Discussion in 'General Beer Brewing Equipment Discussion' started by drakey182, Jul 18, 2015.
I got a completely different reaction when I hinted that I needed a GrainFather. :-?
I can fit 6.5kg easily if grain in my BM 20L and have heard of people doing 7kg. If you need to do more then it is easy to double mash either for strength our to get out near to 40L brew lengths.
Also from what I have seen the GF controller upgrade isn't really going to put it in the same ball park as the BM, just narrow the gap slightly. It will be interesting to see what comes out with the firmware upgrades for the BM controller and it's Wi-Fi unit over the next year.
He did something you didn't
You want me to treat myself
Or your Mrs hasn't blown a grand on mobile bingo and casino apps last month perhaps :whistle:
I bought the Bulldog Brewer a month or so ago and finally had the chance to do a full AG brew with it this morning. I intended to take photos of each stage of the process but forgot when I got started then realised the good folks at the Grimsby homebrew shop have done a video that shows the steps:
As you can see, this is near-identical to the Grainfather only with an immersion chiller rather than the GF's counterflow chiller. It set me back Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃÂ£360 which makes it at least Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃÂ£230 less than the GF.
I decided to go with a mash kit from The Homebrew Company with it being my first attempt at AG. I'll put recipes together myself in future but wanted to play it safe first go so I went with this:
Nice and simple, one hop addition plus the wife loves milk stout...
Brewday started at 8am. It took about 20 minutes or so to get 14l of strike water to 72c. Added the grain to the grain basket as per the GY video, but my mash was much thicker than I expected. Maybe should have used more strike water, as the recirculation pump had real difficulty drawing the liquor through the grain. Mashed out at 75c after an hour, fitted the sparge plate and sparged with 18l at 72c heated in a separate pot on the stovetop. It took around 50 minutes to complete the sparge. It then took around 20-25 minutes to get up to a rolling boil, and probably 30-40 minutes to get back down from the boil to pitching temperature (22c) after the boil was over using the immersion chiller. The whole process including clean up took almost exactly 5 hours. The OG ended up at 1066, 8 points higher than the recipe predicts. Although I don't have the precise recipe given that it's a kit supplied by a shop I reckon my efficiency is 78-80% having run similar recipes through efficiency calculators. Not sure if this is good or not, if anyone can give me an idea there I'd appreciate it.
Pretty much everything works really well, and I'm sure it'll get easier after a few more batches. The controller is very easy to use, it gets up to temperature nice and quickly and the recirculation pump works well. The grain basket design is good and seems simpler than the Brewcrafter 25 and some of the other units based around this boiler with no moving parts that could break.
Due to its size it's a pain in the arse to wash in my sink as it's way taller than my taps, though that's my problem rather than being a problem with the unit, and the immersion chiller takes longer to get the wort to pitching temperature than I'd expected, though this will probably improve once we get into the winter and the tap water cools down. My only real gripe with the Bulldog Brewer though is the instructions provided by Hambleton Bard - they are really quite poor in my opinion, to the point that I had to email them to ask what some of the bits and pieces in the box were for. To their credit they came back to me very quickly with explanations but this really should be done right "out of the box".
Overall I'm very impressed with the Bulldog Brewer. My first AG brewday went really smoothly and didn't take a lot longer than the stovetop extract brews with steeped grains that I've been doing recently. There were no hiccups and I've ended up with a wort that seems to be of high quality. I guess I'll find out in a month or two when I start drinking the results. I know there have been reports of faulty units but that hasn't been my experience. I have one of the second generation units, so there may have been an improvement in quality control.
I hope this proves useful - I'll update this thread if anything significant comes up after the next few brewdays. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer for you.
I may be looking at one of these next year, but have one problem. It will be set up in my garage which does not have a water supply. How do I cool the wort? I could move it to the FV and take that inside and cool in the sink.
I mash in the kitchen, carry the whole unit to the back door for the boil (the first boil in the kitchen left everything dripping even with the windows open) then carry it back in to the kitchen for cooling. The handles are very sturdy and I've never come close to spilling any wort. If you're not able to move it then you could consider getting a long hose for the wort chiller...
You get an excellent wort chiller with the bulldog. Which can be adapted to fit regular garden hose connections with a 12mm compression fitting.
All you need then is a hose pipe from your nearest water supply.
How difficult and what would it cost to build one of these yourself.
