10 March 2012

posted by benjy edwards

So I thought I was finished using this yeast culture, but on Thursday it occurred to me that I should have some Simcoe IPA on tap for an upcoming visit by our friends Scott and Jenny next month, and I happen to have enough 2011 Simcoe left for a 5 gallon batch.  I got a large mesh grain bag from the local brew shop and tried my hand at our first brew-in-a-bag batch on Saturday night, after the boys went to bed.

14.5 pounds of Maris Otter, Vienna, carapils and wheat went into the bag in the ten gallon kettle at 153 degrees F.  After an hour rest, I simply lifted the bag up and allowed it to drain for about 15 minutes while the wort heated up to the boil.  The boil was kept to 60 minutes, with Columbus hops for bittering once the wort reached the boil, with additions of Simcoe at 30, 15, 5, and 0 minutes.  As soon as the boil finished, I chilled the wort with an immersion chiller, which worked surprisingly quickly, achieving 75F in about 10 minutes.  I agitated the chiller the entire time and speed up the process and to encourage the late hops to contribute aroma.  So far, the BIAB process had worked great.

The only snag came when trying to separate the wort from the huge hop mass.  Siphoning via gravity with a Surescreen on the racking cane did not work, so the plan B I had as my backup was to pour the wort into the fermenter using a large funnel and screen.  This worked, but the copious hops had to be removed from the funnel constantly, and resulted in the loss of at least half a gallon of wort absorbed by all of the hops.  The original gravity target of 1.068 was reached, but with only 4.5 gallons making it to the primary.  The yeast was repitched from last week’s Boathouse Bitter.

The Bitter was racked into a corny keg and the 5 gallon cask, with 3 ounces of Willamette dry-hopped in the cask, and 3 ounces of Fuggle dry-hop in the corny keg.  The gravity was down to 1.008, which from the OG of 1.030 should make it 3% ABV. Next weekend I will probably tap the pin without the use of the breather, making sure to drink it within 3 or 4 days.

Overall, brew-in-the bag worked pretty well, and saves about an hour and a half from an all-grain brew day.  Using the boil kettle with the ball valve would allow for easier wort runoff, but the problem there is putting the grain in the bag in the kettle on top of the bazooka screen for the hops would deform or destroy the screen.  A better alternative would be to use the mash tun with its false bottom as the hop filter, and the grain could sit right on the false bottom.  This would also enable raising the temperature to mash-out, with no risk of melting the grain bag from the heat of the burner on the bottom of the kettle.

2 Responses to “10 March 2012”

  1. Charter Oak Brewing Company LLC Says:

    We enjoy reading about all the beers and beer stories this blog reports on. We are in the planning stages for a new brewery in Northeastern USA called Charter Oak Brewing Company LLC and our business plan is to grow to over 25,000BBL within 5 years.
    The breweries and stories you report on, allow for much encouragement.

    A True Legend!

  2. Benj Says:

    Thanks for getting in touch, I’m glad you like the brewing reports. Best of luck to your brewery, it’s always good to hear about another craft brewer joining the great beer scene!