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Dontdropthebeer

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Hello everyone

As the title says, I am an American who somewhat recently relocated to the south of France. It was initially a one year stint to see if it worked out, and almost 4 years later there are no plans to return.

I used to brew pretty regularly from about 2010-2015 and I was using a propane burner, 10 gallon pot, and converted cooler mashtun. All my equipment is in storage in the states.

I am looking to invest in some new equipment here, and the world has changed a bit since I last brewed with the abundance of the affordable all in one electric systems (and now that I am in Europe the access to the 220v electricity). I am trying to figure out what is best for me. I have tried searching the various brands/models and I have found some info but a lot of it is years old, and I assume that some of the issues have been resolved since then (I hope?).

Anyway, I am seeking advice/experience/anecdotes/clarifications from any European brewers who have tried these systems (or anyone anywhere, for that matter)

So Im currently debating the Brew Monk system through brouwland.com and the Klarstein Brauheld Pro system. I understand they are all pretty similar and based on the Guten system which seems to be rebranded according to whoever is selling it (Brew Monk, Klarstein, Ace, Brewzilla,etc).

I was ready to buy the Brew Monk Titan (45l or roughly 12 gallons) but it's out of stock, and the expected stock dates keep shifting from January to March to April.

Then I was looking more seriously at the Klarsteins, and was confused about the differences between the variants (mundschenk, Maischfest, etc). But then I was drawn to the Brauheld Pro for the 1) external pump system (there seemed to be a lot of problems with the internal pumps on the others and saw a lot of recommendations about an external pump). and 2) digital panel that is seemingly not built in, and can be held in the hands (as opposed to having to get down on the ground if using it on the ground, or having to get up on a stool/chair if using it on a table).

I am completely new and ignorant to the world of pumps, so i have no idea. Is a pump even worth it?

So my questions are:

  • Any experience with either? Pro's and cons?
  • 30l (8 gallons) is plenty for me for volume into fermenter, but since it's also the mash tun I was concerned about being limited to grainbill size and was debating a 35l (9 gallons) or 45l. In America I mostly brewed pale ales, IPA's, and saisons, but I did do a lot of belgian styles like triples, golden strong ales, and dubbels which required a much larger grain bill. I know I could adjust for a smaller volumes into fermenter but Im wondering roughly what would be the largest grainbill in the 30l or 35l and if i could expect to do say a Belgian IPA in a 30l and still get 19l into the fermenter?
  • also any experience with the "smallest" batch size that can be done in each size? If I get a 45l system I don't want to discover that I can't just do a small 30l boil (i have read issues about the coil immersion chillers not working so well in the larger size systems. truth?)
I have also been contemplating BIAB in the system and it seems possible? I didn't do too much in America did try it a few times and it was very easy for the cleanup. Are there any people doing a BIAB mash in these systems?

Any other systems to be recommended?

Also, any recommendations for online shops in France (or that ship to France cheaply?) I have found some of the bigger ones but I am wondering if there are any hidden gems I should be aware of. Not just for equipment, but also quality ingredients.

I think that's it for now, but I am sure more will come to me.

Thanks for reading this far and any advice/opinions.
 

Dr_Jeff

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When I was working in Alaska, we had a Klarstein Maischfest 30L and it came with a chiller, it didn't bother me to not have a pump in it. It worked fine although it was a bit slot to boil, but it was a 110V unit, Very easy to use and simple to operate. We made a bunch of great beers. The most grain that I used was ~16 pounds, likely could have gotten 18 in there, maybe a bit more. But with that much grain, saturated, the malt pipe becomes very heavy to lift out. As far as not having a pump, we got good conversion and a step mash was easy to do, just up the temperature and sit back. Several times during a step mash, I would open the valve in the bottom, drain some into a stainless steel bowl with a handle, and pour it over the top, doing a recirculation, so to speak, don't know if it was needed or helped, but it gave me someting to to and feel like I was adding to the process. It was simple to clean up and simple to use. Didn't have any problems with it while I was there. From what I understand, they are still using it, and I think that they bought another so that they could brew even more at one time.
 

DuncB

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@Dontdropthebeer

Which part of the south of france is Easthampton?

