Robobrew/Brewzilla Discussion

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Sonofastu

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Tonight was the night! It was definitely comical! I was all over the place. To review, I have a 65l, a 5Gal cali stout clone, and a Fermzilla. I have a stand up freezer and an inkbird controller. I also downloaded brewfather to load my recipe. This is my first hack a brewing ever. Previously, someone mentioned no sparge for 5Gal with the 65L so this is what I attempted. Added my full water volume. Used “spring” water from Wegmans. Due to my incompetence, my mash temps were very unstable. I set the strike temp about 5F higher than mash temp, but didn’t change the temp before mashing in. I thought the mash temp was high but checked with a digital meat thermometer and the actual temp was almost 10F low for my desired mash temp of 152F.

Pre boil gravity =1.04 (target =1.05)
OH =1.05, ( target = 1.063)

I definitely learned some things. I hope the beer is drinkable. Looking forward to witnessing some activity in the Fermzilla.

Could I have just boiled until I reached target pre-boil gravity and then set timer and added hops?

Any advice on this particular batch of wort?

Also, I don’t have an airlock. I have the spunding valve that comes in the pressure ferment kit. I don’t have a way to set the pressure on it tonight. I do have a Co2 tank that I can fetch tomorrow. My plan is to keep it nearly closed and check tomorrow morning to regulate. I figure, if nothing else there is a prv on the Fermzilla. What say you?

Looking forward to getting better at this! In the mean time, I’ll keep drinking good beer that someone else brewed.
 

GoodTruble

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I would just leave the spunding valve nearly open not closed.

You don't need to capture pressure early on, and if fermentation takes off like a rocket (less likely but possible), you are looking at a 7 gallon plastic bomb if the valve doesn't work properly.

Just leave the spunding valve loose for now, adjust in the morning. Nothing bad is going to work back through it. But I wouldn't trust just leaving it all the way cranked from the outset.
 

DuncB

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Yes as it's a Fermzilla more likely bomb if not released, quite a few failures reported. I left my fermentasaurus locked shut by using a non return ball lock on the spunding valve and it chugged away releasing thru the prv at 35psi. Wheat beer came out surprisingly good.
But not a recommended tactic and I'd leave the prv open or even unscrewed slightly or taken out. Plenty of ales fermented in the " open " and no harm done so you'll be safer that way or even unscrew the lid a bit.
 

Wayne1

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When you do not sparge, and add the entire water volume to the mash, you should try to mill your grains very fine. I mill at .028"
I use 70% efficiency for grain bill calculation in BrewFather and I always hit the gravitiy I calculated. I prefer consistency over high efficiency.

The Brewzilla does allow you to calibrate the temp readout. Before you brew your next batch, bring your water up to mash in temps and check with at least two different thermometers. The you can set the correct temp for your location.

Based on your boil off, you can decide when you want to add your hops, I usually always boil for 90 min. with just the 1K coil on. If I am brewing a lower IBU beer, I will still boil for 90 min and then add hops at 60 min. For an IPA, I usually add first wort hops and boil for the entire 90 min.

You can check you gravity during the mash. When I first started using the 65L, I mashed for 90 min. I pulled samples of the liquid at 45 min., 60 min., 75., and 90 min. After they cooled down, I checked them with my refractometer. I did not notice any additional raise in gravity after 75 min. So that is what I do now.
75 min. mash with a raise to 170F for mash out for 10 min.

Most of the time, I do pre-pressure the fermzilla with about 10-12 psi to set the spunding valve. It is also helpful to pull a sample for my hydrometer.

Good luck in your future brewing!
 

Sonofastu

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Thanks! I bought the kit pre-milled. Based on what I’ve read on this forum, I expected my efficiency to be low. Could I have just boiled off until my target pre-boil was reached? Also, I had all three elements on while boiling. Turning any of them off seemed to result in lack of boil. I checked my Fermzilla this morning- no pressure, and very little activity (not that I really know). There was some activity in the collection vessel, but none to speak of and no Krausen (spelling?) on top.

Is my understanding correct that at some point (2 weeks?) I take a gravity measurement, and after three consecutive FG it’s “done”? I suppose my posts are wandering from the subject matter of this forum.

