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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Brewing Forum --> Brewing Discussion --> Grainfather Notes

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testingapril
Charter Member
Atlanta, GA
595 Posts


I think the zymatic uses a device that some pro breweries use, including the big guys, that I think is called a stripper. I know Abita uses one. You can hear them talk about it on CYBI. The heating element sits in an open channel and the wort is pumped through it to rapidly volatilize undesirable aromatics. Boiling is not required because the wort is pumped continuously and therefore effective surface area is high.


I could be way off, but I think I read something about this with the zymatic and that was how they were getting around needing to boil.


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Posted 34 days ago.

mchrispen
Bastrop, TX
485 Posts


I didn't discuss the sparging, which was quite simple. My crush may have reduced the efficiency a bit here - future batches will show any problems. I did mash out for 10 minutes.

First, I had to use a step ladder which my wife found quite funny. I am 6' 4" and couldn't lift the full insert and overcome the suction - no mechanical advantage with this sitting at counter height. Once up on the ladder - not a problem.

The instructions say to drain the mash and then sparge. So this drained while I moved my sparge water from the sous vide kettle into a bottling bucket. This was then decanted into a gallon pitcher and poured onto the false top. My mash was fairly loose so I didn't keep much in the way of water on the false top. When I got the last 2 gallons of sparge, I poured from the bucket and got the water level even across the top - and followed with the final gallon in the pitcher. This drained for about 15 minutes - so still a 30 minute sparge-ish step.

I need to use a 6 gallon fermenter bucket. My Lowes homer bucket was just too narrow, so the insert sat catty-wompus but was stable. It started draining more, yielding another 2-3 cups of wort.

The boil took a bit to come up. I had to double check that I had the right element and the BOIL switches set correctly. It took right at 25 minutes to show a real boil. But hot break formed pretty quickly. I have a video of the boil - reasonably good. I used that time to clean out the insert - chuck out the spent grains - and rinse and clean the false bottom and top, as well as the pipe and inserts.

Working on a WP Gallery of pics to show the unboxing and brewing steps.




Posted 34 days ago.
Edited 34 days ago by mchrispen

mchrispen
Bastrop, TX
485 Posts



Posted a gallery and a short but dark video of the boil. Not broadcasting this one… need to work up a better review and post.

2




Posted 34 days ago.

uberg33k
Charter Member
The Internet
314 Posts


I looked back into the Picobrew when I went to making 2.5/3 gal batches.  I came across a video that showed seniors working on it as their senior design project.  That made me soften up a little because I remember doing that and remembering being so proud to see something I worked on being sold on the shelves of WalMart even if I wasn't getting a dime for it.  So because of that, I really don't want to say too much that's negative, but there are definitely pros and cons.

Some of the pros don't even really get a mention on the site.  Like the fact the system is a closed loop going right into the fermenter.  That's awesome because an hour of running all that hot wort through the fermenter means you're sure to be sanitized and without additional chemicals.  I really wish I could incorporate more heat/steam sanitation into my system.  It also takes that level of intimidation most new brewers feel and eliminates that.  Running on 110V is a boon for most people so they don't have to get a special outlet wired up.

The cons are really too big for me to get around.  I can't get past the fact you need the Internet and Picobrew's servers to use your machine.
  What  happens if my Internet is down or their servers are offline?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I don't like the fact you can't really brew outside of the box (pun intended).  Want to decoct, turbid mash, use weird ingredients, kettle caramelization, etc.?  Not happening here. I can see where DMS could still be reduced because of the heat and agitation, I don't see how you're getting a good break.  Because of the circulation pattern through the system, you're essentially adding a lot of oxygen, soluble protein, and polyphenols together.  That's the perfect recipe for haze and shelf stability issues.  I can't wrap my head around how you'd fix that.  I also don't see where you can do any kettle additions like whirlfloc or nutrients.  Maybe I'm just missing that though.  There's also a lot of tiny internal tubing and parts.  That has to be a nightmare to clean. I'm sure people say "I just run PWB and it's fine".  Sure, people say that about plate chillers too and I think most people here have sworn them off after seeing the horribleness that can live inside one of those.  I can't even imagine what you do when something leaks or breaks.  I've seen this thing in pieces and it doesn't look very user serviceable.  And the price?  You want to charge more than Braumeister or Grainfather and I can make less beer? OK.

So so things? You're going to have to  work at completely recalculating hop utilization, but you can work through that eventually.  I dislike that many of the design decisions seem to have been made for form over function, but I'm sure some people like it. 

