Braumeister, Brewtools or Grainfather?

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yaronfine

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Hi All,

I'm considering moving to e-Brewing and want to get a high-end system that will last a long time (long into my retirement days) and allow me to both simplify my brew days and allow me to brew both 10gal and 5gal batches.
I'm debating between purchasing speidel braumeister 50L plus, Brewtools B40 and Grainfather G40.
I looked up as much info as I could including several youtube videos, and I must admit I'm more than ever confused regarding the one the one system to go with...
In some places people say that the braumeister will last a lifetime and it is rock solid (especially with the recent 5th generation). But others say that it is obsolete and the B40 is the way to go. Some say that the B40 is overly engineered and has a very steep learning curve (hence the Grainfather G40).
Does anyone have an experience with these systems and can tell which system is the right one?
Is the build quality of the Brewtools on par with the one of the Braumeister? Is the Braumeister truly outdated?

Thanks,
Yaron
 

RufusBrewer

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If you want to factor in long term consideration, I suggest you do not go with a whole brand system. I like purchase modular parts the could fail and you would a choice if replacements.

Invest in a kettle, select a heating source(s) get a contoller, figure out if you want to bag or basket. If any one if those items fails or something better comes along, you can swap out as you like.

I know people that love their grainfather. I do not know how many user replaceable parts there are. If some years down the road something fails, can you get the parts and are you able to repair it? Will grainfather still be in business. Not picking on grainfather, just a name for my example.

Let us say got a Spike kettle, generic heating elements and a Blichmann Brewcommander, and Utah stainless steel mash basket. any one of those could fail, and you could expect to get a replacement quickly, from multiple sources.

Plus most upgrades are an option with a system like this.

Just one perspective.
 
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yaronfine

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I guess that it is a reasonable alternative. I did look into getting a system like Spike solo which just like you suggest, each part can be replaced or upgrade separately. But perhaps you do have a point in picking up parts separately, from different vendors in order to have the most flexibility.
 

SaltNeck

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Which ever one you buy you'll always be thinking in the back of your mind, "If only I'd went with system X it has feature Y."

Which ever one you buy you will need to adapt your process to it and it to your process.

Make a list of what annoys you about your brew day and how the system solves or doesn't solve those problems. Long heat times? Need a 220V and a 5500W element. No LODO? Need some LODO tuns and kettles. etc...

As long as the system heats water, boils wort and allows sparging it still works. The electronics on it may become "outdated" but as long it still performs the basic functionality the term "outdated" doesn't necessarily hold water for comparison purposes. My 12 year old flip phone still works, I can still place and receive calls but the electronics are outdated. The electronics on your new brewing system are like most electronics, they're outdated immediately.

Will the manufacturers still be around years from now? What about a custom system?

FWIW, the new Braumeister Plus is an excellent top end system with state of the electronics, a new touch screen, etc... Speidel invested heavily in its development. It is innovative and has LODO options, w/ third party mash screens and other accessories. It's a system that I'm envious of. You'd still need to adapt it to your process and your process to it. Buying one today would mean a bright future for your brewing. There are many people still using the original Braumeister. Does it solve any of your list of annoyances or does it contribute to them? You'll need to make that list and do the research for each system.
 

McMullan

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Braumeister, hands down; for the money-quality-does-what-it-says-on-the-box factor. There's really nothing comparable on the market, in terms of reliability and consistency. If there was I'd have swapped by now ;) BrewTools looks like a nice 3V system in one, if you've got time to monitor it continuously, but that kind of misses the point of paying an absolute premium. I don't care how big your bum looks in it!
 

RufusBrewer

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If I were making your choice, (it looks like you are prepared to spend some money) I would go with;

Spike or Blichmann Kettle weld as many TC connections as required
Brew Hardware TC clamp heating elements
Blichmann BrewCommander or Brewhardware's version of the Auber Cube 3E
Wilser Bag for BIAB, maybe somebody's stainless steel perforated basket.
Blichmann riptide pump(s)
Lots of quick disconnects, ball lock or camlock
 

micraftbeer

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Echoing some of the great points above... Don't fool yourself buying electronics and using the words "not be outdated long into the future". Accept that something better will come along in a few years that has new features to solve problems you're not aware of yet, because you're switching your brewing system considerably from what you use now.

To that end, maybe get a starter model like Anvil Foundry, brew some on it, and develop that list of things you'd want fixed.

Definitely go 240v. The time savings is substantial.

And I concur with the idea of making it modular with various bits to upgrade independently down the road. That's the best way to futureproof yourself.
 
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yaronfine

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Thanks so much for he detailed answers!
I guess that it is really a choice between getting a modular "best in breed" system or a system such as Braumeister.
Good to hear that in contrast to the impression that I got from some youtube videos, the Braumeister isn't outdated.
 
