Best brewing system for 5-15 gallon batches

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

CrisTX

Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2024
Messages
6
Reaction score
3
Location
FTW
I’ve got about ten 5 gallon batches under my belt using a BIAB system a buddy gave me (Brewers Edge) so, I am new to brewing. I am really enjoying the process and have decided to invest some money into this hobby.

I have been researching various brewing systems for quite some time and just can’t decide what system I want to invest in (a lot of money so want to try and get it right). Mostly BIAB turnkey systems. Either all in one or 2 vessel systems(Unibrau all in one, spike solo, Clawhammer, Unibrau Pro - 2V, MT w/ the other vessel being their jacketed fermenter that you recirculate from, boil in and ultimately chill and ferment in).

My main goal is to be able to brew 5-15 gallon batches. I would probably mostly brew 10-15 gallon batches but also want the flexibility to brew 5 gallon batches to test recipes. The majority of beers would be around 5.5 abv to 7abv. Don’t have a problem being okay with accepting that the higher abv beers will be constrained to 10 gallon batches. Also, I want the most efficient, fastest, easiest brew day/clean up as I I still have a fairly young family with a lot going on.

I feel like I am leaning towards a 2 vessel setup and it seems the only system that checks these marks is the Unibrau Pro 100L (it has a 20 gallon MT vessel, 26 gallon fermenter/boil kettle, says it can do 5-15 gallon batches, recirculate from the fermenter, boil in the fermenter, can chill to pitching temps in the fermenter l, can get a sparge arm and obviously ferment in a single vessel. Fermenter is sanitized while boiling, etc. It just seems like a really efficient, high quality system from everything I have looked at. It also can be expanded to a 3 vessel if that is what I end up wanting one day and already have the fermenter in this scenario. Obviously, the price is high but for what I am wanting or looking for, maybe that is the trade off? Also, there just really isn’t a lot of reviews or discussion on the Unibrau Pro system to help me make my mind. Seems like a really cool system. Just very costly.

Spoke solo only has a 20 gallon (5-10 gallons) but really like this. Would still need a conical fermenter (or want I should say; planning to make a Glycol chiller, harvest yeast, close transfer and all that fun stuff). Unibrau all in one does make a 30 gallon all in one now as well which would accomplish the volume requirements but again would want a fermenter) I’ve also considered a 2 vessel from a couple different manufacturers like some have wrote about (maybe SS insulated MT and a boil kettle from somewhere). But again, would have to buy all the pumps, fermenter, fittings, controller and everything that doesnt come with these turnkey systems these days. Also would be another vessel I would have to clean.

Anyhow, just wondering if any of yall have looked into a solid 5-15 gallon system and could help me decide one way or the other. I have the means to go with a higher dollar system but obviously always try to be cost conscious as a general rule to live by. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
First of all welcome to the forum, it sounds like you have a real passion for the hobby. To answer your question there is no such thing as a Best system, but the Brau Supply system you mentioned looks like a top tier set up. I’m not sure why it needs the external mash tun though. It looks like a copy of the Brewha BIAC system which accomplishes all the steps in one vessel. But maybe the Brau Supply has some features I’m not aware of. (There happens to be one for sale in the classifieds right now. No affiliation)


Separately, as something of a grouchy old man I kind of have to point out that after having done 10 batches in a 5 gallon mash and boil, jumping directly up to a $5k 15 gallon system is a big step. Both financially and in terms of the number of variables you will be simultaneously introducing into your brew day.

Do you actually need/ know how to take advantage of all of the features that system has? You say you want to keep cleaning to a minimum (which is a whole separate issue in its self) but the system you linked to has, by my count more than 20 triclamp fittings, each of which has to be cleaned and sanitized before every batch. This style of fermenter with the shoulder on the top and only a medium sized opening on top also adds complication for cleaning as the CIP often doesn’t reach the top surface and depending on your set up you may have to reach in and manually scrub the area. I think the one big drawback of those type of systems is that you can’t brew again until your current batch has finished fermenting, causing a lot of people to either rush their beer, or buy a second $$$ conical.


I would also urge you to think carefully if you really need to be able to brew 15 gallons of beer at a time. I know when we start out it’s easy to think it would be cool to have that much beer on hand, or we could supply all of our friends with beer. But realistically, a lot of those friends don’t take as much as they say they will, so unless you have a guaranteed outlet for getting rid of it all, having 15 gallons of the same beer can be a bit of a burden. There are lots of stories here of people getting bored with their beer and dumping large amounts of it so they can move on and brew something else. And at 15G the frequency that you brew is probably going to go way down, and then so will your opportunity to learn. One more thing to consider is the cost of a 15G batch and how that effects they way that you brew. It sounds like money isn’t a big problem for you, but would you be as willing to try a new technique on a batch that you have already sunk hundreds of dollars into? If not, that may also limit your ability to experiment and learn how different things affect your process.



