Your experience with electric brewing systems?

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ArizonaGoalie

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I'm considering purchasing an electric brewing system that handles the mash and boil all in one controlled unit. These run just above $400.

Have you used one of these and do you recommend?

My current set up is a cooler mash tun. I batch sparge, then transfer to a kettle and boil with a propane burner outdoors. I've got my stuff dialed in. Beer is good.

I like that an electric setup could be completely contained, less mess, no more propane trips, and much easier to maintain consistent temps.

But the process, for some reason, confounds me.

What's your experience?

THX! :bigmug:
 

Golddiggie

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I'm using a three vessel electric setup (Spike+ kettles with an ebrewsupply control panel). I switched from a dual propane burner system to this. No more getting the tank filled or swapping the connection to the burners (never plumbed the brew stand to run both at the same time, or even have make it so that I could not switch connections). With the steam condenser lid, I can easily brew inside (boil no longer an issue), in the garage.

Mash temps, with the HERMS coil and such, are far easier than when using the propane setup. Plus with the control panel it makes hitting temps easier. No more shooting over by X degrees and then needing to work on getting it back where needed.

For the way I brew, an all in one setup just doesn't work. I know people use them, and love them. To me, they're far more limited in how you can brew. With the HLT and MT I can heat the strike water (with the HLT via the HERMS coil), mash at the right temperature, and then sparge with the mash running into the BK. No hoist needed to lift the bag/whatever containing the wet grains out of the single kettle. Since I'm brewing alone, and am not able to install a hoist in the garage (renting) the three vessel setup is a far better option.

You won't get a manufactured three vessel setup for around $400. IF I was to ever look for an eBIAB setup, I'd look at Spike first. No matter what system I would look at, I'd get TC connections over NPT every time. The benefits of TC over NPT are worth the cost. At least for me they are. You probably don't want to know what I spent on the kettles I have, plus control panel.
 

shoreman

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I have an anvil foundry and love it- been brewing on it for over a year. They are so easy to use-directions come with it. Basically BIAbasket and you can sparge or not sparge.
 

doug293cz

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I have an anvil foundry and love it- been brewing on it for over a year. They are so easy to use-directions come with it. Basically BIAbasket and you can sparge or not sparge.
Just a note: You cannot do a traditional fly sparge (1" - 2" of liquid over the grain bed) with the all-in-one (AIO) units. You can to a pour over sparge (no liquid above grain bed), which is not as efficient as a traditional fly sparge. (No, I haven't seen any actual measurements, and it is not possible to simulate accurately.) It is not necessary to heat sparge water, but doing so will speed up the time to reach boiling.

Brew on :mug:
 

cmac62

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I also have a foundry 10.5 and love it. I also started out with the cooler propane deal, then upgraded to a big shiny rig (Tippy Dump). I got tired of hauling everything around and went with the anvil. If you have one of the 10 gal round coolers for HD or Lowes they work great for a dunk sparge. You basically pull the grain basket from the foundry and dunk it into the cooler with as much water as you need, then you can drain and pour sparge over the grain as many times as you like. I don't know the specific # for efficiency, but I usually hit or go above my expected OG. There are other options as well, brew father, mash and boil, brew meister, robo brew and I'm sure I'm missing some. The thing I like about the anvil is it is either 110 or 220. I haven't used it at 220 yet, but I'm working on getting everything up and running. There are + and - to every system so do your homework, but I don't think you will be sorry if go this way. Good luck :mug:
 

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I love my Foundry as well. Propane off and on for ~ 2 decades. Still do it in the summer because I like it, but no issue at all w/ the Foundry during the winter. I might actually slightly prefer it.

I batch sparge, the grain bag in the pipe gets pulled out and dunked into a pot w/ sparge water. Then of course it gets squeezed and all the runnings go into the Foundry to boil with the rest.

Is there a part of the process specifically you don't get? It took me a while too but it's pretty slick once you understand it.
 

MikeCo

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I have a 15-gallon Blichmann kettle in which I installed a 240v 4500W boilcoil for electric BIAB. I like it because it heats water and wort really fast compared to the all in one systems. But I think if I had to do it all over again, I'd get a Foundry. It has a 240v option and the overall cost is lower than the system I put together.
 
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My rig is 3 vessel unit made of modified kegs. Was using it with gas, but converted to electric about 100 batches ago. A step up worth doing if one has the current and brews often; easier, cheaper, better, & more control.

Control is Auber cube, with 240V 30A removable elements in HLT & BK.
 
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ArizonaGoalie

ArizonaGoalie

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BIG thanks to everyone who replied. Very informative and helpful.

As I'm brewing tonight with my old fashioned cooler mash tun (actually just mashed in!) I'll contemplate this some more, read through all the replies again, and research more equipment.

