Mash and Boil Systems

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by LeRose, Nov 30, 2019.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. LeRose

    LeRose Poo-Bah (1,786) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Society

    I was wondering if anybody has experience with electric "mash and boil" systems like the Grainfather or the far less pricey Anvil systems?

    The idea makes a ton of sense to me - better control over mash temperature, ability to do step mash either manually or automatically, everything in one vessel like BIAB without the bag.

    The main drawback I see is come up time for the strike water and the vigor of the boil with electric power. Strike water is easy enough - start up at bed time, ready to go by breakfast. Getting to the boil might be tougher getting that next 60-ish degrees.

    Anvil comes in two sizes (and Anvil is where I am leaning) - 6.5 and 10 gallon. The larger would obviously support full five gallon batches, but for me a five gallon batch a ridiculous amount of beer. I was thinking 2-3 gallons would be perfect. Then again, as my father would say you can't fit five pounds of shit in a two pound bag...I can brew smaller in the 10 gallon system, but it would be tough to brew bigger in the 6.5...

    Thoughts would be appreciated from anybody who has used, currently uses, or has researched these systems.

    Thanks!
     
  2. wasatchback

    wasatchback Devotee (414) Jan 12, 2014 Tajikistan
    Trader

    I’ve got 250ish brews on a Grainfather. It’s actually the only device I’ve ever brewed on so I don’t have much to compare. It’s nice to be able to brew inside and there’s a lot less stuff to clean. The step mashing is nice as well.

    Yes it takes a while to get heat up. I preboil all my water and then drop to mash temps. You can set the timer to turn it on ahead of time or you can just split the strike water in half. Heat half in the grainfather and half somewhere else. Pretty much cuts the time in half.

    There are other issues like large grain bills. Even if you recirculate you’ll still need to stir large grain bills to get better efficiency. You rely only on gravity when sparging, so sometimes you can get crappy efficiency if your sparge goes too fast. Ideally you want one that’s pretty slow. Flaked adjuncts help slow everything down.

    I’ve done a few other modifications as well to improve a few other weird issues I’ve encountered.
     
    LeRose and skleice like this.
  3. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,966) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Society

    I use a High Gravity Electric Brew in a Bag for 5 gallon batches, 110 volt model. Basically, this is a Blichmann Boil Coil with a temp controller with a 10 gallon Bayou classic kettle with basket insert. I have the version with the recirc pump, but I haven't used the pump for a couple years now, as it is noisy.
    • It does take longer than a propane burner to heat to mash and boil, although if I had the 240 volt model, I don't think this would be an issue. Regardless, it is easy to find things to do to be productive during the heat time: make coffee, let the dog out, weigh out mineral additions, weigh out grains, crush grains, etc.
    • The boil coil boil does not get as vigorous as a propane burner, but this has not proven to be a shortcoming in any way that I perceive.
    In short, I would not hesitate to go for an electric system again.
     
    LeRose likes this.
  4. skleice

    skleice Disciple (301) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    I also use a Grainfather. Overall I'm very happy with it. It's very easy to use and clean and the automated step mashing is awesome. I usually use the timer to heat strike water, so it's just ready when I want to start. Reaching a boil does take a bit and it's not a rigorous boil.

    For me it's perfect because I have twin 5 year olds and I can't spend my time hovering over a propane burner in the garage (my wife would not appreciate that either). I brew very often and am able to do so by monitoring the iPad on the couch while the GF does it's thing.
     
    LeRose likes this.
  5. OldBrewer

    OldBrewer Disciple (312) Jan 13, 2016 Canada (ON)

    I've also been considering going to a Grainfather, RoboBrew or Braumeister in the future. One of the issues, I understand, is that when brewing indoors, you need a good exhaust system to keep moisture out of the house and causing mold.

    What kind of exhaust system do those who have these systems use?
     
    LeRose likes this.
  6. corm44

    corm44 Zealot (503) Aug 28, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    I have a Brewer's Edge Mash and Boil system and I really like it. It's simple, works on a regular outlet, and it makes brewing inside in the winter in NY possible. The drawbacks are that it is tough to get a high efficiency, especially if you get the version without the recirculating pump like I did. Also, it doesn't hold a very large grain bill. I believe 14-15 pounds it's its max. If i want to do a higher abv beer, then i usually have to replace some of the base malt in the original recipe with DME added to the boil. It also takes much longer to boil than my propane burner and pot set up
     
    LeRose likes this.
  7. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    I have a Brewer's Edge Mash & Boil and I am very happy with it. This thread has a lot of great info in it, including some tips that might be helpful for you, @corm44 . I struggled with efficiency for a bit but now that I'm dialed in it hasn't been an issue. I've also never brewed on another system so I don't have experience for comparison, but I don't regret my decision to go with the M&B.

    Cheers
     
    LeRose likes this.
  8. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (537) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    LeRose likes this.
  9. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (169) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    I was given a Butterball electric turkey fryer but traded it in. Came with a basket and drain. Should have kept it to make small batches.I think it would have worked great.
     
  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,685) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    How would you have maintained a mash temperature over the 60 minute mash?

    Cheers!
     
  11. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (169) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    Like a keezer. One of my Inkbird/ranco and some testing. Stick the probe in and keep it the top loose or drill a hole in the top. The basket had big holes so i would have installed a stainless steel mesh inside it.
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  12. the_owl

    the_owl Initiate (0) Feb 21, 2019 New Mexico

    I also have a grainfather and save myself a couple hours on brew day.
    Its not like it brews it for you, so youre still brewing. My favorite part of it is the Mash/Lauter. My OGs have always been spot on. I also have a really nice SS Brewtech Infussion mash tun, kettle setup. I keep saying Im going to use it again..
     
  13. the_owl

    the_owl Initiate (0) Feb 21, 2019 New Mexico

    Ive also made some tweaks. Its not an all-in-one thats for sure. The counter wort chiller for example. I use one of my SS Brewtech Brew Bucket chiller pumps and drop it in a 7 gallon bucket of ice water. drain the first minute or two into another bucket since its super hot.
    I also use a stepped gravity sparge setup in an igloo cooler fitted with a valve, hose and a sparge disperse nozzle. Sparge takes me about 45 minutes.
     
  14. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (537) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Have any critical parts failed? If yes, how was customer service?
     
  15. wasatchback

    wasatchback Devotee (414) Jan 12, 2014 Tajikistan
    Trader

    Yup. I had to bypass the reset switch and I’ve gone through two controllers but GF replaced both. For as much as it gets used though I would say it’s held up well.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.