So it was finally time…after what seems like a year talking about it (and getting permission off SWMBO ),months deliberating over what kit to buy and weeks building and collecting it,it all came into place this last weekend with the inaugural brew on the Grainfather in the Brewshed!
So Saturday came and thought it prudent to unbox and put together the Grainfather, in readiness for the planned brew day on Sunday…I’d opened it previously to check all was well but there was a bit to put together with it and needed to check that the connections for the cooling system it comes with was compatible with the scenario I had envisaged using i.e running the hose pipe down to the shed.
Turns out it was a breeze to put together with just a few cables to plug into the control unit,a pipe to connect to the pump and that was pretty much it…the instructions were well laid,clear and concise so it really was idiot proof!
At this point I was itching to get it going but,as it was already halfway through the day and remembered how long brewing just a 1 gallon batch took me,sense prevailed and it was just put down the brewshed and left in all its glory.
The next morning came and I was excited as a kid at Xmas..maybe just a little more than an aging man should’ve been,but this I saw as the moment that a long standing dream had come to fruition!
10 o’clock came and my brewshed adventure was about to begin (the good lady reckons I practically skipped down the garden but I like to think it was more a purposeful stroll),and with my lad in tow,as he had said he’d want to assist,we opened the doors to the new chapter in my hobby.
We set the Grainfather up on a plinth (old scavenged euro pallet) with the boiler next to it,and began to go through the instructions and recipe for the intended brew…an APA all grain kit that had come with the Grainfather from the supplier (Geterbrewed).
Having familiarised myself (for what seemed like the 20th time) again with the steps,I filled the boiler (for sparging) and Grainfather with the appropriate amount of water,turned the on and set the controls to the correct temp. (65c in this case)…setting the Grainfather is simply a matter of holding the set button for a few seconds,using the arrow keys to select the temperature and then pressing the set button again and away it goes..it was just a matter of waiting for the unit to then get up to temp.
This probably took about 20-25 mins,and it was during this time that I lost my apprentice, “this isn’t very exciting Dad,I’m off to play Destiny” I believe was what he grunted,so was left to enjoy the rest of the day on my lonesome.
When the GF (which I shall now refer to the Grainfather as I can’t be arsed to type it all out),got to temp. an alarm sounded and I was ready to place the inner stainless container into the base unit and add the grains.
Once they were all in all I needed to do now was place the top panel down over the pipe work in the centre till it was just resting on the grains,ensure the switch was set to mash,switch the pump to circulate and sit back and wait 60 mins .
The GF did a lovely job of recirculating the wort,runs almost silently,and watching the liquid recirculating was almost hypnotic,the time seemed to fly by and after 60 mins I bumped the temp upto 75 and did a kind of flame out for 10 mins to get the most out of the grains.At this point the wort looked lovely,darkened slightly but real clear.
At this point I shut the pump off,removed the recirculating pipe work (a simple hand tightened knob) ,inserted the handle into the top of the insert and gently lifted the internal section up and rested on the base section to allow the liquid to empty into the base. I then poured the already prepared water in the separate boiler (at 75c) over the top the grains and let them drain for a few minutes to get as much wort as was possible.
Next I lifted the internal section out and placed to the side,flicked the switch to boil and reset the temp up to boil. I did have a slight worry at this point as all the videos I had watched had the temp going upto 99c but I couldn’t get my controller to go up past 90…I quick nip onto t’internet and mind was put at rest when I was told that the boil switch bypasses the controller and takes over the temp. regulating. PANIC OVER.
I guess it took about 20-25 minutes further to get to boil temp,and then I was ready to add the hops at the appropriate timings (60mins,15 mins and 0 mins).One thing I did notice was that the GF produced a lovely,regulated rolling boil with minimum effort by myself which is great benefit.
A word of warning it does produce a bit of steam in the boil,but I guess that’s to be expected 😉
The next step was the cooling,and to be honest,this was the part I was dreading…the cooling system does look complicated with pipes seemingly coming from every which way ,but in practice it’s straightforward…Hot wort in the one pipe (the only one that will fit on the pipework on the Gf,cold water from the hosepipe (standard hosepipe connection) in another(the blue one),cool wort out of another and the warmed cooling water out of the last one(the red one)…it really is foolproof.
Here was another part where I had a slight concern,as the hot wort was not flowing out as quickly as I’d thought it would,but again I quick check into the interweb and again it was unfounded worrying.
Eventually,after about 15-20 mins the wort had been cooled to 20c…after all the nervousness I was really impressed with the cooling system and the speed in which it cooled the wort…another tick for the GF!
All that was then left to do was lid on,fix the blow off tube and place the fermenting bucket into a large plastic trug filled with water and an aquarium heater to regulate the water in the trug to keep the liquid in the FV at around 18c,hopefully .
Just a note about clean up of the GF..it was a doddle!
So that’s it…first brew done with the Grainfather,slightly longer than expected, more my fault than the kits but thoroughly enjoyable and at the end of it felt like a real brewer..I can’t wait to get another one on the go!
A few things I’d do differently the next time,I’m going to fit a tap on the end of the hose to stop me needing to run up and down the garden turning on and off,get a bigger bucket for the warmed water from cooling system and set the water to warm beforehand…but other than that really pleased with how it went and would have no hesitation in recommending the Grainfather.
It was about a 6.5 hour process but confident the next one will be a lot shorter.