With all the new self contained brewing machines out there, it’s hard to know which one to choose from.
I went ahead and ordered a Grainfather System.
The Grainfather Conical Fermenter Review
What’s up Homebrew Academy readers – this is Billy and as you can see Christmas has come early. Yes I finally got a Grainfather! Get yourself something for Christmas, right because let’s be honest – there’s a good chance that you’re not going to like everything you get from other people.
So I wanted one of these since our reader Jason James got his and posted his video. (Posted below) But gotta admit I’ve been super envious ever since, it reminds me of back in middle school when the first kid gets the PlayStation, and then everyone got really jealous of him and then next thing you know everyone else has a Playstation. So sorry Jason you’re not the only cool kid in school anymore!
Ok, I am dying to tear into this thing, so I’m going to do that just a sec, but first I got a comment on something and it’s this this is the entire brewery. This is it! This is the whole brewery, not the fermenter this is the hot side of the brewery but this is it it’s just this one box.
And I’m so blown away by that, because if you guys remember, if you’ve been following me for a while, you probably remember my Brutus10 brewery. The last one that I that I got that I put together, and yeah it’s it’s a three vessel system and it’s very compact for a three vessel system, but the size difference is incredible.
I’ll show a picture but look at that compared to this this is a single vessel system and these are all the rage of these days, and it’s it’s great for people that don’t have the room for a bigger brewery and I’m just kind of shocked at how far home brewing has come in terms of Technology.
So alright time to grab a knife and tear into this – okay so we got the grandfather box inside of the shipping box and I gotta say this arrives to super fast. I’m in Southern California and this got to me and three days (maybe even two days) I was really pleasantly surprised by that. So I’m not sure why this this is was already open, not exactly sure why, I did order one of those jackets, insulated jackets so maybe that’s why. We’ll see if that got included hopefully, it did.
It’s got the instruction manual, we got think this is the handle, pretty sure this is a handl,e in the grain basket we’ll see. And the glass lid, very nice pretty high-quality, oh that’s not good though – yeah we got a pretty big ding right there, I’ll get in touch with them about that that’s not gonna do, I can maybe get that out we’ll see we’ll see not a fan of that but let’s keep going…
Look at that, okay cool yeah, that’s right the graining coats there we go so this is the jacket that goes around. Because what I’ve heard this thing is a little bit slow and especially the US version which runs on 120volts. And it’s not quite as powerful as a European version and so this helps you out in that regard it helps insulate it and get you have to temperature quicker. This is a high quality grain coat here cool so that’s gonna come in handy.
Lets get this plastic out of here you’ve got cool couple perforated plates so, I’m diggin it to believe I’m pulling things out of the grains basket now there’s the main kettle, and then there’s the grain basket doesn’t side of it I’m pulling things out of the grain basket. This is the chiller to wort chiller very counter flow chiller, I like that wrench tools parts box not sure what’s in there I’m guessing that’s the controller (it’s gotta be the controller) we’ll see, and then okay here we go.
Yeah! Grain basket let me just inspect this real quick, okay so this is looking good no dings in this thing. I like that and then of course we have the main body of this thing the boil kettle there we go you can see it has these latches on it let’s take this out so we can get a closer look.
But before we do that, one more thing in here I think this is when you grab that knife, I think is this is the recirculation arm yeah that’s what that is so we’ll take a look at this separately.
All right we’re gonna look at the the main body of this thing last, so let’s go through everything else first. So all right in that cardboard box was indeed the control box. I’m gonna try to use their terminology as much as possible and this is great. So, so far I’m liking really like the instruction may no I know you can’t see that – well so I’ll link to it they also have this exact same diagram online. It’s the grandfather anatomy I’m not gonna go through every single piece because there are 43 of them. I’ll just go through the main ones though so we have the control box that was in that cardboard box and then what was also in there was the filter – take that out see that – yeah filter and that’s gonna hook that goes right before is it pump keep things out of the pump.
