BIAB, Grainfather or Robobrew

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mrhardware

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I am looking to make the jump from extract to all grain Brewing.
From what i have read there is no perfect system unless you have really deep pockets and loads of space.
Unfortunately i don't have loads of space to use or store a 3 vessel system and due to Covid 19 wiping my industry out (audio visual events) not an endless pot of money.
I do have a covered area in back garden that has power and is close to a drain and an outside tap.
I have been looking at the all in one option or as it will be my first all grain would you recommend getting a cheap boiler (pico) and a mash tun to try it out.
Any advise or thoughts would be helpful.
 

UKSkydiver

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My experience: 2 kits and then a handful of small batch BIAB in a stainless pot, then a few small brews in a Buffalo urn. Now I have Brewzilla, also small batch.

I would say if you're doing small batch, it's super easy and cost effectiveto go BIAB. You already have most of the kit and all you need is a ~16-18 litre pot to enter into BIAB. Easy to brew small batch in the kitchen; mash in the oven or hob top and boil on the hob.

If you're going large, and / or have the spare cash, I'd go for an All In One system (ok so "all-in" does not include sparge water heater)

I liked the idea of bit of a do-it-yourself-er system, and whilst it's fun to think about modifying and tweaking, for me the simplicty and speed (or less faff) from an All In One is worth looking at.

Everyone is different, however, and there are many DIYers on here who will swear by their DIY Franken-systems.

I doubt whether any hardware system necessarily makes significantly better beer; it's all about the processes, the individual, and amount of time one is happy to spend tinkering and ultimately how much spare cash one is willing to throw at shiny things.
 

MmmBeer

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If you go down the BIAB route, then whatever you buy, other than maybe the bag itself will be useful if you move to an all-in-one at a later date.

I started with 5 or 6 kits, then about a dozen 10-12 litre BIAB brews in a stockpot before buying an all-in-one. I find that the stockpot is the perfect size to collect the last half litre of wort from the grain as it comes to the boil. I have also added a tea urn that I use as a sparge water heater.
 

Brewnaldo

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I do BIAB. Seemed like the easiest way to transition to all grain.

Where next though, is something I am really not sure about. I like the idea of 3 vessel because I like full authenticity, for want of a better word. All in one look convenient and the gadgetry appeals to me, but theres something holding me back from actively wanting one. Inthink if you made me choose soemthing other than BIAB now I'd go 3 vessel.
 

Tanglefoot

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I've just started doing BIAB in a stainless steel pot on an induction hob.
Originally I ordered an all in one but I cancelled it as there was no sign of it being shipped from Germany any time soon.

So far I've done a 21L partial mash and a 10L all grain batch, I enjoyed the simplicity of BIAB and would recommend it as a way to get an understanding of the process of all grain brewing.
That said the all in one systems make it easier to do large batches and save time.
Having researched the options I'd recommend choosing one with recirculation pump if you go down that route.

I got everything needed for my BIAB set up
at a cost of £60 and am happy sticking with that for now while I learn the ropes.


Btw, the Brewfather app is great for novice all grain brewers to plan their first batch 👍
 

Moe

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I had the peco boiler and did BIAB for a few years. It’s a good system and you can make good beer.

I got a Brewzilla last week. It’s a really good system: easy to use, the pump and recirculating make mashing a lot easier than on the peco.

You can also time it to preheat your mash water which is handy.

You can get a peco, bag and chiller for just over £100, the Brewzilla is about £380 new. They both make good beer, but I find the Brewzilla much easier and therefore more fun to brew on.

I’ve no experience of the GF, but these are £700 ish new, I read the reviews (there’s a good one on YouTube by David Heath comparing the BZ and GF side by side) and decided I couldn’t warrant the extra cost.
 

Galena

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I went straight for all-grain when starting brewing, I have a Klarstein Fullhorn (BIAB) which is good for 21 litre batches in the FV, I did one extract kit to get used to it and have bee AG ever since. At the time I bought it I lusted over an all in one system, but its so easy with the Fullhorn that the desire has gone and if I upgraded now it would be for larger brews and probably be to a 3 vessel system.

