• Beer gear - ease the squeeze with a Grainfather

    You accumulate a lot of Crap during 16 years of brewing.  It starts out innocuously enough; just a fermenter, a bunch of bottles and not much else.  No problem.  You soon realise those plastic bottles that come with the kit are shit, so a collection of empty longnecks soon follows.  You need to keep them in something, so you're soon scanning the streets for milk crates to nick from the kerb.  Then a bottle capper, obviously.  Then the plastic.  Measuring spoons, measuring cups.  Containers for part used bags of leftover malts and adjuncts.  Containers for bottle wash and sterilisers.  Tubs for containers.  More fermenters.  More airlocks, more spigots, more bottlers, more Crap.

    By this time you're getting that look from the wife.  You've long been evicted from the kitchen on brew day.  But then, mercifully the rate of crap accumulation slows to a trickle, just the occasional replacement or upgrade.  You've got all the Crap you need for kit brewing.  Some brewers will stay in this happy beer gear equilibrium for years or even decades.  Some will never move on.  But for many, the day will come when its time to ditch the training wheels and graduate to all-grain mash brewing.  When that day comes, watch out!  Because a deadset tsunami of beer gear is sure to follow. 

    This time it will be steel (and yes, more plastic).  Boilers.  Burners.  Mash tuns.  Wort chillers.  Then kegs.  CO2 bottles, regulators, hoses.  Taps.  Fridge conversion.  Kegerator (oh yes!).

    Last year I upgraded to a Grainfather all-in-one mash brewing system.  Dumbass name (seriously, is that the best you could do), but homebrew heaven!  A combined mash and lauter tun, boiler and wort chiller to boot, cleverly engineered into a compact unit that will ease the squeeze wherever you do your brewing.  The Grainfather brings all-grain brewing within easy reach even if you're making do in the wee small laundry of an inner city unit.  It combines just the right level of precision digital control and ease of use, while enhancing rather than detracting from the homebrewers' craft.  

    At $1,100 it's not cheap, it's easily the dearest piece of brewing kit I've invested in.  But compared to all the increasingly expensive Crap I've bought over the years, and for the far superior performance, the Grainfather is a bargain.  It's not without flaws; the spring and ball valve clogs easily with spent hops during wort chilling, the heating elements could have more guts and the unit won't handle much more than a standard 20L batch.  But otherwise, it's a homebrewer's wet dream, especially if you're short on space or spousal understanding.  Nothing else comes close for the price.

    Do yourself a favour, you know you want one.


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