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This is both a critique and a request for advice. First, forget the handle. Doesnít work, in fact, probably makes things worse if it slips off when you are trying to lift out the grain tube. Using your hands works better, even after mash out at 178. The company claims that you can fit 18 lbs of grains in the system. That is true, but if you put 18 lbs in the grain tube, there will be 2-3 inches of grain that will not be submerged in 5 gal of strike water. Having the capacity to do 18 lbs vs 15 lbs for (Mash and Boil) is the main reason that I went for this system (I like strong beers). This is probably why another reviewer said anything over 10 lbs is impractical. The company boast that it is a ìno spargeî system. That is because you need a lot of water to cover the gains and if you add sparge water on top of that, you wind up with 7-8 gal total. Then you will need to be boiled down to 5. Not good. The biggest issue that I have, through 4 batches, is that the efficiency is low. 5 gal strike 1 gal sparge 10-12 lbs gain Batch 1. Use the instruments temperature reading Efficiency very low Batch 2. Used a probe thermometer to measure the temp inside the grains. The temp reading on the instrument and the thermometer were about 8-10 degrees different. Manually, recirculated until the temps matched. Efficiency better but still low Batch 3. Manually recirculated to get up to temp and once every 15 min during mash and did a mash out at 178. Efficiency better but still low Batch 4. Same as 3 with a 2 gal sparge. This time had a very hard time getting the instrument temp to match the probe thermometer temp in the grain bed. Finally gave up. The instrument was set at 156 and the grain bed read 147 -151. Got the appropriate efficiency but had to boil for 90 mins. Things that might help - but have not done. 1.,Get a recirculating pump. Not sure I want to get another piece of equipment. 2.,I read online that if you forget the gain tube and go back to the bag (BIAB), it actually works better. The issue might be that its on a table and its already too tall, so it might be hard to lift the bag out. 3.,Start with 6 gal of strike and no sparge. 4.,Grind grain finer. But might go through false bottom. So far, Iím giving this system 3 stars out of 5. It, so far, is not ìthe set it and forget itî system that I envisioned. Itís more work and takes longer. I really hoped to do multiple step mash, but that is not happening anytime soon.
Great system for small to medium size mash all grain recipes. More than 10 lbs grain impractical, but otherwise works great.