Part of what led me to start looking this direction, I should of mentioned, is that my mash tun is only 5 gallons. Most of the time I only brew 3 gallon batches, as SWMBO won't drink anything hoppy or dark, so I'm on my own. Therefore I keep it small so I don't gain 100lbs. I can still brew 4 - 4.5 gallon batches of lower ABV styles, but then I'm maxed out.

I've ordered THREE different 10-12 gallon cooler mash tuns from various suppliers, ALL of them leaked like there's no tomorrow, no matter what I tried. This got me thinking about going in another direction.

Thanks again everyone! :ban:
 

tracer bullet

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I have the 6.5 foundry and 3 gallon batches are no problem at all.

* Add water the night before, set delay timer to heat to desired strike temp
* Wake up, get coffee and go pee, then mash in
* Go do other stuff while it mashes, retains the desired temp, and recirculates if desired
* Pull the grains and drain, sparge, etc. (can pour-over or batch dunk)
* Set to boil temps and away we go (just like propane from here on out)

Delay timer and waking up to strike temp water (or coming home to it after work) is super nice.

Another feature is holding temp during a whirlpool hop addition.
 

Immocles

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I own a Brewers edge Mash & boil. The original version, no recirculation pump. I use it for biab and absolutely love it. I can easily brew between 3-5G batches, but I too am mostly at that 3G batch size. Brewing indoors is great, the programmable strike water is useful, and it leaves such a small footprint in terms of storage. It was a piece of equipment that was never on my radar ( I brewed stovetop prior to owning this), but I'm incredibly glad to have it
 

Coastalbrew

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I agree with @Immocles. I have the same system and love it. I love the simplicity of it. No pump or pipes to fuss with, it's just easy. I also brew primarily 3G batches though I have done a number of 5.5G batches on mine as well. Works great on both, but the heat up times are longer with the bigger batches. That's fine for me, I clean up and do other things while it's hearing up.

The thing to keep in mind is that any new system will have a learning curve and will perform differently to what you are used to. The process will be slightly different, the efficiency will be different, you will have to tweak your recipes a bit depending on your numbers with the new system. Whatever you end up getting, plan to brew several test batches while you get things dialed in. Once your process and recipes get dialed in, you'll brew great beer in any of the systems out there. Good luck with your decision.

Cheers!
 

TyYoda

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Like many others I have the Anvil 10.5g. I do biab just like I did in my 15g biab Propane system. I don't use the malt pipe or the include chiller. You will get less efficiency. I get 74% bhe about 10 points less than the Propane system. Best I can tell is mainly a function of the boil off rates and the corresponding grain lbs per quarter I have in the mash. The Anvil is 1.0g/hr boil (240V, 110V is 1.0g/hr) off vs the 2 g/hr Propane. Really everything else is the same as I did before. If you get an all in one system, invest in a cuss chiller. I chill in under 5 minutes.

What I like is indoor brewing and less things to haul out to the garage and no more buying Propane. Also the pump is really handy for pumping wort into the fermenter. Cleanup is about the same for me. Pbw is worth the cost.
Now that the 18g Anvil is out, I would buy the larger system just for the bigger boil off rates and flexibility to brew larger batches. The 10.5 Anvil system is quite capable. I just did a 1.150 og, 15% reiterated mash imperial stout.
 

mjc999

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Just a note: You cannot do a traditional fly sparge (1" - 2" of liquid over the grain bed) with the all-in-one (AIO) units. You can to a pour over sparge (no liquid above grain bed), which is not as efficient as a traditional fly sparge. (No, I haven't seen any actual measurements, and it is not possible to simulate accurately.) It is not necessary to heat sparge water, but doing so will speed up the time to reach boiling.

Brew on :mug:

See Brewtools AIO systems…
 

jtgoral

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I started with electric heater inside the pot and had very bad experience with storched wort giving bad beer taste. I switched to Avantco 3.5kW induction stove and I love it. It is easy to keep my BIAB mashes at 150F by setting the stove to 160-170F. I start boiling by switching from temperature scale to power scale and setting it for 3500 Watts. As soon as it starts boiling I reduce the power to 2500-2900 Watts.
 

DarrellQ

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I have a Foundry 10.5 that I run on 240 volts, and once I have learned about "some quirks," I like it pretty well. The main quirk is that the mash temp IS NOT what is displayed on the screen, but rather it is a consistent 6 degrees lower. The work around is to (1) lift the basket out several times during the mash so that the water outside the malt pipe and over temp sensor mixes with the liquid that sits over the burn plate; (2) adjust the Foundry temp setting 6 degrees higher than desired mash temp; (3) stir every 10 minutes and always recirculate with the pump. Another quirk is to always use the small batch adaptor, no matter the grain bill, to significantly increase efficiency. Finally, forget about a "mash-out." That is, if you adjust the Foundry temp up to 176 (with my 6 degree correction) the Foundry will read a temp of 176 in about 15 minutes, but if you stir and measure the mash temp it is only 160 or so.
 