I started with a robobrew 3 which was 35 litre capacity. I upgraded to a Guten 70 which copes easily with double batch 23 litre x2 to keg. Also much easier for the occasional bigger beers. I could get three kegs out of it in one go if it was brimming but no need for me to do that. The extra space does reduce worries of boilover on a brewday.

These threads have a lot on all in one brewing and there's plenty of opinions out there.




 

Velnerj

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I'm a European brewer (well actually American but I've been living in Europe for a long time). I'm in the Czech Republic. I started out with a pot and a mash tun cooler. The cooler was difficult to find and very expensive compared to what you can get it for in the states...

Anyways I'm looking into an AIO system now too. Volume has been a big driver for me in making decisions. I feel that 35l is too small should I ever want to make a big beer. Additionally I'm looking to do no sparge with my system to make it simple. So I figure I would need at least 45 or 50 liter capacity. If I were to shoot for a big 1.100 25l beer.

Unfortunately that eliminated the brewzilla and the grain father seems to me a bit too pricey. So I'm looking at four options. Klarstein makes a 50l model and so does "royal catering" (from expondo - a German website might have to check availability in France) the Klarstein has a insulated jacket available (which for me is important in order to shorten my brew day) but royal catering does not have this option

Then there's the Brewster beacon which has a 40l model with pump (all models mentioned above have pumps) but no spigot (jacket available). It seems like more of an established company focusing on beer making (unlike the other models above who specialize in gastro equipment). But if the pump fails I'd have to use a racking cane to get the beer out and into the fermenter.

Then I stumbled upon Brew Taurus. Which is a new company who has a 45l model with jacket, pump and spigot. So far good reviews and they are based in Prague (for me that's local support but I'm sure they reach other EU countries).

Im leaning brew Taurus but haven't pulled the trigger yet. My advice is to keep your eyes open, do some research and perhaps what you're looking for will pop up.
 

DuncB

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@Velnerj
There is the Brewzilla 65 and Guten 70 ( clones) which could both do big no sparge beers.
Technically you'd be using a racking cane to get the wort out into the fermenter, but I do see your point. You could fit a tap in the side at the bottom of the Taurus and then gravity to your fermenter if the pump failed. I'm not sure that 45 litre capacity would be enough to do an 1100 no sparge 23 litre batch. Best to plug the numbers in to calculate that. Efficiency does go down with bigger beers in these all in one systems.
 
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Dontdropthebeer

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I'm a European brewer (well actually American but I've been living in Europe for a long time). I'm in the Czech Republic. I started out with a pot and a mash tun cooler. The cooler was difficult to find and very expensive compared to what you can get it for in the states...

Anyways I'm looking into an AIO system now too. Volume has been a big driver for me in making decisions. I feel that 35l is too small should I ever want to make a big beer. Additionally I'm looking to do no sparge with my system to make it simple. So I figure I would need at least 45 or 50 liter capacity. If I were to shoot for a big 1.100 25l beer.

Unfortunately that eliminated the brewzilla and the grain father seems to me a bit too pricey. So I'm looking at four options. Klarstein makes a 50l model and so does "royal catering" (from expondo - a German website might have to check availability in France) the Klarstein has a insulated jacket available (which for me is important in order to shorten my brew day) but royal catering does not have this option

Then there's the Brewster beacon which has a 40l model with pump (all models mentioned above have pumps) but no spigot (jacket available). It seems like more of an established company focusing on beer making (unlike the other models above who specialize in gastro equipment). But if the pump fails I'd have to use a racking cane to get the beer out and into the fermenter.

Then I stumbled upon Brew Taurus. Which is a new company who has a 45l model with jacket, pump and spigot. So far good reviews and they are based in Prague (for me that's local support but I'm sure they reach other EU countries).

Im leaning brew Taurus but haven't pulled the trigger yet. My advice is to keep your eyes open, do some research and perhaps what you're looking for will pop up.


