12 top answers – home brewery controllers | (2021)

An electric home brewery controller, mash controller or boil controller is a huge investment in your home brewery. But how do you know you are ready or if your house wiring is up to the task? We have compiled the top 12 questions asked of us over the years and hopefully these answers will help you make the right decision for your home brewery.

1. How can I tell if I have enough power to run an electric home brewery controller?

Every house has a main incoming power breaker. It will be in your main panel inside your house or in a panel just under the meter your utility company reads. It’s safe to check these yourself because just opening the main cover or door won’t expose any dangerous wiring. All of the wiring should be behind another panel behind the cover. And if in doubt call a qualified electrician.

If you plan on running a new outlet for your controller and your main power breaker is marked anything less than 200 then we do not recommend installing a full 220 Volt electric home brewery controller. But if you plan on plugging into an existing dryer outlet with a long 30 Amp extension cord you should be fine.

2. How do I know if my breaker box has room for an electric home brewery controller?

If your house has a single electrical panel with a main breaker at the top then open your panel box and look at the double row of breakers. If there are what looks like rectangular tabs in spaces under your breakers and there are at least two in a row under the left or right side then there should be enough room for the 2 pole breaker your brewery needs.

If your house has a inside electrical panel with just single breakers then look under the power meter for another panel with breakers. If there are what looks like rectangular tabs in spaces under the breakers in this box and there are at least two in a row under the left or right side then there should be enough room for the 2 pole breaker your brewery needs.

3. Can I set up new my controller in my kitchen?

You can set up your 120V mash controller or 120V boil controller in your kitchen. But a 240V boil controller or a full brewery controller doing a full boil produces too much steam for most kitchen exhaust fans to handle. If you plan to run a 240V controller off a dryer outlet a better solution is to run the controller power out to your garage or out the back door.

The best home brewery setup is one that’s run on it’s own dedicated power circuit. And most customers who do this run their home breweries in their garage.

4. I’ve brewed with propane and mashed in a GOTT cooler for years. Why should I buy a full brewery controller?

Well… Maybe you shouldn’t because going electric isn’t for everyone. Maybe you should ask yourself a few questions first.

Are you happy with the beer you produce today?
Then maybe you don’t need an electric brewery or boil controller.

Do you want to branch out to new beer styles?
You can do this with or without an electric mash controller depending on how far you want to go. But at some stage you will want to take control of your mash temperatures and that’s where an electric controller, a good mash tun and wort circulation come in.

Are you interested in saving money long term?
Then maybe you only need a 240V boil controller so you can stop spending so much money on propane. A typical homebrew batch of beer consumes more than $5.00 of propane, then there is the hassle of getting your tank filled or exchanging for a new tank of propane.

Do you want to brew in your garage or a semi-closed space year around?
Then depending on your setup a BIAB, HERMS or Full Brewery controller is probably your best choice. But you also need to have a dedicated outlet installed for your home brewery. You won’t need as much ventilation as a propane fired burner because an electric brewery does not produce poisonous carbon monoxide. But you will still need enough ventilation to pull out the steam produced during a full boil. A box fan under your partly opened garage door or a box fan pulling out of a window will work great.

Do you want the control over your mash temperature that an electric brewery can provide?
A 120V or 240V mash controller will provide all of the temperature control you need, even for a 10 gallon grain bill. Then you need to decide if you want to also run an electric boil. Many of our customers are happy with a 120V mash controller and a separate 240V boil controller. But others install a BIAB or HERMS controller to keep everything in one box.

5. Can I brew in my basement?

Most basements are somewhat closed up with limited air circulation. So, the answer is yes as long as you can provide enough air circulation to handle the steam produced by your boil. You will also need running water and a good drain. Also consider that you will be carrying grain downstairs and heavy spent grain back upstairs. Many customers who originally decided to set up a basement brewery end up setting up their brewery up in the garage instead because it was easier.

6. Can I legally run a still in my house?

The quick answer is ‘No’, not without a Federal license. The Federal Government doesn’t care if you run a still. They just want to collect their share of taxes on any distilled spirits you produce and that’s the reason for a Federal license. I know, everyone’s seen Moonshiners. I know enough about distilling to say that 80% of what you see on that show is Bull S&#t. Most of their recipes and processes are very incomplete. You don’t just light up a still, run through a thumper full of cold water and produce quality product. But it’s still fun to watch! And Tim really does know what he’s doing.