Martys1

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F13AD7A4-82F0-464B-A9A9-53C15EFC3D13.jpeg

I recently purchased a AF6.5 and I am really enjoying brewing with it.The temperature stays steady throughout the mash and the pump works very well also.I have a keggel,propane set up for larger batches when the weather is good.Right now its1 deg f outside. So electric brewing inside is the way to go. I also checked out a bunch of YouTubes about Anvil Foundry.
 

GoodTruble

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I currently brew in a Brewzilla 35L (120v). I l like it.

I like that the standard 120v gives me flexibility to set up anywhere. If 240v accessibility was not an issue, I would go bigger/larger capacity.

It has a few quirks, but once you get the process worked out, it's a very simple and convenient approach to brewing. Every beer has turned out great.

On the negative side, capacity does not allow for a simple approach to 10-gallon batches or grain bills over 15-17 lbs (but there are work arounds I've used several times). The heating elements can be a bit on the slow side, and mashing temps can be a bit erratic if you don't get the flow/recirculation rate right. -but those are more "fine-tuning" issues that get worked out. Overall it's a pretty convenient indoor brewing option.

Here is a thread with a lot of good, detailed Brewzilla discussions.......


My second choice would just be a good induction burner and large kettle to allow for more flexibility.
 

Sammy86

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I second @GoodTruble ! I have a Brewzilla 65L...and won't turn back. I can brew 5, 10,15 gallon batches. The clean up is a breeze and having the ability to set up the AIO to have strike water set and ready in the morning is an absolute must. Can't recommend this machine enough!
 

Bobby_M

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The 1500 watt AIO systems will be noticeably slower to heat than you're used to on propane but a 240v unit will make all the difference. That lands pretty solidly at the Foundry 10.5 or the Brewzilla if you want to keep your brew days a bit shorter. The main advantage to these systems over the cooler method is the ability to fix any temperatures.
 

GoodTruble

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Quick Note - the Brewzilla 4 was just released in Australia in the past month and will probably be available in other countries in about 6 months (production & logistics issues aside). It has some interesting new features & upgrades over the current Bewzilla 3.1.1 (including 30% larger malt pipe capacity). 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.
 

_BullDog_

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I have the 10g Unibrau with 2 elements and like it. Been brewing with it since 2018 and everything from cream ales to Belgium dark strong and it can all turn out great.

One thing to keep in mind with any of these is the grain limit. I can get up to ~18 pounds but you can always use extract or sugar/syrups for bigger beers which is what I do if i’m shooting for 9-10% or higher
 
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lumpher

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I brewed with a 3-keggle propane setup for 12 years or so. Switched to a Mash and Brew system a year or so. Not going back unless I need to do a big brew.
 

hbarsquared

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When I moved to Sweden from the US 2 years ago, I sold off all of my equipment that I'd been slowly accumulating for a decade. Once I got here, I knew I wanted to brew again but didn't want to deal with the hassle of propane. I got a Brewster Beacon 30L, and I absolutely love it. Of course, everything over here is 220V so you don't have the power limitation issues you do stateside.

There is definitely a transition period where you're getting used to a new process, but now that it's my main system I can't imagine going back to propane and a mash tun. It's faster, easier to clean, takes up less space, and you can set a complex mash schedule and just "fire and forget".
 

Bluekat

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I purchased a Clawhammer 120v system this past year and augment with a 1800w induction cooktop. I’ve done 3 brews on it and there is a bit of a learning curve. But I love the system and the support from the Clawhammer crew is outstanding.
 

AkTom

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I have a 2 cooler with keggle set up. I got an Anvil 10.5. I love it! I’d love to get the newer one for 10 gallon batches… my wife doesn’t know I have the 10.5, so I should pursue the big boy! Then I can say, oh that little old thing I’ve had hanging in the back of my brew closet???
 