I guess at the end of the day, it's like the Apple of brewing products.  Slick and marketed as "just works".  Some people will dig that, some people want more control.  I can see if you only make certain styles and you drink your beer fairly fresh, this is probably a great product.  If you want more freedom and direct control, this is not the product for you.

Dan - to my knowledge, that's not exactly how a stripper  works.  They usually sit between whirlpool and chiller.  It's more or less a showerhead that aerosolizes the wort.  This device does that during the boil.  Not only would this drive off bad volatilizes, it would drive off good ones too.  If you think HSA is a thing, putting a stripper circulating with the kettle during boil would certainly induce it.

Matt - that video is really worth a thousand words.  I'd call that stronger than a simmer, but not quite a weak boil.  Not what I would want to see, but certainly better than what I thought the unit would be able to do.  Keep it up with the pics and review.

I'd really love to be able to run a Picobrew, Grainfather, and Braumeister head to head, but that falls into the "wishing in one hand" catagory.




Posted 34 days ago.

rayfound
Charter Member
Riverside, CA
313 Posts


Olan, what's up with all the punctuation being wonky?

3




Posted 34 days ago.

homebrewdad
Charter Member
Birmingham, AL
2480 Posts


I don't see any wonky punctuation.
2




Posted 34 days ago.

Necropaw
Charter Member
Central WI
608 Posts


For example:

" "I just run PWB and it's fine"."

Are you not seeing the extra backslashes in there?
2




Posted 34 days ago.

rayfound
Charter Member
Riverside, CA
313 Posts


It looks like that in email, but NOT on the forum. 
2




Posted 34 days ago.

homebrewdad
Charter Member
Birmingham, AL
2480 Posts


Ah, okay. 

I'll look into it.  Looks great on the forums.  :)

Unfortunately, a lot of the steps one takes to sanitize input before putting it into a database make for ugly displays.  The database retrieval stuff accounts for this, but the email version does not - at least, not perfectly.
2




Posted 34 days ago.

chino_brews
Charter Member
Eden Prairie, MN
301 Posts


So I Matt Chrispen getting the Grainfather got me watching this video of a Kiwi guy doing a side-by-side brewoff with the Grainfather and Braumeister. It is a 3-part, approximately one-hour video, but interesting to a nerd like me who likes to watch videos of people brewing for entertainment.

Seeing it, I could get into either system, I think. In fact, it reminds me a little of my dream system, which would be a mini-Electric Brewery, or maybe a more-elegant and larger Countertop "Brutus 3".

The idea to do a BIAB system with recirculating mash is brilliant -- you get all of the advantages of BIAB (no hassle) and HERMS/RIMS (clear wort) with the efficiency of batch sparging (72%+ brewhouse).

The guy in the video sort of leans towards the Braumeister based on German engineering, but I could see the Grainfather's faster, harder boil and clearer wort tipping the scales in its favor, even before you consider the Braumeister is 3x the cost.
2




Posted 34 days ago.

mchrispen
Bastrop, TX
485 Posts


Yeah I watched that a couple of times before I pulled the trigger. His tasting of the Braumeister/blended/GF beers at the end are just cringe worthy, but the performance comparison convinced me. I can compensate for the slower bring up to boil and save the additional $1400.

Will see how this Best Bitter comes out in a couple of weeks. BTW reading some forums, it looks like the boil can be augmented by a bucket heater. Not putting that in the same circuit as the GF �� that seems pretty stupid. I got great hot break and reasonable cold break �� so ok with the light boil. I doesn��t leap out of the kettle like on the Brew Magic, but air conditioning! I stepped out during the boil into the garage to pull a sample. It was fricking 104 in the garage.

Didn��t break a sweat or a nail with this. The attraction is that I work from home. I can easily brew during a work day now�¦ and not be caught passed out in a coma out in the heat �� or called out by the jet engines that are boiling the wort. I just need a strategy to overcome the filter issues and maybe pre-chill the chiller with an ice bath for a tighter cast out temp. On the bright side, my wife didn��t barf walking into the malty air like she used to when I brewed in the kitchen. I also like having this on a rolling table �� makes it easy to move, clean and store.

I just pitched two old packets of Thames Valley (dated from December, smacks didn��t swell much) at 70F. Not sure I care, going to let this go in my computer room (ambient 68F) and see the result. Now planning a bigger beer to see how efficiency scales.





Posted 34 days ago.
Edited 34 days ago by mchrispen

testingapril
Charter Member
Atlanta, GA
595 Posts


Gary, you're probably right, that's not technically a stripper. I think Abita said that's how theirs works which makes it a little different than a normal stripper.


And yes, if run in the traditional position of post whirlpool it will drive off desirable and undesirable volatiles.


2




Posted 34 days ago.

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