Grainfather - first impressions

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gobuchul
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Grainfather - first impressions

Post by gobuchul » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:49 am

Well finally got to brew with my Grainfather yesterday.

First impressions:

Bad
A lot of money for what it is! (But I knew that before I bought it)
Why is there no handle for the lid?
Pump should be bigger and controllable.
A 2nd connection for the pump, so you can connect a HLT for sparging, would be a good addition.
Seal on the bottom plate is terrible. An absolute nightmare to get in place.

Good
Compact. (main reason why I bought it)
A little quicker than my old AG set up
Less faff.
Cleaning is easy.
Really like the app and the bluetooth.
Cooler is excellent.

Overall all I'm happy and managed to get 2 brews done yesterday.

I reckon I can get a brew done in 3.5 hours.

If the Chinese versions had the controller and the bluetooth I would probably of bought one of them.

Kingfisher4
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by Kingfisher4 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:24 pm

The only one of your bad points that you can potentially remedy is the seal on the bottom plate.
I run hot water from the tap around the inside of the grain tube before trying to put the bottom plate in place. If you initially slide the plate in at right angles to its final position and then gently push down all around the silicon seal It is amazingly easy to locate. I had the same problems initially.
Hope the hot water trick works. If it doesn’t quite bed down initially, just run more hot water in with the plate almost in place.

chefgage
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by chefgage » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:58 pm

You shouldnt have any problems getting the bottom plate to fit. Make sure you wet all around the rubber seal and then wet the inside of the grain basket before trying to fit the plate. The plate needs to go in at an angle, about 45' is good. Then when its about at the bottom turn it so its then horizontal if that makes sense.

With regards to the pump, if you want to control the flow rate just adjust the valve.

I presume theres no handle for the lid as it would get in the way of the CFC. Although i suppose a removable handle could have been added.

Your point about the connection for a hlt for sparging, have you thought about cold water sparging. Theres quite a few people who do it i believe, including me. I have seen no difference using hot water or cold water to sparge. I always just use cold water for sparging now so my grainfather is a one pot system instead of two (i dont need a vessel to heat up sparge water).
Last edited by chefgage on Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jackthehat
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by Jackthehat » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:01 pm

If it really annoys you, it doesn't make a great deal of difference if you don't bother with the bottom seal.

The easiest way I've found of fitting it is to leave the tube in the liquor as it comes up to temperature and to cool the bottom plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Lift the tube, fit the seal and it should slide straight in without the seal slipping off.

Kingfisher4
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by Kingfisher4 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:43 pm

Great to see different solutions.

Essentially either need to expand the grain tube diameter or reduce that of the plate and seal slightly and lubricate with water.

ciderhead
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Grainfather - first impressions

Post by ciderhead » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:08 pm

I slide it in pretty easy with a squirt of starsan or water it squeaks down to the bottom and is a 10 second process, don’t attempt dry it will break your heart. Another thing I do is place into a builders bucket and grind straight into the tube. I then pop any extra that came out the bottom (fines) in on the top.
Somebody on her got me into underletting my 3 v system which was so easy to do and pretty much eliminated doughballs.
So also for my gf I finish by doing by equivalent of underletting in that I gently lower it initially into the water then let it go as it finds its equilibrium. Doughballs are pretty much non existent and a gentle stir and I’m good to go, none of that faffing with pour stir pour stir messing and stuff going everywhere.
Be aware though you drop it in and base plate will push up and you’ll have a right mess.

chefgage
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by chefgage » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:27 am

Thats a good idea about lowering the basket and underletting. Might give that a go next time. Like you say i end up with grain flour on every surface in the kitchen when mashing in. This way i can fill the grain basket outside :)

Kingfisher4
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by Kingfisher4 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:39 am

Underletting sounds a great idea compared to the faff of balancing a 5kg malt bag, tipping it slowly whilst stirring solo.
Fine malt dust always fills the utility room with my usual method.

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Hairybiker
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by Hairybiker » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:02 am

I've always used a pet food scoop (3 or 4 cup US size) to add grain, it adds about 0.5Kg at a time.
I've been cold water sparging for several years now still hit the figures, just do the mash out before you sparge.

