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GoodTruble

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I meant actually using a nylon bag inside the malt pipe. That makes it easy to pull the first set of grains if you are doing a reiterated mash.

And yeah, I would just worry the grains and bag would get sucked through the hole a bit without the bolt, and if the bag tore, you would then lose containment within the malt pipe.
 

IanJ

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Thanks for the tips all, I'll have to do some testing once my space is set up. I may just end up using my cooler for mashing anything over capacity to make it a faster brew day, or go with some extract in place of 2-row if it's only for a smaller gravity bump like hitting ~8% abv.

Wonder if a taller malt pipe would be a good upgrade for them to develop? Considering they've already got the scary boil extension... but an extra few inches just for the grain, or at the very least without handle holes low enough to allow grain getting through. In addition to the plugged/bottom with no hole.

Maybe that would just be too tall/top heavy and unsafe? Or I guess water volume would still be a problem with any realistic ratio.
 

RePete

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I did a batch with 21lbs of grain in my 35L unit last year. It was a Russian Imperial Stout. I posted a picture of in the recipe forum.
 

GoodTruble

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In the past two months, I did an all grain strong scottish ale with an OG of 1.095 using reiterated mash, and strong belgian with an OG of 1.10 by just adding 6 lbs of DME after a 9 lbs grain mash. Both produced worked out well.
 

IanJ

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I did a batch with 21lbs of grain in my 35L unit last year. It was a Russian Imperial Stout. I posted a picture of in the recipe forum.
Wow, that's just a little bit full, ha! I wonder if there's a better tape solution, or a rubber gasket that can be plugged in during mash, something more sanitary and heat tolerant.


As for my future brewing, I'm thinking DME may be the better solution for all this, especially for something like a strong stout where it would be hidden by the alcohol... but haven't used that stuff for anything but yeast starters in probably 10 years. I remember it tasting bad, or at the very least my beginner homebrewing techniques were so bad that maybe it was more about that and not the extract itself?

Either way, "reverting" back to relying on extract bothers me equally as much as potentially ruining the taste, aroma and SRM of a beer because of it. I love making NEIPA's and getting a dumper due to 3lbs of DME after all that work would be super upsetting.
 

Elric

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Thanks for clearing up the question on the bolt GoodTruble. While I don't necessarily always follow it, I can appreciate the err on the side of caution approach.
 

JohnSand

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IanJ, my early extract efforts were mediocre or poor too. I've been brewing AG for eight years, but in the last couple I'll do an occasional extract batch to save time. The results are good, other brewers can't tell the difference. My first Brewzilla batch had low efficiency (60%). I added some boiled and cooled DME to bring it up. I'll post my results.
 

IanJ

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Great, thank you!

I'm expecting my first few brews to be semi-failures as well, with the learning curve of mashing in this thing. Also Brewfather is generating some odd numbers and I'm not sure what to expect as a result. It's just unfortunate that in order to make it over ~7% ABV you essentially have to do a double mash or use extract. And for that lower end "high gravity" beer, it seems like a huge waste of time for a 2+ hour mash. Maybe I'll just have to work my favorite 16lb malt bills down to 6% alcohol versions and my liver will thank me... but my tastebuds may not.

Wish I could have justified the extra $200 for the 65L having had the foresight about what I actually planned to brew with it, oh well. Maybe in 10 years when I upgrade :p
 

Cloud Surfer

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Great, thank you!

I'm expecting my first few brews to be semi-failures as well, with the learning curve of mashing in this thing. Also Brewfather is generating some odd numbers and I'm not sure what to expect as a result. It's just unfortunate that in order to make it over ~7% ABV you essentially have to do a double mash or use extract. And for that lower end "high gravity" beer, it seems like a huge waste of time for a 2+ hour mash. Maybe I'll just have to work my favorite 16lb malt bills down to 6% alcohol versions and my liver will thank me... but my tastebuds may not.

Wish I could have justified the extra $200 for the 65L having had the foresight about what I actually planned to brew with it, oh well. Maybe in 10 years when I upgrade :p
You may surprise yourself. My first all grain was a IIPA and is still one of the best beers I’ve made and it went very well in competition.

I do have the 65L. I couldn’t make beer in the 35L as I already struggle with the 65. I don’t see any downside to just getting the 65 as it’s so much more versatile. But I mostly do big beers, so it suits my situation. Just did a Barley Wine with 13kg of malt, so I had to do a reiterated mash that took 3 hours, but I got 65% efficiency out of it. Then a 3 hour boil. Brew day was 10 hours, but I love it all. It’s a beer I’ll still be drinking in 4 or 5 years, so a few extra hours on brew day means nothing.
 

