Being a bit of a purest, I was skeptical about going from my trusty propane and keggle to any all electric system. I mean how could one possibly brew good beer on what looks like an oversized coffee urn? I began to test the concept by doing some research. Ok, a lot of research! Let me show you what I found and then you can decide to Robobrew…or not!
Robobrew is an all electric, all in one brewing system, which means you can mash and boil all in the same vessel. It’s made by Kegland in Australia. Robobrew can hold up to 9 gallons, handle 18 pounds of grain and recirculate the wort, making 5-6 gallon batches a breeze. The unit has a temperature controller that reads in both Celsius and Fahrenheit and as an added bonus, it has delayed start ability so Robobrew can get your strike water up to temp while you are still snoozing! Inside the box is the main unit, malt pipe, recirculation arm and wort chiller. To finish the wort chiller, you will need to buy ½” interior diameter tubing (usually 10-15’) to connect the chiller to your water source and hose attachment fittings.
The main reason for moving to all electric for me was convenience. With the standard propane and kettle system, I found myself often at the mercy of Mother Nature. Coming from Tennessee, brew day means sudden changes in temperature, sunshine to rain and wind….did I mention wind? In Florida, we deal with heat, excessive heat and those afternoon downpours! With Robobrew, you can eliminate all of those worries. You can brew in the comfort of your weather controlled kitchen! In addition, there’s the all-in-one factor. One piece of equipment, add water and grain and your brew day starts. Another factor in my decision was the ability to brew from 1-6 gallons, meaning I could experiment with small batches while still using just one container. What I find as a major bonus is being able to do other things while you brew. Because Robobrew is almost “set it and forget it,” you can brew and still do some household chores or bake a cake at the same time creating a delicious beer!
The questions I’m asked most often about Robobrew:
1) Does it cut time off of the brew day? Not really. My experience is perhaps 45 min less
2) How long to get to strike temp? You can use the delay start and be ready when you are, but in general, it takes about 20 minutes depending on starting water temp.
3) How long to get to boil? If there’s a downside to Robobrew, it is this. On average, it takes about 45 min to get to the boil. I suggest an additional heat source like Sous Vide if that’s a concern.
4) What about cleanup? I find it to be comparable to cleaning a keggle. Robobew does circulate the cleaning solution throughout on its own, so it does help you to clean up.
5) Any issues with the machine itself? The only thing I was no happy with is the silicone ring that is supposed to fit on the mesh screens in the malt pipe. They slip off because the mesh disc itself is too large.
The Pros and Cons:
1) All in one contained system
2) Increased brew house efficiency
3) No weather constraints
4) Set it and forget it ability
5) Controlled mash temp
6) Initial cost about the same as the parts for all grain brewing
1) Time to get to boil
2) Construction is not as solid as it could be. The silicone rings should fit the mesh screens. I have version 2 and Kegland is working on version 4, so improvements may be made.
After brewing about 10 batches on my Robobrew, I couldn’t be happier. The convenience and temperature control makes brew day a breeze. I spend my wait time, doing other things while brewing delicious beers. Now it’s your decision….to Robrobrew, or not!
(next month Grainfather vs Robobrew)