Robobrew/Brewzilla Discussion

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Cloud Surfer

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I didn't watch the whole thing. Just the part about data logging. Is bit about the top screen in this video?

I did another batch yesterday using the top screen, and opening up the flow. It works, and I didn't get any clogging.
I didn’t watch that video. The info I saw was somewhere on a forum site in Australia.
 
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rjhoff

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Well I think the screen at the top is a big improvement. A more advanced system with data logging and connectivity options. The power lead disconnects, which I guess is handy when cleaning. I can’t recall any other features just now.
Not much there for me. I’d like to see dual voltage like the Anvil. wondering if anyone on this thread has experience with Anvil as compared to the Robobrew//Brewzilla? I’d take a good look at it IF I were to replace, which I’m not planning to do.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I’m in the middle of my first AG brew. Everything seems to be going well, and this BrewZilla is really nice to use. I’m curious about a few things as I go.

1. Does it matter where you place the recirculation tube during mashing? I just made sure it was under the surface so there was no splashing, and I had it at half throttle. I’m wondering whether I might use the top screen next time to get more even recirculation.

2. I saw a video where someone recirculated the wort into the kettle during sparging by placing the tube in the gap between the malt pipe and side of the kettle. I did this, but I’m not sure what purpose it serves.

3. When I lifted the malt pipe to sparge, I expected the liquid level to remain above the grain bed a bit, and the wort to slowly drain out the bottom and into the kettle. Well, it just gushed out the bottom and I couldn’t stop the top of the grain bed drying out. I sparged as quick as I could using a jug out of my sparge pot. I used about 12.5 litres of water and was done in less than 10 minutes when I reached my pre-boil volume. I’ve heard about stuck sparges and that you should sparge slowly over an hour or whatever. Is what happened here with me typical of others experiences when sparging?

4. I’m trying to set a good boil rate. For 65 litre operators, what heaters are you using for the boil? I tried the 2000W only, and that seemed to wind down after a while. I’ve got the 2000W and 1000W running at the moment. The boil seems ok. Obviously I could turn on all the heaters and thrash the boil, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.

Thanks.
 
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rjhoff

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I’m in the middle of my first AG brew. Everything seems to be going well, and this BrewZilla is really nice to use. I’m curious about a few things as I go.

1. Does it matter where you place the recirculation tube during mashing? I just made sure it was under the surface so there was no splashing, and I had it at half throttle. I’m wondering whether I might use the top screen next time to get more even recirculation.

2. I saw a video where someone recirculated the wort into the kettle during sparging by placing the tube in the gap between the malt pipe and side of the kettle. I did this, but I’m not sure what purpose it serves.

3. When I lifted the malt pipe to sparge, I expected the liquid level to remain above the grain bed a bit, and the wort to slowly drain out the bottom and into the kettle. Well, it just gushed out the bottom and I couldn’t stop the top of the grain bed drying out. I sparged as quick as I could using a jug out of my sparge pot. I used about 12.5 litres of water and was done in less than 10 minutes when I reached my pre-boil volume. I’ve heard about stuck sparges and that you should sparge slowly over an hour or whatever. Is what happened here with me typical of others experiences when sparging?

4. I’m trying to set a good boil rate. For 65 litre operators, what heaters are you using for the boil? I tried the 2000W only, and that seemed to wind down after a while. I’ve got the 2000W and 1000W running at the moment. The boil seems ok. Obviously I could turn on all the heaters and thrash the boil, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.

Thanks.
Did you check your pre-boil SG vs a target? This will give a good indication if your mash and sparge was successful. Seems to me there’s no hard rule on recirculation placement (my outlet is always above the liquid level) and I don’t use the top screen, others do it differently and are reporting good results.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I did check my pre-boil SG. Being my first go I took a guess at 75% mash efficiency but it came in at 80%. So does that tell me the sparge was ok?

It’s an IIPA. The whirlpool hops are in at the moment. I’ve just discovered I can’t do a proper whirlpool with a hop bag sitting in the kettle. So I’ll have to take it out after 20 minutes and do another whirlpool. I might try throwing them straight in next time, but I was worried about blockages in the pump and CFC.
 
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rjhoff

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I did check my pre-boil SG. Being my first go I took a guess at 75% mash efficiency but it came in at 80%. So does that tell me the sparge was ok?

