Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

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Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby drgonzo2k2 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:59 pm

Hey Everyone!

Was glad to come across this great forum. I've been considering a Braumeister for a while now, and I'd say I've been seriously considering one for the last couple of weeks.

I had originally pre-ordered a Picobrew Z2 unit, which was supposed to ship in July, but after months of delays and no real future ship date in sight I started looking at other units. I remembered the Braumeister had made my short list before, so I decided to revisit it again. I just had a few questions I was hoping folks could help me out with before making the plunge.

First, one of the big reasons I liked the Z series was the smaller batch size. I'm a US based brewer, previously doing 5 gallon batches, and now I wanted to move to 3 gallon. I understand from their website that the smallest batch size on the 20L (without the short malt pipe) is 16L. Is that correct? That'd be just over 4 gallons. Any reason you couldn't just brew a lower gravity beer with a longer boil time to get to your target OG at the 3.25-3.5 gallon range? Can you brew batches in that range with the short malt pipe or no? For reference most of my beers are in the 1.05-1.07 range.

Second, for chilling I was planning on re-using my existing plate chiller, gravity fed into my fermenter. I understand it needs to drop about 75cm (30 inches) for that to work, is that correct? To filter out the pellet hops and prevent them from getting into my chiller I was going to use one of these - https://www.ebay.com/itm/STAINLESS-STEEL-HOMEBREW-BEER-HOP-FILTER-FOR-SPEIDEL-BRAUMEISTER-6X12SBT-/181473304264. Anyone see any problems for that?

I'd looked at the Plus model as it has the built in cooling jacket, but from reading I gather that it doesn't really work very well due to surface contact area. Is that the general consensus?

I was wondering aside from the cooling jacket the Plus model has the additional bottom outlet and a water connection. Two questions there - first how much easier is cleaning with the bottom outlet? What does it enable you to do that the model without the outlet doesn't? Second, what exactly is the water connection? I don't seem to see any details on that anywhere. Is it just the water inlet for the cooling jacket?

Lastly as far as accessories go I was looking at the hood (copper, because come on, it looks cool!), the wifi module, and the insulating jacket. Any strong opinions on why I shouldn't get/wouldn't need any of those or are there things others would recommend that I'm missing?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give
"Remember, no one is an Einstein after nine steins!"
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby nibber » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:58 am

Hi and welcome to the forum, :mrgreen:
Have you considered the 10 Litre model?
It may suit your needs better for small batch brewing.
The Plus models have the tap in the base and 2 x extra connections for the water jacket (water in and out) i assume as i don't own the Plus model.
I see you can buy a copper hood for it in the States (never seen one for sale in the UK).I prefer the stainless domed hood as it matches the Braumeister .
I have the thermal insulating jacket on mine but a lot of people make their own.
I do have the WiFi module as i find it useful to update the firmware on mine etc.
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby mashy » Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:27 am

previously doing 5 gallon batches, and now I wanted to move to 3 gallon.


Can I ask why? I think you would be better suited to a preowned original 20.

I'd looked at the Plus model as it has the built in cooling jacket, but from reading I gather that it doesn't really work very well due to surface contact area. Is that the general consensus?


It doesn't work very well. Unless you like using gallons of water and a very slow chill.

how much easier is cleaning with the bottom outlet?

The lower outlet is stunning. Pumped it is even better. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2238&p=20933&hilit=Lower+pump+tap#p20933

Have you considered the issues with compensation of the screen controller on the latest version? viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1657&p=27361&hilit=Condensation#p27354

This might be worth a read too... viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1465&hilit=fast+beer
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby drgonzo2k2 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:09 pm

Thanks for the replies, gang! Now let me try to answer some of your questions... :beer:

Can I ask why? I think you would be better suited to a preowned original 20.


I'm interested in doing smaller, more frequent batches, to experiment more, tweak recipes, etc. What I liked about the Z2 (which seems to be the same with the BM20) is that if I think I really got a winner on one of the smaller batches then I could brew a larger 5 gallon batch of it. Can I ask why you suggest a pre-owned original model?

The lower outlet is stunning. Pumped it is even better. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2238&p=20933&hilit=Lower+pump+tap#p20933


I guess not being familiar enough with how the units operate without this mod I don't know enough to appreciate the outcome of what you did there. From the Speidel description of the lower port I thought it was to be used for clean up only, but it looks like you've incorporated it into your brewing process to the extent that you don't think you need the main port any more? Since it appears the cooling jacket is essentially useless, if I went with the plus model I'd be paying $200 more for the lower port. Do you think the benefit supports that cost?

Have you considered the issues with compensation of the screen controller on the latest version? viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1657&p=27361&hilit=Condensation#p27354


No, this is the first I've read about that. It seems that you have the plus model; is this an issue for you? Skimming through the thread it seems it's hit or miss with this problem? Speaking to two BM owners in person neither of them mentioned this. That's a real bummer, but would you say it's a deal breaker?

