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Sammy86

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Happy to announce my smoothest brew day yet with the Brewzilla.

I took some time to re-read this thread and look for little changes.

I mixed in rice hulls evenly during dough-in in several small handfulls, and had a much smoother recirculation despite a larger than normal grain bill. I only had to throttle the recirc pipe about halfway, and there was no rise/overflow needed. (I also just left the lid off so it was easier to monitor the liquid level on top).

I put a nylon BIAB under/around the malt pipe, but went back to using the center pipe and top screen. The BIAB is a failsafe in case grains escape the malt pipe somewhere (which didn't happen today), and it stays in place after I remove the malt pipe so that I can just toss hops in without a hop screen (which winds up being simpler/faster for me).

To speed things up, I only left the malt pipe on top for a few minutes after removing, and then just set in it a separate side pot to finish draining (and a small sparge). Then I just dumped the wort from the side pot back into the Brewzilla later during the boil.

I also used the overnight timer to get my water to temp about 30 minutes before I woke up. It meant skipping a lot of my step mashing, but absolutely worth the trade off in time savings.

My efficiency was a bit lower this time. But not by much (70%). I'm guessing it's because my mash was shorter overall.

But overall, it definitely feels like I'm getting closer to getting my process/approach nailed down.

Congratulations! Nothing like a smooth brew day! It's good for the soul! :mug:
 

rmr9

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Happy to announce my smoothest brew day yet with the Brewzilla.

I took some time to re-read this thread and look for little changes.

I mixed in rice hulls evenly during dough-in in several small handfulls, and had a much smoother recirculation despite a larger than normal grain bill. I only had to throttle the recirc pipe about halfway, and there was no rise/overflow needed. (I also just left the lid off so it was easier to monitor the liquid level on top).

I put a nylon BIAB under/around the malt pipe, but went back to using the center pipe and top screen. The BIAB is a failsafe in case grains escape the malt pipe somewhere (which didn't happen today), and it stays in place after I remove the malt pipe so that I can just toss hops in without a hop screen (which winds up being simpler/faster for me).

To speed things up, I only left the malt pipe on top for a few minutes after removing, and then just set in it a separate side pot to finish draining (and a small sparge). Then I just dumped the wort from the side pot back into the Brewzilla later during the boil.

I also used the overnight timer to get my water to temp about 30 minutes before I woke up. It meant skipping a lot of my step mashing, but absolutely worth the trade off in time savings.

My efficiency was a bit lower this time. But not by much (70%). I'm guessing it's because my mash was shorter overall.

But overall, it definitely feels like I'm getting closer to getting my process/approach nailed down.

I was thinking of trying something similar with a BIAB - what size did you use? No worries about melting on the heating element?
 

IanJ

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My efficiency was a bit lower this time. But not by much (70%). I'm guessing it's because my mash was shorter overall.

But overall, it definitely feels like I'm getting closer to getting my process/approach nailed down.

Great to hear it! I'm in the same situation myself, and it feels good when things mostly work out as they should.

Just brewed today and overall it was a smoother process - though to be fair it was my first time doing a full volume 3 gallon NEIPA with a good amount of wheat and oats, so I added 8oz of rice hulls and stirred 4x during the mash. My approach was to mill the finest stuff first so it would be at the bottom of a bucket and the top of the mash when pouring it all in. Flaked oats and wheat first, with a bed of rice sandwiched between that and the 2-row, working as a cake or something to keep the finer gummy stuff higher in the malt pipe. Combined, that seemed to work - although volume calculation in Brewfather was about 1/2 gallon off due to absorption, so I had to sparge with some extra water, not a huge deal. Almost hit my numbers, managed ~68% mash efficiency when the automatic number plugged in 75 by default, so that may be part of it.

