Thursday 29 April 2021

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

Assembly

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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2 comments:

  1. Thanks for these guides - the instructions from Kegland are pretty minimal. My biggest mistake on my first go was standing the BrewZilla on top of the bench - I didn't think about how heavy the mash would be when soaked and ended up having to stand on my bench to lift it up!

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    1. appreciate the feedback schultzie, and glad you have found the article useful. The grain basket is surprisingly heavy when full of grain and water!

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