Durability, ease of use, heating speed, overall quality.
I currently brew on a 3V (2 coolers, 1 keggle) propane fired system. Looking to go to an all in one electrical system. I’ve read really good stuff about the anvil but don’t want to spend $450 now and then decide I would rather have a $1,400 system.
Agreed the countertop units are not beginner toys. OP, the disadvantage of 'countertop' systems is their (general) lack of expandability. I BIAB, started with one pot and burner and kept expanding. I now have 4 pots and 4 burners, 3 biab, 1 HLT to sparge. I can brew 3 different 10gal batches in an 8hr brew day, all with interchangeable parts. Prep water and grind day before, stagger MI by 30 minutes. Have your brew sheets handy, stay organized, and don't mix up your hops!
I'm considering an AIO but this winter I'm using 1 electric BIAB pot (no sparge) in my basement. Colorado Brew Systems look good, though pricey. They do come w/stainless pulley stand, no need to rig your own. A 30lb grain bill is not something I would muscle around with.
I have two turn-key type systems, a Speidel Braumeister 10L and the Clawhammer 120V 10.5 gallon unit. I also brew with 1V or 2V ad hoc systems. I'm a bit addicted to variety.
Check out the Clawhammer channel on YouTube, where they have a ton of amusing videos, most of which showcase their system. While not particularly sexy, it's well put together and bullet-proof. It's modular and not proprietary. I brew 2.5 gallon batches, so the 120V version works fine for me. They also offer 240V 10 and 20 gallon versions.
Pros are numerous: It holds temp really well. It is simple (yes, that's a pro). Recirculation is reliable and thorough. You can augment the heating with induction if you like. The lid hangs on the handles. It's relatively portable. The pump is outboard and solid, and everything uses quick disconnect fittings for convenience. The controller is outboard as well and uses a standard type of thermoprobe. It kind of just works, with a minimum of drama or extra steps.
Cons... the basket hooks are inconvenient, but I use a pulley anyway. The basket allows grain dust to escape, which would happen with any BIAB setup. There is no down-facing dip tube in the kettle; instead it's just a bulkhead opening, although it's mounted as low as it can get, and you can tilt the kettle. It comes with a plate chiller, which may or may not be your preference. But lots of these don't come with a chiller at all, so...
The Unibrau is definitely nice. I bought the Clawhammer because it's confirmed to work for 2.5 gallon batches, whereas with the Unibrau, I'm not sure. I mentioned this already, but check out the "Homebrew Challenge" YouTube channel. The guy on there, Martin, used the UniBrau for quite some time and then switched to Clawhammer. You can see both in action many times if you like that sort of thing.
The Clawhammer recirc uses a spray valve, which works great to distribute the wort, but might offend some who obsess about hot side aeration. I actually changed that part out in lieu of a simple silicone tube draped down below the lid, plugged at the end, with holes drilled in it. Easy to modify. Not necessary at all, just DIY fun.
In short the UniBrau is more purposefully engineered at higher cost, whereas the Clawhammer is thoughtfully pieced together at lower cost. Both look like winners to me.
I don't understand why I can't buy something like my Thing1 off the shelf.
I also don't understand why 2 kettles, a heating element, a PID and switches and a pump have to cost $1500.
I also don't understand why everyone uses a water heater element to power their systems.
I really like your Thing1 but the reason for me to go to a 'turn key' system is that I don't want to work on building something for a year or so (because that is how much time i'd be able to put into it every week). If I were to start a 'Thing1' build, I feel I might as well start my electric 3V build in stead..
It's a brewing system. What support do you think you'll need ?
Quality issues (happens to all manufacturers), usage questions, beersmith profiles, dead space measurements, efficiency issue troubleshooting, DIY idea help, etc.
Not all manufacturers give help beyond just quality issues. Spike does. Just my experience. But sure, if you know it all, such things don't matter.
Looking in to these has been interesting, and all of these units look like good quality stuff. The issue for me is the 4g deadspace. It appears that these are no-sparge , full vol brewing. It wouldnt be an issue iguess as long as you're getting good efficiency but I have to use a steam condenser, boil with lid on.
my boil-off is only .5g. With the dead space it looks like it requires so mush water to do a mash. id have to boil for 2 hours to get down to volume.
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