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Shopping for a reasonably priced eBrew system

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christyle

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So I've been brewing on the usual coolers and propane fired kettle for awhile and want to make the move to electric for multiple reasons. I've been looking at the options and have a few systems in sight, each with a drawback or two...

https://www.morebeer.com/products/robobrew-v3-grain-brewing-system-pump-35l925g.html
Robobrew/mash-n-boil/grainfather ($400-800)- Small capacity, slower 120V heating/boiling times, questionable reliability of some systems but it's compact, automated, simple and easily portable

https://www.highgravitybrew.com/sto...c-Wort-Hog-5-10-Gallon-BIAB-240V-445p3987.htm
Wort Hog 240V 10Gal ($1000)- Still uses a bag for a filter, somewhat simplistic setup but it has good capacity, 240V power, as simple a 240V system as I've seen, compact-ish, simple-ish. (BrewBoss is similar with a minor benefit of a dedicated filter/infusion setup, not worth the $600+ premium to me) https://www.brew-boss.com/Brew-Boss-Homebrew-System-p/bb-15dlx.htm

The next step up I've seen is something like a Blichman BrewEasy for ~$2200, (https://www.morebeer.com/products/blichmann-breweasy-electric-brewery-10-gal-turnkey-kit-240v.html) which doesn't warrant the price to me, upon brief inspection. I could also build my own, but I need to do lots of research to get there, and I'm not too confident in my wiring abilities, plus everyone says it ends up being about as much as much as something like the Wort Hog setup. Maybe I'm missing something though?

My main goals are electric (ideally 240V), simple/compact, reliable, expandable feature wise, mash temp control and ease of use. Are there any other systems/kits/DIY options i'm missing that anyone would recommend? I'm looking to spend in the neighborhood of $800-1800 and planned to ditch all my propane gear to simplify/consolidate
 
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christyle

christyle

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o0o0o0o nice. That's what i was looking for. Stretching the budget, but gains some serious features I like
 

dbrewski

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My version has a pid controller not a touchscreen, but other than that I can answer any questions about it.
 

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christyle

christyle

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@dbrewski What items do you like and dislike about it? Its very nice, but definitely a premium over the worthog one I posted, enough that I'm not certain if it's worth it or not. The controller difference would be a main point of interest, but yours is different...so, hard to answer those types of questions.
 

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I recently bought brewers edge mash and boil.

It doesn't have as many bells and whistles as some of the others but it gets the job done.
 

dbrewski

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@dbrewski What items do you like and dislike about it? Its very nice, but definitely a premium over the worthog one I posted, enough that I'm not certain if it's worth it or not. The controller difference would be a main point of interest, but yours is different...so, hard to answer those types of questions.
The worthog controller is really nice, I'd say the biggest difference would be the kettle quality, and the use of triclamps in the Colorado brewing setup, it's really top notch. Also the overhead lift is built in so you don't need to add anything to get going. If you are looking at 10G batches you'll probably want a 20G kettle...with grain in there I routinely top 17G total volume. So that adds some $$ to the worthog setup. Like I said I can't comment on the touchscreen, which did cause a price increase. I got mine for under $1500 as one of the last pid versions. Cons, there is a ton of dead space under the basket due to the element. So I currently start with water volume around 9-10G for a 5G batch or 14-15G for a 10G batch. So I use more grain than before, but I think that is typical of BIAB systems.
 

Jayjay1976

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If you are handy you might consider DIY, I built my own system similar to the wort hog for about $500. I have about 20 batches on it now and I am extremely happy with this setup. Here is a thread about the controller I built, including a diagram for a dual-circuit setup that runs on two separate 120v circuits for effectively 220v performance that can be operated in a typical residential kitchen. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/...th-automated-step-mashing-and-boiling.628573/

One of the big advantages my setup has over the wort hog is the Auber EZ boil controller which automates step mashing and regulates the boil to prevent boilovers. Sure brewing outside is nice when the weather cooperates, but I can brew every weekend all year round in my kitchen. Here is a pic of the whole setup, which is on wheels so I can store it in the laundry room when not in use. Above the kettle is a hoisting point made of iron pipe, and mounted on the rear verticals is a DIY copper counterflow chiller; I mash with full volume 8.75 gallons and recirc throughout the mash and boil which provides consistently high efficiencies. A KegKing MKII wort pump is mounted under the kettle shelf and allows the entire system to gravity drain through the pump when switched off into a carboy that sits on the floor. Zero wasted wort.
Brew rig.jpg
 
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dbrewski

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Is the auber unit just the pid controller component? That might be something I'd integrate into my system if so.
 

Jayjay1976

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Is the auber unit just the pid controller component? That might be something I'd integrate into my system if so.
It's like a pid but so much more... It's like a pid on steroids with features specifically designed to suit the needs of homebrewers with programmable step mash and boil modes. Hands down the best ~$75 I've ever spent in the hobby.
Edit: I have the DSPR-310, it's worth it's weight in gold.
 
