Brewing equipment can take up a considerable amount of space. This is driving more apartment dwellers to Electric Brew in a Bag (eBIAB) systems for their ease of use, space, savings, and high levels of control during the brewing process.
This has been a growing market, and the Aussie Kegland entry of the Robobrew V3 (9.25 gal) comes to be the more expensive Grainfather with very similar features.
What Comes In The Box?
The Robobrew V3 comes with or without a pump (my review had the included pump). Buying the Robobrew with the pump does come with a premium, but allows for the recirculation of wort during mashing, which is supposed to clear up the wort. You also have the ability to whirlpool with a separate accessory, so it’s much easier to transfer the wort.
A disadvantage of the pump is it’s hidden under the unit, so if you need to unclog the pump you’ll be in for more work when compared to an external pump.
The two heating elements can be turned on and off separately (1000 and 500 watt respectively). The unit also includes a stainless steel mash tube with screens, a lid, hose, and an immersion chiller which can easily be attached to a tap with a half inch hose.
The Robobrew has an upgraded computer system capable of programming temperature increases, each lasting up to twenty-four hours each. This allows the user to preheat the mash water and do any stepped protein rests they want to do.
Brewing With Robobrew V3
The test brew recipe is easy, and scaled for a five-and-a-half-gallon batch.
Test brew recipe:
- 13 pounds of Maris Otter
- 1 ounce of Mosaic hops (12% AA) at 60 minutes.
- 1/2 ounce of Mosaic at 10 minutes.
- 1/2 ounce of Mosaic at 5 minutes.
- 3 ounces of Mosaic at whirlpool.
- WLP-001 California ale yeast.
The first brew on the system was a MoMo SMaSH beer with a generous helping of Mosaic.
Due to the false bottom, you’ll need to adjust the water-to-grist ratio to make up for the gallon of dead space. I’ve been using 1.75 quarts per pound and had great results.
It took approximately an hour for the water to heat to 155°F, which gave me plenty of time to get my supplies together and lay everything out for brewing.
After some stirring, the Robobrew was filled up to the brim and ready to mash. Mashing it was really straightforward. The pump was used to recirculate the wort through the grain bed, which led to crystal clear wort by the end of the sixty-minute mash.
The thermometer at the bottom of the unit kept displaying the wort within 2°F. Mine was consistently within 3°F, although the system has a setting to adjust the temperature by up to 10°F. The temperature was raised to 165°F for ten minutes to mash, and then I pulled the grain tube.
Mashing out is an absolute breeze with the system. The mash tube is pulled out, set on the attached hooks, and allowed to drain. Batch sparging isn’t really an option with this system, so I fly sparged instead to hit the gravity and volume level that I needed, and off it went to boil. The boil isn’t particularly strong on the 1500 watt elements, but after forty-five minutes things were off to the races.
Boil over isn’t too much of a concern because the Robobrew doesn’t brew vigorously, so I didn’t add any fermcap.
A longer hop spider or a muslin bag would be a good choice to hold the hops, because a five-gallon boil has a long way to go down into the wort, since the distance with a short hop spider would be too small. The boil-off rate will be lower when compared to most three-piece setups. Mine was a half-gallon per hour.
The included stainless steel wort chiller did an excellent job of getting down to pitching temperatures, and the pump was excellent in knocking the wort out into the fermenter. The efficiency from grain to fermentor was 76%, which is more than acceptable for me.
Overall, the process took four hours, plus one hour to clean. Since the Robobrew is an all-in-one device, that means much less cleaning. The mash tube was easy enough to clean out while boiling, but rice hulls like to stick in some of the mesh, so it can be a bit of a pain to get out.
A batch of powdered brewery wash (PBW) was easy enough to whip up in the Robobrew and the pump allowed for easy cleaning of everything. The whole Robobrew system takes up less floor space than a half-barrel keg, so it could easily be stored in my kitchen and ready to go for next time.
Things I like
- Minimal cleaning and lots of control throughout the brewing process.
- The pump running the entire time during mashing means no need to lauter and crystal clear wort.
- The system is pretty user-friendly, and made some pretty tasty beer.
Things I didn’t like
- I would highly recommend buying a water gallon jug and using that to measure out water into the system to ensure that the stamped in water lines are correct. Mine is a quarter of a gallon lower than their actual values!
- The control board for the unit is in the bottom of the unit near the heating elements, so it gets pretty toasty by the end of a boil, and my board fried by the end of brewing. Thankfully I was able to quickly replace it. The installation isn’t too terrible if you’re handy with a screwdriver.
- The step function doesn’t account for heating and cooling times. This means you’ll need to sit and watch the brew with a stopwatch, so account for that.
Wrapping up this review of Robobrew V3, For the price, it is definitely a strong competitor against systems that cost twice what I paid. Good customer support had me back in the game too, after some small issues, but I don’t regret buying this one bit.