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First Ag, Biab + No Chill, Successfully Completed

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Oakers

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Hi All,

Did my first AG today. It was much easier than I thought it would be. Mainly this was thanks to all the information I had picked up from the forum over the last few months. My advice to anybody contemplating BIAB and no chill is stop procrastinating and just do it! (Forgive the long post but hopefully somebody will take inspiration from this or - god forbid - even learn something.)

I decided to keep it relatively simple for my first go so I did a basic English bitter. Recipe as follows:
4.0 kg Maris Otter
0.2 kg medium crystal (150)
0.15 kg dark crystal (270)
25g Fuggles at 60
25g EKG at 15
25g EKG at 5
1/2 Whirlfloc at 10
S04 yeast.
(Thanks to Ianh for the BIAB spreadsheet)

Ok, here's how the day went.

It actually started last night with milling of grains. I used a borrowed Corona mill to do the milling. A bit of trial and error in getting it set up so it took me 45 mins to mill by hand. Note to self - buy a decent mill. Up at 7.30am and fill up the (newly purchased 40L Crown) urn with 32 litres of water. I'd set up the urn on a couple of old car wheels with a board on top. Just the right height for the cube to fit under the tap. I filled with cold water from the tap as I'm not too keen on using hot tap water. It took nearly an hour to get to required temperature of 68 degrees. Mind you this was an uninsulated urn in a garage at 7 degrees C ambient. Next I fitted the bag (purchased from my local brew shop for $17). OK, time to mash in. Slowly added the grain, stirring in any small dough balls. It probably took me 5 mins, which in a cool garage meant that I lost a bit more heat that was optimal. By the end of mashing in I was down to 64 degrees C. I put the lid on and lagged the urn in an old doona and a couple of towels. Tied it all off with some rope and then decided to add a little bit of extra heat heat for a couple of mins to counteract that lost with my slow mash in. After the quick burst of heat the urn was turned off and it was now time to do some chores while I waited the 90 mins for the mash.

So, ninety minutes later I nervously unwrapped the urnful precious sweet goodness. I quickly took a temperature - 63.1 degrees. I figured that this was reasonable given ambient temp in the garage was still only 11 degrees. By the way, I was using my new digital stick thermometer to take the temps. An excellent investment at $28. Now on to the job that had me a little worried - hauling out the grain. I had hooked one of those metal loops that look like things that climbers use (sorry can't remember what they are called) over the garage roof c-purlin. I'd looped my rope through previously. So tied the rope to the bag's drawstring and pulled on the rope to one side of the urn. Unfortunately due to the fact that the metal loop wasn't anchored to the purlin it started sliding along threatening to pull the urn off its support. So i had to call in the wife to help while I assisted the bag to go straight up and not sideways. Second note to self - buy a decent pulley and anchor it properly. Ok, so bag was hoisted and allowed to drain off into the urn. A bit of a squeeze with some saucepan lids (thanks to someone on here for that tip) and then the bag was lowered into a bucket. A bit more of a squeeze with the hands - ouch still quite hot! - and then tip the extra few hundred mls back into the urn. I didn't bother sparging the grains. Now the urn is cranked up to full and brought to the boil and I'm ready for the 90 minute boil. As per the recipe above, additions of fuggles at 60, EKG at 15 and 5. I added half a whirlfloc at 10 mins. At 0 mins I whirlpooled the wort. I'd never seen this done so i assumed it just meant using the mash paddle (in my case a big kitchen serving spoon) to spin the wort as fast as I could. Then it was lid back on and a 15 minute wait while everything settled out.

Now I'm ready to drain the wort into the cube. I take a peak in the urn..all looks pretty good. I place the cube under the tap. Actually, my cube is a rectangular 20L water container from Bunnings as that was all I could find in 20L containers. So, I open the tap and I'm pleasantly surprised with how clear the wort is. No hoppy gunk at all coming out. Oh, forgot to say I used pellets and just checked them into the wort. So I get as much of the wort out as possible....just slightly tipping the urn to extract a little more without getting the trub. The cube is filled as much as I can but still has an air space of about a litre even after I squeezed it before tightening the cap. I didn't bother with a hose on the tap as I've read that hot side aeration isn't as big a deal as some make out. However, the main reason that i didn't bother with a hose was I couldn't find a silicone hose in time for brew day. So cube is filled - job done! I quickly put the cube on its side so that the whole of the inside is sanitised. And yeah, the whirlpooling worked a treat. I had nice cone of hop and other debris sitting right smack bang in the middle of the urn's base.

And that's it. Now just need to clean up. I take a sample of the remaining wort for an OG reading. I get 1040. Not too bad i figure but calculations in Ianh's spreadsheet said I should have had 1043. OK, so using the spreadsheet I come up with a real world efficiency of 70%. Not terrible but probably some room for improvement. Last job is simply to wait a day or two till I feel like chucking it in the fermenter and pitching the yeast.