I’m not trying to dampen your enthusiasm and you should absolutely pursue brewing the way you want to, but maybe give some thought to why you want to do it that way and wether it will really be better than growing your skills and system gradually over time as you learn what you like and what works best for you.
 
First of all welcome to the forum, it sounds like you have a real passion for the hobby. To answer your question there is no such thing as a Best system, but the Brau Supply system you mentioned looks like a top tier set up. I’m not sure why it needs the external mash tun though. It looks like a copy of the Brewha BIAC system which accomplishes all the steps in one vessel. But maybe the Brau Supply has some features I’m not aware of. (There happens to be one for sale in the classifieds right now. No affiliation)


Separately, as something of a grouchy old man I kind of have to point out that after having done 10 batches in a 5 gallon mash and boil, jumping directly up to a $5k 15 gallon system is a big step. Both financially and in terms of the number of variables you will be simultaneously introducing into your brew day.

Do you actually need/ know how to take advantage of all of the features that system has? You say you want to keep cleaning to a minimum (which is a whole separate issue in its self) but the system you linked to has, by my count more than 20 triclamp fittings, each of which has to be cleaned and sanitized before every batch. This style of fermenter with the shoulder on the top and only a medium sized opening on top also adds complication for cleaning as the CIP often doesn’t reach the top surface and depending on your set up you may have to reach in and manually scrub the area. I think the one big drawback of those type of systems is that you can’t brew again until your current batch has finished fermenting, causing a lot of people to either rush their beer, or buy a second $$$ conical.


I would also urge you to think carefully if you really need to be able to brew 15 gallons of beer at a time. I know when we start out it’s easy to think it would be cool to have that much beer on hand, or we could supply all of our friends with beer. But realistically, a lot of those friends don’t take as much as they say they will, so unless you have a guaranteed outlet for getting rid of it all, having 15 gallons of the same beer can be a bit of a burden. There are lots of stories here of people getting bored with their beer and dumping large amounts of it so they can move on and brew something else. And at 15G the frequency that you brew is probably going to go way down, and then so will your opportunity to learn. One more thing to consider is the cost of a 15G batch and how that effects they way that you brew. It sounds like money isn’t a big problem for you, but would you be as willing to try a new technique on a batch that you have already sunk hundreds of dollars into? If not, that may also limit your ability to experiment and learn how different things affect your process.



I’m not trying to dampen your enthusiasm and you should absolutely pursue brewing the way you want to, but maybe give some thought to why you want to do it that way and wether it will really be better than growing your skills and system gradually over time as you learn what you like and what works best for you.
Pure wisdom. Couldn't agree more. From a guy with a 3V, 2 pump, 20 gallon system to a couple 5 and 10 gallon igloos, couple of 1 gallon plastic pitchers for vorlauf and runoff, and 5 gallon batches. If I could have at the time, I'd have as close to a commercial setup at home as I could have possibly achieved. But to brew, clean up as I go and have a fully clean kitchen with 5 gallons of pitched brew in the tank without tremendous physical cost to me is a godsend.

With Whisky River, whatever it is you're after in brewing, godspeed and happy brewing to you. But I'd strongly encourage some thinking on what he's written.
 
I was just typing a response all about the value of learning the details/specs/strengths vs. weaknesses of all the variables involved in piecing together your own system that will work best for your own preferred way of working..After all: There are almost as many ways to brew as there are homebrewers, and the hardware associated with each detail can be pretty diverse with some folk swearing by one and swearing at the other, such as; RIMS or HERMS? Bag or Basket or Mash Tun?
If you're looking at a high price system anyway, why not start with something simple and proven that you can add on to over time? The leading example of this would be the very popular BIAB system from brewhardware;
https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/biabpackagepremium.htm
You can add on as you go until it has every detail you want and you learn the behaviours of each hardware choice along the way and ultimately end up with a system that doesn't have some unaddressable element bugs you but you have to put up with.
:mug:
 
