Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Best Pilot system: Picobrew vs Grainfather vs Braumeister vs small 3 tier system

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Best Pilot system: Picobrew vs Grainfather vs Braumeister vs small 3 tier system

    Hey All

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I currently run a 1 BBL brewhouse (Stout direct fire 3 tier with grant tank) and I'm looking for a semi-automated system to run as a pilot to the 1 BBL system (as funny as that sounds). I'd like to do batches on the pilot system while also doing batches on the 1 BBL, so the more automation the better. I've looked into the different systems listed in the Title, and searched these forums, but couldn't find a lot of professional experiences.

    Picobrew: I like that it's highly repeatable and has high automation, but I don't like that it doesn't boil. Although, is this much of a concern? Everything I've learned tells me yes, but I know very large systems use external calandrias - isn't this the same thing? I'm concerned that it requires a large amount of Fermcap. I want to experiment with things like first wort and whirlpool hopping and I don't know if this unit can do that. The small 2.5 gal batches don't bother me.

    Grainfather: seems like it would work very well and uses a classic process, similar to our 3 tier, so the recipes should be easy to scale up. the 110 volt might mean it's slow to heat and boil. not sure of the max OG it can handle.

    Braumeister: i like that it's 220v, which probably makes it faster than the Grainfather. can these units sparge? what's the max OG possible? I'm experimenting with both low-OG beers (sessions, berlinerweiss, etc) and high OG. can the unique setup of the Braumeister handle that? if the volumes change to make different OG beers, I don't care. I just want to make good beer without needing DME. i also want to experiment with step mashes and possibly decoction.

    small 3 tier: to get the level of automation we have on our 3 tier Stout would probably make this the most expensive route, so i'd like to avoid it if possible.

    any experience or suggestions greatly appreciated

    thanks!

    e
    Eric Hansen
    Brewery Coordinator / Head Brewer
    8th Street Ale Haus, Sheboygan, WI

  • #2
    You might get better responses posting to the homebrew forums for some of these machines.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree that a forum like HomeBrewTalk.com is likely to yield more responses (and a search of their forums will probably provide a wealth of information even without you starting a post.)

      Personally, with a 1bbl setup, I would go completely old-school and utilize a utilitarian homebrew setup if you must have a pilot system and focus all your efforts on using the 1bbl as much as possible. The only real difference you will find between those two sizes is a greater hop utilization with the 1bbl setup.

      We're starting w/ a 3bbl brewhouse and I've decided to ditch any smaller pilot system even though I have a BRUTUS setup from my homebrew days. I want my head brewer to be working on and gain confidence in our capabilities at that scale. Yes, we'll have some experimental mistakes, but we're gonna suck it up and be willing to reap the rewards and accept the risk.

      Good luck!
      Kevin Shertz
      Chester River Brewing Company
      Chestertown, MD

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the feedback.

        Kevin, I've actually found that the biggest differences are control over the Mash Temp and repeatability. The igloo-style homebrew setups just don't cut it. regarding sucking it up, i totally get that and that's how I felt about our system when we first got it. But it really hurts when you have to send a full batch of beer down the drain, even if it's only 1 BBL. I just dumped a batch today. it was cheap ingredient-wise, but it still was a lot of labor. I'm looking to double our brews, getting more experiments under our belt, without needing as many kegs. Even at 1 BBL I've been surprised how leery some of the guys have been about experimenting.

        e
        Eric Hansen
        Brewery Coordinator / Head Brewer
        8th Street Ale Haus, Sheboygan, WI

        Comment


        • #5
          I've been looking at Colorado Brewing systems rigs. I purchased their small 20gal setup for my home use but haven't received it yet maybe you should look into their system if you are looking for a small E-BIAB setup. They seem to do really good work from what I've seen.

          http://www.cobrewingsystems.com/
          Cheers,

          Sean Goddard
          Brewmaster
          Whitewater Brewing Co. LTD

          Comment


          • #6
            hey WWSean

            thanks for the suggestion on Colorado brewing systems. I have never heard of them and their stuff looks really great, especially the smallest 10-15 gal setup. I ended up buying the Grainfather, and I've done 4 brews on it so far. I really enjoy it, it's the easiest system i've ever brewed on and it's already having a huge impact on the beers we're creating. The only issues I have with it are consumer vs pro-level quality and usability. One example is that the pump is directly attached to the only output from the brew kettle. This makes it harder to empty the kettle and clean and sanitize the pump. I can only imagine that the pump setup in the Pico and Braumeister are even more closed up. These actions can be done, of course, but not in the same efficient way that we clean and sanitize on the Stout system. These Colorado systems with tri clamps seem to solve those minor issues. But I do like that I can take the Grainfather to a friends house and do a brew. So it's a bit better for me. But damn, at $1500 for a 10 gal 220v stainless system with tri-clamps, that's value!

            e
            Eric Hansen
            Brewery Coordinator / Head Brewer
            8th Street Ale Haus, Sheboygan, WI

            Comment

            Working...
            X