Northern Brewer Kiwi Express IPA Brew-in-a-Bag

Today we’re going to brew the Northern Brewer Kiwi Express IPA. This kit uses only New Zealand hops and no kiwis!

It’s a pretty simple brew session with one hop addition at the beginning of the boil and the balance all in the last 10 minutes. We will be transferring to a secondary after about two weeks in the primary and dry hopping as well. I went with the Wyeast liquid yeast option and decided not to make a yeast starter for a couple of reasons: One was time – I just didn’t have enough time to get it done before brew day, and the other was that, we really shouldn’t need it due to the original gravity – although it’s very close.

Watch me at each step, including preparation, brewing, fermentation, racking to a secondary, dry hopping, racking to a keg, and tasting.

Approximate times in the video are noted for reference.

Video Summary


Hello fellow BIAB Brewers, it’s a beautiful June day in Michigan and we will be brewing Northern Brewer’s Kiwi Express IPA. This is under the exotic import section of the catalog; uses only New Zeeland Hops and no kiwis. Pretty simple brew, there will be one hop addition at the beginning of the brew, will be transferring to a secondary after two weeks in the primary, we will also be dry hopping. I went with the Wyeast Liquid yeast option and chose not to make a yeast starter for a few reasons. I did not have enough time to get the yeast starter done before today and you shouldn’t need to do the original gravity, it’s very close but should be just fine. So we’re going to get our water up to strike temp and activate our Wyesat Activator Smack Pack and get this going.

1:10 So if you use the water calculator on our site you will see that you need about 7.7 gallons to get this going.


1:23 Adjust the yellow out of the flame, it should look more blue but not go out. Now we are going to activate our direct pitch activator from Wyeast. The first thing to do is find the pack, which I’m terrible at. Once you feel it, put it into one corner, put it in the palm of your hand, and smack it. Now, go back and feel again and see if you can feel it. If it doesn’t activate it’s not the end of the world, the goal is to get the nutrients and yeast started so I’m going to double check that I did it and hit it again, and then shake it well. Another thing they mentioned to do is bring it down and work it back and forth on a table. Do it about 3 hours before and it should start to expand, you’ll know because it will expand a lot.

2:50 Okay we’re up to our strike temp, it took about 20 minutes. As you pour grains, have someone gently stir to keep clumps out, gently as to not rip the bag. If you have a helper, great, if not do it in steps by yourself. Once we get everything stirred we will put the cover on and my old winter coat to keep the heat inside and insulated. You can use a towel as well. Then let it mash in for 90 minutes.

3:37 As you keep checking and adding heat while you’re mashing, give things a good stir. The mash is now complete. The recipe calls for a mash out at 168, we normally do 170 but it calls for this so that’s what we’ll do. I’ll stir it and bring it up to 168 for 10 minutes, and then we’ll get ready to pull the bag.

4:52 Okay we’re going to grab our pre-boil gravity sample. Next, grab the pre-boil volume. Now it’s going to be hot so it’s not going to be dead accurate unless you adjust for it. Now we’re ready for our first hop addition of a half oz, this will be the only measurement you need to do; the rest will be right out of the packet. Now a quick stir to get the boil going, watch for boil over, you should have plenty of room though. And I had to kill mine, didn’t have as much head space as I thought, but we caught it. Now let’s drop our first hop addition. Besides some occasional stirring we have to drop a whirlfloc tab at 15, then the wart chiller and hop additions in at 10.

6:32 Incidentally, just so you can see that I did active this right, it’s as hard as a rock. I know I broke it this time, so that turned out well, and it started to swell up quickly so you’ll know within an hour or so of breaking it if you did it correctly. Okay, now it’s time to add the whirlfloc tablet. That was easy, five minutes and we’ll be putting everything else in. Now, 10 minutes left and we have our final hop addition, it’s a big one.  We also need to put our sanitized immersion chiller in. Okay, it’s flame out now. Make sure you have a sanitized lid because now everything has to stay sanitized. We’ve cooled down to about 70 so I moved the kettle to a higher spot. I have my carboy sanitized and ready to go, same for my hose. I’m going to sanitize the nozzle and be ready to go. Make sure to splash a lot to get to oxygen in there. Now I may be short, I really boiled this hard with the lid off, depending on the weather I sometimes keep the lid on or off, and it helps keep my levels in check. I might be off, which is unfortunate, we will see in the end, maybe about half a gallon. If that’s the case we’ll lose more the dry hopping but sometimes that happens. We’ll get this stuff all transferred out and get ready to pitch out yeast.

9:08 So to get my volume up, because I’m really low and want to make sure I have enough, I pulled out my sanitized funnel with a fine strainer and spoon to try and get all the volume I can out of this. So here’s how we ended up. Not too bad all things considered, that extra effort brought a good amount. You can see all the trub down there, and when you cool it down quickly that’s what you want. The warflock tablet helps coagulate everything real good too.  Anyway I’m going to now aerate this real quick and we’ll get another final gravity off this guy, and then we’ll pitch. Remember to aerate pretty aggressively.

Wyeast Activator Smack Pack

10:47 Okay so here is our nice and swollen activator pack, it’s hard as a rock. I need to sanitize the package well. There is a good chance this will blow up a little bit so you want to make sure you’re in good shape there. This thing is so tight I can’t even tear at the tabs they have, I have to use a razor blade to start the cut and go in as little as I have to. And there’s our yeast. Now let’s move things around real good, aerate again. And there we have it. This is what it looks like all shook up, nice cold break. I used the extra large blow off tube because I don’t like to take any chances. We’ll leave it for a few days in some sanitizer then put an air lock on.