I totally forgot to say; Welcome to HBT!
..and kudos for having the sense to sign up and talk before spending... Every so often we get a new user sign up in a panic because they have more money than sense and having a handful of brews under thier belt, they spent what half of us would need a second-mortgage for on a massive system which they discover they don't actually know how to use... About half of them end up disappearing for a while and show up some time later with a listing for all their gear in the classified section. In fairness; the other half do ask all the questions and learn to use it with widely varying levels of satisfaction. There are a number of unforeseen details, for example; If you happen to have a very highly attuned palate and you are persuing the 'Perfect Brew', you may decide you need to go LODO and eliminate hot-side O2 exposure...this can result in a costly changover of plumbing and a ton of DIY'ng to adapt what you already have (if possible).
Whatever you chose; Take your time and keep asking questions before you spend.
:mug:
 
My main goal is to be able to brew 5-15 gallon batches. I would probably mostly brew 10-15 gallon batches but also want the flexibility to brew 5 gallon batches to test recipes. The majority of beers would be around 5.5 abv to 7abv. Don’t have a problem being okay with accepting that the higher abv beers will be constrained to 10 gallon batches. Also, I want the most efficient, fastest, easiest brew day/clean up as I I still have a fairly young family with a lot going on.
Welcome. This is one of my favorite topics and having brewed for 20 years and sold brewing systems for the last 12 or so, I think I'm in a good position to help you think about this.

The first task is to honestly ask yourself what is driving your batch size goals. One reason might be bigger is better, full stop. Afterall, you're a Texan so I get it. You might also expect to be entertaining a lot of guests at your place and you'll be providing a lot of beer all the time. You might also be figuring that you only get the chance to brew every so often and you need the beer to last through those busy dry spells. These are all fine reasons to plan for bigger batches. However, there are plenty of people that go too big just because they got an itch to do it. The ugly side of big batch brewing, especially early on in your brewing hobby, is that bad batch execution results in higher levels of disappointment and even when the beer comes out great, you really can't brew until you drink down all that inventory.

If you just standardize on 5/6 gallon batches on a very fast system, you can squeeze in more frequent brew days and experiment while getting your brewing chops up.

I feel like I am leaning towards a 2 vessel setup and it seems the only system that checks these marks is the Unibrau Pro 100L (it has a 20 gallon MT vessel, 26 gallon fermenter/boil kettle, says it can do 5-15 gallon batches, recirculate from the fermenter, boil in the fermenter, can chill to pitching temps in the fermenter l, can get a sparge arm and obviously ferment in a single vessel. Fermenter is sanitized while boiling, etc. It just seems like a really efficient, high quality system from everything I have looked at. It also can be expanded to a 3 vessel if that is what I end up wanting one day and already have the fermenter in this scenario. Obviously, the price is high but for what I am wanting or looking for, maybe that is the trade off? Also, there just really isn’t a lot of reviews or discussion on the Unibrau Pro system to help me make my mind. Seems like a really cool system. Just very costly.
I've done business with Brau Supply in the past in a B2B capacity and wouldn't again. That's all I'll say. There's nothing inherently wrong with the idea of boiling in the fermenter with the exception of tying that boil kettle up for the entire fermentation and aging. As long as you move things along and get the beer kegged after the beer is generally clear, you'll be OK with a once a month brewing cycle.. Being in Texas, you'll definitely need a glycol chiller to make use of that fermenter.
Spike solo only has a 20 gallon (5-10 gallons) but really like this. Would still need a conical fermenter (or want I should say; planning to make a Glycol chiller, harvest yeast, close transfer and all that fun stuff). Unibrau all in one does make a 30 gallon all in one now as well which would accomplish the volume requirements but again would want a fermenter) I’ve also considered a 2 vessel from a couple different manufacturers like some have wrote about (maybe SS insulated MT and a boil kettle from somewhere). But again, would have to buy all the pumps, fermenter, fittings, controller and everything that doesnt come with these turnkey systems these days. Also would be another vessel I would have to clean.

Anyhow, just wondering if any of yall have looked into a solid 5-15 gallon system and could help me decide one way or the other. I have the means to go with a higher dollar system but obviously always try to be cost conscious as a general rule to live by. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Again, make sure you REALLY need 15 gallons of the same beer at a time. I went up to 10 gallon batches for about a year and realized it was a huge mistake because I was constantly dumping the second 5 gallon keg out of boredom with the beer and the need to keg my newer beers without acquiring 25 kegs. These days, I'm considering going DOWN to 2.5 to 3 gallon batches so I can continue brewing without drinking so much.

To stop preaching and answer your question, it's unrealistic to try to span 5 to 15 gallon batches. It's generally accepted that systems can handle a base batch size and one 5 gallon increment down. For example, a 10G system can do 5/10 and a 15 gallon system can do 10/15, etc. up to a certain point. I build a single vessel eBIAB 20G kettle that can do 5/10 and the 30 gallon kettle version can do 10/15. The geometry of any of the vessels, whether it's 1V, 2V or 3V is such that if it can handle 15, 5 is just going barely going to be covering the element during the boil.

