Robobrew/Brewzilla Discussion

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DuncB

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Very convenient having that elbow there. I'm going to put the three way a bit higher up anyway so that the lateral out will go into the top of the coolzilla and then the bottom outflow will be at the height of the whirlpool entry. Not sure it will really make that much difference to the flow dynamics.
 

CUSTOM-441

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I think I'm going to take the plunge next brew day and try to use the pump to circulate the wort through the chiller inside an ice bath.

Sanitizing the inside of the wort chiller concerns me, but the amount of waste water from my brewday yesterday was borderline unconscionable.

I don't use the stainless chiller that came with the Brewzilla anyway. So I may try running the wort through it.
I've only recirculated wort through the chiller once. It was during a snowstorm. I filled a bucket up with snow & ice, and put the chiller in that while I recirculated wort through it. The snow was melting just as fast as I was shovelling it on. Felt like a stoker on a steam locomotive. Was a bit of a PITA, but it chilled VERY quickly, and zero water wastage.

Sanitizing wasn't a problem. Just start a syphon of Star-san through the chiller and stop the flow once it's running through. Let it sit like that for a couple minutes then drain.
 

DuncB

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Well I've added the valves, didn't take the pipe off just tackled the cut with a used junior hacksaw and managed the cut with a few breaks and rehydration stops. That stainless steel tube is tough stuff, all fitted nicely. I've cut the tubing on the three way so that I have connection options for coolzilla, hop missile or direct to valve for whirlpool on it's own.
Haven't done a leak test will do that tonight but is all very solid.
Need to plan a brew.
IMG_20210908_221741.jpgIMG_20210908_235639.jpgIMG_20210909_005212.jpgIMG_20210909_111017.jpg

I use the Guten on the floor not at this height!
 

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@DuncB - Nice work. I'm going to get more used to brewzilla before making any modifications, butI definitely like these ideas.

-Also, I've never seen or heard of the coolzilla. Is it a counterflow chiller?
 

DuncB

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@DuncB - Nice work. I'm going to get more used to brewzilla before making any modifications, butI definitely like these ideas.

-Also, I've never seen or heard of the coolzilla. Is it a counterflow chiller?
It's a kegland counter flow chiller, works well, would have been so much more user friendly if the water in and out were positioned at different angles, because they jut out in the same plane as the tube but at 90 degrees to it this means the connector is resting on the surface and you have to lift the coolzilla up to to attach your hose. Minor grumble but vertical or 45 degrees would have been better, although if I just fit a quick disconnect for hosepipe to it would be less hassle.
I previously have been running the coolzilla from the recirc pipe and then into the whirlpool via tap. Now hoping to use hop missile as a cold break trap after the coolzilla during transfer. ie start off just whirlpool then add in coolzilla followed by hop missile with hulls in to catch the break. I'm hoping to reduce my kettle loss from about 5 litres to just what's absorbed in any kettle hops.
 

CavAv8tr

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I collect all the water runoff from my counterflow chiller into buckets and use it to clean the BrewZilla. So I don’t feel like I’m wasting any water.

I’ve not heard anyone run wort through their immersion chiller, usually it’s the cold water that gets run through it. I think it would heat your ice bath up real fast and lose all of its chilling capacity.
I do exactly that. Use the pump the circulate the wort through the chiller in a cooler with ice water. Add more ice as necessary. Ice is cheaper than running my hose here. Beer tastes good. I start circulating wort 15 minutes adding ice to sterilize.
 

Bill B

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I do something similar. With California temps high this time of year, our ground water never cools down. I run a food grade hose from the water spigot to a ice chest, coil the hose, and run it to my coil chiller. The discharged hot water is then captured into 2 five gallon buckets and the remaining water captured in a 55 gallon plastic barrel. I use that water for plant watering. Very little wasted water.
 

CavAv8tr

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I do something similar. With California temps high this time of year, our ground water never cools down. I run a food grade hose from the water spigot to a ice chest, coil the hose, and run it to my coil chiller. The discharged hot water is then captured into 2 five gallon buckets and the remaining water captured in a 55 gallon plastic barrel. I use that water for plant watering. Very little wasted water.
Nice. I might have to try that.
 

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I am considering buying the 35L 120v Brewzilla and was wondering if anyone supplements the heating elements in it with a heat stick? I was thinking the stick could be used to get mash water up to the first temp quicker and possibly to reduce the time to boil. Maybe use it to heat sparge water in a separate pot as well.

I expect I'd have to plug it into an outlet on a different breaker than the Brewzilla.

I have a nice Hotrod heatstick I got from brewhardware.
 
