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Can BIAB save me time?

I have been brewing AG batches for 8 years now with a Denny style mash tun (it’s blue). Recently there has been a lot of discussions on BIAB or MIAB. I currently have a 10 gallon Boilermaker pot and think that I could have the ideal setup for BIAB. I have someone making the bag for me right now and I plan to brew in the next few weeks to get things going. Since I only have 1 burner I think that this can save me almost an hour or brew day. I won’t have to bother heating up sparge water, or infusion water. Once the mash is done I can fire up the burner and just get things going. Question is -is it really that simple?

Can you take a standard recipe from NB and just do a BIAB? Do most recipes need to be adjusted slightly? I’ve read tons on the various efficiencies people get and some get low, some get normal with BIAB. I figure I’d just do 2 or 3 batches as usual and see where the gravities come out. I always make a 5 gallon batch and don’t ever plan otherwise.

If I can get down to just pulling out my kettle, burner, and my chiller during brew day I just think it would make the day go easier and maybe shorter. Can you guys chime in here? I know BIAB is not necessarily highly regarded here but I can’t pinpoint why exactly. You’re still mashing, still making beer in the end right? Thanks.

I’ve been BIAB’ing for about a year now. I have a single burner (turkey frier setup), but still use 2 pots. I use a 30qrt pot for my mash. While the mash is sitting for an hour, I get my second pot up to temp with my sparge water. So when the mash is done, I pull the grain sack and let it drain for about 5min then dunk the sack in the sparge pot and let it sit for about 10min. While the sparge is sitting, I start bringing the wort from the mash up to a boil. After the sparge has sat for 10min, I add it to the mash wort and bring the entire thing to a boil.

Using this system I can generally get between 72%-78% efficiency. I brewed 2 batches without doing a sparge and my efficiency dropped down to 62% on one and 68% on the second. So I went back to sparging in a second pot.

To answer your question, yes this can speed up your brew day. And no you do not have to adjust your recipe, unless you’re doing no sparge. In which case I would recommend anticipating about 65% efficiency and planning appropriately. If you have a second pot, doing a quick sparge while your mash wort is coming up to a boil is easy and doesn’t add any extra time. It will also help raise your efficiency. The only limit there is to BIAB is how much grain your using and how heavy the sack is to lift out.

Maybe in clean up, plus the few minutes (10-15) it takes for the actual sparge, but that savings depends on how long it takes you to clean up your tun and how much time you spend on the sparge. Assuming you do a biab like the assies where you have your mash and sparge water combined during the mash, there’s not much savings in no sparge.

For me, I heat my sparge water during the last 20 minutes of the mash, so no savings there. Plus, it takes about 5-6 minutes max to clean and store my tun, so I’d get very little time savings.

It’s my understanding the key saving with BIAB is not time, but not having to spend the money for tun.

interesting points. I would not want to do a sparge with the setup. My goal essentially would be heat water, drop bag in place with grains, stir throughout the mash, then remove the bag and let it drain. Heat wort to a boil and start at it.

My water infusions take time to heat up and honestly I just get tired of lifting the pots back and forth. I don’t have a pump so it’s all manual work lifting pots. I think I could just let this sit and go.

so if I don’t sparge, I should automatically plan for a low efficiency? Is there anything that can be done (more stirring or something) to make the fficiency any better?

When I first started BIAB’ing, I would stir very well while adding the grain. Then again at the 30min mark. I didn’t notice any loss in efficiency when I stopped doing the 30min stir. I don’t think there’s much you can do about improving efficiency without a sparge. Maybe a finer grain crush? Since your not sparging there’s no worry of a stuck sparge, so a finer or double crush may yield better efficiency, but I’d still expect to be below 70% without a sparge. At least that’s what I’ve come up with using my system.

65% +/- 3% when no sparge.
75% +/- 3% when doing a sparge.

