Angel Homebrew Brew Devil - First Brew Review.

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Dec 7, 2015
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A bit of a follow up on this thread;

It's the same basic brewer as a few companies have released with their own branding now, apparently, this version now has a memory function which makes programming easier, I didn't test this but programming in steps is certainly straightforward, just plug in the numbers, press go and it beeps at you when you have to do anything.

I finally got around to brewing for the first time on it on Saturday morning, but the internet wasn't working so there's no blow by blow account with pictures! So here are my thoughts.

A lot of this review is dealing with the negatives, this is a bit harsh but assume if I don't mention an aspect then it was fine, I mean it's shiny and it didn't leak, but if I told you that sort of thing we'd be here all day! Skip to the conclusion if you don't want to know the ins and outs of my brewday mistakes. I've also not mentioned the stuff I'd already read elsewhere, like moaning about the controller being on the floor (I brewed on the worktop and used a step to lift the grain basket).

Other equipment I used:
Hop spider (6" x 12" off ebay)
Plate chiller (from a combi boiler, bankrupt stock from a plumbers merchant for £30!)
Pump (Solar pump off ebay, can't remember the model, not the cheapest one)
Thermometer, refractometer, scales, bucket etc.
15l stock pot (for sparge water)

I've also insulated the boiler with foil bubble wrap becasue I already had it and it seemed like a good idea.

The instructions are functional at best, there's no advice on stuff like water volumes in the mash for example. Next time I'll measure the dead space under the grain bucket (which seems quite big) and then see what beersmith says. Likewise there's no guidance on boil off rates or sparge volumes etc. Some degree of trial and error will be needed (and careful note taking, not something I'm great at!). As a result of the required guesswork, a sight glass would be a handy mod, but equally, if I knew the volumes I'd be happy just pouring the calculated amount of sparge water into it.

The overflow pipe isn't straightforward, I put both sections in and for 5kg it was far too much, the long section alone would have been fine. Not really an issue as you need to balance the flow with the valve to keep a consistent level anyway, just meant the top plate wasnt sat on top of the grain bed but ~30mm above it.

A few people have asked is the controller a PID, I'm reasonably confident it's not. I'm not sure if it was throttling back as it got near the set point or not but it did seem to only control the mash +-1C, allowing it to cool to near 64C before heating to 66C (usually to 66.3 so I suspect it may be converting from +/-2F). I don't see this as a problem though, +/-1C is pretty good, certainly accurate enough to separate a light/medium/full bodied mash temp. I tried again with set the power to 100W (I hat it at 500W to start) which had no effect, I'm not convinced what effect this setting has actualy (see boiling).

The pump filter clogs fairly quickly if used during the boil (it's only small), I had coriander in the boil though (Witbier), maybe it would have been fine with only hops in the hop spider. Either way I can't really see this as a negative, I got a really good whirlpool separation just stirring with the mash paddle (fish slice) so you really don't need the pump.

The bazooka was covered in crushed coriander which maybe meant that I didn;t get all the wort I could have out of the boiler, I'm tempted to try a brew with pellet hops and no filter, just the alternative silicone right angle in the kit.

Efficiency seemed good, I've not calculated it yet as my volumes were way off so it seems unfair as a lot of the sugar would have been left in the trub.

Back to the PID point, to prove it I set the boiler to 2000W (2500W is the max), all this does is turn the boiler on for about 4/5ths the time, you could noticeably see the wort boil for 10-15seconds then slow down, then start again. I'd have to try it again at 2500W to be sure. Seems a shame as my insulated boiler would probably have maintained a good boil at a lower power, but the only loss is a bit more boil off and 7p on the electric meter. A PID, PWM and SSR setup would have added significantly to the price though even if you buy them of alibaba. I'm not convinced it's any worse for it though, most people probably couldn't program a PID and just stick it in autotune, which is fine, but I've programmed them for a living and TBH if I was building a heated tank like this I'd not bother and just use on/off control! PID is great for some applications, but a big heated tank isn't one of them.


The solar pump was used to pump boiling wort through the chiller to sanitise it. I suppose at this point I could have used the internal pump if the strainer wasn't blocked, but that would still mean buying camlock fittings which would have cost amost as much as the pump did.

The plate chiller was great! I set up an old fermenter full of cold metabisulphite cleaner on the worktop and just let gravity drain that and the boiler, throttling the boiler with the outlet valve to keep the outlet at
20-23C. The downside of this versus an immersion coil is the cold break is in the fermenter, but I strongly suspect the cold break was a lot more efficient, and I never liked leaving cold wort on the side to whirlpool, doing it hot then chilling it in the pipe seems far better. 12h later (I like to let the fermenter temp stabilize in the 'fridge' at 18C before pitching to avoid stressing the yeast) and the wort was almost clear already.

