Stepping up from kit brewing

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by kkourmousis, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. kkourmousis

    kkourmousis Member

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    Hello everyone. While I am waiting to enjoy my first (kit) batch, I am searching and planning for my next step -it felt a bit too easy, just mixing cans and liquids.

    I searched around and I now have a solid understanding of what are the following methods:
    • extract
    • partial mash
    • BIAB
    • all grain
    From the list above, as I understood it, ΒΙΑΒ is more of a technique, that can actually be used for both partial mash and all grain. I am not interested in extract, neither in all grain brewing. I am trying to explore the possibilities that my equipment allows to step into partial mash or BIAB.

    As for my equipment, I have a 30L (8gal) fermenter, plus a secondary of 10L (2.6gal) that I use to drain the beer and add sugar, before bottling it. I have a digital thermometer (the needle style) and I have a kitchen scale with good precision. I have an 8L (2.1 gal) pot and a secondary 5L (1.3gal). I would be willing to buy an additional pot, for exaple a 17L (4.5gal) one which I can buy for 30€ (36$), but I do not want to spend much more than this. I have an electrical kitchen stove and that is what I am going to use for the boil. I have found some very interesting posts about insulating the pot to keep the mash temperature stable inside the oven, I think I would probably go that way.

    I have some questions, such as:

    1. Which way should I go? Try partial mash with what I have? Buy something that will allow me a full boil (not so keen on that)?
    2. What stops me from doing an BIAB in not much water? Is it because the water would be so little that it will not be able to absorb all the sugars from the grains?
    3. What stops me from sparging with a small amount of water? I ask this because I read here and there that I should sparge with the same quantity I used to mash
    4. Can any recipe be downsized to my needs, keeping the analogies?
    I am pretty sure I will come up with some more soon :p
     
  2. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    There are a few small batch BIAB brewers here that will be very helpful for you. BIAB is in fact all grain brewing. For this method you need a kettle that is twice your batch size. It needs to accommodate the volume of water plus the volume of the grain. I personally did one extract batch, then moved straight to BIAB. This is not to say that this is the best route to go. You can brew some great beer with extract, and some steeping grains. If you were to go this route, you could work on learning about brewing and gain experience and knowledge as you go. This way you are not overwhelming yourself with the steep learning curve that your about to enter into.
     
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  3. Zambezi Special

    Zambezi Special Well-Known Member

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    There are many options ;)
    I've never done extract, went straight for all grain biab kit. More to do with availability than anything against extract.
    You can do the mash in a lower volume and spatge, even with biab.
    The more experienced member will chime in.
    As for mash temperature: you can wrap your mash tun/pot/vessel in blankets/duvets or anything to try maintain temperature. Or, in case of smallish batch, put the pot in an insulated cooler/cool box/iglo
     
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  4. kkourmousis

    kkourmousis Member

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    #4 kkourmousis, Feb 26, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
    Thank you for your answers. Full boil BIAB will bring more than one problems to me. First of all my wife will probably divorce me :p
    Secondly the kettle I will need will be very big. Thirdly, My kitchen stove will probably not make the boil

    So I am looking at low volume mash and sparge. Whether I will be able to go all grain (and with what minimum size pot) or partial mash with my current pot (or again with what minimum size pot) is my main question

    Edit: doing a small biab batch limits me from topping up with water to a full batch later in the fermenter? This is aqtually my 2nd questipn from my post #1
     
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  5. Zambezi Special

    Zambezi Special Well-Known Member

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    You can go biab all grain, if you want !
    It's not tjat difficult. Your batches may be a bit small, so you gotta brew more often ;)
    What type of beer would you like to make??
     
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  6. kkourmousis

    kkourmousis Member

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    My first kit is a NZ Pale Ale. We have a baby at home and the temps in house are kind of high, so IPAs is the safest way i think

    I edited my previous reply
     
  7. BrainYYC

    BrainYYC Active Member

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    Im also a newby small batch (I typical bottle 7-10 liters when finished up) BIAB all grain brewer. Small batches aren't all bad, you get to brew more frequently / experiment more!
     
