What is Grainfather for?

Discussion in 'General Home Brew Equipment Discussion' started by An Ankoù, Feb 12, 2019.

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  1. Feb 12, 2019 #1

    An Ankoù

    An Ankoù

    An Ankoù

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    Inspired by early thread "those bloody Grainfather seals". I ask myself again, what is Grainfather for? Forgive me if I'm a bit old school, but back in the day the object was to make decent beer as cheaply as possible so we could get pissed as cheaply as possible (student days). Then one graduated to making excellent beer as cheaply as possible (or got married and had kids). Then we got a bit more discriminating and started spending more on the very best ingredients to make stunning beer as cheaply a possible.
    Anybody spotted the common factor yet?
    So when I look around me and see that everybody seems to have a Grainfather (of dubious reliability, it seems), when I check out the Grainfather website and watch a video which ends with a bunch of NZ kids swigging their homebrew directly from swingtop bottles, and when I go to Malt Miller and see that these things cost nearly £700 plus fermenters, plus sparge-water heaters plus glycol chillers etc, etc, I wonder if I'm missing something.
    Back in the day I saved up my dinner-money to eventually buy an Electrim Boiler, a supposedly all in one system. What a disappointment! I ended up just using it for heating sparge water. Can anyone enlighten me, then? Does it brew better beer? Should I be tempted to mothball my multiplicity of kettles, cooler boxes, stockpots, gas-burners and tea-urns so that I can swig my homebrew straight from the bottle?
     
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  2. Feb 12, 2019 #2

    Keruso

    Keruso

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    There will be lots of different opinions on this. I bought one for a few reasons, one system for mash-in, mash-out, recirculation, sparge and boil. You can use it to heat sparge water and pump it into an insulated container. Allows easy step/stage mashing, Instant cooling of the wort when transferring to fermentor. Has an automated controller which you can use with a smartphone app. It’s small too so easy to use and store at home. However it is not foolproof, you have to operate it, you can’t just turn it on and walk away. It does give you the opportunity to brew just about anything. The downside is the cost, it’s a big outlay but will pay for itself eventually.
     
  3. Feb 12, 2019 #3

    IainM

    IainM

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    I don't think there is any connection between the Grainfather and drinking straight from the bottle. I'd say the advantages of a recirculation system are (1) more precise temperature control, (2) more consistent temperature throughout the mash and the duration of the mash, (3) higher efficiency, (4) clearer wort, (5) smaller footprint, (6) easier and cleaner process and easier to clean up, and (7) more reproducibility. Each to their own though.
     
  4. Feb 12, 2019 #4

    Zephyr259

    Zephyr259

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    If you're happy with your process and beer with what you have then carry on. I got a grainfather for the reasons others have stated, main one being the smaller footprint compared to a 3 vessel system and the temperature control, although I did eventually get another heater for sparge water, because I was fed up of using a 10L pan which wasn't always big enough. It can also double as a 2nd boiler if I need one.

    I don't have any of their fermentation equipment but I do have a heated fridge to ferment in as my house is too cold otherwise and I just upgraded to a stainless conical from plastic buckets mostly to decrease the risk of infection from my sours, help me harvest yeast, and because it's a giant shiny toy. :-)

    The GF has now paid itself back compared to shop bought beer which is cool. Reliability is actually very good, there's a few occasional issues that come up like the seals slipping off as you assemble it (the other thread is the first time I've heard of it happening during a brew) and the trub filter can be knocked off or can block. These can be easily worked around and solutions to these problems would just create new problems as nothing is perfect. Also you get a false impression of things online, forums are full of complaints and issues because that's what prompts someone to post, a lot fewer people will post saying "everything is fine" and that hold for most things, I read a lot of complaints about certain brands of fountain pen having poor QC on their nibs, but if that were true then they wouldn't be as successful so it's mostly that the loudest voice is that of the unlucky ones.

    Happy brewing.
     
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  5. Feb 12, 2019 #5

    aamcle

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    It's down to being compact, easy to use, effective and SHINY !!!!!!
     
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  6. Feb 12, 2019 #6

    An Ankoù

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    Thanks. A balanced and honest opinion. I've got no problems with space and storage so I'll stick with my cast-iron cauldron over an open fire and mutter the appropriate incantations while straining out trub with my beard.
     
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  7. Feb 12, 2019 #7

    Minimag1

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    Ah, so I am not alone. I too have watched the proliferation of these 'automatic' systems and been asking why. I too remember the crap kits we had in the 80's, and then rediscovering the craft with the joy of making my first all grain brew some 20 years later.

    Having said that, the current kits are streets ahead of what we had, and I am trying to convince my eldest son to brew his own from kits, to save me having to make his beer.

