an American in France looking to get back into it

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Dontdropthebeat

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Hello everyone

As the title says, I am an American who somewhat recently relocated to the south of France. It was initially a one year stint to see if it worked out, and almost 4 years later there are no plans to return.

I used to brew pretty regularly from about 2010-2015 and I was using a propane burner, 10 gallon pot, and converted cooler mashtun. All my equipment is in storage in the states.

I am looking to invest in some new equipment here, and the world has changed a bit since I last brewed with the abundance of the affordable all in one electric systems (and now that I am in Europe the access to the 220v electricity). I am trying to figure out what is best for me. I have tried searching the various brands/models and I have found some info but a lot of it is years old, and I assume that some of the issues have been resolved since then (I hope?).

Anyway, I am seeking advice/experience/anecdotes/clarifications from any European brewers who have tried these systems (or anyone anywhere, for that matter)

So Im currently debating the Brew Monk system through brouwland.com and the Klarstein Brauheld Pro system. I understand they are all pretty similar and based on the Guten system which seems to be rebranded according to whoever is selling it (Brew Monk, Klarstein, Ace, Brewzilla,etc).

I was ready to buy the Brew Monk Titan (45l or roughly 12 gallons) but it's out of stock, and the expected stock dates keep shifting from January to March to April.

Then I was looking more seriously at the Klarsteins, and was confused about the differences between the variants (mundschenk, Maischfest, etc). But then I was drawn to the Brauheld Pro for the 1) external pump system (there seemed to be a lot of problems with the internal pumps on the others and saw a lot of recommendations about an external pump). and 2) digital panel that is seemingly not built in, and can be held in the hands (as opposed to having to get down on the ground if using it on the ground, or having to get up on a stool/chair if using it on a table).

I am completely new and ignorant to the world of pumps, so i have no idea. Is a pump even worth it?

So my questions are:

  • Any experience with either? Pro's and cons?
  • 30l (8 gallons) is plenty for me for volume into fermenter, but since it's also the mash tun I was concerned about being limited to grainbill size and was debating a 35l (9 gallons) or 45l. In America I mostly brewed pale ales, IPA's, and saisons, but I did do a lot of belgian styles like triples, golden strong ales, and dubbels which required a much larger grain bill. I know I could adjust for a smaller volumes into fermenter but Im wondering roughly what would be the largest grainbill in the 30l or 35l and if i could expect to do say a Belgian IPA in a 30l and still get 19l into the fermenter?
  • also any experience with the "smallest" batch size that can be done in each size? If I get a 45l system I don't want to discover that I can't just do a small 30l boil (i have read issues about the coil immersion chillers not working so well in the larger size systems. truth?)
I have also been contemplating BIAB in the system and it seems possible? I didn't do too much in America did try it a few times and it was very easy for the cleanup. Are there any people doing a BIAB mash in these systems?

Any other systems to be recommended?

Also, any recommendations for online shops in France (or that ship to France cheaply?) I have found some of the bigger ones but I am wondering if there are any hidden gems I should be aware of. Not just for equipment, but also quality ingredients.

I think that's it for now, but I am sure more will come to me.

Thanks for reading this far and any advice/opinions.
 
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Hi D

Lots of questions here

As my father in law used to say "what'll hold a lot will hold a little" However he was not a home brewer so you do have to watch the dead space at the bottom of whatever vessel you choose (Basically they have a false bottom below which there is liquid, so your mash volume has to take account of this)

Most of the mash tuns you mention are actually the same machine made in China and marketed under different brands

Don't overthink things - just buy a system and make it work for you - they are all a bit of a muchness

Just brew and enjoy it - you will make mistakes and lots of great beer

If you have too much of the latter, just send it to me
 
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Hi D and welcome, i have a 35Ltr Brewzilla an upgrade from my 30Ltr Klarstein biab which i still have, the only thing wrong with the brewzilla gen 3 is what you say if it is on the floor you have to get down to adjust things, i put mine on a beer crate that helps, this is the one i got Robobrew / Brewzilla 35L v3.1.1 All-in-one Microbrewery (angelhomebrew.co.uk) it is very good i use it with brewfather software and make amazing ale, they do a 65Ltr one as well, go on the homebrew network on you tube and search for Gash Slug an Australian brewer he is really good
 

RoomWithABrew

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I have replied to this on
 

Dontdropthebeat

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I have replied to this on

thank you so much!

also due to that thread i was made aware of more options - the Brewster Beacon and the Brew Taurus. The Brew Taurus is very attractive to me at the moment as its more or less the same as the others, but includes a lot of extras for the lowest price ive seen.

still has the issues/hesitations i mentioned though (internal pump, fixed/attatched lcd display)
 

Dontdropthebeat

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Update:

i went ahead and ordered the Brew Taurus with all the additional accessories included. It should arrive tomorrow. I plan to play around with it this weekend and see absout starting to dial it in. If all goes well I may even attempt a smash brew to break it in. I’ll keep you updated if there’s interest.
 
