Braumeister (2021)

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McMullan

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Finally getting time to commission and play with my new BM50. There's very little info about the new Plus/2021 model online so hopefully this thread becomes a useful resource.

Why did I buy a new 50L Braumeister? Shiny brewing systems don't make better beer, they make better brew days. I started doing half batches on my BM20, which I've been using for over 9 years now, and I realised/confirmed, as suggested by some members on HBT, brewing systems work better at half capacity. It just seems to make brew day easier and less risky. Smaller (than designed for) volumes heated by more powerful elements saves time. It's safer to run at less than full capacity, with much less chance of a boil over, especially with something like a stout porter. Smaller volumes of boiling hot wort are quicker to cool, too. Less mess as well, so easier clean. I don't really have any plans to brew 50L/12G batches. Just standard 20L/6G batches and 33L batches for filling my Yorkshire square FV. Filling the Yorkshire square using a BM20 demands some effort on brew day with added risks when brewing above a system's intended capacity. I'll still get plenty of use out of my trusty BM20, though, e.g., half batches, sparge water, holding wort, etc. It adds so much flexibility to my new set up.

I'm turning my lab into a brew room, because I'm not doing enough lab work to keep the lab going.

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One of the biggest benefits is not having to set up then pack away every brew day. As you can see, things are getting messy already. If I left the kitchen looking like this I would be in big trouble.

I'll finish this first post with an obligatory snap of unboxing watching paint dry.

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Enough of that already.
 
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McMullan

McMullan

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Unplugged, the most interesting bit is the bottom, which differs quite a lot from the original model.
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The temperature probe is now fed inside the centre rod, which has convenient volume measurements etched.
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I think the idea is to measure temperature inside the malt pipe rather than the base. I'm not convinced it's going to make much difference, due to how the BM system works. I could labour a benefit and say there's one less protrusion in the base, but that's about it.

There's a more powerful pump with adjustable flow rate.
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I did actually retrofit one of these pumps to my BM20 a couple years ago. Great for adjusting flow in a range of mash thicknesses and volumes. Despite the marketing speil published on homebrew shop websites and even on Speidel's website, unless they've changed it, the 50L Braumeister (2021) only has one pump. All previous BM50 models have two.

Like the previous Plus model there's a bottom drain tap.
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This is very useful for draining in situ when cleaning and rinsing. Being a lot heavier and bigger than the BM20 you don't want to be tipping it up to drain. There's a third handle positioned low to assist tipping up the BM, but that's to access the base of the unit, imo. The kettle can be drained completely upright.

The tap itself (identical to the one used to drain wort) is barbed and now has a bigger ID to improve flow, which was an issue with the previous taps. But I've swapped mine out for TC fittings on both the BM20 and the new BM50. Nice to have them compatible for linking up for whatever reason.

The new controller looks and feels very high-end.
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In fact, there's nothing cheap about this system at all. It all looks and feels high-end throughout. Considering the price tag it needs to be. There's nothing cheap about this system. I'm not sure if it's worth putting a screen protector on the controller touch screen. I'm thinking it is, to avoid an expensive accident.

I'm still on a steep learning curve re the functional aspects of the new controller, so can't say a great deal about it now. I set up an account online at MySpeidel and dragged an .xml file from my recipes in Beer Smith. Connected the BM50 to our WiFi, logged into MySpeidel and connected the BM. Very straightforward with no issues at all. Pushed 'sync' in MySpeidel recipes and there it was, my Beer Smith recipe all downloaded to the BM controller. In theory, all that was left to do was fill the kettle with water, mill some grains while heating then push 'Brew' and mash in. But, fortunately, I opted for a 'dry' run in manual mode with water and discovered some minor issues, which I'll cover in my next post.

Also new, compared with my BM20, is the cooling jacket welded onto the kettle wall.
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This has been available on the Plus model for a few years now. Based on user reviews it's not considered to be as effective as conventional chilling methods, e.g., an IC or a CF chiller. So I was expecting to continue using my large ZChiller, which is pretty cool, no pun intended. But, my testing, which I plan to repeat this weekend, to confirm my first set of data, shows that, although it is relatively crap compared with my ZChiller (66 vs 23 minutes to get 30L water from 99°C down to 20°C), it actually works more efficiently with recirculation. It took 34 minutes to get down to 20°C with recirculation. So, considering there's nothing to set up, sanitise then clean, the kinky-looking cooling jacket might be a better option overall. I'm yet to try the cooling jacket and ZChiller together. Just need a 3-way splitter for the water in hose. It would be nice to get down to 20°C in minutes.