Anyway, thanks to all the folks who take time to share their experience, knowledge, and beer! I look forward to drinking my first beer made my myself, no matter how it turns out!
 

Wayne1

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Hello,
Could I have just boiled off until my target pre-boil was reached?

Yes, of course. But then you would have less volume and your hopping would be a bit off
Could I have just boiled off until my target pre-boil was reached?

A little more information for you, I live the the SW suburbs of Denver, CO My altitude is roughly 5500' Water boils at around 197-200 degrees F, depending on humidity.
I do not care for violent boils. I prefer more of a simmer. I keep the glass lid on the Brewzilla during the boil. The hole in the middle lets off enough steam. I use Fermcap S and just use the 1K element. I typically only evaporate about a liter an hour. This would be about the same if you used a steam condensing unit.

Is my understanding correct that at some point (2 weeks?) I take a gravity measurement, and after three consecutive FG it’s “done”?

That is one way of doing it. You could spend some more money and buy an iSpindel or Tilt to monitor the gravity and temperature during brewing. That way you can see exactly when the beer is done fermenting. Brewfather does work with both units so you can monitor the fermentation through that app.
There is an expensive spunding valve, iSpundit 2.0 That does come with an airlock. With this, sealed, unit, you can see the activity through the airlock.
When you are fermenting under pressure, the beer will become carbonated. That can throw off hydrometer readings. You will need to remove the carbonation. An easy way is to pour the sample back and forth between two containers until the carbonation is no more.

FWIW, I use both an iSpindel and the iSpundit 2.0;)
 

Civilian

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First mash in went good, was surprised it went together so easily. Thought there was not enough water in the malt pipe, but it went great.
Did throw the E3 code twice with both heaters on and seemed to have a melting smell. Pump was running and was not dry so not sure about that.
Mash almost done now.
Editing to add that I reached boil with both heaters on with no errors.
 
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chipmunk

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I cracked out the old Robobrew today for a brew day but realized I forgot to clean out the pump properly - so it was gummed up pretty good and the pump stopped working. I was impressed at how easy the Robobrew was to take apart - I was able to remove the pump and open it up to clean it properly - way easier than I thought it would be.
 

GoodTruble

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I cracked out the old Robobrew today for a brew day but realized I forgot to clean out the pump properly - so it was gummed up pretty good and the pump stopped working. I was impressed at how easy the Robobrew was to take apart - I was able to remove the pump and open it up to clean it properly - way easier than I thought it would be.

That's reassuring to hear. I have avoided disassembling the pump so far. But most of the other posts have suggested it is very annoying.
 

Wayne1

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DuncB,
Thanks for the information. I do not drink coffee, so I did not try that before.
I might pick up some to try it.
Cheers,
Wayne
 

Civilian

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Not sure why there was so much scorching.
IMG_20211211_231320615.jpg
 

RePete

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DuncB,
Thanks for the information. I do not drink coffee, so I did not try that before.
I might pick up some to try it.
Cheers,
Wayne
Have any of you tried brewing a coffee flavored beer? A friend bought a six pack of some and brought it over one evening this past summer. I think I had 3. It didn't occur to me that there might be caffeine in it. I was lying awake at 2 or 3 am wondering why. Then it hit me...oh no!
 

RePete

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I do not care for violent boils. I prefer more of a simmer. I keep the glass lid on the Brewzilla during the boil. The hole in the middle lets off enough steam. I use Fermcap S and just use the 1K element. I typically only evaporate about a liter an hour. This would be about the same if you used a steam condensing unit.

I wonder about this. One of the complaints I have read, at least about the 110v 35L unit, is that they don't boil strongly enough. I always set mine to boil as vigorously as I can. I can get what I would call a strong, rolling boil. But it's not the most vigorous.

I have read a number of articles stating that a vigorous boil is desired. This is one: hops and boiling (bavarianbrewerytech.com).
 

