First crack at BIAB

Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum

Help Support Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
Its fair to say that I am a complete novice to this homebrew scene, I mean I love ale and the vast majority of craft beers but never considered to make it myself. Until now! I read a few (in fact many, including the 'How to Brew' bible by John Palmer) articles and decided to bypass kits/extract and go straight for BIAB. My first attempt is sitting in the fridge under temp control and it looks like the ferment is just about to kick off in earnest, bubbles starting to form in airlock. I just want to run through my first attempt and get you more experienced brewers to point out any improvement areas/ glaring errors! Cheers!

Followed recipe for an American Pale ale from Cleverbrew.

Cleaned and sanitised equipment and fermenter.
Heated 25 litres water to 72C to achieve mash temp of 64C after grain addition, killed the heat.
Added grain and stirred well to remove clumps, took temp at 65C, placed lid on pan and wrapped in towels.
Checked every 15 mins to test temp, only dropped 3C over the hour.
Removed bag and drained into wort.
Added 6 litres boiled water (These would not fit in kettle to begin with so decided to boil reminder on the side and add after removal of grains to bring full water requirements up to speed)
Brought to boil, with a very early hot break, and added hops as per recipe stages.
Put kettle in ice bath (then sat on top step of pool to bring temp down) took about 1.5 hrs to chill to 23C.
Added to fermenter (21 litres in total out of an expected 23), aerated the wort, took hydrometer reading of 1.046 and pitched the yeast.
Added sterilised water to airlock and am fermenting at approx 18C under temp control.
I think it's just about starting to show signs of life now.

My potential screw ups so far that I can think of....
Not hydrating the yeast first, I was completely unsure of how to work the timings for this so I just pitched it dry into the top of the aerated wort.
Added the entire contents of the chilled kettle to the fermenter , breaks and all. Again, just was lost in the moment and not thinking.
Needed some method of resting the bag over the wort so it could drain properly, and maybe give it a bit of a squeeze. I reckon I lost a bit of wort here.

I am fairly certain that I have cleaned and sterilised all kit very well, so I am happy that I should have a decent environment in the fermenter for the yeasts.
Looks okay to me. You realize your mistakes and will have learned from them. One thing though....if you don't have the capacity to do full volume BIAB , why not use the 6 litres ( should be 8-9 by the looks of your final volume) to sparge. Basically any container of decent size that can handle the temp will do.
Yes I think more water next time round, but how would I go about sparging for BIAB? Do you mean use the decent sized container to hold the water and pour that through the grain bag into the wort?
You can do it that way or use a large pot/esky ect, and pour your sparge water over your grain and let it sit for a couple of minutes before hanging or sitting in/on a strainer or oven rack or similar to drain.
You can do what's called a batch sparge. After lifting the bag and letting it drain, dunk it a second vessel filled with hot water (75c or so) give it a chance to soak, pull the bag out, let it drain again and add the resulting wort (second runnings) to the kettle.
Nice one, sounds like the way forward for the next attempt! :cheers:
Looks like your doing just fine for your first brew. Any improvements will happen by repeating and refining. With each batch you might only change one or two things that click and work well for you, your equipment and your circumstances, that you can carry through to the next brews.
However this first brew turns out, you'll drink it, enjoy it, and move on and up to the next. From this point on you'll find this a fascinating way to spend your spare time, your lunch break, your time you should be fixing all those things on the list your wife wrote out, the middle of the night when you wake up thinking about splitting that smackpack of yeast.......I've said too much. Just, enjoy!
I too did a biab last night, my first in a year or so. I normally run a temp controlled 1v with a few bells and whistles. This was a throw together last minute brew, numbers done by thumb (yeah you do eventually have a good idea of what a grain bill will produce). I was aiming for 23L of 1048 ended up with 25L of 1047. I find Biab a very relaxed way to brew, I lost 2.8c over an hour and 10(not fased) why an hour and 10? well to be honest I was having a few samples and listening to tunes. Currently in ferment doing it's thing, it will be beer (probably a good one). I had planned an all cascade hopping but found none in the hop freezer bar some flowers (which I'll dry hop with) so Centenial at 60 and Chinook at 15. Brew day should never involve crisis of any sort RDWHAHB.

