectiveness and in its ability to produce delicious beer every time.
So if you are looking to get into all-grain brewing but have been wondering how to get started or what method to use I highly recommend you give the BIAB method a try before any of the others.
In this post I am going to take you step by step through the brewing process. To include the equipment & ingredients you need as well as where you can get them.
So What is Brew in a Bag Anyway?
It is a method of brewing beer that uses all-grains which are crushed malts. It uses one vessel or kettle instead of 2 or 3 like other methods.
It also does not implement a technique called sparging which is basically rinsing your grains, although you can still do a simpler version of rinsing if you so desire but it is not required.
So just like making tea what you do is use a grain bag or a brew bag that you fill with the grains and soak the bag in the hot water just like the tea bag. This soaking is called mashing.
When the mash is over you remove the bag and grains and you boil the remaining liquid (wort) adding hops throughout the boil. You then ferment the beer as you would using any other method.
The Simple Way to Homebrew
Whether you are new to making beer or upgrading your skills from kit brewing to all grain or you are an experienced brewer who just wants to try a new method BIAB is a great method to try.
Just like any method used to brew, you are going to turn water, grains and hops with the help of yeast into our favorite beverage Beer!
The following 5 steps is what is involved in the process of making beer with BIAB:
Mashing, which involves adding the grains to the brew bag and soaking them in warm water in the brew kettle.
Remove the bag and grains from the kettle after the mash is over. Letting all of the liquid drain from the grains into the brew kettle.
Start the boil and add the hops to the liquid at the times the recipe indicates.
After the boil has ended cool the wort down to the proper temperature to be able to add (pitch) the yeast.
Transfer the cooled liquid (wort) to the sterilized fermenter and add (pitch) the yeast.
Brew in a Bag saves you a ton of time, money and work to make this all happened as opposed to other homebrewing methods because it uses less equipment and has less involved in the process while still making as good of beer or better.
Brew in a Bag Equipment
As I said the equipment you need for this method of making beer is not much at all in comparison to all other methods.
All that is required is:
A Brew Bag
Even though there are DIY projects online to help you make your own bag I would not waste my time.
There is a company out there called The Brew Bag that specializes in making these bags. They will custom make them to fit your kettle, they are reusable, they are durable and they work very well.
Make sure you get the right size bag to fit your kettle as too big of a bag will result in the bottom of it touching the bottom of the kettle which can burn or scorch your grains and the bag itself.
Not a fun thing to ruin a batch of beer or your bag for that matter.
A Brew Kettle
This is where you have a big cost savings verses the other brewing methods available to you. You only need one kettle verses 2 – 3 with the other methods.
For a 5 gallon batch I would recommend a kettle that is capable of holding 15 gallons. A 10 gallon kettle will work but 15 gallon will be better.
I recommend the Deluxe 15 Gallon Kettle from Adventures in Homebrewing. It’s big enough to easily brew a 5 gallon batch and is of very good quality.
You can get one here:
Thermometer and a Hydrometer
You will need a thermometer in order to make sure you reach and maintain your mash temperature.
And a hydrometer is used to help you measure your original gravity and final gravity which allows you make sure you have hit your recipes numbers. As well as confirming when fermentation has completed and allowing you to determine the ABV (alcohol by volume) of your beer.
A Recipe and Ingredients
A standard all grain recipe will work fine.
Some people will tell you that you will have to increase the grain bill to compensate for not sparging. I have never found that this is required and that a standard all grain beer recipe works just fine.
You can check out some of my favorite recipes here:
And you can order the ingredients you require for the recipe here:
Brew Day Instructions
Alright you’ve got your equipment, recipe and ingredients, it’s time to brew.
As you will see this is a very simple and straight forward process. Part of its beauty is found in it’s simplicity.
Clean & Sanitize Your Equipment
It is crucial that your equipment is clean and sanitized. Beer is very susceptible to bacteria and you can ruin a batch if you are not careful.
You can read the following post to see how to clean and sanitize your equipment correctly:
Crush Your Grains
Either buy your grains pre-crushed or crush your own.
It is important that you crush your grains in order to get the proper conversion of the grains starches to sugars.
Calculate How Much Water You Need
If you are used to using the typical rule of thumb of 1 – 2 quarts of water per lb of grain you will find this method a bit different.
To calculate the amount of strike water you need you will calculate your pre-boil volume which is simply done by taking the boil time x boil of rate + final batch volume.
Boil time is how long the recipe tells you to boil for; typically 1 hour.
Boil rate is how much liquid your system boils off in an hour.
To determine what this rate is you will need to test this on your system. Simply boil some water for an hour and see how much boiled off.