Civilian

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I've never had that much scorching. But the worst I've had was when I had both heating elements on while the malt pipe was in (-read later that the instructions say not to do that).
Good to know, I was guilty of that. That's probably why I got the error message i did.
I was doing a multi-step mash and thought I needed to move the heat up fast.
 

trarmer007

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Thanks! I bought the kit pre-milled. Based on what I’ve read on this forum, I expected my efficiency to be low. Could I have just boiled off until my target pre-boil was reached? Also, I had all three elements on while boiling. Turning any of them off seemed to result in lack of boil. I checked my Fermzilla this morning- no pressure, and very little activity (not that I really know). There was some activity in the collection vessel, but none to speak of and no Krausen (spelling?) on top.

Is my understanding correct that at some point (2 weeks?) I take a gravity measurement, and after three consecutive FG it’s “done”? I suppose my posts are wandering from the subject matter of this forum.

Anyway, thanks to all the folks who take time to share their experience, knowledge, and beer! I look forward to drinking my first beer made my myself, no matter how it turns out!
I am not sure if you did this or not, but next time make a yeast starter. I always do it out of habit. I pitch and for ales, I am about 99% fermented within 4-6 days. I rarely, if ever, go past 10 days. Probably the sketchiest product from my local homebrew store is the yeast as it is perishable in the package. But the beauty of yeast is that it revives well enough in a starter a day or two before brewing. I'd check gravity 2-3 days after it looks like it is done fermenting - whenever that is. Figure out your attenuation based upon OG and yeast profile and see if you are there, if not, go another few days, etc. You should be done in 2 weeks, definitely 3, but time is arbitrary, the function of the yeast is what you're after.

I'm an old brewer but new to the 65L, so take this advice with a grain of salt as I too am dialing in the machine, but I suspect rinsing grains with 170 sparge water is going to result in better efficiency than a full mash.

In my last 2 batches I started "over-sparging" a gallon and then boiling it back off before starting my "60 minute hop countdown" to get a little more efficiency. So, yes, you can definitely boil down to get to your pre-hop OG, and if you have a little less finished product, fine, but I suggest an extra rinse of the mash to get more sugars in the wort and clean up then for a full 5.5 or 11 gallons of finished wort. I suppose if you are trying to brew an award winning light lager or blonde, the extra boiling can slightly darken your beer. (You could read about this for hours). But for homebrewing, you may never really see a difference.
 

IanJ

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Theoretical question for people who have upgraded controllers from previous v3 versions... does it seem at all plausible that the v4 controller with wifi/bluetooth will have the same physical footprint, albeit in a different location on the v4, as the 3.1.1? Curious if we'd ever be able to upgrade that to get some of the technical features without the physical changes 🤞

(Seems unlikely to me but one can hope... would love to schedule and track remotely with a phone/app if possible, or even set up an endpoint for Brewfather to log data someday)
 

Sammy86

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Theoretical question for people who have upgraded controllers from previous v3 versions... does it seem at all plausible that the v4 controller with wifi/bluetooth will have the same physical footprint, albeit in a different location on the v4, as the 3.1.1? Curious if we'd ever be able to upgrade that to get some of the technical features without the physical changes 🤞

(Seems unlikely to me but one can hope... would love to schedule and track remotely with a phone/app if possible, or even set up an endpoint for Brewfather to log data someday)

Kai answered that question in the interview he did about the 4.0...you won't be able to upgrade...sad and silly mistake IMO.
 

IanJ

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Kai answered that question in the interview he did about the 4.0...you won't be able to upgrade...sad and silly mistake IMO.

Oh... damn it. Well that totally sucks.
 

IanJ

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@IanJ
SmartPID looks to do everything you want
That's so cool, thanks for sharing! I didn't even consider researching third party solutions (probably should have, being that the homebrew community is some of the most ingenious at constructing diy solutions for practically anything).
 

Sonofastu

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I am not sure if you did this or not, but next time make a yeast starter. I always do it out of habit. I pitch and for ales, I am about 99% fermented within 4-6 days. I rarely, if ever, go past 10 days. Probably the sketchiest product from my local homebrew store is the yeast as it is perishable in the package. But the beauty of yeast is that it revives well enough in a starter a day or two before brewing. I'd check gravity 2-3 days after it looks like it is done fermenting - whenever that is. Figure out your attenuation based upon OG and yeast profile and see if you are there, if not, go another few days, etc. You should be done in 2 weeks, definitely 3, but time is arbitrary, the function of the yeast is what you're after.