Next time I plan to get a water butt pump and just circulate cooling water from one of those, in a 200l water butt the temp will only go from ~15C to 25C even in summer when chilling, in winter it'll probably chill too quickly!


Overall I'm really happy with it, I can see where some of the extra £££ goes on some more expensive all-in-one brewing systems but, for the price, this is brilliant so far. If I was a complete beginner and had the £££ I'd probably get the grainfather, it comes with the chiller for one thing, and has much better instructions, you could give a grainfther as a present to a novice and they'd make good beer. I've been brewing stuff for about 10 years and all grain beer for the last 2 and a bit so I already had a box of bits and a vague idea what I was doing so the Brew Devil suited me just fine. A word of caution though, if you are (like me) au fait with brewing in a conventional three tun system it's not quite the same, some things are easier, but I think there's maybe more prep to be done, either that of I've just forgotten the initial faff of tuning beersmith. I'm sure with a bit of tuning it'll get there. If anyone from AHB is reading this, and you already have the parameters for beersmith feel free to post them (and maybe stick a crib sheet in the box with stuff like grain/water calculations, how much grain for each bit of pipe, what power to mash/boil at), if I'd had that info at the start this review would be very close to 9/10. As it is the instructions let it down a bit so it's maybe a 6.5. That's harsh but as I didn't even have an internet connection I couldn't even get to the grainfather site so read it's instructions so having no guidance on volumes was really frustrating. Next time around I'll do stuff like measure dead spaces and if I remember I'll come back to this thread and post up the strike and sparge water calculations.

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Thats interesting as I'm seriously thinking about abandoning my conventional 3 pot system with coolbox mashtun. The Grainfather is a bit more (lots) than I want to spend and I thought this thing looked good. Daft Cat Brewery did a couple of reviews on YouTube but came out slightly more positively.
Brilliant review spoon how does the price of the Brew Devil compare to the Grainfather?
It's really good, apart from the lack of guidance really. The grainfather has a formula something like 2.7x grain bill + 3.5 = strike water and similar for sparge water. Once I've figured that out next time it'll be straightforward. It was just frustrating at the time. For what is quite an expensive bit of kit a bit of A4 paper with the notes on it or even better a beersmith file would be a nice touch!
Brilliant review spoon how does the price of the Brew Devil compare to the Grainfather?

Just had a look and it's £344 where the grain father is £675. Bear in mind the grain father comes with a chiller though.

It wasn't meant as a negative review, with better instructions it would be on a par with the more expensive options in my opinion. There's corners cut but unless you have some niche brewing practices I don't think you would notice, the comment about pumped whirlpooling for example would be important if it was a 6bbl plant, in a 30l kettle it offers little or no benefit over 30 seconds vigorous stirring with a spoon and obviously saves some plumbing. The lack of PID doesn't matter as there's such a volume of water to heat that it happens slowly anyway, the overpowering of the boil just adds 7-10p on a brewday (and isn't any different to any other kettle using a 2500W element).

As is it's good, but I wouldn't recommend it to a complete newbie, you need some experience of beersmith (or doing the maths by hand) and to manually measure the deadspace. My mistake was to measure its deadspace as a kettle rather than as a mash run, obviously with hindsight it needed measuring right up to the bottom of the grain basket then the usual ratios of grain-water applying.

If anyone wants me to write the instructions you're welcome to pay me the £331 difference for a sheet of A4 with some maths on it!
I believe this is the beersmith setup used by most. The actual file can be found on either of the Facebook groups.

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Thanks, didn't know that group existed, that sort of info is what would have made the day go a bit smoother!

Although apparently the group admin has a habit if banning anyone who finds a negative with the microbrewery so maybe I won't be welcome!
This group seems to point out some of its problems and solutions
I emailed Paul at angel homebrew as I thought he would be interested in the review and he let me know he would be making an in structural video soon but was not allowed to post himself without being a sponsored member as hes promoting his own product.
Thats interesting as I'm seriously thinking about abandoning my conventional 3 pot system with coolbox mash tun. The Grainfather is a bit more (lots) than I want to spend and I thought this thing looked good. Daft Cat Brewery did a couple of reviews on YouTube but came out slightly more positively.

I have just started converting my system from 2 pot and cool box to a brew in the bag system, I have already built two PIDs, and one has an Inkbird in so it can auto control the mash temp. I will write up the conversion at a later date. I have an arduino uno I build a temp sensor set up with I might convert that to provide the timer for step mashing and notifications. Here the LCD