The all-in-one Grainfather system took the homebrew world by storm due to its ease of use, compact size, and quality wort production. It’s an incredibly popular system with many users worldwide. As well made as it is, there are always ways to make the brewday slightly easier. Here are some top tips for making the most out of the Grainfather.
Drain Pipe Filter
That pipe in the middle of the mash basket prevents wort overflowing in case of a stuck or slow mash. It’s quite essential, but it also gives a channel for bits of grain to end up in the wort. Excess grains in the wort can make the beer hazy and impart tannins whilst also increasing the risk of blocking the filter. A simple solution is to place a sink strainer on the outlet. This will let the wort carry on draining through but stop most the grains.
The Grainfather works best with malt bills 4-5kg. That’s fine for the majority of pale ales, lagers, and other session style beers, but what if you want to make a barleywine, imperial stout, or any beer with significantly more malt? The maximum Grainfather grain bill is 9kg, and that will feel uncomfortably tight, as well as reduce mash efficiency. There are two things you can do: give the mash a stir every 20 minutes and a reiterated mash. A reiterated mash is when half the grain bill goes through the mash process. After the first runnings are drained into the kettle, the second half of the grain bill is mashed into the same wort. This way, 2x 4.5kg grain bills are mashed, getting the most efficiency.
Ball Valve on the Grainfather Sparge Heater
Quite often homebrewers who use a Grainfather will also use the Grainfather sparge water heater. A nifty 18 litre vessel with a measured sight glass and spring tap, it makes heating the sparge water pretty quick and easy. With this hack, sparging can be almost automated. Installing a ball valve will allow precise control over water outflow, and paired with a hose barb and beer line can drain water into the grain basket over time. A long cut of beer line can be coiled up on top of the grain bed, and with small holes drilled into it can evenly distribute water across the grain. A ball valve can be installed by punching a hole with a Q-Max cutter near the bottom of the sparge heater, but this will most probably void any warranty, so make sure this is really what you want to do!
Grainfather Grain Basket Hop Spider
Whilst the filter is very effective at stopping hop and grain debris getting into the recirculation pipe, on occasion it can block. To prevent this, the grain basket can double up as a hop spider during the boil. After the mash, clean out any grains from the hop basket and put it back into the kettle. This will be very useful for those highly hopped IPAs, or adjunct heavy beers.
After the boil is complete, it can help to whirlpool the wort. If done correctly, the trub will form into a neat cone in the middle, and some recipes call for a hop whirlpool addition. Instead of vigorously stirring for 5 minutes, attach the recirculation arm with a long piece of hosing to it, long enough to rest on the bottom of the Grainfather. Turn on the pump and the wort should stir itself. These tips and tricks should help you get the most from your Grainfather, and we would love to hear what else you’ve done to improve your set up.
If you are encountering a stuck sparge you may want to check out this article which explains how this has occurred and what you can do to save your brew day!