There are a handful of purchases that I’ve made in my 10 years of brewing experience that stand out for their impact on the quality of my homebrew and on decreasing the effort it takes to make it. If I had to name a number one, then it would most definitely be a brewing pump. I can’t think of anything I’ve purchased over the years that has improved my all-grain brewing process to the degree my pump has. There was the expected benefit of not having to physically transfer hot liquids from one vessel to another or being able to perform whirlpool hop additions while chilling without using my hands, and those were great. However, the positive ancillary impacts on mash efficiency, increased clarity, and decreased chilling times were an unexpected treat! I immediately found that when using a brewing pump my brews were better, and it was quicker and easier to make them.
I started out with a Chugger Stainless Steel Center Pump and I loved it. It was a great pump, easy to use, super reliable, and I would recommend it to this day. However, it was a bit cumbersome to disassemble and clean, didn’t have an on/off switch of its own, and I had to provide a base to support it and the assembly. I used this pump for years and was perfectly happy with with it. Then one day I ordered Blichman Engineering’s RipTide Brewing Pump for a customer and happened to take a peek before it ended up in their hands. I was immediately sold. Having experience with Blichmann Engineering’s product line made it easy for me to trust in the quality, and I could tell just by looking at it that it was going to streamline my brewing process.
Features of Note
Linear Flow Valve
The RipTide comes with one of Blichmann’s Linear Flow Valves built right into the head of the pump! This excited me for two reasons. First, the valve comes apart for cleaning in seconds and couldn’t be a lower profile. Secondly, this saves me the $40 I would have to spend to get this valve on a comparable pump. All of that adds up to a much quicker cleanup after the brew session, no valve handle sticking out from the pump head, and no unexpected costs. I love this valve, and I’ve put it on every piece of equipment I can.
The base I had to build to hold the Chugger pump and its pedal switch was always a pain to deal with on brew day. It was heavy to counterbalance the pump, and wide to fit both pump and switch. No fun. So, I couldn’t have been happier with the fact that those two features were built right into the RipTide. One less thing to get out on brew day and one less thing to trip on while I’ma brewin’. Also, one less thing to have to buy!
Integrated Purge Valve
This is one little feature that you might miss if you don’t look closely. Blichmann was so kind as to even build in a valve to allow you to purge your pump’s head of oxygen prior to starting. Starting a pump dry can cause some damage, and this inclusion allows you to easily avoid that.
Tri-Clamp Pump Head Fitting
I think the feature that sold me the most on this pump was the fact that disassembling the head was as easy as unscrewing a tri-clamp. I couldn’t get over that. The Chugger pump required removing eight separate screws and unscrewing the valve (which also needed to be taken apart and cleaned). Having to fool with those screws every time gets old when you have a mash tun, two kettles, tubing, and spills to clean up. It is literally only a matter of seconds to take apart the RipTide to get it into the sink for cleaning. Also, the tri-clamp fitting allows you 360˚ of orientation possibility for your pump’s head.
I am obviously very pleased with this pump and could sing its praises night and day. I’ve written a little bit here in regards to what I see as those features most likely to offer tangible benefit to your brewing process and experience. However, there are many other things this pump has to offer, and you can learn more about that on our webpage or by visiting Blichmann Engineering.
I think it would also be worth me taking a moment to expound on the aspects of my brewing experience that have guided these choices. Many of the more seasoned homebrewers I speak with have gone through some kind of a “brewing evolution” in regards to equipment and processes, myself included. You start out simple because you don’t know what to get or do, then you start to learn about all the cool toys and build up a sweet collection of gadgets, and then you’re just tired of a brew day lasting six hours and cleaning for two more. So, I found that myself and many others were leaning towards those things that simplified our brewing processes, reduced the amount of equipment we needed, and didn’t require a sacrifice to the quality of our product. That and just bringing back the joy in what we were doing. It was becoming onerous due to the totality of what it entailed and the daunting task that was ensuring it was all thoroughly cleaned. Switching over to a Blichmann RipTide Pump has given my setup a definite step up in quality and has allowed me to streamline my brew day, brew space, and cleanup. I couldn’t be happier.