I'm an old brewer but new to the 65L, so take this advice with a grain of salt as I too am dialing in the machine, but I suspect rinsing grains with 170 sparge water is going to result in better efficiency than a full mash.

In my last 2 batches I started "over-sparging" a gallon and then boiling it back off before starting my "60 minute hop countdown" to get a little more efficiency. So, yes, you can definitely boil down to get to your pre-hop OG, and if you have a little less finished product, fine, but I suggest an extra rinse of the mash to get more sugars in the wort and clean up then for a full 5.5 or 11 gallons of finished wort. I suppose if you are trying to brew an award winning light lager or blonde, the extra boiling can slightly darken your beer. (You could read about this for hours). But for homebrewing, you may never really see a difference.
Thanks! I have so many ideas for how to get better and streamline my process. Looking forward to brewing my next kit as soon as this stout comes out of the fermenter.
 

Sonofastu

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Another question that’s been on my mind. Any hints as to what effects I should expect based on these two goof ups?

target gravity was a point low at 1.04, and volume was/is a 1/2gal more than expected.

Otherwise, it sure has been fun to watch the fermentation process. I find myself peeking in on it everyday. After the yeast took off I set the pressure on my spunding valve to 5psi. Not sure how that will effect things but at least I can put a picnic Tap on to get some gravity samples when the time comes. It sure does smell good in there!
This Friday will be 7days in the Fermzilla. Not a ton of activity. Some occasional bubbles in the wort, or is it beer now? Pressure is still stable.
Will the pressure drop off after the yeast is done?
Should I just let it finish at the current temp of 68F?
I guess my next round of questions will be related to cold crashing.
This weekend my plan is to get my kegs in order.
Thanks!
 

cactusgarrett

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target gravity was a point low at 1.04, and volume was/is a 1/2gal more than expected.

Do you mean those to be pre-boil or post-boil? Regardless, gravity was low (vs target) because the volume was high. I experienced this exact same thing the first go around with my 65L: my pre-boil was 0.5 gal higher than expected, and it turned out I needed to change to a more appropriate grain absorption factor (I was using one for my previous cooler MLT setup). The absorption factor should be in the neighborhood of 0.38 qt/lb (I've confirmed this across a few different platforms/references).
 

Sonofastu

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Do you mean those to be pre-boil or post-boil? Regardless, gravity was low (vs target) because the volume was high. I experienced this exact same thing the first go around with my 65L: my pre-boil was 0.5 gal higher than expected, and it turned out I needed to change to a more appropriate grain absorption factor (I was using one for my previous cooler MLT setup). The absorption factor should be in the neighborhood of 0.38 qt/lb (I've confirmed this across a few different platforms/references).
Sorry for the lack of clarification! And apparently misinformation hahaha. I just looked at my notes.
Pre-boil target was 1.05, I achieved 1.04
OG target was 1.063, I achieved 1.05
Batch size target was 5.5gal, I wound up with 6gal.
What deficiencies should I expect in the beer?

thanks!
 

Sonofastu

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Okay. What about target Final Gravity? Will this still be the same as the recipe or will it finish at a different number. I’m just trying to understand how the fermentation is effected. Is there a good resource anyone would recommend to get a better understanding of all the variables that go into the fermentation process?
 

DuncB

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DuncB,
Thanks for the information. I do not drink coffee, so I did not try that before.
I might pick up some to try it.
Cheers,
Wayne
A bit of kitchen towel folded to the cone shape in a funnel is very easy and goes direct into your collecting vessel then.
 