It’s an IIPA. The whirlpool hops are in at the moment. I’ve just discovered I can’t do a proper whirlpool with a hop bag sitting in the kettle. So I’ll have to take it out after 20 minutes and do another whirlpool. I might try throwing them straight in next time, but I was worried about blockages in the pump and CFC.
You should be good at 80%. I look at SG (and mash efficiency) and pre boil volume, try to hit both numbers right on. I’m pretty anal about keeping grain and hops out of the boil so I don’t see a huge benefit from the whirlpool.
 

Cloud Surfer

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You should be good at 80%. I look at SG (and mash efficiency) and pre boil volume, try to hit both numbers right on. I’m pretty anal about keeping grain and hops out of the boil so I don’t see a huge benefit from the whirlpool.
I thought I was doing well in keeping the hop matter out of the wort. I used a hop basket for the boil and then hop bag for the whirlpool hops. But when I transferred the wort into the fermenter, the bottom of the kettle and the false bottom looked like a hop massacre. I don’t know where all the gunk came from because the basket and bag were still full of the hops I put in them.
 

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4. I’m trying to set a good boil rate. For 65 litre operators, what heaters are you using for the boil? I tried the 2000W only, and that seemed to wind down after a while. I’ve got the 2000W and 1000W running at the moment. The boil seems ok. Obviously I could turn on all the heaters and thrash the boil, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.
I have tried 2000w, 2500w, and 3000w for the boil in the 65L.. My estimated boiloff for each setting is ~.5gal for 2000w, ~.75gal for 2500w, and ~1gal for 3000w. I have settled on using 3000w mostly because of the 1 gallon boil off and it mostly resembles the boil intensity I would get using propane.
 
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Cloud Surfer

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I have tried 2000w, 2500w, and 3000w for the boil in the 65L.. My estimated boiloff for each setting is ~.5gal for 2000w, ~.75gal for 2500w, and ~1gal for 3000w. I have settled on using 3000w mostly because of the 1 gallon boil off and it mostly resembles the boil intensity I would get using propane.
That’s perfect. I tried a few combinations, and the 3000w looked good to my eye. I estimated a 3.5 litre boil off/hour using the 3000w, which is about 1 gallon.
 
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rjhoff

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I thought I was doing well in keeping the hop matter out of the wort. I used a hop basket for the boil and then hop bag for the whirlpool hops. But when I transferred the wort into the fermenter, the bottom of the kettle and the false bottom looked like a hop massacre. I don’t know where all the gunk came from because the basket and bag were still full of the hops I put in them.
I don’t typically see hop matter. I use a 400 micron hop spider most of the time and have a smaller one that is 300 micron. At any rate, I hope your first all grain was successful!
 

Sammy86

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I have tried 2000w, 2500w, and 3000w for the boil in the 65L.. My estimated boiloff for each setting is ~.5gal for 2000w, ~.75gal for 2500w, and ~1gal for 3000w. I have settled on using 3000w mostly because of the 1 gallon boil off and it mostly resembles the boil intensity I would get using propane.
Exactly what I do...ill put it full blast to get it going and then drop down to 3K.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I don’t typically see hop matter. I use a 400 micron hop spider most of the time and have a smaller one that is 300 micron. At any rate, I hope your first all grain was successful!
Thanks, I think my first AG brew day went well. The colour and aroma of the wort is like nothing I’ve ever done with extract. My whirlpool wasn’t so good though, and I ended up transferring a lot of break material. But I will dump that out the bottom of the conical before I add the dry hops.

Anyway I learnt a lot that I can use next time. The BrewZilla is such a good unit, makes AG so easy.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I did come up with a good process at flameout. I'm sure others already do it like this.

Five minutes before flameout I started circulating wort through the CFC. At flameout I turned off the heat and turned on the cold water to the CFC so I was running chilled wort into the BrewZilla. It didn't take long before the wort was at 80C and I could stop the CFC and throw in the whirlpool hops.

I've already worked out, having a pump and a CFC are terrific. Transferring cool wort into the fermenter was so easy.

IMG_7078.JPG
 
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rjhoff

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Thanks, I think my first AG brew day went well. The colour and aroma of the wort is like nothing I’ve ever done with extract. My whirlpool wasn’t so good though, and I ended up transferring a lot of break material. But I will dump that out the bottom of the conical before I add the dry hops.