The bottom seal is a PITA, do the above and also super glue it in place, or dump it totally! It is only to really stop the bottom plate scratching the malt sleeve, it isn't to stop wart flowing.
Brewing (and loving it) on a Grainfather.
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nibber
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by nibber » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:45 am

"Seal on the bottom plate is terrible. An absolute nightmare to get in place".

With mine I always found the seal would push off as you are putting the lower mesh plate /gasket in
Solution-
just rub some grain dust from your malt ingredients round the seal and put it in-it then goes in a treat! and does not get pushed off as you push it down :)

steviebobs83
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by steviebobs83 » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:52 pm

Sorry to hijack the thread a bit...

Anyone have problems with the top plate seal? Mine is a total PITA. My friend knocked the mash basket off a bench and it must be ever so slightly buckled near the top. I can just about manage to get it in place without knocking the seal off but it often tips and drops down below the water line once I start recirculating. And it's really hard to get it back out when the wort is at 65°c. This used to occasionally happen before it got knocked but it's defo worse now. I've done my last 2 brews without it and kept a very close eye on the overflow, turning the pump off before it sends grain down the overflow pipe.

Is there something I'm doing wrong or any immediate fixed anyone can think of? I've been tempted to glue the seal to the plate to see if that helps but so far I've been reluctant in case it becomes difficult to clean.

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ciderhead
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by ciderhead » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:49 pm

You want to try and reverse that buckle, assemble it with the plate in situ and roll on a flat counter to see how bad it is. To get it back you could consider using a tourniquet or mounting it cowboy style and use your own weight to bring it back.
Please post pics for us all as your wife catches you riding your brewing apparatus.

steviebobs83
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by steviebobs83 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:16 pm

ciderhead wrote:You want to try and reverse that buckle, assemble it with the plate in situ and roll on a flat counter to see how bad it is. To get it back you could consider using a tourniquet or mounting it cowboy style and use your own weight to bring it back.
Please post pics for us all as your wife catches you riding your brewing apparatus.
Haha, I've given it plenty of bear hugs already. It's so slight that I can't even see it but the snugness of the seal gives it away. It's actually okay without it for a lower ABV brew because it never overflows before it equalises the water level.

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ciderhead
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by ciderhead » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:48 pm

Can you just clarify something. So when you start you push the top plate down to the level of the liquid so that it just touches yeah? then you push down and locate your central stem and overflow piece. It’s common to have some overflow down the first five or 10mins as the water finds its way through the grain.
A lot of us use tea strainers to stop grain going down the central stem.
You can regulate the flow at the start using the valve on the pump.
If you get it overflowing throughout the brew you need to look at your crush or alternatively add in some wash’s rice hulls or oak husks to ensure consistent flow through the pipe. This works well with gummy grains eg if you are using using a lot of wheat.

steviebobs83
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Re: Grainfather - first impressions

Post by steviebobs83 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:12 pm

I think it's a mixture of things to be fair.

I've never had problems with crush or overflow before and I've done over 15 brews in it but I got a 20kg bag of crushed minch malt hookhead series as part of some prize vouchers from the homebrew festival and I think it's a bit too finely crushed and I'm just making my way through it (It makes a cracking stout btw). I've noticed it develops suction when I lift the grain basket for sparging no matter how slowly I lift it, it's not a stuck mash but it's quite slow flowing. It still never overflows constantly (unless I'm making something really pokey) but any overflow without the top plate will drag grain into the main container and get boiled with the hops and potentially block the pump.

As for the top seal malarkey, I think I'm stuck with the slightly off circular tun as it's miniscule amounts that it's off by and near impossible to adjust. I'm convinced it's the pressure of the rubber hose lying on top of the plate coupled with the flow that loosens it off and sends it under the water line.

Even after all that (and a rodent gnawing through my pump pipe) I still love the grainfather. I'm thinking it's probably paid for itself already in what I wouldve paid in sub par crap supermarket beer so I might eventually invest in a new one.

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