How to brew all grain beer with the BREWHA BIAC — 10 gallons of Saison in under 5 hours
Transcript of video:
Hi and welcome to another BREWHA video. In this video we are going to be brewing a Belgium Saison while using the BREWHA BIAC method of brewing. The BIAC stands for ‘Brew in a Conical’ and it is a method that we have developed here that brings several improvements to home brewing and trial-size brewing.
Some of those improvements include a reduced space footprint. This is important for brewing in a smaller space and for reduced storage after you are done brewing—everything fits into a very small space. It can be put into a closet or put out of the way until you are ready to brew the next time. The reduced equipment requirements also come with a reduced expense. This whole setup gives you the full control and reliable results of a complete four vessel brewing system for about half the price. The reduced equipment also means that the cleanup and setup time is greatly reduced; it shaves about 20-30% off of the overall brew day.
So here we have…looking at the vessel…we have the BREWHA 3-in-1, an ETC, which is going to control the temperature during mashing and then we will be using it later for fermentation as well; w have the temperature probe [from the ETC] plugged into the the thermowell here on the cone and we have the aluminum cord grip holding the temperature probe right to the end of the thermowell. You don’t want any empty space in the thermowell or the reading won’t be as fast or as accurate for the temperature inside the vessel [heat transfer compound can be inserted in the thermowell to fill the space]. We have a Chugger Pump that will be circulating wort for vorlauf, it brings wort outside the bottom of the 3-in-1 and puts it back inside the Mash Colander here at the top. We have the Power Box plugged into 240V power behind the kitchen stove and it is the same outlet that is found in most electric stoves through North America [note: the Power Boxes now come with a clothes dryer type plug; NEMA 14-30]. We are using the Beersmith program to get the water profile [and ingredients] arranged for us and we are taking this Saison recipe from Growler magazine. We have made a few substitutions, for example we are using 3724 yeast instead of 3711 and a few other minor changes but we are basically using their recipe.
So first thing we are doing is filling the 3-in-1 up with municipal cold water. Here in Vancouver the water is coming out of the mountains right here; it is great water with very low mineral content and has very low chlorine content. It is easy to work with. We are going to be supplementing it with a little mineral. Some brewers want to heat their water up and let it sit overnight or use Campden tablets but we don’t need to use that.
Let’s fill it up—we are going to fill it with 56 quarts of cold water. The reason we use cold water is because hot water tanks can sometimes, over a period of time, accumulate minerals and other things that contribute off-flavor to the beer so we are going to use cold water as it will be the freshest. 56 quarts of water is approximately 53L.
We have added all the water. In there we have a 5500W heating element at the bottom [of the 3-in-1] which we will turn on and bring the water to strike temperature.
We have added our strike volume into the BREWHA 3-in-1. With the BIAC method of brewing, you have two options for the amount of water you will put in for mashing. Similar to the brew in a bag system, you can put your entire pre-boil volume, plus grain absorption volume into the vessel that you are going to mash in. But in the BIAC method, with the Mash Colander having solid walls, it functions identical to a standard mash tun. So if you want, you can reduce your mash volume slightly to accommodate some rinsing/sparge water at the end of your mash period in order to rinse the grain and get more of the sugars out. Today we are going to be using the more traditional [brew in a bag] method where we start with our entire strike volume, comprised of our pre-boil volume, plus the volume of grain absorption.
We have our heating element plugged into the power box, and we are going to use the ETC to control the temperature inside the 3-in-1 to control power to the heating element. We do that with the Power Box by taking this [120V] cord that comes out of the Power Box. It is what activates power to the heating element [by closing a contactor]. If you plug it directly into the Box [or a wall receptacle] it gives full power to the heating element and the only thing that will regulate it is the dial on the Power Box. But because we want to use the ETC [for mashing], we plug the 120V plug from the Power Box into the [heating] socket on the ETC. [When the temperature drops, the ETC will sense that and send power to the contactor in the Power Box, the contactor closes, allowing 240V power through to the heating element.]
