How to brew all-grain beer in the BIAC

BREWHA BIAC

The purpose of the BREWHA BIAC system is to provide home brewers with a more enjoyable brewing experience by giving maximum control and superior results while simplifying the brewing process and reducing equipment requirements and expense. All of the brewing (heating, mashing, boiling, chilling, fermenting) occurs in just one vessel, the fermenter (the Mash Colander is inserted inside the fermenter for mashing), and the entire brewing process with full mashing and cleaning can occur in under 5 hours. The following instructions provides a simple overview of the BIAC process and instruct you on how to make your own world-class beer at home. While the images show the Medium BIAC, the instructions apply to all sizes of BIAC.

 

Stainless brewing equipment

 1. Water for mashing the grain (called 'strike water') is added to the fermenter (3-in-1 or 4-in-1) and heated to approximately 7°C/14°F above the mashing temperature. This is called the 'strike temperature' (normally around 72°C/162°F) and is higher than the mash temperature because when grain is added, it will cool the water to a typical mash temperature of around 65°C/150°F ). Water volume is generally measured based on full boil volume (while each recipe will differ, this volume is approximately 1.25-1.75 times the final amount of beer you are making, so for a 10gal/38L batch of beer, the initial volume will be approx 12-17gal/45-64L). An added benefit of the BIAC (compared to BIAB) is that a portion of water can be withheld and added as rinsing or sparge water once the Mash Colander is being lifted out of the fermenter. While this step is not absolutely necessary, it can improve the recovery of sugar from the grain. As a general guideline, the sparge volume is generally about 10-20% of the full boil volume.

Heatup to strike temperature: 30 minutes (can be completed overnight by setting the ETC to the correct temperature; in the morning the water temperature will be ready to go—and if your water is chlorinated it will have time to gas off)

 

Stainless brewing equipment

2. The Mash Colander is inserted in the fermenter and grain is added with the grain being stirred to remove dough balls/air pockets. After letting the grain sit for a few minutes, the Chugger Pump Assembly can circulate wort through the grain bed during the mash period. This gives a higher 'mash efficiency' (recovers more sugar from the grain) and helps regulate the temperature of the wort (sugar water) as it cycles out of the Mash Colander and passes the Heating Element and ETC (temperature controller). If the wort level in the Mash Colander rises the flow of wort from the pump should be slowed (see next step). If the wort level rises but does not drop, there might be a 'stuck mash' (the grain is preventing water from passing through), which might require slowing the flow of wort from the pump (see next step) and stirring to reduce compaction. (Increasing the size of the grain crush is one of the best ways to avoid a stuck mash. A crush size of 0.042-0.045 is recommended. (This blog discusses more tips on preventing a stuck mash.)  

Depending on the power of the pump, wort flow generally needs to be throttled (by partially closing a downstream valve) in order to ensure that the grain bed does not compact and that the element does not become exposed. The flow rate will depend on the 'fluidity' of your grain bed which is primarily a factor of your crush size—a small crush produces more 'fines' that plug up the bed and slow the flow rate. of the total volume every 15 minutes is a good guideline (approx. 0.75 gal/minute for a 10 gallon batch). Water should cover the element at all times. 

Mashing: 60-90 minutes

 

 

 

Stainless conical fermenter

3. Vorlauf (circulating the wort out of the bottom of the fermenter (the side racking port can be used if grain at the bottom is plugging the pump—grain can be transported manually back up— and back in the top through the Mash Colander) typically occurs at the end of the mash period to help clarify the beer. The grain inside the Mash Colander forms a filter that captures small grain particles as wort passes down through the grain bed. Minimizing the amount of grain in your boil, will help your beer taste better. 