If you started with 6 gallons and an hour later 5 gallons is left in the kettle your boil off rate is 1 gallon per hour. So for this example use a boil off rate of 1 gallon per hour.
Your final batch volume is 5 gallons. This is your finished product.
So your pre-boil volume would be 1 x 1 + 5 = 6 gallons.
This means when you have finished your mash and removed the grains you will want 6 gallons left in the kettle before you start your boil to end up with 5 gallons of finished product.
Now that we know our pre-boil amount we need to figure out our strike water amount, this is the amount of water you start with when you mash.
To start you need to know the grain absorption rate, brewers use a rule of thumb of .125 gallons per lb of grain.
You need to know the total weight of grains your recipe is calling for. Let’s say this recipe is calling for 12 lbs. of grains.
And as per the calculations we just did we know our pre-boil amount of 6 gallons.
The calculation for Strike Water is: Absorption Rate x Grain Weight + Pre-Boil Amount
In this case:
.125 x 12 + 6 = 7.5 gallons of strike water is required.
Clear as mud?
Just go back through what we have done here a couple of times and it will become clear. If you need more help figuring this out feel free to drop a comment in the comment section below and I will help you out.
Calculate Your Strike Water Temperature
Your recipe is going to give you a mash temperature. Which means the temperature you will want to keep the water at while you are mashing your grains for the 60 – 90 minutes.
Now some might think that when you heat the water up originally to add the grains that you would simply heat the water up to the mash temperature.
The problem with doing that is the grains absorbed some of the heat which reduces the water temperature as does the stirring that you do while adding the grains.
So you need to heat your strike water up to a temperature that is higher than the mash temperature that you want to end up with.
You will get a good feel for this as you start brewing…
But typically heating the strike water about 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the mash temperature is a good rule of thumb. You may find with your system you need to raise it 8 or even 12 degrees higher.
Here is an example…
Let’s say your recipe calls for a mash temp of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. You would heat the water up to 160 degrees using my rule of thumb of 10 degrees higher. When you add the grains and stir them in the temp should drop back down to the mash temp of 150 degrees.
Time to Mash
OK let’s get mashing.
Add the strike water. Heat it up to the strike temperature you came up with.
Put the Brew bag into the kettle, secure it to the side of the kettle with clips or bungie cords.
Dough in which is adding the grains to the kettle. Add them slowly and stir the mixture as you add them to the kettle.
Get your thermometer out and confirm you are at your mash temperature. Adjust the temperature if you need to. Do not panic over this too much, if you are within a few degrees either way of your mash temperature you are great.
However you can adjust the temperature by either adding cold water to cool it down, hot water to warm it up or turning the burner back on to heat it up.
Turn off the heat and now insulate your kettle as best you can. Wrap blankets or sleeping bags around it. This helps to keep the heat from dropping.
When insulating the kettle it’s always good to remove it away from the heat source so as to not cause a fire. Just use common sense.
Now leave the kettle alone for the time called for in the recipe.
Remove the Brew Bag
Take the brew bag out of the kettle. You may need help lifting this, either get a friend or use a hoist.
Let the liquid drain out of the bag into the kettle. If you have gloves you can squeeze the bag to speed up the process.
Time to Boil
Now it is time to fire up your burner again and bring the kettle to a boil.
Your recipe will tell you how long you are to boil the wort for, and it will also tell you when and the amount of hops to add during the boil.
When adding hops to the boil I recommend that you use a little grain bag or muslin bag. Put the hops into the bag and place the bag into the kettle. This will make for a cleaner and clearer beer.
Cooling Your Beer
When the boil is over it is now time to cool or chill the wort.
It is crucial that you do this because if you add the yeast when the wort is too hot it will kill the yeast and you won’t end up with beer.
You can check out this training on how to cool your wort and also see the wort chillers we recommend you use:
Fermenting Your Wort
Now it is time to transfer your cooled wort over to your sanitized fermenter and adding the yeast to the top of it.
Once you have added the yeast take a sterilized spoon and give it a good stir. Put the cover on and put the fermenter away to ferment.
You can learn the proper techniques of fermenting beer here:
Get to Brewing
And there you have it my friend some very easy to follow brew in a bag instructions.
If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment in the comment section below and I will be sure to help you out.
Here are also some additional trainings on BIAB to help you get started:
P.S. If you want to make perfect beer every time I have put together a free report detailing 29 of my top homebrewing tips and tricks. Lessons I have learned over the years. You can sign up for the tips on the side of the blog (or at the bottom of the blog if you are on a mobile device)