Author Topic: Grainfather  (Read 2631 times)

Offline narcout

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Grainfather
« on: October 22, 2015, 03:19:06 AM »
Is anyone here brewing with one of those Grainfather systems?  If so, what do you think of it?

When all those automated systems first came on the scene a few years ago, I had absolutely no interest in them, but I'm starting to change my mind.

Maybe it's because I can only brew at night now due to the baby (that means I'm up until 1:30, which is tough because I get up at 6:30 every day), but lately brew days have started to seem like more of a chore than something to look forward to. 

I never had any desire to set up a recirculating system or an electric one (after 10 years of brewing, I don't even own a pump), but the Grainfather has definitely caught my eye.
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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2015, 03:19:03 PM »
They were supposed to send me one to review, but apparently there are supply problems.  LHBS got one to sell.  I helped him unpack it yesterday and it was badly dented.  That;'s all I know!
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Offline narcout

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2015, 05:15:17 AM »
Yeah, they are currently out of stock but supposedly will be available again in a few weeks.

I'll probably just daydream about it for a while, watch a bunch of videos on YouTube, and decide that I don't actually want one.

I'll be curious to hear your thoughts if you ever end up with a demo unit though.
It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone

Offline tommymorris

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Grainfather
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2015, 12:19:48 PM »
This one is cheaper and comes with a nice cooling system.

My biggest concern is it has a 1600W element (http://www.grainfather.com/#!online-store/c8k/!/Grainfather/p/47641226/category=12375700). I have a 1500W heat stick. It would take a very long time for me to heat water for 5G batch to boil with my heat stick. But maybe insulation (is it insulated?) and a lid make the difference.

Offline mchrispen

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Grainfather
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2015, 01:11:31 PM »
I have been brewing on one. 6 batches in. It's a well designed system, but the element is a bit under powered. The boils is really a strong simmer, but I haven't noticed a lot of difference in the final product vs. my Brew-Magic. The boil-off rate is low, and there is about a quart of dead space. Unlike most people's impression, it is not automated, rather the controller simply manages mash temps. Sparge is manual, unless you rig up something.  I use the same coarse crush with this as the recirculation rate is key to efficiency. Max grain is about 19lb, and 6 / 6.5 gallons max finish volume. The little chiller works pretty well.

Biggest deal for me was moving back into the house. I can brew in the AC again rather than stand over 60k BTUs in a 115f garage. It is also incredibly quiet - especially the pump.

Easy to clean as you go. Lifting the basket is really the only chore,.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2015, 01:15:58 PM by mchrispen »
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Offline tesgüino

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2015, 03:27:12 PM »
A little off-topic here, but I sometime see a trend in homebrewing that's exemplified by where these systems are going.

At one time, you could give ten different homebrewers the same recipe and get back ten unique beers. Between the use of RO water and artificially built water profiles and these automated systems, those ten brewers will all end up with something very close to the same product.

A lot of you may think of this as a good thing, but my old, curmudgeon self sees it as a drift away from the spirit of homebrewing. Moving toward something that closer resembles brewing commercial beer at home. Less about creativity and innovation. More about how deep your pockets are.

But I guess there will always be those of us who see something in a surplus store or yard sale and think, “I could make beer with that.” I also guess there’s plenty of room in homebrewing for the smartphone generation. So I guess there’s really no point in this post. Just me feeling old and curmudgeonly.

Offline narcout

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2015, 09:59:09 PM »
The boils is really a strong simmer, but I haven't noticed a lot of difference in the final product vs. my Brew-Magic.

I think a strong simmer is likely all you need (the Zymatic doesn't boil at all), though you could probably increase the vigor if you used some reflectix insulation.

It looks like the European version has a 2000 watt element as opposed to the 1600 watt element in the US version.
It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone

Offline Stevie

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2015, 10:02:11 PM »
1600w allows it to run on a 15a circuit. 2000w would certainly be better, but would require a 20a circuit.

