Grainfather plates in Robobrew

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by greggreg66, Sep 4, 2020.

  1. greggreg66

    greggreg66 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hi,

    I am 4 brews in on my Robobrew Brewzilla v3.1.1 and very much enjoying it. However, my first 3 beers suffered both stuck mashes, sparges and low efficiency, but the third was the best of the 3 in terms of hitting the numbers, but still quite low. On my 4th beer I borrowed the top and bottom perforated plates from a friends Grainfather, with the silicone gasket seals and I hit the numbers bang on and had beautifully clear wort go into the FV. Very happy. The GF plates are slightly smaller than the Robobrew ones, so with the seals they fit nice and snug.

    I'm now considering buying Grainfather plates with the seals as this has had such an impact - does anyone else do this? I've got this paranoia that the Robobrew perforated plates (which come without seals) let water bypass the grain bed and run down the sides and I'll go back to <65% efficiency as before if I brew again.

    Things I did to help efficiency before GF plates:
    • Stir mash every 20 mins ish, 90 min mash
    • Recirc when mashing in to help break up any doughballs
    • Have tried the trick where you put grain in malt pipe then fill the kettle in reverse through the pump, but preferred the above as it's simpler.
    Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Messages:
    918
    Likes Received:
    933
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Electrician (Previously a 6th grade Teacher)
    Location:
    Maine
    Home Page:
    Have you used rice hulls with your mashes? I get 75% efficiency and I have had slow sparges but never stuck sparges... I don't always use rice hulls but I have found it helps.

    I recirculate during my entire mash (60 minutes) and get very clear wort and beer! - I have always assumed that the constant re-circulation compresses my grain bed some (never bothered to not recirculate during the mash to compare though....)

    As for the gasket - my robobrew has a gasket for the top screen but not the bottom. - Dang thing drives me nuts sometimes though!

    If the grainfather screens helped then I say: get a set (depending on price).
     
  3. greggreg66

    greggreg66 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hi,

    Thanks for the reply. I used rice hulls on the last two brews, which were an improvement on the first two. The first two really struggled with recirc, but with the last one on the GF plates the pump flow was going pretty fast, defo the best yet. Needed 1 stir to settle the grain bed down after 20 mins ish, then it was great.

    Will probably just get the GF plates as I think!
     
  4. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    1,424
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    The other approach is to avoid the plates and use a bag. Either with or without the malt pipe .
     
    Head First likes this.
  5. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Messages:
    3,750
    Likes Received:
    7,302
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Loveland, CO
    To me it sounds like you need to adjust your grain crush. You may be going to fine and not enough husk to help filter and break up the grain bed. That would also account for liquid taking the path of least resistance and going down the sides.
    I have the Grainfather and had to play with the crush some also. Loosening up my mill some and rice hulls have worked for me. I also stir about every 15-20 minutes. I'm at a consistent 85% efficiency and I think I'm going to dial back just a hair more to try to get more in the 75% range.
    Just something to consider.
     
    BOB357, Craigerrr and Blackmuse like this.
  6. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    6,903
    Trophy Points:
    113
    As I was reading, I was thinking grain crush as well, I have had the same results on my first two brews on my new BZ35. Going to open up my mill, and will also condition the grains before milling. I actually used a bag in the malt pipe, but as Blackmuse advised, I will use the machine as it is designed next brew, and see how the crush/condition works.
     
    Blackmuse and BOB357 like this.
  7. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2018
    Messages:
    3,996
    Likes Received:
    7,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Fallon, Nevada
    Another vote here for the crush. A coarse enough crush to allow good flow when recirculating is the ticket.
    Another thing to consider with all in one systems is the amount of dead space under the malt pipe. Even though most of this volume is recoverable, it does reduce the amount of water available for sparging, especially with larger grain bills. If I end up with less than 2 gallons of sparge water, efficiency suffers noticeably. When comparing efficiency from batch to batch, be sure the grist weights are close to the same or you'll be comparing apples to oranges.
     
    Blackmuse likes this.
  8. greggreg66

    greggreg66 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I've seen on YT the grain crushing and also conditioning of the grain helping with efficiency. I've not got a crusher and order mine crushed, so I suppose it would be a toss up between getting the new plates vs a grain crusher. Hmm!

    Also saw the BIAB, for some irrational reason I'm not into that idea, but I have no logical reason why, just don't fancy it.

    One question I have relating to Bob357's comment - I've never fully understood "dead space". If you're recirculating whilst mashing then isn't the liquid below the bottom plate still in use as it's going through the pump and back through the grain?

    Thanks in advance!!
     
  9. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    1,424
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    If you have great recirculation then the dead space doesn't hurt you that much. If you don't, the dead space wort is at a much lower gravity. So you need the sparge water to rinse the grains that the recirculation hasn't been able to get to.

    Or you could just go full volume...
     
    BOB357 likes this.
  10. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Messages:
    3,750
    Likes Received:
    7,302
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Loveland, CO
    I see no reason for using a bag with these systems either, and once dialed in you shouldn't need one. It's just adding extra steps and work imo. I would get a mill and crush my own grains instead of buying Grainfather parts. You wouldn't really be solving anything.
     
    Blackmuse and BOB357 like this.
  11. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2018
    Messages:
    3,996
    Likes Received:
    7,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Fallon, Nevada
    If you want a water/grain ratio of 1.5 qt,/lb. you would normally use 18 quarts of strike water to mash 12 lbs. of grain. To reach the same mash thickness in an all in one system, you need to add the amount of water it takes to reach the malt pipe bottom, (In my case, 8 quarts), so your total strike water would be 26 qts. (6 1/2 gallons) This means 2 gallons less water to sparge with than if you were using a conventional mash tun. While this extra liquid is being circulated through the grain bed, it doesn't change the thickness of your mash. I use 1 1/2 qt./lb. as an example. You can getaway with a bit lower ratio, but going too low can lead to recirculation problems and slow or stuck runoff.
    When you consider that every additional pound of grain subtracts another 1 1/2 quarts from the sparge volume, you can see where efficiency drops off significantly at a point. More grain = more sugars and less water to rinse with.
     
    Blackmuse and greggreg66 like this.
  12. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    6,903
    Trophy Points:
    113
    The dead space is the amount of water below the malt pipe (grain basket), it isn't a loss, but it needs to be taken into consideration. If you mash at 1.5 quarts per pound, with 10 pounds of grain you need 15 quarts of water in contact with the grain. So that would 15 quarts above the bottom of the malt pipe. You then need the additional volume of water, whatever that may be below the malt pipe. There are now equipment profiles set up, including one for the 3.1.1 , here is a link to some info on that.
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/august-31th-updates.13683/
     
    Blackmuse and greggreg66 like this.
  13. greggreg66

    greggreg66 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thanks so much Bob & Craig, that's so incredibly helpful.
     
  14. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    1,424
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    I find using the bag so much simpler than stuffing around with the plates, recirculation and grain crush. But then I'm a BIAB brewer for years so it's probably what you're used to.
     
  15. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    6,903
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Don't thank me yet, I am still trying to get my new Brewzilla dialed in. I brewed yesterday (third brew), and am still sorting out my volumes, hope to get things smoothed out on the next brew.
     
    BOB357 likes this.

Share This Page

arrow_white