Archive for the 'BIAB Brewing' Category

BIAB#6 – “Santa’s Big Sack” Christmas Ale


This is a spur of the moment brew, not one I’d been planning to do at all. But I’m in the zone for brewing and aging some big beers at the moment. I’m very restricted on the amount I can boil on my hob, so I figured I’d do the “Basic Brewing” and make a 1 gallon batch. A Christmas beer is the perfect candidate; I’m curious to see what it tastes like in a few months time, but I know I’d never drink a beer like this in quantity.It was great to be doing a bit of “brew in a bag” again. Very simple method and a quick cleanup, but I think I prefer my mash tun.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 7.20 l
Post Boil Volume: 5.20 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 l
Bottling Volume: 3.50 l
Estimated OG: 1.089 SG
Estimated Color: 39.2 EBC
Estimated IBU: 43.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 55.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


2.400 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 93.6 %
0.060 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 2.3 %
0.060 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (197.0 EBC), 2.3 %
0.030 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC), 1.2 %
0.015 kg Roasted Barley (1300.0 EBC), 0.6 %
8 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 43.9 IBUs
0.13 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
0.25 tsp Mixed Spice, Ground (Boil 1.0 mins)
0.3 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
Mash Schedule: Bubbles Small Batch BIAB Mash
Total Grain Weight: 2.565 kg
Saccharification Add 8.77 l of water at 76.2 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Remove grains, and prepare to boil wort

Brew Day 26/04/2014 – A lot of work for 5 litres of beer, but this is one beer style I would not see myself drinking a lot of. Volumes were spot-on, with just a little over 5 litres into the fermenter. Sprinkled on the yeast and snapped on the lid. Great Christmas pudding aromas. Nice dark mahogany colour.

10/05/2014 – Got 8 bottles from the batch as expected. Primed with carb drops. Now we wait until Christmas!

BIAB#4 – Downtown Train Pale Ale


I really enjoyed making my first all-grain beers, a series of English ales. Using the BIAB method I made two special bitters and a mild, rolling over the yeast cake from one batch to the next. At 4% ABV they are very refreshing and make a nice change from the somewhat larger beers I was brewing at the end of 2012. Each very different beers but using very similar ingredients. I’ve enjoyed drinking them, though I think the S-04 yeast let me down a bit and they scored respectably in the recent competition, though nothing earth shattering.

2013 is going to be the year of the session beer, I think. I recently hunted high and low for a bottle of Brewdog’s “Dead Pony Club”, a 3.8% heavily-hopped pale ale. It isn’t available from the usual Brewdog stockists and I’m still dying to try it. You have to love BrewDog. Like a lot of craft beer enthusiasts, I hate their bolshy (and hopelessly unoriginal) marketing, but you can’t fault the product. The beers are a hop lovers dream, packed with flavour using mostly trendy American and New Zealand varieties like Nelson Sauvin, Ahtanum, Motueka and Amarillo. For a long time, I was under the false impression that a heavily hopped beer necessitated a high gravity and a high level of bitterness, but that isn’t so. Dead Pony Club is by all accounts a cuddly little hop-monster with a reported bitterness rating of only 25 IBU. So challenged by someone to make a low-alcohol pale ale, I’m using Dead Pony Club as a template, even though I haven’t tasted there beer. The BrewDog tells us that the hops used are Citra, Simcoe and HBC. I don’t have any HBC (reported to be Mosaic) so I’ll just be using lots of Simcoe and Citra. The website also hints at using plenty of caramel malts to provide mouthfeel in what is a fairly light-bodied beer.

Mash & Brew Day 09/03/2013 – I doughed in at 73.5°C and settled on a mash temperature of 67.5°C. I probably would have done better to have mashed at 70°C which would have left more dextrins in the wort and thus provided a bit more body, but I’m happy enough with that. The temperature had dropped to 65° after 30 mins so I applied some heat to get it back up to 67.5°C. I sparged in a different way this time. I had treated 17 litres of water in total and I decanted about 5 litres into the smaller brewpot, leaving 12 litres to do the mash with. When the time came to sparge, I gave the grain bag a small squeeze over the large mash pot and transferred the bag to a clean 15 litre fermenter. I then poured the 5 litres of water from the small brewpot over it and stirred to mix in the grain. The mixture was looser than I expected. Even the lid from the large brewpot fits perfectly into the 15 litre FV. I left it to steep for about 5 or 10 minutes and got some nice sugary wort from the sparge.