    If this doesn't work, I might be tempted to steer him towards one of these 'automatic' systems as it would make the brew day shorter, and hopefully easier.

    As for myself, I am too old school, and like to do things from the start, and have full control of all the process.

    So, I guess its horses for courses
     
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  8. Feb 12, 2019 #8

    Mike Smith

    Mike Smith

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    Do you use star san on your beard first though?
     
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  9. Feb 12, 2019 #9

    stz

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    I've always enjoyed making my own equipment as part of the hobby. This requires other tools and skills which not everybody has the time and space for. I love my system and have no desire to replace it. I've probably less than £250 in it, it is far more versatile and can produce comparatively large volumes. What I've not done is costed my time and the other tools and equipment required to make it and it is not very compact. I envy the small footprint of the grainfather.
     
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  10. Feb 12, 2019 #10

    AdeDunn

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    Also, who said everybody who brews at home does so in order to make beer as cheaply as possible? I do it as I enjoy the crafting process, it's a bonus that it's cheaper than commercial too... Usually tastes better as well, so just bonus upon bonus... I don't own a Grainfather though, or drink from bottles, or use swing tops (we own a bench capper and use crown caps...). I built my own single vessel kettle RIMS eBIAB system instead, which probably overall cost more than one of the cheaper all in one systems.... But heh, I built it myself. :D
     
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  11. Feb 12, 2019 #11

    RichardM

    RichardM

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    Just be thankful you don't keep reading about Braumeisters, they are even more expensive...and yes, I have one
     
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  12. Feb 12, 2019 #12

    Banbeer

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    I have been looking into buying a GF because of the size and connect side of things, when I used to do AG a few years ago it seemed as tho I needed to be there all the time for one thing and another but with the GF you get alerts on your phone to say when things have finished etc etc. Alas I still think it is overpriced,
     
  13. Feb 12, 2019 #13

    packapoo

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    Can you direct me to that video of the Kiwi kids. I'd like to see it.
    See, thing is, if they're swigging directly from the bottle they've obviously gotten on to someone who knows how to drive the thing.
    I'd aspire to that......
     
  14. Feb 13, 2019 #14

    Dutto

    Dutto

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    I like making stuff so my:
    • "Grain Mill" is driven by an old SD Drill and contained in an old FV.
    • "Water Heater" is another old FV fitted with a tap and a steamer element.
    • "Mash Tun" is an old cool-box fitted with a garden tap and a load of drilled copper pipe that acts as a strainer.
    • "Boiler" is a stainless steel stock-pot with a washing machine valve fitted to it.
    • "Stir Plate" made from an old computer fan and uses 2 x 12v batteries off my Mum's scooter and a 1 litre Ikea jug.
    I'm unlikely to invest in a Grainfather even if SWMBO suggested that I bought one; which is a situation that would get me severely worried that she had just had a stroke!
     
  15. Feb 13, 2019 #15

    packapoo

    packapoo

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    Other then that, no-one seems to have mentioned sous vide....
     
  16. Feb 13, 2019 #16

    Dutto

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    Like this ...

    Sous Vide 1.jpg

    Sous Vide 2.jpg

    Sous Vide 3.jpg

    ... using the "Water Heater" and an Inkbird?
     
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  17. Feb 13, 2019 #17

    packapoo

    packapoo

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  18. Feb 13, 2019 #18

    Brew Dad

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    Canada, eh.
    You my have answered your own question here. I bought the Robobrew, figured it was more or less the same cost as all the stuff you mentioned, has a bit of automation to simplify the brew day, and stores away easily.
     
  19. Feb 13, 2019 #19

    packapoo

    packapoo

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    At the time I purchased my GF, I looked hard at Robo with intention of buying one. At that time they seemed to be involved in a forever upgrade with no retail stock available. Became quite simple then....
    For anyone bemoaning the cost of the GF, take a look at the Braumeister and I dare put your hand in your pocket.......
    All that extra cost does not ensure a trouble free run even so. There's plenty of criticism out there for those machines if you care to go looking.

    I've no doubt that the plethora of lookalikes that have hit the market since, all have their staunch believers and valid points.
     
  20. Feb 13, 2019 #20

    AdeDunn

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    The more I look at Grainfathers, Robobrews etc, the more I want to re-build my control panel with a SmartPID. The control panel is the only part of my rig that I feel could do with more love these days. Ok, I'd also like a new stock pot, with less holes in it (1 less tap, and without the hole for a probe above the element as I don't use this any more) but these are niggles only).

    As to needing something compact, well, got that covered. Mine will actually fit between the top of our hob and the cooker hood too, unlike the taller all in ones etc. ;)

    IMG_20190118_095137.jpg
     
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