If you're looking for simple and time efficient, a single vessel is going to beat a 2 vessel. Come back with a definite answer on the batch size and I'll get more specific.
 
First off, I think it’s pretty awesome people are willing to spend a considerable amount of their personal time to help a complete stranger out. So, I really do appreciate the feedback and help. It’s a pretty awesome community I have come to realize.

I think a common theme in the replies is whether I really need to brew that much beer at one time. The more I reflect on yalls comments, the more I realize that I don’t think I do need or want to brew 15 gallon batches. I think 10 is the most I really would need. I think Bobby M really hit the nail on the head with what I was thinking when wanting to brew large batches (typically entertain a large group of friends that love drinking beer that we made, also brewing large enough batches to cover times when I may not have the time). Whiskey River’s comment about prohibiting my ability to grow my skill set and trying new techniques is really getting me to think. I think at the end of the day, that is ultimately my main goal and I would think most people getting into this hobby goal would be - to become a better, more skilled brewer as opposed to producing mediocre beer or being a mediocre brewer. So, I appreciate the help in getting me to come to this reality/conclusion.

I have been researching and learning about brewing on more advanced systems ( than the brewers edge) for about a year or more now. Watching several hours of videos on each system I’ve been looking at, how tos and reading the John J Palmer “How to Brew” book quite religiously. I bought a fermzilla and have been doing closed transfers. Also pressure fermenting all my lagers (built a simple spunding valve and even built a knock off quick carb). So, I feel fairly confident in knowing what all the extra features do and how to utilize them (including HERMS and RIMS systems). I understand there will be lessons learned and a lot of trial and error during the first several brew days. But I just don’t think that will discourage me as I am in this. I just don’t have the control I would like with my hot side equipment (brewers edge I have is plus or minus 5 degrees mash temp; I’ve come to realize a 6 degree change in temp before it kicks on then overshoots a couple degrees can affect fermentable sugars and can make it hard to hit my FG. Have to constantly monitor and turn off then on, etc. kind of the reason I am interested in insulated MT or RIMS/HERMs systems. I also want to really improve my cold side as much as possible. Right now it’s 40 degrees at night and 79 during the day. This equipment is in my shop so I really need a hot/cold temp control set up for my fermenter for example. I’m heating it with a bathroom heater in a small room at night and by noon having to stick it in a fridge or freezer with a temp controller. Just trying to find some better control via better equipment to, at the end of the day, make better beer and try to make it a bit more user friendly (I guess is the word?).

Anyhow, I’m kinda wondering if the 20 gallon spike solo is what I’m thinking might be good to go with? Maybe their conical or another with heating/cooling capabilities. I think I could expand with this system to a 3 vessel system if I wanted to one day. But I have been flipping back and forth with what I want every month or so, hence the reason I am asking for yalls advice!!! I may be overthinking this but again, it’s an investment so I want to be spending it right whether it’s 800 or 3k. I can assure you I am not made of money, I have been thinking about this for some time and have also been saving for a while. Thanks again for your thoughts and help. I greatly appreciate it.
 
I think 10 is the most I really would need.
That's what I was figuring. Once you have a really fast system (heat times mostly), you'll build up a nice pipeline and have the luxury of variety over quantity. I don't want to discount the possibility that you're the type to have one favorite beer style and got into brewing to make it over and over again.

I have been researching and learning about brewing on more advanced systems ( than the brewers edge) for about a year or more now. Watching several hours of videos on each system I’ve been looking at, how tos and reading the John J Palmer “How to Brew” book quite religiously. I bought a fermzilla and have been doing closed transfers. Also pressure fermenting all my lagers (built a simple spunding valve and even built a knock off quick carb). So, I feel fairly confident in knowing what all the extra features do and how to utilize them (including HERMS and RIMS systems). I understand there will be lessons learned and a lot of trial and error during the first several brew days. But I just don’t think that will discourage me as I am in this. I just don’t have the control I would like with my hot side equipment (brewers edge I have is plus or minus 5 degrees mash temp; I’ve come to realize a 6 degree change in temp before it kicks on then overshoots a couple degrees can affect fermentable sugars and can make it hard to hit my FG. Have to constantly monitor and turn off then on, etc. kind of the reason I am interested in insulated MT or RIMS/HERMs systems.
I can't emphasize enough how it's easy to fall into a trap of assuming you need a large, expensive, complicated system in order to gain and maintain good control. One of the reasons why you see such variation of temps in the all in one you have is that it's very tall and skinny and bleeds heat out the sides faster than a meager recirculation can deal with it. The controller is also not particularly sophisticated. First, read this article: https://www.brewhardware.com/category_s/1972.htm

Then watch this:
It's a touch out of date because I rebuilt the system in a bottom draining Blichmann kettle recently, but it gets the point across about the way I have achieved perfect mash stability.

