Pros and Cons?

A forum to discuss one pot automated brewing systems.
Binkie Huckaback
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Pros and Cons?

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Sat Jun 22, 2019 1:30 pm

I've been very lucky as ever since I started brewing, I've worked shifts which meant I could brew and still get all the non-fun things in life done. However, I now have a have a new job and although this means I have a bit of cash to splash from redundancy, I'll be a 'normal' person again and have less time to brew. Although I promised myself that I'd upgrade to a gas three vessel set up when I found a new job, was wondering if I should go down the one-pot system route instead, so I have a few questions for those of you who've already made the change.

1. Is it the brewing equivalent of a bread maker?
2. Having invested in one, do you wish you hadn't and why?
3. Do you wish you'd bought a different brand instead?
4. Do you think some of the fun has gone out of your brew days?
5. What (if any) are the drawbacks of such a system?
6. In reality, does it make a brewday shorter?

I think that's all! Any answers would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by Binkie Huckaback on Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Jocky
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Jocky » Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:02 pm

I've looked at a one pot system for helping shorten my brew day a bit, so I'll look forward to reading opinions here. The one comment I can make is:

1. No, a breadmaker makes bread which you can then eat without any further work. A one pot system makes wort, which you still have to ferment, package etc, and that's where more faults seem to come from home brewing than the wort making process.
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by cristian.n » Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:57 pm

hi, I started with kits, then partial mash and BIAB. now I use all in one electric system. I leave in an apartment so 3V was out of the question for me.
1. absolutely not. as Jockey was saying.
2. yes, I have the Braumeister 20L and lately, many other great competitors are on the market. check David Heath reviews
3. probably a Grainfather as a cheaper but still trusted brand (better temp controller than BM) or Brewtools as approx same budget and quality build as BM.
6. not sure for 3V but approx 5-6 H for BM20/GF all in one.

cheers!

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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by IPA » Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:06 pm

I bought one of, if not the first, automatic Braumeisters. Before that they used to be manual.
It was the 20 litre model and very quickly I realised that I had made a mistake ! It was not big enough =D>
So I sold it and bought a 50 litre :D

I have never looked back. They are incredible ( slightly expensive) but worth every penny. I produce top quality beer every time.
With regard to time saving it takes on average five hours from start to finish including washing/cleaning up.

I now have two a 20 litre and a 50 litre with all the extras so that I can brew anything from 10-57 litre batches.
The beer that I sell to friends has more than paid for the initial expense. That might be difficult in the UK but in rural France they tend to take a more relaxed attitude to these things.
In short if you have the cash buy one you wont regret it.

EDIT If you are tempted to buy a Grainfather or similar check out the availability of spare parts. With a Braumeister you can buy every single component.
Last edited by IPA on Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Binkie Huckaback
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:20 pm

Thanks guys

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john luc
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by john luc » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:56 pm

I love my Grainfather
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Rhodesy
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Rhodesy » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:27 pm

I have a Braumeister 20 which I love. I had a short lived 3V system with a RIMS tube, PID, Blichmann Gas burner etc but luckily managed to sell most off with no great loss. For me the benefits are the time, ability to full volume mash overnight and much less cleaning.

Like others have said, there are great alternatives at various price range across the market. If you are planning batches of between 10-50 odd litres then they are a very attractive proposition.

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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Kevwaller » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:53 am

I have a grainfather and I love it. I don’t space for a 3v system but if I did then that’s the way I would go. Ss brewtech do some great systems now, maybe have a look at them


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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Cobnut » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:03 am

On my return to brewing after a multi-decade hiatus, I did a couple of kits, some extract brews, BIAB and then bought a GF.

Beer quality has improved with every step.

I love my GF. AS one of the other posters has said, typical brew time is about 5 hours including cleaning up afterwards (albeit water prep. is NOT included in that time). I managed to beat that last Friday evening: 4 1/2 hours from mash in to packing away. I even managed to heat up some leftovers for my tea and eat them whilst brewing AND I cleaned out two Corny kegs that my friends and I had finished off the night before. Pretty pleased! Now I just need this brew to ferment (it's going a bit slowly, but looking at my records, the last time I used Brewlabs Thames Valley 1 it was a slow, steady fermenter).

Overall, I would thoroughly recommend the GF system, but I have no experience with 3V systems, so perhaps I'm a bit blinkered.

I also love my Tilt Hydrometer and fermentasaurus (see other threads).
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Kingfisher4 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:29 am

I too, went straight for the Grainfather from no brewing experience at all. Although I don’t have any comparison, the simplicity, compactness and consistency are massive advantages. I do not have a brew shed or permanent space so the ability to set up the Grainfather as a standalone in the utility room and pack away immediately afterwards is a massive pro. My brew days from start to clear up are a similar length to the above. That is, apart from a couple of recent batches of low ABV beer with no Sparge and shorter mash and boil times which from start to finish was 3 hours.The ability to pre-heat the water ready to mash temperature before your brew day is also A significant time saver.

The recent upgrade to the Grainfather connect software is causing some glitches, but that is bound to be rectified some point soon.

With regard to spares, talking to the MaltMiller team, GF are not only robustly made, but they can apparently source replacements or spares well.

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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by vacant » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:05 pm

Binkie Huckaback wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 1:30 pm
4. Do you think some of the fun has gone out of your brew days?
5. What (if any) are the drawbacks of such a system?
6. In reality, does it make a brewday shorter?
I don't have a gf or similar but have done loads of single vessel brews.