Anyway I learnt a lot that I can use next time. The BrewZilla is such a good unit, makes AG so easy.
I’ve been using the hop spider pretty religiously. I’m worried that it’s screen is so tight that I’m leaving flavor and aroma behind.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I stirred inside the hop spider a few times and then when I pulled it out all the wort came out, so it wasn’t blocked. So I’m hoping I didn’t lose too much. Over time if I figure bitterness is on the low side I’ll add extra hops to compensate for the mesh in the hop spider.
 

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I recirculate through my spider to improve hop efficiency and to grab any residual grains.
It can get blocked on my last few additions so I use a rubber spatula to keep it flowing.
 
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rjhoff

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I recirculate through my spider to improve hop efficiency and to grab any residual grains.
It can get blocked on my last few additions so I use a rubber spatula to keep it flowing.
I may try that! I do stir the hops in the spider every few minutes but never thought about recirculating into the spider (I don’t use the pump during boil).
 

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I just received the polycarbonate sight glass and the whirlpool arm. Anxious to get them on the Robobrew to try them out.

It can be informative to examine your mash after letting it cool. I usually just dump the leftover grain in the compost or garden. But last time I decided to dry it and make some flour. So, I spread it out on cookie sheets and put it in the oven at a low temperature. While spreading, I found more doughballs than expected. I had thoroughly stirred the mash. My efficiency was still decent, as I hit the predicted OG number. But there was obviously room for improvement.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I just received the polycarbonate sight glass and the whirlpool arm. Anxious to get them on the Robobrew to try them out.
The polycarbonate tube has a larger OD than the stainless tube it is replacing. They don’t supply a saddle with the tube, so I used the one that was on the BrewZilla. It was tight to get it fitted over the polycarbonate tube. When I did my trial run with water I discovered I had split the tube by using the undersize saddle. KegLand were adamant it was my fault, but eventually they sent me a replacement.

I went and bought a larger saddle and fitted the replacement. After doing my first AG day, I filled the BrewZilla to the top with PBW, ran it through the pump and CFC for about 10 minutes while heating to 70C, then left it to soak for 2 hours. When I came back, the polycarbonate tube was split and leaking everywhere.

So I give up on that tube, and have re-fitted the stainless tube. I would like to hear how you go with it before I decide if I want to try the polycarbonate again.
 

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The polycarbonate tube has a larger OD than the stainless tube it is replacing. They don’t supply a saddle with the tube, so I used the one that was on the BrewZilla. It was tight to get it fitted over the polycarbonate tube. When I did my trial run with water I discovered I had split the tube by using the undersize saddle. KegLand were adamant it was my fault, but eventually they sent me a replacement.

I went and bought a larger saddle and fitted the replacement. After doing my first AG day, I filled the BrewZilla to the top with PBW, ran it through the pump and CFC for about 10 minutes while heating to 70C, then left it to soak for 2 hours. When I came back, the polycarbonate tube was split and leaking everywhere.

So I give up on that tube, and have re-fitted the stainless tube. I would like to hear how you go with it before I decide if I want to try the polycarbonate again.
For my sight-glass I drilled a separate hole and installed it using a weldless fitting as you would on any other kettle. I initially thought about replacing the spigot but the weldless fitting I ordered was 1/4" and would not have worked. In the end it worked out for the better because I have had a couple brews where the pump clogged and I had to transfer using the spigot instead of the pump as I normally do.

I do like the idea of just replacing the stainless tube used by the pump but I hadn't thought about that till reading your post.
 
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rjhoff

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It's supposed to fit right on. I haven't even opened the box yet. Will report back when I do.
I saw the kit on MoreBeer but didn’t buy yet - I‘m nervous about it’s BPA content especially with heightened temps. A few articles say the BPA risk is a myth but for all I know they were industry written articles...
 

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It just fit right on after taking the old tube off. The existing saddle is too small, as @Cloud Surfer stated. So, will have to come up with something else. Obviously will need one that doesn't squeeze it too tight.

I don't know about BPA. I'm not really worried, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be.
 

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The whirlpool arm and site glass are on the Robobrew, and seem to be working fine. I put in a few gallons of water, and have had the heat and the pump on for a half hour now with no leaks. Will let it run for a while, but so far so good.

Given earlier warnings, I didn't try to fasten down the tube with a metal saddle. I put a piece of felt bushing cloth between the polycarbonate tube and the metal, and used a plastic zip tie to hold it in place. I was afraid of anything that might crack the tube. It seems that the point of the saddle is to keep the tube from flopping around and damaging the connection at the bottom. Which this does.
 