Here's a jump to commentary on the newer kettle design

I also want to really improve my cold side as much as possible. Right now it’s 40 degrees at night and 79 during the day. This equipment is in my shop so I really need a hot/cold temp control set up for my fermenter for example. I’m heating it with a bathroom heater in a small room at night and by noon having to stick it in a fridge or freezer with a temp controller. Just trying to find some better control via better equipment to, at the end of the day, make better beer and try to make it a bit more user friendly (I guess is the word?).
100% true that the cold side will make more of an impact on the beer than anything on the hot side. Wavering temps during fermentation is bad in both directions. Fermenting hot can drive fusel alcohols and more esters than appropriate and cooling off can cause premature crashing of the yeast leaving a lot of fermentation byproducts unchecked. You need active heating and cooling running on a dual stage controller. If you only plan to ferment one batch at a time, I recommend fitting your fermenter inside a second hand fridge. The temp stability is quite improved and the depth of the cold crash is better. Glycol via coils is limited to about 37/38F whereas you can run a fridge way down to 33F and you also don't get a fermenter that sweats like a pig the whole time. I'll also mention that splitting a 10G batch between two 7G conicals is a slick move. You can audition different yeasts or dry hops on the same hot side brew day but that's much more pricy than just one fermenter.

Anyhow, I’m kinda wondering if the 20 gallon spike solo is what I’m thinking might be good to go with? Maybe their conical or another with heating/cooling capabilities. I think I could expand with this system to a 3 vessel system if I wanted to one day. But I have been flipping back and forth with what I want every month or so, hence the reason I am asking for yalls advice!!! I may be overthinking this but again, it’s an investment so I want to be spending it right whether it’s 800 or 3k. I can assure you I am not made of money, I have been thinking about this for some time and have also been saving for a while. Thanks again for your thoughts and help. I greatly appreciate it.

The solo is a decent system. I personally like using a bag better than any of the baskets out there but it's a personal preference. I do feel that splitting the recirculation to include the whirlpool during the mash is important, and my article linked above explains that better than I can right now. I'm working on an in depth review of all the different electric controllers available on the market with the pros and cons list and I'll just say that working with a vendor like me allows you to build a system with the best components regardless of manufacturer/brand. No "one" manufacturer does every part of their system perfectly so mixing and matching will almost always yield a better machine.
 
First off, I think it’s pretty awesome people are willing to spend a considerable amount of their personal time to help a complete stranger out. So, I really do appreciate the feedback and help. It’s a pretty awesome community I have come to realize.

I think a common theme in the replies is whether I really need to brew that much beer at one time. The more I reflect on yalls comments, the more I realize that I don’t think I do need or want to brew 15 gallon batches. I think 10 is the most I really would need. I think Bobby M really hit the nail on the head with what I was thinking when wanting to brew large batches (typically entertain a large group of friends that love drinking beer that we made, also brewing large enough batches to cover times when I may not have the time). Whiskey River’s comment about prohibiting my ability to grow my skill set and trying new techniques is really getting me to think. I think at the end of the day, that is ultimately my main goal and I would think most people getting into this hobby goal would be - to become a better, more skilled brewer as opposed to producing mediocre beer or being a mediocre brewer. So, I appreciate the help in getting me to come to this reality/conclusion.

I have been researching and learning about brewing on more advanced systems ( than the brewers edge) for about a year or more now. Watching several hours of videos on each system I’ve been looking at, how tos and reading the John J Palmer “How to Brew” book quite religiously. I bought a fermzilla and have been doing closed transfers. Also pressure fermenting all my lagers (built a simple spunding valve and even built a knock off quick carb). So, I feel fairly confident in knowing what all the extra features do and how to utilize them (including HERMS and RIMS systems). I understand there will be lessons learned and a lot of trial and error during the first several brew days. But I just don’t think that will discourage me as I am in this. I just don’t have the control I would like with my hot side equipment (brewers edge I have is plus or minus 5 degrees mash temp; I’ve come to realize a 6 degree change in temp before it kicks on then overshoots a couple degrees can affect fermentable sugars and can make it hard to hit my FG. Have to constantly monitor and turn off then on, etc. kind of the reason I am interested in insulated MT or RIMS/HERMs systems. I also want to really improve my cold side as much as possible. Right now it’s 40 degrees at night and 79 during the day. This equipment is in my shop so I really need a hot/cold temp control set up for my fermenter for example. I’m heating it with a bathroom heater in a small room at night and by noon having to stick it in a fridge or freezer with a temp controller. Just trying to find some better control via better equipment to, at the end of the day, make better beer and try to make it a bit more user friendly (I guess is the word?).

