I'm in a position to buy a major piece of brewing equipment. I've looked around then I found this company called Braumeister who has made a very clever system. But I was hoping to talk with some one who has experience using one before I buy it.
I have questions about sparging and re-circulation.
Seems like you're still looking biergarden? I have owned the Braumeister 20 liter system (just a little more than 5 gallon batch size) for about 4 months now. There is a slightly more expensive 50 liter (13 gallon) system as well as a 200 & 500 liter system.
I've done 4 batches so far - love the system. If you are in the USA, you will need to deal with getting the proper electrical setup since it doesn't ship with a cord that is compatible with any common US 240V plugs. Here are a list of mods I have done to my system:
Note that the thread I've referenced is a very long and informative post about the Braumeister, including some nanobreweries and brewpubs who have the 200l system.
The limitation on starting gravity of your beers is based on the interplay between the minimum volume of water needed and the maximum amount of grain you can fit in the malt pipe. The system is sort of like a stainless steel brew in a bag system. You need a minimum amount of liquid in the system to have it run properly (not sure the actual amount, but it's probably around 20 liter min) and you can only fit about 6kg of grain in the malt pipe.
The same thread I references above also has some people's experience brewing high gravity beers. Many ways to do it... boil longer, add DME or LME, or do a double mash. I've done the first two and they both work fine. Had some issues with the LME route: I added the LME right to the kettle with about 15 minutes left in the boil and it gummed up the pump pretty good. Fortunately, it didn't cause any real issues and the pump is incredibly easy to clean. I'll be pre-mixing any extract with some wort before adding it to the kettle from now on ;-)
One of the really nice features is the programmable mashing capabilities of the system - you have a lot of flexibility to program in multi-step mashes. I haven't tried it yet, but I think decoction mashing will be fairly easy to do as well.
It's designed to be a non-sparge process, but you can still sparge if you want to (I have been so far). It's setup to constantly circulate the wort through the malt pipe (where the grain stays during the mash). So, in a way, the grains are constantly being "rinsed." Many users report quite good efficiency without any sparging at all. So far I still do a batch sparge by heating up sparge water on my stovetop and pouring into the mash pipe when it's draining.
Happy to answer any other questions you might have.