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Dedicated Grainfather Guide, Problems and Solutions Thread

Discussion in 'Gear and Equipment' started by HBHB, 16/12/14.

 

  1. HBHB

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    Posted 16/12/14
    With the roll out of the Grainfather Units imminent in Australia, there's bound to be some questions raised and issues encountered along the way.


    As per the other similar threads: (Borrowed from Idzy and Chappo's sticky threads in this forum)

    • To stay on topic where reasonable (a little friendly banter is ok)
    • Purely on procedures, techniques, brewing techniques, equipment, technology and set ups.
    • Talk on recipes and results from Grainfather systems
    • Photo's, drawings, scribbles of gear and set up is a must.
    • No trolling lets keep it straight, debate well, deal with facts and remain focused. Difference of opinion is more than acceptable. Calling someone out for a shooting and pissing contest isn't.
    • Advanced brewing techniques using Grainfather.
    • Beginner advice on setting Grainfather systems up.
    • The thread will be actively Moderated to keep it on topic.
    Now this isn't an elitist thread ok. So please don't start banging that one out guys. It is however for those in the Grainfather world of brewing. We don't bash on much about our systems etc as mentioned above. But it will be a place where those using Grainfather Units can advance and share their knowledge.
     
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  2. HBHB

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    Posted 16/12/14
    • When assembling for the first time, please ensure all of the clamps for the wort return line are firm, but don’t excessively tighten the pipe on the silicone parts, it’s not necessary and crushing could cause problems later.
    • Sit and read the instructions fully and understand the controls. There’s a couple of good videos on the grainfather Youtube channel that are worth watching as well.
    • When you have mashed in and are placing the wort return arm (with black handle and silicone hose) in place, ensure the square profile seal is used and is sitting flat on the round pipe of the arm snug against the raised lip. A little lube will keep it in good condition. Once the male pipe is inserted into the threaded female section of the wort return pipe, drop the black threaded nut (has a brass insert) over the female end and run it backwards a turn before trying to secure it. If the thread grabs and gets firm in just 2-3 turns, then stop and back it off before trying again. Crossing the thread will likely cause damage to the brass insert and will result in a leaking joint. If the nut hasn’t threaded on correctly and you try to stop a leak by tightening too much, the brass insert can shear and the arm will need replacing. Threaded on properly with care, the stem seal will give effective sealing easily and the arm securing nut will give flawless service.
    • There is a HD brass cap for the top of the wort return pipe which should always be in place when the wort return arm is not on there. Failure to do so will create unwanted excitement on brew day if you turn the pump on accidentally without the cap or the return arm in place. It also tends to reduce accumulated brownie points in a relationship (In English: It will piss the better half off immensely)
    • Your package contains a GEN II counter flow wort chiller. It’s very effective and will greatly improve your beers over No-Chill techniques. Water flow doesn’t need to be any higher than about 3-3.5L per minute. Making up a short (3m - 4m) prechiller to be placed inline for the water inlet side and placing it into a small esky with ice, salt and water will allow you to crank the wort temperature down to as low as 6 degrees C in summer. This is used once temperature drop stalls and you can’t get it below the ambient tap water temperature.
    • Ensure your recipe has been designed to take chilling into account.
    • For early stages, until you get used to the unit, a 75% Brewhouse efficiency will get you close to the mark for consistency, however during testing we consistently achieved higher than this.
    • Paying attention to correct mash pH along with adequate milling to ensure a good crush on the grain is important. The grains should be broken, but not shredded and not with too much flour.
    • For good extraction of malted Wheat and Rye, they should be milled separate to any other grains and be milled to a granular size (similar to coarse river sand)
    • When doing high wheat or rye beers as with rolled/flaked oats/barley/flaked wheat etc, while those are pre-gelatinized, it does still benefit from a β-glucanase rest of 20-30 minutes at 40 Deg C (also allows time to correct your mash pH), followed by a Protein rest (say around 53 – 55 Deg C for just 10-15 Minutes) Using these steps, we’ve done some great beers with up to 32% Rye without any problems encountered with stuck sparges.
    • Using a hop sock for each of the hop additions in really hoppy styles such as American Pale Ales and IPA’s will still allow thorough wash through of wort and thus extaction of the soluble oils without loss of any hoppy goodness. It will also mean you lose a LOT less beer to the hops and will reduce the incidence of pump filter fouling. It’s a contentious issue with some, i know, but it does have many advantages and absolutely no disadvantages in practice. The oils simply wash out of the vegetal matter into the beer. They’re also reusable many times over of washed well between uses. Securing the hop sock to the side of the boiler with a stationary clamp (bulldog style) works well.
     
