Equipment Review: Anvil Foundry 10.5 Gallon All-In-One Brewing System

After considering a multitude of factors, I recently decided to check out an electric brewing system. I wanted the ability to more easily do step mashes, as well as the ability to recirculate my mash for better clarity. Finally, I was ready to be done with propane refills (especially during the days of coronavirus, with the possibility of variable supplies and variable masking behavior out “in the wild”).

Following a week or two of research, I settled on the Anvil Foundry 10.5 gallon brewing system. First, the cost (<$500 for the version with pump) seemed fairly reasonable, and the reviews for quality and reliability were solid. The heating element was particularly well rated, and had high marks for excellent heating plus minimal risk of scorching. The ability to switch between 120 and 240 voltage was also a plus in the long-term. Even though I’m limited to 120 for the time being, I like the idea of having the option open. The final selling point for me was that the controls are supposed to be dead-simple and all on-board the unit, rather than hiding behind a Bluetooth-connected Android app. I want a system that will still work after I upgrade my phone, or when my wifi is down, or if the unit’s software is “helpfully” updated.

Luckily, I managed to buy direct from Anvil on a 10% discount sale, and they had free shipping! It took about two weeks for the setup to arrive, and I eagerly unboxed it as soon as it hit my doorstep.

In terms of options, I got the recirculation pump kit, along with the small-batch adapter. I normally work with 5 gallon batches, and don’t see that changing in the future, but I do occasionally want to brew 2.5 or 3 gallon batches. The steel insert to adapt for small batches is supposed to improve efficiency in that case, by preventing recirculated mash runnings from just flowing over the top of the grain bed, rather than through it.

Hands-On Review

At this writing, I’ve brewed seven batches with the system. This includes 5 gallon batches of a German pils, American IPA, Dortmunder Export, Scottish export ale, and stout, as well as a 3 gallon batch each of a moderate-strength winter ale and an imperial IPA. This review will be based on that experience, with the caveat that I’m still learning the system.


That’s one big box.

This system is a snap to unbox and set up. The packaging was super sturdy, but also easy to open up. I didn’t do it all in one sitting, but I would estimate it took about an hour to pull out all of the pieces, do the minor bits of assembly, and clean the equipment prior to brewing. I filled up the rig with PBW and ran a test of the pump, followed by a quick rinse with hot water. The goal was to clean off any manufacturing oil, and have it all ready for brew day.

Foundry in Action

For my first brew on the Foundry, I went with a German pils using a step mash. I figured this would help me to explore some of the features of the system, while also producing a tasty beer!

This recipe required around 7 gallons of water. My usual procedure is to use hot tap water, to save on time and energy. Starting at around 115°, it took about 30 minutes to reach my strike temperature of 146° and a mash temperature of 142°. After a 60 minute mash at this temperature, I then raised the mash to a temperature of 158°, which took around 20 minutes. I started off with 75% power, but realized I should just up it to 100% to move things along more quickly. I then notched in back to 75% when the temperature was achieved. Finally, it took about seven minutes at 100% power to get up to the mash-out temperature of 168°. This is in the ballpark of roughly a minute per degree of temperature increase that I’ve seen cited elsewhere.

Recirculation was pretty easy and intuitive. The pump worked well, and I didn’t have any clogging issues. The one minor change I made is that I decided not to use the perforated metal disk that’s supposed to cascade the returning mash runnings across the top of the mash. That just seems like a recipe for hot-side aeration. Now, I’m not a low-oxygen zealot, but I do try to minimize splashing. 45 to 60 minutes of continual splashing is a risk I didn’t want to take. So, I ran a length of tubing from the return pipe directly onto the top of the mash. I had minor concerns about channeling, but I figured that the slow rate of return on the liquid minimized that risk. For my latest batch, I added a nylon t-junction to spit the wort out in two different directions (see picture towards the end of this post). I’m going to keep playing with this aspect of the system, because I do think the factory standard metal plate is a bit overly complicated. I suspect that as long as you’re not shooting a jet of runnings straight into the grain bed, you’re probably going to avoid channeling.

After removing the mashed grains, it took 50 minutes to bring the kettle to a boil at 100 percent power. I noted that it was boiling before the panel actually showed 212 degrees. As I read up on this online, it seems to be a known “quirk” of the Foundry that the thermometer is calibrated well for mash temperatures, but not at the limits of boiling. This isn’t a huge issue in my book, but good to know.

I recirculated during chilling, both to speed up the process as well as to sanitize the pump for transfer to the fermenter. As before, I used a silicone hose to return the wort below the surface of the liquid, preventing aeration. As many have done before me, I am going to replace the hoses on the chiller–they’re a bit flimsy, and don’t do well if they get too hot.