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Brooothru

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Thanks so much for he detailed answers!
I guess that it is really a choice between getting a modular "best in breed" system or a system such as Braumeister.
Good to hear that in contrast to the impression that I got from some youtube videos, the Braumeister isn't outdated.

Braumeister is FAR from outdated! I've been brewing on a 1st Gen system for 10 years and it hasn't missed a beat. I keep looking at the new AIO systems and none of them are more capable nor as robust as Braumeister. Neither are any as expensive, but that shouldn't be your criterion, either pro or con.

I've made some minor mods to mine, nothing major or costly. I did add a LoOD kit and would recommend getting a short malt pipe to swap out with the main one so you can do half batches if/when you want to. Also get an 'increase disk' and replacement screens from a company called BAC Brewing. They help make a great system even better.

The latest/greatest updated system comes with jacketed ports for rapid chilling after the boil, as well as a bottom drain port for easier cleanup. If you brew a lot and are looking for a rock solid system that's built to last, Braumeister is what you want. If my unit croaked tomorrow, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another to replace it.
 
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yaronfine

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Oh wow, that is great!
I see that there is a significant price difference (at least on morebeer) between the new generation Braumeister Plus and the previous. Do you know what's the difference between these two generations? I suppose that the new one has wifi connectivity, but are there more differences (that justify the extra cost)?
 

McMullan

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Oh wow, that is great!
I see that there is a significant price difference (at least on morebeer) between the new generation Braumeister Plus and the previous. Do you know what's the difference between these two generations? I suppose that the new one has wifi connectivity, but are there more differences (that justify the extra cost)?

Don't lose sight of the fact wort making is a simple process that doesn't need to be complicated. Don't let the apparent simplicity of the Braumeister's design fool you either. It's quite a unique design that works very well. It's the most reliable automated wort-making system on the market. It's so consistent I'd confidently use it (the wort it produces) for research purposes. Off the top of my head, the new plus model has a fancy new digital touch controller (if you like that sort of thing), more powerful adjustable pump(s), temperature probe repositioned to the inside of the central rod (now inside the malt pipe/centre of the mash), cooling jacket and bottom tap for simplified cleaning/draining (and a potentially cheeky port to add peripherals like an external pump). I've been using a 1st gen Braumeister for about 8 years.

IMG_0382.JPG


Would I buy another one? Yes, I think I would, but I suspect the one I already have is going to go on working for many more years. (Touch wood!)
 

RufusBrewer

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If the last couple posts got you itching' for a Braumeister, more beer has a 15% off store wide coupon to inspire you into pulling the trigger.
 
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yaronfine

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yes, it did :), I must admit that it looks like a very solid system.
Seems like an interesting setting in the picture. I guess that it is a hopback and a whirlpool/chiller? Did you have to add the upper port?
I actually did wonder how whirlpool is done on the Braumeister.
 

Brooothru

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yes, it did :), I must admit that it looks like a very solid system.
Seems like an interesting setting in the picture. I guess that it is a hopback and a whirlpool/chiller? Did you have to add the upper port?
I actually did wonder how whirlpool is done on the Braumeister.
I just use a long-handled ss spoon to whirlpool. I get a :20 minute upper body workout, and it gets the job done. Let the wort settle for half an hour or so after WP and transfer very clear wort into the fermenter.

If you're willing to put out the $$$ (actually, Euros), BAC Brewing makes a really neat mash paddle/whirlpool paddle that slides over the center rod of the Braumeister and attaches to either a hand crank or power drill. Pricey, but does a phenomenal whirlpool without splashing, and still costs less than a pump whirlpool.

The only differences between Braumeister and Braumeister+ is the jacketing and (I think) the bottom drain port. They both have the touchscreen control module, which is pretty neat and adds functionality, but I've never seen the need to upgrade my old control unit.

For all the Braumeister units (old and new) there are really only two major failure points: the controller and the pump(s). If either breaks, the fix is very simple. I've not had so much as a hint of either one quitting.

Call me a fan boy, but I'm totally satisfied with this AIO. The only other equipment upgrade I've made that even comes close was buying a unitank. Step mashes are fully automatic and effortless. Temperature control is precise. Bottom flow constant recirculation produces high efficiency and extremely clear wort (I call it a 90 minute vorlauf). Add a mash cap and you'll be half way to hot side LoDO if that's a goal for you.
 

