Robobrew/Grainfather is it worth the change??

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Nick667

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I have been brewing BIAB for a number of years and at times it can be a bit of a pain in the ass with my gas system. I have to do it outside so weather plays a big part and any wind can really mess with the boil and evaporation ( live NZ ), so at times it gets too hard so I dont do it. I have 2 temp controlled fridges and get some pretty good beers most of the time. I have trouble justifying the cost of the electric systems, Brewzilla here around NZ$600 but it is a hobby that I really enjoy.
So can anyone tell me if the change is or has been worth it for them. I am really interested in having the brew cleaner when it goes into the FV and the control that you have re temps and times.
So, any advice?
 

sp0rk

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I prefer the simplicity and ease of cleaning up with my BIAB system (80L keggle over a 3 ring burner), but I really like my Guten being electric and somewhat automatic with temps
If I could be bothered, I'd just install a couple of elements in my keggle and knock up a control box
 

Grmblz

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Just stick an electric element in your kettle, but make sure it's an ULWD, unless you're fond of scrubbing burnt crap off electric elements.

Be aware that KL are about to release a new v.4.0 Brewzilla, they say the v 3 point whatever it's up to now will still be available but that could be sales talk for "lets get rid of the old stock" also KL have a tendency of letting their customers do the real world testing which is why the v 3 is up to some silly version, and why I would advise waiting until at least version 4.2 before purchasing one of the new ones.
Maybe wait for sales of the version 3 once the version 4 is released.
I have a Robo 3.1 and it works, should have bought the bigger one but there ya go, I haven't used a Guten and some suggest the software is a work in progress (but then again so is the Robo 3.1) as spork comments ^ "somewhat automatic"
So do they do the job? Yes! (sort of) are they a premium bit of kit with all the wrinkles ironed out of them? No!
Cleaner wort? cube it and decant, biab has no blocked pumps, or stuck sparges (mostly, and a shit load easier to deal with) and it doesn't have some moron writing the software for the control (talking about the cheap systems here)
For $100 you could electrify your biab, for $200 you could electrify and add pid control to it, also the cheap all in ones don't have ULWD elements and can scorch the bottoms.
All up I reckon spend $100, or there abouts and see how you go, it solves your weather issues, isn't a huge amount of money, and if you like it you can always spend a bit more on a PID control for automatically ramping the mash etc (and believe me Auber PID's are how it's meant to be done, not this half arsed Ch stuff)
 

Grok

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A Digiboil + malt pipe with retaining spring ring at top, + the matching bottom screen, and use an external pump for recirculation is a cheap and effective way to go, versatile as well, and its what I currently use.
All manual set up, but I find that better for flexibility on brew day.
I'm currently testing a cheap manual PWM mod on my Digiboil set up and can post it up soon if peeps are interested.
Teaser photo!
Digiboil PWM mod_front.jpg
 
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Cloud Surfer

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I have the BrewZilla 65 V3.1.1. I can identify a few pieces of gear I bought that made a big difference to the quality of my beers. By far, stepping up to AG with the BrewZilla has made the biggest leap in quality.

As mentioned I would be a bit reticent to be a beta tester with the BrewZilla V4. The early V3 versions took a bit of sorting out. I might look at a new unit in a few years once a few generations of the V4 have been released.

So I would jump in now and get the V3.1.1 and get the 65L. I can make 22L of 5% Hefeweizen or 17% Barley wine and everything in between using the bigger BrewZilla. It’s a much more versatile unit than the smaller one.
 

RRising

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Well sheeeeeeit... My robobrew just died, getting it prepped for a brew day tomorrow and after filling it with water and cleaner the screen doesn't turn on, it did but flickered and died.

Now i'm stuck in between a rock and a hard place, get a replacement board or new BZ from KL and wait 8+ days for them to clear their backlog and however long it takes to get here or go to my LHBS tomorrow and get a grainfather, i can afford a G30 but not the new G40.

Edit*** Or Guten but i can imagine they are under the same constraints KL have and the Auspost ecommerce pause.
 

Grmblz

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Just can't see the value in grainfathers, David Heath love him or loath him is pretty scathing about them, almost the same price as a brewtools but worse quality than a zilla, there's a couple of interesting comparison vid's he's done recently.
End of day you only need heat and pump, if the pumps still working then just Magyver the elements, and if it isn't then Magyver that as well, a couple of 10amp switches is all you really need (look at Grok's ^) and if you're getting a new one anyway it doesn't matter if you completely screw it.
Usual caveat, playing with tricity can be a life limiting move.
 

Ballaratguy

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Just can't see the value in grainfathers, David Heath love him or loath him is pretty scathing about them, almost the same price as a brewtools but worse quality than a zilla, there's a couple of interesting comparison vid's he's done recently.
End of day you only need heat and pump, if the pumps still working then just Magyver the elements, and if it isn't then Magyver that as well, a couple of 10amp switches is all you really need (look at Grok's ^) and if you're getting a new one anyway it doesn't matter if you completely screw it.
Usual caveat, playing with tricity can be a life limiting move.
I’ve got the 40L Guten and love it. Haven’t heard of any Guten electronics blowing up like the one that you have
 

Grok

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Well sheeeeeeit... My robobrew just died, getting it prepped for a brew day tomorrow and after filling it with water and cleaner the screen doesn't turn on, it did but flickered and died.

