When I started my home-brewing adventures I was brewing with extracts. I would carry my propane burner, boil kettle, fermenter, and all the other items I needed to brew upstairs from my basement and out onto my deck. This worked fine for a year, but because I am in Northeast Ohio the weather doesn’t always seem to cooperate, and the completion of a brew day was often in the hands of mother nature. Sure, I could brew in my basement with the propane burner, and I did, but this is a little nerve racking on several fronts. First, there is always that threat of gassing yourself to death which ruins the fun of a brew day. Second, there is a risk of boil over that can be harmful to both your basement floor and your marriage if your spouse isn’t as supportive as mine. The third risk is of course blowing your house to smithereens, but I could do that on the back deck as well so…meh.
I wanted to get an electric brewing system for a long time for several reasons. Mostly I wanted to be able to brew inside out of the elements whenever I wanted. I also got tired of carrying everything up and down the stairs. My goal was to set up a small home brewery in the basement and climb as few flights of steps in a brew day as possible. Space is relatively limited in my basement so whatever I was going to get needed to have a small footprint. I also didn’t have an endless supply of cash to formulate my new brewhouse, so the hunt was on. I first looked at the Grainfather system, but the cost was exorbitant. For the cost, I felt that it just wasn’t worth it.
Then one day I heard about the Robobrew. An all in one electric brewing system like the Grainfather, but at about a third of the cost. I started researching and found that it had a lot of supporters, but it also had its detractors. When I began looking the Robobrew was on version 2, but there was talk of the version 3 being released soon. I decided to pre-order the Robobrew V3 from MoreBeer in late January.
I received the Robobrew in late February and I was pleasantly surprised from the beginning. For my first recipe I brewed an IPA recipe that I had created for extract brewing but converted it to All Grain. Not only was this my first run on the Robobrew, but it was almost my first run at All Grain brewing. I have to say that despite the amount of time added to the brew day by switching from extract to AG, I quite enjoyed it. The Robobrew made the brew day so easy.
Some of the original complaints about the Robobrew V2 was that the measurement markings weren’t accurate, and that the temperature reading was off by 3 to 5 degrees in some instances. I can tell you that Version3 is far more accurate. The markings are spot on, and the temperature readout is with a couple of degrees. This is mostly due to the fact the heating element is in the bottom and the temperature sensor is closer to the bottom. The bottom of the kettle will always be hotter than the measured temperature at the top, but that protects the Robobrew from scorching anything near the bottom of the kettle.
The new Robobrew also allows for presetting up to 6 different steps. Meaning, you can set the timer to begin heating your strike water up to 24 hours in advance. This is a nice feature, but I prefer to start the strike water when I wake up for brew day because while it heats I can mill my grain. The heating process takes around 25 to 30 minutes depending on what your mash in temp is. The Robobrew does a nice job of maintaining the temperature throughout the mash and ramps up quickly to your mash out temp. I purchased the Robobrew without an internal pump so I sparge from my Anvil boil kettle.
Once the sparge is complete the Robobrew ramps up to a boil in about 20 minutes or so. The Robobrew holds 9 gallons of water so it can make a 5-gallon batch without a problem, but beyond that I’m not so sure. During the boil I use a homemade hop spider, so I don’t get a bunch of hop trub in the bottom of the kettle, which makes clean up much easier. I’ve heard a lot of complaints that people have a hard time getting a nice rolling boil in the Robobrew, but I can say that in the four times I have used the system I have always had a nice rolling boil.
Once the boil ends and any whirlpooling or hop steeping is complete the next step is to cool the wort as quickly as possible. The Robobrew comes with a stainless-steel wort chiller that makes this a pretty easy process. I’ve heard people say that the included chiller takes a long time to cool the wort, but I have not experienced this. Typically, I can chill the wort to around 66 or 68 within about 30 minutes. I have found that if you stir the wort a little about 15 minutes in you will notice a rapid reduction in temperature.
After the wort is chilled I hook up my wort pump and send the product into one of my fermenters. Clean up with the Robobrew is a breeze. Once I have the wort moved, aerated, and the yeast has been pitched it takes about another 60 minutes or so to clean everything up. All in all the entire brew day takes about 6 to 7 hours, but to me its 6 or 7 hours of fun. I enjoy every minute I spend brewing and I never once find it to feel like hard work.
In closing if you are thinking about becoming a home brewer or you are in the market for an equipment upgrade I would highly recommend you look at the Robobrew. It simplifies the All Grain brewing process and allows you to make great beer without taking up a ton of space. MoreBeer has the Robobrew with and without the internal pump. You can purchase either one for less than $500 and the units ship free from MoreBeer. Go check it out and you will be happy that you did.