First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

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Greenfather

First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by Greenfather »

Hi All,

As someone coming to the BM from the Grainfather I said I’d post my first brewing experience and thoughts vs the Grainfather.

Firstly, my decision to buy the BM was because I wanted to make my beer more consistent and complex, with multiple mash steps. Doing this consistently would be impossible with the standard Grainfather controller, the new controller may make this easier, but I haven’t used it.

I chose the Plus version to make cooling simpler and cleaning easier.

The short version is that both of these decisions were justified and I think the BM means I can concentrate of the science of brewing rather than the process. So a good buying decision for me.

I brewed a Windhoek clone on Saturday, and a Pilsner Urquell clone on Sunday, both brew days took around 7 hours total, with 2 hour mash and 90 minute boil.

Pros

The inbuilt cooling sleeve is better than I thought it would be, getting my wort down to 20C is approx. 40 minutes (helped by a strong Northerly breeze I should add). My recommendation is to use the bottom connector for In and the top one for out, this seemed quicker on day 2.

The tap to transfer the wort is brilliant, much better than pumping or siphoning with the Grainfather. A good flow is achievable to aerate the wort, excellent.

The bottom tap is also excellent for cleaning. Some tipping is required but better than upending the GF.

As mentioned before the mash process can be done fully unattended, I baby sat it the first day, but took the dog out and had breakfast on day two. This is great especially as my mashes took around 2.5 hours total with temperature increases.


Cons

The BM user interface is awful, I bought the wifi module because I couldn’t face trying to program a recipe manually.

I would prefer the heating element to be covered as with the Grainfather for easier cleaning.

For some reason the BM thought the boil had started once the temperature reached 90c, it took another 13 minutes to reach the boil. Not a major issue for a 90 minute boil, but it would be an issue for 60 minutes. I think there’s a setting for Boil in the UI, I’ll investigate next time.

The centre post is a stupid design which is proven by the fact it has level markings on it as an attempt to justify its existence.. I would prefer the grain basket to twist and lock to the BM with a similar simpler fitting for the top filter.

Similarly sparging is perilous, with the grain basket balanced precariously on a slippery piece of bent metal. The basket slipped off when I was cleaning it, so I was super careful not to do this again with the BM full of 80c wort. Two notches to allow the basket to sit in without slipping and 4 pins to stop the bracket from slipping off would be much safer. The Grainfather has a much better solution for the grain basket.

Conclusion

Both the BM and GF have their pro’s and cons, both could benefit from some simple design changes (GF add a tap, BM fix the basket issue). I think with the new Connect controller the GF has a better user interface / experience, but the BM is not that bad providing you fork out the extra £80 for the wifi module, hopefully the BM experience will improve as the beta develops. I don’t regret buying the BM, but the GF would give me 90% of what the BM does at around half the price…

LMoerkens

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by LMoerkens »

Thanks, that is an honest comparison. Have never brewed with the GF but looked at the videos and read a lot about it. Interesting your experience with the cooling jacket, there have been quite some postings on the forum questioning the effectiveness of it.
As a BM owner, I never regretted buying it (had a good deal on a slightly used one for $1200), so the price difference with the GF was not that big.

Welcome to the forum and happy brewing,
:beer:

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mashy
Posts: 2986
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:43 pm
Model: 20 litres
Location: Mercia

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by mashy »

Nice honest post.

Slippery basket issue - I have considered sliding some silicone hose on the stirrup arms to make it a bit more grippy - but never got around to it - I think I go used to it and I wash it separately.

Thanks

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Fritzkellerbrau
Posts: 102
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:58 pm
Model: 50 litres
Location: Joburg South Africa

First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by Fritzkellerbrau »

Hi Greenfather

Nice post. Unrelated, please share the Windhoek clone recipe (presume it's the Namibian beer).

Cheers


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tommes
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:23 pm
Model: 20 litres (2015)

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by tommes »

Hi,

thanks for the report.
Greenfather wrote:For some reason the BM thought the boil had started once the temperature reached 90c, it took another 13 minutes to reach the boil. Not a major issue for a 90 minute boil, but it would be an issue for 60 minutes. I think there’s a setting for Boil in the UI, I’ll investigate next time.
AFAIK the the controller starts the boil phase when the temperature doesn't rise within 3 minutes. Did you use some insulation jacket, as you've mentioned the northern breeze?

