Hands On Review: The Brew Bag – Purpose Made BIAB

thebrewbag

The Brew Bag is a Made in the USA, purpose designed BIAB bag.  It has four loops for lifting the bag out of your kettle, every seam is reinforced for long life and it is available in a number of sizes for kettles, keggles and coolers.  If they don’t carry the size you want, The Brew Bag will custom make it for you.

Here’s a hands on look at the Brew Bag…

cln_img_2283I’m using the 30-42 Quart Size for my 10 gallon kettle.cln_img_2846cln_img_2846A look at one of the handles and the tag

cln_img_2299A close up of one of the reinforced corners.  Every seam is reinforced.

cln_img_2309The bag hanging by all four handles from my Bulldog Ultimate Pegboard

cln_img_2287I received a sticker with my bag

cln_img_2351So you can get an idea of the material mesh, here is a picture of the bag on top of the included sticker.  Click to enlarge.

cln_img_2342For comparison, here is the mesh of a paint strainer bag that I have used for BIAB.  Noticeably different.  Click to enlarge.

cln_img_2314Installed in my Blichmann G1 BoilerMaker Kettle.

cln_img_2320Inside view installed in my Blichmann 10 gallon kettle.

cln_img_2775Mashing Great Fermentations’ 1 Hour IPA in the Brew Bag

cln_img_2777
Stirring the Mash using my 24″ Stainless “Brewer’s Whisk”

cln_img_2785The mash temperature for 1 Hr IPA settling in.  Tip: I mashed out this beer.  That’s one of the benefits of BIAB – direct fired mash tun = easy step mashes and mash outs.  During that process, one of the Brew Bag handles got a little too close to my propane burner and melted just a bit.   Don’t do that.

cln_img_2832At the end of the mash.  Worth Noting: Some people wrap their kettles up with some sort of insulation to maintain the temperature during the mash.  I think that’s a great idea.  However… I don’t do it.  When you add in all the water up front, the mash for a 5 gallon batch is considerably.  It maintains temperature reasonably well with no insulation.  Sometimes I will fire up my propane burner half way though (stirring the entire time) to get back up to desired mash temp.

cln_img_2979Draining the Bag.  I recommend using High Temp Gloves to make this easier.  BIAB has a bunch of benefits including 1. Cost, 2. Simplicity, 3. Generally faster than other methods, 4. Less to clean up, 5. Less to store and 6. Because you have a direct fired mash tun, it’s easy to do step mashes and mash outs.  I’ll add one more to the list… if you have a Kettle with a sight glass in it, like Blichmann’s BoilerMaker (Great FermentationsMore Beer and Adventures in Homebrewing), or you otherwise have a way to easily measure volume, you can… hit your pre boil volume every time.  I’m holding the bag here, and looking at the sight gauge.  I did that until I hit my desired pre boil volume.  Whammo.

cln_img_3177Cleaning your mash tun (the bag) is as easy as dumping the grain out and rinsing the bag.  Here is what the bag looks like after rinsing it with… discarded wort chiller water.  I do take it in the house and clean it more thoroughly, but…it’s in pretty good shape after a rinse with re-used wort chiller water.

cln_img_3263A soak in hot PBW followed by a good rinse and dry and it’s ready to be used again.

cln_img_5290A look at the final product… a Spiegelau IPA Glass filled with delicious 1 HR IPA

cln_img_5118Here’s a look at the Brew Bag installed in the Blichmann G2 [Review].  It’s pretty well the exact same size as the G1, so it fits the same.  The G2’s flat handles are a great place to use a clamp to secure the Brew Bag in place.  Tip: Install the Brew Bag in your dry kettle first and make a note of where it should sit in the kettle so that the bottom of the bag doesn’t touch the bottom of the kettle.

cln_img_5129Mashing More Beer’s M-80 IPAcln_img_1015Small Batch Brewing.  After using the Brew Bag for full 5 gallon batches, I was motivated to give up my old paint straining bag for doing small 2.5 – 3 gallon BIAB batches.  This photo shows the small sized (20-24 quart) Brew Bag next to my previous paint strainer bag.  Not.  Even.  Close. cln_img_0837Logo on the small bagcln_img_0838Of course, the small bag sports the same quality material, stitching, reinforced seams and handles as the larger version.cln_img_0839A look at the small bagcln_img_0849This fits perfectly in Anvil Brewing’s 5.5 Gallon Kettle [Review]img_img_0922Brewing a half batch of Great Fermentations “Piney the Welder

I’ve done quite a bit of BIAB brewing.  I’ve used a few different types of bags.  Having used the Brew Bag for quite a while, I can tell you that it’s the highest quality bag I’ve used.  It is purposed designed, by a homebrewer, for homebrewing and that shows.  From the reinforced seams to the handles to the availability of a number of sizes [and custom sizes] to the quality of the fabric.  I can wholeheartedly recommend the Brew Bag for BIAB brewing.