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daveMN

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It's like a pid but so much more... It's like a pid on steroids with features specifically designed to suit the needs of homebrewers with programmable step mash and boil modes. Hands down the best ~$75 I've ever spent in the hobby.
Edit: I have the DSRP-310, it's worth it's weight in gold.
+1 to the EZ Boil controller. I also have the 310 controller and it's been a great investment.
 
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christyle

christyle

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So @dbrewski and @Jayjay1976 it looks like the kits that @mirthfuldragon posted would be a good DIY option and then source my own kettle/element/pump/etc? The deadspace part is unfortunate but seems fairly common with the style. If I get a new kettle and retrofit it for BIAB myself, it may net me a system pretty similar to the Wart Hog but for a bit cheaper. I'd really like to be able to understand the features and useability of the worthog controller.
 

Jayjay1976

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So @dbrewski and @Jayjay1976 it looks like the kits that @mirthfuldragon posted would be a good DIY option and then source my own kettle/element/pump/etc? The deadspace part is unfortunate but seems fairly common with the style. If I get a new kettle and retrofit it for BIAB myself, it may net me a system pretty similar to the Wart Hog but for a bit cheaper. I'd really like to be able to understand the features and useability of the worthog controller.
Those Auber kits are built just like industrial controllers which to me is a bit overkill for homebrewing. They might be bulletproof, loaded with top-of-the-line componentry and worth every penny, but personally I'd rather source just the level of components I need and skip the big fancy light up switches, engraved label plaques and hinged steel enclosure, while saving myself a couple hundred bucks. My controller might use drawer pulls as panel guards, a plastic junction box for a housing, lacks a keyed power switch and heck it doesn't even have an alarm, but its not flimsy by any measure. OTOH those Auber kits are serious bling and fun to show off, although friends seem impressed by my 100% DIY brewery. YMMV.
 
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christyle

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Those Auber kits are built just like industrial controllers which to me is a bit overkill for homebrewing.
I know what you mean, I think these giant boxes and junk for a simple operation are overkill. I'm just timid on the wiring and component selection part...which is why I like the pre-made ones like the wort hog or a kit like that Auber. I'm at the point where I just want this thing to work, and don't care too much about building it myself.
 

Jayjay1976

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I know what you mean, I think these giant boxes and junk for a simple operation are overkill. I'm just timid on the wiring and component selection part...which is why I like the pre-made ones like the wort hog or a kit like that Auber. I'm at the point where I just want this thing to work, and don't care too much about building it myself.
That's a perfect rationale for buying the Auber kit. They make excellent stuff and really you can't go wrong. What's peace of mind worth when you're playing with boiling liquids and 220V current???
 
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christyle

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After looking at the different controllers on youtube, it seems the Wort Hog is just a built version of the parts kit I mentioned, the controller seems to be an ezboil, or performers and looks identical... I feel like that Full worthog system may be the way to go...

If I just wanted a 5 gallon setup, the clawhammer one looks great too. All inclusive with the kind of parts I want.
https://www.clawhammersupply.com/co...ts/digital-electric-120v-homebrew-beer-system
 

Andrew Hodgson

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After looking at the different controllers on youtube, it seems the Wort Hog is just a built version of the parts kit I mentioned, the controller seems to be an ezboil, or performers and looks identical... I feel like that Full worthog system may be the way to go...

If I just wanted a 5 gallon setup, the clawhammer one looks great too. All inclusive with the kind of parts I want.
https://www.clawhammersupply.com/co...ts/digital-electric-120v-homebrew-beer-system
Really just lurked into this thread, as a kitchen-stove warrior if I were looking to get into eBIAB that looks pretty cool to me, but I have 0 experience with this type of equipment.
 
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christyle

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Really just lurked into this thread, as a kitchen-stove warrior if I were looking to get into eBIAB that looks pretty cool to me, but I have 0 experience with this type of equipment.
It's a really nice all in one system for 5 gallons. Better looking to me than the robobrew just because the items all look more robust and purpose built, but not quite as simple
 

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After looking at the different controllers on youtube, it seems the Wort Hog is just a built version of the parts kit I mentioned, the controller seems to be an ezboil, or performers and looks identical... I feel like that Full worthog system may be the way to go...

If I just wanted a 5 gallon setup, the clawhammer one looks great too. All inclusive with the kind of parts I want.
https://www.clawhammersupply.com/co...ts/digital-electric-120v-homebrew-beer-system
That clawhammer unit looks pretty sweet, but be aware that it only has a PID controller which lacks all the neato programming features of the EZ-boil, and since it is an integrated unit you can't upgrade it later. The EZ-boil can do up to 7 step mashing routines that makes precisely following complex traditional mashing schedules push-button simple, which is a massive benefit. I'd at least read the manual before deciding on something else.
 
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dbrewski

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That's a very good price, but it's a 110V system, it will take a long while to get 6-7 gallons to a boil. I think the PID controller is fine if you are ok with manually running the system which is what I'm doing now. How hard is it to change the temperature? You push up or down.
 

azdavid

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Have you looked at or considered the Brew-Boss system ?
I recently bought the 20 gallon system after a fair amount of research and have put 4 batches through it and Love it.
IMHO it is definitely worth a look. everything you need in a well thought out package and the controller is top notch.
 