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CUSTOM-441

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I am considering buying the 35L 120v Brewzilla and was wondering if anyone supplements the heating elements in it with a heat stick? I was thinking the stick could be used to get mash water up to the first temp quicker and possibly to reduce the time to boil. Maybe use it to heat sparge water in a separate pot as well.

I expect I'd have to plug it into an outlet on a different breaker than the Brewzilla.

I have a nice Hotrod heatstick I got from brewhardware.
With my 120v system I can usually hit my strike temp inside of 40 minutes, which gives me plenty of time to mill grains and get things set up. My only real complaint is sometimes it's an issue maintaining a rigorous boil, which affects my boil off rate and final #'s. Nothing that can't be accounted for, but still..
 
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Sammy86

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I am considering buying the 35L 120v Brewzilla and was wondering if anyone supplements the heating elements in it with a heat stick? I was thinking the stick could be used to get mash water up to the first temp quicker and possibly to reduce the time to boil. Maybe use it to heat sparge water in a separate pot as well.

I expect I'd have to plug it into an outlet on a different breaker than the Brewzilla.

I have a nice Hotrod heatstick I got from brewhardware.
I have a 120V digiboil, for sparge water for my 65L...definitely need a separate circuit!
 

trarmer007

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Read all 19 pages...25 year brewer, just bought the 65L. I was trying to find someone explain the sequence/use for all three heating elements. As an old propane guy, I was wondering why not floor it 100% of the time - isn't that what the thermostat regulates? But I found my answer - and y'all have some knowledge so I kept reading. Thanks to all who provided information.
 

GoodTruble

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I'm interested in trying out no-chill methods to get wort from boil to pitching temps.

Would it work to simply get a solid lid with no holes, clamp it down on the brewzilla after the boil, and just let the wort chill inside the brewzilla? Or maybe even just plug the hole in the standard brewzilla lid with a stopper?

With the weather starting to cool here, I'm wondering if I could brew on the deck in the early evenings and just let the brewzilla & wort cool down outside and then pitch a few hours later.
 

DuncB

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Not sure about the lid on brewzilla is it glass?

Guten has metal lid and my robobrew the water boiler had a metal lid that fitted perfectly and clamped on tight.

The wort will cool quicker if it's moving so if you circulated the wort thru the immersion chiller and back in via the tap you'd increase your cooling a low as you have a bigger radiating surface. Then when near pitching temp turn off the pump and then just pump out the brewzilla thru the chiller and into your vessel. With appropriate tube clamping of course and tap turning off to avoid a disaster.
 

CharlieVT

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Just grabbed a 3.1.1 brewzilla (switching from a propane blichman 3 vessel tower)and had a quick question- does it need to be passivated with barkeepers friend like a new stainless kettle?
 

DuncB

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Just grabbed a 3.1.1 brewzilla (switching from a propane blichman 3 vessel tower)and had a quick question- does it need to be passivated with barkeepers friend like a new stainless kettle?
No just give it a good clean with some PBW to get rid of any production residues. Run the pump as well to clean out those bits.

After just a rinse / pump through with water and then dry it if you fancy. I invert mine to get any dregs out of the drain hole.

Only need to passivate if you cut any new holes in it!
 

GoodTruble

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DISASTER (Help)

First, Dammit!

I've used my Brewzilla 4 times. So far so good but so far, until today I had always used Brew In A Bag (BIAB) with it because I didn't trust the malt pipe screens and I really didn't want to encounter/deal with a clogged pump.

Turns out my distrust of the malt pipe screen was 100% justified. Today I tried using just the malt pipe and screens without the bag, and within the first 5 minutes of turning on the pump I saw chunks of malt pushing through the tube. When I raised the tube, the liquid was only coming out about 10-20% it's normal volume.

I immediately shut it down, drained the wort into a kettle, removed the malt pipe (put grains into BIAB and set it in the other kettle), and then filled the brewzilla with fresh water to see if I could flush out the pump. Terrible move. It first started blowing put air bubbles for 5-10 seconds. Then I thought it was starting pump out the clogging material, but then I realized it may be some other kind of dark residue from a failing pump. So I just shut it all down again.

I am so pissed that this thing didn't even make it 5 minutes without the extra bag to compensate for the screen. (The grain bill was 11 lbs, not light but not big either). I bought the brewzilla to make brew day easier and faster, and the one thing I never wanted to deal with was a clogged pump and having to disassemble this thing to fix. And now that's exactly where I think I'm at.

Please let me know if anyone has any tips for how to fix the pump or any other suggestions.

I think I may just try to finish brewing in the kettle. And then try to deal with the unwelcome PITA Brewzilla maintenance in a few hours.
 

