Comparing different automated systems

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What systems did you use so far?


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chillandbrew

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Hi guys,

My friend asked me to join Homebrewtalk and share my experience with the different automated systems. I am making this thread to do exactly that. I haven't seen any thread where they actually compare different systems, just threads on each system.
I have used most automated systems that you find on the market:
Braumeister, Grainfather, Robobrew, Pico Zymatic, Brewie B20 and Brewie+

I have also built my own system - for me that didn't work out well, that is why i rather tried these ready systems on the market.

I will try to share all my experience with the different systems and i strongly welcome anyone.
Please try to be as objective as possible and avoid trash talk.
Thank you and should you have any questions just ask.
Cheers :)
Jon
 

Yooper

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I always thought I wanted a Pico Zymatic but heard it could be troublesome.

I saw a friend use a grainfather, and I didn't like how he had to lift the basket out to sparge, and it was messy (the reason I want to go with automation is to avoid heavy lifting and messes).
 

rkhanso

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Probably not what you consider an automated system if you're comparing just those in the poll.....
But I use CraftbeerPi with a homemade eBIAB setup.
Automation as far as temp control, mash steps, timers, etc.
 

HarkinBanks

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Brewie B+
Robobrew v3
Vessi
I ordered BEERMKR for next spring

When Brewie works, there is nothing else like it. The machine is magic. Full customization and repeatable. It makes great beer. There is no way I could build a fully automated machine for the same price. Built in chilling and clean in place is awesome. That being said, it is buggy, and my saga has been detailed in the Brewie thread.

Robobrew v3 is a fantastic product, but it is messy and requires lifting the malt pipe, hop additions, IC chilling. The integrated pump is very helpful for mashing and transferring. No priming issues. This is a great wort maker, but not automated anything in my opinion. As far as bang for your buck though, you can't go wrong with Robobrew v3 (or the new Mash and Boil). Again, I would be hard pressed to build a unit for the same price.

Vessi-this is a temp controlled pressurized fermenter and dispenser. I have to say this was the best brewing investment I have ever made. I no longer have to lift carboys and transferring is a breeze both from my brewing machines and into kegs (you can transfer under pressure from Vessi into kegs). The pressurized fermentation is fun to play with and I have exact temp control during fermentation, with both heating and cooling.

I shied away from all of the Pico products because of batch size and lack of customization of recipes at the initial stages (maybe that has changed with the new machines). After watching the videos of the brew day it looked more user intensive than I wanted and the lack of a good chilling solution turned me away for the price. Cleanup looked like a chore.

BEERMKR-looks rather interesting. It is all-grain and uses steam hops with no true boil. The entire process can take up to 12 hrs to fully pasteurize at 150 degrees. Then the unit ferments under a temp controlled environment. I see this as hacking the brew process, but it intrigues me quite a bit.
 
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chillandbrew

chillandbrew

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Hey guys,

I've been away for the winter that's why i haven't continued my thread, but it is great to see that so many of you already voted on what you use. I will get back on track and start writing down my experience with devices that i used. You should do the same and then let's have a nice discussion!
 

Allan M Tiso

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I've own the Picobrew Zymatic. It is a great machine when it works. There are issues with glycol loss leading to heats not going well. The cleanup of the user serviceable parts is easy. It's the non user serviceable parts that are difficult as the Zymatic is built on a "black mystery box" model and you have to send the whole unit in for servicing. I think the new "Z" has somewhat ameliorated this by making certain parts more accessible and more easily removable, but I don't have one (and would not buy one due to my experiences with the Zymatic) so I can't comment on it. I'm planning to buy a robobrew.
 

Allan M Tiso

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Applescrap, check out the Zymatic thread in the electric brewing section. You will get a sense what I am talking about. The new “Z” may be fairing better. There is a thread for that too.
 

Mike Howard

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I have the BrewBoss 20 Gallon with AccuFill and HopsBoss and two Picobrew Zymatics (one I've owned since June 2016). For complete hands off brewing, the Zymatic just edges out my BrewBoss, but the Zymatic's issues are many, so you better be a technical guy and want to perform a lot of preventative maintenance. The Brewboss is just so much better in all regards; ie...cleaning, operation, batch size, parts, nearly hands off depending upon how you set up your recipe, its not tied to the internet and doesn't need to phone home, my recipes are mine, my data is mine, sanitary fittings or QD's, easily replaced parts, etc...it just wins.
 

bleme

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If I were buying today, it would be the Anvil Foundry as it just seems the best deal out there.
It runs on 110v or 220v, is double walled, has an external pump and under $500.
 

