GrainFather v other systems.

Discussion in 'General Home Brew Equipment Discussion' started by Bigd2657, Mar 19, 2018.

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  1. Mar 19, 2018 #1

    Bigd2657

    Bigd2657

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    Hi all,

    I am debating whether or not to buy a grain father, I have not moved to all grain yet but if I buy one I wil be doing.

    Can some people who have one give me a bit of knowledge on them are they worth the money or is there better on the market.

    Cheers
     
  2. Mar 19, 2018 #2

    johnyp

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    hi big d..i bought a grainfather as a treat for Christmas I have done 8 brews so far and I am as pleased as punched with it,so much easier than my top of the cooker efforts (and safer) easy to use +loads of online help if you buy one you wont regret it,oh yes I nearly forgot the wort chiller is an amazing piece of kit.
     
  3. Mar 19, 2018 #3

    Bigd2657

    Bigd2657

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    Hi Johny P

    Thanks for the quick response so it is a all in one complete system and there is nothing else that I will need to buy.

    Cheers
     
  4. Mar 19, 2018 #4

    aamcle

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    I have one it's good, there are similar units for less money BUT they don't seem as well made and the controllers are in the base not removable. If you think about it you will soon see it's a considerable disadvantage.

    Bite the bullet spend the cash.

    ATB. aamcle
     
  5. Mar 19, 2018 #5

    Saisonator

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    I have one and done a dozen or so brews.
    I have had no problems with it, it is very efficient and consistent. Only thing it is a bit fussy with is the right grain crush, but if it bit too fine then you can always add rice hulls to help the flow.
    Only thing extra you will need is a long handle stainless steel paddle.
     
  6. Mar 19, 2018 #6

    chewie

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    Something to either hold sparge water that you have boiled/warmed up in a kettle or something more independent, I use my peco for that, others I think have used a repurposed coolbox/mash tun. Some have splashed out on a dedicated spare water heater.

    You could go with a graincoat for it which in theory will pay for itself over time.
     
  7. Mar 20, 2018 #7

    johnyp

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    the one I got from my local home brew shop had with it a long stainless steel handle +some grainfather cleaner but I think that was a special offer so my advice would be to shop around....good luck.
     
  8. Mar 20, 2018 #8

    pms67

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    Isn’t the Braumeister controller on the bottom?
     
  9. Mar 20, 2018 #9

    MmmBeer

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    I decided to buy an all in one system after a year of doing 10L stove-top BIAB brews. I first looked at the cheaper systems, which mainly appeared to be the same Chinese unit, rebadged by different importers. I was concerned about the lack of support by the suppliers / manufacturers and reports of failure of mechanical items, pump, heater. There are more expensive units like the Braumeister, but at about £500 more than the Grainfather, I didn't consider it for long.

    For me the Grainfather was the logical choice. As with many other things, there is an array of optional extras available, but you don't need much to get going. I was given a tub of GF cleaner when I bought it (PBW can be substituted) and have bought a cheap water heater and a stainless steel paddle when I found the plastic one I had couldn't reach the base of the Grainfather. I might consider the graincoat or micro pipework at a later date, but won't be spending fortunes.

    There are lots of Youtube videos about the Grainfather, watch some of them, it will give you a good idea of what it is, what it can do and what you need to do.
     
  10. Mar 20, 2018 #10

    -Bezza-

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    From my researches, I've found there are 4 main systems out there. I have none of these (yet) but will summarise my thinking.

    Cheapest is this one which is variously badged as ACE, Klarstein, Brewmonk, BrewDevil etc. This will come in 30l or 50l size.

    [​IMG]

    Next step up is the Bulldog Master Brewer. Note that this is an updated version, which you can tell by the controller being on the side rather than the bottom:

    [​IMG]

    Then you have the Grainfather:

    [​IMG]

    And then you have the Braumeister which comes in various different sizes:

    [​IMG]

    At the consumer level, are there any more unique designs out there?

    There is no reason to think that any of the systems won't allow you to brew effectively. For that reason, I think most people who have invested in a particular system will be advocates of that system, so it's hard to get a definitive answer on any one system being materially better than another.