I should like to thank forum members for all the fantastic information on AHB. It definitely made my first AG a good experience. To anyone else contemplating AG using BIAB and no-chill I'd just like to say how easy it is. I actually think it's easier than mucking around with jars of sticky stuff or bags of dried malt (that always seem congeal into god-awful gooey balls). Yes, it does take a bit longer - today it took me about 5 hours. But, for much of that 5 hours you are waiting for stuff to happen (water heating up, the mash, the wort boil). So while you are waiting you can do chores around the house, play with kids, drink beer (preferably not all at the same time), or anything else that takes your fancy.

I'm already planning my next brew :D , and even thinking about how I will finance my brewpub ;)

Cheers,
Oakers.
 

Brewman_

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Congrats Oakers,
Sounds like a good brew night, well done. Mate you will love the beer!
Just one tip, make sure your cube has no, or as little air as possible once filled. Sorry If I missunderstand your post above, but 1L of air is not a good thing.
Fear_loath
 

Crusty

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Nice work Oakers, well done.
If there is anything I can add to your brew day, it would be a mash out. I also do a 90min sacc rest followed by a ramp in temp to 78deg then haul the bag clear of the wort. You need to constantly agitate the wort when ramping your temperature to mash out. I use a 20lt paint stirrer from a paint shop or hardware store. I no chill as well & also have a Crown exposed element urn. I only boil for 60mins.
Cheers
 

jyo

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Great stuff! That looks like a solid recipe too, mate.

One more thing to add would be to wait 10 or so minutes after flameout and then start your whirlpool. Everything settles out a lot more once the heat drops and the convection currents stop swirling everything around. After whirlpool, wait another 10 minutes then cube away!

Cheers, and wait til you taste it.... :icon_drool2:
 

Clutch

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Good work mate, welcome to a non stop roundabout of fun and expenditure.
I recommend the mashout also. Best way to squeeze a cube is with a towel in your hand and using your knee (wearing jeans, of course) as a bracing point.
 

stevemc32

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A 10 buck power point timer has my urn switched on about an hour before I get out of bed on brew day. Fill it up the night before and it's ready for grains when you get up. :icon_cheers:
 

Robbo2234

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A 10 buck power point timer has my urn switched on about an hour before I get out of bed on brew day. Fill it up the night before and it's ready for grains when you get up. :icon_cheers:
Sir you are a Ideas man!! off to big w this arvo!
 

mattieharding

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I always have airspace in the cube, i just lay on its side once filled to heat the cap and never had any issues.

But each to there own i guess
 

Oakers

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Thanks for all the feedback. Fear_n_loath, after your post I had another look at my cube. Actually only about 1/2 a litre of airspace that is in the handle so the exposed surface area is not too great. I hope it will be ok. I did make sure that I laid the container on its side while hot so hopefully that killed any bugs. Sounds like a mashout will be the next thing to add to my brew day. And I'll definitely buy a timer. I'll let you all know how the fermentation goes. I plan on pitching tomorrow night.
 

Crusty

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I always have airspace in the cube, i just lay on its side once filled to heat the cap and never had any issues.

But each to there own i guess
Me too. I use 25lt cubes from Bunnings & only get 20.5lt into my cube. I squeeze it as hard as I can & the wort level sits on 22lt after the squeeze so I have a bit of head space in mine but no issues either. Never had a problem thus far.
 

Thirsty Boy

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Hot Side Aeration IS an issue - people who say it isn't, usually also display a fundamental misunderstanding of what HSA actually is. You will increase your levels of HSA by splashing the wort into the cube and also by having airspace in the cube.

What HSA is not, and therefore also what leaving an airgap in your cube also is not - is something that will cause "a problem". It almost certainly wont. You most likely wont get an infection, you most likely wont taste a difference in the beer. But that doesn't mean nothing happens. The beer will most likely be a little darker than it would if you had minimised HSA and it will most likely age with less grace than it would if you had minimised HSA. Thats what HSA does and it will happen in your brewing. Trying to minimise HSA is just about good brewing practice - your beer will be more consistently more like the beer you are trying to make and it will last longer in good condition, the better you are at minimising HSA.

But note that I use the term minimise, not eliminate. You cant eliminate it, so just do your best. If the best you can do still involves a little splashing and a bit of airgap... oh well, it'll be fine anyway. Try to do better next time without doing anything that makes your life too damn hard.

In your case - easy peasy. You're probably going to buy a hunk of hose anyway, it'll make you life easier. HSA problem #1 solved. And you have a litre of airgap?? OK, if that turns out to be something consistent over a few brews... then start making an extra litre of beer - I'm sure you can manage to drink it and that solves HSA problem #2.

Its not a drama - its just a box to tick off the list of good brewing practices, that all put together make the difference between pretty good beer and consistently great beer. Get to it when you can.

Congrats on your first AG brew - Sounds like you did a great job and everything worked spectacularly. Awesome work.
 

