Author Topic: Blichmann Breweasy reviews  (Read 7308 times)

Offline Kraft Farm Brewing

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Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« on: December 01, 2015, 12:58:06 PM »
Hi I have been researching the Blichmann breweasy for a while but I'm not finding very many reviews out there. Was looking for any info you can provide on how the system works. I am getting ready to make a purchase soon and this system looked like one I might be interested in.
Thanks

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2015, 01:08:54 PM »
A friend of mine has one, the 10g 240V version. Very shiny, as expected. Stupid easy brew day. Eerily quiet. Clean up looks easy enough. Not many downsides (outside of the price) that I can see. I priced out building one with non-Blichmann parts and came to around $1400 with SS Tech kettles & 240V, but decided against building it.

There are some limitations on gravity/volume due to the nature of K-RIMS. For instance, we were brewing a Grazter (OG 1.032) and had to brew 15 gallons of it because of the mixture of grain bed depth and amount of water needed in the system. There are limits on the upper end of the gravity spectrum as well, but I'm not sure what they are. They can all be worked around, it's just something to know before you buy.
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Offline Kraft Farm Brewing

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2015, 05:17:17 PM »
Thanks Amanda. That's very helpful. I had also heard there were limits on the upper gravity but did not hear what that was.

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2015, 05:24:55 PM »
Thanks Amanda. That's very helpful. I had also heard there were limits on the upper gravity but did not hear what that was.

All of the information is on Blichmann's website. If you dig around long enough, you'll find the process flow diagram for it which is what I used to design/price it on my own, but it's just a K-RIMS. All of them have the same limits/advantages, really.
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Offline toby

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2015, 07:14:39 PM »
Thanks Amanda. That's very helpful. I had also heard there were limits on the upper gravity but did not hear what that was.

From what I recall, the limit was somewhere around 1.090 for their designed batch size.  That being said, when I discussed it with John, we agreed that the way around that was to accept a slightly reduced batch size for higher gravity beers.  IOW, maybe make a 4.5 gallon 1.105 batch on a 5 gallon system (or whatever the math worked out to).

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2015, 09:10:54 PM »
The batch size limit is related to both the size of the tun and the k-rims method. You can only fit so much in the tun (duh) but you also need to have enough liquid in the bottom kettle to heat for recirc. I would imagine that the gas fired system has a little more fudge factor compared to the boil coil, which should be covered with wort for a long life.

Offline Kraft Farm Brewing

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2015, 01:11:27 AM »
Thanks guys ! Great info. 1.09 sounds good to me 😋 Any other tips out there. I did see a vid saying water profile was very important for higher efficiency with this system.


Offline smkranz

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2015, 03:40:54 AM »
See https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=19096.0 for my earlier review.

I've used the 10 gallon gas system for a year and a half.  Still works great.  64% efficiency is usually dead-on, my minimal water adjustments include diluting with distilled water, adding Lactic Acid, or 5.2pH depending on the recipe.  That efficiency might seem low, but with our sized batches the cost difference is irrelevant to me.  Predicting OG is much more important.

I could probably fit 39 lbs. of grain into this, so that's pretty much the only upper gravity limitation.  No different than any other system.  Need more gravity, either use a bit of extract in the boil, or make a slightly smaller batch as someone has already suggested.

Setup and breakdown are very simple.  One thing I miss from my multi-burner setup is the ability to heat water for a PBW solution to clean out the mash tun while the boil is under way.  There is a loss of time efficiency because of that, though all I would ever need to do to make up that time would be to get my second burner out, or use use cold water and get over it.

The T.O.P. gas controller was a great but $$ addition to the system.  It is badass the way it relights by itself if a gust of wind comes by to knock out the flame.  Because the BE uses the burner's short legs, and I'm not getting any younger, I really appreciate not having to stoop down to the ground to re-light the burner repeatedly throughout the mash.

There is a lag of several degrees between the mash temperature and the temp of the wort coming off the pump.  No big deal, I usually up the controller temp a couple degrees to keep the mash temp where I want it.  The variance in temps depends mostly on the rate of recirculation out of the mash tun.  Blichmann's false bottoms can take a whole lot of flow without sticking, and I have the 1.5 gallon/minute orifice installed in the output of the mash.  I might try the 1.75g/m orifice just to see what happens.  The variance also depends a little on the mash volume...a bigger mash will have a little more lag.  You can also gently stir the top portion of the mash to help even things out, but I generally avoid doing that.  Also avoid over-crushing grain to avoid a stuck mash.  My LHBS's grain mill crushes finer than I prefer, so I crush all grains myself.

The Blichmann false bottoms are really great at trapping bits of grain.  No matter how much I spray them, there's always something stuck in there.  I've come to spray off as much as will come off easily, then let the thing completely dry.  Dried bits of grain are brittle and fall right out with the touch of a little brush.

There are certainly less expensive ways to go about brewing.  This system was particularly attractive to me because I already had both kettles, Therminator, pump, and false bottom.  To finish it all I needed was the adapter lid kit to mate the kettle and mash tun ($250) and later, the controller.  My Therminator and pump are mounted on the little stool, with the pump hanging from the bottom step and covered with a cut-open PBW jar as a splash shield.