It seemed really strange not to be using a traditional 60-minute bittering addition, but I fought off the urge to make a last-minute change to the hop bill and sling some Magnum in there at 60 mins. I held off until the 10 minute mark to do my first hop addition. I did make one unplanned change though – I decided to do a hop “stand” for 15 minutes at flameout in order to get maximum flavour and aroma plus a little bitterness from the late additions. If it works out, I’ll dispense with the hop stand next time. Sample tastes like it has plenty of bitterness so no worried there. The only problem is that once again, I have misjudged my efficiency because I was doing my sparging in a different way. I topped up a little to just under the 15 litre mark and I had an OG of 1.010! Bit more water into the fermenter so.


Boil Size: 15.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 13.00 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.039 SG
Estimated Color: 7.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 26.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 55.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


  • 2.550 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) 73.8 %
  • 0.340 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (15.0 SRM) 9.8 %
  • 0.225 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) 6.5 %
  • 0.225 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) 6.5 %
  • 0.115 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) 3.3 %
  • 0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
  • 10 g Citra [14.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 6.7 IBUs
  • 10 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 5.5 IBUs
  • 15 g Citra [14.80 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 7.3 IBUs
  • 15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 6.5 IBUs
  • 15 g Citra [14.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
  • 15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
  • 1 pkg Safale US-05
  • 15 g Citra [14.80 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
  • 15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs


18/03/2013 – Dry-hopped with 15g of Simcoe and 15g of Citra. Beer has completely fermented and yeast has flocced out. Coincidentally, I also picked up several bottles of “Dead Pony Club” today, but I have tasted them yet. How will the “clone” stand up against it?!

22/03/2013 – Bottled using 85g dextrose. Nightmare bottling session (along with Black Widow stout) where it took an absolute age to siphon into bottling bucket. Due to the huge amount of trub in the primary FV. I’ll have too look into some way of removing trub now that I’m mashing much larger amounts of grain. Still happy to get 24 bottles from the batch. Saved a thin yeast slurry into two flasks.

03/03/2013 – First taste and all I can say is “wow”! You’d never think this was such a low ABV beer – plenty of body and decent head retention. Absolutely bags of tropical and grapefruit flavours. It’s perhaps lacking a little character in the malt department so I might increase the Munich and/or biscuit malt next time. Or perhaps use some crystal 40 instead of the CaraMalt, for a little more character. The crystal sweetness might be a little too prominent for such a low level of bitterness, I’m not sure. I think the recipe needs further tweaking, but I’d be inclined to increase the bitterness slightly rather than reduce the amount of crystal malt which will affect the nice mouth-feel the beer has.

I’ll be doing a side-by-side comparison with Dead Pony Club in a few days; maybe even a blind tasting with my “chief taster”! 🙂

04/03/2013 – Here’s the adjustments I’m going to do on this beer next time:

0.275 kg Crystal 40, 0.225 kg Cara-Pils, 0.3 kg Munich Malt, 0.15 kg Biscuit Malt

I’ve reduced the crystal malt just slightly and used a higher lovibond crystal. I’ll also increase the IBU slightly to 30.