7. But can I run a still in my house?

Sure you can, and we can sell you a 240V boil controller that will run a fine still. Just remember that people talk. Family talks to you and family talks to others. And if you start making enough to share then someone will tell someone who will tell someone who will tell someone else and soon the Feds will be knocking on your door.

8. Do I need a brewery or mash controller to run shine?

No, you only need a boil controller for your still. Because off flavors aren’t as critical with mash most mash is done at room temperature. And then the yeast is pitched directly into the mash after conversion. But this doesn’t prevent you from doing a controlled temperature mash. Just like converting grain for beer beer, providing your mash has enough Amylase enzymes you can do a mash conversion in less than an hour at 145F to 155F instead of waiting a day or more at room temperature.

9. Do I need a Federal license to produce alcohol for fuel, even if I don’t intend to drink any?

Yes, you are still supposed to get a license but you don’t have to pay the same Federal taxes for alcohol produced as fuel. But you will need to produce a plan to denature your alcohol as it comes out of the still. Most denature their alcohol by adding gasoline. But don’t build a pot still with a thumper and expect the Feds to believe you are making fuel. The Feds know better, they know that a thumper setup can’t run high enough proof to run in a car engine. It takes a high end still that can run at 98% or better to produce fuel.

10. I have natural gas at my house and I’m brewing with propane. Should I invest in a home brewery controller?

The quick answer is ‘No’, and here’s why. The least costly way to boil your wort is with natural gas. Natural gas is cheaper than electric and WAY cheaper than propane, so you should switch your boil from propane to natural gas as soon as possible. And if you are concerned about others knowing about your home brewery then just have the gas company install a port for a gas grill on your deck. No-one needs to know that you are boiling wort in your backyard.

Then once you are saving money on your boil you can decide if you are happy with doing your mash as-is or if you want to spend your savings on one of our mash controllers.

11. Which one is your best controller?

We get this question over and over again. And we really don’t have a ‘best’ controller because all of our controllers from the most basic boil controller to our full brewery controller are manufactured with the same technology. Every one of our controllers uses the same quality SSR (Solid State Relay), every one of our controllers fully disconnects the outgoing power from incoming power when the E-stop (red stop button) is hit for safety. The PWM controllers we use were designed and are built in house and the Mash Temperature PID controllers are all purchased from MyPIN in China.

But I can tell you that our most popular controllers are our HERMS an BIAB controllers. Some months our HERMS controllers sell more and some months our BIAB controllers sell more. But when the Moonshiners program is on we sometimes sell more 240V boil controllers than anything else. I’m sure you can guess why!

12. You only sell controllers. Who makes the best Brew Kettles, Fermenters and MASH Tuns?

Just like brewery controllers, there are a lot of stainless steel choices out there. Also, a lot of product comes in from China.

My personal favorite stainless supplier is Spike Brewing. Everything they manufacture is high quality and I don’t think you will go wrong with Spike Brewing stainless. And they will customize! They also manufacture their own controllers but honestly I don’t have an opinion of Spike Brewing’s controllers.

My second favorite stainless supplier is Blichmann. Everything they manufacture is also high quality and Blichmann has been a great innovator in the market. I especially like their RIMS Rocket. Unfortunately I don’t have the same opinion of their controllers.

13. I can buy an InkBird controller for less than $100 on eBay or Amazon. Why should I buy one of your controllers when I can spend less on one of these?

For starters you can buy anything you want – it’s your money.

But we have bought couple InkBird controllers and opened them up, and what’s inside is not even close to safe at the power level needed to run a home brewery. I know that a lot of these have sold and a lot of users claim they work great but customers I’ve talked to tell me they get hot. If you are using one, please make sure you have things set up so that if something goes wrong you can unplug it in a hurry. I’m convinced that someone will eventually burn down his house with one of these, so please make sure it’s not yours!

14. What about going commercial? Can I use one of your controllers for a small scale commercial brewery?

While we do produce a commercial line of controllers, these controllers are really for a small batch micro-brewery. Our commercial and custom series controllers are designed to handle up to a 4 barrel system and we have no problem managing up to 100 Amps, or 24,000 Watts of heating elements. But electric brewery controllers really don’t scale up to larger systems, not because they can’t but because natural gas does a much better and less costly job at large scale.

Because our commercial type controllers are based on the same technology as our homebrew controllers we can custom design a controller for you without breaking the bank. Please contact us if you have a need and we will be more than happy to talk about controller design and options.