Cloud Surfer

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@Cloud Surfer Thanks I'll update after my next big grain bill. How many litres did you get into the fermenter and at what gravity just for my plans / expectations.
I ended up with 23L in the fermenter. OG was 1.110 and the Mangrove Jack M42 got it to FG 1.021 in 5 days, so that’s 13% ABV. I mashed at 64C, which is a couple of C cooler than I’ve been mashing my RIS and I got about 4 points lower FG than I normally would. Something I might consider for my next RIS.

This is going to be my first attempt at bulk conditioning on bourbon barrel staves. So I’m keen to see how it turns out.
 
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I've skimmed most of this thread. I'm trying to decide between the 35L and the 65L. I plan on doing mostly 5 gallon batches but like the idea of being able to do bigger beers. Does the 65L work well on 5 gallon batches? I'm coming from a typical 3 vessel propane setup.
 

RePete

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I've skimmed most of this thread. I'm trying to decide between the 35L and the 65L. I plan on doing mostly 5 gallon batches but like the idea of being able to do bigger beers. Does the 65L work well on 5 gallon batches? I'm coming from a typical 3 vessel propane setup.
When I bought my 35L, the 65 wasn’t available yet. I probably would have gone that route if it was. The 35 is fine for 15-16lb grain bills. And really, it’s easier to manage. I set the unit to a height where it can drain into my fermenter, but I can still stand and lift the grain pipe easily enough. So, at this point I’m not compelled to buy the bigger unit.
 

DuncB

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I have a guten 70 which is basically the same. I regularly normal gravity brews of about 5 gallons in that, yesterday did a 25 litre ( to fermenter ) 5 points bitter clone. OG 1043 I find it works well. Much easier this volume than trying a 25 litre batch in the old robobrew 35 which was brimming at the start of boil.
 

Sammy86

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I've skimmed most of this thread. I'm trying to decide between the 35L and the 65L. I plan on doing mostly 5 gallon batches but like the idea of being able to do bigger beers. Does the 65L work well on 5 gallon batches? I'm coming from a typical 3 vessel propane setup.
The golden rule of brewing, when in doubt go bigger. I'm a 65L owner and wouldn't go any other way. You can do 5, 10 and 15 gallon batches (with ferm cap).

Ive done 5 and 12 gallon batches regularly and it handles both extremely well! For the extra 200 bones it's worth IMO.
 

DuncB

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I'm sure you won't regret it, best if you have 240V ( but maybe all the 65 models are). My guten 70 is 240 v and needs 15 amp.
 

GoodTruble

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Only reason I didn't go 65L was I did not have accessible 240V outlet, and I wanted the freedom to set up the 35L in different spots or at a friend's house. It was the right call for me, but I've also had to do some clever work arounds due to volume limitation.
 

GoodTruble

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Alright. Hit an unplanned 6-hour no chill delay when I discovered a worrisome redish film on my wort chiller (luckily BEFORE I put it in wort).

But both partigyle brews are now pitched (wit on the left, saison on the right).

567A2B02-FF4E-47E1-B878-59EF72DF9574.jpeg


No real new Brewzilla lessons other than my BIAB approach resulted in way more restricted water movement back down this time. Not sure exactly why. I had to throttle the recirc tube to barely more than a trickle.

Oh, I also managed to trip the breaker on the power strip by running the brewzilla, a window fan, and sous vide heater all at once. =c). Had to run an extension cord from another outlet for the sous vide.
 

GoodTruble

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And just did hydro tests - even with my partigyle/side brew approach, the main brew (wit) only came in .007 under expected gravity. So partigyle didn't impact gravity much. (-and maybe not at all since I also had less circulation in the wort, which probably hurt efficiency a bit (I ended up with like 73% efficiency). And the side brew (saison) was .005 under, but it was mostly extract, so kinda hard to miss that.

Update - I think the stuck mash issue was from the amount of wheat in the recipe. Wheat was half the grains, and I forgot to use rice hulls. There was a lot of grain sludge on the lower screen. So it may not have been BIAB as much as just the percentage of wheat.
 
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Bassaholic

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I apologize in advance if these questions have already been addressed somewhere in this thread. I’ve read through it, but it was a while ago.
I’ve completed 4 brews with my 35L and have run into a few issues. First brew I had a terrible stuck mash, but have since gotten rice hulls and it’s been much improved since. I’ve also tried adjusting my mill gap and I’m currently at .037”. I wind up with a good amount of grain particles in the boil and in the bottom of the kettle after chilling. It hasn’t seemed to affect the finished product, but is there a way to avoid this?

