BIAB#2: Lager

Following the seeming success of BIAB#1, we were keen to get cracking and put another brew on.  Apologies to all of you who I’m sure have been eagerly awaiting this update, but this was actually brewed over a week ago… just not got around to blogging it until now.

For anyone who could be bothered to read it, you’ll know that the BIAB#1 post was long (sorry!)  This was because it was pretty heavy on the process of our approach to brewing in a bag.  I won’t spend so much time dwelling on all that this time.  Unless specifically referred to, we followed the same process as last time.

Anyway, to the beer!  It was Jono’s turn to decide what we’d brew.  Having chosen lager (bang on trend for homebrewers this month it seems!) and sourced a recipe, he scaled a 5 gallon batch back to the following grain bill for our 10 litre brew:

  • 610g Lager Malt (24%)
  • 590g Pale Malt (24%)
  • 590g Vienna Malt (24%)
  • 470g Flaked Rice (19%)
  • 150g Lactose (6%) [added 5 minutes from end of boil]
  • 50g Carapils Malt (2%)
  • 50g Crystal Malt (2%)
  • TOTAL GRAIN: 2.51kg

As we had finished down on volume last time (only collecting 9 litres of wort post-boil), we upped the water quantities for mashing to 6 litres and sparging to 9 litres (from 5.5 and 8 litres respectively).  There was no science or maths involved in any of this, more of a ‘lets just add a bit more’ decision really!

The extra water worked too well.  We ended up with our pan absolutely full to the brim at the start of the boil (see below), with around a litre left over that we couldn’t squeeze in.  Despite as much topping up as we could get away with through the boil, we ended up not being able to use all of the wort.  Next time, we think we’ll scale back the volume of sparge water a little and see how we finish up.  Certainly lots of fine tuning still to be done.


Anyway, to the boil and the all-important hops.  For this recipe we used:

  • 4g Chinook @ 60m
  • 9g Hallertau Hersbrucker @ 15m
  • 7g Cascade @ 15m
  • 4g Chinook @ 15m
  • (The lactose also went in as a 5m addition)

After the 60 minute boil, we cooled it to around 15C as quickly as possible and got a hydrometer reading of 1054.  This was, by some kind of strange miracle, exactly our intended Original Gravity.  It tasted very sweet and had a lot more visible sediment than our previous brew, so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out on that front.

The great news, and again some kind of divine intervention must have been involved, we got pretty much spot on 10 litres this time.  Got to be happy with that as a result.

photo (2)

In a situation of some farce, having pitched Safale S-23 Lager Yeast the FV was then driven (VERY cautiously) to Jono’s house, as he’s nobly offered to turn off the central heating in one of his rooms so that we can get a good lager fermentation temperature (aiming for 14-15C).  That’s commitment for you!  

Happy to report that one week in, there’s been plenty of activity in there.  Soon we will have lager.

The other major issue that we had last time was holding temperature for the duration of the mash.  Thanks to advice from @100yojimbo, @RLemkin & @sumofallbeer, the most likely-sounding workaround for this was to preheat the pan in an oven and to keep it in there, on a low heat, for the duration of the mash.  Can only imagine that would work really well, but unfortunately this isn’t an option for us as the pan isn’t oven proof.  So it’s mass insulation all the way, it seems.

Despite valiant efforts to insulate the pan, and plenty of other tips picked up in response to our last blog on this very subject (thanks to @_davidmchugh, @FourStringDave & @Lugsy51), we still really struggled to hold a good, high temperature.  We did only need to put it back on the heat once – a definite improvement – but we will need to insulate further, I think.  Watch this space for updates on that… I bet you can’t wait!

So, that’s BIAB#2 underway and we will hopefully have some lovely, refreshing lager for all those baking hot days that are doubtless just round the corner.

Next brew – and notes on the first proper taste of BIAB#1 – coming soon.

Update: 23/4/14

First tastings of the lager have happened over the last week and we#’e really quite happy with it.  It’s perhaps a little too sweet ,and could have had both a drier taste and mouthfeel, but it’s tasty, super refreshing and has been great in the sunshine.

Additionally, we took 2 litres from the main batch and bottled this in a couple of big bottles with a strip of burnt orange in each.  We popped one of these over the weekend and it was really nice with that little bit of citrus too, just a shame we only have one bottle left of that.

All in all, we’re counting this as a success.  Let’s see what others make of it.


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