DuncB

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@IanJ
I just installed the smartpid on my Guten 70 last sunday. Haven't had a chance to calibrate it yet but it looks very promising. I took a load of pictures during the install and lots of notes and was planning on a powerpoint of this on youtube. I was quite confused with the various circuit diagrams but actually it was a lot simpler to install than I thought.
Any one on this forum installed one and can give me a few step by steps on the calibration please, Davide at Smartpid suggests a much better effect with individual tuning for each system.
I'm delving into Brewfather as well because the smartpid integrates with that as well so the brew profile can be set up on the desktop rather than on the controller or using the app.
 

trarmer007

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Okay. What about target Final Gravity? Will this still be the same as the recipe or will it finish at a different number. I’m just trying to understand how the fermentation is effected. Is there a good resource anyone would recommend to get a better understanding of all the variables that go into the fermentation process?
Find your yeast attenuation %. Multiply the OG by the % reduction and you’ll get an idea of the final gravity. Your final gravity will be lower because your starting gravity was lower. It is not directly proportional because alcohol is lighter than water and some other factors but will be close to the amount lower. Your beer may have a lighter mouthfeel and flavor profile, and the hops will taste a bit more as your malt body was lower. But all in all you’ll probably find it is fine and enjoyable.
 

Sonofastu

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Find your yeast attenuation %. Multiply the OG by the % reduction and you’ll get an idea of the final gravity. Your final gravity will be lower because your starting gravity was lower. It is not directly proportional because alcohol is lighter than water and some other factors but will be close to the amount lower. Your beer may have a lighter mouthfeel and flavor profile, and the hops will taste a bit more as your malt body was lower. But all in all you’ll probably find it is fine and enjoyable.
This is exactly the feedback I’m looking for! Thank you so much. Enjoying a Narwhal as I type
 

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Did my second partigyle brew day yesterday. A main porter brew and second dopplebock brew.

I used my biggest grain bill yet in the 35L (14 lbs). I remembered to throw in a few handfuls of rice hulls and WOW that made a difference. Much easier recirculation and stirring.

One major issue though -checked the 35L thermometer with two separate thermometers & the Brewzilla thermometer was off by 29F degrees! Guess I know why my beers have been winding up so dry. With that much of a difference, I may try to recalibrate


E895A409-C93A-4114-AECA-B6E76616AF3A.jpeg
 
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Sammy86

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Did my second partigyle brew day yesterday. A main porter brew and second dooplebock brew.

I used my biggest grain bill yet in the 35L (14 lbs). I remembered to throw in a few handfuls of rice hulls and WOW that made a difference. Much easier recirculation and stirring.

One major issue though -checked the 35L thermometer with two separate thermometers & the Brewzilla thermometer was off by 29F degrees! Guess I know why my beers have been winding up so dry. With that much of a difference, I may try to recalibrate


View attachment 752833

That is a huge difference! I wonder why such a big difference?!?
 

GoodTruble

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I don't know. The brewzilla thermometer is at the bottom near the heating element, and that probe was about 6-10 inches into the mash from the top, but I would not have expected that much difference (even in a thicker mash).

To be fair, it was only 5-10 degrees F off after I pulled the grains. But I'm definitely going to bump up my mashing temps.
 

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Well phew.
I've just read the entire thread in one sitting. Awaiting my award eagerly... :)

I'm sure there's things I've forgotten to comment on, but here's my Brewzilla 35 litre experience. I'm in New Zealand so unapologetically use metric figures, can't get my head around US/UK gallons (why are they different?) and farenheit... :D

I was given it in May 2021 and have done 14 brews now, all different bar the NZ Pilsner I am currently supping (that was so good I've re-brewed it for xmas day)...

I use Brewfather for all my recipe calculations, and haven't had any issues, except for a couple where the mash was too thick so I added an extra litre of water (sparged less to compensate)...

I sparge by pouring a litre at a time over the top screen. The only time I removed the screen the gravity was a little low, and I put that down to channels forming. And it's only when I've lost count sparging that I've thought I may need a sight glass. Lifting the pipe to check levels wasn't a big deal, just a little awkward...

I also have family commitments so like brewing early in the AM. Generally fill sparge urn and Brewzilla the night before and just turn on first thing, it heats while I am getting prepped. I like manually operating it so have never used the program function...

I too use hot water from chilling for cleanup. Generally run a PBW mix through the unit then rinse well. A tip I picked up for stubborn deposits was to use a microfibre cloth and vinegar. Any hard deposits rub off easily, then again a good rinse and I store upside down to drain dry...

