BIAB Small Batches

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by TheZel66, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    I'm contemplating going small batch (1-2 gallon) BIAB brewing to simplify things, as well as make more different kinds of beers. Any tips from small batch brewers or BIAB brewers?
     
  2. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    Use less grains, hops, and water!:p
     
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  3. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    Thanks Captain Obvious!
     
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  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Your process will change (again, advice from the Department of the Painfully Obvious). There will be more variability - measurement error, particularly in those things you use small amounts of, like hops, will rear its head. It does not take less time to make small batches. Okay, you'll have fewer backaches. Most importantly, the things you take for granted like efficiency, boil rates, dead spaces and other losses will change. On the plus side, you can have a greater number of beers on hand and less will go bad. Pluses and minuses, just like every other process change....
     
  5. Gledison

    Gledison Active Member

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    Hey, a noobie here but maybe i can share the Troubles im having.
    Im BIAB too and i had quite a lot of trub loss (2L on a 5L planned Batch). It was my first time, so i didnt know would be that much.
    my other mistake was to Ferment it on a 30L bucket, which gave a large area where it was difficult to get a clear beer without bringing the precipitates together. It seems that small Batches have higher loss, which is somehow obvious :confused:
    I believe that if you are racking to a secondary you wont have this Problem....or using a Siphon..
    Keep posted how is it going.
    Cheers
     
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  6. chub1

    chub1 Active Member

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    I do a goodly amount of small 5 litre to 10 litre biab's,extract and partial mashes.I like to have a variety of beers rather than 40 pints of something i may not like.If i make something really good i can always re brew it.
    I use brewers friend to either concoct my own recipies or tinkle with known recipies and must say so far have produced some nice beers along with one or two mundane ones.I find making bitter harder than pale's,stouts,iPA's etc.
     
  7. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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    I have been doing BIAB small batches for about a year now. Started out with 1 gallon. Then moved up to 2 gallon. Now planning on moving up to 3 gallons.

    1 gallon just wasn't enough to make it worth my time. 2 gallons is better but goes fast if your beer turns out really well. I think 3 gallons will be the sweet spot for me. I don't want to go much bigger because I the main reason I BIAB is to get to brew often and experiment.

    Just something to think about if you are buying a new kettle.
     
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  8. KC

    KC Active Member

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    Oversize the recipe because smaller batches do have lower efficiency and significant transfer loss. I was finding that 1 lb of malt would give me enough clear beer for one 32oz bottle. Half of the batch was lost when pulling it off trub and yeast.

    Smaller recipes also need you to be extremely accurate with ingredient measurements. I bought a pocket scale with .01g accuracy for hops, spices, and water additions. My larger scale had 1g resolution which was useless for hitting a water profile.

    Hydrometers waste too much in a small recipe. Use a refractometer and the brewersfriend calculator to convert gravity.

    Yeast can be expensive; keep in mind that a smack pack is too much for under 3 gallons. Dry yeast gives you the option of using only 1/4 packet and saving the rest for later.

    However, small batches do give you great flexibility. You can freely experiment without having to dump a full batch it if doesn't go well. You can mash, boil, and ferment several batches in parallel with smaller kitchen equipment and make very efficient use of one brew day.
    You can experiment with base malts by using 3 or 4 half gallon mason jars inside a larger mash kettle. Experiment with specialty grains by adding after the first running and do a quick steep before pulling 2nd and 3rd runnings. Experiment with hops by splitting up wort to be boiled in 3-4 separate pots on the stove at the same time. Experiment with yeasts and primary/secondary additions by splitting a batch into several smaller fermenters.

    Gallon water jugs make great disposable fermenters, all you need is an airlock and size 6.5 bung.
     
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  9. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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    Good tips. I started harvesting my yeast and it has saved me a lot of money. Yeast is a large portion of the cost for small batches.
     
  10. KC

    KC Active Member

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    Harvesting helps a lot, and with small batches you don't need to make a starter. You can wash all the sediment from a previous batch into one small jar and that's plenty to pitch with again later.
     