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  8. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

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    * Partial mash is basically extract brewing with some 'soaking' of grain to bring out the sugars.
    * Less water inhibits the sugars from leaving the grain, exactly as you wrote. 50% less water loses a little efficiency but can be made to work.
    * I brew all-grain (20 liters) and sparge with only 6 liters. You can too.
    * Any recipe can be re-sized to fit your size requirements, just reduce (or increase) quantities linearly. The recipe calculator here on Brewer's Friend will greatly simplify this task.

    There is a method called partial boil. Start with about half the water for your batch size, mash and boil as usual. Also add about the same volume of clean water to your clean & sanitized fermenter. The boiled wort gets poured into the fermenter, allowed to cool to pitching temperature, and the yeast is pitched. This method is often used with extract, but can be used for all grain too.

    My suggestion: Use a combination of BIAB and some extract. Mash your grain as usual (in half the water), at the end of the boil add some extract (get the OG up to maybe 1.080-1.120), cool it a bit and then add it to the water already in the fermenter.
     
  9. kkourmousis

    kkourmousis Member

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    Thank you! This actually sounds very good. I feel like my 8L pot will not suffice... You suggest going for that 17L?

    You mentioned 20L brew and 6l sparge. Are 6L included in the 20L brew or is it a total of 26ishL?

    Also, since I can resize my recipes, can I go upways to take advantage of the 30L fermenter?
     
  10. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    What size batch do you want to brew?
     
  11. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, asked the question, didn't specify why.
    The batch size that you want to brew would be the starting point.
    This will help us guide you through what equipment you will need.
    Let's start there.
     
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  12. kkourmousis

    kkourmousis Member

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    #12 kkourmousis, Feb 26, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
    I feel like less than 20L (5.3gal) would be too much effort for too little result. So I guess anything between 20-28 (5.3-7.4gal).

    Thanks to your detailed responses I am now confident I will go towards partial mash./partial boil

    I have found a very interesting post from another site, but I cannot post it because I am new member. I am pasting the most interesting parts:

    The Partial Mash Process
    After nearly two decades of homebrewing, I’ve tried many partial mashing methods with varying levels of complexity.

    It turns out the easiest way also gives the best results. A review of the process follows.

    Converting
    Firstly you must mash the grains so starches convert to sugar:

    • Remove all racks from your oven. Set it to around 158°F (70°C).

    • Heat a gallon (4 liters) of water to 162°F (72°C) in a large pot.

    • Sit a large grain bag in the hot water. It should be larger than the pot. Secure this around the rim with string or a large rubber band.

    • Slowly stir in 4.5 pounds (2 kilograms) of crushed malt, making sure it is fully wet and stirred in.

    • Check your mash temperature. If 153°F (67°C) or a few points off, put the lid on and move to the oven. Otherwise, add cold water or heat as need be.

    • Move to oven for 60-90 minutes. Your oven is the easiest way to maintain mash temperature.
    Mash Out, Grain Out
    Next, you need to perform a mash out and remove the grain bag:

    • Move pot back to oven top and stir in any specialty grains.

    • Slowly heat to 171°F (77°C) and let rest for 10 minutes at this temperature.

    • Slowly lift the grain bag, letting the liquid drain into the pot.

    • You can sit the grain bag sit in a large colander placed in the pot to make the job easier.
    Boil, Mix, Cool
    You then boil and cool the malty liquid:

    • Bring to the boil (have a spray bottle filled with cold clean water for boilovers).

    • Boil for 30 minutes. Add any flavoring hops with 10 minutes before flameout. Add aroma hops with one minute to go.

    • Switch heat off and mix in your tin of homebrew concentrate.

    • Sit in an ice bath to cool.

    Interesting as it is, it does not mention any sparging. Could I follow that process with my 8L pot (2.1gal), using 4L (1gal) strike and after the mash I could add the extra step of mashing out on my second pot of 4L (1gal)? I would end up with about 8L(2.1gal) -nearly all of my big pot-, boil it there for 30 minutes and dry hoping 10 minutes before flameout?
     