Allan M Tiso

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I have the BrewBoss 20 Gallon with AccuFill and HopsBoss and two Picobrew Zymatics (one I've owned since June 2016). For complete hands off brewing, the Zymatic just edges out my BrewBoss, but the Zymatic's issues are many, so you better be a technical guy and want to perform a lot of preventative maintenance. The Brewboss is just so much better in all regards; ie...cleaning, operation, batch size, parts, nearly hands off depending upon how you set up your recipe, its not tied to the internet and doesn't need to phone home, my recipes are mine, my data is mine, sanitary fittings or QD's, easily replaced parts, etc...it just wins.
Thanks for the info Mike. Pondering my Zymatic and it’s issues, it really was a cool concept and worked really well for me for a few brews, but once it started having problems they were fairly legendary. I have my doubts about the new Z too. I just think that the heat exchanger concept (aka Chinese plate chiller) is fairly unworkable in the long run. There will always be cleaning issues down the road. I may have to look at the Brew Boss but there are some negative reviews online.
 

cnash

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Let us know why you favor the BB.
Sorry, I missed this post.
The Brew-Boss can be as hands on or hands off as you want. I prefer to be more hands on myself, but it's nice to know that I can automate even more.

It's "traditional" biab brewing with a really good automation system built in. It's also quick for both brewing and cleaning so that's a huge positive for me.
 

Allan M Tiso

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Sorry, I missed this post.
The Brew-Boss can be as hands on or hands off as you want. I prefer to be more hands on myself, but it's nice to know that I can automate even more.

It's "traditional" biab brewing with a really good automation system built in. It's also quick for both brewing and cleaning so that's a huge positive for me.
I’m definitely zeroing-in on BIAB but not sure I want the automation. I went from partial mash to the Zymatic and I feel the need for a full pendulum swing back to simplicity. A lot of good comments for the BB here. It seems very modular with a certain amount of “bring your own” so maybe I can add automation later.
 

Bobby_M

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I wanst even aware some of these systems like robobrew and anvil were automated brewing systems? I thought that only had timers and temp control?
Everyone's definition of automated is different. The fact that they heat up and then stop via controller is probably at the very beginning of the automation evolution. Some of them even have step mash profile timers built in. I feel like there's a sweet spot in that progression and if you overstep it, it becomes less like a brewing hobby and more like a recipe 3d printer.
 

augiedoggy

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Everyone's definition of automated is different. The fact that they heat up and then stop via controller is probably at the very beginning of the automation evolution. Some of them even have step mash profile timers built in. I feel like there's a sweet spot in that progression and if you overstep it, it becomes less like a brewing hobby and more like a recipe 3d printer.
I dont disagree with you here... the equipment building and modifications can be a separate hobby in itself all together
 

Bobby_M

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I dont disagree with you here... the equipment building and modifications can be a separate hobby in itself all together
What's worse about the bread machine brewing appliances is that it's neither brewing nor building a system. Yup, I'll be that guy that says why not just buy the beer. Wait, you want me to DRIVE to the liquor store?
 

JoeyChestnutFan

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What's worse about the bread machine brewing appliances is that it's neither brewing nor building a system. Yup, I'll be that guy that says why not just buy the beer. Wait, you want me to DRIVE to the liquor store?
I mean there are many different levels of investment in a hobby. The "bread machines" are still making beer and it is still more involved than popping a frozen dinner in the microwave. It also gives the option for further investment into the hobby as well. And who cares if it is a recipe 3d printer, not everyone wants to stand in front of a kettle all day to make beer. It is like any other hobby, you pick your involvement and everyone gets different levels of satisfaction from each level.
 

day_trippr

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I dont disagree with you here... the equipment building and modifications can be a separate hobby in itself all together
Not to mention the opportunity to learn some cool stuff along the way. Fabricating my current 3v2p single tier brew rig inspired me to learn how to use a metal squirt gun (aka gas MIG) - and become a world class grinder :D

Cheers!
 
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