I had not yet encountered either the Brewster Beacon or the Brew Taurus before, but with the included extras/accessories (and free shipping to France) I am suddenly very interested in the brew taurus. Mainly for the price, the size (i still wonder if 45l is too much more me, but it is good to have the room to expand later if i want to), and the included extras (since im starting from nothing here, i need it all so any sort of package helps.
 

jambop

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I had not yet encountered either the Brewster Beacon or the Brew Taurus before, but with the included extras/accessories (and free shipping to France) I am suddenly very interested in the brew taurus. Mainly for the price, the size (i still wonder if 45l is too much more me, but it is good to have the room to expand later if i want to), and the included extras (since im starting from nothing here, i need it all so any sort of package helps.

I am a Scot living in France retired early here almost 12 years back. Like yourself I am just getting back into it. If you want some advice, as I have already dealt with them Rolling Beers are your go to if buying online . Where about are you? I live near Pau and although I have been searching for homebrewing shops there I cannot find any. Thing is the delivery rates from Rolling Beers is really good and they delivery very quickly too normally 48hrs for me it is more cost effective to buy online and not have to drive into Pau. They are based near Montpellier I think. They stock a lot of good stuff www.rolling-beers.fr/fr/
 

Northern_Brewer

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Also, any recommendations for online shops in France (or that ship to France cheaply?) I have found some of the bigger ones but I am wondering if there are any hidden gems I should be aware of. Not just for equipment, but also quality ingredients.

There's quite a few British expats and locals kicking round the likes of www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk and www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk so it may be worth looking around those.

One way to find the "better" retailers is to look at the international distribution on the websites of eg White Labs and Wyeast - the extra expense means that only the more high-end places stock the US liquid yeasts. Also see local yeast producers like WHC, an Irish company that ... has a range suspiciously similarly to the US labs, with strains such as "Bond" which is is no way at all similar (if any lawyers are watching) to WLP007. There's also some on the Continent like Fermentum Mobile in Poland that I don't know so well.

You may find www.geterbrewed.ie useful - they have operations either side of the Irish border, which means they're probably the first choice for getting British stuff into the EU like malts and also eg NZ hops where the British merchants have a bit of a special relationship.
 

jambop

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There's quite a few British expats and locals kicking round the likes of www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk and www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk so it may be worth looking around those.

One way to find the "better" retailers is to look at the international distribution on the websites of eg White Labs and Wyeast - the extra expense means that only the more high-end places stock the US liquid yeasts. Also see local yeast producers like WHC, an Irish company that ... has a range suspiciously similarly to the US labs, with strains such as "Bond" which is is no way at all similar (if any lawyers are watching) to WLP007. There's also some on the Continent like Fermentum Mobile in Poland that I don't know so well.

You may find www.geterbrewed.ie useful - they have operations either side of the Irish border, which means they're probably the first choice for getting British stuff into the EU like malts and also eg NZ hops where the British merchants have a bit of a special relationship.

Living in FranceI don't even bother looking on non EU sites these days by the time you add in import taxes and VAT additions not to say anything about the cost of changing currency it is just not worth it. The Geterbrewed company may be an option because they are /could be EU but I doubt they could match delivery costs and time. I use Rolling Beers and they are great for delivery costs and time and have pretty good stocks of the most widely use materials and ingredients.
 

rancocas

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I can think of a lot of worse places to relocate to! My employer used to have a lab near Nice. Lovely.
Hello everyone

As the title says, I am an American who somewhat recently relocated to the south of France. It was initially a one year stint to see if it worked out, and almost 4 years later there are no plans to return.

I used to brew pretty regularly from about 2010-2015 and I was using a propane burner, 10 gallon pot, and converted cooler mashtun. All my equipment is in storage in the states.

I am looking to invest in some new equipment here, and the world has changed a bit since I last brewed with the abundance of the affordable all in one electric systems (and now that I am in Europe the access to the 220v electricity). I am trying to figure out what is best for me. I have tried searching the various brands/models and I have found some info but a lot of it is years old, and I assume that some of the issues have been resolved since then (I hope?).

Anyway, I am seeking advice/experience/anecdotes/clarifications from any European brewers who have tried these systems (or anyone anywhere, for that matter)

So Im currently debating the Brew Monk system through brouwland.com and the Klarstein Brauheld Pro system. I understand they are all pretty similar and based on the Guten system which seems to be rebranded according to whoever is selling it (Brew Monk, Klarstein, Ace, Brewzilla,etc).

