Home > FAQs

Q. What is the efficiency of the BIAB system?

A. We (and our existing users) report typical brewhouse efficiencies of 70-85%. We use 76% in our brew calculations and usually hit that target. Many people get hung up on efficiency like there is some trophy given out for high efficiency. Our experience with typical 3 vessel conventional brewing systems is that yes, 90+ percent is possible, but at a cost of time and much more equipment. Our 3-vessel system consumed over 7 hours for a typical brew session. Much of that time is spent cleaning and sanitizing equipment before and after the session. Those tasks take away from the enjoyment of home brewing. We like brewing not cleaning! Furthermore, you can brew indoors! The BIAB system uses a single kettle, which means only one kettle to clean. With the Brew-Boss controller, typical 5-Gallon brew sessions are a little over 3 hours...INCLUDING Clean-up! Our solution, add a few lbs of base malt to your recipes to compensate for the slightly lower efficiency. In bulk, base malts cost about 75 cents a pound. So for $1.50 more in ingredient costs, you can save 3 or more hours for a brew session and avoid all that cleanup. If you are getting lower efficiencies, check your water. Water is the most important ingredient in brewing and is often overlooked. Have a brewery specific water test performed on your water and treat your water before brewing to match the style of beer you will be brewing. We have realized over 8 points better efficiency in side by side brewing tests with treated and untreated water.



Q. How does the Brew-Boss system compare to other controllers on the market?

A. Truth is, it doesn't compare! The Brew-Boss system is the only electric brewery control system that does everything automatically. Other controllers simply maintain temperature or act as power controllers like light dimmers. They require you do all your own timing, setting of setpoints, etc. for every step of your brew process. And they definitely don't talk to you and monitor your power consumption. Of course the Brew-Boss system also allows you to adjust power, set setpoints manually if you want, but why would you? Automation allows you to get calculated and consistent results every time. So Brew-Boss is in a league of its own! Did we mention it costs about the same or less?



Q. Who should buy this system?

A. The Brew-Boss system is reliant on the Android platform. This is a software product as much as it is a hardware solution. You must be very comfortable with the concept of files and operating system operations. If you feel comfortable navigating to folders, etc. and are comfortable with smartphones, understand what a spreadsheet is, etc., you will love this system and have no problems using it. If you are the type of person that is still using a flip phone, quite honestly, this system is not for you.


Q. Can the 20 gallon COFI system do 5 gallon batches?

A. Yes it can! It depends on the recipe. Doing 5 gallon batches in the 20 gallon COFI is possible but the Original Gravity (OG) of the brew will be somewhat limited (about 1.075 max). This is because with high OG brews (high grain weight) there may not be enough water to completely cover the grain bed. See FAQ "How Much Grain Will the System Handle" below for more details. Based on the 20 gallon chart and assuming we want 6 gallons into the fermenter to net us 5 gallons after fermentation, we have a maximum grain weight of about 17 pounds. This equates to about a 1.075 OG at 75% brewhouse efficiency.



Q. With your recipes, how much water do you start with?

A. That depends on the recipe. We find that 8-9 lbs of grain absorbs about 1 gallon of water. We also lose about 1 gallon of water an hour during boiling. So, for a 10 gallon batch, we like to have about 13 gallons starting volume so that the loss of 2 gallons leaves us with 11 gallons post boil into the fermenter. With trub losses, we get 10 gallons net.

Q. I've heard that I should double crush my grain with BIAB systems, Should I do the same with the Brew-Boss?
A. No, double crushing the grains is not beneficial with the Brew-Boss system. This is because the Brew-Boss system continually recirculates the wort through the grain bed. The grain needs to be large enough to allow wort to flow through the grains. Also, crushing too fine can plug the filter media (Bag or COFI Filter) greatly reducing your efficency. Crush your grains with a standard 0.039 crush and you will get the best results.

Q. What type of temperature probe do you use? Can I use my existing rtd type probe?

A. We use a digital temperature probe rather than an analog thermocouple type. These probes are guaranteed to be within 1 degree C and do not require calibration and are in general more accurate over the working range. The temperature probe is removable and plugs into the controller with a headphone type jack. For this reason, you cannot use rtd type probes with the controller.


Q. Does the COFI filter create the potential for Hot Side Aeration?

A. I've been brewing this way for many many years and never had any sign of the reported effects of HSA. I get the same responses from many other Brew-Boss users. I know several homebrewers (probably more than most as I have hundreds of customers I consider friends!) and have never had anyone report HSA issues with Brew-Boss. Some say it is a myth and others say it is real science. There is a great test/study that was done that I echo the findings of. I find that the added oxygen makes fermentation start earlier and finish sooner, meaning more clearing time.
Click Here for the Study.



Q. Will your software work on my iPad, mac or pc?

A. The current application is written for Android and iPad tablets. We include a 7" Android tablet with the controller by default but you can choose to omit this item if you already have an Android or iPad tablet. We recommend the tablet used for this system be dedicated to your brewery and not be used as a daily personal assistant. Bloating the tablet up with games and other apps takes away precious resources that the real time controls within the Brew-Boss app rely on. For those that want to run on a Windows or MAC system, there is an awesome Android Emulator (virtual machine) called the ANDY Android emulator. You can use your Windows or MAC Laptop or PC to run the Brew-Boss Android App! If you prefer that option, simply select No Tablet when configuring your system.