Now i'm stuck in between a rock and a hard place, get a replacement board or new BZ from KL and wait 8+ days for them to clear their backlog and however long it takes to get here or go to my LHBS tomorrow and get a grainfather, i can afford a G30 but not the new G40.

Edit*** Or Guten but i can imagine they are under the same constraints KL have and the Auspost ecommerce pause.
RRising, check if your pump is still working, if it is then you have power in there and could be the PCB fuse, or as happened to me, the power wire attached to the spade connection on the PCB blew off from the thin attachment feet, I bypassed that and soldered the wire straight to the board, fixed it, had to do the fuse as well, see one of my earlier posts on that.

If the pump doesn't work, it could be the main thermo fuse hiding inside some heat shielding on the main LIve wire coming into the unit (inside), had that happen to me as well, see my other posts with pics. You can bypass that temporarily fairly safely, it should have a 15amp thermo fuse there really!

This is why I have a back up available, an over the side bucket immersion heater and simple "Inkbird" style controller as spare.
Good luck!
 

Grok

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Oh Oh! my bad!!!!! I was thinking Robobrew was the early Guten, but of course it isn't........or is it???? I'm confused now!
Sorry about that RRising, still, it makes it easier if it is to get it going, because its simpler wiring inside.
 
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RRising

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RRising, check if your pump is still working, if it is then you have power in there and could be the PCB fuse, or as happened to me, the power wire attached to the spade connection on the PCB blew off from the thin attachment feet, I bypassed that and soldered the wire straight to the board, fixed it, had to do the fuse as well, see one of my earlier posts on that.

If the pump doesn't work, it could be the main thermo fuse hiding inside some heat shielding on the main LIve wire coming into the unit (inside), had that happen to me as well, see my other posts with pics. You can bypass that temporarily fairly safely, it should have a 15amp thermo fuse there really!

This is why I have a back up available, an over the side bucket immersion heater and simple "Inkbird" style controller as spare.
Good luck!
Oh Oh! my bad!!!!! I was thinking Robobrew was the early Guten, but of course it isn't!
Sorry about that RRising, still, it makes it easier to get it going, because its simpler wiring inside.
Thanks for the advice, it turned on for about 5 minutes but died again and now the pump isn't working. The thing is a few years old now and is getting a bit grotty from years of brews so it's time for an upgrade rather than dicking around with wires.

I went to my local homebrew shop and i've got a G40 on order, they are waiting for stock this week, main warehouse has them but haven't been delivered to stores yet, it'll be my chrissie present to myself this year ;)

I've been debating to upgrade for a while now.
 

The Mack

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I used to run the BIAB gas setup, made it work- held temp ok with the insulation covering but personally it has been unreal moving to a Robobrew. I started with buying a secondhand maybe gen1, and then ended up buying two 35L Gen3 ones.

If I had the electrics already for a 15A I would have probably gone the 65L in hindsight but enjoy being able to brew two completely different beers at the same time, clean up isn't "too" bad but guess it's subjective.

What has made it great for me is once the pump speed has been dialled in I just walk away and continue to do family stuff until it's time for the sparge.... being hands off for so much of the brew day is fantastic. If stuff like this was around when I started I would have jumped at it, but as said you could just add elements to your current setup to save a bit of money.
 

postmaster

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Just can't see the value in grainfathers, David Heath love him or loath him is pretty scathing about them, almost the same price as a brewtools but worse quality than a zilla, there's a couple of interesting comparison vid's he's done recently.
End of day you only need heat and pump, if the pumps still working then just Magyver the elements, and if it isn't then Magyver that as well, a couple of 10amp switches is all you really need (look at Grok's ^) and if you're getting a new one anyway it doesn't matter if you completely screw it.
Usual caveat, playing with tricity can be a life limiting move.
RE Grainfather. I have had the G30 since introduction I think about. 6 years ago and had absolutely no trouble. Purchased the G70 as soon as that came available Jan 2020 and also have had absolutely no problems. (Bar operator error) . I think DH issues was the PID controller early on, but that has now been corrected. Also brewers are trying to brew under 30 litres and thats when the temperature issues occurs. Also you cannot recirculate the wort at 100 deg you must wait until its about 95 deg. (It won't pump because it get an airlock) They do state that in the manual, but who reads the manual ?. I did look at Brewtools before I purchased the G70 ($1995) Brewtools B80 ($3399 plus you need to buy add on's) Also I found the GF had a smaller footprint and PID is at the top of the boiler also CIP
Possibly done in excess for 25 Brew on the G70 and love it. Cheers.
 

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Nick667

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Thanks for your replies. My boil pot has a large diameter and I get a huge loss during the boil I also get a lot of krud / trub going into the fv, its a real seat of your pants way to go so the filter effect of these systems with recirculating pumps is appealing. What sort of loss as a percentage do you get from a Robobrew and is it possible to get a good clean end product into the fv and does it make for a much better beer?
 
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