To those who have added an all-in-one as a *second* brew system...

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BrewDrinkRepeat

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I'm an outdoor propane brewer, but I'm thinking of adding an all-in-one system (most likely the Anvil Foundry) to allow me to brew when the weather is bad / too cold / too hot, as well as maybe sneak in some weeknight batches.

  1. How do you guys like having one of these as a second / backup system?
  2. Do you feel like you've made any sacrifices in terms of beer quality? (Edit: or found you had to jump through a lot of extra hoops to maintain your quality level?)
  3. Do you still use your main setup, or did you end up switching to the all-in-one permanently?
  4. Any gotchas I should be aware of that I might not be thinking about?
 
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JB_Brewing2

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I'd be surprised if very many use an all-in-one as their secondary system. My all-in-one system is a medium BIAC from Brewha and is the primary system I use. It provides brews with better consistency and quality than my previous three vessel system. The "gotcha" would be the cost.
 
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BrewDrinkRepeat

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Understood... hoping anyone might weigh in on the beer quality issues (although I guess I should post that in the Anvil Foundry thread, eh?)

Thanks...
 

Aristoi

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For reference i was a cooler batch sparger on outdoor propane

1) I love it, but it did take a few batches to dial in crush and recirc/lauter to work

2) Not at all, simply adjusted to match the nuances of the new setup

3) Not as much i i thought i would, i find that once i dialed in my indoor setup i rarely go back to the old outdoor setup as it was different. I only use it about 10% of the time for 10 gallon high volume easy drinking summer beers but find myself using my all in 1 (Robobrew) setup most of the time. I am looking at a upgraded all electric system at the moment as i think the Robobrew has some limitations that frustrate me at times to be consistent. Mainly repeatability of efficiency, hitting targets, and managing stuck sparges. The anvil looks better as it has more perforated surface area that might address the stuck sparge issue and not have to crush grain so coarse which would fix the efficiency issues.

4) Dont underestimate the getting what you pay for. If you brew a lot, the fit finish and robustness of the all in one may not be worth it in the long haul. I am about 15 batches in and feel this way. Does not help that there have been main board issues on the Robobrew V3 that have me thinking they are a ticking time bomb. The Anvil is the new kid on the block and unknown what their issues will be. If it had to be an all in 1, i would go with Grainfather but at that price point i might as well go with a non all in 1 electric that is somewhat more traditional.

If i were to do it again i would have gotten a higher quality setup from the start, but i like you thought this would be my inclement weather only setup and would brew a lot more on my traditional system. I would have gone with High Gravity, Brew Boss, or SS Brewtech 1V setup or wait to see if their FTSS will be that higher quality all in one 1 was looking for.
 

jack13

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I got a Grainfather to have the option to brew inside. More often than not I choose it over the outdoor system, but it's great to have the option to use whichever system I feel like and to be either outside or inside, also as I prefer. No sacrifice in quality of beer. Done 21 batches on it so far. As JB said, the gotcha is the cost, but of course you'd know what that is going in.
 

hopjuice_71

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I live in a very moderate climate (never too hot and never too cold) so I can brew outdoors all year long. I have a propane fire 3V system then got a Grainfather as a second system, which I could use indoors if I really wanted to. The GF quickly became my go-to system, hands down. So much so that I loaned out my 3V system to a friend. Took a little bit of refinement to make my GF experience really consistent, but the brew quality is as good or better than ever, and certainly much easier. I have to say that the all-in-one systems are pretty freaking awesome. The only thing I worry about is that I am assuming my GF has a finite life span.
 

jimfire85

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I use my robobrew as an electric mash tun ever since upgrading to a 240v controller and 5500 watt element in my SS brewtech kettle. I had to replace the circuit board in my robobrew after a hardware failure, since then it has been working fine, but I just use it as a mlt rather than a boil kettle. Works great for keeping kettle sours in the pipeline. Also I put a few dabs of silver solder in the bottom of the mash pipe on the robobrew to hold the mesh screen in place. Had it drop out underneath load of grain, luckily I use a Wilser bag as a mash filter so it kept the grain contained, but ever since then I haven't trusted the mash pipe to hold the bottom from the getting torqued under the load of grain.
 

Spyderbyte07

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I've only brewed once on my Foundry and that batch is still carbonating so I can't speak to the finished quality, but I can't think of any reason the quality would be lower than with my propane setup. If anything I would expect my Foundry batches to be more consistent because I'm not trying to fine tune the burner to adjust the boil off.

I am very happy to have it as a second/backup system and will likely use it more often than my main system, but that's only because it lets me brew while still being a parent. When I get the rare treat of a dedicated brew day I absolutely intend to use my main system and make 10 gallon batches (actually, the Foundry is so hands off I'll probably use both for a 15 gallon day).

Could I have built a better/more flexible version of the Foundry for a similar price point or slightly less? Probably. Will I eventually replace both systems with a "proper" 220 volt, 10 gallon electric brew system of some type? Probably. Would either of those happened anywhere near the foreseeable future? Absolutely not. Was it worth every penny I've spent on both of my setups to have them up and running now instead of sitting around as a useless pile of unassembled parts? Absolutely.
 

