LODO on the Grainfather

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Sadu

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Hey everyone, I'm ready to give LODO a try and are looking for some advice from Grainfather users who do LODO already.

I've already made some mods to my Grainfather. I've removed the overflow pipe as it splashes wort and restricted the pump flow to a minimum level, plus added a BIAB bag for cleaner wort. Have done a few successful regular brews like this.

My cold side is in good shape already, I've been fermenting in cornies for some time but just scored a stainless pressure conical in a comp so that was nice :rock:

So I'm looking at the following further changes. Are there any GF users out there doing LODO that would like to comment on this?
  • No sparge - probably need to scale the recipe down a bit, fine
  • Fill the malt pipe with grain and slowly lower into the (preboiled+SMB) water
  • Recirculate normally with the hose under the water line and a mash cap on top
  • To drain the grain, lift the malt pipe with a pulley keeping it level at the wort line
  • I've ordered a stainless IC to replace the copper counterflow. Plan to gently recirculate while chilling to keep wort moving over the chiller (otherwise it takes forever)
  • I have my own mill but have found I lose a solid 10-15 points efficiency by conditioning the grain, so now I just do a fine BIAB crush with slow recirculation and have no issues with stuck mash. Is conditioning an essential part of the process? I worry that losing efficiency from no-sparge + not stirring + shorter mash time + conditioning grain could put me below 50%.
Does this seem reasonable and is there anything else I should be doing with the GF? Thanks.
 

murphyslaw

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I'm a newish grainfather user (about 6 months) and briefly considered LODO but figured it wouldn't work. The modifications you identify are pretty reasonable and may rekindle my interest in LODO. The only modification you list that seems like a real bother is changing the cooling method. I'd be really reluctant to ditch the GF CFC.

I wonder why you'd lose efficiency by wetting your grain first. It should let you crush finer without getting stuck. I mill to 0.032".

I've removed the overflow pipe as it splashes wort and restricted the pump flow to a minimum level, plus added a BIAB bag for cleaner wort. Have done a few successful regular brews like this.

Curious about this bit. I generally find that I have to significantly reduce the pump flow to find that balance where wort is just up to the edge, but not flowing down the overflow pipe. So you're saying that you just ditch it entirely and recirculate at a higher rate since you can let it pool deeper above the grain? Wouldn't that mean that you're moving wort from bottom to top faster than it drains through the grain bed, potentially leaving little to wort in the bottom of the kettle?
 
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Sadu

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Yeah I'm a newish Grainfather user as well (20 or so brews). I started conditioning my grain and adding oat hulls when I got the Grainfather, also loosened the crush (then later tightened it back). I figured these changes would be necessary to keep the grain bed draining properly which was never an issue with BIAB in the past. But efficiency tanked, and came back again when I stopped conditioning and stopped using oat hulls. Go figure.

I'm reliably getting 70% now, but the wort is very very clean and I'm ending up with 2-3 litres less trub/hop in the fermentor (or put another way, more beer) compared with BIAB. So I'm happy with this so long as it's stable.

Anyway. That overflow pipe thing annoyed me from day one on the Grainfather. Even with non-lodo brewing you don't want to be deliberately splashing your wort for no reason. Plus what is the point of recirculating if most of the wort is going through the overflow pipe instead of through the grain?

So I got rid of the overflow pipe and used a BIAB bag inside the malt pipe to cover the hole that it left in the base plate. I've since got a stainless washer and bolt to cover the hole so potentially I don't need the bag anymore, although the bag is a good additional grain filter so maybe it will stay.

Without the overflow pipe you'll definitely need to restrict the pump flow to a very slow rate. I also add an extra 2L / half gallon of mash water over what the Grainfather calc suggests as I prefer a thinner mash, it just helps things recirculate better IMO and means the grain bed is always covered in wort. So far (about 8 batches like this) I've not had issues with the pump running out of wort at the bottom.

I've also not bothered with the top plate. Doesn't seem necessary if you slow the pump down and allow for a small pool of wort on top of the mash. I'm planning to wrap this in foil and use it as a mash cap for the LODO brews since it has that nice silicone gasket to partially seal the mash from oxygen in the atmosphere.

Oh, I also got rid of the sparge arm and just use a silicone tube now. Didn't like the sparge arm blasting directly down into the mash, plus the silicone tube is easier to pop on and off when it's time to connect the counterflow, and also the silicone tube just gets chucked into the grainfather while it recirculates at cleaning time.

I brew a lot so little things that result in less cleaning or a simple process are a good thing. LODO is going to be a step backwards in that regard but I'm open minded if the beer is as good as they say.
 
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Sadu

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Don't forget to let us know how it comes out.
OK, so a bit of an update of where I am right now.

1st batch, 15 litre LODO helles. It's about day 9 now and it's in the serving keg in the fridge. Brewday went pretty much to plan. Fermentation ended up being closer to regular fermentation profile (9-11c) than the recommended cold profile due to fridge issues. I brewed in my new conical and was able to completely dump out the break.