A note on iPads:

The iOS version of Brew-Boss is slower than the Android version and sometimes gets behind depending on what other apps you have loaded on your iPad. The iOS operating system simply lacks the power as it is not a true multi-tasking operating system like Android. For example, if you switch to another app on the iPad, the Brew-Boss app will stop functioning in the background until you bring it to the foreground again. The Android version will continue to run in the background. What this means is that it must share resources with other apps and if you have many other apps loaded on your iPAd that they will steal processor time from Brew-Boss and make Brew-Boss get behind in some cases. Be aware if your iPad is loaded with other apps, you may have lag issues. We created the ipad version because it was requested by so many users. Be aware that the design of the iPad makes it less than appealing for Brew-Boss.

We have always recommended that the tablet being used for Brew-Boss be only used for Brew-Boss and not as a daily personal assistant. Not a big deal when you have a $70 Android Tablet, but we understand that when you shell out $500+ for an iPad you want to use if for other things! Just be aware that the iPad app will run slower than than the Android app.

Q. Doesn't "squeezing" the grain in the COFI Filter cause it to extract the off tasting tannins into the wort?

A. This is a good question. The "squeeze" feature of the COFI filter was created in response to multiple requests from existing Brew-Boss customers that brewed with the Brew-In-A-Bag (BIAB) method. They routinely "squeeze" the grain bag to wring the excess liquid out of the bag. Some people argue, that that method will extract some of the tannins in the grain. The unique feature of the COFI filter is that the squeeze is really not a squeeze. When the COFI FIlter is removed using the lift ring, the false bottom compresses the grain bed against the top cover of the filter. The actual pressure exerted on the grain is minimal as it is spread out over several square inches. So what is really happening is the grain is being pushed together to force the trapped wort out, but the grain particles themselves are not being compressed. So really we are just forcing the grains to nest better and remove places for the liquid to hide. Tannin extraction can only occur when temperatures are above 170F or pH is 5.8 or greater. Squeezing does not extract tannin. Here is a nice article discussing it as well.



Q. How much grain will the systems handle?

A. This is a complex question but easily calculated. Here is an example for a 5 gallon batch in a 15 gallon kettle.

Water lost to grain absorption is about 1/8 gallon per lb of grain. I want 6 gallons into my fermenter. So I work back from there.
You lose 1 gallon per hour of boil and assume 1/2 gallon loss to trub in the kettle (cold break and hops sediment).
So for a 1 hour boil that is 1.5 gallons total (boil loss + trub loss). So my pre-boil volume needs to be 7.5 gallons.

The most water that is practical to start with is 13 gallons in the 15 gallon kettle.

So, mathematically,
13 gallons max = W(0.125) + 7.5

where: W=Grain Bill Weight in lbs

therefore:
13 = W(0.125) + 7.5
13-7.5 = 0.125W
(13-7.5) / 0.125 = W

W =44 lbs for a 5 gallon batch in a 15 gallon kettle.
Use the same calculations for other size kettles using 8.5 gallons and 18 gallons for the 10 and 20 gallon kettles respectively.
HYBRID MASH METHOD
Of course you could go higher than that and sparge afterward with hot water to get to your desired PBV. I often do this hybrid method. I start with 13 gallons of water in the kettle. Heat the entire 13 gallons to strike temperature. Remove excess water to about the 8-9 gallon level and store it in Coleman cooler. Mash as normal with Brew-Boss. Simply pour or pump saved hot water from cooler over the grains until I reach my PBV. Best of both worlds as mash efficiency is higher because of the smaller water to grain ratio (better/lower mash pH) and I get a more traditional sparge. No cleaning for the cooler as it only held hot water! Note that the strike temp is higher than BIAB here as there will be less water volume and adding the grains will result in a higher temperature drop.

The following charts show the maximum grain weight allowed based on amount desired into your fermenter for each COFI system. This chart will allow you to determine your maximum OG based on the grain weight of your recipe.



Q. No Sparge?

A. See Hybrid Method described in previous question above if you really want a sparge. Also, resist the desire to rinse the grains left over in the COFI filter. The continuous re-circulation during the mash does a pretty good job of rinsing the sugars off the grains. The OG of the water used to sparge/rinse the grains will be much lower that the OG of the wort you already have, so unless you are using the hybrid method above, the sparge/rinse will only serve to lower your OG, not raise it as you are trying to do!

Q. Should I double mill my Grains when using the COFI mash system to maximize efficiency?

A. A second run through the mill is not advised. If you mill too small you can plug the COFI filter actually reduce efficiency as well as introduce more trub into your kettle. Use a standard 0.035 to 0.039 mill gap and you should be fine. To maximize efficiency, first concentrate on water treatment, that is the most important aspect. Once you peak your efficiency, then play around with smaller gaps on your mill.

Q. Do you have equipment profiles for BeerSmith software?

A. Yes, the Brew-Boss equipment profiles are already available within BeerSmith. Simply select the Add-ons.. menu item under the "File" menu and locate the Brew-Boss add-on and install it. You will need to adjust the efficiency to your actual realized efficiency.


Q. Can you share the source code?

A. No. The source code has taken over a thousand hours and counting to create and it is this intellectual property that gives Brew-Boss its value.


Q. Is the heater element grounded to the kettle?

A. Yes it is.


Q. Why can't I just build this controller myself?

A. You can. If you have the time and ability, you should. Note that it took over a thousand hours of development (and counting!) to create the software and test it with real brew sessions. Buying the Brew-Boss system saves you the heartache and time working out all those bugs. It just works! If you really want to build the controller as inexpensively as possible, we offer a Brew-Boss Brains kit that includes the control board that you can integrate into your own controller. You only need add relays and an enclosure.


Q. What is the warranty?

A. IDC, LLC wants you to be satisfied with your purchase. We warrant that you will receive a product that is functional and not DOA. The base warranty is 90 days parts and labor. Buyer pays shipping costs both ways if unit needs to be returned for service. Bottom line is we will make you satisfied with the product. Posts from many people in the homebrew forums validate this.