Blazinlow86

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I'm an outdoor propane brewer, but I'm thinking of adding an all-in-one system (most likely the Anvil Foundry) to allow me to brew when the weather is bad / too cold / too hot, as well as maybe sneak in some weeknight batches.

  1. How do you guys like having one of these as a second / backup system?
  2. Do you feel like you've made any sacrifices in terms of beer quality? (Edit: or found you had to jump through a lot of extra hoops to maintain your quality level?)
  3. Do you still use your main setup, or did you end up switching to the all-in-one permanently?
  4. Any gotchas I should be aware of that I might not be thinking about?
Can't imagine how using a all in one like the grain father could be a downgrade over a propane 3vessle outdoors. I would imagine a easier indoor brewday with the consistency of electrical. I imagine once you brew electronic indoors your old system will be nothing but a memory. cheers
 

Clonefan94

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My initial thought was yours, when I purchased the GF, cold days, days I was busier around the house, so I could have access via the app. I thought on nice days, especially in the fall and spring, that I would still go to the propane system for the joy of brewing outside. Well, I haven't touched my cooler/propane system since I got the GF a little over a year ago. It's just too darn convenient and I haven't noticed any drop off in quality of the beer at all. If anything, I think it's gotten better because it allows for more consistency in my process, especially with the heated, recirculated mash.
 

verboten

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I have a burner, and it has not been touched since I got my robobrew in August of last year. 2-3 batches a month go through it, the consistency is wonderful. I definitely can’t complain!
 

sonic7173

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I bought the Clawhammer 120v originally as just a second backup / bad weather setup. Haven't touched my outdoor setup since. In my case, I think my quality and consistency have gone up and my brew days are easier and shorter.
 

BigChas

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Just curious, what kind of life cycle can be expected from these AIO units. I know most have a year warranty, but I would hate to spend $300 - $500 just to have a boat anchor after the warranty is expired.
 

jack13

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Just curious, what kind of life cycle can be expected from these AIO units. I know most have a year warranty, but I would hate to spend $300 - $500 just to have a boat anchor after the warranty is expired.
Used Grainfather 21 times so far with no problems. Regarding the boat anchor thing...AIO's would in general have less 'swapability' than setups you piece together, but to some degree you can swap out parts. For example, if the GF's pump goes, you could replace just the pump. Doesn't sound like you're considering the GF, but be sure to look into what parts are replaceable on whatever units you are considering.
 

kh54s10

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So far I have not considered one of the many Grainfather lookalikes. The proprietary parts and sealed in heating element has me worried.

I am looking at the UniBrau v3. It uses standard fittings so if your element, for instance, goes, you just replace that one part. The controller looks like someone with electronic knowledge could repair it. It also looks far more robust than those cans with a controller mounted on/in the side. I will stick with my 3 vessel propane rig, unless I get the Unibrau. Or someone makes something similar. A couple are close but have parts that I don't like, or are too expensive.
 

BigChas

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While the GF and Unibrau look like fine systems, they are way beyond my budget. Since I am planning on brewing small batches, (2.5 gals), I just might be better off with a 5.5 gal pot and a heat stick/stovetop. Any thoughts ?
 

tyso22

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I have both a Robobrew (110V) and a Brewie and ever since going to all-in-one systems, my outdoor equipment is pretty much obsolete for me. There's a lot of debate out there about brewing systems and blah blah blah...my philosophy is get whatever you want and you'll figure out what works best for you. As long as there is tasty beer in the keg/bottle at the end of it, does it really matter?
 

andrewmaixner

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Definitely doable.
While the GF and Unibrau look like fine systems, they are way beyond my budget. Since I am planning on brewing small batches, (2.5 gals), I just might be better off with a 5.5 gal pot and a heat stick/stovetop. Any thoughts ?
Yes, definitely doable. I did that with a sous vide heater also a few times.
 

jack13

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While the GF and Unibrau look like fine systems, they are way beyond my budget. Since I am planning on brewing small batches, (2.5 gals), I just might be better off with a 5.5 gal pot and a heat stick/stovetop. Any thoughts ?
If you are looking to do small batches in the least "invasive" way possible, stovetop is the way to go (probably BIAB). Just make sure your stovetop is up to the task: figure out what your pre-boil volume of wort would be for your 2.5 gal batch size, and see if you can boil that amount of water on the stovetop in a timeframe you're comfortable with. If you can you're good to go.

Assuming that works out, you just need to be extra careful of boil overs since a stovetop is a much worse place to have a boil over than, say, a patio or garage. But, despite what you may hear, if you do boil over on your stovetop, it is not destroyed for all time. It may be a pain, but you can get your stovetop back to its original condition with some youtubing and elbow grease.
 