Anyhow, I’m kinda wondering if the 20 gallon spike solo is what I’m thinking might be good to go with? Maybe their conical or another with heating/cooling capabilities. I think I could expand with this system to a 3 vessel system if I wanted to one day. But I have been flipping back and forth with what I want every month or so, hence the reason I am asking for yalls advice!!! I may be overthinking this but again, it’s an investment so I want to be spending it right whether it’s 800 or 3k. I can assure you I am not made of money, I have been thinking about this for some time and have also been saving for a while. Thanks again for your thoughts and help. I greatly appreciate it.
I have two conical 7.5 gal brewbuckets (SS Brewtech) with the idea that I might want to have a couple 5 gallon batches in production either @ the same time or a week apart. That's still aspirational as I work through process to get 5 gallon receipes fully developed. As Bobby_M says, 5 gallons is a lot of inventory to have on hand and dispose of before you can brew again. Maybe I need more firends to hang out and help with the disposal. Summer is coming so maybe there will be more opportunities to entertain and work on the consumptio/prodcution ratio.
 
If you want a turn key professional grade 3 barrel system in fantastic condition I will happily sell you one for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
$3200- I have it listed in the classified section.
Want an exhaust good, 2 basin sink, and RO system too? I can sell you that!
 
My Brewzilla has been a freakin workhorse. Been over 3 years 200+ batches and still going strong. It's the 1st gen version too. I'm sure the new ones are even better. Piece of cake BIAB style (with no bag)
 
It will be stationary.
Good. This is the exact situation I was in. I started fly sparging in an igloo with my 1/2 barrel on a propane burner.

Then I got a grainfather and saw simplification in my brew day.

Then i splurged and got clean in place everything and feel I am about at the pinnacle of ease.

I don’t know how it can get any better than Bobby’s dual recirc bottom drain setup. He won’t say it so I will. He really has taken the shortcomings of say the Spike Solo and made it right. You don’t want the solo with basket as there is lots of dead space. So he has taken same spike bottom drain and overlayed the magical dual recirc onto it. Ports also lowered to reduce dead space. No integrated components to deal with either when comparing with turnkey systems. If there is one shortcoming I’d say the industry needs a better controller. I’m just using my grainfather controller so I can remotely check temps. I can’t fire the pump from it but that is ok.
You can use any of the 1980’s controllers and be fine. At least they won’t bug out on you.

Combine his setup with a BrewBuilt jacketed conical or two and the ice master max 2 glycol chiller and you will be set.

It won’t be cheap but it is the best you can buy right now.
 
Good. This is the exact situation I was in. I started fly sparging in an igloo with my 1/2 barrel on a propane burner.

Then I got a grainfather and saw simplification in my brew day.

Then i splurged and got clean in place everything and feel I am about at the pinnacle of ease.

I don’t know how it can get any better than Bobby’s dual recirc bottom drain setup. He won’t say it so I will. He really has taken the shortcomings of say the Spike Solo and made it right. You don’t want the solo with basket as there is lots of dead space. So he has taken same spike bottom drain and overlayed the magical dual recirc onto it. Ports also lowered to reduce dead space. No integrated components to deal with either when comparing with turnkey systems. If there is one shortcoming I’d say the industry needs a better controller. I’m just using my grainfather controller so I can remotely check temps. I can’t fire the pump from it but that is ok.
You can use any of the 1980’s controllers and be fine. At least they won’t bug out on you.

Combine his setup with a BrewBuilt jacketed conical or two and the ice master max 2 glycol chiller and you will be set.

It won’t be cheap but it is the best you can buy right now.
Do you have the same deadspace issues with the bottom drain spike solo? Seems you could easily add the T and valves to recirculate under the basket or false bottom.

Also, I was looking at the brew built jacketed conical and the SS brewtech unitank 2.0. A lot of reviews on the brew built seemed negative. Maybe they have fixed those issues? I didnt see as many negative reviews on the SSBT 2.0. Any thoughts on which is better?
 
Do you have the same deadspace issues with the bottom drain spike solo? Seems you could easily add the T and valves to recirculate under the basket or false bottom.