This might be worth a read too... viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1465&hilit=fast+beer


That's a really great resource, thank you so much! Reading through it made me realize I have a few more questions, if you don't mind.

1 - What is the condensation build up during boiling with these units? I see you've got a dryer vent hose attached to the top of your hood. Where/how do you direct the output, and with that attached how do you add the hops during the boil? Where I plan to put my BM is directly in front of a large sliding window, so I had planned to open that during the boil and use a small fan to pull the steam out. Do you think that would work?

2 - What is the "average" brew time with these units? I'm a clean as you go type of guy, and was hoping to have something in the 4 hour range.

3 - How much do you need to babysit during the brewing process? Obviously you need to be around to chuck the hops in, but any reason to hang out during the mash? Are boil overs a worry with these units?
"Remember, no one is an Einstein after nine steins!"
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby mashy » Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:02 am

I will not recommend anything unless I believe in it myself.
I suggested a preowned because of the condensation issue.
A 4 to 5 hour session is possible. I walk away and leave it, once I have noted what time I need to be back.

I don't think the plus is worth it. If you only want a low tap that's a very very simple mod.

Anything you boil for 60 mins will produce a large amount of steam and have the potential for boilover.

I prefer to duct the steam outside. Just like I have a hood over the stove. You can open the double doors a dump the fan outside, very easy. I also have a boilover proof lid. Boilovers are not an issue if you pay attention. Keep the lid on to start with and then manage it - just like boiling potatoes. And don't add your first hop until after hot break (15 mins).

These are brilliant units. But don't over-think this. Brewing days always have surprises - that's how you learn.
If YOU want to make stunning beer these are for you. They are not a fully automatic 'grain to glass' and all you do is tweak the software.

When you get one. (see want I did there) :D
Do a water only run first, and then a simple recipe. So many people get tangled up in the maths and read the advanced stuff on this forum from guys who have been brewing forever.
Make yourself grin and make more beer.
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby Cristian » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:34 am

Be aware you have no markings on the BM. (only some markings on the central rod that I found not to be precise and not very useful). I marked my BM20 from 25 to 30 L increments of 1L to be easier to measure water/wort volume.
It is recommended as Mashy was saying to start with a simple recipe (SMASH) and record all the steps and quantities. Like starting water volume, grain volume, wort volume after removing the grains, sparge water volume, wort volume before boil start, wort volume after boil, wort volume into fermenter. It is not the same for everybody as altitude, temperature of the room etc will influence some parameters.
Out of this you will have the parameters to insert in the brewing software. After 4-5 brews you will get used to the volumes and will be easier. At the beginning, try to be consistent regarding the quantity of grains used (I personally use 5.4Kg of grains for a good efficiency. going above I found to reduce mash efficiency) until you get used with the equipment and volumes.
I have the dome lid from BM and I use it all the time. This is a good add on in my opinion.
Regarding the wifi module, probably the least upgrade you should think of. it is useful to upgrade you software version only. If you buy a new BM you will have already a recent software version. (one of the old version allows for only 3 hop additions which is quite limited)

Brewing 15L or 20L = same 4.5-5 hours brew day. And 20 L in the fermenter according to dry hop volume and other losses may result in 17L of beer.

:beer:
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby f00b4r » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:11 pm

A pedestal/desk fan will easily push the stream out of an open window if aimed at the to of the dome lid.
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby grooves » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:19 pm

I use this for BM20 volumes. I think I found it over at Aussie Home Brewer

bm20-h2v-data.png
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby grooves » Sat Oct 20, 2018 6:19 pm

It's a bit messed up after 25l...

I use this formula in excel (same source)

bm20-h2v.png
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby drgonzo2k2 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:03 pm

Thanks for all the help and feedback, everyone! I went ahead and ordered a BM20 V2 with the hood, insulating jacket, and WiFi module. It should all be here this week.

I also ordered one of the stainless hop filters from Arbor Fab on eBay.

I'm going to reuse the chugger pump and plate chiller from my old brew rig for my cooling system because I already have it and am very familiar with its use.

One question I had is that I noticed a few folks mentioning putting a rubber gasket around the top of the malt tube like is on the bottom. Are folks just buying the Speidel part for the bottom and putting it on the top?
"Remember, no one is an Einstein after nine steins!"
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby mashy » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:23 pm

Nope. It's handmade. And a worthy mod.

It goes around the top plate, not the top of the tube.
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby drgonzo2k2 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:31 pm

Do you have a link so I can check it out!
"Remember, no one is an Einstein after nine steins!"
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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby mashy » Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:48 am

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Re: Considering a 20L & Have a Few Questions

Unread postby Brewtus » Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:52 pm

You can see how I use hop strainers here http://www.beerbackhome.com. they are small but work realy well. I have three so I can do each addition with them.

Cheers.
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