The Brew Bag® - Great beer ahead. January 17 2014
What began as a simple problem ended with a great product that has already been used by many brewers with positive results - and re-orders!
When I started brewing a few years ago, I did what most folks do - I watched, asked, and watched some more. On February 12, 2011 I bought my first extract kit and gave it a whirl. That first one was a Bavarian Hefeweizen, mostly because my wife likes that style, and I was working the plan towards mutual happiness. It turned out OK, drinkable, not bad, really. It was worth doing after all, and with a kit, if you follow the simple directions, you really can't go wrong.
So 29 extract kits and 18 months later, I recorded my first Brew In A Bag session. It was a Kolsch and it cost $21.00 all in for five gallons. I've never considered any other method of brewing because BIAB works, simple as that. It works realy well as a matter of fact.
The hardest part of the BIAB process was finding a good bag. Actually, I never did so I made my own. Well, I didn't make it because I don't know how to use a sewing machine and the bag looked really too big for the time I imagined it would take to sew. So I begged my wife to help me make the first bag - and she did - and it was good / not good. She was very accommodating until I began to speak. I've been married 33 years so I get the vocal tone thing really quick.
Not that that particular bag wouldn't have worked, but there was no kettle on the premises with the same dimensions as that first stab prototype bag. I had failed to translate well. So, I sought the services of a friend with respectable sewing talent - and less tone - and she was able to follow my sketches and kettle dimensions, which resulted in the first brew bag. It was a wonder to behold and it worked!
Another issue was that NONE of the guys in PALE, my home brew club, numbering at that time about 100 members were BIABer's. None. I was the rebel without a clue. When I told the guys about it, they really didn't understand because they had no idea what BIAB was. I turned to forums and found some great advice. I also purchased Beersmith software and found that there was a setting for BIABer's - what a wonderful software discovery that was.
So after brewing a few really good beers I began to wonder why more of my home brew friends didn't use the BIAB method. After all, It was simple, cost effective, saved a ton of time, and cleaning up took only 20 minutes or so. I had helped a three-tier guy clean up before I started using BIAB and it took us both about 40 minutes, so 1.5 hours all in for both of us.
Ultimately, I began to think that this BIAB thing was worthwhile. If I had to search and search and ultimatley fail to find a suitable bag, maybe other BIAB brewers would benefit from my experience. The Brew Bag® idea was born.
After the initial bag success, and thinking that this might might be a god idea, one morning I was searching online for a local sewer and came across Tulle & Tweed. Turns out this U of I engineer / stay-at-home mom was very capable of making the prototype experience less painful. She revised, reworked, calculated, and put up with my changes on changes until I was satisfied. After many attempts, we finally had The Brew Bag®.
I'm quite happy with the results thus far. The Brew Bag® can be used again and again (I've used mine at this writing (Feb 3. 2014) 37 times and it shows no signs of wear. In fact, with the exception of wort stains, it looks and performs like new. I think we may be on to something good.