CUSTOM-441

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DISASTER (Help)

First, Dammit!

I've used my Brewzilla 4 times. So far so good but so far, until today I had always used Brew In A Bag (BIAB) with it because I didn't trust the malt pipe screens and I really didn't want to encounter/deal with a clogged pump.

Turns out my distrust of the malt pipe screen was 100% justified. Today I tried using just the malt pipe and screens without the bag, and within the first 5 minutes of turning on the pump I saw chunks of malt pushing through the tube. When I raised the tube, the liquid was only coming out about 10-20% it's normal volume.

I immediately shut it down, drained the wort into a kettle, removed the malt pipe (put grains into BIAB and set it in the other kettle), and then filled the brewzilla with fresh water to see if I could flush out the pump. Terrible move. It first started blowing put air bubbles for 5-10 seconds. Then I thought it was starting pump out the clogging material, but then I realized it may be some other kind of dark residue from a failing pump. So I just shut it all down again.

I am so pissed that this thing didn't even make it 5 minutes without the extra bag to compensate for the screen. (The grain bill was 11 lbs, not light but not big either). I bought the brewzilla to make brew day easier and faster, and the one thing I never wanted to deal with was a clogged pump and having to disassemble this thing to fix. And now that's exactly where I think I'm at.

Please let me know if anyone has any tips for how to fix the pump or any other suggestions.

I think I may just try to finish brewing in the kettle. And then try to deal with the unwelcome PITA Brewzilla maintenance in a few hours.
Sorry to hear about this. I have 50+ brews on my brewzilla, all using the malt pipe with both screens and have never had an issue with grain getting into the kettle. This is the first time I've heard of anyone having issues with grain getting in the kettle with this system. Assuming you have everything set up correctly, the only way grain should get into the kettle is if the mash overflows down the center overflow tube, or if it overflows through the two holes in the side that are meant for the handle to raise the malt pipe. Ideally you want to throttle the pump so that the drain rate from the malt tube is the same as the rate of wort coming through the pump. The flow should be balanced. If you have the pump running wide open, the wort can't drain out of the malt pipe quick enough and it will fill up, and overflow. You also run the risk of pumping all the wort out of the kettle, which will lead to the pump running dry and the elements scorching the bottom of the kettle. For me it depends on the mash, but my I find the sweet spot on the pump valve is somewhere between 40-60% open. The coarse & fine mesh screens are more than sufficient to stop the grain from getting into the kettle. Heck, some people even ditch the fine mesh screen and have good luck with the coarse screen alone!

I'm not trying to sound like a dink, I'm just not sure how you could get grain in the kettle/pump if you're using the system as intended. Usually with these system the pump issues come up during the boil using un-contained hops, not during the mash.
 

Sammy86

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DISASTER (Help)

First, Dammit!

I've used my Brewzilla 4 times. So far so good but so far, until today I had always used Brew In A Bag (BIAB) with it because I didn't trust the malt pipe screens and I really didn't want to encounter/deal with a clogged pump.

Turns out my distrust of the malt pipe screen was 100% justified. Today I tried using just the malt pipe and screens without the bag, and within the first 5 minutes of turning on the pump I saw chunks of malt pushing through the tube. When I raised the tube, the liquid was only coming out about 10-20% it's normal volume.

I immediately shut it down, drained the wort into a kettle, removed the malt pipe (put grains into BIAB and set it in the other kettle), and then filled the brewzilla with fresh water to see if I could flush out the pump. Terrible move. It first started blowing put air bubbles for 5-10 seconds. Then I thought it was starting pump out the clogging material, but then I realized it may be some other kind of dark residue from a failing pump. So I just shut it all down again.

I am so pissed that this thing didn't even make it 5 minutes without the extra bag to compensate for the screen. (The grain bill was 11 lbs, not light but not big either). I bought the brewzilla to make brew day easier and faster, and the one thing I never wanted to deal with was a clogged pump and having to disassemble this thing to fix. And now that's exactly where I think I'm at.

Please let me know if anyone has any tips for how to fix the pump or any other suggestions.

I think I may just try to finish brewing in the kettle. And then try to deal with the unwelcome PITA Brewzilla maintenance in a few hours.
Sounds like too fine a crush and not enough husks to create a filter in the malt pipe. I always use the malt pipe and never have an issue with my 65L and I'm doing 20-25 LBs grain bills
 

RePete

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I have only ever had the pump clog due to throwing in loose hops. As far as cleaning the pump goes...
You really don't have to take it apart if you have an air compressor handy. Just give it a blast of air down the recirculation tube. They'll blow out.