Another issue I’ve had is drastic difference in temperature from the display on the unit and what’s measured in the grain bed with my Thermapen. Today I had the mash set at 146F (shooting for 144F then stepped up to 160F) and the grain bed was reading 135F. The liquid itself coming out of the recirc tube is usually within a degree or so. Should I be concerned about the difference here? I’ve noticed a few of the batches finished a little lower than expected. My last IPA went from 1.068 to 1.007, mash target was 150 set controller at 152.

Overall I’m super happy with the purchase and love brewing inside vs outside on a propane burner. If anyone has some tips for the issues I’m experiencing I’d greatly appreciate it.
 

DuncB

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@Bassaholic
I am a previous robobrew 35 user, rice hulls help, I've moved onto glucanase now which doesn't add volume. I only got flow issues with lots of adjuncts but did have to recirculate slowly at first and then always seemed to be flat out at the end with pump most mashes. I didn't test a lot in the mash bed but stirring regularly I think helps and using more water has improved efficiency for me. I mill with a maltzilla which does crush the grains leaving a lot of intact husk so I now actually find too rapid a sparge is more of a problem. I did insulate the outside of the robobrew and the recirculate arm, my unit is 240 v so does work quite fast and I tended to mash only with the 500 w element once at temperature.
Cooler mash temp would account for your higher fermentable wort, have you calibrated the temp probe?
I only ever had grain in the boil issues if I had an overflow down the central pipe or thru the side holes for the handle. I now use a teastrainer on the top of that pipe as per a David Heath brewing mistakes video advice.
The robobrew did have 2 screens in the bottom which may have helped or just too big a crush on my behalf.
 

Cloud Surfer

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I’ve noticed a lot of people use exceedingly tight mill gaps. I thought I was missing something and tried reducing my gap. All I got was worse efficiency and a couple of pump blockages.

I’m locked in at 1.2mm and my crush looks great. I don’t need rice hulls at all, get great sparges and efficiency in the high 80’s for my smaller beers in the BrewZilla 65.

I don’t see the temperature problems you talk about, but I’m using the 65L so I would generally have thinner mash beds, so the temperature might be more even and closer to what I’m aiming for. Just a guess. The unit does get easier to use with experience. I’ve had mine a while now and I’m quite in tune with it and there’s no surprises anymore.
 

GoodTruble

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The thermal sensor is at the bottom, by the heating element. So it will always read a few degree higher than the grain above. The more recirculation, the less the difference should be. But the easiest solution is to just adjust your program temps up a bit, more or less depending on how quickly the wort is recirculating.
 

GoodTruble

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Anyone waiting on Black Friday sale for Brewzilla - Morebeer has the 35L 120v on sale for $360 (assuming it includes their normal bonus wort chiller connection kit).

The 65L is $585. And the 35L 240v is $395
 

Bassaholic

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I’ve noticed a lot of people use exceedingly tight mill gaps. I thought I was missing something and tried reducing my gap. All I got was worse efficiency and a couple of pump blockages.

I’m locked in at 1.2mm and my crush looks great. I don’t need rice hulls at all, get great sparges and efficiency in the high 80’s for my smaller beers in the BrewZilla 65.

I don’t see the temperature problems you talk about, but I’m using the 65L so I would generally have thinner mash beds, so the temperature might be more even and closer to what I’m aiming for. Just a guess. The unit does get easier to use with experience. I’ve had mine a while now and I’m quite in tune with it and there’s no surprises anymore.
Thanks for the feedback. I’ll try thinning out my mashes and possibly going a little coarser on my grind and see if that helps. I haven’t been able to recirculate more than a slow trickle even with rice hulls added.
 

Cloud Surfer

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Thanks for the feedback. I’ll try thinning out my mashes and possibly going a little coarser on my grind and see if that helps. I haven’t been able to recirculate more than a slow trickle even with rice hulls added.
That would be the reason your mash temps are too cool. Your mill is too tight. Open up the gap for a better crush, then you’ll get a good flow through your mash, your mash temp will be what you want and you’ll get a good sparge and no blocked pump. Crushing so fine with all in ones has no benefits but does lead to other problems. I’ve tried from 1.0mm to 1.4mm and I like it set around 1.2mm.
 

RePete

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I apologize in advance if these questions have already been addressed somewhere in this thread. I’ve read through it, but it was a while ago.
I’ve completed 4 brews with my 35L and have run into a few issues. First brew I had a terrible stuck mash, but have since gotten rice hulls and it’s been much improved since. I’ve also tried adjusting my mill gap and I’m currently at .037”. I wind up with a good amount of grain particles in the boil and in the bottom of the kettle after chilling. It hasn’t seemed to affect the finished product, but is there a way to avoid this?