McMullan

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yes, it did :), I must admit that it looks like a very solid system.
Seems like an interesting setting in the picture. I guess that it is a hopback and a whirlpool/chiller? Did you have to add the upper port?
I actually did wonder how whirlpool is done on the Braumeister.
Yes, I added the upper and lower ports. For me, it's about recirculating through a HopRocket and chilling more efficiently for bigger volumes outside of the standard specs, which the immersion chiller struggles with, but it's by no means necessary. If you wanted to do something like this you could probably pick up a decent used Braumeister or use the bottom tap on a new model, which also has a gap in the cooling jacket at the back, if you wanted to create ports. Or simply use a 'whirlpooling' device that hooks over the rim of a kettle. But the Braumeister works great out of the box for what it was intended to do. I still use the standard set up, with immersion chiller and without recirculating, when that's all I need. I'll give BacBrewing a big 👍 too. Excellent quality optional accessories that are actually quite unique and don't seem to be available anywhere else.
 

Craiginthecorn

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I had seriously been considering buying the Bräumeister 20 and had been waiting nearly a year for the newest version to become available in the USA. When it did, I couldn't believe the price hike. Also Bräumeister is primarily designed for brewing normal gravity beers. It seems to do that effortlessly, but if I want a half batch, I'll need to buy a small malt pipe. If I want high gravity wort, I have to work around the limited capacity of the malt pipe. The cooling jacket is said to cool poorly compared to other methods. I was prepared to deal with those issues, but the price hike was the final nail in the Bräumeister's coffin for me.

Added together, I bought a Grainfather G40. I'll still be envious of the Bräumeister's compact design, bottom up flow and crystal clear wort, though. I guess you have to pick your poison. The Brewtools seems fantastic, but complicated. Too many hoses and valves for my liking.
 
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kiwipen

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What are the benefits of recirculating the wort from the bottom to the top during mashing and then sparging from top to bottom?
 

Brooothru

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What are the benefits of recirculating the wort from the bottom to the top during mashing and then sparging from top to bottom?

You could think of it as a continuous underletting. The direct effect of underletting, in addition to eliminating splashing, is that the grain bed doesn't get compacted. In fact, just the opposite. The upward flowing stream of wort is continuously lifting and separating the grains during the mash for better circulation, conversion and extraction. With the expanded capacity of the LoDO kit and mash cap, the top of the malt pipe is always under the level of the wort. The mash cap then floats on the wort and keeps it from splashing and cascading down the outside top of the malt pipe. It also increases the "standard" maximum amount of grain you can mash. The "normal" maximum grain bill in the original 20L Braumeister was around 12 lbs. With the increased volume capacity of the LoDO kit the "maximum" grain bill is supposed to be ~14 lbs, but I brewed a IIPA last summer that clocked in at 15.75#. I wouldn't recommend that however. The vessel was filled to overflowing, and the recirc pump was really having to strain. I ended up with a fairly low mash efficiency on that batch as well. From now on I'm going to limit grain bills to 14" or less, and make up any gravity shortfall with late additions of a pound or so of LME if I'm brewing a high gravity beer > 8.5-9.0% ABV.
 

Brooothru

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Yes, the price of the new Bräumeister is nothing short of outrageous. This is why I'm trying to figure the differences between the new one and the prev one which is on sale: Speidel Braumeister Plus Electric Brewery - 50 L | MoreBeer.

The price of everything is going up. Overseas shipping and the cost of raw materials has skyrocketed. Micro chips and stainless steel (two of the major components of Braumeister) are off the hook. Some small fabricators can't even get materials. I've been waiting for 9 months for stainless steel to get delivered to Jaded Brewing so I can get a stainless Hydra chiller. Inflation last month was up over 6% on an adjusted annual basis. The cost of petroleum for delivery vehicles (and our RV, yikes!) has made a huge jump. Food prices? Faggetaboudit.

It's just not a phenomenon affecting only Speidel. Even SWMBO'd is getting bent out of shape (and I keep getting an earful of her angst) every time the FedEx guy hands her the bill for shipping. Merry Friggin' Christmas. On the bright side, however, my index fund holdings are doing quite nicely. Good thing, in case prices keep going up in this hobby.
 
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I’ve been looking at a larger system in this category. 60-70L would be my preference and when looking through the options the Braumeister is intriguing but I’m leaning heavily toward the Brewtools B60 Pro.
It does everything discussed above and the components are replaceable individually.
 
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McMullan

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The Brewtools system, despite the price tag, hasn't been designed to automate wort making to any noticeable level of convenience or consistency. Apparently, it's been designed for enthusiasts who like to be more involved in the process. Unlike other systems on the market, the manufacturer hasn't got a standard procedure to optimise the process based on the system's design. With so much power, engineering, user control and risk of stuck mashes and boil overs, it needs to be monitored continuously throughout the process. If that's your thing, I'm sure it's an interesting system. With all the 3-way valves and other shiny peripherals, 'more hands-on' is an understatement. Probably a nice system if you have the time, commitment and, of course, money to burn. From what I've seen, it's good quality with some nice features and some design issues that have to be respected, making it more hands-on. Not a problem, if that's your thing, I guess.
 
