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Brewzilla - Electric Brewing System & Mods

System Info & Review

 

 

I've always liked the idea of brewing inside, but I've never wanted to really dedicate a room or large space to a brew stand.  With more and more portable electric brew systems coming out each year, and with winter fast approaching, I decided it was time to try one out.  I settled on the Brewzilla (formerly the RoboBrew) 35L 110v system.  I got everything I needed for around $450, which is a pretty good deal considering what's included.  Along with the new brew system, I decided to install an Exhaust Fan/Vent Hood in the basement so I could brew down there year round if I wanted to.  This system doesn't put off a ton of moisture, but if I decide to use this in the middle of summer, I didn't want all that extra humidity floating around the house.

 

There are a ton of how-to videos, reviews, and pros & cons lists out there, so I won't go into too much detail here.  Overall, my experience after several batches has been very positive with this system, and I very much enjoy having the option to brew inside and not drag out my larger propane setup for a brew.  I've included several tips and modifications to help make your Brewzilla (BZ) system the best it can be.  Enjoy!

 

Brewzilla Tips

There's a ton of info online about using the BZ, and after sorting through all that and a bit of my own experience, here are a few helpful tips for those just getting started with this system:

 

Use More Mash Water!

There is about a gallons worth of dead space under the bottom screen of the BZ before your grains even come in contact with any mash water, so you definitely need to use more mash water compared to traditional cooler mash tuns.  I found that I need to use at least 2qts of water per lb of grain.  Anything less than that, and your mash will be way too stiff to stir efficiently and you risk dry spots of grain that won't convert.

 

Plan for Longer Heating Time

One of the downsides of the 110v BZ system is how long it takes to heat the mash water and bring your wort to a boil after the mash.  Just be sure you account for this on brew day.  With my propane system, heating mash water and bringing to a boil only takes around 15 minutes, but it's closer to 40-45 with the BZ.  That's not a big deal if you're in a hurry, but it's something to keep in mind when planning a brew day.

 

Lower Boil-off Volume

I found that the boil-off volume was about half that of my propane setup after running through a few brews.  I don't boil too hard on my propane system, but the BZ is limited to what the two elements can provide, and I've found that isn't too strong of a boil.  I would suggest trying to find a custom BZ profile for your brewing software to help hit your numbers more accurately.  There are several floating around online for the various brewing apps out there.

 

Brewzilla Add-Ons

There are a few Add-Ons for the Brewzilla system that I got right away when I bought the system, and a couple I added later on.  Below I have listed some of the add-ons that I would recommend, along with a couple things that aren't really add-ons for the system itself, but helpful things to have when using the system.

   

Neoprene Jacket

With the lower 110v BZ system, having some extra insulation around the unit really helps when heating mash water and maintaining a boil.  Just remember to take the jacket off when chilling so you're not holding in the heat at that point.

 

Whirlpool Arm

With my propane system, I always stir my wort as I'm chilling to increase efficiency.  Since the BZ has a built in pump, it can do that work for you with the Whirlpool Arm add-on.  Along with increasing your chilling efficiency, it also creates a trub pool in the middle of the unit so it makes it easier & cleaner to either pump or drain your wort into the fermenter after it has chilled down.

 

Hop Spider/Strainer

Not necessarily an add-on to the BZ unit itself, but it definitely helps to keep hop material from plugging up the bottom screen of your BZ system.  I tried a few different hop spiders/strainers with this system, with some being too small & others being too large to fit inside the chiller, and this one ends up working perfectly.  It sits down into the wort during the boil and will also fit inside the chiller when you add that with 10-15 minutes left in the boil, since the bottom of the strainer is smaller than the top.

 

BZ Chiller Tubing Kit

The BZ system comes with a chiller, but for some reason it doesn't come with any tubing or connectors. I suppose this allows the buyer to configure the chiller in a way that works best for them.  I have a brew sink in my basement, so I wanted a garden hose setup on mine.  I have included a link below to a kit you can buy to setup the chiller, but you could also just make a trip to the hardware store and grab all these things for a little cheaper as well.

 

Stainless Table

Another not specific to the BZ add-on, but I would highly recommend the stainless table below.  I started out using a heavy-duty plastic cart that I use for bottling and other brewing tasks, but after a couple brews, I knew I needed something stainless and more sturdy.  After searching for several different tables and different sizes, I found this table, and it has worked great for me!  It fits the BZ system perfectly with some room on the side to work as well.  It has locking wheels so you can park it in place without worrying about it rolling off while you're boiling or chilling.  Overall, I've been very happy with this table, and the price is right as well.

 

       

 

Brewzilla Modifications

The BZ system is pretty solid out of the box, but I found a few things that could use improvement after a couple brews and doing some searching online.  Below I have listed a few things that I have done to improve my BZ system.  I would suggest you try brewing at least one batch with the system as-is before modifying it though.  But definitely add the larger lid handles no matter what, because the tiny handles that it comes with is just asking for a broken glass lid.

 

Larger Lid Handles

The handles for the lid that come with the BZ system are very small and become quite slippery when wet.  After a couple brews, I realized it was just a matter of time before I dropped the glass lid if I didn't make a change.  After searching on some of the BZ forums, I was able to find some handles that would fit the BZ and provide a much better grip.  I was a little worried about them being metal and potentially conducting heat through the glass, but that hasn't been a problem. at all.

 

Remove Overflow Tube & Plug

The BZ comes with an overflow tube that screws into the bottom screen of the inner malt tube.  This prevents the system from potentially overflowing if you are recirculating during the mash and don't have good flow through the grain.  The problem I ran into was that with a metal tube in the middle of the tall & thin malt tube, it makes it very difficult to mash in and stir grains into my mash water.  That only lasted one brew before I needed to find something different.  Others seem to have the same issue, and BZ even makes a screen that you can buy that doesn't use the overflow tube.  I'll likely buy one of those in the future, but in the meantime, I found a bolt/plug at the hardware store that works for now.  I found something similar on Amazon, but you can just take your screen to the local hardware store as well and try out some bolts/plugs to see if one fits for you as well.

 

Mesh Bag In the Bottom Of the BZ

I mill my grains pretty fine for my propane system with a cooler mash tun, and when moving to the BZ system, I found that grain particles were getting through the bottom screen and making it into the boil.  Luckily this didn't cause any astringency or tannin issues on my first brew, but I wanted to figure out a way to keep that grain out of my boil.  A very simple solution is to use a large mesh bag made for Brew in a Bag (BIAB) brewing.  I put the bag inside the BZ system and then put the malt tube inside the bag.  When it's time to sparge, I pull up the malt tube, but I leave the bag in the bottom of the BZ while sparging.  After the sparge is done, I remove the malt tube, and then remove the mesh bag that has collected quite a bit of grain material.  This has made my boils so much cleaner, and now I don't have to worry about grain making it from the mash into the boil.

 

       

 

 


Contact Information:  MikeYoungHB at gmail.com


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