Jayjay1976

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That's a very good price, but it's a 110V system, it will take a long while to get 6-7 gallons to a boil. I think the PID controller is fine if you are ok with manually running the system which is what I'm doing now. How hard is it to change the temperature? You push up or down.
Mine is a dual circuit 110v system with two 1650W elements, so effectively 220v performance with 3300W of output. It ramps up to a boil in the time it takes to let the bag drain and give it a squeeze. Building codes in most places require kitchens to have at least two separate 20A circuits, so I just plug the primary cord in to a GFCI outlet on the counter to power the controller, pump, and element 1, and another cord into a GFCI outlet on the opposite counter which powers just the 2nd element.

Edit: forgot to mention, the beauty of the EZ-boil is the ability to ramp up to a boil at 100% output, then just as it reaches 210 it tapers power output to whatever percentage you set to maintain a boil without risk of a boilover; 80% in my case. If you brew indoors like I do, any chance of boiling over is a risk I can't afford to take.
 
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christyle

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That's a very good price, but it's a 110V system, it will take a long while to get 6-7 gallons to a boil. I think the PID controller is fine if you are ok with manually running the system which is what I'm doing now. How hard is it to change the temperature? You push up or down.
Agreed. I was more likening it to something like the RoboBrew. If I was looking for 110v/5gal, i'd be all over that one, but I'm looking for 240v either way though.

Have you looked at or considered the Brew-Boss system ?
I recently bought the 20 gallon system after a fair amount of research and have put 4 batches through it and Love it.
IMHO it is definitely worth a look. everything you need in a well thought out package and the controller is top notch.
I'm just not really a fan of the system and what it offers for that price point. I actually don't like their controller, I don't need an app to adjust a few temperatures. I feel something like a normal PID is perfect for me, at least right now.
 
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christyle

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Ended up getting the High Gravity 240v system with the Blichmann Riptide pump and added my own brewhardware sight glass. Brewed on it for the first time today, pale ale type. Made my own little whirlpool arm as well. Really like the system, especially the pump. Tried to brew it just as I normally would, but on full volume mash BIAB to get a baseline. got about 63% efficiency, so i'll be making a few changes next time to try getting that number back up to the 75% or so range. I did not squeeze the bag much, didn't recirc/pourover sparge the grains post mash, couldnt double crush with my shops 3 roller mill (someone clogged it last time trying it), and did a normal 60 min mash. I'll add things in, one by one, to see if I can see real differences. Also need a better place to brew, as the corner of my garage was quite humid and i had a few fans going which stripped the heat off the kettle and made me have to run the element at near 100% to keep a boil up. I'll be adding some insulation soon, where does everyone get that stuff? Anyway, very happy with my purchase!
 

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Tried to brew it just as I normally would, but on full volume mash BIAB to get a baseline. got about 63% efficiency, so i'll be making a few changes next time to try getting that number back up to the 75% or so range. I did not squeeze the bag much, didn't recirc/pourover sparge the grains post mash, couldnt double crush with my shops 3 roller mill (someone clogged it last time trying it), and did a normal 60 min mash. I'll add things in, one by one, to see if I can see real differences.
I know this is a little old but I’m looking at the Wort Hog system and am curious if you’re still happy with it and what you efficiency is at now. Thanks!
 
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christyle

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I love it, my only 2 issues are the pump, even throttled down, will out-pull the rate the wort can drain through my bag, so you can't just leave it on recirc the whole mash. Also, the temp probe just went out on mine, which I read someone have a similar issue with when i was shopping. If it goes out, you're SOL because without a temp, the controller won't run, even just using percentage based power outputs. I bought this one, haven't used it yet, but seems MUCH more sturdy:

https://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_15&products_id=908

I'm running pretty steady around 72-77%, depending on style or other factors I screw up.
 

fun4stuff

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I do eBIAB in the 220v 17 gallon Digiboil with a steam condenser. It’s probably the most cost efficient option out there. Since it’s biab, it takes me about 4 hrs to brew and no need to control mash temp, although you could add a false bottom and recirculate if you like. I brewed a tripel yesterday and got 85% efficiency, overshooting my predicted OG.
 
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christyle

christyle

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I do eBIAB in the 220v 17 gallon Digiboil with a steam condenser. It’s probably the most cost efficient option out there. Since it’s biab, it takes me about 4 hrs to brew and no need to control mash temp, although you could add a false bottom and recirculate if you like. I brewed a tripel yesterday and got 85% efficiency, overshooting my predicted OG.
What do you mean no need to control mash temp?
 

fun4stuff

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What do you mean no need to control mash temp?
With BIAB you mill your grains so fine that conversion occurs in ~15 mins. I don’t have any temperature loss in that amount time (with kettle wrapped /insulated). I get about 2 deg loss over 90 mins. It’s why a mash pump isn’t needed for eBIAB.


It’s been discussed many times on here with general consensus that recirculating / or trying to actively control mash temp is a pointless with BIAB. E.g. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/biab-mash-recirculation.624223/
 
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