BIAB Kits - 3 Gal Only?

Is there a particular reason that NB only sells BIAB kits that yield 3 gallons?

Can one just take any AG kit and use the BIAB method? IE - Is there a reason one would need a BIAB kit?

It’s because of the fact that you are going to add all the water and grain at once.
First it would require a large brew kettle maybe as big as a 15 gallon one depending on the recipe. Second you would need help lifting the grain bag out maybe even a crane the 3 gallon brew is heavy enough.

Agree – grains for 3 gallons get very heavy after the mash.

You can definitely split any 5 gallon recipe in half and brew 2.5 gallons in a bag anytime that you want. Personally I’d even split it three ways and go down to 1.7 gallon batches, as I don’t drink too much and I enjoy brewing more frequently. Gives me more variety in the cellar. Right now I have about a dozen different styles on hand. And wet grains for 1.7 gallons is a total piece of cake to deal with – not heavy! Although I do have a buddy who makes 15 gallons at a crack using BIAB. His grandmother sewed him a huge pillowcase of a bag and he uses a pulley system in his garage to lift the bag out. Works like a charm!! And he makes fantastic beer that way. His only gripe is that the beers tend to be hazy and never crystal clear, probably from squeezing a little too much starch or something out. But the flavor is perfect, not astringent or anything like that.

You can brew a 5 gallon BIAB. I’ve done it. You probably can’t fit all the water for the boil during the mashing in, unless your boil pot is huge. I used an 8 gallon pot, but the strike water was only 3 or 3 1/2 gallons. I added water to bring it up to 5 gallons later. Can’t remember but it was probably after the boil.

My batches are all 5 gallon batches BIAB. I have a Boilermaker 10 gallon pot and had the monster in law make me a voile bag with handles. Lifting 13-14 pounds of wet grain can be hard on the back I guess but it’s really not that bad. I just mash the whole volume. I fill the pot with 8 gallons of water, heat it up, add grains, stir, and let it sit. I stir a few times in the 60 minute mash. Lift bag, let it drain and then I put the bag into a bucket to let it drain out some more (bottling bucket). I then just add what’s leftover into the pot before it boils. Beers have all been equal qiality to that of my beers I used to make with the coleman cooler. Less equipment to drag out and my process is simple. Harder to make mistakes.

I think the reason why our host promotes 3 gallon is because 3 gallons works better for stove top brewing. Five gallons is really really pushing stove top brewing. The whole idea with this approach is minimal equipment and simplification of the process. Or atleast this is what i gathered by watching the BTV epi about this subject.

I have a 7.5 gallon kettle. Is it possible to mash all of the grain in a bag in the kettle using 3-4 gallons of water, then remove the grain/bag after the mash and then add the additional water to bring the volume up to 6-6.5 gallons in order to yield a 5 gallon post boil wort?

Traditionally I have been mashing in a small cooler and brewing 3 gallon batches. I was going to try brewing a 5 gallon batch using the cooler to mash (using 2-3 runnings), but doing everything in the kettle just seems easier.

I am still a novice all grain brewer so any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

That will not leave you much room in the pot to do full boils, so you will really have to watch boilovers

I have a 7.5 gallon pot and do 5 gal BIAB batches. The pot can get pretty full- the biggest batch I did was with 12 lbs of grain. I start with 5.5 gal of water for the mash- some gets absorbed by the grain during the match, so I do a light sparge to bring it back up to 6 gal for the boil. I’m kind of limited by the kettle size, so anything bigger than 1.060 is tough to do in a full 5 gal batch.

I use a voile bag that has a long handle on it. I hang that from the ceiling of my garage. Makes for an easy brew day. Only one simple lift, then I squeeze the bag with pot lids. Beer is always near crystal clear. I also use a Keg for boiling, never had anything get remotely close to a boilover.

Why they do 3 gallon kits? Beats me.

Well I tried a new method of all grain brewing tonight. I am still a novice at AG, and my last few batches have been three gallon batches using a 5 gallon cooler for mashing and batch sparging. That technique has worked well, but Ive read about others mashing in the kettle and using a second pot for sparge/mash out so I thought I’d give it a try.

First off I’ll say that I made this experiment more difficult by using a pale ale recipe with 13 lbs of grain.

Here’s what I did: I heated a 7.5 gallon kettle containing 20 quarts of water (1.5 quarts/lb) to 165 degrees, lined it with a bag then slowly added the grain. I mashed the grain in the kettle at 152 degrees for 75 minutes.

After the mash I transferred the bag to a second 5 gallon kettle which contained 8 quarts of 185 degree water. The grain bag was a bit too large and the water overflowed the kettle a little. I had to remove about 1/2 a quart of water. I let that sit for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes I removed the bag then poured the contents of the 5 gallon kettle into the larger kettle and brought the contents to a boil and finished the brewing process. I used both Irish moss (because it came with the kit) and 1/2 a whirlfloc tablet 10 minutes before knockout.

I noticed a huge amount of coagulated proteins/trub in the kettle after cooling the wort with my IC. There was way more of this than I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know if this is because I used both Irish Moss and Whirlfloc or if it was because this method of brewing doesn’t involve Vorloff (sp?).

In the end, this method of brewing took me as long as when I mash in a cooler and may have resulted in more trub.

My hydrometer reading was 1.060 at 70-75 degrees.

I apologize if I used the wrong terms etc. Like I said I’m a novice AG brewer.

What do you guys think of this method and my experiences?

I brew exclusively 5 gallon, BIAB, all grain beers. I have a turkey frier setup with a 30qrt pot and another 20qrt pot. I mash (in a bag) in the 30qrt pot and use the 20qrt pot to do a batch sparge. I do max out the capacity of both pots with pretty much every beer and I am limited to about 13-14lbs of grain (I’ve done 15lbs but it got real hairy). I use a big strainer over the 30qrt pot to drain the liquid from the grain after the mash and again after the sparge. I routinely get about 75% efficiency. If I mash 10-11lbs of grain, I can get up to about 80%. If I get up to 13-15lbs of grain, that number will drop to 65-70% efficiency.

So yeah, you can do 5 gallon, all grain, BIAB beers. I’ve been doing them 1-2x a month for the last 2 years. If I want to brew something strong like an Imperial, I do have to add some extract or just cut the batch down to 3 or 4 gallons.

The three gallon setup (which I put together myself) is excellent. For me it does cut back on time because it’s a shorter amount of time to heat the liquids, I skip the sparge step entirely, and there is less equipment to haul/clean. I like the simplicity of this method which just involves less stuff the way I work it. Overall it’s just an easier seeming brew day for me.

One nice side benefit of 3gal is that when you keg there is plenty of head space. This allows you to dispense with just the gas in the head space, and not have to keep a cylinder hooked up to the keg the whole time. Plus you can carbonate faster by swirling to get more surface area to contact.

I’ve gone mostly to 5gal batches but I’m tempted to start doing more 3gals this year. I’m even considering smaller batches for things like Belgians that I can bottle and age.

This is nice too. Sometimes I just don’t need five gallons of 11% RIS or Barleywine. With smaller batches you can brew more of these too giving you more variety.