Sabco Brew-Magic V350M (2011)
I brew on a Brew-Magic system. Below are articles and posts that may help you get up and running, address some key techniques, as well as a variety of upgrades. The V350M is a hybrid RIMS system, featuring 3 kettles with direct fire, a RIMS tube and pump that allows for continuous recirculation. The kettles are “new” Sabco keggles, and the Mash Tun and Boil Kettle contain false bottoms. Some of the upgrades I have made include false bottom stands (from Jaybird), a whirlpool line for the BK, Loc-line for circulation and lauter. Sabco upgrades include the latest software for the PLC (I did not opt for the wireless feature) and the site glass on the circulation return plumbing.
Please feel free to ask any questions. I am happy to answer what I can. I am not affiliated in anyway with Sabco.
13 thoughts on “Brew-Magic”
Hi Matt, have you tested the maximum pounds of grain that the mash kettle can handle?
I have gone as high as 40# of malt, but beware that the very low water/grist ratio drops the efficiency quite a bit. If you are looking to make a very big beer, I would do two mashes at a higher efficiency into a single boil, assuming we are talking a 10 gallon batch. I don’t have the specific numbers handy from that batch. If I recall, my normal 83% efficiency dropped into the low 60%.
Hello Matt, I have been using the Brew Magic for a few years now as well. I feel like my process is pretty good. However, in terms of cleaning a Sabco fermenter, I was wondering if you have any tips/methods to share? I’m basically just scrubbing that thing and it’s a bit of a pain in the arse particularly where the crusty surface of the fermentation takes place. Any thoughts? Much appreciated.
Hi Ron, my apologies for the late response. Starting a new business and have been heads down.
I am a big fan of using a hot soak. You have several options – but I really rely on 140F PBW. I can heat up the water on the Brew Magic and just rack the solution right into the fermenter. Let that go for a bit, drain, hit with cool water to drop the heat, and then hose it out and a wipe down with a soft cloth. I will either soak the dip tube assembly or run it through the dishwasher, but do run a brush up past the valve.
The fermenter is usually then sanitized with SaniClean or StarSan, or occasionally I will bring a half gallon of water to boil in the fermenter, with the valves open! So steam sanitize the interior. Just remember that you want it to steam vigorously, and then cool before you close the valves. It will form a light vacuum.
I just began using the sabco brew magic about a month ago and been having issues maintaing the temp and flow resulting in blocking up the system with malt almost everytime i use it. I begin by adding water through the bottom until about 2 inches above the false bottom, then slowly adding the malt (usually 20-25 lbs total malt bill) and remaining water through top (ususally around 11 gallons total). stirring until i feel mash bed is evenly distributed. At this point i will leave mash sit for a my first rest period and let it begin to settle (there’s always more then several inches of liquid above the grain bed). Next i will place hose in mash tun at a horizontal angle and begin to recirculate slowly (trying to maintain an even flow and increase the temp. Once the temp hits and tells me to turn of burner my temp quickly drops and i end up turning on burner again. this happens over and over and as i try to increase the flow rate i end up collapsing the bed. Any help would be much appreciated
Hi Gary, I feel your pain. It takes a bit to get used to. First, take a look at the milling… too much flour and small grits will naturally pass through the false bottom. I mill to a mid-level grind, with whole husks and medium-sized grits. So start there… I have an article on milling on the site – should be easy to find.
It does take about 15 minutes for the temperatures to stabilize. I still play the fire on/off dance. With all of that steel, it’s a giant heat sink. I do find that the initial rest really helps a lot. It will take some experimentation to get the strike temperature just right. BeerSmith does a good job in helping to estimate, but I find that 5-6 degrees above my rest temperature works reasonably well.
Second, here is how I grain in. It might help. First move water into the mash tun, up to about an inch above the false bottom. Then move the hose such that it lays down there just under the water. Make sure the valve under the mash tun is closed at this point. Add your grains onto the little water that is there. Then, slowly, after opening the HLT valve, pump over the strike water, filling from the bottom. You will see the grain bed respond much differently than pumping over through the top. This will also nearly eliminate dough ball formation. Once you have the volume that you want, stop the pump and let everything rest for 5-10 minutes. Only a few husks and lighter particles should be floating. I give this a little stir, looking for clumps, then reposition the hose (loc-line in my case) around the outer perimeter of the tun, and at least an inch below the water level. Then VERY slowly start circulation (close the HLT valve, and open the valve under the MLT). Let this go as slow as you are comfortable, and let all of the air purge out of the plumbing. Then slowly move the return valve between 1/4 and 1/2. You should see the water at the top begin to swirl, and very little malt/flour coming out of the tube. With experience, you will figure out how fast to flow without compacting the mash too much, or carving down the sides of the mash. I have not seen that much difference between a medium or fast circulation, other than the impact on the loose top of the mash.
