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All Grain Brewing: Getting Started with 3 in 1 Systems

All Grain Brewing: Getting Started with 3 in 1 Systems

Note: This blog post outlines the All Grain 'Brew Day' process for 3 in 1 Grain Brewing systems such as the Grainfather, Guten and BrewZilla. The same instructions can be used as a general outline for using a 3 vessel system however some key differences between the two brewing methods may force you to deviate from these instructions in order to make your individual system work. These instructions are made with new brewers in mind so some nuance and detail may be left out or simplified. If you have questions related to brewing that are not outlined in the following instructions please reach out :-).

Before you Begin:

Assemble the unit, this will be outlined in the instruction manual included in your brewing system and will vary between systems. Generally this will just involve attaching a tap and adding handles to the lid. Ensure all fittings are secured tightly to not allow for leaks. 

Cleaning and leak testing your system:

Most units will come ‘ready to go’. However, as with all new equipment, It’s always a good idea to give your vessel a thorough clean before use to remove any grease, oils and other manufacturing byproducts. To do so:

1. Add 5 - 10l of warm water to the vessel.

2. Add a small squirt of unscented detergent to the liquid. PBW or most brewery cleaners can be used here too, just ensure they have degreasing action or contain surfactants that will help dissolve and remove the oil.

3. If your vessel has a pump and recirculation arm turn it on and recirculate this liquid throughout the pump system.

4. At the same time use a soft cloth to gently scrub the surfaces of the vessel using this liquid. If using caustic or hazardous chemicals ensure to follow the safety directions outlined on the container. 

5. After the vessel has been thoroughly washed empty out the liquid and rinse thoroughly with clean fresh water.Ensure to rinse a few times to remove any surfactants and run fresh water through the pump.

Reading recipes:

Different suppliers for homebrew recipes with provide recipes with different levels of information. Some will include limited information and expect you to do the calculations. If purchasing recipes from us we will give you something like this:

To a new brewer a lot of terms used on this recipe sheet are going to be alien. However despite the confusing names most of these terms are fairly straight forward. Below is a 

Beer Name: Refers to the name given to this particular recipe
Beer Style: Refers to the bjcp style that this recipe is most applicable to
Grain Bill: refers to the different quantities and styles of grain used in that recipe.
Mash Time: How long you will be mashing for (more on mashing below)
Mash Temperature: The temperature we want our grain and water mixture to sit at for the duration of the mash.
Mash Water: How much liquid to put inside the vessel before adding the grains and mashing.
Boil Time: How long you will boil your wort for after mashing and sparging.
Pre-Boil Volume: How much liquid will end up in your kettle before the boil. In other words after mashing and sparging how much water will be in our kettle before the boiling process.
Post-Boil Volume: Approximately how much liquid will be left in the kettle after the boil. This will always be less volume than the pre boil reading as the boiling process will evaporate water and increase the concentration of sugars in the wort.
Original Gravity: What concentration of sugar is your wort after boiling. This is taken using a hydrometer and will usually be measured in Specifc Gravity (SG).
Final Gravity: What concentration of sugar is your wort after fermenting. This is taken using a hydrometer and will usually be measured in Specifc Gravity (SG).
Abv (%): How Alcoholic will this recipe end up. This is calculated based off the original and final gravity.
Yeast: Recommended yeast strains and fermentation temperature for that recipe.
Hop Schedule: What is added, and at what point during the boil.
Dry Hops: Hops added to the fermenter for flavour and aroma instead of bitterness.
Extra Tips: Other techniques or tweaks that can turn this beer from good to great.

Step by step Brew day:

Every all grain brew day follows the same basic steps. These can be broken down into 4 different stages: mashing, sparging, boiling, cleaning. The following is a step by step on your full brew day.