The TopLink software and controller cable have worked very well.  But I don't usually do complicated mashes so I typically set a timer, then change the desired temperature manually on the controller.

I love the system's small footprint, but my brewing habits seem to abhor a vacuum.  Since my brewing space is a patio with no table, I use a rolling cart for my work space.  There is a power strip bolted to the end of the cart which supplies power to the operation (controller, pump, computer, cell phone, Bose speaker...I like my conveniences) from an extension cord, and my pump is plugged into its own grounded switch http://www.amazon.com/GE-25511-Grounded-Switch-Version/dp/B0113VTPSW so I can turn it on and off without unplugging it.  The controller and most of the hardware roll in and out from the basement on the cart, which saves time and many footsteps when putting away.

Happy to answer any specific questions I might have missed.  Good luck!

« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 04:04:32 AM by smkranz »
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Offline Kraft Farm Brewing

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2015, 01:30:02 PM »
Thanks Steve. Great info. I think I'm going to pull the trigger this week. I'm gonna go with the 10 gallon electric.
I just noticed you are in Westminster. I am in Harford County MD.

Offline smkranz

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2015, 02:17:57 PM »
I don't think you'll regret the purchase.  No experience with the electric system but I'm guessing it is well-engineered like the rest of their gear.

Let me know if you're going to the Guild's holiday party at Clipper City Brewery on Saturday.

Cheers!
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Offline Kraft Farm Brewing

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2015, 12:43:44 PM »
I ordered the system Saturday and Fed Ex shows delivery scheduled for tomorrow 😃. Electrician will be out Friday to get me wired up. I'll be brewing on it before Christmas !

Offline duboman

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2015, 05:21:53 PM »
I decided to purchase the 10 gallon Brew Easy for my upgrade complete with the TOP and the gas version. To date I have only brewed one batch and it was a 5.5 gallon proven recipe that I thought would be a good starting point and have a couple observations from one batch in: Sorry for the length of the post......

The auto sparge arm is a bit short, my guess is about 2-3" as it had a hard time maintaining proper recirculation with the smaller mash volume and kept wanting to just drop straight down. I fixed this by unscrewing the arm and the float for this batch but a longer arm is on my list for future 5.5 gallon batches

You will need to bend the heat shields under the BK spout in order to actually get the hoses hooked up due to the height and location of the spigot on the BK, it's not a big deal but with Blichman engineering I would have thought they would take this into consideration, just a small gripe:) You will also want to use the 90 degree connector to deflect your tubing away from the heat source and it fits better!

On the TOP if you get the Therminator, which I did, and mount it the way it is designed along with the pump, it is very difficult to hook up the water out line due to the proximity of the pump. I am also finding that if you want to swap out to QDs they actually will wind up right against the pump housing making for a difficult connection as well. I had to drill some new holes in the mounting bracket to create a better offset on the mount.

There is definitely a loss of heat through the recirculation and the actual mash temp in the MT which needs accounting for when you set the temp on the TOP, in cold weather, which I have yet to deal with, I am anticipating a larger discrepancy between the two readings

Beersmith now has equipment profiles for these units but I have found the basic set up to be off a bit. Be sure to account for your actual boil off. Also for  your losses be sure to account for wort left in the tubing as there is quite a bit depending on the length of your tubing runs along with your typical kettle losses in the BK and MT

I am really happy with the purchase even though my first batch was a disaster! I totally over shot my mash temp, had issues as described with the recirculation and short sparge arm, miscalculated my boil off and tubing losses and couldn't really get a handle on the various orifices to select  but being my first batch on the system I wasn't expecting perfection and knew there would be some things I had to dial in.

For Steve, hopefully you can answer a few questions I have:
The first on the orifices. did you stick with the  1.5 size throughout the process. I have read an exhausting thread on HBT regarding various sizes and switching to the smallest one for draining the MT into the BK which seems to me to be a painfully slow option, is it really necessary? Which orifice have you found to be the best at maintaining proper balance between the two kettle volumes.
Second, at what level do you set your sparge arm? I have read for it to be a bit above the grain bed, like an inch or two? Seems right but not sure.
 Curious to know what you are experiencing in boil off rate, my old set up with a wide low pot was 2 hours over 60 minutes and I thought (Incorrectly) that the taller narrow kettle would be less and boy was I wrong! I know there are various factors that play into this and plan on running a batch of water prior to my next go around but thought I would ask
I am starting all my recipes at 65% assumed efficiency and was curious if you have found any ways to improve on this, Ideally I would like to get closer to 70% since my last set up was 80% consistently, dropping 15% is a lot to swallow......I am already aware of water chemistry and use Bru'n water with great success. I am thinking orifice selection can help from what I've read and proper mash out. All the other typical items like crush and pH I already have accounted for.

