I like to make wine. It’s easy. There’s no boiling, you don’t have to make sure your temperature is correct, you don’t add hops at certain times, etc. You just mix ingredients. It’s so simple. However, I really wanted to brew a beer or two to enter into the Bluebonnet Brewoff homebrew competition we have every March here in Texas. I’ve helped my husband, Austin, brew beer before but I’ve never done it alone. A few of the homebrew guys, including Austin, have been brewing all grain batches of beer on this fancy contraption called The Grainfather. I’ve watched them brew on it a few times and decided it looked simple enough for me to give it a try. Below is a recap of my homebrew adventure.
Austin and I borrowed one from Texas Brewing Inc. and took it home for the weekend. I decided to make a kolsch since it’s one of my favorite styles. I found a recipe in the Brewing Classic Styles book, got all the ingredients at the shop, even milled my own grain, and took everything home. Austin told me to download the Grainfather app on my phone. I wasn’t sure what it would be used for but I downloaded it anyway. He helped me set up everything in the kitchen (yes, you can brew an all grain batch in the house with The Grainfather), and started sanitizing the items that I needed to use. Austin told me to open The Grainfather app that I downloaded and start typing in my recipe. Turns out, the app tells you when you need to do things, such as when to sparge and when to add your hops. It does all the timing for you too. I was very impressed.
So, I got started on the brewing process. I set the temperature and when it got to the correct temp, I added my grains for the mash, started the timer on the app, and just waited. Then when it was time, I started lautering and sparged when I needed to. You can use a Sparge Water Heater that you can get from the Grainfather company as well, and it heats your water up to the correct temperature to sparge. As of right now, the unit is measured only in Celsius, but a quick google search sorted that out. I then started the boiling process. I added my hops in the hop basket when it was time. The pump filter in the unit can handle a few ounces of hops easily, but after about 3 or 4 ounces, it is a good idea to use a hop bag or hop spider. I was so impressed with everything The Grainfather had to offer. You can mash your grains, boil your wort, and chill it, all in one device! When I was done with brewing, I moved the beer to my primary fermenter, added my yeast, snapped the lid on, and put in my airlock. The total time from start to finish was about 5 hours.
Cleaning was so simple too. I rinsed everything off and put it all back into the main unit. Then I filled it up with water, heated the water up to about 140ºF and stirred in some PBW. Then I just used the built in pump to recirculate through the counterflow chiller and back into the main unit. After about 20 minutes, I pumped the PBW out and gave the unit a quick rinse and ran some water through the chiller. Everything was nice and shiny again. It was so easy that the next day I brewed a saison!
The Grainfather is definitely the easiest, simplest way to brew an all grain batch of beer. I couldn’t believe that I was able to pretty much do everything by myself. It doesn’t take up much space, so even if you brew in a small kitchen or wherever you decide to brew, the Grainfather is a perfect fit.
You can purchase The Grainfather and all the parts as well as the Sparge Water Heater at Texas Brewing. Feel free to go chat with any of the employees and they will be happy to show you and tell you all about The Grainfather. If you’ve never homebrewed before or have only done extract kits, I recommend starting your all grain adventure with the Grainfather. As a winemaker used to the ease of wine making kits, if I ever homebrew again, I will use a Grainfather. It really makes all grain homebrewing easier in my opinion!
A lover of a great wine or beer, Amy has visited numerous wineries and spent many years around zymurgists, including both beer and wine producers that range from pro to amateur. She is a contributing writer for our blog and a member of the Texas Brewing Inc. family.