Transfer to the fermenter is a cinch using the pump. One thing I learned is to plan to throw out the first cup or two of wort, because it often will have a ton of trub. After that, it ran pretty clear.

Cleaning isn’t too bad, and I have honed my process after a few batches. First, I have to get rid of the dregs of the wort–unfortunately, this most easily involves picking up the unit and tipping it into the sink. Thankfully it’s not too heavy. I do a quick rinse next, and then fill up the kettle with PBW and hot water. I put in all of the equipment bits I want to clean, including the grain basket, and then recirculate with the pump. I pump the solution out, spray things down with hot water and pump that out too, and the repeat the hot water rinse. Done and done on the cleaning!

The “Like List”

  • The controls are dead-simple, and pretty intuitive. After the first batch, I had all of that under control!
  • This unit seems solidly built, but it’s not overly bulky. When empty, it’s pretty easy to move around.
  • The pump kit makes transfer and recirculation a snap. I really, really, really, advise getting the mash recirculation kit with pump, or else rig up your own equivalent.
  • Along the same lines, the pump itself is simple to disassemble and clean.
  • This unit is pretty easy to clean, especially if you have a stock of PBW. If you do a lot of brewing, I highly recommend getting a 5 gallon bucket of the stuff!
  • It’s really nice to be able to do step mashes with little extra effort.
  • As I get into the rhythm of a single kettle brewing system, I’m really enjoying the simplicity. There’s still stuff to do, of course, but it has been nice to pare back things like the mash tun, propane burner, etc.
  • I used the delay timer to heat up the water for my most recent batch, and quite like it.

The “Caution List”

  • The gasket on the lid comes off super easy, and is a big pain to get into place. Because I’m not distilling with this unit, I have just left the gasket off.
  • It’s easy to tiptoe to the edge of danger if the hardware on the out port isn’t fully tightened (or is overtightened). The various nuts and gaskets should be checked carefully before every brew session.
  • The temperature readout is not terribly accurate when you’re out of mash temperature range (as noted above). Also, when you’re not recirculating, the temperature reading may not match well what is going on in the rest of the mash.
  • Don’t press down on the grain basket (e.g., to squeeze the grains) when you have it resting on the kettle insert. The insert will come loose pretty easily under excess pressure, so if you need to squeeze you should just put the grain basket into a separate container. After the main drain is done, I put it in one of my old brew kettles for the final drain (and squeeze if necessary).
  • The default hoses on the chiller are fairly cheap vinyl, and will warp really easily if you’re not careful around the hot kettle. I’m swapping mine out, because I already had to cut and reattach the factory standard ones when they got a little too close to the kettle during a small batch brew.
  • I wish the switch on the pump was just a little farther from the motor itself. From a safety standpoint, the switch is prone to sitting on the floor, and thus sitting in any spilled liquids.
  • 5 gallon batches of high gravity beer are not a great match for this system, unless you use extract, reiterated mashes, or some other process. That said, this is a non-issue for me, because A) I rarely brew beers over 1.065 starting gravity; and B) when I do, it’s typically in 2 or 3 gallon batch sizes.

