First Biab

Hi everyone. I have been extract brewing and now partial mash brewing for a while. I think I am ready to try biab, but I am a little nervous about it. I have a 5 gallon brewpot so I would like to aim for 2 to 2.5 gallons of wort. I am not ready to fool with converting recipes and figuring all that out. I would just like a simple maybe pale ale recipe that I can do to just make sure I get the process right before experimenting with my own recipes and figuring out how to scale down larger recipes. As I understand the process should be exacty the same as the first part of a partial mash. I dont want to deal with sparging. I have read that you should get more finely ground grains to get better efficiency. Does anyone have a recipe or any advice to get started? Thanks. :slight_smile:

So you want a recipe for 2.5gal or are you going to top off to 5gal? I have a few simple pale ale recipes for 5 gal batches. Wouldn’t be difficult to cut down to 2.5gals.

I hadn’t intended to top off to five gallons. My idea was to brew 2 gallons and ferment with a Mr. Beer Fermentor. I have read differing opinions about fermenting two gallons in a 5 gallon fermentor. My idea in my head was to do small batches in case I mess them up. I thought about cutting 5 gallon all grain recipes in half, but apparently you have to add a little more grain for the loss in efficiency. I think I’m making sense.

BIAB is so easy. I think you will love it. For your first 2.5 gallons, why not just start out with something very simple, like:

4.5 lb Maris Otter
0.75 lb Crystal 60
2 oz (or more) Whatever Hops You Like (15 minutes)
Whatever Yeast You Like (I like WLP013 or Wyeast 2565)

It only takes 5 minutes to throw together a recipe like this, and you can tweak it to be as simple or complicated as you like.

I’ve suggested hop bursting to make things super easy. Add all your hops, bittering flavor and aroma, all at the 15-minute mark. Trust me, you won’t be sorry. Look it up if you like.

You’ll want to double crush the grains at your LHBS or set the mill pretty tight if you’ve got your own; this will help keep your efficiency reasonable in the 70s. With this recipe, you should easily hit roughly 1.055 if you crush well enough.

Steep the grains at 150 F for 40-60 minutes at 2 qts water per pound, pull out the bag, fill up the water the rest of the way to like 3.75 gallons or whatever, and boil away for an hour as normal, adding the hops per schedule. Chill into the 60s, pitch yeast and aerate well, and you’re rollin’.

Best of luck to you. I really think you’re going to love BIAB. It’s all I ever do anymore, pretty much. Definitely perfect for small batches, although I know a guy who’s got a setup to make 15 gallons at one time, and he brews like 30 times a year. The guy is nuts. His grandma made him a huge pillowcase and he uses a pulley system to pull it out of the mash/brew kettle. Awesome. It’s all he ever does. And he’s in the top two homebrewers that I know (and I know quite a few).

I used a Mr Beer fermenter when I experimented with a sorghum beer recently. I scaled the batch for 2.5 gallons, but when I put it in the fermenter, i remembered that the fermenter doesn’t have the headroom for 2.5 gallons. I ended up with about 2 gallons and a half quart. You might calculate to 2 gallons to be safe.

+1 to Dave’s post! I was going suggest a MO SMASH brew which is almost what he has there for you.

Here’s my setup:

I’m going to give Dave’s recipe a whorl I think. I dont know why. I’m still terrified. Does the alpha acid of the hop I use matter? If I do the hopburst does that literally mean to just boil the wort for 45 minutes with no hops and then add all of them at 15 minutes.? How do I calculate the efficiency?

Sounds like you need to read THE book.

I found this recipe in beersmith and I believe I scaled it down correctly. Does this look right?

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Chinook IPA- Edited
Brewer: Rob
Asst Brewer:
Style: American IPA
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 3.62 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.87 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.25 gal
Bottling Volume: 2.03 gal
Estimated OG: 1.062 SG
Estimated Color: 7.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 57.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 79.7 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5 lbs 4.7 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 90.0 %
5.8 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 6.1 %
3.6 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.9 %
0.52 oz Chinook [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 47.5 IBUs
0.26 oz Chinook [13.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 5 8.6 IBUs
0.26 oz Chinook [13.00 %] - Boil 1.0 min Hop 6 1.0 IBUs
0.5 pkg Safale US 05 [50.00 ml] Yeast 7 -
0.23 oz Chinook [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 8 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: BIAB, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 5 lbs 14.1 oz

Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Saccharification Add 16.20 qt of water at 162.2 F 156.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 7 min 168.0 F 10 min

Sparge: Remove grains, and prepare to boil wort

You should be able to get the same efficiency in a 2.5g, 5g, 10g or 20g batch. With in +/- 5% points. Which is close enough for me.

your recipe looks ok. I like that its a tad higher in gravity so that if you undershoot you have some wiggle room. Here’s the thing: whatever you do, write down everything. Exact volume measurements, gravity before and after the boil. Any loss you experience anywhere. Temp during mash in, in the middle and at the end. That kind of stuff. Will help you next time.

Also, scrap the small percentage points. Round up the the nearest number for simplicity. Especially with the hops, unless you have a scale you can hit that with.

Oh, and if you are crushing at a store, get them to run it through the mill twice. Or you do it. You can really crush BIAB grains which will get you better efficiency.

Hopefully I can try this this weekend. I’m pretty excited. How are you guys measuring the volume after the boil? Should I measure off each gallon and put tape or something inside my brewpot?

Close but no. Dump water from a measured source (preferably a measuring cup but a gallon milk jug is close enough if it comes down to it) into your fermenter and mark that off on the outside with tape. Or, you could get something to stick into the kettle and mark that off at half gallon increments. Essentially a measuring stick placed at the bottom of the kettle but make sure to sanitize if you’re done boiling.

Your recipe looks great. Best of luck to you. You’re going to love this beer, and this brewing method. It really is a piece of cake.

It looks like my local homebrewstore doesn’t have Chinook hops. I reckon I just need to choos a hop with the same alpha acid. Maybe Columbus? I’m going to try the ruler idea for my volume measurements. :slight_smile:

Columbus will work well in place of the Chinook. I ended up tossing a coin for the last brew day, Columbus (AA 13.9%) versus Chinook (11.1%) - Columbus won this time.

I just called my homebrew store and they have all of my ingredients (including the Chinook) except they said they can’t crush the grains finer (for Biab) because they don’t want to change their setting or something. This caused me to panic and tell them that I would have to call back. I have three questions.

  1. Should I just roll with it without the finer grains?
  2. Should I just add a few more ounces of each grain to make up for it?
  3. Should I adjust my recipe for a sparge (putting the grain bag in a collander and pouring water) to get better efficiency?

Thanks guys


You could add 5-10% to each grain and ask them to double-crush for you.

I have another question.

Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 79.7 %

What is the difference between these two?

If I did use grains that weren’t crushed finer I would just have a beer with slightly less alcohol right?

ME = conversion rate in the MT (should approach 100%)
BHE = overall efficiency of your process to the fermenter (includes ME, lauter/sparge, wort handling, etc.) (80% is a reasonable target)

If your grains aren’t sufficiently crushed, your ME will suffer, so your OG will be lower and all things equal, your ABV will be lower as a result.