    Personally, for me it's between the Grainfather and the Bulldog and there are pros and cons to both. The GF is the more established brand and has a good reputation for customer services, comes with a counterflow wort chiller which is highly regarded and the controller is more elaborate with bluetooth connectivity etc. The Bulldog has a more powerful heating element, better insulation, carry handles, the pump can connect to an external sparge water heater and has a unique anti-burn re-circulation pipe, but the controller is supposedly not as polished. The Bulldog is currently around £150 cheaper but has only just been re-released so may drop in the future.
     
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  11. Mar 20, 2018 #11

    djheaton321

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    I've had a grainfather for a couple of years or so now. No problems with it at all. Their customer service is good. Brew days are a doddle with it. I would recommend it. I can't say how it compares with the others but if you are happy to be limited to a maximum batch size of 23 litres, the efficiency you can get out of the grainfather takes some beating.
     
  12. Mar 20, 2018 #12

    MmmBeer

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    I came across something called a Brewster, costing about £460.
    [​IMG]
    Again it has the controller built in at the base, but it does have a counter flow chiller.
    It's still a lot of money to risk on something you know so little about.
     
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  13. Mar 20, 2018 #13

    Zephyr259

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    Got my grainfather for Christmas 2016, just completed brew 16 yesterday. I also compared it to the bulldog brewer which was new at the time but GF seemed to have better build quality and excellent customer service when something did go wrong. No regrets, I've knocked the filter off twice which is my fault and had the odd pump blockage due to not whirlpooling enough but all systems will have their idiosyncrasies.

    I did 2 full 23l batches then moved onto 15l batches. I use the micro pipework but take a bit of an efficiency hit with the smaller volumes, still hit 75% on average which was closer to 85% on the full size batches. I just did a 10l batch and it was easy and quick. Once you get the hang of it you can brew in 4.5 hrs including cleaning cycle. Although that's with me prepping the night before.

    I like the recipe builder online and find is figures pretty reliable, also let's you control the brew day from your phone.

    As others have said you will need something for storage water. You can heat to boiling in the GF then pump into a FV and it'll cool suitable during the mash. I did that once but it was a hassle waiting for all the water. With my smaller batches I can heart my storage water in a 10l pan b and the kettle if it's s bigger spare. Going to get a dedicated heater of some form once I have a shed.
     
  14. Mar 20, 2018 #14

    Lawrence22

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    Another grainfather owner here. Just completed my third brew on it this morning. I think it's great. Wife made it clear that she didn't want me boiling stuff up in the kitchen so I went straight from the kits to it. First brew was a bit of a disaster due to inexperience, second brew was better and todays went off perfectly. Hit my target gravity spot on.
     
  15. Mar 20, 2018 #15

    Saisonator

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    You should get better efficiency with a small batch, in fact with a 15l batch I recon you could go full volume mash and still hit 75%
     
  16. Mar 20, 2018 #16

    Zephyr259

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    The smaller batches give a thinner mash due to the +3.5 L in the mash calc, this then means a smaller sparge which can hurt efficiency. I'll eventually do another 23l batch and see what happens.
     
  17. Mar 21, 2018 #17

    Bigd2657

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    Wow

    Thanks for all the info on this subject, it looks like I might be persuaded to go for this after all.

    Big D
     
  18. Mar 21, 2018 #18

    IainM

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    Clearly the Grainfather is a quality piece of kit and if you can afford it, go for it. That said, there is nothing wrong with the cheaper systems. Last year's Welsh NHC best of show beer was brewed on a cheap ACE/klarstein/hopcat/BrewDevil machine. I'm very happy with my Bulldog Brewer v3, which has been brewing fine for a year now. Yesterday I got 85% efficiency for a 6% beer. It was half the price of the Grainfather.
     
  19. Mar 21, 2018 #19

    Saisonator

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    Still a few V3 Bulldog brewers around for £400, good system as well, looks like they are being replaced with the new more expensive system.
    If I had a kitted out brew shed I would buy one myself and brew two beers at the same time on brew day.
     
  20. Mar 21, 2018 #20

    MarkF

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    Bought a GF last November, never did an AG before, now have 7 under my belt, small footprint means I can brew in the garage doorway, sparge direct from the water heater using silicon hose and syphon inline tap to regulate flow. Extras are a wood or ss paddle, cleaning chemical nice to have are hop spider, whirlpool paddle and thrumometer.
     

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