I was ready to buy the Brew Monk Titan (45l or roughly 12 gallons) but it's out of stock, and the expected stock dates keep shifting from January to March to April.

Then I was looking more seriously at the Klarsteins, and was confused about the differences between the variants (mundschenk, Maischfest, etc). But then I was drawn to the Brauheld Pro for the 1) external pump system (there seemed to be a lot of problems with the internal pumps on the others and saw a lot of recommendations about an external pump). and 2) digital panel that is seemingly not built in, and can be held in the hands (as opposed to having to get down on the ground if using it on the ground, or having to get up on a stool/chair if using it on a table).

I am completely new and ignorant to the world of pumps, so i have no idea. Is a pump even worth it?

So my questions are:

  • Any experience with either? Pro's and cons?
  • 30l (8 gallons) is plenty for me for volume into fermenter, but since it's also the mash tun I was concerned about being limited to grainbill size and was debating a 35l (9 gallons) or 45l. In America I mostly brewed pale ales, IPA's, and saisons, but I did do a lot of belgian styles like triples, golden strong ales, and dubbels which required a much larger grain bill. I know I could adjust for a smaller volumes into fermenter but Im wondering roughly what would be the largest grainbill in the 30l or 35l and if i could expect to do say a Belgian IPA in a 30l and still get 19l into the fermenter?
  • also any experience with the "smallest" batch size that can be done in each size? If I get a 45l system I don't want to discover that I can't just do a small 30l boil (i have read issues about the coil immersion chillers not working so well in the larger size systems. truth?)
I have also been contemplating BIAB in the system and it seems possible? I didn't do too much in America did try it a few times and it was very easy for the cleanup. Are there any people doing a BIAB mash in these systems?

Any other systems to be recommended?

Also, any recommendations for online shops in France (or that ship to France cheaply?) I have found some of the bigger ones but I am wondering if there are any hidden gems I should be aware of. Not just for equipment, but also quality ingredients.

I think that's it for now, but I am sure more will come to me.

Thanks for reading this far and any advice/opinions.
 

rancocas

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There are a couple of good Facebook groups based in France.

 
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Dontdropthebeer

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I can think of a lot of worse places to relocate to! My employer used to have a lab near Nice. Lovely.

those forums are great thank you. I had already been poking around the brassage amateur forums but not the facebook group.

and yeah, i have not missed the 5 months of winter and freezing temps and knee to waist high snow i used to get in new england!
 

DuncB

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I wouldn't hesitate to go as big as you can, it does make brews easier.
Father in law lives near Auch and when we could travel used to watch the tour and saw some finishes in Pau.
Think about growing some hops.
 

jambop

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I wouldn't hesitate to go as big as you can, it does make brews easier.
Father in law lives near Auch and when we could travel used to watch the tour and saw some finishes in Pau.
Think about growing some hops.

I can buy hop plants, I was on a site that sells them yesterday, and I am a keen gardener and have a large garden but these things are very vigorous, so I have heard, and require a good structure to grow on. then there is picking and drying... I think I am just going to continue buying mine.
 

DuncB

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You won't get many hops in your first year, I plan to use mine as fresh hops and swap them with other brewers for dry or pellet hops. That said I will end up drying and keeping some I'm sure. I'm growing mine in a 50 litre container and it's growing along a rope horizontally after reaching 5 foot. Just need to keep helping it twist around the line feed and water. The bines look good cut down and dried as decoration as well.
 

Velnerj

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I had not yet encountered either the Brewster Beacon or the Brew Taurus before, but with the included extras/accessories (and free shipping to France) I am suddenly very interested in the brew taurus. Mainly for the price, the size (i still wonder if 45l is too much more me, but it is good to have the room to expand later if i want to), and the included extras (since im starting from nothing here, i need it all so any sort of package helps.
I just pulled the trigger on the brew taurus 45l pro package. They have a reduced price for that package and decided to go for it. It should arrive tomorrow or the next day.
 
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Dontdropthebeer

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I too bought it about two weeks ago and it arrived last week. The reduced price really motivated me.