A boiler with concealed element, up to ÃÂ£100
Temp controller, ÃÂ£10
Or I was just looking at this.
There is a link to downoad the manual which includes English a few pages down. They recommend a 3 hour mash and fermenting at 8-12ÃÂ°. Not heard that one before, I didnt think yeast would work at that low a temp. Not sure about the controller being sensitive enough and it only has 2ÃÂ° increments but at ÃÂ£137.99 its the cheapest I've seen. Add ÃÂ£22.99 for the filter bag if needed and it comes in at ÃÂ£160.98. Need to add a wort chiller as well from the looks of it.
sounds like the mash profile and fermentation schedule for a light continental lager..
Watched the reviews til I got blue in the face...
So parted with my dosh for Grainfather..
TBH I'm chuffed I bought it! No matter the cost...a few brews under my belt and being one handed it's a god send tbh!!
Like you say we get what you pay for...
Likewise. Wanted to do AG and looked at a lot of reviews. Saw nothing but good things about the GF so I went for it. No regrets.
Run the hose from your garden or from inside your house via an adaptor that fits a hose fitting on any tap
I've now watched a few grain father videos on youtube and have not yet seen one that shows how the hops are filtered from the final wort. Can anyone tell me?
The bulldog brewer uses the grain basket as a hop spider during the boil.
Of the two I think the pump in the grainfather is better and the gf chiller only takes 5-10 minutes compared to I think it was 20 mins + for the immersion chiller of the bb. I might just pay the extra for the gf.
So the only other question is whether the new control box is worth the extra money?
With the grainfather I think people whirlpool or use muslin bags or hop spiders, as for the bulldog I'd watch the blundering brewers video as a good rolling boil with the basket in causes the hot liquor to spit up out the centre pipe.
You could use the grain basket in the GF too, but I think you'll increase the chance of scorching on the bottom where the concealed heating element is. That in turn can cause over heating and the thermal switch can trip.
That could go for the Bulldog too.
When you boil you use a paddle to drag across the base so this does not happen.
If I was you and planned to go cheaper, then those ones on ebay look a better setup.
Since my post I've found out the grainfather has a gauze filter for hops on the inside of the tap.
Bulldog Brewer 6 brew update.
I've now got through 6 brewdays - a milk stout, a saison, an export india porter, three DIY Dog recipes (Alpha Dog, Moshi Moshi '15 & Albino Squid Assassin) and a variant on the Greg Hughes American wheat beer (added an ounce of cascade at 10 minutes and as a dry hop addition). I'm still well pleased with the purchase, the unit is functioning well and the beer has all been a giant leap forward from kit and then extract. It hasn't been without hitches - I've made mistakes (forgetting to put the bazooka filter on, for example), and there was an issue with the design of the grain basket handle which led to the handle falling off and the basket falling and getting damaged. However, Hambleton Bard were fantastic and sent out a replacement basket and handle that had a number of refinements over the original design. Great customer service and a pleasure to deal with, well played HB.
I've never seen a Grainfather in the flesh so I still can't say which is the better unit, though I'd hazard a guess that the GF is higher quality, but I have no complaints about the Bulldog Brewer. The price is still great, the only comparable unit I've seen for a similar price is this: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/271687277467 but it doesn't come with a wort chiller and only seems to be available through ebay which I always approach with trepidation. Bottom line - would I buy this again? Yes, definitely.
Even today when I wasn't 100% functioning....ok I lied 75% (so the specialist told me at the hossy!)
Once again the Gf is an awesome piece of kit...
I might do a review, in the view with a one handed person..and the trouble may crop up!!
The Grainfather has always been my dream bit of kit but I've just never been able to justify the cost of it to myself (never mind to the wife).
So the new micro breweries like the Ace and Klarstein at half the price of the Grainfather really got me interested. Unfortunately, after comparing the pros and cons of both systems I got a little too interested and yesterday after getting a really good deal I ordered ............. the Grainfather. Whoops! :whistle:
The Ace has some plus points, obviously it's price, the handles on the unit and lid and also it has a tap. But what really sold me on the Grainfather were
It's already a proven and popular machine
Reports of very good after sales
The excellent counter flow chiller (would cost over Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃÂ£100 itself)
The new controller and app
And quite important the community
I've ordered it without the new controller for now but will probably add it at a later date to ease the cash flow.
Now I just need to figure out what to tell SWMBO ! :hmm:
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