Look at your recipe and check the mash water volume, this may also be called strike volume. Fill your unit to that level with clean water. On your unit set the temperature to 3℃ higher than your mash temperature. This is known as the strike temperature. When we add our room temperature grains to the mash/strike water our mash temperature will drop. This extra few degrees of heat means that when we add the room temperature grain and it cools down our mash the temperate will end up at our mashing temperature. We want to maintain our mash as close to this temperature as possible for the duration of our mash. If your system has a recirculation arm attach it and recirculate the hot liquid across your grain and water mixture. This recirculation allows the hot liquid on the heating elements to be distribute heat evenly throughout the entire unit. While heating up insert the malt pipe with perforated bottom into the kettle to allow that to heat up too.

Once our system is full of liquid at strike temperature set your temperature controller to the mash temperature listed on your recipe. Turn the pump speed down to a slow trickle. If your vessel has multiple elements turn off the high power element to prevent scorching. Add your grains to the malt pipe. Ensure to add them slowly as to keep grain from going into the kettle instead of the malt pipe. While the grains are being added continue to stir to ensure there are no dough balls and the mash is an even thickness. Once all the grain has been added give it one last stir and set a timer for the mash time listed on your recipe. In the example this would be 60 minutes. If your recipe doesn't have a mash time assume a 60 minute mash. 

Once mashed in we recommend you get your sparge water ready so you can start sparging as soon as the mash finishes. A standard 20-25L recipe will take 10-20l of water at 75℃. Some recipes will have the required sparge water listed on the recipe, if so use this volume of sparge water.

During the mash there's not much we need to do. Over the duration of the mash we recommend giving the mash a good stir once or twice more after doughing in. This helps to distrubute the enzymes within the mash and ensures all the grain is converted by the enzymes on the barley. We also want to pay attention to the rate at which we recirculate. We don't want the mash to dry out but we also don't want   to recirculate so fast that we suck all the liquid from the bottom of our vessel out and expose the elements as this could cause scorching or the pump to fail prematurely. 


After you have finished mashing turn off the recirculation pump and remove the arm. Lift the malt pipe out of the kettle and let it sit on the top of the boiler so the wort starts draining from the grain bed into the boiler. Rinse the grain bed with your sparge water, ensuring to distribute the water evenly across the top and not tunnel a hole through the grain. Continue to add sparge water until you hit the pre boil volume inside the kettle. This can be done by looking down the side of the vessel or using the sight glass depending on the vessel model you are using or by adding the volume of sparge water listed on your recipe. 

While sparging set the temperature controller to boil mode and ensure all the elements are turned on so there is less time between sparging and your wort coming to a boil. If you have finished sparging and you are not at a boil remove the malt pipe and attach the lid to bring the wort to a boil faster.


Allow the wort to come to a boil. If you have a lid on the unit remove it now to avoid a boilover. Once boiling starts set a timer for the duration that is outlined in your recipe. If there is no boil time outlined assume you will boil for 60 minutes. Ideally we want a gentle rolling boil for the duration of this time. 

Different recipes will have different boil additions. Typically these are hops, fruit or aromatic agents. Hop additions are listed with dosages and times. Please note that the times refer to the time from the end of the boil. Eg. if you have a hop addition listed as 45 minutes and your recipe recommends a 1 hour boil you would be adding these hops after 15 minutes of boiling.

After your boil has come to an end we have to cool the remaining wort so we can add yeast and begin fermentation. Most 3-in-1 vessels will come with an immersion chiller or counterflow chiller. Attach the immersion chiller to your household tap or harden hose and turn it on to pressure test it. If no leaks are found then turn the water off and add the chiller to your boiling wort and allow it to sit inside the boiling liquid for 5 minutes to sanitise it. After this you can turn the tap back on to start running water though the chiller. To speed up the cooling process use the chiller to gently stir the wort while it's running.

Once your wort is chilled down to the same temperature as your tap water, or close to that temperature you can remove the chiller and transfer the cooled wort into a sanitised fermenter. Ensure the wort is at your fermentation temperature before pitching your yeast, if not allow it to cool until it reaches the ideal temp.