(4) I started AG brewing using a net curtain for BIAB. Then got a nice shiny thermopot mash tun and shiny kettle. These days I tend to alternate between my two vessel system and my single vessel grain basket. Single vessel is marginally less faffing around but both are as much fun.

(5) None - for the standard beers I always brew.

(6) No quicker for me as I don't have a HLT on a timer, I have to heat all liquor (around 35 ltr) for mashing in a single-vessel. With two vessels, if I want to save time I can heat just 12 ltr for the mash, then heat the rest in the kettle during the mash. The time saved is about the same as a batch sparge (my Ikea splash guard filter occupies the entire base of the tun and no grain gets through even with a fast sparge).

If you really want to save time buy a 25 ltr jerry can and try a no-chill. You can save more time by fermenting in the jerry can with a blow-off tube.
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Kev888
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Kev888 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:14 pm

It is all very personal, as all brewing systems are compromises - just drawn in slightly different places. IMO decent one pot systems are not noticeably lacking in control or enjoyment. And brewing good beer reliably with them still benefits massively from proper understanding of the whole brewing process from water onwards; crucially, they don't hamper expertise.

With some, the focus is shifted towards software and apps (and all that goes with them) in the setup stage, rather than manually pushing buttons later - that IT focus appeals hugely to some people and much less to others, so only you can really decide what floats your boat. There can be a bit less flexibility if the software doesn't conform to your exact wishes, but you are saved many of the manual interventions on brew day - especially when repeating similar brews. Much might depend on your process though; for instance multi-step mashes are becoming common partly because it is an easy selling point for one-pot systems, but whilst it may benefit certain styles it can be pointless (or worse) for many traditional British beers.

One-pot systems are mostly about improving convenience (and economics for commercially produced models). However, if done well there aren't many inherent disadvantages that I see. Those I do include: some slight differences in the water treatment needed (and possibly results) if you go for a one-pot system that mashes at full-volume (applies to any full-volume mash, not just one-pot). As most recirculate through the boil kettle there are generally more grain-related debris making it through to the boil stage. If you want to sparge, particularly continuously, not many one-pot systems offer methods quite as good as a dedicated mash or lauter tun - and there is no opportunity to recirculate to clear before running off to the boil kettle.

It isn't just about the recipe by any means, the process of dealing with the ingredients is also vital. FWIW I still find the 3-vessel approach the sweet spot in quality and control. But, I'm also fairly happy with one-pot (or pot-in-pot) systems too; they are generally more convenient and there is no question about the good ones also making excellent beer in the right hands.



(edit: apologies for the long post; I spent a couple of years playing with and testing the concepts involved just for my own interest, which might not interest everyone!)
Last edited by Kev888 on Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by wezzel01 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:47 pm

I went from brew in a bag (home made boiler/mash tun) to three vessel (picnic cooler mash tun + buffalo boiler) to Braumeister and definitely wouldn’t go back.

My only regret was not splashing out for the BM at the start as I lost a fair bit of money trading up each time.

For some, building the brewery and mucking about with Heath Robinson contraptions like pulleys and pumps and control panels is part of the fun but for me it was just about making really good quality ale consistently with as little fuss as possible. The BM (and I’m sure other automated one pot machines) does that very well.

Setting up is quick. The brew day is more relaxed and organised. The equipment is small and easy to store and more importantly easy to clean. There is also less room for error as there are no separate pumps to clog or sparge arms to block.

The real skill still remains and that is formulating good recipes.


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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Mattpc » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:57 pm

1. Is it the brewing equivalent of a bread maker?

Not sure what you mean but I think no.

2. Having invested in one, do you wish you hadn't and why?

I'm pretty happy with my investment. I bought second hand but it was truly as new and came with some accessories that I didn't want and sold to buy some different ones. I could sell it now for what I paid for it easily.

3. Do you wish you'd bought a different brand instead?

If I was buying all over again then I would be tempted by a Grainfather. Especially if I could get it second hand. I don't think the Braumeister does anything a Grainfather can't. Don't assume that because it is German the quality of the Braumeister is perfect. The control panel software is not perfect, the wifi module can be annoying and I don't think the heating element is as powerful as a Grainfather. However, I have more confidence in the quality and safety of the materials used to build it.

4. Do you think some of the fun has gone out of your brew days?

No, not really. I previously brewed outside with a gas burner and huge stockpot doing extract brews. I guess it was more dramatic in a way because of the gas flames and bubbling cauldrons but I would probably never have gone to all grain because of the time and mess if it were not for a one pot system.

5. What (if any) are the drawbacks of such a system?

- expensive investment
- you can't avoid the fact you still have to clean the one pot system including the malt pipe which kind of is another vessel really. To really make the process efficent and not too messy you still need to develop optimal methods of cleaning and disposing of the malt and hops.
- I don't think the Braumeister is as quick as my gas burner setup at heating the water.

6. In reality, does it make a brewday shorter?

No I previously extract brewed so it has made my days longer. A brew day still take a day ( a morning and an afternoon) but I'm not constantly tied to the kit and can get on with other things while it is happening.

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Re: Pros and Cons?

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:17 am

Thanks to everyone who replied. I think I'll go for the Grainfather.

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