Nut Brown Ale Brew Day

My first BIAB brew was a Nut Brown Ale.  The recipe was from my LHBS, Southern Brewing and Winemaking, located in Tampa Florida.  All ingredients were also bought there and the grain was milled on site.  The recipe was for 5 gallons, so I only measured out half of all grain and hops called for.  But I used a whole packet of yeast.

  • 4.5 lbs Crisp Pearl Pale Malt
  • 0.25 lbs Briess Victory Malt
  • 0.25 lbs Crisp Crystal 120 Malt
  • 2 oz Briess Special Roast Malt
  • 2 oz Briess Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5 oz Northern Brewer Hops- 60 min boil addition
  • 0.5 oz East Kent Golding Hops- 15min boil addition
  • Safale US-05 Yeast
  • Whirlfloc Tablets (pack of 10), but you only need one per batch

Total Bill for Ingredients:  $18

The mash was to be 153 F for 60 minutes.

I brewed on 8/18/12, the same day as the trip to the LHBS and was brewing with my good friend Fred and his good wife.  They each were brewing partial extract recipes, hazelnut brown ale and a pumpkin ale respectively.  I had brought all my supplies over to their house and we brewed on the back patio.

Additional consumables needed were:

  • Star San sanitizer which Fred shared with me.
  • Paint strainer mesh bag- 5 gallon (Lowes, 2 pack for $3)
  • Bottled spring water 4 gallons ($0.70 per gallon)

The mesh bags are reusable  if so desired.

I had found a website,, which has assorted brew calculators.  I use the one that helps to determine strike water temperature based on starting volume, temp of the grain and target mash temp.
I was starting with 3 and 1/3 gallons of spring water in my stockpot and heated it up on my propane stove to a strike temp of 162 F.  All temp monitoring was done using the turkey thermometer.  After temp was reached, I killed the flame,   put my paint strainer bag in, clipped the top to the sides of the pot with the binder clips and slowly added my grain, stirring as I went to avoid clumping.  Then I covered and looked to see if I hit my mash temp of 153 F.  I did overshoot it by about 3-4 degrees.  This time I let it ride, but I could have added some more water to bring it down a bit.  I had planned to cover the pot in towels to help keep temp but since I was a little high, I decided not to. So I let the mash sit for 60 min,  stirring briefly about every 15 minutes.

By the end of the mash, the temp had settled down into the target mash temp.  I unclipped the bag, pulled it out, slipped the colander under it onto the top of the pot and placed the bag in the colander to drain.  Then I pressed the bottom of my cake pan onto the grain bag to help squeeze out as much liquid as I could.  Then I set my colander and grain bag to the side.  Now I had wort in my stockpot.  Using a wooden dowel rod that I had previously marked gallon notches on it with a knife, I measured the volume, which came out to be about 2.75 gallons.  So even despite squeezing the grain bag, I still lost about over half a gallon.  I was low on volume because I was expecting to lose about another  gallon during the boil.  What I could have done is added more bottled water to the stockpot, but I didn’t think about that at the time.

Started the flame and brought the wort to a rolling boil.  To speed things up, I kept it covered and monitored the temp.  As it got to about 212 F, I took the cover off.  I put my Northern Brewer hops in a muslin sack and clipped it to the side of the pot and started the 60 min boil timer.  These hops would stay in for the whole boil.  I kept a close eye on the boil for the whole time to prevent an overboil.  At 15 minutes left in the boil, I added a muslin sack of my East Kent Golding hops and one Whirlfloc tablet (this is used instead of Irish moss, and helps to precipitate and clump together all the solids in the wort so you don’t transfer them to the fermenter).  At the end of the boil, I removed the two hop sacks and covered the stockpot (sanitized the inside of the lid before covering) and kept my thermometer in place.

I then added cold water to my cooler and placed the stockpot in there.  Then added ice to the water.  After ice melted, I’d swirl the water in the cooler and stirred the wort with sanitized mixing spoon.  Then I added more ice to water.  Repeated until my ice was gone.  I only had a 10lb bag, which was not enough.  I only got the wort down to 100F.  But I decided to go with it.  Using my autosiphon, transferred the wort to my fermenter keg (sanitized the autosiphon, keg and scissors with star san while the wort was cooling).  I tried not to transfer all the gook in the bottom of the stockpot as best I could.  My final fermentable volume was under 2 gallons, so I’m below my target of 2.5.  Again, I could have topped off with water, but didn’t think of it.

Then I cut open my packet of yeast and sprinkled it in.  Usually when I did Mr. Beer, the instructions said to wait 5 minutes and then stir vigorously.  So that’s what I did.  I later found out that the directions for this yeast said to sprinkle and wait 30 minutes before stirring.  After stirring vigorously, the keg was capped loosely and placed in Fred’s “freezer” chest which was set to about 68F.
I hated that I wasn’t going to be there to check on it.

Eight days later, I got back to Fred’s house and decided to transfer to a second fermenter because there was too much trub (gunk) at the bottom of the primary fermenter which would have made it impossible to bottle from there.  So using a sanitized autosiphon, I transferred the batch to a second sanitized fermenter keg.  I took it home with me and placed it in a cooler and kept it cool with two frozen water bottles which I switched out every 12 hours.  Six days later, I bottled.  I sanitized the bottles (mixture of 12oz glass and 16oz PET) and primed with corn sugar (this is the first time with corn, I always used table sugar in the past).  Then I bottled the batch, capped and inverted each bottle a few times to mix the sugar in.  Then I placed bottles in the cooler.

I sampled a bottle once a week for the next two weeks to monitor the carbonation and low and behold, it wasn’t carbonating.  I kept re-inverting the bottles to mix things back up.  It helped a little in the end, but the carbonation was still very low.  It was enough to give the beer a carbonated mouthfeel but not enough to form any head whatsoever on the pour.  Appearance wise it was a beautiful reddish brown color with very good clarity.  Taste wise, it was very roasty and robust.  I enjoyed it, but it was probably stronger in its flavor notes than the recipe intended due to my low batch volume, thus concentrating everything a bit.

So I had some issues and things to improve on.  But I was extremely excited that my first all grain BIAB produced a very drinkable tasty beer despite those issues.

So the lessons learned:

  • I need more ice in the cool down (hopefully will crash out more solids, meaning less carryover to my fermenter and less of a need for secondary fermenter)
  • I need to pitch the yeast according that yeast’s particular instructions (yeast viability may have contributed to weak carbonation, though it appeared to have little effect on alcohol content)
  • Start with more water volume to start before the mash (to help me hit that final 2.5 gal target)
  • Use only one water bottle in the fermenting cooler.  Two kept things too cold (this could also have contributed to lack of carbonation)

This is a learning experience, but that’s why it’s so much fun.



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