So we have that switch on, we look at our ETC…the current temperature of the water is at 53F…which is 12C, and we are going to be heating (you can hear the contactor close and the element start to turn on), and we are going to set our strike temperature to 148F*. [*Generally it is recommended to set the strike temperature 12-15F/5-8C higher than the mash temperature as the grain will cool the water down when it is added. Once the strike temperature is reached, turn the ETC down to your mash temperature and add your grain] Set it to 1F difference so when it cools to 147F, it will turn the heating element back on; as soon as it reaches 148F again, it will shut it off. The heating element is now fired up. Make sure that the dial controller is on full power to reduce heating time…you can hear it starting to heat the water up.
…The strike water is now up to temp and we are ready to begin mashing. We are going to put the Mash Colander down inside the 3-in-1 in preparation of putting the grain in. We are going to connect the Chugger Pump to the Mash Colander. The pump will be used initially for mixing our mineral additions. We are going to add the minerals to the water, prior to putting the grain in. We have our pump set up. We open the bottom valve, open the top valve [on the Mash Colander] and turn the pump on that is plugged into the Power Box. We are going to circulate for a minute or so to make sure all the minerals are dissolved. Water is being drawn out from the Mash Colander through the porous bottom, into the cone of the 3-in-1, to the pump, back through the hose and back into the top of the Mash Colander so we are doing a complete cycle.
When running the pump, one of the things that you want to do is have a valve on the downstream or output side of the pump that you can throttle the flow back. If ever the pump is pushing liquid out, faster than it is taking it in, then it will lead to cavitation in the pump and you will hear a sound where the pump is spinning inside and not pushing anything through. If you throttle it, you slow the exit down and it allows the makeup water to come in fast enough.
We have just heard the heating element shut off as the water has come up to temperature so we will turn the pump off and add our grain. Stir up the grain to ensure there are no dough balls/clumps of grain that have air pockets and bound together. It’s best to make sure that the water can get at all the grain. I’m going to let it sit for a few minutes then we are going to come back and stir it again. As the grain starts to absorb the water, it will start expanding and it can start to bind up and we want to make sure that the grain bed, the grain in the Mash Colander is fluid so the wort will readily pass through it when it comes time to vorlauf. The recipe is calling for a 90 minute single-step mash period at 148F so we have a fairly dry, well-fermented Saison.
One of the benefits of running the pump during the mash period is that it ensures the temperature throughout the grain bed, throughout the entire Mash Colander is even and consistent and you don’t get more chilling near the top of the vessel if the fluid is constantly cycling through, it is constantly going past the thermowell where it is being measure and the ETC is turning the element off an on to precisely regulate the temperature of the mash. This is critical for getting the desired style of beer because the temperature inside the mash affects which kinds of enzymes are working on the carbohyrates, cutting them up to make sugars for the yeast. One class of enzymes works better at the higher temperature inside the mash producing larger structure sugars which the yeast aren’t able to digest as well during fermentation but it leaves a more residual sweetness to the beer, whereas a lower temperature mash will result in another class of enzymes having preference and they will attack the sugars or carbohydrates more systematically producing sugars that the yeast are able to digest. So that is one way of regulating it, is by running the wort constantly through the pump, circulating it through the Mash Colander for the entire mash period. We are not going to do it on this batch.
One of the really nice things about the BREWHA system is that you have an insulated Mash Tun. The Mash Colander is sitting in a water batch, which is having the temperature regulated by the ETC so the entire wall of the Mash Colander, the wall and bottom is entirely surrounded by water at the target temperature and this does a really good job to regulate the temperature inside the Mash Colander, inside where the grain is, so that it is not as necessary to constantly circulate the water to maintain the temperature.
So, we will give it another stir and then we will put the lid on and leave it for a little bit.
The mash period is just about completed, it has been about 80 minutes into the mash and we are going fire up the pump and create a proper filter bed so that as we raise the Mash Colander out and drain the wort into the 3-in-1, in order to boil it, the filter bed is properly formed. I’m just going to turn the pump on and throttle the pump back; I don’t want to open it all the way up or it will cause the pump to cavitate and possibly cause the grain bed to compact and get stuck; fast pumping could also cause a stuck sparge as we pull it out because the grain will be compacted too tight. So I will stir it up one last time…and then I will slowly open the return valve. Right now it is looking pretty cloudy but it will gradually clear up as the grain bed begins to form.