11/04/2013 – As has happened in the past, I’m now in two minds about this beer. I had a bottle last night and while I still think it’s a decent beer, it’s definitely a little one-dimensional in terms of malt complexity. Lacking flavour. The trouble is, I don’t know if it can be fixed by increasing the amount of specialty malts. I suspected it was because of the low gravity, but there are lots of low-gravity beers out there that pack a punch in terms of flavour. Perhaps the neutral US-05 is the wrong yeast to use in a beer like this. I could increase the amount of Munich and biscuit malts, but who knows what I’d end up with then. The only way to know is by re-brewing this with the Crystal 40 instead of the CaraMalt, and adjusting the Munich and biscuit. The hop character is great. I’m also in two minds about the bitterness level aswell. On further tasting, I think the bitterness might be spot-on for the gravity. I’ll do the side by side tasting with “Dead Pony Club” at the weekend in an attempt to improve the recipe. I’m not really aiming for a clone here, but I want to see how the various elements of my beer (malt flavour, bitterness, mouth-feel) stack up against a well-regarded commercial ale.

12/04/2013 – Appearance: Not much difference in colour, pleasant copper colour. Strange that I managed to get a very similar match on colour without having even seen a picture of Dead Pony Club. I pored two samples of each beer into different sized wine glasses; the sample in the larger glass is showing the clone to be a shade darker. The differences are not so noticeable in the smaller glass. The clone also seems just a little hazier. Pretty happy with appearance.

Aroma: Big difference. The hop aroma is more pronounced in the DPC. And the lack of HBC is also contributing to the aroma differences I’m sure. But the DPC also has a caramel aroma that the clone lacks.

Taste: Tasted clone first; big hop flavor, light-medium body, prominent bitterness. Tasting DPC, there’s more caramel flavor, probably darker crystal malts as I suspected. The aroma of the DPC is much more pronounced than the clone when actually tasting the beer. On further tasting the hop character is quite different – there’s an oily, resiny character to the hops in the DPC that isn’t there in the clone. The hop bitterness seems slightly harsher in the clone.

Mouth-feel: More body in the DPC, but that was to be expected. Gentler carbonation than the clone too.

Overall Impression: Not bad for a first clone attempt, considering I’d never tasted nor seen the original. The DPC is more satisfying – chewier mouth-feel, more malt aroma, more balance between body and bitterness.

BIAB#3 – Born To Be Mild


I never thought I’d be interested in a beer called a “mild”. I like my beers to be the complete opposite of mild – clovey hefeweizens, hoppy American pale ales, roasty Imperial stouts. But I was interested to see an entire section for “Mild” recipes in Graham Wheelers book and started a bit of research.

Historically, the name “mild” referred to a beer which hadn’t been aged in vats and didn’t have a slightly sour tang. These days, mild generally means a beer with less bitterness than a regular English bitter or pale ale. They are generally low in gravity, easy to drink and have a restrained hop flavour with little or no aroma.

I wanted to squeeze another small all-grain batch in over the Christmas holidays and wanted to try something different so I decided on this recipe. The grain bill is pretty complex for a mild and I doubt you’ll find an English brewery putting so many different malts into their mild, but I wanted to add a little complexity, so in addition to the Maris Otter base I went for two different types of crystal, biscuit, black malt, torrified wheat and pale chocolate malt for colour and some coffee/roasty notes. The smell of the grains in the bucket was fantastic, even before I doughed in!

I followed the same procedure as my last two BIAB batches, using 11 litres of treated water to mash with, and using 4 litres for dunk-sparging. My efficiency worked out at 60% which is not very efficient at all, but at least it’s consistent. Most of the recipes in Wheelers book tend to have IBUs around 22 so that’s what I was shooting for here. Most of the recipes also seem to include Fuggles hops so I bittered with EKG and used my last remaining 7g of Fuggles as a flavour addition.

The colour of the wort is amazing – a deep mahogany colour. I’ll attempt to serve this with slightly less carbonation than usual. About 2 volumes should do it.


Boil Size: 12.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 10.00 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.040 SG
Estimated Color: 17.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 22.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 60.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


2.700 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
0.160 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM)
0.120 kg Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM)
0.095 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (300.0 SRM)
0.040 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM)
0.040 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM)
0.040 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (100.0 SRM)
0.024 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)
16 g Goldings, East Kent [5.80 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 20.3 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
7 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 1.8 IBUs
1.0 pkg Fermentis SafAle S-04


20/01/2013 – Bottled using 65g grams of table sugar and got 25 bottles. Great nutty smell from the fermenter. Cold crashed in the shed for two days before bottling.

