Friday 30 April 2021

BrewZilla 3.1.1 - Brew Day Step by Step Instructions

The Kegland Brewzilla is an excellent piece of brewing hardware but is missing some detailed instructions on how to actually use it. I've compiled this post as a follow up to my Getting Started & FAQ, to give an easy to follow step by step guide on actually completing a brew using the Brewzilla.

35L Brewzilla with neoprene jacket
  1. Ensure you have all the required ingredients for your recipe.

  2. Enter your ingredients into an app such as Brewfather to calculate the amount of water required for the mash and sparge.

  3. Assemble your Brewzilla as per the Kegland instructions.

  4. Fill the Brewzilla with the required amount of mash water. Make sure the malt pipe is removed when filling with water so you can see the volume markings (and that they are accurate as the malt pipe being present will displace some water and make the markings inaccurate!). Put the malt pipe back in once the desired water volume is reached.

  5. Power on the Brewzilla and set your target mash temperature. It is generally a good idea to set the temperature 2-3 degrees (C) higher than your target temperature. Because of the design of the Brewzilla, with the heating elements located at the bottom (near the temperature) probe, the temperature at the top of your malt pipe (where the grain is) will generally be a few degrees colder than what the unit itself is reading. Setting the target temperature a couple of degrees higher accounts for this. Use a separate thermometer in your mash to see how much variation there is.

  6. Switch on both heating elements (1900W and 500W) to begin heating the water.
  7. Fit the recirculation arm (if not already on) and put the hose into the top of the BrewZilla. Switch on the pump and begin recirculating water - this will help the water to heat faster as the water at the bottom (where the heating elements are) is pumped and transferred back to the top via the recirculation arm. Ensure the flow is fully open using the blue control valve.

  8. Ensure the grain plug is in place over the top of the overflow pipe

  9. While waiting for the mash water to heat up, begin heating your sparge water as well - I do mine in a separate pot on the stove, or you can use a separate vessel such as a Digiboil.

  10. Once your target mash temperature has been reached, switch off the 500W heating element (so only the 1900W is on)

  11. Begin pouring your grain into the malt pipe. Take care to not spill grain in the gap between the malt pipe and the edge of the Brewzilla.
    This part should be done slowly, there's no need to rush this step. It is preferable to stir the grain as it's being poured into the water to try and prevent clumping/dough balls from forming. This is easier to do with two people, but if you're on your own pour in some grain then stir and repeat.
    Once all the grain is in, continue to give it a good stir with your mash paddle to ensure there are no clumps/dough balls.

    Stirring the mash before adding top screen

  12. Place the top screen on top of the grain bed (don't press it down) and place the lid on - no need to clamp the lid down. Start a timer for 10 minutes (we'll leave it to rest for 10 minutes before starting the pump/recirculation)

  13. Once 10 minutes has elapsed, connect your recirculation arm (if not done already) and place the silicone outlet tube through the hole in the glass lid and onto the top screen

  14. Adjust the flow control of the recirculation arm so it is fully closed/off

  15. Turn on the pump via the switch

  16. Slowly open/adjust the flow control of the recirculation arm so there is a slow/steady flow of wort coming out

  17. Monitor the water level in relation to the top screen or top of the overflow pipe. Aim to maintain about 1-2cm of water above the top screen. If the water level is rising, slow down the flow of water coming out of the recirculation arm. If the water level is falling, increase the flow.

  18. Once you've got your recirculation going, start a timer for 50 minutes (or even 60). Recommended mash time is 60 minutes for most recipes - we've already let it rest for 10 minutes so 50 minutes should be all that is required, but you can't "over-mash" by going for longer.

  19. Some people recommend/suggest stirring the mash every 20 minutes or so to help improve efficiency (ie. how much sugar is extracted from the grains). To do this you'll need to turn off the pump, remove the lid and top screen, then stir, and then add the lid/screen and switch the pump back on.