Features (from brewinabag.com):

  • Use again and again – not a throw-away bag
  • 1″ polypropylene straps for easy pick up using your hands or a pulley and hook
  • Seams are on the outside – no particulates get trapped in the bag
  • Use it as your hop bag – but it must be suspended above the kettle bottom
  • The straps cover the seams and bear the strain on every use – this bag will last and last
  • Holds over 100 pounds of grain
  • Hand wash and drip dry

The Brew Bag is available in a variety of sizes for kettles, keggles and coolers.  If they don’t have the size you’re looking for, they will custom make it based on your needs.

Check out the instructions page on www.brewinabag.com for step by step instructions on BIAB.

Check it out – Here

Special thanks to Rex at The Brew Bag for providing me with a bag to try out.

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23 thoughts on “Hands On Review: The Brew Bag – Purpose Made BIAB

    1. admin Post author

      It should work great. Just get the right size for your kettle and you’ll probably want a pulley setup to help lift it. Rex also sells a couple models of pulleys.

      Reply
  1. Chris

    Would this be a viable alternative for false bottoms for Mash Tun Coolers? It’s $30 for the bag (plus a valve and bulkhead) or $68 10G COOLER TO MASH TUN CONVERSION KIT

    Reply
  2. Bryan

    I love the Brew Bag. It really streamlined my process.

    I did notice a small decrease in efficiency. Last time through I was targeting a starting gravity of 1.054 from the recipe. Actual starting gravity was 1.050. How do others combat this? Increase the mash time to 90 minutes? Or just increase the grain bill?

    Reply
  3. Mike

    Great write up! I’ve been eyeing these for a couple months now.

    Have you or would you recommend 15 gallon batches using this bag?

    I now use 2 bags which makes lifting the soaked grain out easier (by half, it turns out…). I like the purpose-built aspect of these bags and that they will custom sew to pot size. I just don’t want to find I can’t get the bag out of the wort. A hoist is not an option in my kitchen.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Rex Slagel

      Mike – we stock a bag for 15 gal kettles – but using it in your kitchen would be cumbersome and dangerous. The bag will hold 100+ pounds – in fact we’ve pulled a car with it!

      Reply
  4. Brian

    Thanks – great info. Sounds like you may not have had a chance to try it during the boil, but besides hops, how do you think this bag would do catching trub?

    Along those lines, I’m guessing that if you use an immersion chiller you would have to unclamp the bag, place the immersion chiller inside the bag in the kettle and then reclamp so that you could filter out the cold break? I could imagine some very clear wort getting transferred to your fermenter if it could work that way.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      I’m all for giving it a try as a hop bag, but I hadn’t thought about it as a general post boil filter. It’s an interesting idea. The only real difference would be chilling inside of the bag. Probably worth a try, Maybe… revolutionary. Good idea!

      Reply
      1. Rex Slagel

        We use our bags as a hop filter – but we suspend it in the kettle using our overhead pulley system. We do NOT recommend using the bag while the flame is on any another way. But, there is mo trub in the kettle except for cold break – which, flows right through our plate chiller. I’m not sure why you’d put the immersion chiller in the bag since by lifting the bag, all the hop matter is removed from the kettle and the cold break would likely run through the bag anyway.

        Reply
        1. Dino

          Hi Rex, Im confused with your replies, could you clarify:

          1) “We recommend using the bag for ALL hop additions! ”
          2) “We do NOT recommend using the bag while the flame is on any another way.”

          Reply
          1. Rex

            Dino – unless the bag is suspended – we do not recommend using it while the flame is on. I think that answers both?

  5. Brian

    Thanks for another great write-up. Do you clamp the bag so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the kettle during both mashing and boiling (as a hop bag)? What sort of clamps do you use that will support the weight of water-soaked grain while mashing?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Great question. I clamp the bag so it doesn’t touch the bottom and so that it generally stays in place. It’s a bit larger than the kettle, so that touching the bottom could be an issue. Even if it was undersized, you would want to secure to the kettle in some way. Otherwise it would end up working it’s way into the kettle. I’m just using cheapo Menards plastic clamps. The clamps don’t really need to support much weight. The grain is floating, so the water is supporting the weight.

      Reply
    1. admin Post author

      No, that hasn’t been an issue at all. The Blichman probes aren’t overly long and the tip is blunt. No issues.

      Reply
    1. Rex Slagel

      We recommend using the bag for ALL hop additions! We also recommend using a plate chiller – because there is nothing in the wort to clog it.

      Reply
  6. Chris

    I have been thinking about doing some BIAB 1-2G batches for some quicker brew days and general experimentation. Might prefer a custom one that’s a bit smaller to fit in 16 qt pot…

    nice write up!

    Reply

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