Still can not get the right temperatures though, between the heating element being so off vs core vs top temp, it's absolutely irritating lying on the floor 5x during mash to change the temperature. Next time I'm going to totally ignore any temp readouts from the BrewZilla and just calculate proper strike temps and see how long the neoprene jacket can maintain that before conversion. It worked for a cooler for a decade, so should be fine. Although step mashing may never be possible if I can never get accuracy, which sucks. So much for proper Belgian styles.

Anyhow, end of my rant too, cheers to a good brew day!
 

GoodTruble

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I was thinking of trying something similar with a BIAB - what size did you use? No worries about melting on the heating element?

The bags I use are 26"x22" (see below).

I've had no issues with melting/scorching. But I don't use both heating elements while the malt pipe is inserted (per manufacturer instructions).

I've done it with the bag inside the malt pipe (with no center pipe) and with the bag on the outside of the malt pipe. I think I prefer out side. I pull the the top of the bag over the two exterior handles (to help hold it up) but above the clamps so you can still clamp down the lid (then tighten the draw string).

The only problems this has caused is if the wort gets too close to the top (starts hitting the side holes on the malt pipe), then it can soak up the BIAB and start to drip over the sides a bit. But if you control flow so it doesn't get that high, you're fine.

Brew Bag, 2 Pack Extra Large (26" x 22") Straining Bag,Reusable Cold Brew Bags Fine Mesh Bag for Fruit Cider Apple Grape Wine Press Drawstring Straining Brew in a Bag Amazon.com
 

GoodTruble

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Quick Note - Maybe a lot of you already knew this, but the Brewzilla 4 was just released in Australia in the past month. It will probably be available in other countries in about 6 months (production & logistics delays aside).

It has some interesting new features & upgrades over the current Bewzilla 3.1.1 (including 30% larger malt pipe capacity, redesigned heating elements, plug-in/moveable wifi/bluetooth control panel, bottom-point drain, more accessible pump & plumbing, multiple temp probe location options & built in spray cleaner capability).

It sounds like they spent a lot of time redesigning it to address many of the issues identified by users (& discussed in this thread). So I would research that before buying a 3.1.1 at this time, in case you decide the extra 6 month wait would be worth it.

Also, KegLand regularly responds to comments in this Australian Homebrewing thread. So it can be a good source for Brewzilla news/updates (and other KegLand product news).


 

DuncB

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Looks like the tap drains via the pump which is interesting from the bottom view.

Drain hole appears to be in the middle of dished base good for emptying but you won't be able to whirlpool without the bottom screen in and we've seen plenty of issues with that screen on the forums.
Doesn't mention a controller that uses a PID algorithm so it's probably just on and off so average temp control again, regardless of how many sensors you put on. Which are all addons.
I'd rather see a metal lid so that you could fit a condenser for the boil as well.
No sight glass either which will be a pain.
I think retrofit a smartpid integrated to brewfather and has app control so no need to bend down. Add the collar to increase capacity and a sightglass, metal lid and you'll be in better shape with a 3.1 than the new 4.
4 is bound to have problems at the start.
 

GoodTruble

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Collar increases capacity for the boil & maybe more liquid, but not for grains. One of the things I think is most interesting is the increased malt pipe size. The website says the old collars will still work. So I wonder if new malt pipe would also work in older units? If so, 10-gallon & higher gravity beers become a lot more feasible.

I think the description said you could change up the connections underneath, but I don't see exactly how. I agree relying on the screen alone seems risky, but I wonder if they've upgraded the screen somehow (maybe just added a bottom sink filter). The photos suggest they've ditched the center pipe altogether.
 

GoodTruble

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Speaking of which - Williams Brewing has the boiler extension for 65L. That's the first I've seen it for sale in the States.


I plan to get the 35L extension when it becomes available.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Of course, if they had originally designed it with 80L capacity, such kludges (and leaks waiting to happen) would not have been necessary for the vast majority of us.
 

GoodTruble

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Yeah, I wouldn't trust the extender below the actual liquid line. But it may allow you to do 8-9 gallon batches & still be reasonably safe from boil overs. I'm at least curious enough to find out.
 
