Author Topic: How many here would buy a Grainfather???  (Read 11253 times)

Offline weazletoe

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #60 on: March 17, 2017, 04:02:21 PM »
is  Although my base approach and technique have always followed Denny's cheap n' easy set-up and process

I like to refer to mine as cheap and overly complicated.
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Offline Laminarman

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #61 on: March 17, 2017, 10:46:05 PM »
Well I started this thread and presented the Unibrau and BrewBoss to my neighbor who was going to split the cost with me.  He wasn't impressed, but then again, said he might not do anything now and wants to wait on it until next winter.  He said spring is coming even though we just got 30" of snow on Tuesday and he'll be brewing outside soon (I don't see it happening).  So that leaves me to buy it myself, or possibly save money and build a BIAB system myself to keep it reasonable in cost.  The Unibrau looks awesome but somewhat cumbersome with all those hoses in the lid to manage (I'll be working alone).  I wonder if I could make something with a recirculating tube on the top side of the pot and place one of those BBQ remote thermometers in the mash to run out under the lid to measure mash temps?  Also with BIAB (basket) models, how do you get your cooled wort out with that element down there?  I usually stir to create a small whirlpool and let it settle.  Wondering if folks just drain it out after it settles then clean the mess from around the burner...etc.  I have no burning desire to build something but I want something that fits me and is as simple as possible.  I will likely lift the basket and pour water slowly to try to increase efficiency.

Offline tommymorris

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #62 on: March 18, 2017, 02:09:39 AM »
Well I started this thread and presented the Unibrau and BrewBoss to my neighbor who was going to split the cost with me.  He wasn't impressed, but then again, said he might not do anything now and wants to wait on it until next winter.  He said spring is coming even though we just got 30" of snow on Tuesday and he'll be brewing outside soon (I don't see it happening).  So that leaves me to buy it myself, or possibly save money and build a BIAB system myself to keep it reasonable in cost.  The Unibrau looks awesome but somewhat cumbersome with all those hoses in the lid to manage (I'll be working alone).  I wonder if I could make something with a recirculating tube on the top side of the pot and place one of those BBQ remote thermometers in the mash to run out under the lid to measure mash temps?  Also with BIAB (basket) models, how do you get your cooled wort out with that element down there?  I usually stir to create a small whirlpool and let it settle.  Wondering if folks just drain it out after it settles then clean the mess from around the burner...etc.  I have no burning desire to build something but I want something that fits me and is as simple as possible.  I will likely lift the basket and pour water slowly to try to increase efficiency.
I think the grainfather would be easier to setup and take down than Unibrau. Plus the Grainfather has the new Connect control box that allows automated step mashes. Unibrau looks nice. It's what you might build if you we're doing it yourself. Also, the Unibrau Brewery Controllers say they are 20A. You house is almost definitely wired for 15A except for the dryer circuit.

Offline Stevie

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #63 on: March 18, 2017, 02:14:35 AM »
New kitchen circuits are 20A these days.

Offline texaswine

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #64 on: March 18, 2017, 02:25:29 AM »
New kitchen circuits are 20A these days.
And bathroom.

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Offline tommymorris

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #65 on: March 18, 2017, 02:26:56 AM »
New kitchen circuits are 20A these days.
And bathroom.

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I have an old house. I didn't know that.

Offline texaswine

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #66 on: March 18, 2017, 12:59:49 PM »


The Unibrau looks awesome but somewhat cumbersome with all those hoses in the lid to manage (I'll be working alone).

Couple of thoughts on this. First, I don't think they sell a model now with the recirc return that goes through the lid. There may be videos on the website of them, but if you look at what's currently being offered, the only lid return I see is a scratch and dent one.

Second, I started out with one of the first lid return models Brau Supply sold. There's nothing cumbersome with that design. I always brew solo and it was very simple to handle. However, the lid return did get in the way should you want to use an immersion chiller. But that's easy enough to fix just by using a longer hose on the pump discharge and going straight back to the kettle, holding it in place on the kettle lip with a little shop clamp.

If you go to Homebrewtalk.com, there is a gigantic Grainfather thread there. Read through some of the comments and you'll get an idea of some of the things that people would change. Some of those things involve set up, break down, cleaning, dead space, reset button placement, the filter plugging on hoppy beers, knocking some magical cap off while stirring, and others.

Just like any off the shelf, all in one system, it's not perfect by any stretch, especially when you start considering each individual's needs or nuanced desires they have for their brew day. For me, I prefer to have something I can easily alter so I can get things just how I like them.

As an example, i just switched to a two vessel approach three batches ago. I can still use the same controller with this set up, and can still single vessel if I want. Also, my mash tun uses a hybrid of the lid return approach. I use a stainless steel cake pan that floats on top of the mash. A "mash cap" if you will. I outfitted this cake pan with a bulkhead. On the top side of the bulkhead is a tee with a QD male and the temp probe. On the bottom side, facing the grain, I have an elbow and a LOCLine distribution header. The hose simply comes up and over the kettle edge.

I hope you rambling helps in your decision.

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Offline Laminarman

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #67 on: March 18, 2017, 01:48:22 PM »
Huge help everyone, thank you Texas.  I was looking at the two vessel systems at highgravity and it seems the coils are 240v.  I only have a 240 outside I use for my welder, so don't want to have to rewire inside (I think I'd have to get a new electric box.)  Good grief!!  I'll keep weighing my options.