Edit: I forgot to mention the power cable, which has an unfamiliar (to me) plug-twist-lock kind of connection.
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In my case, I'd have preferred something longer as I have the BM on a wheeled platform I knocked up to help move the system after sparging.
 
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McMullan

McMullan

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Right, so what issues got uncovered by the 'dry' run using just water?

The 50L Braumeister is big and not really suitable for brewing in a kitchen, unlike the 20L I've been using in our kitchen for 10 years. Related to its size, the 50L is a bit cumbersome and needs its own space and to be cleaned in place really. You don't want to be lugging it anywhere to pour out several litres of liquid, rinse, etc.

The BM50 heating elements require a 220V 16 amp power supply. After setting things up to check how long it took to reach strike temperature then boil, the power tripped a few minutes after and BM started heating 😱 I assumed our basement was 16A throughout. Apparently not. The info displayed in the consumer unit cupboard is a bit confusing now 🤔 The electrician who fitted it might have been dyslexic, which is a bit worrying. Especially as I've done some minor electrical changes and apparently switched off the wrong circuit. WTF! I connected the BM to the power in the hall, but it tripped again for the same reason. So I ran an extension from our basement TV room at the end of the hall. It worked fine. For about 10 minutes. Extension cable was too long and its onboard thermal cut-out kicked in when the cable warmed up. Tried a shorter extension cable (25m), but it was still too long to power the BM and the thermal cut-out protection ruined the day. I had to go out the next day to buy a 10m extension cable rated for 16A without thermal protection.

The next potential issue noted was when the new 2021 BM reached boil. There is no user control over the set boil temperature. It's simply 'boil' mode as far as temperature goes. Depending on brewing location (elevation) or brewing set-up, it's useful to be able to set the boil temperature within a few °C (above or below) 100°C. Just like on earlier Braumeister models/controllers. I need to reach out to Speidel about this. I don't see it being any more than a simple future software update 🤞

So I've got a nice vigorous boil at the moment, just when I've decided I want to dial back a tad for a less vigorous boil 🤷 But, overall, I'm very happy with how it performed. Running at about 50% of its volume capacity (using 30L water) it's a lot quicker than my BM20 at full capacity and above.

Then I ran into an issue with cooling. I thought I'd give the BM's welded-on cooling jacket a go. It's not considered to be the most efficient way to cool wort, according to most end users. So, I stopped the boil, connected hoses to the male connectors on the back of the BM and turned on the cold water tap. Watched it for about 10 minutes and concluded it was much slower than my ZChiller. Not very exciting, kind of watching paint dry. Then I heard a noise that sounded like a hose connector popping off and water splashing on the floor. Mainly because one of the hose connectors had popped off and water was splashing all over the floor. At first I thought it was my fault and I'd not pushed the connector on fully. Called myself a tw*t and, as I scrambled to get it connected, the other one popped off. WTF! 😱 Turned off the water and took a closer look. For some reason the my Hozelock female hose connectors didn't lock onto the male connectors on the back of the BM. There was nothing wrong with the female connectors, I checked using other male hose connectors and they locked on fine. Turns out the male hose connectors on the BM are slightly different from others I have, even from Speidel, just enough to prevent a locked connection. They seem to work fine with Gardena female hose connectors, though, which I had to go out and buy the next day.

I'm glad I opted for a 'dry' run. Had I just jumped in and done a brew day, even as an experienced BM brewer, it would have been a really crap day.
 
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Miraculix

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I think I might have never understood those things.... What does it actually do, except from boiling the wort and (not at the moment) cooling it afterwards with a not so good cooling system?
 
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McMullan

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So how crap is the BM's welded-on cooling jacket?

I've finished assessing cooling methods and it looks relatively crap, tbh, if used as it is. In each test the BM50 had 30L water that had been boiling for 10 minutes, to get everything hot. Cooling water was 14°C and run at about 4.5L/min. Cooling began when controller displayed '99°C'. Time (min:sec) to reach 20°C was measured:

Cooling jacket without recirculation, 78:10*
Cooling jacket with recirculation, 34:14
ZChiller, 16:59
Cooling jacket + ZChiller, 18:40

*Top of BM remained hot, indicating thermal stratification above temperature probe. This is mainly why I decided to modify my BM20 so that cooling wort gets recirculated to prevent thermal stratification. And why I'll use the BM50 with recirculation.



