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Showing posts from September, 2019

Pilsner Mandarina SMASH 1.0

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to bring my recipe creation skills up a level is to focus a bit on the flavor contribution of various malts. There is a lot out there on the subject already, but most experts will tell you that each of us has a slightly different sense of taste and smell. What may seem dry and lemony to me could seem very different to you.  The best way to know what the different base malts contribute to a recipe is to build a single-malt and single-hop (SMASH) beer.  To fairly compare the malts to one another, you will want to use the same water profile, mash and sparge steps, same hops, same yeast, etc.  Your only change should be the base malt.

I have a fair amount of a number of base malts in stock, along with a decent quantity of Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets, and some Coopers dry ale yeast.  With the Brewie+ functional again, I should be able to create a number of SMASH beers which are nearly identical apart from their base malts.  At least this…

Santa's Reward Ale 1.0 (Tart Cherry Ale)

Some time ago, I picked up a recipe for a Christmas ale called Bad Santa.  Thinking I had all the ingredients on hand, I decided to brew it, only to find that I did not have at least one of them - Munich Malt.  Since I'd already crushed some of the grains and mostly wanted to brew this to confirm that the Brewie+ is once again functional after recent repairs, I made some substitutions.  Given that I was no longer following the original recipe, I decided to rename it so as not to dishonor the original recipe's creator if this batch doesn't turn out.

Ingredients
6 pounds Swaen Pilsner Malt 2 pounds Briess Pale Ale Malt 10 ounces Honey Malt 7 ounces Vienna Malt 1 ounce Aromatic Malt 4 ounces Crystal/Caramel 10L Malt 4 ounces Caramunich I Malt 0.3 ounces English Black Malt 7 ounces Maple Syrup (post-boil, pre-chill addition) 1 ounce German Northern Brewer hops @ 4.8% AA (60 min.) 1 packet Safale S-04 English Ale yeast 1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash water) 1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (20 min.) …

Brewie+ Repair Update (fixed on 9/21/2019, failed again 9/29/2019)

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, my Brewie+ quit working properly on July 12.  I reached out to the manufacturer and was told that new wiring would be shipped to me for installation.  Unfortunately, it's now two months later and there is no wiring. There are also rumors online of the manufacturer going out of business, supported by the fact that their web site seems to go online and offline randomly and (last time I tried) I could not submit trouble tickets or send an email inquiring about the status of my repair part order.

Fearing the worst, I ordered some high-temperature wire, high temperature connectors, high-temperature silicone tape, and thermal switches of the kind used in the Brewie and Brewie+.  Earlier today, a friend and I created replacement wiring for the Brewie+ heating element and thermal switch.  We also removed the failed thermal switch and replaced it with a new one.

After reassembling the Brewie+, it booted up fine and looked to be working. Since it was …

Brewie and Brewie+ Internals

The last time I brewed with my Brewie+ was July 12, 2019.  The machine failed during that brew, leaving wort slowly cooling in the boil kettle.  I saved the batch by pumping it to another kettle and finishing it out there, but the Brewie itself was out of commission.  I contacted the manufacturer that evening for help. Two days later, I was told that parts were on the way to repair it.  It's now September 7, and those parts haven't arrived.

In the meantime, there are strong indications that the company making the Brewie has gone out of business.  I'm hopeful those are just rumors, but there are a number of facts that suggest otherwise. Although their web site is still active, their tech support system reports "Account suspended" if you try to post a case or ask a question.  Their support email address, if you email it, comes back as non-existent.  Right now, eBay is filled with a number of broken "customer return" systems that you can purchase inexpensi…

Thoughts on the Brewie+ After 8 Months

I've been brewing now for at least 7 years. Over that time, I've brewed well over 100 batches and used several different configurations of equipment. Most of the batches were brewed with iMake's The Grainfather all-in-one system. Many were brewed with PicoBrew's Zymatic.  For the last 8 months, I've brewed exclusively with the Brewie+.  For home brewers considering purchasing a Grainfather, Zymatic, or Brewie+, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some thoughts and experiences since I've been fortunate enough to use all three.

Let's start with a quick comparison of high-level features: iMake's The Grainfather:Uses 110 volt (for the US model) electrical outletsBrews up 8 gallons in a single batchHas a grain bill limit of X poundsProvides good temperature control through the mashWith the "Connect" controller, you can control temperature and pump activation remotely with their app, provided you are in Bluetooth rangeHandles almost all of the …