I don’t want to cycle the wort too fast, another reason being that the water level inside, if the Mash Colander isn’t feeding the water out of the bottom into the 3-in-1 quick enough, the pump could theoretically draw water out of here so fast that it exposes the heating element [to air] down below [dry-firing and damaging the element]. We would notice this start to happen if the water level inside the Mash Colander rises a lot [this shows that wort is moving out of the cone of the 3-in-1, faster than it is being replenished, leading to lowered levels of wort in the cone].
So the pump is drawing the wort out of the bottom of the 3-in-1 and cycling it back and the hose is returning it into the top of the Mash Colander. As the wort flows through the Mash Colander, down through it, out the bottom into the 3-in-1, out of the 3-in-1 and into the pump then back into the top, a grain filter bed is forming that is going to start clarifying the wort.
With the circulation completed (we will do it a little bit more when we raise the Mash Colander) we are going to raise the Colander out of the 3-in-1 and rest it so that the wort can drain back into the 3-in-1.
We are going to let this drain into the 3-in-1. We will then run the pump a little more so if any grain settles out while lifting, it will settle to the bottom of the 3-in-1 and we will put it back into the grain bed so we don’t have any grain that will end up in the boil. Once the wort has drained into the 3-in-1, and it is out of the grain, we will start the boil.
For the boil, we will unplug the 120V Power Box cord from the ETC and plug it directly into the Power Box [or a wall receptacle] and it will make full power available to the heating element. We will regulate the amount of power getting to the heating element manually by turning the control dial. I am going to turn it on… turn it to low… turn it on and we will start to heat up the wort.
The Mash Colander is sitting on top, draining into the 3-in-1. The last little bit of wort is draining off the grain and into the 3-in-1. We have about 46L/50 quarts of wort [pre-boil would normally be higher than this] that we will boil down to a target of 44L. We are about ready to remove the Mash Colander now. The wort is at 190F so it will start to boil soon. I have put a plastic bag inside the sink and I will drop the Colander inside the bag and take it to the compost out back that I will put it in. I put it inside the bag so it doesn’t drip wort everywhere.
With a 5500W element we get from mash temp to boil temp…really in just a few minutes. We are going to regulate the boil, especially with the proteins starting to denature, coming out in the hot break [and foaming up], we will control it by turning the manual power dial on the Power Box down. We will turn it down as soon as the boil gets vigorous. If I turn it down, you can see it [the protein foam] immediately starts to give away. If I turn it back up…there is the full 5500 watts. It is a very rapid boil. If it is too rapid, I will boil off too much water, I just turn it down a little bit on the dial and slow the boil down to a good rolling boil without being too vigorous.
The protein has subsided so we are going to add our hops; 2oz of East Kent for the boil. We will be using the stainless steel Hop Baskets. These have a screw on lid so you are able to dry hop with them. With this recipe we will dry recipe as well. You can put your hops in there…sterilize the Hop Basket first by putting in in the oven at high heat for a while then taking it out, let it cool down a little bit, then add your hops and put it into the 3-in-1 for dry hopping during fermentation. So these are great both for wet hopping during the boil, and for dry hopping. They have a little hook on the side, which can fit over the side of the 3-in-1 and add hops for the boil. We are going to add 2oz of East Kent for the full 60 minutes of boil.
Sometimes I’ll just take it and shake it down on the inside, get them down so that they are actually into the wort… The boil has completed. We have boiled down to our target volume for fermentation and we are going to chill it now. We have just turned the Power Box off—the power to heating element is off and we aren’t heating anymore, and we will connect this Temperature Control Valve to the side of the 3-in-1 [the bottom inlet of the jacket]. It has a little solenoid that is triggered by the ETC. We plug it into the ETC and set our target temperature of about 72F—which is where we will pitch the yeast. We plug the TCV into the cooling side of the ETC. It will measure the temperature and right now it is just over 200F and just came off boil, so it will power the solenoid and open it up so cold water can go into the jacket. I will hook it up to the jacket of the 3-in-1 and a second hose from the out port [upper port] of the jacket and into the sink.
The hoses are connected, and the ETC plugged in which will activate the TCV. The cold water is connected by taking the end of the hose off the tap in the sink, screw in a little adapter that can be picked up at any hardware store, and then connect the hose. We use a garden hose fitting as they are very common. On the drain water, once it has picked up heat through the walls of the 3-in-1, it will take the heat away from the wort, cooling it down and draining it down the sink.