And then there’s a lot of stuff in here this bag I’m not gonna go through every single one yeah this is basically the entire assembly for what do they call the discharge pipe. So this is what you use to pump the word in to recirculate it.
I already saw the glass lid with a little ding on it, that goes on top and this is indeed a handle, they call this the inner basket lifting handle. We have two perforated plates one is just going to go on the bottom of the mash and one is going to go on the top. And then we have the silicon gaskets, what do they call it a plate steel bottom – perforated plate steel – top perforated plate steel. I read that there’s a little trick to these so we’ll come back to that in a sec here and then of course we have the chiller and that’s the whole thing right there this is very compact
We have the grain basket here, and this is what those plates will go into and now we have the main body and it’s got a power cord. It’s got the pump on the side of it right here, a little connector it’s got these latches on it but I read that these are actually for not for brewing but for distillation. (That’s gonna have to be another project)
We have a switch down here and finally we have this hole in this bracket for the control box, so that is the unboxing but there’s no freaking way I can stop here…. so let’s go ahead and put this thing together shall we!
We’re back, and you may notice the word true of change you’re kind of a funny story. I was testing out the faucet adapter that hooks up to the counterflow chiller and my elbow hit the handle, and let’s just say that that shirt is in the dryer right now – good times. I wish I caught on camera, anyways this was pretty easy to put together I followed the directions exactly, you don’t need any specialized skills don’t need to be a handyman.
I certainly am NOT.
I only ran into two little snags, actually this first one wasn’t a snag because I did a little bit of research beforehand and I knew that this was gonna be a pain in the [butt]. So this one there’s two of these perforated screens, one goes on top one goes on the bottom. I got the one and certain it into the bottom here it’s on the bottom of the grain basket. And the key to getting that in is what happens is when you try to put it in that screen with the silicone gasket around right here. If you put it in and this thing is dry it’ll just roll right off the side like it’s kind of doing right now, like that so I read the key is to get it wet.
So what I did was I set this whole thing in the shower, I got in the basket wet and then I took some star sand and I rubbed it on the silicone itself, and then I put it in kind of sideways like this. And once I got it to the bottom I just kind of pressed it pressed it and I got a nice seal here so that was just fine.
So the one snag then that I did hit was over here on the pump. This little black piece on the bottom this slides over (I gotta learn all those terminology here okay) this is part number 15 this silicone tube fixing ring that’s what it is and it slides over this discharge pipe.
I had it backwards the saw this fixing ring I thought that it didn’t matter which way you put it on but turns out it does matter and it was really hard to slide it over this this discharge pipe. So you want it with the rough side up put the rough side up and the smooth side of it goes on the bottom and that made it way easier and there was no issue after that.
So that’s really it – I’m super pumped about this thing there’s really nothing left to hook up until it’s time to brew. Which is going to be very soon, and of course I’m gonna be filming a whole bunch in this thing!
Original Jason James Grainfather Walk-through Video:
My conclusion? Definitely worth the price!
Grainfather Pros and Cons
- Recirculation during mash yields amazing efficiency (high 90s)
- Kid friendly, no open flames and outside doesn’t get blazing hot. Could easily put in top of counter and brew inside
- All inclusive system. Don’t need mash tuns, pumps, separate boil kettle, or chiller. Comes with everything you need.
- Set it and forget it mentality. You can easily set the mash temp and walk away. Also makes step infusions a breeze
- Clean up is very easy. It’s very light and you can use a clean in place solution as well which saves you time.
- Takes a long time to get up to temperature
- Boil isn’t vigorous unless you use an insulation jacket.
- Lower voltage model means you have to plus directly into an outlet
- Display screen is not very bright.
Oh, and here’s an unexpected bonus of the Grainfather: This thing is not only a great home brew machine, but it also allows you to cook Sous Vide with it! Hands-down the best chicken, steak, and porkchops I’ve ever made.
Get one here for yourself, you’ll never regret an investment into great hombrewed beer. Trust me on that.