Grain Father Tips

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pcz

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I use my GF a lot, 50+ brews at a guess.
Maybe more as have done 2 brews a day on it on a few occasions.

As you have a newer model you most likely have the new filter and the long rod as a top plug.
Both good to have, the filter is much improved.
The original top stopper is a screw cap bottle top, the kind you get on a miniature spirit bottle. :(

With 5kg of grain I use a 4:1 ratio of water/grist.
So 20l of strike water and 15l of sparge water.
That gives me 30l pre boil volume and with a 60min boil around 24l net into the fermenter.
90min boils will net me less, around 23l but I tend to use a bit more sparge water to bring the pre boil volume up a tad.
31l is about as far as I will go pre boil volume wise as the GF is getting very full and you are less than 2" from the rim.
Turn your back for a second and you will have a BOIL OVER.

Another trick is the basket can be transferred to another vessel to drain the last litre or two out.
The basket sits perfectly on a 10l plastic fermenter.
More accident than design :)
I add the extra wort part way through the boil when the volume in the GF has reduced a bit.
If I have enough volume already I can use the extra wort for making yeast starters rather than waste it.

Don't give up too early when using the chiller.
I end up with very little liquid in the hops.
You will see foaming in the pipe and assume that you aren't going to get any more wort out but you will.
Also you can tilt the GF to get a bit more wort out.
Tilt towards the pump inlet.

Since I have been using the new filter I haven't bothered tilting
the GF as it seems to suck almost dry if given enough time.
The wort is sucked slowly through the hops. they act like a wick.
It takes a while but on your next brew day give it an extra few minutes and you will be surprised.

Personally I wouldn't squeeze the hops left behind in the GF as they have acted as a filter medium and will be full of sandy looking trub.
Also if you have used a protofloc they will be covered in protein slime.

The mash/boil switch is a PITA but a necessary evil I'm afraid.
You WILL on many occasions have it in the wrong position.
Waiting for the GF to boil with only the mash element active will take a very very long time !!
Thing is though if you leave the switch in the boil position which gives you full element power. the mash temperature will fluctuate far too much.
I got so fed up forgetting to switch or not being sure what position it was in i plugged my GF into a cheap KW meter and can see at a glance how many watts it is drawing.
2kw or a little over, I see around 2.2 kw and you are on full power
The mash element is around 750w.

Do not wait for the sparge to be done before switching to boil mode.
move the mash/boil switch to boil when you begin sparging and the switch on the controller to II.
This will save you a lot of time.

note: You may have the switch on boil already as it is a time saver if you want to do a mash out.

The chiller is the real star of the show.
Provided it is used as intended.
I say this because there is an often viewed video comparing the GF to an established rival product where the reviewer used the chiller to cool the entire volume of the wort down in the GF.
It sucks at doing that.

You do recycle the wort back into the GF for a short period of time to heat the wort carrying tubing to sterilise it.
During the sterilising the cold water isn't turned on.
Then you turn on the cold water and run the output of the chiller into your FV.
In 30 mins, (can be less if you have cold ground water and run the pump without throttling) you have cooled wort at pitching temps in your FV.
Very impressive if your previous experience has been of immersion chillers

Obviously the colder the ground water the better but you don't need a large temperature differential.

I don't have any problems getting 20c wort using the mains supply to the kitchen..
Keep an eye on the temperature of the wort exiting the chiller into the fermenter and adjust the flow.
I use a laser thermometer, don't know how I managed so long without one.
I sit on my brewing stool and point it around real lazy.

Happy to share experiences with the GF and answer any questions.
 
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walders123

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Thanks for the tip to regulate flow rate when cooling to get the right temp. It's early days with the grainfather for me and at the moment it dropping the temp too low 14deg C the last one.

Will try this tip on my next brew day, cheers
 

pcz

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14c is very low.
Assuming you left the valve on the GF wide open (max wort flow) then you will have to reduce the flow on the cold water side to raise temps.

Your cold water must be really cold !!

PS
Have you got the hang of sitting the cooler on top of the lid yet.
The tubing has a mind of its own and you have to be careful not to allow a kink in the wart in tube.
I sometimes have to hold the tubing when tightening down the fitting to avoid it twisting the tube when you get tight.

Oh and the whole valve assembly willl unscrew if your not careful and there is a spring and ball bearing in there.
Guess what happens to the ball bearing when it comes apart !!
 

walders123

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Yes your right, I'll turn the tap down a little on the input side at least while it's cold outside.

I hadn't noticed a problem with the wort out pipe kinking. I guess it will depend on the position of the fermenter your pumping it into? Yours is a silicon pipe for the wort? I did notice that you have to push the connector down to screw to the recirculation pipe. I clean the spring after every brew. There's usually some fragment of hop in there and even a little will affect reflow rate
 

pcz

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Mine has the silicon tubes yes.
It is the short silicon tube on the inlet to the wort chiller that can kink.
On the end of the tube is the screw on connector to the top pipe valve.
The center should be free to turn but it jams sometimes when you are tightening down and twists the silicon tube.
Mine didn't do it when new but over time it seems to have become more inclined to jam and twist the tube.
No problem really just means slacking it off a bit, twisting the center till the tube unkinks, and tightening down again.
 

chewie

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A couple more tips..

If you are using a large grain bill it can get to be a tiresome act mixing grains in so that they are fully wettened in the basket especially when you get to the 7-8kg amounts as the amount of strike water gets absorbed, you can make the grains a bit easier to stir in by putting the mash water arm into the grains and pump water thru the grain whilst stirring.

Control the flow of the pump when mashing to prevent wort going down the centre overflow pipe, a good draining grain basket should give a good efficiency then.

When cleaning remove the wire basket rest, this will allow you to upend the grain basket and submerse it both ways when running thru your cleaning cycle.