Remove the hops with the hop baskets…and set the sanitized 3-in-1 lid on the top [don’t seal the lid or close the top ports or a vacuum could form inside and damage the vessel]. With the ETC set to chill, we want it to cool to 72F. One can program the chill slightly on the high side as the jacket has a little residual chilling with the water left in the jacket so I will program it for 75 so I can walk away from it. It will shut the water off at 75 and the water in the jacket will cool it down to the 72F target. It has powered the solenoid, opening it, so when we turn the tap water on, it will run through the hose and TCV, into the jacket, fill the jacket, exit out the top with warm water into the sink.
This is the most sanitary way of chilling wort because there is no additional hardware that is encountered so there is no concern of any compromising sanitation with bacteria that might be in your chilling hardware.
The water is running into the bottom of the jacket, filling up all around the vessel and exiting out the top. You can see the exit line starting to steam up as the water filling the jacket is pushing it out the top. The best thing to do is to run the chilling media as quickly as possible, if you are using a closed-loop chiller or municipal water, don’t throttle it trying to get the chill water as hot as possible as it will slow the chilling [1-2 gallons/minute is recommended; don’t allow pressure to exceed 5psi in the jacket]. If you have municipal water at 40-50F, you should be able to chill a double batch (10 gallons of wort) within 30-40 minutes, which is just about as effective as a plate heat exchanger, and there is no monitoring of speed necessary. You just get it going, the ETC will stop it when it hits the target temperature, you return and it will be ready to pitch the yeast.
We will let it run for 30-40 minutes and return to pitch the yeast and start fermentation.
Having let it chill, we are down to yeast pitching temperature. Before we add the yeast, we will remove the protein that settled during the chill, out the bottom port. Then we will add the yeast in the top.
We are using 3724 Belgium Saison yeast and we will let it go through primary fermentation at which point we will remove some of the yeast/trub out of the bottom of the conical where it all settles and can be easily removed. We will then let it finish fermenting before transferring to kegs in a couple weeks. [The ETC and TCV can be used to regulate fermentor temperature through the entire fermentation period as necessary.]
Depending on the strain of yeast, you may need to oxygenate the wort. Not all strains of yeast require oxygenation as some of them come pre-fortified and have sufficient reserves and don’t need oxygen. If you need to oxygenate the wort, you can either purchase oxygen tanks from hardware or welding shops and introduce it in the bottom of the fermentor and bubble up through the wort, or you can lock the bottom casters and gently shake the fermentor which will cause splashing inside the 3-in-1 which will oxygenate the wort.
I hope you have enjoyed the video. If you have any questions about the BIAC system, or the Mash Colander or 3-in-1 or anything else discussed in this video, please don’t hesitate in sending them to us using the form on the website.
Thank you for watching!
Hi Rich, thank you for your question. The water ratio affects mash duration as enzyme interaction occurs less quickly in a more dilute mash; but with a thicker mash there can be more risk of it sticking. Since the volume under the Colander (around the heating element) is not utilized for grain fluidity, the ratio for this recipe is below 2 (once the volume in the cone is removed).
Hi Nathan, this might be a dumb question and I am a newbie brewer. I’ve learned that there is a general grist ratio of approx. 1.25 – 1.30 (quarts of water to pounds of grain in mash). Your recipe above uses 20 lbs. of malt and 56 quarts of water for the mash. This ratio is closer to 2.8. You’re the expert, so it’s likely I’ve missed something in my calculations. Maybe this is specific to the Belgian Saison recipe? Thanks, Rich
Hi Michael, the water bath in our Water, Beer and Wort Chillers can get within a degree or two of freezing. This means that in normal situations, they can get beer in the fermenter down to within a few degrees of that.
The system looks very efficient and easy to use. My question is do you have a chiller for lower temp fermentation and to crash the wort. If need be.
The following blog shows a couple scenarios of BIAC breweries with the equipment cost relative to annual production volume. One can achieve 100% return on investment in just a few months. https://brewhaequipment.com/blogs/howtobrewbeer/18189829-one-biac-endless-possibilities