Offline tommymorris

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Grainfather
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2015, 10:07:49 PM »
A little off-topic here, but I sometime see a trend in homebrewing that's exemplified by where these systems are going.

At one time, you could give ten different homebrewers the same recipe and get back ten unique beers. Between the use of RO water and artificially built water profiles and these automated systems, those ten brewers will all end up with something very close to the same product.

A lot of you may think of this as a good thing, but my old, curmudgeon self sees it as a drift away from the spirit of homebrewing. Moving toward something that closer resembles brewing commercial beer at home. Less about creativity and innovation. More about how deep your pockets are.

But I guess there will always be those of us who see something in a surplus store or yard sale and think, “I could make beer with that.” I also guess there’s plenty of room in homebrewing for the smartphone generation. So I guess there’s really no point in this post. Just me feeling old and curmudgeonly.
I think the automated systems have a small market relative to the total number of home brewers.

I like my old school system, too. But, I like to read about these things. There is some interesting engineering being done for home brewers.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2015, 03:41:19 AM by alestateyall »

Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2015, 11:28:46 PM »
A little off-topic here, but I sometime see a trend in homebrewing that's exemplified by where these systems are going.

At one time, you could give ten different homebrewers the same recipe and get back ten unique beers. Between the use of RO water and artificially built water profiles and these automated systems, those ten brewers will all end up with something very close to the same product.

A lot of you may think of this as a good thing, but my old, curmudgeon self sees it as a drift away from the spirit of homebrewing. Moving toward something that closer resembles brewing commercial beer at home. Less about creativity and innovation. More about how deep your pockets are.

But I guess there will always be those of us who see something in a surplus store or yard sale and think, “I could make beer with that.” I also guess there’s plenty of room in homebrewing for the smartphone generation. So I guess there’s really no point in this post. Just me feeling old and curmudgeonly.

You know, I'm a keep-it-simple-stupid kind of curmudgeon myself, but as I get older, (hence more curmudgeonly) I tend to enjoy being outside in sub-freezing temperatures, carrying large amounts of equipment up the cellar stairs only to clean it and carry it back down the stairs much less than the hip youngster that I used to be. So, I find myself looking at these "smartphone" type systems and thinking that they'll allow me to brew "my beer" which will always be the result of my cumulative knowledge and skill. So, I don't think that these things "homogenize" homebrew, rather I think they broaden the scope of what we can do with everything that we brewers have at our fingertips to create our masterpieces.

However, the semi-automated system that I am lusting over is the Electric Blichmann Brew Easy. I like this one because it will solve the carrying and the cold that I'm tired of, but it still retains many of the traditional aspects of the brewing process.

Call me an enlightened curmudgeon.
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Offline tommymorris

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2015, 11:38:19 PM »
I moved to the 3G batches recently. I didn't consider it before hand, but, I am really happy about the smaller equipment and lighter loads.

Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2015, 11:50:58 PM »
I moved to the 3G batches recently. I didn't consider it before hand, but, I am really happy about the smaller equipment and lighter loads.

Yeah, the smaller batches do solve many of the problems that I have, but I still like to entertain quite a bit, and my friends and I go through a lot of beer. So, I'd like to do five gallon batches with the ease of the smaller ones.
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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2015, 12:57:10 AM »
1600w allows it to run on a 15a circuit. 2000w would certainly be better, but would require a 20a circuit.

They should offer a 2000W option.  The circuit that supplies the counter top outlets in most American homes is 20A, and so is the washing machine circuit.

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2015, 01:01:22 AM »
They won't sell it in the US due to UL requirements. Hard to blame them... I would have gladly bought the higher watt version.
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Offline narcout

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Re: Grainfather
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2015, 05:36:57 PM »
Well, I was all set to brew last night, but I was not too excited about it - even considered pushing it back again. 

Then it turned out to be one of the easiest, most relaxing brew sessions I've had in a while.  Go figure.  Guess I can hang onto that $900 for the time being.
It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone