I’ve been brewing for just over a year now, and have brewed several beers (of varying quality) from all grain kits in a 5L demijohn and stockpot based kit. It’s been great fun, but for all the hard work that goes into a brew day, to get 10 330mL bottles out seems like a lot of effort.
To allow me to brew substantially more beer I’ve recently invested in a Brew-in-a-Bag kit, which I bought from Get ‘Er Brewed (similar here: http://www.geterbrewed.com/simple-biab-starter-kit/), the kit included a recipe pack to brew an American Pale Ale at roughly 6% ABV.
The kit, as I bought it included a 30L mashing bucket with heating coil- to use for both the mash-tun and kettle, a wort chiller, the eponymous brewing bag, an FV and various brewing accessories.
I’ll split the remainder of this review into individual brewing steps…
The included boiler and bag made for an easy mashing in, the water heated fairly quickly and the 6kg of grain fitted comfortably within the nylon bag, and the nylon bag fitted securely in the boiler. During the hour, the grain stayed within 1ºC of the 68ºC target, kept track of with the provided digital thermometer.
Sparging is where BIAB diverges from standard all grain equipment. Instead of draining the mash tun, the nylon bag is strained to extract all of the wort. There is always the option to add sparge water, but owing to my lack of additional vessels I choose to just squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the bag. This seemed to work well.
With the grain out it was time to boil the wort, and add the hops. This seemd to go without a hitch. Hops went in at the recipe’s instructed times and one hour later, the boil was complete, time to chill.
Chilling and Transfer
Whilst I did have to buy a few lengths of hose and connection points, the included copper chiller cooled the wort rapidly. Within 20-30mins the wort was down to 20ºC, perfect for pitching. Unfortunately on starting to transfer to the FV bucket I found the included “false bottom”, steel mesh designed to prevent hops from passing through the tap had become dislodged and so the wort coming through the tap was a green soup. I used a sanitised sieve to remove the worst of the hop debris, and transferred to the FV
Fermentation and Bottling
The filled bucket sat comfortably in my spare room bubbling away for two weeks as the 1.060OG slowly meandered to 1.0101FG. I came to bottle it but as the FV is merely a bucket, this proved difficult. I had to use a racking cane and siphon pipe from my old kit. There is a provided tap, which I have not installed yet and a “bottling wand” which I’m not sure about!
I enjoyed brewing with this kit, I think it’s a good scale for me for the time being, and on first tasting, the beer tastes great albeit un-carbed. Brew-in-a-bag seems like a good scale for most people who still early into their brewing adventure. This kit isn’t perfect. It needs extra things to be bought, and there’s always something else to buy, but isn’t that just part of the fun? I do need to think about a better packaging solution, 20L of bottles take up a lot of space, even if some are used for Home Brew Club tasting and Christmas presents. Kegging next…expect a review of a kegging system soon.