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Mac MacFarlane

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l7PXVL.jpg

Received today everything is very snug.
 

GoodTruble

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Another smooth, double-brew partigyle brew day!

Two quick points - 1) mixing in little handfuls of rice hulls as you dough in really helps with recirculation. 2) I realized while doughing in that all my grains were likely not going to fit in the malt pipe (or it was going to be so close that it may cause problems), and so I just kept 2-4 lbs to just BIAB after I pulled the malt pipe (which I let drain in a separate kettle). It added 30-45 minutes to the brewing, but way easier than dealing with an over-stuffed malt pipe. - and my efficiency was actually better than expected (79%)).

Also, re-confirmed two things. Running the pump over 185F really, really increases the odds of boil over (I just turned it on for about 30 seconds to mix in something, and the foam rose about halfway up the remaining space). Also, just keeping the lid off during the boil helps prevent boil overs.
 
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GoodTruble

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I also posted on the Aussiehomebrewer site to ask about the Brewzilla Gen 4's larger malt pipe, and it sounds like it might actually be backwards compatible to older models if you also replace the bottom screen as well. Because the new malt pipe is taller, the bottom screen needs to sit lower. I'm a bit concerned about the less space on bottom reducing recirculation and increasing scorching, but depending on the price of the new components, I may try it because adding 30% more space in the malt pipe would be nice.
 

GoodTruble

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Morebeer is having a Brewzilla sale that is $50-$70 off and you get a free recipe kit. It appears you can pick ANY kit. I tested it with $53 kit, and the coupon code took off the whole price.

So not a bad sale/offer. (But I guess most people here already own one =c) ).
 

IanJ

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Wonder if they're trying to unload as many 3.1.1 units to clear up some space for eventually getting the next one in, even though they were supposedly keeping both versions "active" production versions.

It looks like Digiboils are on sale too. Could really use a HLT but $179 for the DB electric kettle still seems too expensive for such a singular purpose.
 

GoodTruble

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Yeah, but if you were looking for an excuse to buy a Gen 3.1.1, that's not a bad sale.

My guess is the Gen 4's won't be available in the US for at least 6 months. And as others mentioned, the first iteration may have some kinks to work out.

If you want to wait on a Gen 4, fair enough. But it may be a long wait.
 

RePete

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I fired up my Robobrew today. I brewed the Dortmunder lager recipe that I often do. I really only have about 4-5 basic recipes that I brew at this point At any rate, when I turned on the unit, I got an error message. E4. I’ve gotten it before when it was cold. I went upstairs, heated a teakettle of boiling water. then poured that into a couple gallons of water that I had added to the unit. Plugged it in and it was fine.
 
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GoodTruble

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Morebeer has the 35L boil extension in stock for US......


Unfortunately, I got impatient and just did my homebrewing purchases for the few months over the weekend. So I probably won't be ordering this until Spring (when it will surely be out of stock =c) ).
 

RePete

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@RePete - I've never gotten that message. You mean the water was cold or the room the brewzilla was in was cold?
The room was cold. I brew in my garage, and it was below freezing. The E4 message is supposed to indicate that the unit has overheated. I've gotten it a couple times now when Ive turned it on when cold.
 

stealthfixr

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Brewing with a 65L and looking to do a Wheatwine for a Nov local competition. It occurred to me that even a sub-5 gallon batch size is above the minimum grain bill--a 3-gallon recipe has almost 13lbs of malt in it. I just do not think that I "need" 5 gallons of a 11% ABV beer and that a 2.5 gal batch would be perfect.

Has anyone brewed high gravity, less than 5 gallon batches in a 65L? Is this possible or easily doable?
 

DuncB

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So about 6kg of malt, 3litres per kilo would be 18litres mash, lose 0.75 litre per kg would leave 13.5 litres of wort post draining maybe a bit more if you squeeze.

that's 3.5 gallons then boil loss and transfer loss would be under 3.5 gallons.

