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Going Further into Home Brewing

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trooper09

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A couple years ago, I bought a Picobrew Pro on eBay for an insane deal. It was more first introduction to homebrewing and I loved it. Even though they were a niche market, it appeared to me that they had a solid business even though I think they would have done better on a subscription based PicoPak. Fast forward to early last year, I eyed buying the Picobrew Z1, an updated version of the Zymatic but the company went into receivership, eventually bankruptcy and ceased operations. During this time, I had my first child in September which makes taking a hands on approach more out of reach at the moment. I also know myself - I need the least time consuming activity to cleaning the unit effectively. I also live in MN and I don't have the greatest ventilation to brew indoors. That makes a need to effectively trap the moisture like a steam hat.

I've been struggling between hunting to buy a Picobrew Z1 through various classified ads and then set up my own private server or ditching Picobrew for an Anvil Foundry, Grainfather or BrewTools and start with a BIAB and trying to picture how to best next to expand (I am thinking temperature controlled fermentors).

The prices people want who are having trouble selling Picobrew Z's are high for a defunct company (one guy in Utah wants $1,625 just for the machine) and I am not fast enough to find one under $700.00. In fact, I've seen people sell the Picobrew Z around $600.00 when they are motivated to unload.

I have a lead on someone motivated in selling 220v Grainfather G30 but I need to install an outlet in the garage and the control box is Bluetooth and not over wifi. The BrewTools B40 with dual 110v plug in seems to be perfectly designed in getting me plenty of voltage and has the ability to connect over wifi but encourages large amount of money to get similar enhancements compared to the Grainfather.

A great middle of the way appears to be the Anvil Foundry. Throughout my life, my eyes on grime and cleaning things effectively is not the greatest. I also like to set it up and run with it. That makes me nervous with grains getting trapped. I also am nervous if I want to expand my operation, the Anvil does not fit well.


What are your guy's thoughts?
 

Jim R

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It sounds like you are flailing a little bit on fairly expensive brewing systems not really knowing what you want yet ( I have been there, done that). Most of us then end up spending money on things we end up quickly replacing after we gain more experience. One option is to just do some simple extract brewing in your kitchen till the answers become more obvious. I think the best thing I ever did was to thoroughly read and study John Palmers brewing book before I started throwing money at the hobby.
 

McKnuckle

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You've created a baseline expectation where brewing only seems practical with relatively sophisticated, integrated systems that cost hundreds of dollars. This does not have to be the case at all. If you have the appetite to learn the fundamentals of brewing, you will see that such equipment is really quite recently available, and that homebrewers have been making wonderful beer for many years with much more basic equipment.

This is not to say that integrated electric systems are not great. They can be! But you may wish to brew some basic BIAB on the stovetop or induction burner before venturing into those other options. That way you can experience for yourself what parts of the process need improvement within your context, and can better judge your needs before investing in a proprietary system.
 
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