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November 1, 2019
Last updated

Brew in a Bag (BIAB) All Grain Beer Method

Kyle Brown
Owner of Clawhammer Supply

BIAB stand for brew in a bag. Brew in a bag (BIAB) brewing is the process of brewing an entire batch of "all-grain" beer in a single kettle. The BIAB brewing process is way less complicated than “normal” all-grain brewing.

Benefits of BIAB Brewing

One of the many benefits of BIAB brewing is the much smaller footprint needed which enables brewing in smaller spaces. BIAB brewing requires less equipment and a smaller startup cost vs a traditional 3 tier brewing system. Simply put, BIAB is a fun and easy way to brew great all grain beer.

You may have also seen the term E-BIAB thrown around when referring to BIAB brewing. E-BIAB stands for Electric Brew in a bag. These systems incorporate digital control, a heating element, and a pump to recirculate the mash. The main benefit of going with an electric BIAB brew system is the ability to easily and constantly maintain a set mash temperature. There are many benefits of brewing in a single vessel system, but the main advantages of EBIAB are simplicity and consistency.

A Simple Overview of an E-BIAB Brew Day

Here is a quick overview video of an E-BIAB brew day. For a more detailed explanation, keep reading.

Water is added to the kettle. The digital brewing controller is set to the desired mash temperature. Once the water is heated up to the desired mash temperature the stainless-steel mesh basket is placed into the brewing kettle, the grains are then added to the basket.

The pump is turned on which recirculates the wort though the grain bed for the entire 60-minute mash. The continuous re-circulation of the wort though the grain bed helps with efficiency but also keeps the temperature of the mash consistent throughout the 60-minute mash. When the mash is complete, the grain basket is simply lifted out of the kettle and set on hooks to drain the excess wort back into the kettle. 

Once the basket is done draining, the basket is removed, and the spent grain can be thrown out or composted. The controller is then set to 100% of power to heat the kettle up to a boil. Once the kettle is at a boil follow the recipe for the hop additions. The hop additions will vary depending on the recipe.

Once the 60 minutes boil is finished the wort is chilled down with a flat plate chiller. The wort needs to be chilled down to yeast pitching temperature and the temperature will vary depending on the strain of the yeast being used for the brew day.  The yeast packet will have the ideal temperature for fermentation; typically, ale yeast like to ferment in the mid to high 60’s. Once the wort is chilled down to yeast pitching temp, the wort is transferred to a fermenter and the yeast is added.

Clawhammer Supply Brew in a Bag Step-By-Step

Step 1: Add Water to Kettle– Add the full amount of water needed for the brew day. Turn on the controller and set the mash temperature. The controller will heat the water to the set mash temperature and will maintain that temperature once it is reached. BIAB_adding_water_to_kettleBIAB_brewing_adding_water_to_kettle


















Step 2: Mash –Once the water is up to temperature insert the grain basket into the kettle and add the milled grains. After adding the grains make sure they are fully submerged and there are no dough balls in the mash. If there are any dough balls simple smash them with the spoon until they are broken down. Once the grains are added, and the dough balls removed put the lid on your brew kettle, attach the pump, and recirculate for the mash duration which is typically 60 minutes.



Step 3: Collect Wort – One the mash is complete simply pull the basket out of the brew kettle and rest the grain basket on the hooks. Be careful, the grains and basket will be very hot- we highly recommend using insulated brewing gloves and a pulley to remove the basket. Let the grain basket drain for 5-10 minutes and then remove then remove the basket and hooks from the kettle.



Step 4: Bring Wort To A Boil – Once the grain basket is removed set the controller to 100% of power to bring the wort up to a boil. Depending on the size of element (either 120v or 240v) will determine how long it will take to come up to a boil. If brewing on a 120v system insert the hop basket into the kettle then place the lid on the kettle. The hop filter creates a perfect gap for the steam to escape while bringing the wort up to a boil. If brewing on 240v system, the lid is not needed as there is plenty of power in the 5500 watt element to quickly bring the wort up to a boil without the lid.


Step 5: Add Hops: Add hops to the beer according to the recipe.


Step 6: Chill Wort – One the boil is finished, (typically 60 minutes) turn off the heat to the kettle, hook up the plate chiller, turn on the cooling water, and chill the wort to yeast pitching temperature.  The variety of yeast selected will determine the pitching temp, but most ale yeast ferment best between 60-70°F (15-20°C).



Step 7: Transfer Wort – One the wort is chilled to the temperature the yeast manufacturer recommends transfer the wort from the kettle to the fermenter.


Step 8: Ferment Wort – One the chilled wort has been transferred into the sanitized fermenter add the yeast to the fermenter and make sure the airlock is good and tight.



Step 9: Keg / Bottle –  When fermentation is finished transfer the beer to either bottles or kegs.


Step 10: Drink & Enjoy – Invite over some friends and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a delicious homebrew.


Kyle Brown
Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.
  • Love your system!
    I’ve got the starter set right now with intention to upgrade down the road.
    I do have a question though, what is the grain size that the basket will retain?
    How does that compare with a standard brew bag? (I’m about to make a gluten free beer and trying to find a grain mill that will handle millet)
    Speaking of which, what grain mill do you use?

    Posted by Ryan on November 25, 2020

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