Did a couple nights of tests with just water and brewed my first batch with it on Sunday. I kept it simple - 6kg of Vienna malt and 50g of citra hops with bry-97 west coast ipa yeast.


considering it was my first time brewing since November 2014 and a whole new system (For years I used to to do converted cooler mashtun with a 10gallon kettle and propane burner) everything went very smoothly. I was a few points off in my gravity but not much (about 65% efficiency and I’m confident I can improve that).


it was my first time milling my own grains and I think it was ok - I set a corona mill gap to about the width of a credit card and used a brew bag (the thought cleaning spent grains made me very lazy, as well as not wanting to add to the numerous posts about the pump clogging with grains).



I opted to not use the mash pipe but I wish I had. I just put the bag in the kettle and heated up the water before adding the grains. It worked fine but when it came time to pull it out it was a pain. Had I used the mash pipe I could have raised it and let it drain and done a better rinse. My volume was about a liter low at this point and I got a little concerned. Instead I ended up just holding the bag over the kettle for like 20 minutes and was able to regain that missing liter. Next time I will use the mash pipe and the bag and let gravity work for me.



As I was underway I realized I was uncertain about what power to use but went with about 1500w for the mash and 2000w for the boil. I had some issues with temps - if I kept the lid on during the mash it would sometimes overshoot my target temp by at times about 5-7degrees C and I’d have to remove the lid and stir until it dropped back down. After a few more batches I’d like to be better prepared to control that somehow.



The boil went smooth, got up to a hot break fairly quickly (after I realized that setting it to 100c would just bring it to 100 and then stop - you have to go one step past 100 to “boiling”) and used the hop spider for the additions. I did a 20l batch and the immersion chiller worked pretty well (about 3/4 submerged maybe?) in combination with the whirlpool arm (wasn’t super strong tho) and stirring. Chilled it in about 15-20 minutes.



Pitched the yeast and put it in an unused fridge in the basement thinking it would be a prrttt good temp. After a day of no airlock activity (I know I know it doesn’t mean everything) and noticing the stick on thermometer was reading about 52/54f (11-13c) I wrapped a towel around it and then put a hoodie on it, zipping it up and laying the hood on the top around the airlock, and now it’s happily bubbling away. It’s towards the lower temp range for the yeast but I am curious to see how a slow/low range fermentation goes - my old set up I’d ferment in a heated room towards the higher ends of the ranges and often would get more of an alcohol test (esp on higher gravity Belgians). It will still be beer and I’m hoping there will be a decent body.



Already planning to get another fermenter and do another smash (maybe a Pilsner/Saaz with 05 yeast) and further dial in the process and “workflow” on the machine, but overall after the first batch I am VERY pleased. Way smoother than I feared after a 7 year hiatus and on all new equipment.

Next step is working on fermentation control. Here in Provence it has been fairly cold but it should start warming up in the next few weeks and by the spring I think the basement/cave will be pretty optimal fermentation temps without needing much control but we will see.
 

Velnerj

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I too bought it about two weeks ago and it arrived last week. The reduced price really motivated me.



Did a couple nights of tests with just water and brewed my first batch with it on Sunday. I kept it simple - 6kg of Vienna malt and 50g of citra hops with bry-97 west coast ipa yeast.


considering it was my first time brewing since November 2014 and a whole new system (For years I used to to do converted cooler mashtun with a 10gallon kettle and propane burner) everything went very smoothly. I was a few points off in my gravity but not much (about 65% efficiency and I’m confident I can improve that).


it was my first time milling my own grains and I think it was ok - I set a corona mill gap to about the width of a credit card and used a brew bag (the thought cleaning spent grains made me very lazy, as well as not wanting to add to the numerous posts about the pump clogging with grains).



I opted to not use the mash pipe but I wish I had. I just put the bag in the kettle and heated up the water before adding the grains. It worked fine but when it came time to pull it out it was a pain. Had I used the mash pipe I could have raised it and let it drain and done a better rinse. My volume was about a liter low at this point and I got a little concerned. Instead I ended up just holding the bag over the kettle for like 20 minutes and was able to regain that missing liter. Next time I will use the mash pipe and the bag and let gravity work for me.



