Opinions on Clawhammer 20G Homebrew System

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thomer

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I am relatively new to homebrewing (9 months and have made about 30 5 Gallon extract brews). I am looking to get into BIAB. I have been looking around and trying to compare electric brewing systems. I think I need more than a 10 gallon kettle as I would like to brew big beers occasionally. I guess a 15 Gallon might be the best fit for me, but electric systems seem to jump between 10 and 20 Gallons. Now I know I can BIAB without the 'all singing and dancing' additions that go with systems like the 20 Gallon Electric Home Brewing System but this seems to be somewhere in between the 'keg in the back garden over a burner and the all singing all dancing systems that cost a massive amount of money.

Does anyone have any opinions (yes I really said that) about the Clawhammer system? Like I say I am new to this so feel free to shoot me down.
 
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Deric

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No experience with Clawhammer but it looks cool enough.

If you're looking for 15 gallon BrewHardware has this option. I'm currently using a 10 gallon DIY version of this setup and it works great.
 

RedRyderr

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No experience with Clawhammer either (sorry - I know that's your original question). I will say that I like the idea of Bobby's BIAB recirculating system that Deric linked above (watch the video of his system in action) . I loosely based my DIY build build on his logic, while leaving things generic enough that I can still use the kettle for three vessel brewing. I can do three vessel or BIAB with good results. I like the 15 gal kettle, I feel it gives me a fair amount of flexibility. I really only do 5 gallon batches, but I've boiled over in a 10 gallon kettle more than once (fermcap would probably have prevented that, to be fair). 15 G seems to be a sweet spot for me. And making beer in the basement with electricity and a steam condenser is just kinda cool, if I do say so myself :)
 
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thomer

thomer

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Thanks for the advice. I have decided to go with the BrewHardware 240v 15G BIAB option with Topsflow Pump, Blichmann Brew Controller (when back in stock) and a 'Short and Stocky' immersion chiller.
 

Deric

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I'm sure it works great!

I built a 50A 3 vessel HERMS panel several years ago using the Auber EZBoil controllers so I'm very comfortable with them. I considered the Auber Cube for my BIAB setup but I don't like the way they are normally wired so I built my own controller again using the EZBoil. I just noticed that Brewhardware has a modified version of the Cube that fixes the things I didn't like about it. For $40.00 more than the Brew Commander it looks like a pretty cool option.

I'm sure you would be happy with either one and I'm sure either one can make great beer!


:mug:
 

HVCBrewing

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I have the 10 Gal Clawhammer 120 Volt system. It does what it is supposed to do. I love it. It comes with all you need.

IMO for those going BIAB one question to consider is gas or electric. If you can manage the propane burner, it’s a lot less expensive and faster. I went with electric. It’s much slower but offers a lot of control and you can walk away from it (mow the lawn) During the brew.

If you jump over about a 5 Gal batch, you will need a 240 volt system. Batch size is a double edged sword. If you like it - good to have a lot of it. If you make an 10 gallon batch and want to change something or want some variety, you are a long way from your next batch. Also packaging becomes an issue with larger batches. Can’t imagine bottling that much.

I was surprised to find I went the other way on batch size. Wanting to brew a couple times a month + trying out different styles of beer moved me to 2.5-3 gallon batches. Smaller batch size can speed up learning relative to mistakes, recipe changes and experimentation. For me, It increased beer style selection. I currently have a pale ale and a Porter on tap with a Pilsner under pressure ferment in a 5 g keg.

In part because I don’t have a home brew shop within 50 miles and don’t have a grain mill, I order from Bitters and Esters out of NY city. They sell 1, 2.5 and 5 gallon kits along with the spectrum of grains, hops and adjuncts. They will double crush the grains for the BIAB customers. I’ll be brewing an IPA this weekend.

good luck. It’s good to have options.
 

RufusBrewer

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The hardware looks solid.

The control box appears to be a proprietary device. I did not see any mention the software running your mash. Maybe it is the greatest control system in the world, maybe the dumbest most basic. Probably somewhere in between. I have no opinion, one way or another.

That is what I would research. Get yourself to the point that you expect to be happy with the automation and control.

Having said all that, if down the road you decide you do not like the control system, you should be able to swap it out for a different model. As in Blichmann, Auber, SS Brew tech, etc.
 