No change in efficiency when stirring during the mash. But definitely give it a good stir while adding the grain in the beginning. Also, don’t just fill the sack outside of the pot and dunk the whole thing at once. I put the sack in the pot and add the grain slowly using a 1qrt piece of tupperware. I add a little, stir well, add a little stir well. Still only takes about 2 minutes or so to get all the grain in a stirred up well.

^Finer crush. You don’t really need to worry about getting a stuck sparge. Of course I don’t think you want to be dumping a bag of ground up flour in, but I would think you could go finer than normally.

I have a barley crusher so adjusting the crush shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve thought recently that my efficiency has dropped slightly and I attributed that to my mill anyway. I’ll adjust that in a bit and see if I can get it nice and fine.

I’m honestly ok with a low efficiency as long as I can plan for it. An extra pound or two fo grain won’t kill me in terms of cost. I usually try not to worry about the cost and just get the process right to make good beer. In 50+ batches so far I have fared very well. I have 2 small kids and I think saving the time is more important at this point that a few bucks in grain.

I can turn the heat on and finish cleaning in 4 hours if I stay focused and efficient with BIAB.

Same for me batch sparging with a cooler.

Same for me batch sparging with a cooler.[/quote]

I do the same with the cooler - 4 hours and I am cleaned up and in the fermenter. I just think I can cut 30-40 minutes off this. I have to brew outside on the deck and my storage space in the basement is limited (moved almost a year ago),

[quote=“ruinah69”]I’m honestly ok with a low efficiency as long as I can plan for it.[/quote]No-sparge efficiency is simply the conversion % in the mash x the volume of wort in the kettle / the volume of water in the mash. The volume component is set by the weight of grain, but you can increase the converson % by crushing fine, controlling mash pH, and doing a 160-165F rest for 10 minutes at the end of the mash (for a little boost in enzyme activity).

I BIAB’d about a dozen batches; I now use a mash tun the way. It is just as easy & just as fast as biab.

I’ve mashed that way for 40+ batches and while I agree it’s a piece of cake in the end I just think that BIAB can yield similar results with less gear to drag out. I have a couple flights of steps to drag gear up and down on brew day. I wish I had a garage where everything was set up but I literally have to drag every piece of gear out and put it back on brew day. Thanks for all of the suggestions guys. I got the feeling from other threads that BIAB was somewhat frowned upon here and it seems that may be the consensus. Who knows, maybe I will do 1 batch and it won’t work out or save me any time at all. Only costs about $15 to give it a try (cost of the bag).

I’ve done three so far and have yet to nail down the process but it is a little simpler. I don’t sparge and my efficiency has been low but whatever. To me the biggest thing is something you mentioned already. We too have our gear in the basement and lugging a 10G mashtun and a 10G hot liquor tank up and down plus cleaning is a bit more work. I also just do 1-3 gallon BIAB batches on the stove top so I can cut of a bit of heating time with smaller amounts. Overall it just seems easier.

[quote=“ruinah69”]I got the feeling from other threads that BIAB was somewhat frowned upon here and it seems that may be the consensus.[/quote]MIAB is today’s batch-sparging - frowned upon by some but embraced by others as a time-saving, low-cost method for making quality beer.

I think Shadetee’s statement is right on.

BIAB is not a huge time saver. It is a huge space saver, and if one goes electric, one can eBIAB in an apartment, doing 5 gal batches. If you go no sparge, then grind finer to gain some efficiency back.

The very best and most wonderously delightful thing about eBIAB is the brewer can be warm and toasty indoors in January instead of outside in subzero weather.

Good to hear that batch sparging is that quick as well. Moving that way very soon and really don’t want to extend my brew day.

I think if I had a second burner it would go quicker for me batch sparging. I dont have one though and space is a concern. So the moral here is while it may not save time it will save space with a few tweaks along the way. Frowned upon by some, embraced by others. To me, I don’t see anything wrong with the process. Time will tell. I won’t throw out my DennyTun just yet. :slight_smile:

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