12:12 Okay here we are at about 16 hours after pitching; everything is looking good; then at 24 hours after pitching, still looking really good. Then, about 2 days and 6 hours since pitching, the bubbling has subsided big time. It’s safe to pull off the blow off tube and check out the sediment and how things have settled down. I’m going to sanitize, then get the air lock in place. Now, I’m using my fermenter heater controller to monitor the temperature inside. It’s all plugged in; I just won’t hook a heater to it. But I will take a look and monitor the temperature inside. We’re sitting at 75 degrees right now. Make sure to shield your fermenter from light as well.

Racking to Secondary

14:00 So it has been exactly two weeks that we have been in the primary, I’m going to rack it to a secondary. This is an idea of what it looks like. I’m using my door stop from the hardware store to help tilt it; this way using the auto-siphon will be easier. It’s been sitting at 72, most of the time around 71-72.

15:20 If you have a good siphon the beer should just be solid in your tube all the way to the top, then it will move quickly. We are getting near the bottom here, so I am reluctantly taking up some trub. As far as our level in the 5 gallon carboy we are just a little below 5 gallons. The reason I didn’t try hop, in case you’re wondering, is primarily because I will be out of town and I don’t want to dry hop, I’ll go 10 days to 2 weeks max. I want to have enough time for this to sit, but not too long, because I’m not sure what my time will be like when I return. We’ll let it sit here for a few more days covered from the light, and that’s it.

Dry Hopping

16:40 Okay it’s been 4 days since we transferred to the secondary and we are going to do some dry hopping. I’m going to try something different this time. Last time I tried to weigh the bag down with marbles, again we’re suing pellet hops, I don’t think it matters as much if we use the marbles because they’re not whole. To make sure they’re in the beer all the time I’m going to try something different. I’m going to take my hop bag, put the pellets in there, and use my thermal well to weigh them down by sticking it inside the bag. Basically at this point I think I will need a funnel to help me get the hops into the bag, a sanitized bag, hops, and some fishing line. I’ve also used sanitized fishing line before. That’s about it, I’m going to get everything sanitized, even the bag, soak it and squeeze it out, and that’s it, the hops themselves will be just fine.

18:07 Here we go. We have our hop bag that has been squeezed out. I’m going to slide it in the carboy, grab by sanitized fishing line to tie it on. I’ve used thicker string before, the only thing that has worked, with anything else you won’t get a good seal. I’m going to take my sanitized funnel, stick it into the bag, and sanitize the carboy as well. Now the hops might get stuck a little on the sanitized funnel, so we will see how it goes. And how’s it going, not very well; probably because the funnel is wet. Now I want to make sure the fishing line and stopper are sanitized. I’m not sure how much this plan is going to work; we’ll drop it in and see. Now we’re all set, the plug is in, and the fishing line is inside. The thermal well inside worked to hold it down, it worked pretty well. What didn’t work for sure is the funnel. That absolutely didn’t work. As soon as you got it damp with sanitizer you can just forget it. You would have been better off not using any sanitizer. Fishing line, you don’t need a lot. It worked well, nice and tight. I had to worry about the bag, was it still sanitized after I fooled around with it and get everything back it and stuffed in there, I had to make sure my hands were clean. It’s a delicate time, but what’s done is done and we’ll see how it all comes out.

Racking to Keg

21:20 Okay we’ve been try hopping for about 12 days. I’m going to rack to the keg now. What I did a little earlier was to see if I could get the hop bag drained off a bit. So I used my fishing line to pull it out, then jammed it in with the stopper. The problem is it really hasn’t drained or thinned out enough. I’m going to have a tough time getting this out. I could stick it back in, but now that I’ve touched the bag I’m committed to this. At this point I’m going to have to muscle this thing out, it could be another great mistake on my part, but we’re going to give it a shot and see how we end up. It’s actually draining off now more that I squeezing it, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this thing out. I always eventually get it out. Okay since the amount of hops are not coming out without a fight and I don’t want to break it after all this, so I just stuffed my autosiphon in there for now, and I’m going to rack the beer out and take my gravity sample out of the keg.

22:45 So you obviously sanitized everything, the keg, I put my sanitary lubricant on all the rubber on the keg as well. Once this thing racks of, we’ll get our sample out of the keg then deal with getting the bag out. Okay, we’re just about done and one cool thing about the bag up there is that we’re able to keep a nice angle on my siphon, I don’t even have to hold it, I have a nice angel; easy hands free operation. Were just about done here, and then were going to grab our gravity reading. Okay we’re all packaged up, I’m going to clear the head space with some CO2 about 5 times or so, then figure out how to get the hop bag out.

23:50 Okay so this is a messy camera shot.  I have to get the bag out a big, then dig my finger in as best I can to get the hops out piece by piece. It’s a pain and completely sucks; hopefully I won’t drop my glass carboy in the sink. As you can see I’ve got a big pile of hops. I probably have a third of the way to go, I’ll keep working. After a complete mess and 15-20 minutes I won. The hop bag didn’t survive, but I could care less. The glass made it. Hops are everywhere I have to clean this mess up. So needless to say, this amount of hops dry hopping and this glass carboy is not recommended at all. *Maybe I should have used more than one hop bag! That may be something to try*.


25:02 Okay here we have it the Northern Brewer Kiwi Express. Came out good, really pretty refreshing beer. Little more time and it will taste even better. Came in at 6.3%, more than what I calculated it out to be, but it smells good, tastes great. I think it’s going to be a great addition to the summer. Cheers!