  3. Hippy

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    Posted 16/12/14
    Good work Martin.
    What is the largest grain bill you have done in the grainfather so far and how do the larger grain bills affect volume calcs and efficiency?
     
  4. HBHB

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    Posted 16/12/14
    We managed a 9kg grain bill which was a squeeze along with quite a few up in the 7-8+ kg range mate. Most of course were in the 4.5-6kg range. Would have to pull the figures for exact efficiencies, but the 9kg was still around 72% off the top of my head. That's probably the lowest figures we've pulled. The Gympie demo last Friday was dialled in on the recipe at 75% Brewhouse efficiency and overshot pre boil estimated Gravity by 0.013 and post boil by 0.011. That was a 5.5kg pale malt, .2kg caramunich 1 and .2kg wheat malt grain bill. Working on a foggy memory here. I'm sure one of the guys could check it.

    Our test unit shall henceforth be known as the town tart, since it's been fondled by every bloke and his dog between Bundy and Brisbane.

    Roger D took the unit for some trials and in a moment of weakness did a crazy big double choc cherry oatmeal stout that could be the cure for the common cold. He can add his figures, but it was a squeeze along with some familiarity issues that arose.

    Highest was on a fairly large lager grain bill which was up Over 88% BHE. Again, other guys will have the figures. Not exactly typical, but certainly pretty impressive. I have a Boston lager clone on tap at the moment that is as clean as a whistle that achieved something up over the 80% BHE. It's a beer where there's nowhere to hide off flavours or astringency.

    We haven't played around much with smaller grain bills and will do a few up in the coming weeks to play around with lighter session beers in the 2.6-3.5 % Abv. Something that is often missing on tap here.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  5. vykuza

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    Posted 16/12/14
    HBHB - have you dialed in a recommended mill gap size for the units?
     
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  6. Autopilot80

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    Posted 16/12/14
    I got mine on order so I'm pretty excited to get it and give it a go. My biggest concern is the sparging method. Once you lift the malt basket out do you let it completely drain before adding your sparge water or do you keep the grains soaked for the whole process? Have you had any tannin/astringency issues with smaller grain bills? I am a bit freaked out about over sparging as it's looks neigh on impossible to get an accurate gravity reading during the sparge.
     
  7. HBHB

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    Posted 16/12/14
    Nick, it depends on the mill used. We have a custom built 8" mill with big rollers that doesn't shred the grains and gives outstanding results as narrow as 0.83mm but on the standard 3 roller mill it's usually around 0.87-0.9mm. Usual story different grains different settings. Wheat and rye we tend to mill them down like course sand granules. Not too much flour.



    Autopilot80, if you wait until the grain bed drains until exposed and the top perforated screen is dry, then start to build up the sparge water up until it's just below the overflow, it'll be fine. Also with regards to oversparging, don't sweat it. If you follow the instructions for calculating the strike water and then the sparge water, it'll work out OK. The only astringency I've seen was in a beer with way too much Galaxy hops....nothing to do with over sparging

    If you get any weird calculations where your spare is much bigger than your mash volume, just split the volume 50:50 so half for mash, half for sparge, otherwise follow the calculations in the book.

    I believe the NZ guys are working on a sliding scale for small and crazy big grain bills to avoid errors. Not sure on progress.

    Edit Note: removed all of the auto spell corrections (I hate autocorrect)
     
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  8. Hippy

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    Posted 18/12/14
    Thanks for that info Martin.
    Have you had any issues with step mashing, assuming you have done step mashes?
    I'm thinking in regards to protein rests and if it has caused any build up on the element which may lead to the cut out switch kicking in.
     