The beer has a definite hit of sulfur on the nose. Which seems to spoil an otherwise decent lager. I used 30ppm of MBS in the mash so this isn't excessive, no Gypsum. Where I think I went wrong is kegging it too early and getting it to fridge temperatures. My experience says that more time in primary is the best way to prevent/clean up these yeast-related off flavours, even if that's not strictly the LODO way. On the plus side, the head is the best I've ever seen on this kind of beer. Thick, hangs around, great lacing, cascades like a RIS when you pour it.

Second LODO brew is a 23L hefeweizen. Did a step mash on this one and while things seemed to go to plan, I ended up with 21L preboil volume and below my target preboil gravity. Something went seriously wrong with the mash efficiency. Brewhouse efficiency ended up being 42% which is unacceptable. Also, chilling from boiling down to 44c for the step mash was a huge hassle. I let this settle in the conical 2 hours before pitching, then dumped all the break material that made it into the fermentor. Pitched 1 pack of WLP300 as-is (I like to underpitch hefes). This also smells of sulfur - which I've never noticed before. But it's only day 3 so one shouldn't draw any conclusions from this. I'm planning to leave this one a bit longer in primary and haven't decided whether I'm kegging or bottle conditioning this. My experience is that hefes are just better when bottle conditioned.

So I'm still getting my setup sorted for LODO and the 42% efficiency was an unmitigated disaster by any measure. I think in future I'm going to reserve LODO for small batches - 12-15L where the small chiller doesn't struggle as much, I can do a no-sparge, and the poor efficiency doesn't make the beer super expensive.

On the plus side, the Helles brewday was all done in 4 hours (I heated the strike water in advance so that doesn't count). Yes it was a lot more hands-on than I'm used to, but normally I'd do a 90 minute mash and 90 min boil on a Helles so with LODO you are ahead already. I also really like the conical for removing the break material before pitching. I've never been able to successfully whirlpool in the Grainfather and with an IC you need to be able to stir while chilling which brings everything back into solution again.

Will keep everyone posted on what I find. I suspect the helles will be a bit spoiled by the sulfur, no idea how the hefe is going to come out. My non-LODO hefe is amazing so the bar has been set pretty high on this one.
 

monkeymath

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Any updates here? I know it's been a while, but have you continued your quest for LODO?

I am somewhat curious about LODO, but the more I think about how to modify the Grainfather to make it work, the more I feel it would be easier to just start over with an entirely different (and, incidentally, cheaper) setup.
 

murphyslaw

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I absolutely love brewing on my GF. Simplified my brew day, easier cleanup, etc. 10/10. But I'm lodo-curious, too.

Anybody here have experience with lodo on thr GF?

I've got the parts to fashion a mash cap w/locline return. YOS, grain conditioning, btb, smb, are all easy changes, and I may even buy Northern Brewers stainless cfc. As far as underletting,it seems like the best I can do is to be careful when lowering/lifting the basket. A bit stumped on better hot break/trub separation. But overall this seems very doable with very few modifications.
 

jdauria

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OK, so a bit of an update of where I am right now.

1st batch, 15 litre LODO helles. It's about day 9 now and it's in the serving keg in the fridge. Brewday went pretty much to plan. Fermentation ended up being closer to regular fermentation profile (9-11c) than the recommended cold profile due to fridge issues. I brewed in my new conical and was able to completely dump out the break.

The beer has a definite hit of sulfur on the nose. Which seems to spoil an otherwise decent lager. I used 30ppm of MBS in the mash so this isn't excessive, no Gypsum. Where I think I went wrong is kegging it too early and getting it to fridge temperatures.

You can try to keep purging the keg as several times a day for a week or so to help purge sulfur. That and time lagering should help greatly reduce the sulfur.

Foundry owner myself, and while I was a LoDo brewer before I got the Foundry, have yet to try it with the Foundry. It seems the best way for me to do it, if I ever do, is to heat the water in the Foundry, then pump water out to a brew kettle, add grain to Foundry, then pump water back in from ball valve to underlet grain. Then when mash is over, pump the wort out of Foundry to a brew kettle, pull the basket, then pump wort back in. Would need a cap on both the Foundry and kettle also.
 

duelerx

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You can try to keep purging the keg as several times a day for a week or so to help purge sulfur. That and time lagering should help greatly reduce the sulfur.

Foundry owner myself, and while I was a LoDo brewer before I got the Foundry, have yet to try it with the Foundry. It seems the best way for me to do it, if I ever do, is to heat the water in the Foundry, then pump water out to a brew kettle, add grain to Foundry, then pump water back in from ball valve to underlet grain. Then when mash is over, pump the wort out of Foundry to a brew kettle, pull the basket, then pump wort back in. Would need a cap on both the Foundry and kettle also.

You can use a corny keg instead of a kettle, a la Zymatic. Better oxygen control if you close transfer from the foundry to a keg.
 

MHBT

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I do it on a mash and boil and a brew kettle cause i feel there is no way around the need to lauter when lodo brewing maybe im wrong 🤷🏻 But here is my system works great, i do small batches and I accumulated many gizmos and parts over the years finally put them to use for my needs, maybe help you get ideas maybe not cheers

Edit: should have paid attention to how long this thread was posted im sure you are into your 1000th lodo batch by now with the GF 😆
 

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