Some recipes may also have a boil addition with the time of ‘hopstand’ or ‘whirlpool’. These refer to additions that take place after the boil and the wort has been chilled slightly. Most hopstand or whirlpool additions take place at 80℃ and are used to extract more flavour and little to no bitterness. If you see a recipe with a hop-stand addition cool the wort to 80℃ after the boil has finished then add the hops and continue to cool.


The easiest way to clean your vessel after a brew day is by:

  1. Rinsing the vessel well with water and removing any trub leftover from the brew. Discard hops and trub. Rinse the vessel well a few times to remove solids.
  2. Adding another 10 litres of water to the rinsed vessel and turning the vessel on to recirculate the clean water .
  3. Attach the recirculation arm and turn on the pump
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of sodium per-carbonate powder and allow to run through the vessel while you scrub the vessel with a soft cloth.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with clean water, dry the vessel and pack it away.

Principles behind a Brew Day:

Almost every beer is produced following the same procedure. This procedure involves the following individual steps.

step 1 - mashing

Mashing is the process of combining crushed malts and water and heating this mixture. Enzymes in the malt are active in the presence of heat and water and facilitate the breakdown of starches into simple, fermentable sugars. Single infusion mashing, the most common mashing method, generally takes place between 60 and 70℃, where these enzymes are most active.

Mashing temperature will dictate the degree in which starches are broken down into fermentable sugars. Smaller sugars are fermented more efficiently than larger sugars and will give the beer a drier finish. Lower mash temperatures will produce a beer with a higher proportion of small, simple sugars. Higher mash temperatures will produce a beer with a higher proportion of larger, more complex sugars and hence, more body. How long we mash for can also dictate (to a degree) how much the starches are broken down too with longer mashing times typically yielding a more fermentable wort. 

step 2 - sparging

Sparging is the process of rinsing the grain bed with hot water to draw out residual sugars from the grain bed after mashing. Hot, but not boiling liquid is desired as warmer liquids dissolve sugar more readily. Sparge water normally ranges from 70℃ - 80℃. Temperatures above 80℃ should be avoided as the increased temperature can draw out undesired flavour compounds from the grain bed. 

step 3 - boiling

Boiling is the last part of the grain brewing process that serves multiple purposes. Boiling does the following; concentrates sugars by driving off water, allows us to add bitterness by adding hops to the boil, removes DMS an off-flavour in less modified malts and sanitises our wort through a process called pasteurisation. Boiling is the process used to concentrate the wort at the end of the brew day. Extended boil times can help to concentrate wort more and in turn creates a more alcoholic beer.  

other tips:

  • Before your brew day add 1/2 campden tablet to your mash water and 1/2 campden tablet to your sparge water to dechlorinate your brewing water.
  • Add a few mls of antifoaming agent to the boil to stop a boil over (fermcap at or still spirits distilling conditioner work great)
  • If using a recipe with flaked rice, oats, wheat or barley in the grain bill do not mill these adjuncts.
  • Use a digital probe thermometer to check that the temperature in the middle of your grain bed is the same as what your digital display is reading. Cooler months can lead to heat radiating from your kettle faster meaning your mashing at a lower temperature than what you think. Double check and adjust if necessary. 
  • Always add a whirlfloc tablet to your beers in the last 5 minutes of the boil, it will assist with clarity.  
  • Insulate your kettle with a neoprene jacket will save power and speed up your brew day.
  • Don’t get impatient, always allow your wort to cool adequately before pitching yeast.
  • Aerate your wort before adding yeast by stirring vigorously for a few minutes to ensure a quick, healthy ferment.
  • Don’t crush your grain too fine or it will block the malt pipe when sparging.
  • Don’t stir the grains when sparging if possible - during mashing is fine.
  • Know your grain limit. Too much grain in the malt pipe will cause a drop in efficiency and after a certain weight you will struggle to hit your numbers.
  • Only run the unit on full power when bringing it up to strike temp at the start or when bringing your wort to the boil after sparging to minimise the risk of scorching.
  • Do not let your dog eat any hop pellets from the brew day as they are extremely toxic to dogs
  • Download the brewfather app, grainfather app or other brewing software to log past beers, create recipes and explore other brewers recipes.
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