  20. After your mash is complete (minimum 60 minutes), if your recipe calls for a mash out then you can adjust/raise the temperature to your mash out temperature

  21. Once your mash out temperature is reached, start another timer for your mash-out period

  22. When the mash out time is completed, stop the pump, unlock the camlock fitting for the recirculation arm and remove the arm, or rotate it so it is not hanging over the Brewzilla - otherwise it will get in the way when removing the malt pipe

  23. Fit the malt pipe handle and slowly/carefully lift the malt pipe out. Once lifted out, rotate the malt pipe so the small feet of the malt pipe come to rest on the wire supports at the top of the BrewZilla

    BrewZilla with the malt pipe lifted for sparging

  24. Set the target temperature of the Brewzilla to HH (highest setting) and ensure both heating elements are switched ON. This will begin heating the water for the boil while we are sparging

  25. Using the sparge water (as arranged in Step 8) - begin pouring the sparge water into the top of the malt pipe (over the top screen). You should be able to hear the water dripping out the bottom of the malt pipe into the Brewzilla

  26. Continue sparging until your desired pre-boil volume is reached - generally 30L. You can shine a torch between the malt pipe and BrewZilla to see the current level in relation to the markings on the inside

  27. Once the required pre-boil volume is reached, remove the malt pipe.- the grain is no longer required and can be discarded

  28. Wait for the wort to reach boiling temperature. Use the wait time to empty/clean the malt pipe, make sure your fermenter is cleaned/sanitised etc.

    Tip: You can also run the pump and recirculation hose through a  hop spider (if you have one) to help filter out any grain that has escaped the malt pipe.

  29. Once the wort is boiling, you can switch off the 500W element. Add your 60 minute hop addition and begin your 60 minute boil timer

    Adding the hops. I use a hop spider to reduce the amount of trub left at the end

  30. Keep watching for boilovers - especially at the beginning when the water volume is highest, and especially when adding hops. You can help prevent (or reduce) boilovers by stirring the wort, spraying with a water bottle and/or switching off the heating elements

  31. Add any additional hops at the required intervals during the boil.

  32. With 5-10 minutes left in the boil, I briefly run the boiling wort through the recirculation arm to sanitise it, and also through the whirlpool arm attachment (if you have one)

  33. If you're using the immersion chiller, put it into the boil now to sanitise it as well

  34. Once your boil time is completed, switch off both heating elements and begin flowing water through the immersion chiller

    Immersion chiller hooked up to cool the wort. Rags over the connections to minimise leakage

  35. The immersion chiller will cool the wort down - how much will depend on the temperature of the water going through it. I generally get the temperature down to under 30 degrees before stopping and transferring the wort to the fermenter

  36. You can transfer the wort using the pump or the tap. I personally use the pump, and hold the silicone tube high above the fermenter to allow the wort to bubble/foam and pickup oxygen when splashing into the fermenter

    Transferring wort into the fermenter (Fermzilla 30L) using the Brewzilla pump

  37. Stop the pump once you hear it begin sucking in air and/or trub from the bottom. (If you run the pump for too long whilst dry you can damage it)

  38. Let the cleanup begin! Disassemble and clean all parts of the Brewzilla using sodium percarbonate or PBW. Be careful not to submerge or spray the display of the Brewzilla directly with water as this can damage it.

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Thursday 29 April 2021

FermZilla - All Rounder (30L) - Review

As part of my continuous journey in the pursuit of brewing better beer at home, I recently purchased the Kegland Fermzilla - All Rounder (30L) fermenter. My first 12 brews have been done on the very basic Coopers PET fermenter, and whilst it has served me well, I'm now looking into pressure fermentation and being able to perform closed transfers to move my beers from the fermenter to a keg - which I could not easily do with a Coopers fermenter, especially not without introducing oxygen into my fermented beer.

Enter the Fermzilla All Rounder. Available from KegLand - it's a very affordable and dynamic bit of kit. There is another Fermzilla model called the "conical", which is similar but boasts the extra feature of a removable collection jar and butterfly valve - features that at this stage I don't really need. These extra features also come at a cost and increased complexity of the unit. This in turn means more bits and pieces to clean, and more sources of air leaks which are especially problematic when dealing with pressure fermentation. 