Good luck.
 

GoodTruble

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Thanks all.

I'm sure I did something wrong because there wound up being a LOT are large chunks of grain in the recirc tubing (pic below). However, I still don't know how it happened.

But after removing and cleaning out pipe, I ran pump again with fresh water (and no pipe attached), and that seemed to blow the rest of the grain out (at least, clear water was gushing out). I'll try flushing it again later, and if it appears to run clear and at full volume, I try to skip disassembling the pump.
931BEE03-E6B0-4A8C-B9D2-ADA21A034793.jpeg
 
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GoodTruble

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In taking apart and cleaning out the recirc pipe, I think I may have lost a gasket. Can anyone confirm if there is supposed to be a gasket (maybe white) between the lower end if the recirc tube and the metal elbow that feeds out from the pump (pic below)?

I thought there was a white gasket there when I disassembled it, but I may just be confusing it with the top end (which has/still has a white gasket).

Thank you.
F547FA0B-B93B-48D3-936E-C5D6E4F7FD16.jpeg
 

DuncB

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I didn't have problems during the mash with my robobrew 3.0. Used the double screen it came with at the bottom and as others have said adjusted the flow keep the mash bed covered. This did require adjustment during the mash though as the flow became easier as time went by.
I do note that David Heath I think in his last brewing bad video ? 10 does say to run at full flow on the recirc and then have the overflow pipe adjusted to the height you want the mash bed submerged to. He fits a tea strainer over the top of the overflow pipe to prevent bits going down. I have tried this but only on my GUten 70 and the pump was a bit faster than the overflow drain could cope with.
 

DuncB

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@GoodTruble
I'm not sure about that gasket, the guten is welded at that point. I do know that you can swap the metal up tube for a sightglass, might be some info on the kegland site about that and it may show if there is a gasket there.

Having looked at your pictures which were posted but my page hadn't updated that's a lot of grain.

I've noticed when you turn the pump off the liquid siphons back, if your pipe was sitting in the grain bed and it was turned off it would siphon grain back and that might account for this amount of grain. But grain going down overflow, or through the handle holes or perhaps just missing the malt pipe and going over the sides when doughing in could be the cause as well.

The only time my pump blocked was when I turned it on during the boil and then really hot wort / boiling wort was in it and it blocked. I just turned off the pump lifted the tube out of the wort to let it siphon back down, this seemed to make a good flush and if that didn't work just fired a turkey baster load of wort back up the tube.
 

CUSTOM-441

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@GoodTruble
I'm not sure about that gasket, the guten is welded at that point. I do know that you can swap the metal up tube for a sightglass, might be some info on the kegland site about that and it may show if there is a gasket there.

Having looked at your pictures which were posted but my page hadn't updated that's a lot of grain.

I've noticed when you turn the pump off the liquid siphons back, if your pipe was sitting in the grain bed and it was turned off it would siphon grain back and that might account for this amount of grain. But grain going down overflow, or through the handle holes or perhaps just missing the malt pipe and going over the sides when doughing in could be the cause as well.

The only time my pump blocked was when I turned it on during the boil and then really hot wort / boiling wort was in it and it blocked. I just turned off the pump lifted the tube out of the wort to let it siphon back down, this seemed to make a good flush and if that didn't work just fired a turkey baster load of wort back up the tube.
Good point about the suck-back when you shut the pump off. If your recirc tube was submerged in your grain bed this might explain how you got grain into the pump, since judging by your pic your crush seems fine. To prevent this issue, if you need to shut the pump off at any point in the brew day, make sure the end of the tube is not submerged, shut the pump off, and open the pump valve wide open. The remaining wort will drain out of the end of the recirc tube, and the rest ill settle back into the bottom. This also prevents hot wort from gushing onto your hands if you need to unlock the camlock to swivel the pump arm. Ask me how I know...
 

CharlieVT

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In have the 35L 3.1.1 and it has a silicone gasket there in the camlock.

Working on batch #2 today (#1 was yesterday), both IPAs with around 14# of grains. Seems like that is where it maxes out.

The mash circulation volume is much slower than expected. Sparging goes so slow. Probably something I'm doing wrong. Yesterday I double crushed my grains and had too much flour, today I added 3x handfuls of rice hulls and only crushed once. Similar results. So slow...

I've got the 110version and the neoprene jacket. It never gets to a proper rolling boil - just a gentle one (coming from a three vessel blichman tower with hellfire propane burners). It's 65 deg F out, and I wonder if this guy will keep up in winter brewing... The readout doesn't ever get over 210 - and I have both burners 1000w and 500w switched on (on manual HH).

