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 But others say that it is obsolete and the B40 is the way to go.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 Is the Braumeister truly outdated?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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