Andy’s Anvil Hacks, Tips, and Tricks

My bagged hop technique
  • How to handle hops? I’ve tried a few methods already, and settled on using a big bag setting in the kettle (see photo). I drape it over the side, and it is easy enough to open up and toss more hops in without handling boiling liquids. Loose pellet hops work okay if you have a relatively small rate of hopping, but I won’t even try it with whole cones. They’re just too likely to clog the outlet and/or pump. Individual bagged hop doses thrown into the kettle work okay also, but you absolutely have to remove them before chilling / hop whirlpooling with pump / transfer to fermenter, because once again they tend to clog up the out port. I decided against a hop spider, because mine isn’t quite tall enough to work well with most batches, and because it would be a pain to deal with when putting the chiller into the relatively narrow kettle.
  • This “hack” isn’t mine by any means, but I do recommend using a good fine-mesh brew bag inside the malt pipe during the mash. It makes clean-up of the pipe soooo much easier, and the bag itself is a snap to clean, too. This also means you can crush finer, and get correspondingly better efficiencies. Binder clips will effectively hold it in place against the brew pot.
  • To save heating time, I use hot water out of the tap, rather than heating from ground temperature. Your mileage may vary, depending on the quality of water out of your heater, but it can shave off a fair bit of time.
  • GFCI, GFCI, GFCI! Because we’re talking about lots of liquids moving around near power cords, with various points of leakage and failure, it’s critical to have your electrical safety in hand. If you don’t have a GFCI outlet (quite possible in some older garages and homes), either get one wired in by a competent electrician or else get one of the in-line GFCI cords.
  • I am getting one of those stainless steel food service trays to hold the pump when it’s in use during brew day. There tends to be a bit of leakage of wort when disconnecting the hoses (up to a cup or so, if I’m not careful), which makes a mess on the floor.
  • I’m going to put some clear silicone sealant around the edges of the control panel, as recommended by multiple people to prevent accidental moisture incursion. I waited for a few batches (just in case there was any immediate reason that I needed to send back the unit, before I go adding caulk).
  • The small batch adapter probably isn’t necessary for high gravity beers, where the grain still fills to a point well above the perforations on the grain basket. On my next high gravity small batch, I’m going to try without and see how things go, although I’m still going to use it on lower gravity small batches.
  • As mentioned above and shown in the photo below, I’ve modified the recirculation return system to reduce splashing.
  • If you are on Facebook, the Anvil Foundry All-Grain Group is pretty fantastic! I highly recommend joining if you are on that social media platform. Their Unofficial Anvil Foundry Bible is essential reading, and provides a ton of helpful tips, work-arounds, and mods.
My modified recirculation return, in place of the metal plate. A hose attaches to the steel return arm, and a t-junction sends the liquid in two different directions. When the kettle lid is in place, the t-junction is just below the top of the mash, removing the problem of excessive splashing.

Anvil Foundry versus my “Standard” System

Up to this point, my primary brewing setup used a 10 gallon cooler mash tun and batch sparging with a 10 gallon brew kettle on a propane burner. I feel like I can do fairly similar things on them, although the process is pretty different.

Somewhat surprisingly, the total brew time (from filling the kettle with water to finishing clean-up) is about the same for my two methods. The mash process feels a bit quicker and easier on the Foundry, because I don’t mess around with sparge water (although some people do, for the extra mash efficiency points). The Foundry might take a bit of extra time to heat to a boil, but I can also save some time on heating by filling the kettle the night before and having it at strike temperature when I wake up in the morning of brew day.

Because of the pump and stuff, as well as the depth of the Foundry kettle and the various nooks and crannies of the grain basket, cleaning is maybe a touch more work with this system versus my old one. I’ve got a rhythm down finally, and much of the extra time is just letting the cleaners do their thing. That said, spent grain cleanup is easier for me with the Foundry versus my mash tun cooler.

The biggest adjustment point for me has been mash efficiency. I pretty consistently hit 75% measured mash efficiency (as calculated in BeerSmith) on my old setup, and am now at around 68% mash efficiency on the Anvil. I’m okay with this (especially because I’m not sparging), although it took some iterations with grain crush and such to get here. My only real annoyance is that I’ll have to adjust all of my old recipes accordingly! But, that’s not the end of the world. I feel like I’m going to be able to more consistently hit efficiency expectations, too, because there are fewer steps in my new process.

A major point in favor of the Foundry is its simplicity. My “traditional” setup requires a propane burner, propane tank, mash tun, hot water pot, and boiling kettle, along with the other bits and pieces. The Foundry is just more compact! The entire process takes place in the main kettle, pump, and grain basket, more or less. As mentioned above, it’s nice to not have to worry about propane refills from both a cost and convenience standpoint.

Overall, I’m not going to ditch my old system, but the Foundry is going to be my primary brewing rig from this point on.

Overall Assessment

The Anvil Foundry 10.5 is a really nice piece of equipment. It’s well-built, the controls are intuitive, and the unit has a great price point. As with any specialized brew hardwear, there are a few minor quirks, but they truly are pretty minor and easily worked around. The compact nature of the system is nice, and has simplified my brew day. So far, I have no regrets for this purchase! If you’re looking to go electric, definitely check out the Foundry.

What’s Brewing? October 2020 Edition

The past month has been a quiet one for the blog, but not necessarily a quiet one for brewing. I’ve gotten a few batches started, got some awesome new equipment, and enjoyed some of the fruits of my labors. Admittedly, I am not turning over kegs as often as I would like, if only because I’m not having people over. I make up the gap a little bit by doing growler swaps!

The Anvil Foundry, my new brewing toy.

