Okay, to use the term “brewing system” is to give higher praise than deserved to the simple kettle plus pump i recently bought from Taobao. But basically that is all you need to do grain brewing – a kettle for mashing and boiling and a pump for sparging – the three stages involved in grain brewing.

I must begin by saying that all grain brewing is very tough back-breaking work. The mash for a 23 Litres (6 Gallons) brew is super heavy (20kg?). I’m seriously considering getting a hoist to save my back. You will have to lift the mash at least twice in the process. That said, the aroma of the mash probably makes up for the hard work. It is far superior to the stale smelling aroma you get from extract brewing.

This being my maiden attempt at grain brewing, it was not without “adventure”. First off, the pot leaked! I contacted the seller immediately and he said the pump mechanism may not have been sealed off properly. Yes, obviously that is the only possible cause for a leak coming from the bottom because the pump is the only opening at the bottom. The seller suggested to fix it myself when he learns that i’m not based in China. In any case, the seller responses to queries almost immediately, so that’s consolation.

The pump inlet which has a piece of silicone sandwiched as waterproof seal

Thankfully, somehow, the leak stopped completely before i started doing mashing. So this is the downside of buying a cheap Taobao-sourced equipment. It’s still worth it though.

Pump recirculating the wort for sparging

The second problem i ran into was, the raised false bottom couldn’t hold the weight of the mash tub at the highest position inside the pot, and the mash tub fell to the next level. There are “ribs” inside the pot that the false bottom is supposed to be positioned upon. It was just not strong enough. I had to make do with the lower position, and anyway, good thing the volume of water i used was only around half the pot, so the sparging could still proceed.

Anyway, i think i didn’t mess up the entire brew despite mistakes made along the way. There’s a LOT of cleaning up to do at the end, but to be able to do all grain brewing, i think it’s one giant step taken. Bye bye extract brewing.

Update: please read about the disaster during my second all-grain brewing to be more informed about this all-in-one kit.

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