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murphyslaw

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Thanks for the response. I'm intrigued because it seems to have a lot attachments and options, but of course, those all cost a lot more.

On the grainfather, I send my recipe to the controller, dough in when it tells me the strike temp is met, and then walk away while it mashes/recirculates, even on the rare occassion that I use multiple steps. It seems like the Brewtools would work the same, no? Is it more prone to stuck mashes?

After the manual sparge, the Grainfather pid brings it to a boil and pings me when its time to toss something in. Wouldn't the brewtools do this too? Or is it that the user has to set the "power" to try to hit the right temp, rather than setting a temp and letting the controller figure out the math?
 

McMullan

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With a Brewtools you get much more control over the process than with most systems. (Only other comparable system I can think of is the Brew-Boss. There might be others around now, I don't know.) Whether that's a good thing or not is something you'd have to consider yourself, based on what you're looking for. Wort making isn't so complicated, imho. I considered a Brewtools and did a lot of research, but decided it wasn't for me. I got the impression it was more of a prototype in development. That was a couple years ago. They might have developed things further, I don't know. Yes, I gather stuck mashes is something you have to watch for with the Brewtools system. They recommend adding rice hulls routinely and offer a mash over-flow pipe as an optional accessory. Not necessarily a problem, unless you like to walk away and do something more interesting than 'watching paint dry', like me. I know a couple very experienced home brewers who bought Brewtools then sold them within months. But, to be fair, you don't see many used ones for sale, so that must count for something. Just remember it's not necessarily a system you can walk away from during the process as easily as you can with some other systems, including the GF.

Here's a vid about the controller. It might be a bit dated now

 

hopjuice_71

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This looks like a reasonable place to relay a personal anecdote. I recently moved on from a Grainfather. Not because I didn’t like it – I really did like it – but because its days were numbered. It received a lot of mileage since 2016 - I started to have to replace parts, the plastic base was getting beaten up, and other things. It was just a matter of time before something went on it that I couldn’t patch. Looking to future proof my brewing, I decided to replace it. My criteria were no proprietary parts (replacement/expansion parts needed to be available from a HBS or Amazon), sufficient heating power, robust/durable (including not using one of those SS mesh baskets in for the mash), and didn’t break the bank. After looking extensively into AIO systems it was surprising how few met all my criteria. For the record, Brewtools failed on two of the four. I ended up going with a 10G Unibrau system with two 1650 watt 120V elements. These systems are like brewing Lego that you can make as simple or complex as you want, easily replace/expand parts, and there is nothing on it that won’t take a serious beating. I’m still on the learning curve of my system change, but as for the actual brewing experience, so far it is nearly identical to the Grainfather, though the heating times are MUCH faster thanks to the two elements. The Unibrau doesn’t get a whole lot of mention on HBT so I thought I would mention it for the benefit of those considering AIO systems.
 

stealthfixr

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Over the years I moved from three vessel Igloo coolers, to eBIAB with a propane burner, to a Brewzilla 65L about 1.5 years ago. I found the 'all-in-one' unit to significantly shorten my brew day, and the repeatability and consistency is superb. The ability to easily do 5-10 gallon batches is really great. All of these all-in-one e-mash units can produce award winning beer--all of them.

Everyone has different brewing aspects they value the most. For me, I wanted simplicity and effectivity, and the Brewzilla price was significantly less than the Grainfather G30 while offering the same wort outcome--and a whole lot more in terms of capability. I strongly considered the Brewtools B60 (now not offered), but the proprietary fittings and cost were a consideration. It also seems the Brewtools setup works best if you can set it up and leave it. I brew on my back porch and put everything away in between brew days, so no Brewtools for me.

While the new G40 is enticing (can brew 3-10 gallon batches!), I am waiting for the Gen4 Brewzilla 65L to address the few things I wish my 3.1.1 version had. Your mileage may vary...good luck!
 

murphyslaw

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I really have no reason to move on from my G30. Its just so easy. My only real complaint is I need to use a hop spider. Everything else--faster heating, larger batches, improved grain basket, etc., are all really nice, but probably not worth the cost to upgrade.

But as I see all these little upgrades and tweaks, the downside to an all-in-one becomes clear. You're kind of stuck with what you've got. That's why the brewtools intrigued me. It looks like its easier to get add ons and upgrades.
 

Beeru

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A major upside of the grainfather is their customer service. Yes, they have been known to breakdown on occasion, but I had my G30 for over three years, did around a hundred brews with it, and the controller died. I sent Grainfather a video my the unit, and without any hassle they sent me a brand new G30. I doubt other companies would do that without an extended warrantee.
 
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