I use a cheap plastic insulated tub I use for sparge water.
Whichever way you go something like a Fullhorn will always be useful as a Hot Liquor Tank at a later date and is only £165
 

Rodcx500z

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I have been doing biab for the last 18 months in a 30L kettle and love it, i was toying with getting an all in one and using the klarstein for a sparge heater, then i fancied a go at small stove top i bought a 25L pot off amazon for 25 quid i then realized i didn't need an all in one the 25L could double up as a sparge heater, i think i will buy a pump to recirculate, next up is cost Klarstein 180 quid, pot 25 quid, bag 20 quid so 225 quid and you have the best of both worlds if i added in fv's and pb's bottles i reckon i have spent less than 500 quid, i still do kits as well in the dark months of winter, my next major buy will be a fridge and temp control, you can throw thousands at this hobby if you wanted, i mainly stick to bitters/pale ales it's all drinkable so alls good
 

Rodcx500z

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The lager isle...is that one of the Canaries?
How would you rate the kits against your all grain. I keep meaning to try a kit again. It's been maybe 5 years now since I brewed one.
I went straight for all-grain when starting brewing, I have a Klarstein Fullhorn (BIAB) which is good for 21 litre batches in the FV, I did one extract kit to get used to it and have bee AG ever since. At the time I bought it I lusted over an all in one system, but its so easy with the Fullhorn that the desire has gone and if I upgraded now it would be for larger brews and probably be to a 3 vessel system.

I use a cheap plastic insulated tub I use for sparge water.
Whichever way you go something like a Fullhorn will always be useful as a Hot Liquor Tank at a later date and is only £165
Hi I love my full horn makes good ale to, I do 23L in mine doing a dunk sparge
F54A3205-35CC-4363-9C90-316D8D0D7876.jpeg
CA7BE3FD-FC7B-4571-8CBB-D2FCB8BCC0B0.jpeg
 

jeg3

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I made the move to AG from kits and extract brewing about 6 years ago. At the time I bought a starter kit from my LHBS which had a boiler, converted coolbox mash tun with a sparge arm and a bucket to add to my other buckets.

I used this until recently when I invested in a Grainfather. For my purposes the GF and the Brewzilla were equivalent it was personal choice to go with the Grainfather. In terms of brewing I learned all about AG brewing with the starter kit; I found out about mash temps, mash liquor volumes, strike temps, mash duration, sparge speed/flow, grain crush (I mill my own), sanitation, cooling. In short I learned a lot!

When I moved to the GF the aim was to save space and shorten the brew day, the other benefit is it increases my efficiency.
 

mrhardware

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Than you all for your input.
How about This from the malt miller.
@stubrewworx: That looks intresting and maybe worth contemplating.

I would say if you're doing small batch, it's super easy and cost effectiveto go BIAB. You already have most of the kit and all you need is a ~16-18 litre pot to enter into BIAB
@UKSkydiver: I have 3 boys all over the age of 18 and partial to a pint or two :beer1: so ideally i need to be matching quantity's of what i get from extract brews or it be brewing twice a week.

@MmmBeer: Don't think i'd get away with kitchen brewing on stove, its bad enough mixing the water malt and extract in kitchen in fermenter. Wife and step daughter complain about the smell but never complain about the end results.

@Brewnaldo: If i had the space or a brewing shed i'd probably go 3 vessel. Although im in Audio visual trade my background is electronics and IT so like to make things and would enjoy making my own control system using a raspberry pi.

I've just started doing BIAB in a stainless steel pot on an induction hob.
Originally I ordered an all in one but I cancelled it as there was no sign of it being shipped from Germany any time soon.
@Tanglefoot : What induction hob are you using is it a standalone single plate one ?.
Was system you cancelled through Hi fi tower ? the uk site is now shipping again by the look of the site.

