Electric Beer Brewing Systems
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Electric Beer Brewing Systems

All grain brewing instructions can be complicated, so electric beer brewing systems are gaining huge popularity amongst home brewers. But are they worth the price tag?

Brewing beer is reported to be as old as civilisation itself, and so for thousands of years making beer has been at the forefront of technology, both in the home and commercially. Although there are home brewers making great beer with extracts, the availability of high grade all grain brewing equipment and ingredients give home brewers the ability to make better beer than most commercial breweries. However, the complex process can make brewing a daunting task to many beginners.

All-In-One Beer Brewing Systems

The arrival of electric beer brewing systems on the home brew scene means that more brewers than ever are turning out world class beer in their own kitchens. They universally promise to reduce brewing times, simplify the processes, increase precision and control, and above all, an easy brew day. However, they are also a very expensive way to start up an all grain home brewery. So why would you pay between $800 to $3,000 to automate your brewing?

To the credit of the engineers and brewers who have designed these systems, the reviews are almost entirely positive - you only need to take a quick look at some of the available reviews to realise that people who buy these are extremely happy with their purchase. The pros really are there for anyone who is time - poor, has limited space, or just wants a really cool "automatic brewery." However, they are not all created equal, so it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each model.

The three usual suspects are the PicoBrew Zymatic, the Braumeister and the Grainfather. These machines have thousands of dollars in price difference between them, and they are really worlds apart in what they can do for a brewer. It is important to read the reviews, and ask yourself the most important question: How much involvement do you want to have in the process?

The Zymatic

Developed by PicoBrew and launched commercially after a very impressive crowdfunding campaign, the Zymatic is a small but powerful machine. It's as close as you can get to a system that will do it all for you. You simply set up the recipe on your PC or mobile device, insert the ingredients, press "go" and come back in 4 hours to run the cooling system and add your yeast.

The Zymatic is the most expensive of the electric home beer brewing systems, and it's perfect for anyone with a lack of time and space. However, you have less hands on control of the brewing process than you will find with any other system - less of that "personal touch." The Zymatic also produces only a fraction of the beer that you will get with the Grainfather or Braumeister!

Nonetheless, this is my favourite piece of all grain brewing equipment, for being able to achieve the greatest level of automation ever seen in the home brewing world. It is also the perfect pilot system for commercial breweries.

The Grainfather

Designed in New Zealand with the aid of Mangrove Jack's, the Grainfather has become extremely popular, being the cheapest all in one brewing system. It is also the least automatic and most hands on of the three, which is desirable for some but less so for others.

There are several optional extras available which make a highly customisable user experience and also give the brewer the greatest level of control over the end result. Having greater control over the process is a double edged sword, however: The Grainfather requires much more constant attention during the brew. You may also find that the optional extras really do add up - and you will find yourself wanting to add them.

The Grainfather suits homebrewers who want greater control over their brew but still can't quite afford the time required to build or even operate a DIY all grain brewing system. If you are not prepared to watch the pot during the entire process, then you should consider another option. But if you prefer adding your own personal flare, the Grainfather is for you.

The Braumeister

The Braumeister by Speidel, also known as the Brewmaster, is German designed and has gained rapid popularity all over home brew forums and in brewing circles. It comes in four sizes, from a 20 litre home brewery all the way up to a monstrous 500 litre brewhouse - all in the one piece of equipment. The smallest model is priced comfortably in the middle of the Grainfather and the Zymatic.

The Braumeister was the first automatic all grain brewing system on the homebrew scene and very much sets the bar for the competing systems. While the automation level is higher than that of the Grainfather, there are some key processes that are not handled as seamlessly as the Zymatic. Once your recipe is set, you can walk away from this machine right up until the sparge - but the process is quite manual from there.

For commercial brewers or home brewers needing something easy to understand and use, but not requiring total automation, the Braumeister is ideal. However, it's a hefty price to pay with only marginally improved automation than the Grainfather.

Choosing an Electric Brewing System

These brewing machines are not cheap. If you are considering taking the leap to brew all grain beer, even if you are an all grain brewer but want the extra cool factor, make sure you do your research. There are reviews and price details available on sites like WinningBeers, so be sure to get all the information you can.


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