Also, I was looking at the brew built jacketed conical and the SS brewtech unitank 2.0. A lot of reviews on the brew built seemed negative. Maybe they have fixed those issues? I didnt see as many negative reviews on the SSBT 2.0. Any thoughts on which is better?
Bobby lowered the outlet and whirlpool ports so dead space is much more limited but you can setup a T on any kettle to get it dual recirculating so It is mixing under the false bottom. The Spike solo basket also has dead space around the basket to deal with above the false bottom. I also like the blichman valves he uses to fine tune flow.

I am still trying to understand why there isn’t more out there on the Brewbuilts. It’s like people gave it a once over and then that was it. I have the 14 and the 7. I have no concerns with the quality. In fact they are about perfect. I’ve never played with an ss Unitank but on paper you get so much more with the brewbuilt’s. However, quality wise I think the ss unitank’s are probably better. If you want to splurge the ss jacketed would likely be better but you will pay more. I like the large opening on the x2’s. Never had an issue with mine holding pressure which was a big complaint. I think guys were using the gasket incorrectly. The included pressure pack means I can hook up co2 to transfer with nothing extra to buy. My blowoff is hooked to the co2 in. Beer out uses a floating dip tube to rack off the top. It also includes the flex chamber for yeast harvesting, trub dumping or dry hopping. For me the jacketed conical is a game changer.

I will say I like the 14 gal better than the 7. It gets tight maneuvering the valves on the 7 if not positioned correctly.
 
Bobby lowered the outlet and whirlpool ports so dead space is much more limited but you can setup a T on any kettle to get it dual recirculating so It is mixing under the false bottom. The Spike solo basket also has dead space around the basket to deal with above the false bottom. I also like the blichman valves he uses to fine tune flow.

I am still trying to understand why there isn’t more out there on the Brewbuilts. It’s like people gave it a once over and then that was it. I have the 14 and the 7. I have no concerns with the quality. In fact they are about perfect. I’ve never played with an ss Unitank but on paper you get so much more with the brewbuilt’s. However, quality wise I think the ss unitank’s are probably better. If you want to splurge the ss jacketed would likely be better but you will pay more. I like the large opening on the x2’s. Never had an issue with mine holding pressure which was a big complaint. I think guys were using the gasket incorrectly. The included pressure pack means I can hook up co2 to transfer with nothing extra to buy. My blowoff is hooked to the co2 in. Beer out uses a floating dip tube to rack off the top. It also includes the flex chamber for yeast harvesting, trub dumping or dry hopping. For me the jacketed conical is a game changer.

I will say I like the 14 gal better than the 7. It gets tight maneuvering the valves on the 7 if not positioned correctly.
This is very helpful. I greatly appreciate it!
 
Also, I was looking at the brew built jacketed conical and the SS brewtech unitank 2.0. A lot of reviews on the brew built seemed negative. Maybe they have fixed those issues? I didnt see as many negative reviews on the SSBT 2.0. Any thoughts on which is better?
The only issue I'm aware of is the band clamp bottoming out when tightened all the way, but I have easily fixed those occasional units with a quick trim of the length with a grinding or cutoff wheel. It's not like any vendor would say too bad, your problem now.
 
Looks like Brewbuilt just came out with the X3 which does away with the band clamp. Very nice. Love the 2” heating port they put on it.
 
Bobby lowered the outlet and whirlpool ports so dead space is much more limited but you can setup a T on any kettle to get it dual recirculating so It is mixing under the false bottom. The Spike solo basket also has dead space around the basket to deal with above the false bottom. I also like the blichman valves he uses to fine tune flow.

I am still trying to understand why there isn’t more out there on the Brewbuilts. It’s like people gave it a once over and then that was it. I have the 14 and the 7. I have no concerns with the quality. In fact they are about perfect. I’ve never played with an ss Unitank but on paper you get so much more with the brewbuilt’s. However, quality wise I think the ss unitank’s are probably better. If you want to splurge the ss jacketed would likely be better but you will pay more. I like the large opening on the x2’s. Never had an issue with mine holding pressure which was a big complaint. I think guys were using the gasket incorrectly. The included pressure pack means I can hook up co2 to transfer with nothing extra to buy. My blowoff is hooked to the co2 in. Beer out uses a floating dip tube to rack off the top. It also includes the flex chamber for yeast harvesting, trub dumping or dry hopping. For me the jacketed conical is a game changer.

