I have used several different types of brewing setups throughout my life, starting with the extract kits on the stove and moving my way to all-grain brewing. At one point I had a Sabco system, which is a self-automated system with its own pumps and built-in heaters. I also built my own recirculating system using some old kegs and a chugger pump.
We recently started carrying the Mash and Boil Unit, and I wanted to put it to the test. This system is designed to make a 5 gallon batch of all grain brew or even an extract batch from start to finish. The kettle holds 7.9 gallons of liquid which is heated by a 120v heating element. There are two settings of heat on this system. The 1000w setting is ideal for your mash and the 1600w setting is perfect for your boil. The element is controlled by a push button controller so you can dial in the proper temperature for a step or single infusion mash. The basket that sits inside the kettle has several uses. First it holds your grain during the mash, then when lifted and turned 180 degrees, it turns into your false bottom during the sparge. After you are finished with your mash, it turns into a screen so you can remove the left over hops after the boil.
We start our brew day by adding 3 gallons of water to the Mash/Boil kettle. Plug in our unit on the 1000w setting and turn the dial to 156F. It takes about 25 minutes to reach this temperature. We then add our grain for an IPA which includes: 8 pounds of 2 row, 1 pound of Crystal 10L, and .5 pounds of CaraPils. Let sit for 60 minutes at 156F.
After the mash is complete, we lift the basket and turn it 180 degrees to start our run off. We slowly pour 3.5 gallons of 170F sparge water on top of our grain bed. When the sparge is complete, we switch to the 1600w setting and set the dial to 212F. With this much volume in the kettle, it takes about 45 minutes to come to a boil. We then add 2 oz of Centennial hops to the boiling wort. After 30 minutes of boil, we add 1 oz of Centennial hops. Then after 45 minutes of boil we add the remaining 1 oz of Centennial hops. We chose Centennial for the entire beer because it not only adds the bitterness to the IPA, but it also adds intense flora and citrus notes to the beer.
When the boil is complete, we put our wort chiller into the Mash/Boil kettle and let run until the wort is around 75F. After we reached the correct temperature, we use the built in valve with a hose attached to the end to put our wort into our sanitized 6.5 gallon carboy. Most of the hop matter stayed behind in the kettle screen, and the wort was nice and clear. We put our bung and airlock on top of the carboy and let sit for 10-14 days before kegging.
I was impressed with the way this system worked. It was very easy to use, and it easily just plugs in to get the temperature that you looking for. They also make a fermentation lid, so in theory you can use this one piece of equipment from start to finish for any type of beer you could imagine. That includes sour beers, as the Mash and Boil allows you to kettle sour as well. After using this system, for the price, I would recommend it to any brewer from novice to expert.