With recirculation, the cooling jacket isn't that crap. As noted previously, there's nothing to set up, sanitise or clean. If lazy, this is for you. It works.

I really like my ZChiller and, especially now it's an option to have it set up permanently and cleaning it is just part of my BM CIP procedure, it's a no-brainer.

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At first glance I was disappointed with the result for the cooling jacket + ZChiller, but because I standardised the flow rate of the cooling water the less efficient cooling jacket robbed the more efficient CFC.

I think these cooling jackets were initially designed for controlling wort temperature in FVs during fermentation. In that respect, I think the BM cooling jacket could be quite useful, @Miraculix. The new BM (2021) controller allows the BM to be used as an FV. It has a fermentation mode. A solenoid valve (optional extra) plugs into the new BM controller to manage flow of cold tap water or glycol into the cooling jacket. I think this function might be useful for keeping wort cool, say, overnight, too. I'm not sure if the heating elements come on if fermenting wort temperature drops below its set value. That would be cool.
 
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McMullan

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I think I might have never understood those things.... What does it actually do, except from boiling the wort and (not at the moment) cooling it afterwards with a not so good cooling system?
The BM? Very consistent wort making. I think they were originally designed for commercial brewers to run test batches. You should get one.
 

Miraculix

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How does the cleaning process work? And the trub (cold break) removal? You are mashing and boiling in it, right? First draining the wort, then filling it back in?
 
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McMullan

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How does the cleaning process work? And the trub (cold break) removal? You are mashing and boiling in it, right? First draining the wort, then filling it back in?
I recirculate pumped hot PBW through a spray ball, after dumping trub and hop debris. Yep, mash and boil, all-in-one system. It leaves all the trub behind after cooling, if given about an hour to settle. Nice, clear going into the FV.
 

Miraculix

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I recirculate pumped hot PBW through a spray ball, after dumping trub and hop debris. Yep, mash and boil, all-in-one system. It leaves all the trub behind after cooling, if given about an hour to settle. Nice, clear going into the FV.
Damn..... I really should get one......


Actually, a big pot with a spigot would also do it for me :D.
 
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McMullan

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You have to keep an eye on a big pot with spigot. Stuck mash. Boil overs. Etc. With a BM you can leave it and go do something more interesting. Walk the dog. Make a cake. A watercolour. Go fishing. Or go on HBT.
The possibilities are endless :ban:
 
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McMullan

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You don't have to buy a new one, tbh. Used ones are better financially and just as good really. I only opted for a new one because people selling used BMs locally expect to get all their money back 🫣 When you know how much they actually paid several years ago it's a bit of a 'Gordon Ramsey' moment that ends with 'off'. I was looking for a used 50L model for a couple years then thought 'sod it' and got a new one.
 
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McMullan

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Good news. I've been getting familiar with MySpeidel, an online resource to manage recipes and monitor the BM during brewing and it looks like the boil temperature can be set by the user in 'Edit recipe' under 'Hop boiling'. I'll test it works next time I fire up.

Screenshot 2022-09-28 at 13.11.10.png
Edit: I take that back, the set boil temperature doesn't parse to the BM controller. The boil remains an all-or-nothing affair 😬🫣💩

Update: I got a reply from Speidel tech support - they're working to update the controller software to allow user to set boil temperature 🤘
 
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McMullan

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The MySpeidel tool actually looks very cool. Seems to have a shed load of functionality. Just drag and drop .xml files of my Beer Smith recipes then sync with the BM controller. Very clever. There are even options for using the BM as a temperature controlled FV. I might have to get one of those solenoid valves for an assessment of fermenting in kettle trub.

Screenshot 2022-09-28 at 13.16.57.png
 
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McMullan

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Kicked off the maiden voyage with my English Lager recipe, Goldings Lager, which went well.
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Quite a lively boil. I decided to add some Fermcap S beforehand, just in case.

Split batch to compare Diamond vs 34/70.
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Time to clean up.
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Got almost 4L starter wort, so need to lower kettle dip tube a tad 😬
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McMullan

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Cleaning involved about 15 minutes hands-on time.

Sprayed down and drained trub into a bucket for the garden. Not forgetting the pump pipework.

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Brief physical clean with a brush followed by a quick rinse.
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Fitted spray ball to lid.
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Recirculated 3L hot PBW solution for 15 minutes. Had the BM pump running for about 5 minutes, to clean the impeller and pipework.
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Rinsed with hot tap water through spray ball. Done. Shiny again.
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