Blazinlow86

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While the GF and Unibrau look like fine systems, they are way beyond my budget. Since I am planning on brewing small batches, (2.5 gals), I just might be better off with a 5.5 gal pot and a heat stick/stovetop. Any thoughts ?
I'd just use the stovetop to do biab 2.5 gallon batches. I do the occasion test batch that way prior to doing it on the big system. Cheers
 

postalbunny

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I don't think you're going to see quality isssues... just more limitations. Eg, you can't double batch quickly, or you can't do a larger split batch something, or can't some step mashes. As long as you keep the all grain aspect, the quality should be about the same. Just recipe formulation require some thought.

I've considered a grainfather for doing smaller batches (1-2gallons) indoors.
 
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BrewDrinkRepeat

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Luckily I do none of those (double batches, split batches / parti-gyle, etc.) and the Foundry does do step mashing (although I'm curious to see how long it takes to ramp from one rest to another @ 120v).

Just unboxed the Foundry this morning, probably won't get to do a brewday until next weekend...
 

Jtvann

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Late comer to this thread ...

I think I do exactly what you're talking about. I brewed for a long time, all grain on a 3 vessel system. The system was propane and I brewed outdoors.

I moved to a new location and the winters were too cold to brew outside. It's never too hot to brew outside as I lived in Death Valley where it got to 127 degrees. Sub zero degrees is too cold for outside as you might freeze.

I moved inside and bought a Brew Boss 20 gallon system. I love my brew boss controller and tablet app. No matter what they say, dont get the 20 gallon for 5 gallon batches. I can be done, but it isnt optimal. Go for the smaller system for smaller batches.

I liked that my brew day was shorter. I could do an entire session in about 4 hours including clean up. I love the automation of the process. Steam is a consideration, you have to deal with it. Vent or steam condenser. I used the condenser and it works awesome. My efficiency fell by about 10 points from traditional 3 vessel fly sparging.

All in all, I like it. I loved the controller so much that I converted my gas system to electric, and went back outside. In summers, I use 3 vessel fly sparge with brew boss controller. In winter I move in doors and do biab brew boss as the system was designed.

3 vessel to me is more fun. I just enjoy the process more. I did start making 10 gallon batches so the 20 gallon brew boss works better. I wouldn't change anything about my process, and I'm glad I bought the brew boss. I enjoy switching things up just to so something new.

Cant say enough good things about brew boss Darin for customer service. System works as designed and can be customized for other uses.
 

McKnuckle

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The German-made Braumeister is rarely mentioned in these parts, likely due to its relatively high cost and limited availability. It's sold in the U.S. only by MoreBeer. However, for the dedicated small batch brewer, it's the only company making a robust, proven, truly one-vessel 220V electric platform for 2.5-3 gallon batches that matches their larger units in every way. There are no external pumps or gadgets to connect and disconnect during the mash or boil.

I bought one after an early stint with a 3V propane setup, then dozens of brews using BIAB configurations with propane, stoves, heat sticks, and finally an induction burner (best by far). I got tired of constantly trying this or that new part in an attempt to optimize some perceived gap in my process. There was always something annoying me about my constantly evolving workflow, and I accumulated a pile of gear along the way.

Finally I was exposed to the Braumeister through a YouTube surf one day, and I sucked in my breath and bought their 10L model. It was one of the best brewing decisions I've made! I have about a dozen batches on mine so far. Everything in my kit is now sized for 2.5 gallon batches from crush to keg. I have put all my larger gear in storage, to hopefully be sold at some point.

Brewing outdoors might be romantic at times and make one feel cool/rugged etc., but I'll take indoors with my slippers and streaming music any day!
 

kh54s10

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My previous reply was - #17 on July 14. I took advantage of a Black Friday discount and ordered my UniBrau. It is robust. I did a run through with water and am glad I did. I forgot to unplug the second element that is not tied into the controller so I would have way overshot my mash temperature. I also had a small drip/leak from a triclover fitting on the pump. The boil is sufficient and this at least cleaned the system some.

Now to get time for a brew session. INSIDE!!!!
 

kh54s10

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I have one brew done on the Unibrau. It is awesome. I didn't get my OG and volume right but pretty close. I will have to do some tweaking of Beersmith.

So now I have my gravity 3 tier propane system and the Unibrau. Wonder if I will ever use the propane rig again???
 

ABI Brewery

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I decided a while ago to go with one of these all in one systems, it is in addition to, (sort of) my two vessel recirculation system. I have an old keg that I have tig welded ports for an electric element with tri clamp, sight glass, thermo well, and two ports for ball valves, in the mash tun which I am using a 10 gallon tall boy kettle from NB I welded in a ball valve port, thermo well, and port just below the top rim for my auto sparge. I used the tall boy for quite a few brews before concluding that I wanted an all in one system and all I needed to do was get a false bottom and tig in a 2" triclamp port and I was set to have a "back-up" BIAB set-up in case I was working with limited time, of course in the BIAB back-up brewery I would only 5 gallons instead of the 10 that usually do but its compact, easy and I can knock out a batch in a few hours.
 
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