So far, I like the ease of cleaning, and fewer bits and bobs to deal with. I like the smaller footprint.

We'll find out in a few weeks how the beer tastes, which is all I care about at the end of the day. :)

I am using it on a harbor freight rolling hydraulic cart that I already had - makes it easier to raise/lower and relocate.

Fresh cascade hops (a single plant, backyard trellis) for my ipa today:
69B0BC8E-80A3-4193-B867-D9CEDBD0F5FC.jpeg
 
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GoodTruble

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Thanks everyone. The suck back theory is totally possible because I did shut off the pump a couple of times.

And thanks @CharlieVT for confirming the gasket. I totally spaced out on that when cleaning out the tube and suspect I lost it down the drain. -Not a big deal, but it will keep from fully retesting the pump for the time being
 

CharlieVT

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I can double check if you like. I had it apart yesterday to upgrade from the stock steel tube to a sight glass version.
 

GoodTruble

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I can double check if you like. I had it apart yesterday to upgrade from the stock steel tube to a sight glass version.
Heads up on the sight glass (as discussed in several earlier posts), the upper bracket may be too small/tight. Consider grabbing a larger on at hardware store or leaving it a little loose to allow the sight glass a but of wiggle room.

If you take it apart anyway, please confirm. But know worries if not.
 

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Just got this one last week, and the bracket seems good. Note, the clear tube came with it's own (larger) U bracket.
image.jpg
 

GoodTruble

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So did my sight glass (larger bracket). Still broke right around the bracket within 3 brews (though obviously I am the dunce of the brewzilla community, clearly).
116E2798-2621-4CEA-8954-43673B53403B.jpeg
17BA79E1-A24F-4DEB-9961-39724B300289.jpeg
 

CharlieVT

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That's a drag. Sorry to hear that. I hope they stand behind their products!
 

GoodTruble

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That's a drag. Sorry to hear that. I hope they stand behind their products!
An earlier poster got a replacement (and then bought a non-standard bracket). But for $12, I just ordered another one (and will also find a larger bracket). Now, I'm hoping the new sight tube comes with a gasket as well =c) (just checked morebeer's website & it lists the sight glass as coming with o-rings on top & bottom. I already had a new sight glass on the way. So that may solve the problem). (Btw - the o-ring itself is $3, the sight glass is $12).
 
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Derp

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I purchased a 65L Brewzilla a few months ago, and Saturday I finally used it for the first time. Previously, I had been mashing in a cooler and using keggles for the HLT and boil.

Things I liked:

No more propane!

Cleanup is a lot easier when everything is in one self-contained unit. Not so many hoses and pumps to clean individually.

It seemed to hold the temperature ok, but I want to pick up a thermometer with a long probe to measure the temperature in the center of the mash.

I hit 80% efficiency, so no complaints there.

Things I didn't like:

That lousy malt pipe handle. It's so fiddly, and I knocked it into the mash at one point.

The flimsy overflow pipe. I decided to stir the mash halfway through, and I managed to knock off the part that was held on by the clip, resulting in about a cup of grain getting into the pump. It ran ok most of the time, but eventually clogged and stopped running. I have a sight glass, and the stuff that was suspended was fairly fine, not large pieces of husk. (I grind fairly aggressively.)

The top screen was difficult to remove when I wanted to stir the mash. It was under very hot wort, but even with insulated gloves I had a hard time grabbing the tiny tabs that are welded to the screen. A large loop would make it much easier to remove.

It took FOREVER for the malt pipe to drain. I finally gave up and just stirred like crazy while sparging to help the flow as much as possible. I guess I could change my crush, but if I'm going to take an efficiency hit I'll just do away with the screen(s) and malt pipe and just use a bag. Would there be any issues with doing so? I guess I'd lose out on the overflow protection. Would it be ok to rest the bag on the bottom of the Brewzilla while the elements are firing?

The biggest disaster was that I didn't have all the necessary connectors for my new Exchilerator Maxx, so I tried using my immersion chiller. It was leaking water like crazy, so I shut it off before I could electrocute myself. I was stuck with 12 gallons of 160-degree wort and a clogged pump, so I just left it in the garage overnight until i was cool enough to lift and drain by gravity. The wort was still at 110 degrees after 16 hours in my (warm) garage, so I guess I should have removed the insulation jacket.

All in all, I think I'm going to enjoy the Brewzilla. I'm expecting my next brew day to go much more smoothly.
 

GoodTruble

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@Derp - several posters in this thread just removed the center pipe and filled the hole with a stainless bolt. If you do that, You could just set a BIAB inside the malt pipe, over the top, under the lid.
 
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