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This is the current setup. My main concern now is that the heat will soften the plastic zip tie. Am thinking of other ways to fasten it there, but this works for now
 

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Cloud Surfer

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What annoyed me most is I spent an hour marking the tube with volume indicators. I'll have to do that all over again with another tube. It was nice to have the levels marked so I could see when I reached my pre-boil volume during sparging.

BrewZilla (1).JPG
 

Cloud Surfer

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I sent KegLand a photo of the split polycarbonate sight tube, and described what happened. They believe heating the PBW to 70C and letting it sit for 2 hours was to much heat for to long for the polycarbonate to handle. They are going to send me a replacement which is very nice of them. They said they only heat the PBW up to 50C, which I will do in the future and hopefully I won't get another split tube.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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I sent KegLand a photo of the split polycarbonate sight tube, and described what happened. They believe heating the PBW to 70C and letting it sit for 2 hours was to much heat for to long for the polycarbonate to handle. They are going to send me a replacement which is very nice of them. They said they only heat the PBW up to 50C, which I will do in the future and hopefully I won't get another split tube.
It seems like the sight tube should be made of a borosilicate glass (such as, for example, Pyrex®).
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Maybe. But might end up with a lot of smashed sight tubes if they used glass.
Put it inside of a protective polycarbonate tube, with spacers to provide an air gap so the polycarbonate is not in direct contact with the heat that is prone to crack it.
 

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I sent KegLand a photo of the split polycarbonate sight tube, and described what happened. They believe heating the PBW to 70C and letting it sit for 2 hours was to much heat for to long for the polycarbonate to handle. They are going to send me a replacement which is very nice of them. They said they only heat the PBW up to 50C, which I will do in the future and hopefully I won't get another split tube.
So only 70*C did it? That's not encouraging. What about getting the kettle up to boil, and then running the recirculation pump to cool. It wouldn't be for as long, but???
 

Cloud Surfer

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So only 70*C did it? That's not encouraging. What about getting the kettle up to boil, and then running the recirculation pump to cool. It wouldn't be for as long, but???
I circulated through it during the boil to sanitise the CFC, but only for 5 minutes. KegLand suggested it might be the combination of 70C for a long period.
 

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Setting up the 65L Brewzilla tonight. Just got Fedex in.

Are there any good videos on sparging with this thing? My entire brewlife has been batch sparging in a cooler. Kinda confused how to do this properly with the brewzilla. We converted a kettle to be the HLT with a heating element. Figure we'll use that. But as far as fly sparging. Not too sure
 
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rjhoff

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Setting up the 65L Brewzilla tonight. Just got Fedex in.

Are there any good videos on sparging with this thing? My entire brewlife has been batch sparging in a cooler. Kinda confused how to do this properly with the brewzilla. We converted a kettle to be the HLT with a heating element. Figure we'll use that. But as far as fly sparging. Not too sure
I have the 35L, here’s the steps I take:
Preheat 4 gallons to 168F, position it’s outlet above the mash pipe when setting above the brew kettle. Heat the mash to 168F after mash is complete (20 mins). Raise the malt pipe and sprinkle the water over the mash bed, maintaining some level over the the bed. Do this until you reach desired pre-boil volume. I use BeerSmith which defines the volumes and process. Although I always heat 4 gallons for sparge I use the leftover for mixing PBW for cleaning.
 

Cloud Surfer

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Setting up the 65L Brewzilla tonight. Just got Fedex in.

Are there any good videos on sparging with this thing? My entire brewlife has been batch sparging in a cooler. Kinda confused how to do this properly with the brewzilla. We converted a kettle to be the HLT with a heating element. Figure we'll use that. But as far as fly sparging. Not too sure
I’ve used my 65L once. When I raised the malt pipe all the liquid gushed straight out the bottom and there was no way I could keep the grain bed covered in water. So I just sparged as fast as I could. I heated the sparge water in a big pot and jugged it on top of the grain bed until I hit my pre boil volume. I still got 80% efficiency so that was ok for first go.

I’m going to fit a tap and temp gauge to that pot, and make a sparge setup with some sort of nozzle that showers the grain bed with the sparge water. That will be my lazy way to sparge, and also I think that will allow me to sparge faster if needed and more evenly over the entire grain bed.
 
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