I will say I like the 14 gal better than the 7. It gets tight maneuvering the valves on the 7 if not positioned correctly.
I’m sure this is a dumb question but I don’t understand why they say the spike solos have so much dead space on all these forums. Like 7 gallons on the 20 gallon kettle with bottom drain. I understand that it’s the volume under and around the grain basket but the majority gets in the fermenter (minus what’s under the racking arm to bottom drain, right? I can’t imagine that’s 7 gallons). I also read that wort in the dead space can cause uneven temps/cold spots, thin wort (I think is what they said) due to the dead space liquid not coming into contact with the grain or again the cooler wort not extracting the enzymes correctly. But it seems if you’re pumping from the bottom drain, recirculating at the racking port (under the basket) and recirculating to the top (as Bobby does) then this should resolve the efficiency issues and reduce the dead space/inefficiencies? Let me know if I am thinking of this wrong.
 
I built my system off of the Blichman BrewEasy....2 Vessel Kettle RIMS where my Kettle's capacity is 20 Gallons, my mash tun is 12.5 Gallons so between recirculation or water needs, it can handle 25-28 gallons of full volume water. Works great for making 10 gallon batches.
 
I’m sure this is a dumb question but I don’t understand why they say the spike solos have so much dead space on all these forums. Like 7 gallons on the 20 gallon kettle with bottom drain. I understand that it’s the volume under and around the grain basket but the majority gets in the fermenter (minus what’s under the racking arm to bottom drain, right? I can’t imagine that’s 7 gallons). I also read that wort in the dead space can cause uneven temps/cold spots, thin wort (I think is what they said) due to the dead space liquid not coming into contact with the grain or again the cooler wort not extracting the enzymes correctly. But it seems if you’re pumping from the bottom drain, recirculating at the racking port (under the basket) and recirculating to the top (as Bobby does) then this should resolve the efficiency issues and reduce the dead space/inefficiencies? Let me know if I am thinking of this wrong.
I think the main concerns with dead space are efficiency concerns and temperature concerns. Some of that is indeed alleviated I believe with dual recirculating. Dead space I think can be considered liquid not in direct contact with wort during mashing. Some people refer to dead space as what is left over in a kettle but that is really more trub loss and not really a concern with the kettles we are talking about.
 
I’m sure this is a dumb question but I don’t understand why they say the spike solos have so much dead space on all these forums. Like 7 gallons on the 20 gallon kettle with bottom drain. I understand that it’s the volume under and around the grain basket but the majority gets in the fermenter (minus what’s under the racking arm to bottom drain, right? I can’t imagine that’s 7 gallons). I also read that wort in the dead space can cause uneven temps/cold spots, thin wort (I think is what they said) due to the dead space liquid not coming into contact with the grain or again the cooler wort not extracting the enzymes correctly. But it seems if you’re pumping from the bottom drain, recirculating at the racking port (under the basket) and recirculating to the top (as Bobby does) then this should resolve the efficiency issues and reduce the dead space/inefficiencies? Let me know if I am thinking of this wrong.

"They" tend to be owners of the systems who witness all of that first hand. There are two types of dead space when you're talking about the solo. Recoverable dead space is just how much liquid it takes to hit the bottom of the grain area. The unrecoverable deadspace is the amount of liquid that is left behind after a full drain out of the tank.

If you're running the 20 gallon kettle and you're trying to do a 6 gallon batch, you'd typically only need around 8.5 to 9 gallons of strike water in a system with no dead space. However, in a system with 7 gallons of dead space, that would leave a max of 2 gallons of water in the grain basket for upwards of 12-16 pounds of grain. A recirculating system likes to have a mash thickness of about 1.5 quarts per pound to keep it fluid. In this example 16 pounds in 8 quarts is only .5 qts/lb. which doesn't recirculate very well.

It wouldn't be as bad if the basket hung lower or wasn't tapered so much. I think the taper was to deal with the placement of the whirlpool ports on the existing Plus Kettles and they didn't want to strand existing users from a system upgrade. That's why the 20G solo really is a 10 gallon batch system if we're being honest about it. You can increase the starting water, boil down more or just accept higher kettle loses and slightly lower efficiency to do 5/6 gallon batches but it's not ideal in my opinion.
 
Coincidentally I was talking to a guy running the local brew store and he had a 20 gallon solo and said he seems to be stuck on 65% efficiency. I’m happy with the 70-74% I’ve gotten so far on my system. I wouldn’t be happy with 65% even though it is just a number that can be made up with a little more grain.
 
I’ve got about ten 5 gallon batches under my belt using a BIAB system a buddy gave me (Brewers Edge) so, I am new to brewing. I am really enjoying the process and have decided to invest some money into this hobby.
sounds like you already have a system. so what is wrong with it? just use it.

Some "new" system is not going to make your beer magically better.

If you need "bigger", just buy a bigger kettle and bag. Nothing else you need to change.
 

Latest posts

Back
Top