I have used my guten 70 with around 5kg of grain and 3.5 litres per kg. It will work but I think your efficiency might only be about 60 percent.

You'd be worth thinking about more mash water perhaps and then remove some wort if needed and do a partigyle with what you take off and a sparge of the grains.

I wouldn't run the pump flat out for that little water.

You could remove the top ring that stops the malt pipe dropping down and instead rig up some way to support the basket from the bottom or suspend it on a rope during the mash this would reduce your dead space but would move the grains closer to the element.
 

GoodTruble

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Tried some new yesterday. After doughing in the grains, the liquid level was too high to remove the rubber stopped and replace it with the metal cone/drain in the middle. So I just balanced the top screen on the rubber stopper with 1/2 inch of deadspace on all sides. It mostly worked. At one point it, tilted enough that a small amount of grain escaped on top, but it stayed there above the screen and didn't get into the wort.

I don't recommend doing this on purpose, but fyi, it can work.

But if I have the same issue again, I will probably try to draining some wort in order to get the top screen on properly, and then slowly adding it back in (or maybe boil it a bit for decoction).
 

GoodTruble

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I didn't use the top screen before but have started using it again because (1) it guards against grain getting sucked back into the pump & (2) it does seems to help diffuse the recirculating wort so that it flows & whirpools more easily (and makes it easier to observe if the liquid level on top is rising too fast).

But yeah, it probably just comes down to personal preference. I think in one of KegLand's videos, they say that even the KegLand staff are split 50-50 on whether they use the top screen.
 

DuncB

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I think the top screen is good for spreading out the recirculation without jetting a hole in the mash bed. I have my tube out of the liquid to stop the suck back as that is a very irritating problem when it occurs.
But the top screen does stop me from stirring the mash every now and then.
 
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trarmer007

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Scorching - again. Just did my 5th batch through the 65l. Caught 2 E3 error codes during boil. When the wort was chilled and pumped out I went to clean and there was scorched hot break/hops on the bottom. After spraying and scrubbing with nylon brush this is what the bottom looked like. I boiled with baking soda, boiled with oxy-clean, scraped with plastic putty knife and final hit it with bar keepers friend and magic eraser. A. Why am I scorching so bad? I use the top screen, had 25 pounds of grain and use muslin for hops. 2. Did I mess up the coating/surface of pot with scrubbing methods?
 

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Cloud Surfer

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Scorching - again. Just did my 5th batch through the 65l. Caught 2 E3 error codes during boil. When the wort was chilled and pumped out I went to clean and there was scorched hot break/hops on the bottom. After spraying and scrubbing with nylon brush this is what the bottom looked like. I boiled with baking soda, boiled with oxy-clean, scraped with plastic putty knife and final hit it with bar keepers friend and magic eraser. A. Why am I scorching so bad? I use the top screen, had 25 pounds of grain and use muslin for hops. 2. Did I mess up the coating/surface of pot with scrubbing methods?
Did you use the bottom screen/filter? I get a huge hot break and trub cone at the end of boil on my bottom screen. Nothing much settles under that onto the bottom of the unit. So I’ve never seen any scorching. I also never use any mechanical cleaning. I only use PBW, soaked for a couple of hours at 40C and rinsed with clean 40C water and my unit still looks pretty new.
 

trarmer007

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Did you use the bottom screen/filter? I get a huge hot break and trub cone at the end of boil on my bottom screen. Nothing much settles under that onto the bottom of the unit. So I’ve never seen any scorching. I also never use any mechanical cleaning. I only use PBW, soaked for a couple of hours at 40C and rinsed with clean 40C water and my unit still looks pretty new.
This is a 3.1.1 unit. I use the false bottom, the bottom screen of the malt pipe, the center pole, and topped with the grain bed screen. My false bottom collected a good bit of gunk, but during the boil this thing is scorching. I am going to assume that I need to turn off a burner. What else? And, normally I would only use PBW to clean but that would get the scorch loose.
 
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