  11. chub1

    chub1 Active Member

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    I generally use half a pack of dried yeast in batches up to 10 litres.Over here the dried yeasts are reasonably priced,more so a newish one here called 'Crossmyloof' which is very very reasonable and are decent yeast's
     
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  12. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Yeast is still a major % of the price for our triple batch brewdays

    buying 4 fresh smackpacks of my preferred 1272 costs $54 at local prices so after a few batches my stir plate has paid for itself .
    I'll still do my single 6 gal batches to try new recipes and hop combos out but since I don't do much experimental brewing like adding unusual ingredients I can safely brew that volume and be 90%+ certain it'll be happily consumed
     
  13. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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    Yep. I never make a starter and haven't had issues. Just set the yeast out, let it warm, and pitch. Currently I have US05, Vermont, and Kolsch yeast banked. Pretty much meets 99% of my needs.
     
  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Ouch! I've never used four packs for anything. I either use rehydrated dry yeast (about 200 billion cells rehydrated, about 100 billion cells when sprinkled on top of wort), Inland Island's yeast (about 200 billion cells) or make a starter (about the same when made on a stir plate). Old school pitch rates were for repitched yeast. From what I can gather, you can half that rate for fresh yeast so, even for a lager, a 1.5l starter is adequate for just about any style, including lagers.
     
  15. Arbe0

    Arbe0 Member

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    Ya 1 gallon takes as much effort as 2.5 so I do 2.5 gallon and have a case.
     
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  16. The Green Man

    The Green Man Active Member

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    I have been brewing small batches of 5 litres, which I think is 1 gallon plus something. It is a kind of a pain, but I really enjoy brew days, so it doesn't bother me. Plus, if it goes wrong I haven't 40 pints of naff beer to get through. When I'm more confident and competent I can scale up.
    Trub does take up about 1litre of beer, so reckon on putting about 6 litres into the fermentor to get a full 5 litres bottled. That will also compensate for a couple of gravity readings (100ml a pop). I drink these as they are useful for monitoring taste changes, so I will keep using my hydrometer. I use about 5 grams of dried yeast which I rehydrate. Seems to work well. Not encountered issues with measuring and efficiency. Obviously, all 20 litre batch recipes have to be adjusted. I'm generally generous with the measurements though, especially with the hops. Because I use a fairly small boil kettle (aka pasta pot), I'm mid-experiment of boiling up a strong wort and adding chilled spring water to bring down temps and increase wort size in the fermentor. I think this is called 'liquoring back', as the OG gets weaker/goes backwards. I dry hop in the primary which worked great, but have had issues bottling from primary, so am about to use a bottling bucket. Good luck.
     
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  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Your "liquoring back" process is widespread among commercial brewers. Lets them keep the tax man happy by keeping the ABV in line. Five liters is about one and a half gallons (a gallon is about 3.8 liters) and as mentioned, it's as much work as a full batch or even the 4.5 barrels (more of those confusing conventional units) I helped with a few days ago. There are a couple of things that happen when using concentrated boils: First your hop utilization goes down, you'll need a bit more but I think from your post you have this covered and second, your beer will be darker. By concentrating the wort, you're concentrating the sugars and amino acids that create melanoidins. But otherwise, I used that kind of procedure for quite some time (using three gallons of wort to produce five gallons of beer).

    I'm doing 2.5 gallon batches for my Helles Projekt and, sometimes, to try out a new concept before having two cases of questionable beer to drink.
     
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  18. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    From what I understand, Budweiser is brewed similar to this with the exception that they ferment a big beer (1.075 or so) first and add water back in at bottling/kegging. They do this not for tax purposes, but for efficiency. You can reduce the fermenter size, the amount of wort that needs to be chilled, glycol requirements are reduced due to smaller fermenters, etc. I'm thinking they have to compensate somewhere in the process to give the effect of lower starting gravity. I would think just adding water to a big beer wouldn't taste the same as a beer fermented at a lower gravity.
     
  19. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    Ive done it many times, it tastes cleaner
     
  20. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I've never found any qualitative difference between a concentrated boil and a full-size one other than color. You can adapt the hops but not the color. And HighVoltageMan is right concerning the equipment requirements for brewing - same as us: It's easier to boil a smaller amount of concentrated wort and to cool and then dilute it but I don't know of any homebrewers who adjust gravity after fermentation. For tax purposes, the ABV in your beer has to match the ABV on the packaging and it's easier to hit that number through dilution rather than trying to brew "to the numbers" with variable ingredients. Bottom line for the question asked, yes, it's an established practice and yes, it works well.
     

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