Amber Fluid

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Sounds like a good day was had. Well done!

One note I do differently is, I spray the cube with Starsan prior to filling. It may not need it but it certainly doesn't hurt.

I like to collect about 26L of wort which gives me about 8 bottles + a keg. An accumulation of bottles is nice to fall back on when the keg blows or if you want a selection to take somewhere "offsite". I use 20L cubes and 3 of the large V8 jars to collect the wort.
 

Oakers

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Thirsty Boy - Thanks for the advice about hot side aeration. I guess it's one of those things that is easily mitigated for very little outlay so I will take your advice (my browsing of AHB over the past months suggests that I should :) ). I'll also try to make sure my cube is filled to the brim next time. If I miss my volume can I simply add boiled water to top up?

Amber Fluid - Thanks also for the advice about Starsan. I've heard it's the bees knees of sanitisers so I definitely plan to get some. I don't think that the LHBS stocks it so I'll need to buy online (from a site sponsor of course). I'm still bottling all my beers but I guess a keg set up will start to look very attractive in the future. Another thing to get my head around. And good to see a fellow Taswegian on the board.

Ok, off to transfer the wort to my fermenter.

Cheers again,
Oakers.
 

Jay Cee

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Congrats on your first brew.

I reckon you came up short in the cube because of your 90 minute boil. Do a 60 minute boil next time, and you final volume will get you closer to filling that cube.

As for boiled water, I always put the kettle on just before transferring, and will top up the cube if I'm a bit short. I would rather slightly dilute wort than cube headspace.
 

Oakers

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Cheers Jay Cee. Yeah, I guess a bit of fine tuning needed for my next brew. I have just this minute transferred the wort from the cube to the fermenter with barely a drop spilled. I left a little in the bottom of the cube as a bit more trub had settled. The yeast (Safale S04) is now pitched and the waiting begins.

OK, any ideas for AG brew number 2? An APA perhaps?
 

jbowers

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Congrats on your first brew.

I reckon you came up short in the cube because of your 90 minute boil. Do a 60 minute boil next time, and you final volume will get you closer to filling that cube.

As for boiled water, I always put the kettle on just before transferring, and will top up the cube if I'm a bit short. I would rather slightly dilute wort than cube headspace.
Given that it came Out slightly under gravity, im not sure that is the best approach. I think it's better in the long run to have an accurate understanding of your boil off rates and just adjust volumes accordingly.
 

Jay Cee

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OK, any ideas for AG brew number 2? An APA perhaps?
Tell us what beers you have tried that impress you the most, and people can offer recipe suggestions. There's plenty of clones out there, and even if you dont get it spot on it will still be great, or actually better if you fine tune them over time, to your taste.
 

Jay Cee

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Given that it came Out slightly under gravity, im not sure that is the best approach. I think it's better in the long run to have an accurate understanding of your boil off rates and just adjust volumes accordingly.
It's his first brew, why bog him down in technicalities? Let the guy get a few under his belt, then he can start working on the particulars (of which there are many that take priority IMO). And as far as dilution is concerned, think about how much difference 1/2 litre makes to SG & BU:GU. Now think about it if boil off rate was miscalculated, but everything else is spot on ? Dilution will bring it back up to what was planned anyway. If not, its no tragedy, the stars will not fall from the sky,

For many situations (such as mine) brewing outdoors, an electric kettle is a bugger to maintain consistent boil-off rates, so variations will always happen. As I brew for myself, I don't care about a few gravity points either way, in the grand scheme of things it hardly changes the balance. My recipes allow for swings in either direction, although they are rare, as its all second nature to me know, I dont even do calculations, but adjust on-the-fly.

Your approach to brewing may differ. And that's cool too.
 

Amber Fluid

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And good to see a fellow Taswegian on the board.
There are a few of us around. If you are doing AG then you are best to get in on the Bulk Buys. However, you are probably a bit late for the current one but subscribe to the forum and you'll get notified of the next.

Cheers

Edit:... you can also check in my signature for the Aussie Home Brewers Map and see where people are located for any local help etc.
 

Oakers

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Wort now fermenting nicely at about 20 degrees C. I don't have a brew fridge yet (another thing to look into) but i do have spots in the house/garage where I can get good stable temperatures.

Amber Fluid - thanks for the heads up on the map. I've just added myself.

As you all can see I'm still learning the AG technicalities. My philosophy in the end is to make high quality beer in the simplest possible way. I'm most interested in knowing what sorts of tweaks will give me greatest bang for effort. I think that the great thing about AHB is that we can cut through received wisdom and focus on what really works. The next thing on my list of tweaks is definitely a mash out, plus I'm thinking of trying fermentation in the cube. I think I'll focus on fairly simple styles and recipes to start with, then once i've got my technique down pat I intend to start exploring the beer styles of the world from the safety of my own garage.

Cheers,
Oakers.
 
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