01/03/2013 – First taste after almost 6 weeks in the bottle.

03/03/2013 – Scored 28 points in the 2013 NHC competition. I suspect this was judged in the wrong category. One of the judges described it as “a little mild”. The other judge wrote “Northern English Brown” on the scoresheet. Pretty respectable score considering the judges didn’t even know what it was they were supposed to be judging. In any case, I think it’s an excellent easy-drinker and I’d definitely do it again.

21/04/2013 – I’ve got about 2 bottles of this left and it was a real success – I don’t know why I never updated the notes on this. It could easily be described as a brown porter. It’s got a nice caramel, mocha quality. Fairly light body but an assertive bitterness that I wasn’t expecting from the paltry 22 IBUs.

BIAB#2 – Navy Pier Special Bitter


Tight git that I am these days, I was determined to re-use the yeast slurry from my first BIAB effort, Tailgunner Best Bitter. This recipe is based on a clone recipe I found for the wonderful Goose Island Honkers Ale. So how does this recipe differ from my last special bitter? Well, I’ve left out the torrified wheat and will be using a much bigger amount of plain wheat malt. I’m expecting a significant flavour contribution from this as it’s not there simply for head retention. This is also a much hoppier beer, with three large additions of Fuggles. (Goose Island is reported to use all Styrian Goldings and Fuggles were the closest match I had available.)


Boil Size: 12.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 10.00 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.041 SG
Estimated Color: 10.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 29.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 60.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


2.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 79.0 %
0.395 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM), 12.0 %
0.140 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 4.3 %
0.140 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM), 4.3 %
0.016 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM), 0.5 %
23 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 19.6 IBUs
21 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 20.0 min, 6.5 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
21 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 3.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg Fermentis SafAle S-04

01/01/2013 – I wanted to test my process to see if I can get a consistent efficiency with my BIAB process, even if that efficiency is very low. So I used the same volumes of water and the same method of sparging. I think I may have rinsed the grains a little better in the sparge pot this time though. My OG, which I measured after topping up to about 13.5 litres was 1.052! So I topped up further to the 15 litre mark. This beer is understandably a little darker than my Fool’s Gold Bitter because it has a greater amount of crystal malt. I pitched about 400ml of the S-04 yeast slurry into my 15 litre fermeter and it’s bubbling away like a beast. Hopefully I can get another 25 bottles out of this batch.

I was feeling so smug that I immediately set about doing another batch of beer. Bad move, as it turned out. Here’s the post about it, “Pie-O-My” Amber Ale.

10/01/2013 – Bottled to 2.2 volumes using 75g table sugar. I got 25 bottles out of the batch as expected.

18/02/2013 – I can’t believe I haven’t posted any tasting updates on this beer as I’ve had a few tasters at this point. It’s suffering from the same S-04 bite that has plagued my Tailgunner Best Bitter so far. It’s much murkier also, but it remains to be seen whether this is due to the sizeable portion of wheat malt or whether it just hasn’t dropped bright yet. As you’d expect, it’s got much more caramel and hop flavour, a bit fruitier perhaps. The Tailgunner seems to only now be getting better after 6 weeks in the bottle, so maybe the same will apply here. I’ll taste again at the end of the month.

BIAB#1 – Tailgunner Best Bitter


I was waiting until the Christmas holidays to do my first all-grain recipe. For the first time ever, not a gram of extract will go into my beer. Not having a mash tun, or even the expertise for conducting a mash using a 3-vessel system, I’ll be using a BIAB method using my two pots. The pots are 20 litres and 10 litres and I’m slightly restricted on boil volume because I’m boiling on the gas hob. So I’ll be doing a slightly smaller batch of 15 litres because I don’t wait to boil at too high a concentration and end up with excessive kettle caramelisation. My previous partial mash efforts have been running at a pretty rubbish 65% efficiency, so for my first BIAB I’m going to use an even lower figure of 60%. If I get a higher efficiency than that, then great. The 30 IBU I’m planning will hopefully stand up against an extra couple of points on my original gravity.


