Thursday, November 15, 2012

November Update - new beers, time to brew again

What the heck has been going on?

I seem to say this a lot but it's been quite a long time since I have updated a blog post around here so I guess it's high time I do so. Brewing hasn't happened mcuh for me lately but mostly due to other responsibilities and just general life. To some degree I wish I was able to brew more but the things that take up my time are more important and that's alright. I'm still finding time to brew and now that I am nestled fairly well in the brewin a bag (BIAG) practice, brewing has become a nice easy task and not a chore anymore.

Back when I used to use a cooler for a mash tun I had to deal with multiple infusions of water and seemed to always be doing something while the mash was going. There's measuring water, timing the heating of your sparge and infusion water if you use it, and then just general maintenance of the all of the pots and equipment. With brew in a bag I drag out my burner, my kettle, chiller, and a bottling bucket (more on that later). That's it. Plain and simple. Brewing this way has made the 4 hour stretch easier, less stressful, and not complicated at all. I want to step through the brew day when using brew in a bag so that others can see just how easy it is to make great beer. If you currently are an extract brewer, you can use the same equipment for the most part, you just need the bag. Mine was made out of Voile material found at a local Joann Fabrics. The total cost even with the ribbon we used for handles was about $14.

Below is a picture parade of my brew day the other day.

I made a porter, so this is the bottling bucket mentioned above with the milled grains. Yum!
Quick shot of my kettle. It's a Blichmann.......ohhh yeah.
One of the more important shots in the series. You can see I use binder clips to keep the bag in place when i am stirring or when I pour the grains in at the beginning of the mash. Note: I do not have the bag in when I am heating the water up. I add it when I am ready to mash.
A shot after I lift the bag out. I usually hold the bag for a couple of minutes to let the sweet wort drain out. I then put the bag in the bottling bucket and let it sit and it collects some more wort I pour in before the boil.
Nice boil going here. I use Paint strainer bags for hops so that I don't need to worry about a false bottom or a filter at the bottom where the valve is. I just tie the bags off with a binder clip so they are easy to open and add more hops.
Boil is over and what I end up doing is just moving the pot and burner up to the picnic table so that gravity can feed the plate chiller. This setup works nicely, just make sure to have a strong enough table to put the kettle on. I get good flow rates here, usually takes about 7 minutes to fill the 5 gallon carboy and the wort comes out mid 60's in temps. I keep the flow on about half with the cold water side of the chiller. Too fast and it won't be as efficient in my experience.
Can't forget the last step, adding the yeast. I make a 1 liter starter the night before brew day and I pour off most of the liquid and pitch the slurry. This batch took about 8 hours to start bubbling away.
Final Notes:
As you can see, the process is relatively easy. If you extract brew now and have a big enough pot then I'd say you can do brew in a bag with little investment. You just really need the bag. My pot is 10 gallons if anyone is curious. I fill to about 8 gallons before I heat water for the mash. I've been using that number for the past few batches and I seem to get about 6 gallons of nice wort out of it.
Until next time..........

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