WesBrew

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I use a diy e system but not biab. Its a 15 g kettle and can do batches from 3.5-11. I could only guess that the extra kettle volume (20g) is for room to drain the basket on your 10g batches and run sparge water if desired.
I debated over the same controller choice and ultimately chose the brew commander for the lower price and touch screen . Has been really nice. My only complaint is that if you use the rimsherms offset it will offset all of your temp reading until its removed. You wouldn't use that though
 

RufusBrewer

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I just noticed that Brewhardware has a modified version of the Cube that fixes the things I didn't like about it. For $40.00 more than the Brew Commander it looks like a pretty cool option.

I'm sure you would be happy with either one and I'm sure either one can make great beer!


:mug:

I just saw the updated Cube E on brewhardware. As you pointed out, the updates/tweaks are good. At $40.00 (that is only 10%) more than the brewcommander, makes for an interesting choice.

I have a brewcommader and like it. I do not think I will ever use for automated step mashing.

From what I can see, the Cube E does a step mash better. You might have to dig into the menu tree a bit more, but the Auber does not have the silly and annoying ramp offset that thebrewcommander uses.
 

Nagorg

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If you make an 10 gallon batch and want to change something or want some variety, you are a long way from your next batch. Also packaging becomes an issue with larger batches. Can’t imagine bottling that much.

I bottled a half barrel batch once... Just once! Got kegs and a keezer right after that!
 
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thomer

thomer

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I bottled a half barrel batch once... Just once! Got kegs and a keezer right after that!
I am moving to BIAB after getting my feet wet with about 25 extract kits (all bottled). Once I have got my BIAB feet wet, I plan on moving onto kegs. Just want to take one step at a time so if I do get a bad batch, I have a limited amount of 'new' things to find the issue. Looking forward to the challenge.
 

Reneauj62

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I am relatively new to homebrewing (9 months and have made about 30 5 Gallon extract brews). I am looking to get into BIAB. I have been looking around and trying to compare electric brewing systems. I think I need more than a 10 gallon kettle as I would like to brew big beers occasionally. I guess a 15 Gallon might be the best fit for me, but electric systems seem to jump between 10 and 20 Gallons. Now I know I can BIAB without the 'all singing and dancing' additions that go with systems like the 20 Gallon Electric Home Brewing System but this seems to be somewhere in between the 'keg in the back garden over a burner and the all singing all dancing systems that cost a massive amount of money.

Does anyone have any opinions (yes I really said that) about the Clawhammer system? Like I say I am new to this so feel free to shoot me down.
I looked into the Clawhammer and found that while it looks cool, the basket design is inherently flawed. I am of the species that likes to sparge so, no BIAB will be sufficient. As you grow a s a brewer you will eventually want to sparge, IMHO. I went from an original Grainfather G30 (110v 1600w) to a Unibrau 10g 220v 5500 system and so glad I did. At least do yourself a favor and look into other systems before settling for a strictly BIAB system. Look for versatility not just appearance.
 
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thomer

thomer

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Look for versatility not just appearance.
I think I have settled on this system which is a little more flexible and allows me to expand a little if I need to "BrewHardware 240v 15G BIAB option with Topsflow Pump, Blichmann Brew Controller (or maybe the Cube E) and a 'Short and Stocky' immersion chiller."
 

Reneauj62

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I think I have settled on this system which is a little more flexible and allows me to expand a little if I need to "BrewHardware 240v 15G BIAB option with Topsflow Pump, Blichmann Brew Controller (or maybe the Cube E) and a 'Short and Stocky' immersion chiller."
Very good, welcome to the community, and Happy Brewing. Remember, Relax, don't worry, have a home brew. Everything is going to be okay! RDWHAHB!
 

tillerybass

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I have the clawhammer 20 gal. I really like it. Very easy to replace parts if you need to. I agree with a previous comment about the basket. I just put a bag inside the basket. Keeps everything off the element and you can sparge. I've done about 10 brews. I'm still trying to lock in the pid. Seems to jump temps a little much.
 

mscroggi

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I have the clawhammer 20 gal. I really like it. Very easy to replace parts if you need to. I agree with a previous comment about the basket. I just put a bag inside the basket. Keeps everything off the element and you can sparge. I've done about 10 brews. I'm still trying to lock in the pid. Seems to jump temps a little much.
Hmm I think I am about to take the plunge for a 20 gal setup.. I am very interested in the clawhammer. I am curious about your comment around the basket. For sparging the grain is resting above and the wort is recirculated above the grain bed to drain down correct? I am curious how the bag helps this? Is it a matter of slowing the drain out through the grain?
 