TyYoda

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I have a Foundry 10.5 that I run on 240 volts, and once I have learned about "some quirks," I like it pretty well. The main quirk is that the mash temp IS NOT what is displayed on the screen, but rather it is a consistent 6 degrees lower. The work around is to (1) lift the basket out several times during the mash so that the water outside the malt pipe and over temp sensor mixes with the liquid that sits over the burn plate; (2) adjust the Foundry temp setting 6 degrees higher than desired mash temp; (3) stir every 10 minutes and always recirculate with the pump. Another quirk is to always use the small batch adaptor, no matter the grain bill, to significantly increase efficiency. Finally, forget about a "mash-out." That is, if you adjust the Foundry temp up to 176 (with my 6 degree correction) the Foundry will read a temp of 176 in about 15 minutes, but if you stir and measure the mash temp it is only 160 or so.
My experience is similar but I don't have as much variance in the mash Temps because I typically do full volume biag without the malt pipe (just a false bottom). If you measure the temperature of the wort coming out of the recir pump tube you will find it matches the the display actual temp. What's important is to know there is a difference and adjust. I do a full stir to get a full average mash temp before adjusting. On my 10.5 the difference is usually 2-3F. I didn't use to find recirculating was all that useful in a full volume biab. However, with a false bottom, the recirculation helps mix in the wort below the bottom with the wort in the mesh bag. One of these days I'm going to mash without the false bottom. The Anvil won't hurt the mesh biab bag if the power is turned down to around 50% so I've read.
 

kevin58

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I wish I had gone electric much sooner than I did which was about 5 years ago. Propane runs out. Propane is expensive. Propane is a pain in the arse. I currently have a 15 gallon, three vessel HERMs in my garage. Last year I bought an Anvil Foundry 10.5 to be able to brew in the house during the winter.

The process couldn't be much simpler. Fill the unit with strike water - set the controller to your desired strike temperature - Dough in when strike temperature is reached and set controller to mash temp. Done. The unit holds your mash temp as long as you want. When your mash is complete lift the basket - set the controller to boil. Done.

That is a simplified description but hits the highlights. When shopping for an all-in-one I will suggest that trying to heat and boil using household current kind of sucks. Chose a unit that operates on 240v.
 

Spivey24

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I recently switched from a 15 gallon kettle, a brew bag, and a 220v induction to a Grainfather G40. Simple is definitely better for cleaning, but my induction cooktop died so I looked at other options. With 2 little kids running around I wanted something that would easily hold strike and mash temps and support step mashes with little fiddling. The Grainfather filled that. Cleaning is a bit more which I don’t like at all, but otherwise the software is great and sends me reminders at every step of the recipe I enter.
 

auburntsts

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I recently upgraded to a 10 gal, 220v (5500W) Spike Solo single vessel e-biab system and love it. I used to do small batch stove top biab and the two things I like the most are the speed of 5500W and the temp control for both mash and boil the PID gives me.
64AB4390-D3A0-4EEA-859B-C524E033D0E3.jpeg
 
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WESBREW

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I don’t brew on an AIO system but I switched to electric indoor brewing not too long ago. I must say it’s by far most amazing brewery upgrade and has made brewing more fun. I highly recommend brewing in the a/c , especially in the south! These AIO systems are a great way to do it with a small footprint.
 
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MikeCo

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For users of all-in-one systems with a malt pipe and systems like the Spike Solo with a solid-sided basket and recirculaton, are you left with clear wort for your boil? One thing I don't like about my BIAB process is that I have really cloudy wort in the boil. It doesn't seem to matter in the end, but it would be nice to filter more of the mash debris out.
 

Jim R

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I've ordered THREE different 10-12 gallon cooler mash tuns from various suppliers, ALL of them leaked like there's no tomorrow, no matter what I tried. This got me thinking about going in another direction.

I don't quite understand this if this is your main reason for switching. I use a 5 gal Igloo water cooler for my mash tun and can easily make just about any beer in a 5 gal batch without any problem. I could also just buy the 10 gal version but have never found the need.

There are probably good reasons for spending the money on a whole new BIAB system but I am not sure a leaking mash tun should be the main reason.
 

tracer bullet

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for my 5 gallon beers, I've got a 10 gallon mash tun and love the overhead. For BIAB pale ale type batches I'm up to the 7 gallon mark or so, and for any kind of Imperial I'm at the tip top. I dunno, that's just my method I guess.

You do have a point though, if it's a leaky cooler there's a decent chance it can be fixed. I finally tossed mine when I realized the inside wall was pretty cracked. I probably could have cut the outer shell and insulation off around the area but TBH I used it partly as an excuse to upgrade.

are you left with clear wort for your boil?

That's more likely to be method dependent, than to be system dependent. Your grains used, water treatment, if you recirculate / vorlauf, and so on.
 

MikeCo

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That's more likely to be method dependent, than to be system dependent. Your grains used, water treatment, if you recirculate / vorlauf, and so on.

I ask because there isn't any good way I've found with straight BIAB to get clear wort in the kettle. Vorlaufing / recirculating may help a little but the unclear wort can just fall out the side of the bag after pouring it on top of the grain bed. The malt pipe would appear to help with this.
 

riceral

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That is a simplified description but hits the highlights. When shopping for an all-in-one I will suggest that trying to heat and boil using household current kind of sucks. Chose a unit that operates on 240v.

The Anvil Foundry 10.5 gallon and 6.5 gallon units can be run on either 120V or 240V.
 
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