Offline Laminarman

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #68 on: March 18, 2017, 10:43:28 PM »
So spent the better part of a day looking at eBIAB systems online.  If anyone has read through this after I started it my concerns were cost, lifting a big bag of grain, simplicity and space.  Now, the Blichmann BrewEasy 2 vessel system sure as hell has got my eye.  Everything almost on a cart I can wheel away.  Cost.  I wonder if I could build this with non Blichmann pots and an electric burner in the HLT/BK?  I do like the Blichmann coil elements.  This looks pretty much what I'm looking for I believe. Anyone use one?  Or similar? 

Offline natebrews

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #69 on: March 18, 2017, 11:16:17 PM »
I have used my BK w/boilcoil and round Igloo cooler like a breweasy before.  I run the pump up into the top of the cooler and then have that drain back into the boil kettle (with the heating element) and just keep it recirculating.  I used the temperature in the cooler as the temperature to hold.  My temperature probe is just on an L bracket and I clamp it where I want it. 

All that said, it worked fairly well.  I didn't have any problems with any of the parts of it, and I was able to just set a temperature and things would go there.  I used it like that maybe 3 or 4 times and then went back to fly sparging. 

One other thing, I have a Blichmann autosparge that I used to control the flow rate from the kettle back into the tun.  Without that, it was a bit of balancing act to get it to be constant volume in the kettle and the tun.  Without it, I had the liquid level get below the top turn of the boilcoil once.  No damage, but it burned a little wort that was a pain to clean off (I pumped all the wort to the tun and then disconnected the kettle to clean it).
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Offline ktaylor570

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #70 on: March 21, 2017, 06:58:43 PM »
Well I started this thread and presented the Unibrau and BrewBoss to my neighbor who was going to split the cost with me.  He wasn't impressed, but then again, said he might not do anything now and wants to wait on it until next winter.  He said spring is coming even though we just got 30" of snow on Tuesday and he'll be brewing outside soon (I don't see it happening).  So that leaves me to buy it myself, or possibly save money and build a BIAB system myself to keep it reasonable in cost.  The Unibrau looks awesome but somewhat cumbersome with all those hoses in the lid to manage (I'll be working alone).  I wonder if I could make something with a recirculating tube on the top side of the pot and place one of those BBQ remote thermometers in the mash to run out under the lid to measure mash temps?  Also with BIAB (basket) models, how do you get your cooled wort out with that element down there?  I usually stir to create a small whirlpool and let it settle.  Wondering if folks just drain it out after it settles then clean the mess from around the burner...etc.  I have no burning desire to build something but I want something that fits me and is as simple as possible.  I will likely lift the basket and pour water slowly to try to increase efficiency.

About a month ago I purchased the Brewer's Edge Mash and Boil and finally brewed on it this past Thursday.  It runs $300 bucks and $7 shipping from Williams Brewing and worked rather well.  It's very similar to the Grainfather using a 1600 watt heating element, but lacks the pump.  I got 79.5% efficiency on it and it put about 4.75 gallons into my carboy.  Missing the quarter gallon in my carboy was because it was my first use and didn't account for losing some to dead space in the pot.  Only problem I have with it is that it fluctuated my mash temp, which I had set at 154, to 156 down to 151.  I'm going to try to insulate the kettle for next brew day to see if those temps hold better than moving 6 degrees. Even with 1600 watts and no insulation, I was able to get a good boil in about 30 minutes.

Either decision you make, I think you'll be happy.  It was nice to brew inside when there was 24" of snow outside.

Offline JJeffers09

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #71 on: March 22, 2017, 10:55:22 AM »
Even if I had the scratch for the GF, and I don't, I would go for a Brew Boss before the GF.
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Offline SWSommer

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #72 on: March 23, 2017, 06:21:13 PM »
I am not sure that I would buy one.  Seems like it would take a lot of the fun (albeit, also the toil) out of brewing.  A Grainfather is a little pricey for my tastes, and if I would need to bottle 335 cases to get the cost down to <0.10 per bottle. 

Its like driving a car.  Manual transmission is more work, but a lot more fun and I feel like I have a lot more control over the ride.  Grainfather seems like it would be analogous to automatic transmission with cruise control.
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Offline denny

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #73 on: March 23, 2017, 08:29:24 PM »
I am not sure that I would buy one.  Seems like it would take a lot of the fun (albeit, also the toil) out of brewing.  A Grainfather is a little pricey for my tastes, and if I would need to bottle 335 cases to get the cost down to <0.10 per bottle. 

Its like driving a car.  Manual transmission is more work, but a lot more fun and I feel like I have a lot more control over the ride.  Grainfather seems like it would be analogous to automatic transmission with cruise control.

What fun would a Grainfather remove?  It's still a pretty hands on process.
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: How many here would buy a Grainfather???
« Reply #74 on: March 23, 2017, 09:14:11 PM »
I agree with Denny. I had an auto temp control/recirculation BIAB setup, it was every bit as hands-on as my current 3-vessle setup.

Temp control is handled for you, yes, but how many of us are constantly tweaking our temps by hand? I know I just let my temps ride vs. trying to control them with hot water additions.

I guess my point is that a lot of the work that it does for you, most aren't worrying about anyway. If we stick to the trans analogy I'd say it's more like the difference between a cable clutch and a hydraulic one, but even that's a stretch.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 09:19:42 PM by Phil_M »
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