You can get a peco, bag and chiller for just over £100, the Brewzilla is about £380 new. They both make good beer, but I find the Brewzilla much easier and therefore more fun to brew on.
@Moe: Looks like next batch of brewzilla's have gone up due to increased shipping costs to around £400. I have a friend who has a GF that was bought as a present and is unopened in box, He has no intrest in it and said i can have it for £575. Would it be worth the difference at that price ?.
 

jeg3

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@Moe: Looks like next batch of brewzilla's have gone up due to increased shipping costs to around £400. I have a friend who has a GF that was bought as a present and is unopened in box, He has no intrest in it and said i can have it for £575. Would it be worth the difference at that price ?.
The differences between BZ and GF:

Brewzilla has the display the bottom, GF has the display 2/3 up the unit; this make the brewzilla less convenient to use on the floor.
The GF has a different filter which can clog, BZ has a false bottom which seems better depending on hop quantity in the boil.
GF has bluetooth which makes programming simpler.
GF recirc arm is more fiddly to attach.
GF has a counter flow chiller, BZ has an immersion chiller.

It depends whether you think the differences are worth £175
 

Tanglefoot

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Than you all for your input.


@Tanglefoot : What induction hob are you using is it a standalone single plate one ?.
Was system you cancelled through Hi fi tower ? the uk site is now shipping again by the look of the site.
It's a stand alone 2kw hob, limited settings 60 - 240c, warm and boil.

Yes, it was a Klarstein Mundschenk, like the Maishfest but with pump from Hi Fi Tower.
Had it on order for about 3 weeks, rang to ask if they had any idea when it would be shipped
and they suggested cancelling and refunding it as they had no idea.
That was about a week ago.
Had a look and as you say seems they're taking orders again, trouble is I'm in two minds now
having done BIAB ( and not as flush as I was when I first ordered either ! )
 

Moe

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Than you all for your input.


@stubrewworx: That looks intresting and maybe worth contemplating.



@UKSkydiver: I have 3 boys all over the age of 18 and partial to a pint or two :beer1: so ideally i need to be matching quantity's of what i get from extract brews or it be brewing twice a week.

@MmmBeer: Don't think i'd get away with kitchen brewing on stove, its bad enough mixing the water malt and extract in kitchen in fermenter. Wife and step daughter complain about the smell but never complain about the end results.

@Brewnaldo: If i had the space or a brewing shed i'd probably go 3 vessel. Although im in Audio visual trade my background is electronics and IT so like to make things and would enjoy making my own control system using a raspberry pi.



@Tanglefoot : What induction hob are you using is it a standalone single plate one ?.
Was system you cancelled through Hi fi tower ? the uk site is now shipping again by the look of the site.



@Moe: Looks like next batch of brewzilla's have gone up due to increased shipping costs to around £400. I have a friend who has a GF that was bought as a present and is unopened in box, He has no intrest in it and said i can have it for £575. Would it be worth the difference at that price ?.

I’ve no idea- you’d have to weigh up the pros and the price difference and see where the best value for money lies for you personally.

I’ve not used a grain father, only the Brewzilla. But from what I’ve seen they pretty much do the same thing in terms of brewing: you mash, raise the grain basket, sparge and then boil.

However the grainfather has a better controller, you can control from your phone via Bluetooth and it comes with a counter flow chiller (the BZ comes with an immersion chiller).

I got a reconditioned BZ for £280 from brew keg tap, so for me the extra features of the GF weren’t worth the extra £400(ish).

But I understand that the prospect of something now is much better than waiting months, that’s why I got a reconditioned BZ and didn’t wait for a new one to be pre ordered 😂

I’ve only done 2 brews so far in the BZ but I really like it. The Peco BIAB set up I had I enjoyed brewing on and made good beer, and I am sure that there are many happy GF owners too. I moved in from the BIAB peco for convenience ( no more wrapping in sleeping bags and dripping soggy bags of grain everywhere), and I chose the BZ as it was nearly £400 cheaper than a new GF.

Also worth bearing in mind that making the wort is only one step, I’m my personal experience setting up temp control made a huge difference to the quality of my beer, and setting up a keg system meant no more long tedious bottling sessions so I brew more often.
 

MMBF

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Done my first brew yesterday in my new Brewzilla from BrewKegTap, in fact my first all grain brew after solely doing extract brewing.
Couldn’t be happier. Brew day went without any hitch ( a couple of near misses, down to me).
Used all the screens, plus 200g of rice hulls and the mash went really well. When I collated the numbers with Brewfather got 81% mash efficiency and two points up on my expected gravity.
I’m tickled pink with it and over the moon with the deal I got from BrewKegTap, which included a Digiboil.
 
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