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Brewmonk or Similar

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 18 OwlParliament


    In attempt to breathe a bit of life into this forum I'll ask the question:
    Anyone out there have one?

    Got the 30L one for Christmas (a very generous present!) but still haven't used it as I had two extract kits to use up. They are done now and my first all grain brew will be in 2 or 3 weeks.
    I've tried it with water to check heating/leaks/temp calibration etc and so far so good.
    How are people finding it?
    Pros/cons?
    Essential/helpful extras?

    Cheers!


Comments



  • I got myself the Robobrew Brewzilla just before Xmas - the 30L (35?) version. Have been brewing for 4-5 years on another setup (Grainfather G30) with friends, so can compare the two of them first hand quite a bit.

    Think the Robo is fairly similar to the BrewMonk etc., but I went with it as I'd seen good reviews and it has a false bottom, as opposed to bazooka-style filter. Not necessarily better but just something I'd prefer.

    Finding it generally good, and definitely good value when comparing to the Grainfather (think it was nearly half the price) - however the Grainfather does have some features that make it a bit easier to use that I do miss a little (none of them necessarily would make you end up with better beer, but just a more pleasant experience on the brew day. It also lacks some features the Robo does have).

    Pros:
    - Good value
    - Seems like a good quality product: stainless steel, good heating elements, accurate temps, camlock fittings, good pump
    - Ending up with decent beer - made 3 recipes, one ended up intensely bitter for reasons I cannot explain, but each one has been an improvement as I've gotten used to the system. Currently waiting on a beer that turned out very good on the G30 before, so hopefully I end up with something similar (though can't really blame the system on that - fermentation, and my transfer process, will be the decider as I hit the OG I wanted on brew day)

    Cons:
    - Not sure I can come up with any major cons other than the usability issue I miss from the G30 - The connect module is really quite good on that. The Robo is definitely a bit more..."manual", with having to switch on and off the heating elements at different times yourself, and adjust temperatures for different times. You can program the G30 to do all this for you.
    Due to it being more "manual", you have to use the control panel on the Robo more, and very annoyingly it's at the bottom of the unit (I brew at pretty much ground level - I have it on a circular dolly). Makes for a lot of height adjustments on brew day! G30's control unit is sticking out the side near the top of it.

    Any other issues I've had would be things like pump getting clogged due to grain getting through, which is something I've had happen with G30 - and most likely not a system issue (grain could be too fine, though don't think I placed false bottom correctly myself that day).

    No essential/helpful extras really. I bought the whirlpool arm which I'm sure helps with the whirlpool, but it doesn't really look too powerful, so I still end up with some manual stirring.
    As I said I use a dolly which makes for ease of use for moving the unit around, however I'd imagine a lot of people wouldn't advise it as you're increasing the chance of boiling sticky liquid spilling everywhere.

    Overall I'd definitely recommend the Robo (cannot speak for the BrewMonk or others) for those who'd like to try all grain/an all-in-one system and don't want to put in a huge amount of money. If you're very keen on brewing and plan on doing it for the next 3 years+, might be worth thinking about investing a bit more into the Grainfather depending on how much value you place on ease of use. For the price it seems a great piece of kit.




  • That's a thorough response, fair play.
    As far as I know, you can put programmes into the Brewmonk, but open to correction. I'm happy to manually change temperatures for the time being.
    I'd like to try the Grainfather at some stage alright. I'm perfectly happy with this at the moment, who knows in the future.
    I'll stick up a post when I do my first brew on it, be it good, bad or indifferent.




  • Well as promised, I said I'd update after my first brew. This was my first attempt at an all grain recipe so it was a bit of a learning experience. I did an oatmeal stout (which smells amazing).
    A few observations:
    - The recipe called for nearly 15 L mash water (approx. 5.5 kg grain). This was not enough to cover all the grain so I had to add an additional 6 L of water. Not the fault of the Brewmonk to be fair.
    - I set it at 2500 watts for the boil. Found that to be far too vigorous. Had to dial it back to 2100 watts. To do this I had to stop the boil program and reset the watts and time. Not really a big deal. I was also surprised at the amount of steam generated over the hour of boil. I had windows and doors open in the kitchen. As I said though, this was my first all grain attempt so not used to that.
    - I found that a small portion of grist got through the false bottom and blocked the bazooka filter pretty easily when I was emptying it. I had to constantly gently clean with a stainless steel spoon.
    - I found it tricky to get the grist out of the inlet portion for the pump at the bottom. I had to run the pump and collect the grist. Turn off and repeat. This caused a bit of a blow back and send grist back up the inlet of the pump (the hole at the bed of the unit). I then would have to dump the water and repeat.
    - I missed my intended OG. Was supposed to be approx. 1060, I came out with 1050 ish. More that likely my own fault and I'm not overly concerned about that.

    The above all sound a bit negative but overall I was very pleased with the whole setup. My brew day took around 5 hours in total but I should get that down a bit when I'm more familiar with the whole set up. I'm looking forward to my next brew day!


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