Here are the key features/components of the Fermzilla All Rounder

  • 30L tank
  • Top lid assembly with removable air lock and pressure release valve
  • Stainless steel stand
  • Stainless handle assembly
  • Stick on thermometer and volume markings
I also opted for the pressure brewing kit which includes the following
  • Nylon web strapping (to attach the Fermzilla tank to the stainless steel stand)
  • 1 x red and 1 x yellow carbonation cap (used to connect liquid and gas lines)
  • Stainless steel float and silicone dip tube
  • Mesh filter attachment for the stainless float (to filter liquid going out through dip tube)
  • Integrated blow tie spunding valve
This review has been written after my first fermentation in the Fermzilla All Rounder. I opted for a simple Aussie Pale Ale - using US05 yeast. Whilst creating the brew (in my Brewzilla of course) I put together and tested the Fermzilla for leaks and was pleased to discover no obvious/major ones. It was holding pressure, and with gas pressure and some water inside, was not visibly leaking from anywhere when turned upside down. Awesome.

Putting the Fermzilla together was easy enough. One criticism is that there aren't any instructions included with it, but with a bit of thought and common sense it's easy enough to figure out. I've gone straight for the pressure fermentation option, so didn't need the included airlock - and the included carbonation caps screwed onto the lid without any issues at all. I love that they use the same simple thread as soft drink bottles - this means with a bit of ingenuity you can create customised contraptions for cleaning beer lines and carbonation caps using a good old coke bottle.

The included dip tube needs to be cut to length as the included length of line is far too long -  so I measured the length to a half inch or so above touching the bottom of the vessel (to avoid trub getting sucked up via the dip tube). I suspect the longer length is required for the larger 60L version - and they keep it the same to streamline the manufacturing process. Cutting it and having a spare length of tube never hurts anyway.

Attaching the nylon strapping was also easier than I anticipated. There is a lot of left over strap material once tightened though so I bundled up the loose ends and secured them with rubber bands to make it neater. I suspect the long dip tube and nylon straps are to enable one size being manufactured and shipped for the 30L and 60L versions to keep costs down. Fair enough.

You can tell a fair amount of thought and engineering has gone into the Fermzilla. Something as simple as the size of the opening is important - too big and it will be hard to maintain pressure, and if it's too small then accessing the inside of the vessel (eg. for cleaning) would be difficult. Thankfully Kegland have done an excellent job at allowing a generous size opening - large enough to comfortably fit your entire hand and arm in to make cleaning a breeze. Filling it was easy too using the pump and recirculation arm from my Brewzilla.

The stainless float and mesh filter was a little fiddly to attach - and there are 3 different points on the filter that the floating ball can be attached to - testing is the key here to see how it affects the depth of the dip tube.

And finally, the integrated blow tie and spunding valve. To calibrate my spunding valve I closed the valve all the way (tightened the adjustment as tight as it would go), then attached it to a keg that was filled with 10psi of CO2 gas. I adjusted by slowly opening the valve until I could hear/feel gas escaping and that was it.

One of the biggest problems with pressure fermenting is the susceptibility to leaks - which at least according to Fermzilla and Kegland Facebook user groups, seems somewhat prevalent with the Fermzilla's. There's definitely a mixture of user error and equipment failure that causes this - and I wasn't exempt from any problems myself which I will get to shortly.

Back to the first fermentation - my boiled wort transferred easily to the Fermzilla - dry yeast sprinkled on top, plenty of lube around the lid seal before fitting (to help prevent leaks), lid screwed on (firmly, but not too tight), handle and stand already attached and we're good to go. Fermzilla in the fridge and inkbird temperature probe attached to the side.

Lid on - ready to go!

I attached the spunding valve and after approximately 24 hours was seeing some very small signs of fermentation - and surprisingly the spunding valve gauge was already reading about 1psi. Beauty - at least it's holding pressure!

The spunding valve worked well during fermentation, however I think the readings from the built-in spunding valve gauge should be taken with a grain of salt. When comparing it to the reading on the gauge of my CO2 gas regulator, there was at least 2-3 psi discrepancy between them. Will definitely keep this in mind when calibrating the gauge next time.

