Home brew in a bag: all-grain brewing the easy way
So you've made home brew beer from a kit or extract a couple of times, and now it's time to move up the brewing ladder to all-grain brewing.
Brewing from an extract is a great way to get started, but once you expand your skills you'll be wanting more control over your final product. And the thing with homebrew is that, once you have the basics down, you can actually get a better drop using simpler methods. One of those methods is the brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) method, and once you've tried it you'll never look back.
Is brew-in-a-bag really that easy?
Normally when you start getting better at something you're learning, there's extra equipment (aka 'toys') to buy. And if you want, you can do that with homebrew. You can buy things like lauter tuns, multiple brew pots, and refractometers, and spend very happy weekends experimenting.
But if you want a simple, flexible method to move up to all-grain brewing, one that takes less time and uses minimal equipment and space, brew-in-a-bag is for you. It costs less, there's almost no cleaning up, and the brew you get at the end is just as good as if you went for the complicated method.
How it's done
Your vessel – or brew pot – does triple duty as a hot liquor tank, a mash tun, and a kettle. But how big should it be? You'll need one that's big enough to hold all your water and all your grain at once - the bigger the pot, the better.
- Bring your water to mash temperature in the pot. Depending on the beer, that will be between 62-70 degrees.
- You'll now line the pot with a fine mesh bag, which you can get here. (If you have access to a sewing machine and think you could sew a more-or-less straight seam, you can also make one out of Swiss voile, a very fine netting that you should find in the curtain section of a fabric shop.)
- Pour your grain into the bag and give it a stir so it doesn't form clumps, the same as when you cook rice on the stove.
- Keep that mashing temperature constant for 60 minutes. You'll then carefully lift out the bag and let it drain, and bring the water – now sweet liquor – to the boil for another 60 minutes. While it's boiling, you'll add your hops at various intervals depending on your recipe.
Once the boil's done, you have wort. And now you can carry on brewing your beer in the same way you would for any method – cool and oxygenate your wort, pitch your yeast, and let the fermentation begin.