Vorlauf: 5-10 minutes

Stainless mash tun

4. When mashing is complete, the Mash Colander is lifted out by hand or with a hoist (with a hoist it is possible to raise it slowly) and the lower handles folded out to rest on the top of the fermenter. The wort drains from the Mash Colander and runs into the fermenter in a process called 'lautering'. 'Sparge' water can be added to rinse the grain and increase boil volume. Fresh water for sparging can be added as the wort level drops, maintaining a ~1" layer of water on top of the grain bed. It is generally recommended that sparge water be 75°C/167°F to increase the 'fluidity' of the grain and wash out the sugar more readily, however, cooler water can be used. Sparge water can be measured using the Flow Meter. At this point the Heating Element is turned on to heat the wort up to boiling. (See this blog for instructions on lautering and this blog for suggestions on how to sparge with the BIAC.)

Lautering and Heatup: 30-60 minutes

 

Stainless boil kettle

5. Boiling improves the flavor and kills microbes. Hops can be introduced after hot break using the Hop Basket. Early addition or 'boil' hops provide bitterness to balance beer sweetness, and late addition or 'aroma' hops provide flavor/aroma. Once boil is achieved, to prevent boil over and reduce evaporation, the element power output can be turned down to approx 50% on the Power Box.

Boil time: 60 minutes

 

Stainless conical fermenter

6. Once boiling is complete, a chilling liquid (e.g., cold tap water) is ran through the fermenter jacket. It is important to keep pressure of chilling media in the jacket below 5psi (7psi in the 4-in-1) or the vessel could damage (keep main vessel body below 3psi in the 3-in-1 and 14.9psi in the 4-in-1). No restrictions should be placed on the outflow of the jacket or pressure could build up and care should be taken that no restriction can impede flow (e.g. a hose kinking or valve accidentally closing). A Water Pressure Regulator can be purchased to help ensure pressure does not build up in the jacket. The lid should be installed to keep out airborne contaminants, but a port should be kept open to air during the cooling period, as a vacuum could form as the water cools, damaging the fermenter. A Pressure and Vacuum Relief Valve can be purchased to help protect the inside of the vessel. If desired, an air filter could be placed over the open port to keep microbes out. Don't throttle the flow rate too much as a good flow rate is necessary for faster chilling (the greater the temperature difference between the water leaving the jacket, the faster the chilling rate). If municipal water is warm, it could be used for the majority of cooling (e.g. down to 30C/90F), and a Lindr Water Chiller used for the rest.

Chilling time: About 30-60 minutes (depending on chilling water temperature and flow rate).

Controlling fermenter temperature

7. The Temperature Control Valve is used (in conjunction with an ETC) to regulate water into the 3-in-1 jacket. When the target temperature is attained, the controller valve closes and the flow of fluid into the jacket is stopped. This is useful during the initial chill, so one can program the desired pitching temperature and not have to supervise it, and during fermentation to precisely maintain temperatures inside the fermenter.  The ETC can also be used to power the Chiller pump instead of opening the TCV (watch this video for details starting at 6:30) 

Conical fermenter

8. When the wort reaches yeast-pitching temperature (Note: do NOT put any closure on fermenter port during fermentation as a vacuum or pressure build up may occur and deform the vessel) the protein that has settled to the bottom is removed out the bottom port (generally this is 1-2% of the total volume). To facilitate healthy yeast growth at the start of fermentation oxygen (or clean air) is added through the bottom port with an Air Stone. The addition of oxygen in the bottom also helps equilibriate the temperature inside. The temperature is checked again to ensure it is correct for adding yeast; if so, yeast is pitched, the gas blow-off hose connected to a lid port (with the other end in a bucket of water on the floor is better than placing it on the lid) and the lid is sealed.

Rest to equilibriate temperature and remove excess protein, and aeration before pitching yeast: 10 minutes

Fermentation: 5-14 days (longer for lagers or high gravity beers)

Transfer to keg for further conditioning: 15 minutes

Cleanup of equipment: 15 minutes 

 

 

 

 

And that's it. Full control, brilliant tasting beer, and all in less space and with less equipment than ever before. 

If you have any questions, we would love to hear from you!