Bobby_M

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I wouldn't use a bag inside that basket. While I vastly prefer using a bag based system, there are a three things about the Clawhammer system I don't care for even more than the basket.
The sprayer in the lid
The controller being so integrated, yet limited in function.
The lack of a whirlpool return on the kettle.
 

mscroggi

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I wouldn't use a bag inside that basket. While I vastly prefer using a bag based system, there are a three things about the Clawhammer system I don't care for even more than the basket.
The sprayer in the lid
The controller being so integrated, yet limited in function.
The lack of a whirlpool return on the kettle.
Can you elaborate to help me and others?

What is the issue with the sprayer in the lid? Please explain.

Controller integrated but limited? I need more info please.

The whirlpool in the kettle I can understand if that is important to you.

I am not trying to break your balls.. I am merely trying to understand what the concerns are and if they will affect me.

Many thanks!
 

Bobby_M

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Can you elaborate to help me and others?
Sure, and just in case it wasn't obvious I want to be transparent about the fact that I'm a vendor that has been designing and selling brewing equipment for 12 years. People that don't know me may assume I'm criticizing competing gear for my own gain, but it's not how I roll. I'm a very active competitive homebrewer and my main motivation is pushing myself and others to improve and spend their money on systems that yield the most consistent results.
What is the issue with the sprayer in the lid? Please explain.
Of all the possible ways to deliver recirculated wort back over a grain bed, a fine mist or sheet of liquid cascading down through the head space is just not the best way to approach it. For one, it's cooling off before it even hits the grain. Then, depending on how you feel about hot side oxidation damage, it's definitely the method that will introduce the most oxygen into the wort for the duration of the mash. Would it be enough to degrade the beer? I don't know but there's no reason to spray the wort for an hour.
Controller integrated but limited? I need more info please.
It's a typical PID controller in function, but it's done as an integrated board in the box rather than a more industry standard 1/16th DIN replaceable module. If the logic board fails, the only possible recourse is to replace the circuit board and that depends heavily on whether the parts will be available if it fails. In a box that uses a 1/16th DIN module, you can buy that from anywhere.

I say that it's limited, and that's compared to competitors like the Auber Cube and the Blichmann Brew Commander. Both of these controllers have more brew-day automation with built in timers and alarms. The brew commander has the same "con" of using integrated circuit boards, but at the very least it's got all these other functions that perhaps justify the integration at the lower price point.
The whirlpool in the kettle I can understand if that is important to you.
Primarily it's just the fact that a system that uses a pump might as well have the ability to whirlpool. But not only that, it's important if you're interested in leaving break material and hop sludge behind. I understand their package includes hop baskets to get around the hop sludge part of this, but I prefer whirlpooling with uncontained hops because hop baskets are pretty stagnant and you have to actively mix to make sure they are giving up the oils. However, the bigger reason I recommend a whirlpool return is to augment the mash recirculation with a strong stirring of the liquid mash below the basket (or preferably a bag in my case). You'll hear folks with single vessel systems talk about temperature fluctuations and the stirring under the grain eliminates that very effectively. For more info on that: Single Vessel Temp Stability
I am not trying to break your balls.. I am merely trying to understand what the concerns are and if they will affect me.

Break away. I didn't want to spend the time expanding on this whole thing until I knew you were interested.
 

mscroggi

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@Bobby_M Thanks for that info.. Very good stuff. I am doing some serious research to understand everything and decide what to get. I really appreciate you taking the time to put all that data in.
 
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thomer

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I think I have settled on this system which is a little more flexible and allows me to expand a little if I need to "BrewHardware 240v 15G BIAB option with Topsflow Pump, Blichmann Brew Controller (or maybe the Cube E) and a 'Short and Stocky' immersion chiller."
I have had this for about 9 months and could not be happier with the set up.
 
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