First BIAB issues

Post #1 made 4 years ago
I attempted my first BIAB yesterday, an English Pale Ale (Montheiths Original Ale Clone from AHB). Things were going pretty well until it came time to boil. I couldn't get a rolling boil, more of a simmer, the wort was circulating and I could see the hot break swirling around but the surface was pretty flat. Also, it took about an hour to get up to strike temp and another hour from mash temp to "boil". I think the issue is with my gas burner, I realised now that it is only about 13,000 BTU, whereas I see many are using burners more in the range of 60,000 BTU.

I was aiming for 15L into the fermentor so my total water volume was 25L based on BIABacus. BIABacus also predicted close to 7L of evaporation. However, as I was only simmering, I ended up with only about 3L of evaporation. I'm wondering if this would explain why my OG was lower than expected. I was aiming for 1.044 but only ended up at 1.040. Would the extra 4L that did not evaporate dilute my wort enough to lower my OG by 4 points?

The question now is whether dropping to a smaller batch (say 10L, still requires about 19L start volume) will solve my problems, or whether to invest in something more powerful, like a hurricane burner?

Post #2 made 4 years ago

Smaller batches are good to learn or test a recipe. Usually 19 liter or 5 gallon batches are the norm. Your heating source is obviously not doing the job. It is easy for (me) to say, but go for a bigger burner. Save your little burner for smaller batches or whatever comes your way? Smaller batches may be useful in determining your recipe's viability or lessening your chances of dumping a bad recipe?
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Post #3 made 4 years ago
Welcome to the forum Barbarossa and congratulations on your first BIAB :thumbs:,

That's great that you were ale to set up your BIABacus and fire up your first brew with no help as far as I can see :peace:. Feel free to post your file up here if you want us to have a look at anything however the lower than expected evaporation rate resulting in the higher than expected Volume at Flame-Out will definitely account for the lower gravity. (Hope that is not too confusing :)). In Section P, you'll hopefully see what your actual kettle efficiency were - the top two lines. Hopefully you achieved the estimates or better.

Anyway, as Bob said, that burner is a worry. Is your burner a single ring? Got a model number? Also, what's thh diameter of your pot? Here's a few things...

1. An adjustable regulator allows you to let more gas through.
2. Make sure your pot is a nice height above the kettle. In other words, make sure the flame is not getting squashed.
3. Make sure you have as much blue flame as possible and as little yellow flame.
4. Ring burners are cheap and powerful but sometimes the holes clog up after the first one or two brews. It happened to mine and I cleared them with a small drill bit and never had to do it again. (One problem though is they really need a stand so as the kettle sits higher.)

As a matter of interest, my three-ring (36,000 BTU) will heat 55 litres to mash temp in about 20-25 minutes (depending on tap temp) and from mash to boil, about the same.

If you don't post your file, let us also know the capacity of your pot and how much you would like to get into your fermentor if you could.

Congrats again,
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Post #4 made 4 years ago
Hi PP and Bob, thanks for the feedback. This forum is such a great resource, with just about any question I could think of already being answered at some stage, that I figured I'd just dive in.

The greater volume at flame out decreasing the OG makes sense to me, after all it's just diluting the wort. The efficiencies look OK, so I guess in the end the extra volume might not have made a huge difference. However, the volume into boil and at flame-out are approximate as the measurements in section S were a bit off (not sure why as my kettle appears cylindrical). Something else that is a bit confusing is the difference between the estimated "Gravity of Ambient Wort" in section M, and "Expected Original Gravity" in section O, why do these differ?

My burner is a cheapy low pressure, cast iron job with an output of about ~13,000 BTU. It has two rings but they are supplied by a single inlet. From what I could see the flames weren't getting squashed and there wasn't a lot of yellow flame, but I have a feeling the burner area relative to the pot area is too small. I also forgot to mention that while I brewed in the garage with the door open, it was quite windy, which may have sucked away a lot of the heat. Those hurricane burners look really tempting, but it's a matter of price at the moment after the cost of initial set up.
Thanks again for the feedback, my recipe is attached if it helps identify any other flaws in my system.

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Last edited by Barbarossa on 01 Jul 2014, 08:50, edited 1 time in total.

Post #5 made 4 years ago
Barbarossa wrote:Something else that is a bit confusing is the difference between the estimated "Gravity of Ambient Wort" in section M, and "Expected Original Gravity" in section O, why do these differ?
The OG in section "O" is what you typed in "GAW actual" in "M". You also have a dilution (into fermenter) which is why your "GAW estimated" is higher than the recipe OG.
It can get confusing, but if you remove & put back the 1 litre added to fermenter, you will see what effect this is having.
Similarly you can mess with the actuals and see these effects too. It just may be easier for you to see the effects than read & try and understand an explanation (which I maybe haven't done very well) :whistle:
Last edited by mally on 01 Jul 2014, 15:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #6 made 4 years ago
Recently purchased insulation material from Clark's Rubber for my 30L aluminium pot. Stovetop, gas. "Formshield", 10mm, $28 per square metre. Rated up to 100c. Was enough material to place two layers around my pot as well as bottom and lid. Used it today and am rapt. e.g. much faster heating and good 'rolling boil' now

Insulation material was placed 30mm up from bottom of kettle even though gas flame doesn't reach side side of pot. Velco strapping affixes insulation.

Three and a half hour mash went from initial 68c down to 66c when uncovered. Bugger all... With two sleeping bags wrapped around pot as well.