After sparging I lift the pipe into a large sanitised bucket. A lot of sweet wort collects while I am setting up the boil...

Boilovers happen, but I just turn the tap on and collect in a 5 litre measuring jug until it settles into a rolling boil, and pour back in...

I use a hop spider that fits inside the supplied s/s chiller coil. So post boil hop additions are easy. A tip I've just picked up from here is to give this a stir to maximize hop utilisation...

I made a stepped brew bench with 3 levels so the BZ, bottling bucket and scales etc are all at a good working height...

I always set flow at the tap so nothing flows through the overflow. Often quite slow at the beginning but have always met (and usually exceed) targets...

I measure temp at the output of the pump, and change the controller set point to get output temp to match the recipe...

I just use the tap to drain into fermenter, through a sieve to catch any bits and to add aeration. Usually tilt it at the end to maximize volumes, stopping just before the gluggy bits.

I use a whirlpool arm but mainly for rapid heating/cooling as I use a hop spider. I never use the pump at boiling temp, and have found the 1900W element keeps the rolling boil just right on it's own (NZ has 240V single phase supply)...

And that's pretty much it. Look forward to gaining knowledge from this forum and trying new methods...

Sorry about the rambling post but I've just read 25 pages, and I'm trying to comment on things I remembered.

Also, think I've talked to @DuncB on another forum... :)
 

RePete

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Well phew.
I've just read the entire thread in one sitting. Awaiting my award eagerly... :)

I'm sure there's things I've forgotten to comment on, but here's my Brewzilla 35 litre experience. I'm in New Zealand so unapologetically use metric figures, can't get my head around US/UK gallons (why are they different?) and farenheit... :D

I was given it in May 2021 and have done 14 brews now, all different bar the NZ Pilsner I am currently supping (that was so good I've re-brewed it for xmas day)...

I use Brewfather for all my recipe calculations, and haven't had any issues, except for a couple where the mash was too thick so I added an extra litre of water (sparged less to compensate)...

I sparge by pouring a litre at a time over the top screen. The only time I removed the screen the gravity was a little low, and I put that down to channels forming. And it's only when I've lost count sparging that I've thought I may need a sight glass. Lifting the pipe to check levels wasn't a big deal, just a little awkward...

I also have family commitments so like brewing early in the AM. Generally fill sparge urn and Brewzilla the night before and just turn on first thing, it heats while I am getting prepped. I like manually operating it so have never used the program function...

I too use hot water from chilling for cleanup. Generally run a PBW mix through the unit then rinse well. A tip I picked up for stubborn deposits was to use a microfibre cloth and vinegar. Any hard deposits rub off easily, then again a good rinse and I store upside down to drain dry...

After sparging I lift the pipe into a large sanitised bucket. A lot of sweet wort collects while I am setting up the boil...

Boilovers happen, but I just turn the tap on and collect in a 5 litre measuring jug until it settles into a rolling boil, and pour back in...

I use a hop spider that fits inside the supplied s/s chiller coil. So post boil hop additions are easy. A tip I've just picked up from here is to give this a stir to maximize hop utilisation...

I made a stepped brew bench with 3 levels so the BZ, bottling bucket and scales etc are all at a good working height...

I always set flow at the tap so nothing flows through the overflow. Often quite slow at the beginning but have always met (and usually exceed) targets...

I measure temp at the output of the pump, and change the controller set point to get output temp to match the recipe...

I just use the tap to drain into fermenter, through a sieve to catch any bits and to add aeration. Usually tilt it at the end to maximize volumes, stopping just before the gluggy bits.

I use a whirlpool arm but mainly for rapid heating/cooling as I use a hop spider. I never use the pump at boiling temp, and have found the 1900W element keeps the rolling boil just right on it's own (NZ has 240V single phase supply)...

And that's pretty much it. Look forward to gaining knowledge from this forum and trying new methods...

Sorry about the rambling post but I've just read 25 pages, and I'm trying to comment on things I remembered.

Also, think I've talked to @DuncB on another forum... :)
Welcome. You read all that in one sitting? I’m impressed.
 
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