Fermzilla in the ferment fridge with inkbird probe attached

Fermentation completed and I was surprised to see that overnight the pressure had dropped to 0psi. Seems strange, but perhaps all the gas was absorbed by the beer? So I charged it up with 20psi from my CO2 tank and sure enough, overnight it dropped back to 0psi. Almost certainly a leak, but after spraying the entire lid and carbonation caps repeatedly with a soap solution, I was unable to locate any leak/air bubbles forming.

Fermentation underway with spunding valve attached

Long story short, after much fiddling, I believe the leak was fixed by tightening one of the carbonation caps a little more - I was wary not to over tighten them initially as I had read from others that this can cause problems, but in this case another 1/8 turn was enough to seal it and stop the leak. This also explains why I couldn't locate the leak as I wouldn't be able to see air bubbles forming underneath the carbonation cap and it was a very slow leak.

Another huge benefit of using a fermenter that can be pressurised is the ability to perform closed/pressure transfers. This is the process of transferring the fermented beer into another vessel (keg) without exposing it to oxygen. This also went very well - I'm sure that oxidation has played a massive part in the deterioration of some of my previous beers so I'm very keen to have (hopefully) eliminated this from by brews.

Transferring the fermented beer to a keg isn't even required as the Fermzilla can actually act as a keg in itself. In my case I transferred approximately 19 litres of beer into my keg and was left with 3-4 litres in the Fermzilla that I was able to drink directly by attaching CO2 and a beer gun to. Much easier than bottling, that's for sure. One thing to note on this is that Kegland have advised that beer should only be stored in the All Rounder for up to a few months before it will inevitably begin to leak. It is made of plastic afterall.

First pressure transfer from Fermzilla to Keg

Overall my first experience with the Fermzilla All Rounder was a hugely positive one. It was frustrating having to deal with an air leak, but the benefit of the All Rounder design is there's really only a few places that air can be leaking from. Lubricating and sufficiently tightening everything really is the answer. The price point of the Fermzilla makes it hugely attractive, even with the pressure kit, which really is a must have - and because it is made of plastic it is light, and cheaper than alternatives made of stainless steel. Would highly recommend it to anyone looking into advancing into pressurised fermentations.

A summary of the pros and cons is below;


  • Lightweight, durable and simple to put together
  • Affordable
  • Well engineered - good size opening, sturdy stand,
  • Pressure kit takes the guess work out of knowing what parts are required to get started
  • Simple design - leaks can only come from a few different places
  • True uni-tank - ferment and dispense from the one vessel
  • Clear plastic - you can watch your fementation happening
  • Pressure kit costs extra
  • Susceptible to leaks
  • No instructions
  • Spunding valve gauge appears to be inaccurate
  • Dip tube has to be cut to size
  • Nylon straps are far too long for the 30L unit
  • Plastic - not as strong/durable as stainless steel
  • Stick on measuring tape not particularly accurate

Check out some of our other FermZilla related posts below;

FermZilla - Hints, Tips and Tricks

How to Dry Hop in a FermZilla All Rounder

FermZilla - How to Open Stuck Lid

FermZilla - Leak Troubleshooting Guide

KegLand BrewZilla 3.1.1 - Getting Started Guide & FAQ

The Kegland BrewZilla is an excellent piece of brewing hardware - an all-in-one brewing vessel at a great price point makes it the perfect way to get into all-grain brewing. One thing I noticed that was lacking though was instructions beyond putting the BrewZilla together - ie. how to actually brew with it and how best to utilise it's great features. The guide below will hopefully be a good starting point to new BrewZilla users on key concepts and features of the unit.

The 35L Brewzilla complete with neoprene jacket


Refer to the Kegland instruction manual located here for the 35L model and here for the 65L model.

How much water do I use for my mash/sparge?

This depends on how much grain you are using in your recipe. Use an app such as Brewfather (it's free!) and enter your ingredients - it will tell you how much water to use for the mash, and how much sparge water you'll then need to reach your desired pre-boil volume.

What is the false bottom used for?

The false bottom creates a gap to keep the malt pipe from being in direct contact with the heating elements at the bottom of the Brewzilla. If the grain in the malt pipe is too close to the heating elements it can burn/scorch and lead to undesirable flavours in your beer.