Cheers!

Greenfather

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by Greenfather »

tommes wrote:Hi,

thanks for the report.
Greenfather wrote:For some reason the BM thought the boil had started once the temperature reached 90c, it took another 13 minutes to reach the boil. Not a major issue for a 90 minute boil, but it would be an issue for 60 minutes. I think there’s a setting for Boil in the UI, I’ll investigate next time.
AFAIK the the controller starts the boil phase when the temperature doesn't rise within 3 minutes. Did you use some insulation jacket, as you've mentioned the northern breeze?

Cheers!
Hi Tommes,

I found the cause of the boiling issue on another forum, it was supposed to be fixed in a software update but seems not.

No I didn't use a jacket, I will next time. I bought an insulated camping mat and need to cut some holes out before I use it.

Shame theres no official collar for the plus...

Cheers

Greenfather

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by Greenfather »

Did another couple of brews this weekend as my fermenters from the first weekend became free.

This weekend was a bit smoother, other than me managing to spill some malt outside the grain basket.

I used a camping mat to provide some insulation, but heating was still slow and boil started at 94c.

Cooling was quicker as i only had to get the wort down to ale fermenting temps, but still slow, especially the last 5c. Using the pump intermittently does help, but no use when letting the trub settle out.

I'm still happy with the BM, but can't see me doing 2 brews in a day like i could with the grainfather, but I'm enjoying brewing more, so thats less of an issue now...










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mashy
Posts: 2986
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:43 pm
Model: 20 litres
Location: Mercia

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by mashy »

I do think you will enjoy the BM - it is different if you are used to the GF. I would need to take time to settle into a GF having never used one.
Shame theres no official collar for the plus...
I think you will find (from another post on here) the latest jackets have two cut outs. CHECK IT with the retailer - don't take my word for it OR that they have not got old stock ??

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nibber
Posts: 160
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:50 pm
Model: 50 litres (2015)
Location: The Garden of England,Kent.

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by nibber »

Interesting read,i have a 20 Litre and a 50 Litre Braumeister and a Grainfather(which i bought first) and have fitted the new connect controller and i use all machines-i agree on the grain basket issue on the Brau,but i much prefer the wort chiller on the Grainfather and the ease of the pumping out of the cooled wort straight into a fermenter on the Grainfather which i have never have a problem with and also never had a blocked pump issue etc(unlike the Braumeister)The Braumeister tap has to be the crappiest most annoying part on the Braumeister even with the proper hop guard fitted.Have now invested in a Bac springer mod kit for it and now 100 percent better.For the amount the units cost you should not have to invest in an aftermarket tap,also i had an issue with my 20 Litre (2015 model ) that the lcd screen was off centre which i found highly annoying only cosmetic i know but £1,300 quids worth of kit. Speidel replaced after i complained but had to wait 3 weeks for turnaround controller replacement,the other annoying issue i have is the wifi module,i found it is of little use apart from using to upgrade the machine firmware-have never managed to get it connected to my router even with machines in the same room! The Braumeisters are high quality manufacture but with a few annoying issues- malt pipe stirrup,tap.
but i still love all these machines! :D :mrgreen: :beer:

13brv3
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:01 pm
Model: 20 litres (2015)

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by 13brv3 »

Nice comparison. I bought a 20L over the GF about a year ago, and hadn't looked at the GF in a while. I just checked out their new controller, and they really seem to be closing the gap. It would be a much harder choice now.

I really dislike the exposed heating element in the BM from a cleaning standpoint, though I'm sure it's more efficient. I love the "idea" of the BM Plus cooling jacket, again for cleaning reasons, but I think they could have done much better with the implementation. If the GF makes that their next improvement, I'd probably get one.

Cheers,
Rusty

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mashy
Posts: 2986
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:43 pm
Model: 20 litres
Location: Mercia

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by mashy »

Has anyone compared the bulldog - in my local HBS they have stopped selling the GF because of it.

http://www.bulldogbrews.co.uk
Last edited by mashy on Tue May 23, 2017 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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johnrm
Posts: 159
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:12 am

Re: First brew with BM20+ vs Grainfather

Unread post by johnrm »

What HBS is that?

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