Another issue I’ve had is drastic difference in temperature from the display on the unit and what’s measured in the grain bed with my Thermapen. Today I had the mash set at 146F (shooting for 144F then stepped up to 160F) and the grain bed was reading 135F. The liquid itself coming out of the recirc tube is usually within a degree or so. Should I be concerned about the difference here? I’ve noticed a few of the batches finished a little lower than expected. My last IPA went from 1.068 to 1.007, mash target was 150 set controller at 152.

Overall I’m super happy with the purchase and love brewing inside vs outside on a propane burner. If anyone has some tips for the issues I’m experiencing I’d greatly appreciate it.
As far as mash goes, you just have to experiment. The goal being to get the mash as fine as possible, for efficiency, without getting stuck mashes. I have my mill set about half way between the .050 and .025 marks, after doing a lot of batches. I don’t move it now. It may depend on the particular mill you use.

Some folks here like stirring their mash. I don’t. I put in the grain, and stir it well then. The I put in the top screen, put the spacer piece on top the center tube, put on the lid, and turn on the pump. I use a piece of silicone tubing so that the recirculation arm reaches over into the hole in the lid. By doing it this way, heated water is continually being fed to the top of the grain. I just leave it for an hour, and do other things. Doing it this way, I consistently hit expected efficiency.

Some people worry about efficiency. My attitude is that this is a hobby. We don’t have to worry about efficiency the way a commercial brewery would. So we aren’t worried about profit margins, etc. if you have stuck sparges, just mill the grain a little courser, and throw in more. It might cost an extra buck or two per batch. Who cares?
 

cactusgarrett

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Give conditioning your grain a try. Along with rice hulls, I've found conditioning before milling (with 2% water by weight) helps with the quality of the grain bed.

A fine crush isn't necessarily the best thing, either. In Episode 079 of the MBAA podcast, they discussed how increasing the gap size allowed for harmonization and an increase in brewhouse efficiency across multiple breweries.
 

CUSTOM-441

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I apologize in advance if these questions have already been addressed somewhere in this thread. I’ve read through it, but it was a while ago.
I’ve completed 4 brews with my 35L and have run into a few issues. First brew I had a terrible stuck mash, but have since gotten rice hulls and it’s been much improved since. I’ve also tried adjusting my mill gap and I’m currently at .037”. I wind up with a good amount of grain particles in the boil and in the bottom of the kettle after chilling. It hasn’t seemed to affect the finished product, but is there a way to avoid this?

Another issue I’ve had is drastic difference in temperature from the display on the unit and what’s measured in the grain bed with my Thermapen. Today I had the mash set at 146F (shooting for 144F then stepped up to 160F) and the grain bed was reading 135F. The liquid itself coming out of the recirc tube is usually within a degree or so. Should I be concerned about the difference here? I’ve noticed a few of the batches finished a little lower than expected. My last IPA went from 1.068 to 1.007, mash target was 150 set controller at 152.

Overall I’m super happy with the purchase and love brewing inside vs outside on a propane burner. If anyone has some tips for the issues I’m experiencing I’d greatly appreciate it.
As others have mentioned the temp probe on these units is on the floor of the kettle, directly above the heating elements. Seeing displayed temp a bit higher than your actual mash temp is to be expected, and I've never seen the difference to be outside of 1.5 degrees F; so pretty negligible. If you really want you can calibrate the unit to adjust for this, but I think that's splitting hairs. As for efficiency I've had improved luck with rice hulls, a finer crush and occasional stirring of the mash. Everyone here has their own process that works for them. There is no golden rule. Experiment, have fun, have a beer and do what works best for you!
 

GoodTruble

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So I just sampled my newest brew (wit), and there is definitely a theme to my last several beers from the brewzilla - all taste good, but all with very high attenuation (average .005 lower FG than expected) and very dry.

People still like the beer just fine, but I'm wondering why I keep getting more attenuated, drier beer than expected. (-It may even be a 'good' problem to have, depending on your tastes, but it is also not intentional).

My guess - I'm doing step mashing from 115 to high 150's, and the slow heating times with the 35L just results in all the grains' sugars extracting at lower temps before I even get to my last, highest mash step. I haven't been timing it, but it's at least 60-90 minutes before I get to mid-150's. Does that make sense? If so, I will start just preheating the water to the second to last step, and skip everything below 140 (-if nothing else it will speed up my brew day). Thanks.
 
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