I just finished building my new brew rig which is a single vessel eBIAB setup so now the moment of truth. The first brew on the new system. Here is the new rig:
I’m basically assuming a bunch of stuff will go wrong so I’ve decided to go small batch with a cheap and simple beer that will show flaws and maybe a style I haven’t brewed before. Also my wife is tired of malty lagers so maybe something a bit hoppy. I scanned the style list and realized I’ve never brewed a Blonde Ale. How is that possible? Also I have about 2 lbs of various hops in my fridge including a half pound of Cascade and half pound of Centennial. So, how about a SMASH Blonde Ale? 2 row and Centennial hops. Why not.
I’ve also coded up a new recipe tool called BrewDesign (Please, try it out!!! And give me feedback!!!) so I used that as well. Here is the output for this brew:
Beer Name: blonde ale eBIAB 1
Style: Blonde Ale
Author: hommel homebrew
Original Gravity: 1.044
Final Gravity: 1.009
Alcohol: 4.6 %
Bitterness: 27.5 IBUs
Mash Fermentable Weight: 8.7 Pounds
Mash Thickness: 2 Quarts per Pound
Grain Temp: 72 F
Strike Water Qty: 4.35 Gallons
Mash Volume: 5.05 Gallons
Strike Water Temp: 166 F
Mash Temp: 155 F
Kettle Gravity (start of boil): 1.033
Starting Boil Volume: 7.375
Boil Duration: 90 Minutes
Evaporation Rate: 1.25 Gallons per Hour
Final Boil Volume: 5.5
|Weight (Lbs)||% by Weight||Name||Yield||SRM|
|8.5||97.7||Canada Malting 2-Row||80.0||1.8|
|Weight (ozs)||Name||AAU||Time (mins)||IBUs / Addition|
|1||Centennial Pellets||10.0||dry hop||0.0|
Yeast and Friends
|1 tsp||Yeast Nutrient (Wyeast)||10|
should give mash pH of 5.4
pitch @ 65 and ramp to 68 over 2 days then hold till done (14 days). rack to keg lager for 2 weeks. rack to clean keg and force carb to 2.5 volumes.
All in all it wasn’t hugely different than brewing on a 3 vessel system. Obviously the mechanics and chemistry of making beer all grain is the same. Some observations:
1) wow, the element is really powerful. admittedly it was smaller volumes of water but still. My sparge water was up to temp in 15 minutes. I got it to a boil in the same or less. So, even with working out kinks rookie style I still cut about 30 minutes off my brew day and I can imagine that I can get it down to about 5 hours from about 6.5 hours.
2) Don’t forget to turn on the element 🙂 my mash kept dropping in temp and i couldn’t figure out why. I then realized I had turned off the element when I pulled the bag up to drain but forgot to turn it back on. Oops 🙂
3) My wort was VERY hazy. And I now have the beer on tap and it’s still hazy. Like hefeweizen hazy. That said, I brewed another beer since and with my fixes in place that I’ll discuss, I have very nice and clear wort post mash and on down the line.
4) efficiency was crap. about 65% vs 80% on my old batch sparge setup. I improved this to 73% on my next brew which I’ll discuss below.
So where did the hazy wort and poor efficiency come from? I put in two fixes so not sure which it was but… First off, after I mashed in it seemed to be a really thick mash. I normally do 1.5 QT / LB water to grain ratio but most stuff I read said go thinner for BIAB so I did 2 QT / LB but it wasn’t right. It was way to thick. After the fact I realized in my cooler mash tun I have maybe 1/2 gallon of deadspace and all my beers were 5 gallon batches. My new setup has a basket in it that holds the BIAB bag and there is about 2 gallons of dead space below that. So for this brew it was 4.35 gallons of mash water but if you remove the 2 gallons it is really 2.35 which is a ratio of 1.08:1. Yow. For my next brew, I changed my recipe software to calculate the thickness with the deadspace removed then add the deadspace in to get the strike water quantity.
Also, in my setup I originally used a 1/2″ pipe to return the water to the top of the mash so it was like a garden hose of water coming back in and the mash bed never settled since it was constantly disturbed by the return water. So, I built a sparge arm to return the mash water gently back to the top. Here is a picture:
Needs a bit of work but it got the job done.
Back to what caused the haze and low efficiency. I think what happened was the mash was so thick that the enzymes were impeded and I didn’t get full conversion so hence the (probably) starch haze and low efficiency. So my guess is the thinner mash is what fixed it but the nice gentle recirculation likely didn’t hurt the wort clarity
With my next brew, the wort was very clear at the start and end of the boil – maybe better but at least as good as I had with my old 3 vessel setup so doesn’t appear to be a BIAB issue in general. Just me screwing things up a bit on the first go around 🙂
3/11/15 @ 1:30ish pitched rehydrated US-05 into at 66F
3/12/15 8 am nice big fluffy kreusen and solid bubbling. temp raised over 24 hours to 67F and held for whole fermentation.
3/13/15 same as yesterday. still bubbling strong
3/14/15 similar to yesterday but maybe slowing a bit
3/15/15 still kreusened but clearly slowing down but steady bubbling
3/16/15 kreusen dropped. hazy but bubbling slowed to ~2 sec
3/17/15 bubbling stopped
3/19/15 dry hopped with 1/2 oz centennial (1st of 2). yeast seems to have dropped but still hazy
3/21/15 2nd 1/2 oz centennial dry hop
3/24/15 racked to keg
FG 1.012 pH – 4.15 ( a little low but fine)
dropped to 35F in lagering fridge
forced carbed by shaking for 5 mins at 20 psi
3/25/15 put on draft
very hazy but otherwise a really nice beer. boring but 100% 2 row will do that 🙂 clean flavor and nice aroma. very promising if I can get the haze cleared up.