Beer Batch Updates

  • My first kveik-fermented beer is now history. It was a super interesting beer, and pretty drinkable, although the dry hopping unfortunately ended up a little harsh. At ~3.5% abv, it was also possible to have a few without getting woozy-headed. The keg just kicked last night!
  • I repitched the kveik culture from my pale ale, to do a sessionable brown ale. It came in around 3.6% abv, a bit lower than expected. I’m somewhat surprised by the fairly low attenuation on the Hornindal strain, with ~61% attenuation on both batches so far. This is probably due to the intentionally high mash temperatures I’m using, at around 156° for each. The beer is now on tap,
  • I’ve been brewing a sequence of lagers, as mentioned last month. The German pils is now on tap, and a Vienna lager just went on tap also. I just did a rebrew of my Stygimoloch Bock, repitching the yeast from the German pils. Finally, I’ve done another German pils, using the Pfriem Pilsner from Dave Carpenter’s lager book.
  • Finally, I made a small (3 gallon) batch of a spiced Christmas beer. It uses Vienna, Munich II, and honey malt, along with a smattering of crystal and chocolate malts as well as some honey. A mixture of “holiday spices” went in, with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, and coriander. It’s fermenting with another repitch of the kveik (probably the last pitch for this one

What’s On Tap?

  • Dog Days Pilsner has been drinking exceptionally well. It’s just a great German pils–I feel like I have finally mastered this style!
  • I just put a Vienna lager on tap, after about a month of lagering. It’s a super-simple SMaSH beer, with just Vienna malt (Weyermann) and Saaz. Vienna is still one of my favorite malts, and this recipe is no exception!
  • Finally, I have a session brown ale fermented with kveik. “Kveik the Keg Brown Ale” is a super interesting and super drinkable beer, clocking in at only 3.6% abv. It has a really delightful chocolate and citrus character. I’m in love with this beer!

What’s Coming Up?

  • I’m thinking a stout of some sort is in order…not sure what yet, but probably a recipe that has a fairly dry, sharp character at a sessionable alcohol level.
  • It’s always lager time! I might do a “winter lager” of some sort, emphasizing a mix of Vienna and Munich malt.

Equipment Notes

  • I recently purchased the Anvil Foundry 10.5 gallon electric brewing system, and am loving it so far. Given the pandemic, I’m trying to avoid unnecessary trips out for propane, and it seemed like a good time to look at moving to electric. The Foundry system hit all of my interest points, with solid reviews, reliable reputation, and simple operation. To date, I’ve brewed a German pils as well as the holiday ale.

Commercial Beer Notes

  • I’ve been cutting back my alcohol consumption some, and so have been exploring non-alcoholic options with interest. I recently tried Partake Brewing’s line of 0% alcohol beers. Unfortunately, they were a bit disappointing. There were things I liked about each, but the character was just way too thin, and they all had a bit of a “twang” reminiscent of some of my early extract brews. I’ll continue to try some other brands, but probably not this one again.

Repurposing and Conserving CO2 During Kegging

With the current recommendations and restrictions on leaving the house, I’m trying to conserve basic brewing necessities as much as possible. This includes propane and CO2–neither of which can be ordered online (and really don’t count as necessities in the same way that groceries do, so it’s hard to justify many extra trips out to get more).

Keg purging is one brewing task that’s non-essential but nice, in terms of long-term beer quality. By keg purging, I mean replacing the ambient atmosphere in a keg (the stuff we breathe) with CO2 from a tank, to greatly reduce oxygen concentrations and postpone noticeable oxidation in the beer. My usual procedure prior to kegging is to fill a keg with StarSan, and push it out using CO2 from my CO2 tank. This doesn’t use a ton of CO2, but it still does use some up that could go to other purposes.

The easiest CO2-conserving scenario is to go without a keg purge, which is my normal procedure anyhow for many “non-delicate” beers (e.g., porters and stouts). However, I’ve noted that lighter lagers, pilsners, and blonde ales do show noticeable oxidation effects within a month or two without a keg purge. In the “good old days” of sharing growlers and homebrew happy hours and such, I could finish a keg in 4 weeks or so. Now, I expect many kegs will stay on service longer, and so I want to extend the quality as much as I can. Keg purging is nice, if possible!

One option I’ve considered is to use sugar-based carbonation (wort-driven krausening or corn sugar), which should both eat up any latent oxygen and carbonate simultaneously. I’ll likely try that for some future beers (especially more robust, darker styles), but I worry about oxidation risk from adding the sugar and also leaving the beer at slightly higher temperatures to allow the yeast to carbonate more quickly. It’s not an ideal option for light lagers.

So, how might I purge kegs to avoid oxidation and simultaneously conserve precious CO2 from my tanks? Reuse CO2 from empty kegs!

When a keg in the keezer is drained of beer, it’s full of CO2 at serving pressure. Normally, I just bleed this off before cleaning the keg. Why not repurpose the gas?