Thanks for any help!
Gary
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Offline duboman

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2015, 05:25:37 PM »

Thought I would add a photo of the rack system I added to the cart to keep all my equipment close by for brew day. I really like the small footprint, fits snug into the corner of my garage and I can still get both SUVs parked in the winter, one being a Suburban!

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Offline smkranz

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2015, 03:27:04 AM »
For Steve, hopefully you can answer a few questions I have:

The first on the orifices. did you stick with the 1.5 size throughout the process. I have read an exhausting thread on HBT regarding various sizes and switching to the smallest one for draining the MT into the BK which seems to me to be a painfully slow option, is it really necessary? Which orifice have you found to be the best at maintaining proper balance between the two kettle volumes.

I used the 1.25 orifice for the first batch, then stepped up to the 1.5 orifice.  I plan to try the 1.75 at some point but just haven't done it yet.  Also, I don't see any reason to change out the orifice when draining the mash.  The manual suggests that you might get slightly better efficiency if you slow down the flow when the wort volume is about at the level of the valve, by just cutting back the valve on the output of the mash.  Another thing I do, assuming there is some head space in the mash tun to do it, is to raise the level of the AutoSparge float valve during mash-out and basically top-up the mash tun prior to draining.  I figure that because this puts more volume of hotter wort above the grain bed prior to draining, this hotter (and thinner) wort would drain more thoroughly through the grain bed.  I don't know if it really matters.

Second, at what level do you set your sparge arm? I have read for it to be a bit above the grain bed, like an inch or two? Seems right but not sure.

That's about right.

Curious to know what you are experiencing in boil off rate, my old set up with a wide low pot was 2 hours over 60 minutes and I thought (Incorrectly) that the taller narrow kettle would be less and boy was I wrong! I know there are various factors that play into this and plan on running a batch of water prior to my next go around but thought I would ask.

I have the boil-off set in BeerSmith set to 1.5 gal/hr.

I am starting all my recipes at 65% assumed efficiency and was curious if you have found any ways to improve on this. Ideally I would like to get closer to 70% since my last set up was 80% consistently, dropping 15% is a lot to swallow......I am already aware of water chemistry and use Bru'n water with great success. I am thinking orifice selection can help from what I've read and proper mash out. All the other typical items like crush and pH I already have accounted for.

It seem to me that you have it all pretty much covered.  I have not tried slowing down the flow while draining except for the last couple of gallons.  Without sparging, all I think we can do is gain slight improvements doing all the things you have touched on.  I knew going in, that I was sacrificing efficiency for simplicity, which is a trade-off I'm happy to live with.

Good luck with your new system!
Steve K.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2015, 01:09:17 PM »
For Steve, hopefully you can answer a few questions I have:

The first on the orifices. did you stick with the 1.5 size throughout the process. I have read an exhausting thread on HBT regarding various sizes and switching to the smallest one for draining the MT into the BK which seems to me to be a painfully slow option, is it really necessary? Which orifice have you found to be the best at maintaining proper balance between the two kettle volumes.

I used the 1.25 orifice for the first batch, then stepped up to the 1.5 orifice.  I plan to try the 1.75 at some point but just haven't done it yet.  Also, I don't see any reason to change out the orifice when draining the mash.  The manual suggests that you might get slightly better efficiency if you slow down the flow when the wort volume is about at the level of the valve, by just cutting back the valve on the output of the mash.  Another thing I do, assuming there is some head space in the mash tun to do it, is to raise the level of the AutoSparge float valve during mash-out and basically top-up the mash tun prior to draining.  I figure that because this puts more volume of hotter wort above the grain bed prior to draining, this hotter (and thinner) wort would drain more thoroughly through the grain bed.  I don't know if it really matters.

Second, at what level do you set your sparge arm? I have read for it to be a bit above the grain bed, like an inch or two? Seems right but not sure.

That's about right.

Curious to know what you are experiencing in boil off rate, my old set up with a wide low pot was 2 hours over 60 minutes and I thought (Incorrectly) that the taller narrow kettle would be less and boy was I wrong! I know there are various factors that play into this and plan on running a batch of water prior to my next go around but thought I would ask.

I have the boil-off set in BeerSmith set to 1.5 gal/hr.

I am starting all my recipes at 65% assumed efficiency and was curious if you have found any ways to improve on this. Ideally I would like to get closer to 70% since my last set up was 80% consistently, dropping 15% is a lot to swallow......I am already aware of water chemistry and use Bru'n water with great success. I am thinking orifice selection can help from what I've read and proper mash out. All the other typical items like crush and pH I already have accounted for.

It seem to me that you have it all pretty much covered.  I have not tried slowing down the flow while draining except for the last couple of gallons.  Without sparging, all I think we can do is gain slight improvements doing all the things you have touched on.  I knew going in, that I was sacrificing efficiency for simplicity, which is a trade-off I'm happy to live with.

Good luck with your new system!
Thanks for the added tips, it's nice to hear some confirmation on my thoughts to dial in the system. I've got a 10 gallon IPA set for Wednesday so we'll see how it goes with these adjustments.

I too knew some efficiency would be lost but hopefully I can get some improvement on this next batch! So far I'm enjoying this set up

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