  9. bradsbrew

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    Posted 19/12/14
    Out of the box!
     
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  10. wambesi

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    Posted 19/12/14
    Quick, use it and let me know.

    Just made some money tonight that is burning a hole in my pocket!!
     
  11. bradsbrew

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    Posted 19/12/14
    Out of the box!

    20141219_203924.jpg
     
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  12. Bomber Watson

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    Posted 19/12/14
    Mmmmmm, lovely.
     
  13. HBHB

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    Posted 19/12/14
    Hippy, one of the guys who used the test unit did manage to trip the switch on a crazy big beer, but not sure of the exact circumstances. Easily resolved by running a spoon gently over the plate and pushing the reset button under the main body. I believe the rest of the brew went fairly well.

    I guess it's better to have that trip early to identify there's a heap of gunk on the element hot zone, rather than ruin a batch from badly burnt trub.

    It'd take a fair bit of stuff on the plate to trip the thermal cut-out I imagine. During testing we managed to do a particularly big Black Rye IPA (32% Rye) which was milled fairly fine and put through a step mash regime (40 for 30min, 53 for 10min, 66 for 60min, 72 for 15min and 75 for 10min to mash out) there was a fair bit of stuff on the element area from that one and a little area (50c piece) was pretty dark.

    Should be easy enough in most cases to avoid it happening with careful milling.

    It's probably worth while considering some rice hulls if doing big wheat or rye additions which should improve filtration through the grain bed overall.

    These units have 2 protective mechanisms, 1st line of protection is the cut out switch which is a thermal switch and the second is a fusible link which would be easy enough to replace (add in - use a sparky etc etc).
     
  14. Hippy

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    Posted 19/12/14
    As usual thanks for a thorough response.
    Sounds like you really have put it through it's paces.
    Looking forward to getting my hands on one.
     
  15. bradsbrew

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    Posted 19/12/14
    Only a small thing but you will find the hose clamp and little bolt/nut in the hop screen. Took 10 minutes to find it, but I had had a few beers. Another tip it's probably not the best idea to assemble the unit after the work Christmas lunch/drinks.
     
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  16. meathead

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    Posted 23/12/14
    Well I've got mine after about 2 years of going through the stages of this hobby, kits, biab, buying stuff that I've either chucked or resold on eBay.
    Anyways this piece of shiny ss is the ducks guts. I'm currently mashing my Pot Kettle Black clone and its a joy. I feel planned, prepared and in control.
    I'm no tech guy so to build my own GF would have been out of the question. For me this bit of kit is perfect.
     
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  17. warnerbrew

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    Posted 27/12/14
    Did my first ag brew yesterday. Couple of little surprises like an almost boil over but the grainfather videos were great.

    Being my first ag - sparging seemed to take forever - following the calc's I had a 13L sparge which took around 45 minutes to an hour to drain through. Is this normal?

    Aamcle - the internal diameter of the lower pipe is 10mm. The ID of the upper pipe that slides over the lower one is 13mm.
     
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  18. buck_star

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    Posted 27/12/14
    Hey Warnerbrew

    My sparge takes about 20 minutes i have a urn set up above my gf so gravity may be helping. Are you pushing the plate down when sparging?
     
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  19. MCHammo

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    Posted 27/12/14
    45-60 minutes? Not normal. What were you making? I think I took about 10 - 15 mins the other day to sparge, but that was quite a small grain bill.
     
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  20. warnerbrew

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    Posted 27/12/14
    Cheers for the replies buck_star and MCHammo,

    I was brewing a Fat Yak clone - following the guidance from the grain father videos - i.e. 1L of water over the grain bed after you push the plate down, 5.6kg grain bill, 18.6L of water with 13.8L of sparge. Per the video, waited between each 1L batches of water on top of the perforated plate until the plate was clear of water and then stopped when the water was 10mm above the plate ... rinse and repeat - as I mentioned this took about 45 minutes which seemed a long time (painfully slow).

    I've got an urn, so could set it up above the GF - buck_star - do you just attach a hose and crack a valve or something?

    cheers.
     

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