As I was underway I realized I was uncertain about what power to use but went with about 1500w for the mash and 2000w for the boil. I had some issues with temps - if I kept the lid on during the mash it would sometimes overshoot my target temp by at times about 5-7degrees C and I’d have to remove the lid and stir until it dropped back down. After a few more batches I’d like to be better prepared to control that somehow.



The boil went smooth, got up to a hot break fairly quickly (after I realized that setting it to 100c would just bring it to 100 and then stop - you have to go one step past 100 to “boiling”) and used the hop spider for the additions. I did a 20l batch and the immersion chiller worked pretty well (about 3/4 submerged maybe?) in combination with the whirlpool arm (wasn’t super strong tho) and stirring. Chilled it in about 15-20 minutes.



Pitched the yeast and put it in an unused fridge in the basement thinking it would be a prrttt good temp. After a day of no airlock activity (I know I know it doesn’t mean everything) and noticing the stick on thermometer was reading about 52/54f (11-13c) I wrapped a towel around it and then put a hoodie on it, zipping it up and laying the hood on the top around the airlock, and now it’s happily bubbling away. It’s towards the lower temp range for the yeast but I am curious to see how a slow/low range fermentation goes - my old set up I’d ferment in a heated room towards the higher ends of the ranges and often would get more of an alcohol test (esp on higher gravity Belgians). It will still be beer and I’m hoping there will be a decent body.



Already planning to get another fermenter and do another smash (maybe a Pilsner/Saaz with 05 yeast) and further dial in the process and “workflow” on the machine, but overall after the first batch I am VERY pleased. Way smoother than I feared after a 7 year hiatus and on all new equipment.

Next step is working on fermentation control. Here in Provence it has been fairly cold but it should start warming up in the next few weeks and by the spring I think the basement/cave will be pretty optimal fermentation temps without needing much control but we will see.
Great write up. Very useful. Mine came in the mail yesterday. The malt pipe had two clips that were busted off... I emailed them, they responded to me within a few hours. I'll need to send them the whole package back and they'll replace it. So I'll have to wait until next week or so before I give it a whirl.
 

Velnerj

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How did it go? Did you try it out yet?
Yes I indeed tried it out.

I have to say I really like it. Overall it eliminated a lot of headache from my previous system and saved me time. Which was the goal of this "upgrade."

I was somewhat concerned about efficiency and how I was going to sparge. My initial intention was to heat up all the brewing water and then pump out about 2 gallons into my igloo mash tun (from my old system). But when I did that there wasn't enough mash water in the malt pipe to even get all the grains wet. I didn't account for the dead space below the malt pipe that wasn't getting to the grains. So I ended up dumping the rest of the water back and doing no sparge.

In the end my efficiency only dropped about 8 percentage points (from 75% to 67%). I think there are some ways that I could improve that number but the ease of no sparge is really nice actually, and the loss in efficiency can be made up in many different ways.

I already had a hop spider and an immersion chiller and I used the old ones in this run. This is because I may try to sell the hop spider (do I need two?) and my immersion chiller is set up to connect to my shower faucet (hose outside is turned off for the winter). I will definitely test out the immersion chiller with the hose once the weather warms up though.

One other thing I really liked was that I was able to do a whirlpool for the final hop addition and I wasn't able to do that on my old system (at least not that accurately with temp). I found the whirlpool arm to be more useful in general that I originally thought. I not only used it for the whirlpool at the end but I also used it to push wort through the hop spider during parts of the boil, used during the chilling and I used it in the cleaning process too.
 
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DuncB

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Sounds good and you had the usual learning curve.
Mashing efficiency is definitely higher with a runnier mash I found.
You could just heat several litres of sparge water in a large pan or just heat a few electric kettle fulls to the correct temperature and pour over.
I do give the grains a good squeeze with a plastitc jug pushing down on it before I do the sparge as I find otherwise it just pours straight through without much spread. Might gain you a few points, my last mash efficiency was 86% but I'm using a 70 l system for a 25 litre to fermenter, but only 33 litres of water used in total and actually got 28 litres to fermenter so I've got some adjusting to do. But it's a good problem to have!
 
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