  13. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely sparge. You'll get more sugars out of the grain which will mean you will have to add less extract to get to your intended gravity. If you want to have more beer in the end (and since you have a 30L fermenter) you could brew a higher gravity wort and then add water to the fermenter to dilute it down to your target gravity. So, for example, if you wanted a beer with an OG of 1.055. You could brew 8L of 1.075 wort, then mix in about 3 L of water in the fermenter. You would then end up with almost 11 Liters of 1.055 wort.
    Below is from the Dilution/Boil-off calculator under the Tools drop down.
    upload_2021-2-26_17-41-50.png
     
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  14. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    One word of advice is that following someone else's directions is a good start, but again you will learn as you go. To me 158 seems high for mash temperature, but that may be for a Porter that needs some residual sweetness to it. These are the things will be learning as you go. I would use the above directions, but adjust the temperatures to the recipe recommendations that you are brewing.

    I highly recommend that you refer to John Palmers "How to brew" there is a version available on line for free. The current book version has a lot of updates, but the online version is very, very good.

    Next step will be to select a recipe, you can likely get something from a local home brew shop, and they will likely be very helpful with directions and tips!
     
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  15. kkourmousis

    kkourmousis Member

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    I will definitely check it out! Thanks for all the tips.


    Many thanks for that tool. I checked out the calculators but I didnt realize this one was that useful. By the looks of it I am going to need that 17L pot if I am aiming for
    a 23L +/- batch
     
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  16. Herm_brews

    Herm_brews Well-Known Member

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    Small batch BIAB brewer here. My first brew was a kit, all since have been all-grain BIAB. Until this past December, I made 1.5 gallon batches using a 3 gallon kettle, on my gas stove top. That kettle fits in my oven, so I could hold mash temperature without any extraneous tools, wrappings, etc. With a tri-clad bottom, that pot is good to go with gas, electric coil and induction cooktops. Now I make 2.5 gallon BIAB brews in my new 5.5-gallon brew kettle, which unfortunately does not fit in my oven, so I have to figure coverings to maintain mash temps. The beauty of it all is, with whichever rig I use, I can work with almost any recipe available, though I choose to create most of my own recipes. With smaller batches, there is opportunity to do more brewing.
     
  17. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

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    26 liters is what I start the boil with, losing 4 liters to steam, so about 21 liters into the fermenter. (I lose about a liter in the Brewzilla)

    Your equipment should be about 1.6 to 1.8 times the size of the batch. I brew 19 liter batches in a 35 liter Brewzilla, and use a 26 liter fermenter.

    A bigger pot cant hurt, but starting with small batches is not a bad thing.
     
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  18. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Starting off with small batches,and brewing more often will speed up your learning process. After 50+ 19L batches I am still learning! Brew, learn, repeat!
     
  19. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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  20. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'd start with one gallon (about 4 liter) extract batches, knowing what I know today. That gets you to know the "back end" of the process without having to deal with the complexities of making wort. Your 7-liter pot should work for that size, you get 8 500ml bottles out of it. Using extract (and maybe steeping grain) you get to know the boil, hopping, fermentation and packaging. I've won awards for extract beer, the only thing you're losing by using extract is some control over fermentability of the wort and, perhaps, the final sweetness of the beer. Smaller batches allow you to brew more often and get used to sanitary handling of wort, cleaning and sanitizing your equipment (your number one priority, actually) and fermentation control.

    Once you're comfortable with that, move up to mini-mashing using a Mash in a Bag concept, again sticking with smaller batches to become more used to what mashing grains is and what it does to your beer. At this point you're still working with extract as your base, you can do your mini-mash in wort (at a small price of efficiency). Mashing opens up adjuncts like unmalted grains and other starchy adjuncts.

    Once you're comfortable with mini-mashing, Brew in a Bag setups allow an easy transition to all-grain brewing.

    There, Nosy's Brew School, in three paragraphs. Whatever method you choose, good luck with it!
     

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