I promised to write up and compare brewing before the software upgrade and after. I realize this is for a very small audience, so will keep this fairly succinct. I intentionally brewed as I would have in the past, without using any of the recipe functions. I will use the recipe builder process in my next brew day – so stay tuned.
- The Interface still takes a bit to get used to. One must use a series of arrow keys like a mouse to navigate the UI, and it seems at first fairly easy to get lost. After using it for a bit – worked well. Of course, the UI is the most visible change to the system. Brew Magic has made it easy to access more information, but also reduced the size of a few buttons. See the little dots beside the House/Home icon? That indicates there are screens for each of the dots… use the down and up keys to access. Left and right keys move you between icons.
- Alert Screens: I find this extremely useful, if perhaps too subtle. It seems like the system should beep (maybe there is a setting I missed somewhere) with the alert screen – or make it a very different color. The Alerts are the same brushed stainless texture as the rest of the UI. However, alert screens pop over when you need to turn on the mash burner, or – and I really like this feature – when the heating curve is too steep – and it asks you to turn down the heat on the burner. You have the option to “ignore” these messages – but following the instructions gave me a very smooth ramp to temperature.
- Stabilizing to mash temperatures: Intentionally, I used a very complex step mashing procedure to see how long and difficult striking step temperatures would be. Everything went very smoothly. In fact, I generally saw less than 1 degree overshoot on mash step temperatures – then the system immediately went into self regulate. This is much better than the previous computer with far larger swings in the system.
- Timers: There are separate timers for the Mash, Sparge and Boil. Very useful, although I was brewing a Pilsner and needed more than the 60 minute boil timer count. You cannot make many adjustments on the fly with it – other than reset. Keep that in mind. I assume with the recipe manager, you can have multiple timers and alerts for various procedures.
My initial impression is very positive. To compare to an old brew day, I might spend a good deal of time controlling heating ramps to mash temperatures. I am sure that in other weather or a more windy environment, I will still have some issues, but I was very impressed with the new temperature curve controls. Before, alerts, usually beeps, may or may not have the relevant information handy… so having the new alert screens is useful, and they force you to click through to return to the normal screen. If I have an issue at all is that a learning curve is present… it will take a few brew days and cleaning cycles to get to the level of comfort I had with the old system.
The best part of learning the new system – I have 11 gallons of pale, golden Pils in the fermenter chugging away!