What heating element(s) do I use?

The Brewzilla has 2 separate heating elements - a 1900W and a 500W element - here's how I use them however your requirements may be different depending on ambient temperature etc.

Heating up mash water - both elements ON 
Mashing (maintaining temperature) - 1900W only
Heating up to boil - both elements ON
During boil - 1900W only - you can use both elements if you prefer but this may cause more boil off (ie. evaporation) during the boil process.

What is the pump used for?

The pump serves 2 main purposes;

  1. To recirculate the wort during the mash. By pumping the wort back through the grain bed during the mash you will improve your efficiency - ie. extract more sugars from the grain. The grain bed also acts as a filter to help clear the wort - this is evident when you compare the clarity of the wort at the beginning of the mash compared to the end.
  2. To pump the wort out of the Brewzilla and into your fermenter at the end of the boil.

    The Brewzilla pump in action - transferring wort to fermenter

Should I use the pump or the tap to transfer my wort to my fermenter?

You can use either - personally I use the pump as I can hold the silicone tube connected to the recirculation arm high above the fermenter opening to cause more splashing/bubbles to help introduce more oxygen into the wort prior to fermentation. You could achieve the same by using the tap if the Brewzilla is located higher than the fermenter - eg. on a bench/tabletop but this may require lifting the Brewzilla which can be heavy when full!

What is the fine mesh bottom screen used for? Should I use it?

The fine mesh bottom screen is there to act as another filter to prevent grain escaping from the malt pipe. There are mixed opinions on this and I've heard that Kegland have stopped supplying these with new Brewzilla units. Personally, I have used the fine mesh screen once, then stopped using it and haven't noticed any difference. There are reports that the finer mesh screen can lead to a stuck sparge.

What is the top screen used for? Should I use it?

The top screen is used to help distribute the water evenly over the grainbed when you are recirculating your wort and when you are sparging. If you don't use it, you'll likely end up with 'channeling' occurring which is where the water creates a single/direct path through the grain bed which reduces efficiency. Yes, you should use it.

What does the overflow pipe do?

The design of the Brewzilla includes a false bottom which ensures the malt pipe is kept a safe distance away from the heating elements located in the base of the unit. When you are recirculating your wort using the pump, water is drawn from the pump inlet hole (also in the base of the unit) and pumped up through the recirculation arm and then into the top of the grain bed. If water is pumped too quickly - ie. quicker than it is filtering back through the grain bed) then the area between the false bottom and heating elements can become empty/void of water which can damage the heating elements. The overflow pipe is a safety measure so if the water isn't flowing back through the grain bed fast enough, it will reach the level of the overflow pipe and flow back down into the void between the false bottom and heating elements, thus preventing it from becoming dry/empty and damaging the heating elements.

What is the grain plug for?

The grain plug should be placed on top of the overflow pipe when you are pouring your grain into the malt pipe. This is to prevent grain from entering the overflow pipe which would lead to it being outside of the malt pipe and ending up in the boil. Once you have poured your grain into the malt pipe you should remove the grain plug and put the overflow cone in it's place.

Stirring the mash immediately after adding the grain. Note the grain plug in place (rubber cap on the overflow pipe)

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Wednesday 28 April 2021

West Coast Pale Ale Recipe (All Grain)

My second all grain brew - another fairly straightforward and simple recipe. Thanks to Cheeky Peak Brewery for the recipe.

Batch Number: 12

Batch Volume: 25L

Fermentables: 5kg Pale Malt
0.5kg Munich
0.15kg Light Crystal

Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.054
Original Gravity: 1.010

Hop Schedule:
15g Magnum (13.2%) - 60 mins
15g Centennial (10.2%) - 5 mins
15g Citra (14.1%) - 5 mins
15g Mosaic (15.5%) - 5 mins

30g Centennial (10.2) - Dry Hop 3 days
30g Mosaic (15.5%) - Dry Hop 3 days
20g Citra (14.1%) - Dry Hop 3 days

Yeast: US05

Mash Water: 23.7L
Sparge Water: 9.7L

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