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Old 11-08-2017, 09:54 AM   #1
IainM
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Hey Mo,
I've got a Bulldog Brewer and I'm very happy with it. It certainly makes it quicker, easier and less messy than when I do BIAB. If you are ordering now you will get one of the more recent ones and they've worked through the teething problems. A few tips:

Crush: If you crush your own grain then 1.0-1.2mm mill gap size works perfectly for me. Pre-crushed grain varies in how finely it is milled, but should mostly be fine, but I would get in some rice or oak husks so you can chuck 100g or so in the grist just in case it is too finely milled. Definitely use husks if you have a sizeable amount of wheat or rye in the grist.

Strike water: Heat up the strike water on full power to get to your desired strike water temperature, then turn the power down to 700W and the temp to mash temp, then dough in. Strike water volume should be about 3.0 L/kg, though I've had success with lower; for large grain bills 3.0L/kg might leave the water line above the overflow pipe so instead of recirculating through the grain it just recirculated through the pipe. It is best to check with the “can I mash it” tool for big beers. Its probably a good idea to check the strike and mash temperature with a seperate thermometer to make sure your unit is well calibrated, and make adjustments accordingly if needs be.

Mash: Start the recirculation slowly by partly closing the ball valve to avoid drawing in the grain bed. You can always put on the sparge plate to dispurse the wort and avoid creating channels in the mash. I do stir half way just to loosen the mash. This isn't a problem because it only takes a few minutes to settle the grain bed and get clear wort running through again. Always do a mash out, because you can. If you aren't using the pump for the sparge then I recommend rinsing it through immediately after the mash to prevent sticky wort from drying in there and potentially gumming it up.

Sparge: Be careful lifting up the malt pipe. I always push out sideways on the handle when lifiting because otherwise the handle can slip. Apparently they had solved this problem when I bought mine but it still a bit dodgy. For volumes, dead space and trub loss is about 2.5L. Also, as you are doing a mash out then the sparge water doesn't need to be as hot because you don't have to raise the temperature of the grain. I mash out and sparge at 76C to good effect.

Boil: Even though Bulldog have said you can use the malt pipe as a hop spider, don't do it. It screws up the boil and shoots out the overflow pipe. I use 5 gallon nylon bags to keep the hops in. These ones fit well, don't reach to the bottom, but still are big enough for the hops to move about freely to give you decent utilisation. Leaf hops might be ok, but I find that that with pellets then the bazooka filter clogs without a spider/bag. I always squeeze the hop bag after the boil, especially if I'm using expensive aroma/flavour hops. Many people bring to the boil at 2500W then reduce it to 1800W for a decent rolling boil with about 4L/hour boil off, though I prefer overshooting with the sparge to get better efficieny then just boiling down at 2500W. If you do this then having a spray bottle handy to prevent boil over.

Cooling: Once it gets down to 80C or so I turn on the recirculation pump. Not only does this help agitate the wort and speed up chilling, but you also end up with crystal clear wort in the fv.

Hope this helps and happy brewing!
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Old 11-08-2017, 03:32 PM   #2
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Old 11-08-2017, 05:39 PM   #3
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The number one issue with all these one pot brewing systems is getting the grain crush right, or if not quite right then adding rice hulls to make it work.
You want to gradually regulate the pump flow so it can be flowing at it's highest rate with little impediment through the grain bed.
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Old 13-08-2017, 02:58 PM   #4
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Again, great write-up! Also, or especially the hop-tip. SO said we didn't need a hop boil bag/spider, but thanks to you I could tell you we do indeed need one!
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Old 13-08-2017, 03:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoBlo View Post
Again, great write-up! Also, or especially the hop-tip. SO said we didn't need a hop boil bag/spider, but thanks to you I could tell you we do indeed need one!
Well, you might not if you are doing recipes with small hop bills, porters or the like, but I'm a fan of hop bombs and there is no way the bazooka wouldn't clog without something to keep the hops away.
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Drinking: Perry, Cider, Gales Festival Mild (GW clone), RIS, Winebuddy Merlot, Mead, Cyser, Melomel
Previous good'uns: RyeIPA, NEDIPA, Bitter (HBF comp 2nd place), Perry from scratch, Hobgob clone, DIYDog Dogma, Mild, BIPA x 3, ginger beer
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Old 13-08-2017, 04:54 PM   #6
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Great post. I too have the bulldog brewer, and am overall also very happy with it. I find 1800 watts gives a good rolling boil.

I have had problems with the pump gumming up (on one occasion probably due to use of rye malt), but last time I brewed I was careful to run through hot water after the mash to clean it and it was fine.
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Old 13-08-2017, 06:40 PM   #7
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You can make a jacket for it using a foil car window shade.
It does help it heat up quicker, give more stable temperature and would give a better rolling boil at 1800w.
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