ED: I lifted the bag dropped it into a bucket and sprayed with tap water(food grade hose), down side: it knocked the kettle temp when added, upside: no buggerising about heating extra water, and gave me time for another beer before first hops.
Mostly looks good. There is nothing to be gained by adding hot break material to a ferment, despite what some may say, so next time, leave it out.

Rehydration is best practice if done correctly, but plenty including me when using dry (I rarely use dry) have success dry sprinkling. Try rehydration next time but it's not a fatal error.

I don't BIAB but have and one easy method of recovering wort from grain is simply a colander that fits over the kettle. Rest the bag while it drains.

As lionman suggested - you can use a separate vessel like a bucket to dunk the bag (although it's a dunk sparge rather than a batch sparge, it works the same way). You can also no-sparge and just start with full volume mash liquor.

For chilling - take a look at no chill technique. Alternatively, take a look at immersion and plate chilling which will be faster than your water bath.

Finally - avoid the temptation to remove the lid every 15 mins. Use some insulation, like a doona or blanket, get temp right and walk away. Test at the end if needed to get to know your system and process.
Adding hot break material probably better not to but not going to make a difference just going to settle on the bottom.
Thanks for all advice and answers, already looking forward to the next attempt and not even tried this one out yet! Bubbling started through airlock after 12 hours and then went absolutely mental for the next 24 or so. Then nothing, I'm not bothered though, I've had a look at other good threads and am happy to leave the little bugger to sit for 3 weeks before I do the first SG test.
One question I do have though is how to add the hops for dry hopping. I have pellet form hops, is it ok to just chuck these cheeky monkeys in or do I need to wrestle them into my (sanitised) hop sock before letting them do their thing?
Ha ha, nice one. Naked hops it is
A further question. I am planning on cold crashing for a few days and adding gelatin to clear the beer before bottling. I only have one fermenter at the moment and was planning on bulk priming in that, then bottling and bringing temp back up to 18c for a few weeks conditioning.
My intended method was to mix the required dextrose, gently add to the beer and give a bit of a smooth stir, leave for half hour or so to infiltrate the brew and then bottle. Is there much point doing the gelatin add if I am going to stir the brew after a few days? It's not like I will be whirling the thing about, I'm just wondering if it would disturb the settlement caused by the gelatin and render the operation a bit pointless. I guess the other option I have is adding dextrose to the bottle and then adding the beer but this seems like the more painful of the options!
Some expert opinions appreciated gents! :drinkingbeer:
Personally, for the price, I'd get another fermenter / priming bucket. I don't cold crash or use finings at the moment, but I always rack off to another vessel and add my dextrose to that, leaving the cake etc., behind in the other fermenter (which I then reuse or harvest). I don't have the level of experience the other guys have but I don't think I'd be adding priming sugar to the primary and stirring that up (to get even distribution) or not stirring it (risking uneven distribution). Also, when you get to the arse-end of bottling you'll pull a bunch of trub into your last few bottles (especially as you're going naked with your dry hopping, I'd personally use socks)... it's like ~$30 for another bucket and a much cleaner product in the bottle...
Yeah, I see your point. It's not as if I would even need another fermenter as such. I guess any food grade container would suffice. In fact, if I was to buy a 20 litre jerry can I could use that as a no chill cube in the future... hmmm. Food for thought.
Tell you what, if that beer ends up tasting as good as that fridge smells at the moment I'll as happy as a pig in sh!t...
Let us know how it turns out, not sure you actually let us know what the recipe was.. I've got a double brew going down this weekend, have agonised over the recipe for weeks, hopefully it turns out alright! Happy brewing/drinking!
I never did it, but I'm certain many have bulk primed in primary exactly as you have described. Transferring to another vessel carrys with it the risk of another opportunity for infection, as well as oxidising the brew.

Have a search for bulk priming in primary, I reckon you'll come up trumps.