Boil Size: 12.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 10.00 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.041 SG
Estimated Color: 10.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 31.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 60.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


2.850 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
0.160 kg Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM)
0.145 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM)
0.075 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM)
0.016 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)
15 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 12.8 IBUs
15 g Goldings, East Kent [4.90 %] – Boil 60.0, 14.6 IBUs
11 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 1.9 IBUs
11 g Goldings, East Kent [4.90 %] – Boil 10.0, 2.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg Fermentis SafAle  S-04


Boil and mash conducted on the same day. I used a much higher boil volume than usual, must have been at least 15 litres, but the hob handled it just fine. I got about 11 litres into the fermenter and had to top up with some water. Fearing a very low efficiency I added water up to 13/14 litres ans took and OG reading of 1.048! Pretty good, so I topped up to the 15 litres mark. The next step will be to actually calibrate these fermenters I’m using.

30/12/2012 – Bottled using 90g table sugar. Bowled over by the sample I took from the fermenter. It’s really bready or grainy, I can’t figure out which word describes it best. Nor can I figure out what has contributed to this flavour, the torrified wheat or the biscuit malt. At this point, I’m going to guess that it’s the torrified wheat given that it’s a very traditional grain in English styles, and my beer tastes very typical and traditional. Should have a nice level of carbonation with the 90g of of sugar. It’s quite bitter, more than the 30 IBU that I was expecting. Got a FG of 1.008. Will give this 3 weeks conditioning before trying a sample. I saved 500ml of slurry that will be rolled over into another all-grain English bitter. This time, it’s going to be based on a clone of Goose Island Honkers Ale – itself based on an English bitter. This will be more caramelly with plenty of fermentables coming from wheat malt and also a little roasted barley for extra character. I’ll be using all Fuggles for this brew, though I might not have enough. In that case I’ll use some Northern Brewer for bittering.

13/01/2013 – I should have been a bit more patient with this. The first taste is a little disappointing. Bags of potential there – a great grainy flavour and some nice residual sweetness from the caramel malt, but it just tastes like an immature beer. A little bit yeasty too, but in fairness, it was only in the fridge for a few hours before I opened it. Another 2 or 3 weeks in the bottle and I reckon this will taste excellent.

24/01/2013 – Over a week later and still no improvement. It still has that S-04 taste. I think this yeast and myself are finished. Which is a pity, as I’ve 75 bottles of beer to drink that were fermented by this yeast!!

31/01/2013 – Opened another bottle and there’s a definite improvement. The beer is now a lot brighter, which i assume is not just because of a warmer temperature and less chill haze. There’s definitely still a yeast bite to the beer though and I reckon it’s going to need another few weeks conditioning. On the plus side, there’s some fantastic grainy, malty flavours coming through. The bitterness is quite full-on for a 30 IBU beer, but it is quite light in body. All in all, there’s now a great English malt and hop character showing through and fingers crossed it will be drinking very well in a month’s time. I’ve decided that I’ll definitely be trying liquid yeasts when I do my next set of English ales. I’ll probably go for the WLP002 as it’s supposed to have low attenuation with high flocculation – a low maintenance yeast, which is pretty much up my street.

12/02/2013 – This is definitely drinking better now. It’s lost most of that yeast bite and unsurprisingly, it has dropped incredibly bright. This thing is sparkling! It’s strange though, on some sips you get lots of that grainy-bready flavour; other sips not so much. I’ll be entering this in the competition anyway and I’m looking forward to getting feedback on it. Another months conditioning should do no harm. I do think the bitter is overcarbonated though; I’ll definitely reduce the amount of priming sugar for future bitters.

18/02/1013 – Absolutely sparkling and the flavour has really improved. 6 weeks seems to be the sweet spot in a moderate-gravity bitter fermented with S-04. I do think it’s overcarbonated though which gives it a slight astringency. I might try dialing back on the hops next time too, say 28 IBU. Still not much head on the beer either.

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