I started home brewing on a tiny kitchen stove nestled in the heart of Palms, Los Angeles. Smaller batch sizes, malt syrup, a specialty grain bag, plastic buckets, and a whatever fermentation temperature. Times were simpler back then. Moving to all grain added recipe customization, and the feeling of a more complete brewing experience, but increased complexity and total brew time. My entire brew day was centered around a single bayou burner with vessel transfers and skin burns. Eventually I moved to a two-tiered stand hobbled together with angle iron scraps and rust reducing paint. It wasn’t ideal, smelled funny, leaked gas, but it did the job. Flash forward to today and I’m looking at one of the most sophisticated home brew set-ups I’ve ever seen, built by More Beer…and it’s awesome!.
I’m no stranger to the more beer brew sculptures. I’ve seen these pilot brew stands in various breweries around town and in the homes of my extreme DIY brewer friends. Thou shalt not covet another brewer’s brew stand! Whatever, I covet each one without abandon. This definitely a system you should take a closer look at if you’re looking at upgrading.
Each unit is solidly constructed and comes with a fair number of advanced features depending on model. There are two main model difference, the Tippy Dump and the Low Rider. The Tippy Dump is a three-tiered stand that features gravity feeding and a swiveling mash tun, which allows the brewer to dump spent grain into a garbage can set under the grain shoot. The Low Rider is a single-tier stand which utilizes vessel to vessel transfer via pump. Each of these can be ordered in Iron, Stainless, or Brushed Stainless, in either manual or digital varieties. The model I’m going to be reviewing is the 20 Gallon Low Rider Digital BrewSculpture V4.
The V4 is the new hotness. The square robot head jutting out in front of the stand on the V4 is actually a computer with touch screen, the underside an octopus of USB cords. There’s a lot going on under the hood, but the simplest explanation is that the computer controls the probes, floats, pumps, and the right most burner. You can program your HLT temp, mash schedule, and boil additions with audio queues letting you know when time limits are up.
I would absolutely love to have an app I could integrate into this setup. Being able to create, upload, and download metrics per recipe would be a great way to track efficiencies and batch to batch specifics. As it is today the system controls the current brew process and the record/metric keeping is still up to the user.
Go Natural Gas
My system is configured for natural gas so I use my barbeque hookup outside. The value of natural gas cannot be overstated because a system this size has a monstrous appetite which can and will eat through propane tanks quickly. Natural Gas is cheaper, continuous, and more convenient, so explore this option if it’s available to you. Installation and plumping for this ran me about $350…worth it. Natural gas and propane brew systems are pretty equivalent in price so choosing natural gas isn’t a huge hit to wallet.
The Review – First Impressions
Reviewing a system like this is going to take some time and a number of brews. When I received it, the system was on a pallet and mummified in plastic wrap. I’m thankful that my next door neighbor had a forklift on hand because the FedEx truck that arrived did not have a lift gate. Unpacking everything took a little time, but it was for the best as the system was extremely protected from any harm that could befall it during shipping. Probes and parts are color coded so assembly is pretty self explanatory. If you need extra help, More Beer has some printed instructions available as well.
The first brew went off without a hitch. I can already see how valuable this system is going to be in terms of saving time. From HLT through sparge/lauter, everything is automated. Boiling is manual, but you can set up timers that’ll alert you for each addition.
The stand is constructed very well, burners are top notch, pots are sturdy, the touch screen is easy to operate, and the entire system is extremely efficient. I’ll post more updates as I refine my process. Until then, I’ll keep brewing on this awesome monster!