If the system is cold, especially the MLT, then it gets a little fussy. If you have the time, you could run a small amount of boiled water through the plumbing and into the MLT to bring the temperature up with direct fire. It takes no time to boil a few gallons in the MLT while you are heating up your strike water.
Finally, it is possible that your RIMS element is not working properly. Starting with cold water, you should be able to circulate without direct fire and see the temperature slowly rise about 1-2F per minute. If it is not doing that, I would give Sabco support a call. Best of Luck!
Thank you very much, this was very helpful.
I was tossing up on the single vessel system of which the Braumeister seems the flagship, or a 3V of which clearly the Sabco is the flagship. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on why the Sabco trumps the Braumeister.
As I see it the Sabco has the advantage of :
1) using LPG (if that is an advantage where you live)
2) You can do big beers given the 15 gallon mash tun capacity
3) You can do multiple batches, ie boil batch 1 while mashing batch 2
where the Braumeister type has the advantage of:
1) a much smaller footprint
2) more automated control from mash through boil with programmable steps. And that is because it is fully:
3) Electric. Which opens the door for automation whilst the Sabco requires knowledge and operation of many valves both on the gas and liquid flow side.
4) Its far cheaper than a Sabco setup.
Would be keen to know your thoughts.
Seems like the question here is more about your personal brewing goals, and of convenience. How much space can you dedicate? You are asking tne right questions. Both systems will make fine beer.
I do wish Sabco offered the system in a fully electric eHerms config. Propane is a hazard, and pales in heating efficiency compared to well design electric systems.
Best of luck!
Actually I have the space but need to decide whether the extra flexibility of the Sabco is worth the extra investment.
I also like the “set and forget” function of the BM made possible by the fact that it is all electric. From what I see the Sabco is not good at step mashing without constant attention and intervention.
However the BM also has further drawbacks that I can see:
1) for a 50l version unless you are tall and with a strong back you ideally need a pulley or winch to raise the malt pipe from the mash
2) there is no conventional sparging process (though many of the owners claim efficiencies in excess of 80pct somehow)
3) during the mash process, the wort clears perfectly but as soon as the malt pipe is lifted, all the fines that have been collected during the recirculation get dumped back into the wort. That’s because the recirculation is from beneath and upward as opposed to top down in the Sabco or other single vessel systems like the Grainfather. So you end up boiling cloudy wort, I am guessing that can’t be good.
I don’t find the step mashing procedure all that fussy. Of course, with LP, you should always be present. The computer tells you when you need to light the fire or drop it, and a few brews in, that becomes a fairly intuitive process. It does become a trick if you run the fire too hot… but again…
I do like the flexibility – I can do 5-12 gallon batches, and no sparge at 5-6 gallons makes a fairly short brew day.
I understand that Zymatic is making larger systems very soon… that might be of interest? I believe they announced a 5 and 10 gallon system at CES. That will most likely be close to the BM budget.
Matt, I´ve been using the brew magic for almost a year now. I am now investing on a water filter and trying to get a little bit more into it. I´ve been questioning my settings for the brewmagic on the software that I use to create my recipes. Do you have an equipment profile for the brew magic on beersmith?
The mash process that I´m generally doing is a Temperature Mash at 68C-156F for 60 minutes, then I raise the temp to 75C-167 for ten minutes (total time is around 1:35).
I do a Mash out and end up with approximately 45 liters (11 gallons) pre boil volume. After 60 or 75 minutes depending on the recipe I end up with 35 liters (9 gallons). I´ve been questioning myself if I am using the equipment to its maximum capacity. Are the volumes correct? Do they sound good to you?
Any help is appreciated…thanks a lot,
Hi Sergio, check your email in a few. You can try out my BeerSmith profile and adjust it as needed.
I would do a couple of things. First use a reliable thermometer to check your mash temps, using the valve out to the boil kettle. Just pull a small sample and check the temp – it should be reasonably close to your PID temperature – but assume a cup will slightly cool the sample. Second, measure your boil off rate in gallons. You can do this using your sight glass by filling some mark above the minimum line, boil for an hour starting the clock at an aggressive simmer. I boil off about 1.5 gallons per hour, but it varies slightly with the weather. The boil off set correctly will help immensely with hitting the correct volumes and having an accurate estimate in OG from BeerSmith.
I regularly do 12 gallon batches, starting with a 14.5 gallon boil volume (hot) and boiling for 90 minutes. It just takes some patience and keeping the foam from building up too much. A little foam control or a water spray bottle works wonders.