So, I hooked up a jumper between the gas ports of the empty keg and a StarSan-filled keg (the latter being the one I’ll fill with fresh, uncarbonated beer). Before doing this, I let the empty keg warm up, to give a bit more gas volume (yay, physics). I put a picnic tap on the StarSan-filled keg, hooked up the gas, and let the empty keg push out the StarSan.

It worked like a charm! The transfer took around 10 minutes, but the whole keg got drained, with a bit of residual CO2 left over. No CO2 went to waste, and I ended up with a purged keg ready to fill with pilsner!

The keg setup for CO2 purge. The keg at lower right is empty and just moved out of the keezer. The keg at upper left is empty and filled with StarSan. The red line is pushing CO2, and the clearish-white line is moving the StarSan into a sanitation tub (for use sanitizing equipment).
The colored lines and arrows here show the path of the gas and liquid. The yellow arrows indicate the flow of CO2, and the red arrows indicate flow of the StarSan.

Equipment Review: Mash Paddle by Abbey Cat Brewing

My wife got me a mash paddle for Christmas! I had a nice plastic brewing spoon already, and awhile back I had also purchased a plastic mash paddle. The spoon is great, but the plastic mash paddle was fairly worthless. It had a little too much flexibility and was just a little too small to be effective in breaking up dough balls or stirring decoctions. As a result, my arms would be quite sore after even a brief decoction, so I mainly just ended up using the plastic spoon. A new, sturdier mash paddle was a welcome addition to my brew house.


This particular mash paddle was made by Abbey Cat Brewing–it’s their 36″ maple version. The construction is high quality–there is a beautiful grain on the wood, the piece is shaped nicely, and all of the edges were cleanly sanded. This particular version has my brewery name engraved into it, which is a nice touch.

I’ve used the paddle for a few batches now, on tasks including dough-in, stirring of the mash, and decoction stirring. The paddle works pretty much as advertised, and is head-and-shoulders above my old plastic paddle. I could probably have gotten away with the smaller (24″) version, but overall it’s probably better to have a paddle that’s too big than too small. When it comes to decoctions, the paddle is way easier to work with than my spoon, too. It moves more of the decoction around, with less effort. Clean-up is easy, too — just a quick rinse and I’m done!

So, I give this piece of equipment a solid A, for quality of construction and utility. I’d recommend it for anyone who is doing regular all-grain brewing, and say it is a “must have” for anyone doing decoctions.

Mash paddle in action for a decoction

Mash paddle in action for a decoction

Recirculating Draft Line Cleaner: Pin Lock Edition

Most of us who own kegging setups probably don’t clean our draft lines as often as we should (if ever). For me, the big deterrent has been that the procedures require either 1) wasting a bunch of CO2 to push cleaning solution out of a keg or 2) specialized, somewhat costly, and unwieldy equipment. So, I was really excited awhile back to read a post on Homebrew Finds about a DIY draft line cleaner. It looked cool, but the default build was for a ball lock keg. I use pin locks, and the alternative suggestions they had for pin locks assumed quick disconnects on the draft lines, which I don’t have. So, I needed to do some minor tweaking. Fortunately, the original post gave plenty of specifics for the base build, and a little research helped me put together my own pin lock recirculating draft line cleaning system.

The basics are the same as outlined at Homebrew Finds; the only minor change is in the hardware connecting the pump to the beverage lines. Parts include:

The cost for everything was roughly $45 (the main costs were in the pump and power switch).


Bushing, Tube Fitting, and Keg Post

Once I had everything, I assembled the parts, using teflon tape to seal the threads. First I connected the bushing+tube fitting+keg post (in that order).


Assembled Hardware

Then, I attached that assembly to the pump. Everything fit perfectly!


Hardware Attached to Pump

Now, I was ready to go! I attached the silicone tubing to the beer faucet, connected the beer line to the pump, and pushed some hot water through to clear the beer out of the line. After this, I ran line cleaner for 20 minutes, recirculating the cleaner by draining it out of the faucet and back into the bucket with the pump.


Once this was done, I rinsed out the line by running hot tap water through the entire assembly for another 20 minutes. Done, and done!


So far, I’m pretty happy with this setup, and anticipate that it will reduce my excuses for not cleaning my tap lines more frequently. This will in turn lead to tastier draft homebrew!

A big thanks to the folks at Homebrew Finds for posting such a clear and easily modified tutorial. You made my own build that much easier!

Safety note: Please use good judgement and be aware of all manufacturer warnings and safety protocols for this equipment. Be smart, be safe!