A recent amazing equipment addition has been a 2400 watt over-the side electrical immersion heating element (Grimwood). Ebay sourced and $102 delivered. Wish I purchased it years ago...

Post #7 made 4 years ago
mally wrote:t just may be easier for you to see the effects than read & try and understand an explanation (which I maybe haven't done very well) :whistle:
Lol mally! I got drunk just reading that :lol:.

mally is just saying that GAW and OG will always be the same except if you do a dilution or add DME between flame-out and pitching.***
thylacine wrote:Recently purchased insulation material from Clark's Rubber for my 30L aluminium pot...
I like this idea as it would be a shame not to be able to utilise your existing burner and stand.

Also, definitely protect from the wind and finally, if you don't have a variable regulator, get one. That burner will handle that and you'll need one if you get a bigger burner anyway as all the burners only have one inlet. so you're good there. (If needed, to get rid of yellow flame, use that adjusting screw with the spring on it).

So try these but you may well need to go a bigger burner especially if you want to get say 19 or 23 L into fermentor.

Just one last thing, I'm not quite sure what you meant by your measurements in Section S being a bit off. These will be right. It is not uncommon though for measuring jugs to be wrong (or stock pot labels)! If you have some scales, check the accuracy of your measuring jugs using the old 1 L = 1 kg rule.

Diving in is the way to go :party:,

*** Your BIABacus file is great but one thing I just noticed was that you have 1 litre in Section W. That shouldn't be there. Everything else - perfect!
Last edited by PistolPatch on 01 Jul 2014, 17:35, edited 1 time in total.
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First BIAB issues

Post #8 made 4 years ago
I would concur that a medium flow adjustable regulator is worth the money. You could probably pick one up for about $30 and it will make a big difference to the output of the burner.

When ramping up to boil you can leave the lid on to speed things up as long as you keep it off during the boil. This can make a scent difference to ramp times.

The over the side element is also useful and although I don't have one I know a few brewers that use them with their gas to speed things up.

Most of all relax and have fun, you just made beer after all!

Post #9 made 4 years ago
Thanks for the replies everyone, everything is a bit clearer now :-)

I will definitely give the insulation and adjustable regulator a go before splashing out on a new burner.

The 1L added to the fermentor in section W is my starter, I held back 1L from the initial volume. Is there a better way to account for this in BIABacus?

Post #10 made 4 years ago
Only time for a quick post Barbarossa* and your question above caught my interest as I nearly always do dried yeasts or yeast slurry so yeast starters are not my level of expertise. For example, one thing I have never been able to find clear info on (though I haven't looked hard) is if you should be adding all the liquid from your yeast starter to a brew or just the yeast layer?

My thinking has always been it should just be the yeast layer but I'm not sure. In this case, then you wouldn't make any adjustment to the BIABacus as the volume really wouldn't make much difference, maybe a few hundred mls, at most on a VIF of around 5 gallons.

If you do add all the liquid of your starter, which I'm sure many people do, then you aren't adding water, you are adding wort. You also may be adding wort that is of a different gravity than the OG of the actual brew.


* I said quick post above but I wrote that because I really want to finish writing the help for the BIAacus to get the first official spreadsheet out the door. This question is another great example though of how current software really lacks.

No software deals with this starter volume issue. For example type in a starter size of 12 litres or a few gallons into a program and you'll see the only thing that changes is the yeast cell count :roll:]. That is pretty gimmicky stuff.

It doesn't address any of the questions we are asking here. I'm going to think out loud here so ignore the following unless you are interested in seeing just how thorough and non-gimmicky we like to be ;).


The first fix I thought of assuming your starter was the same gravity as your OG was to write it in as a negative number in Section N. (Btw, no other program goes anyway near like Section N.) That solution will work but then the next problem we arrive at is the label becomes meaningless. The next idea is to change the label name and re-write the formulas. For example, change the field name to "Wort Lost from/Added to Fermentor". Now we already have a space problem as that term won't fit and is pretty crappy anyway. But then another problem arises. A starter is a pre-planned event whereas Section N is all about adjusting for non-planned events. So the starter really shouldn't go there.

So now I'm looking at Section W. Looked at it for a while actually but once again, that section is not the place for a starter. Intuitively, it should not go there.

Now I'm thinking Section Hand we are getting closer to the goal.
Btw, if we assume the starter is the same gravity as the OG the maths is really simple, it's just subtract starter size from Volume into Fermentor. The maths, formulas, whilst often really hard, are fifty times less time-consuming than the design. This is the perfect example.
This problem is not a maths problem, it is, like so many other things we have solved, a design problem that no one else takes on. And for good reason. It is a lot of thinking and a lot of work.

For example, where can we ask in the BIABacus, "Are you using a starter?" If so, "Are you using just the yeasty bit or will you be tipping all the liquid in?" This will make no difference to your cell count but I need to know if you want me to adjust your desired Volume into Fermentor in Section B. And then, if the user reads all that they might then think, I'll just reduce my desired VIF in Section B by my starter size.

That last paragraph might sound simple and obvious in hindsight but it is not a very good solution and in my opinion, it's a lazy one. If I could code, then I can see an easy solution but I can't do it in spreadsheet form. It would take up too much 'visual' space / real estate and jut make the BIABacus look more bewildering.

For Now...

If you do make a starter and throw all the liquid into your fermentor then just subtract that volume from your desired VIF in section B.

Think I'll start a new thread on this starter business. Now written, here's the link.

Last edited by PistolPatch on 03 Jul 2014, 19:23, edited 1 time in total.
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