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Bonjour et bienvenue au forum! Have you considered using a 2.5-3kW induction hob and a suitable stainless steel pot? The hobs are very adjustable.
 

RoomWithABrew

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@Wynne Probably not now he's ordered the brew taurus.
@Dontdropthebeat Do measure your volumes check the gradations and the accuracy of the temperatures recalibrate if necessary.

Don't try an enormous grain bill to max it out first time start small and lowish gravity to learn how to use it.

Check your crush, check your crush.

Update us please.
 

Braufather

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In terms of info on internal pumps. I can only talk about the braumeister but it’s internal pump built in pump works like a dream. Obviously it’s not cheap but I thought I throw that in there. Done 70 or 80 brews in it without a Single issue with the pump.
 

Dontdropthebeat

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i went with the brew Taurus 45l all in one. They have a reduced price and included a lot of extras like a whirlpool arm, insulating jacket, immersion chiller, hop spider etc all for 550€ and free shipping from Czech Republic to france. ordered it two weeks ago and it arrived within a week.

Did a couple nights of tests with just water To start dialing in boil off and losses, and brewed my first batch with it on Sunday. I kept it simple - 6kg of Vienna malt and 50g of citra hops with bry-97 west coast ipa yeast.


considering it was my first time brewing since November 2014 and a whole new system (For years I used to to do converted cooler mashtun with a 10gallon kettle and propane burner) everything went very smoothly. I was a few points off in my gravity but not much (about 65% efficiency and I’m confident I can improve that).

it was my first time milling my own grains and I think it was ok - I set a corona mill gap to about the width of a credit card and used a brew bag (the thought of cleaning spent grains made me very lazy, as well as not wanting to add to the numerous posts about the pump clogging with grains).


I opted to not use the mash pipe but I wish I had. I just put the bag in the kettle and heated up the water before adding the grains. It worked fine but when it came time to pull it out it was a pain. Had I used the mash pipe I could have raised it and let it drain and done a better rinse. My volume was about a liter low at this point and I got a little concerned. Instead I ended up just holding the bag over the kettle for like 20 minutes and was able to regain that missing liter. Next time I will use the mash pipe and the bag and let gravity work for me.



As I was underway I realized I was uncertain about what power to use but went with about 1500w for the mash and 2000w for the boil. I had some issues with temps - if I kept the lid on during the mash it would sometimes overshoot my target temp by at times about 5-7degrees C and I’d have to remove the lid and stir until it dropped back down. After a few more batches I’d like to be better prepared to control that somehow.



The boil went smooth, got up to a hot break fairly quickly (after I realized that setting it to 100c would just bring it to 100 and then stop - you have to go one step past 100 to “boiling”) and used the hop spider for the additions. I did a 20l batch and the immersion chiller worked pretty well (about 3/4 submerged maybe?) in combination with the whirlpool arm (wasn’t super strong tho) and stirring. Chilled it in about 15-20 minutes.



Pitched the yeast and put it in an unused fridge in the basement thinking it would be a prrttt good temp. After a day of no airlock activity (I know I know it doesn’t mean everything) and noticing the stick on thermometer was reading about 52/54f (11-13c) I wrapped a towel around it and then put a hoodie on it, zipping it up and laying the hood on the top around the airlock, and now it’s happily bubbling away. It’s towards the lower temp range for the yeast but I am curious to see how a slow/low range fermentation goes - my old set up I’d ferment in a heated room towards the higher ends of the ranges and often would get more of an alcohol test (esp on higher gravity Belgians). It will still be beer and I’m hoping there will be a decent body.



Already planning to get another fermenter and do another smash (maybe a Pilsner/Saaz with 05 yeast) and further dial in the process and “workflow” on the machine, but overall after the first batch I am VERY pleased. Way smoother than I feared after a 6 1/2 year hiatus and on all new equipment.



Next step is working on fermentation control. Here in Provence it has been fairly cold but it should start warming up in the next few weeks and by the spring I think the basement/cave will be pretty optimal fermentation temps without needing much control but we will see.
 

Markicak

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Hi!

I'm also looking at investing into a BrewTaurus system, but what puts me off is that I can't seem to find any reviews on their units ( except for this one ), so It looked to me like a scam site. I'm glad I found your review.

Would you say you're generally satisfied with it? It seems to be the cheapest unit with a lot of accessories for brewing which attracts me as well.
Are you not worried about the warranty? I'm not sure how they handle it, considering they're in Czech Republic, sending the unit back for a warrantyt repair might be pricier than a new unit itself.

Also, do you think the 2,5kW heater is enough for a full 45L batch? I've seen some units have 3kW heaters even with less volume like 20L.

Thanks.
 

RoomWithABrew

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The robobrew I have has a 2000w 240 v and that's for 30 litres I didn't need to run it at 1500w once boiling the 500w kept a nice boil.
The guten 70litre has a 3000 watt element and ramps up fine. With 50litres in the kettle once boiling it is running at 25% for a nice gentle boil.
I think 2500 W will be fine.
Remember that Voltage fluctuations will effect that wattage anyway.
 

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