The cooling water is quite hot after leaving the CF chiller, run this into a spare FV or bucket and then use it to pour into the GF for your cleaning, this could also be used as strike water and sparge water if doing a second brew thereby saving a lot of time and expense.
 

Dr_Unkenly

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My top tips:

If you have the element set to boil, the temp will continue to rise a degree or two over the set temp when stepping (old controller).

To fit the bottom plate to the basket, wet the seal and slide it in vertically before gently easing it in to place by pressing around the edge bit by bit.

Cover the top of the spent grain basket with a bin liner and then tip it upside down to empty the grains.

You use less water if you slow the wort flow rate through the chiller.

Don't accidentally run hot water through the chiller and only realise half way through. :doh:

The Blichman Thrumometer is a great way to measure your chilled wort temp and it's shiny!

The cold in hose for the chiller can pop off the barb on the tap side, so watch it like a hawk or secure it with some kind of clip.
 

MagnusTS

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Not sure if this one has been mentioned before:

While sparging it is hard to read the level of the wort from the inside of the Grainfather with the grain basket in the way, and the top of the wort being all foamy. I like to know if I am getting near to my pre-boil volume.

I found a top tip to get a fairly accurate volume reading is to run a finger down the volume markings on the outside of the GF. when you put your finger to the metal above the level of the wort it will be quite hot to the touch, but not very painful. Slide your finger down the outside (from the 30L mark going down) and when the sensation in you finger changes from 'quite hot' to 'extremely painful' you know you have reached the liquid level and can read your volume from the markings on the outside.

I know everyone's pain tolerance is different, but whatever your tolerance there is a clear difference between the heat of the metal above the wort and the heat of the metal in contact with liquid.

If you have tough steel workers hands, try licking your finger before you slide it down the outside of the GF. Heat transfer through a wet finger is much much greater than through dry finger, and this will increase your finger volume measuring sensitivity (pain) hugely.
 
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a blob of blutak inside the lil screw cap secures it to the overflow when pouring in the grain, I have found its can be 'blown off' its perch with the back draft from a grain pour, or just get knocked off by the odd miss aimed grain of malt.

Consider the position of the reset button for the thermal switch.. prop the g/f on a couple of short lengths of 2x2 or similar that will allow you to pop your hand underneath for a quick press, Its got to be way better than hugging a hot full g/f as you drag it to the edge of the base its sat on TRUST ME!!
Normally not a major issue but with a high gravity brew or if you are working out the best settings for a STC1000 with ovbs firmware (One Vessel Brewing System) it can be tripped.

a squirt of starsan lubes the grain tube for seating the silicone gasket encapsulated base and top plates,,

And give the top plate an extra lil shove down with your fingers spread over the plate, dont be fearful of compressing a well mixed in mash..

Double check the probe is well seated and secure as the mash heats up ;)


Post clean stand it upside down for a few hours to help drain the plumbing..

extend the cfc feed hose so you can sit it elsewhere than ontop of the lidded g/f, getting kettle finnings and late hops in thru the lid vent and the slipping side to side cfc is a pita.

with a MK1 hop filter gently open the flow as to minimise the initial suck effect of the pump.


Enjoy brewdays..
 

Norfolk79

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Not sure if this one has been mentioned before:

While sparging it is hard to read the level of the wort from the inside of the Grainfather with the grain basket in the way, and the top of the wort being all foamy. I like to know if I am getting near to my pre-boil volume.

I found a top tip to get a fairly accurate volume reading is to run a finger down the volume markings on the outside of the GF. when you put your finger to the metal above the level of the wort it will be quite hot to the touch, but not very painful. Slide your finger down the outside (from the 30L mark going down) and when the sensation in you finger changes from 'quite hot' to 'extremely painful' you know you have reached the liquid level and can read your volume from the markings on the outside.

I know everyone's pain tolerance is different, but whatever your tolerance there is a clear difference between the heat of the metal above the wort and the heat of the metal in contact with liquid.

If you have tough steel workers hands, try licking your finger before you slide it down the outside of the GF. Heat transfer through a wet finger is much much greater than through dry finger, and this will increase your finger volume measuring sensitivity (pain) hugely.


Spraying the outside with water also works with this, it vaporises much quicker where the wort level is


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

MagnusTS

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My top tips:

You use less water if you slow the wort flow rate through the chiller.
Is this correct? I have been using a very slow wort flow rate to conserve water, but now I am doubting my logic.

Lower wort flow rate means I need a lower water flow to cool the wort.

But... if my wort flow is 5 times slower, then I need to run it for five times longer transfer the wort. So wouldn't the amount of water I would use be the same as if I had run the wort 5 times faster, but had to run the water flow 5 times faster for the same cooling?

There may be some physics in the CFC that I don't understand here. Maybe it's not a linear scale?
 

Agentgonzo

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I think you're right Magnus. The key to reducing the amount of water you have is to try to maximise the amount of heat you extract from the wort - and so maximise the temperature of the water coming out of the CFC. The higher the wort flow rate, the more heat can be extracted from the wort and into the cooling water. Maybe Dr_Unkenly meant reducing the cooling water flow rate through the CFC?

My procedure is to normally run the wort through the chiller and back into the Grainfather at first (the CFC is not powerful enough to chill it from 100°C to 20°C in one run through the CFC), and adjust the flow rate of cooling water until the temperature coming out of the CFC red tube is around 50-70°C (so as not to water too much water). Increasing the flow rate of cooling water at this point doesn't affect the temperature of the wort exiting the GF that much, but does save on a lot of water.

Once I've done this, I then putting the wort into the fermenter. I tweak the flow rate of the wort and/or cooling water at this point to get the wort to be exiting the CFC at yeast-pitching temperature.
 
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