Congrats on looking into what I personally consider the best, simplest, most economical way of making beer… BIAB or Brew in a Bag!
Learning how to brew in a bag is not hard. It is by far the easiest all grain brewing method to learn, AND it produces just as good of beer or even better than the other brewing methods out there. (at a fraction of the price)
When I first transitioned to All Grain brewing, I thought it was going to be a challenge. I figured making good beer just had to be difficult to do… but when I came across brew in a bag I was shocked at the simplicity of it.
I have been making beer now doing the BIAB method for about 4 – 5 years… and as a result not only did I get to enjoy great tasting beer over that time period, it taught me the fundamentals of brewing and I was able to go on and open my own Brew Pub.
So my goal in this article is to get you started brewing in a bag… and get you to the point that you are making some very tasty beers…. so let’s get at it!
What Exactly Is BIAB
The best way to describe brewing in a bag is to have you watch your Grandmother make tea!
She heats up the water… then puts the tea bag in the cup of hot water… removes the tea bag and probably squeezes the water out of the tea bag into the cup… and voila she has tea.
Not exactly the same as brewing in a bag, but very close.
The following is the basic overview of Brewing in a Bag:
– First fill up our kettle with water…
– Then we put the brew bag into the kettle…
– Then we heat up water in our kettle… this water is called our mash water.
– We heat up the water to the strike temperature… the strike temperature is the temperature at which you mash in (add grains).
– Once we reach the strike temperature we add the grains to the bag. (this is called doughing in).
– We then put the cover on the kettle, let the grains soak at the mash temperature for 60 – 90 minutes depending on the recipe. (this is called mashing)
– Once mashing is done (the mash is over)… we remove the grain bag and squeeze all the liquid out of the bag into the kettle.
– You can dispose of the grains now (birds, cows and deer love the grains… its also great fertilizer for your garden… and you can make bread and dog treats from the spent grains).
– And now we boil the wort. (The wort is the liquid left over from the mash, What will become beer)
– We then add hops to the boil as the time intervals that your recipe calls for.
After the boil is over you will now carry on with the brewing process like you did when brewing beer from a kit. If you have never brewed beer before I recommend you check out Get Started Brewing Beer . That post will show you the basics of brewing beer. Brew a couple of beers using kits and then come back to this post to try BIAB.
And the following link is to a page with pretty much everything you would ever need to make beer explained => How to Home Brew – The Complete Guide
BIAB Equipment Needed
So what equipment will you require?
That is the beauty of brew in a bag. The equipment you require is minimal, especially compared with all the other all grain brewing methods out there.
Basically all you need to get started is:
– a turkey fryer (out door propane fryer).
– a kettle (capable of holding at least 15 gallons of water)
– a brew bag to fit your kettle.
– a mash paddle (big spoon to stir the water)
– oven mitts (to squeeze the bag)
I have done a post that outlines EVERYTHING you need to get started.
It lists all of the Equipment, Ingredients and Recipes you need and the best places to get them.
You can read that post here: Equipment for Brew in a Bag
Now of course with that system you are brewing outside as it uses propane to heat the water. I started out with that system and still use it on a regular basis, especially if I want an outdoor brew day.
As an alternative you can pick up an electric all in one brewing system, such as the grainfather or the mash and boil.
The all in one brewing systems have everything built into the system… and you can brew in doors. I have one of these systems also and it is nice when the weather sucks up here in Canada. They are a bit more costly then the turkey fryer kettle method… but still a ton cheaper than the other all grain brewing methods.
The all-in-one systems will cost anywhere from $200 – $1000 depending on the bells and whistles you want with it.
Both of the above systems make great tasting beer, so start where your budget will allow you to.
Brew in a Bag Recipes
I have heard many quote unquote beer gurus tell you that you need certain recipes for brewing a BIAB beer. Or that you need to adjust the recipe due to a lower efficiency as a result of this brewing method.
I have found all that to be nonsense. Sure you can adjust your efficiency as you gain experience, but starting out I recommend you just use any all grain recipe that you so desire.
Trust me the beer will turn out just fine! Like anything else in life, take one baby step at a time and you will improve all the little stuff as you go.
All grain beer recipes are easy to find. They are all over the internet, do a simple internet search for All Grain Beer Recipes and you will find a ton. You can find some on this site here also.
And I highly recommend a book called “Home Brew Beer: A Step by Step Guide to Making Your Own Beer”. That book simply rocks when it comes to making beer. I have a few brewing books, but this is the best by far.
It will cover all you would ever need to know about making beer… BUT the best part is that most of the book is filled with beer recipes and all of the beers I have made from them turn out excellent.
You can also check out the following page on my site for my best All Grain Recipes => All Grain Brewing Recipes
Brew in a Bag Beer Kits
When it comes to learning how to brew in a bag, the best way to get started it to pick up an all grain beer kit.
These kits rock… instead of you sourcing out all the ingredients yourself, these kits come with all the:
– grains needed (pre-milled)
– and yeast
The kits also come with the recipe, which is cool. I have used these all kits many times and the beer they produce is fantastic. I also to this day continue to use some of the recipes that came with those kits.
Adventures in homebrewing have some very good kits you can try.
Get Brewing my Friend
That is really it… brewing in a bag is easy, fun, affordable and makes great beer. I really do not understand why anyone would brew beer in any other fashion, does not make sense to me, but each to his own.
So get yourself the equipment… gran a recipe… pick up the ingredients and get at it!
If I can help you with anything drop a comment in below and I will be sure to answer you.
Cheers and Happy BIAB’ing!