I purchased a Brewjacket and recieved about three months ago. Have used three times since then to ferment lagers of which was my primary purpose for purchasing.
This product basically does what it says it does on the brewjacket.com site. I have confirmed most of the site data based on my initial test brews. It is a heat exchange system only. In other words the room temp must be higher than your targeted fermentation temp. It does not supply heat to the fermentation carboy etc. The unit is often shown without the brew jacket itself, just the carboy and head unit. However you must use the jacket in order for this to all work. The insulated jacket has a drawstring and lock to close the top of the jacket around the carboy neck just below the head unit. I found it is very important to have this snug so as to maintain the insulated interior from the outside room temp. To get an idea of relative size of the brewjacket in use the companies new website has a page, http://www.brewjacket.com/space-unconstrained/, that displays images of the brewjacket set up in different rooms.
The Brewjacket is perfect for lager fermentation temperatures but less so for ale's as ale yeast fermentation temp maybe above your room temp. It all depends on the environment temp that the brewjacket resides in. There is a fan that turns on when the unit is exchanging heat and the current fermentation temp is above the set temp. Otherwise if set and current temp the same the fan turns off and stays off until the current temp rises above the set temp. The units temp probe that measures the current fermentation temp connects to the head unit and goes between the inside of the insulated jacket and the carboy. It does not reside in the brew stick inside of the carboy. However I saw no problem with this.
Unit as tested allowed for a fairly precise control over fermentation temp. Probably better than a frig/freezer even with controller. Quality of the parts seemed generally good. There can be an issue between the connection of the rod to the head unit if the contact surfaces are not clean and or have some sticky insulation material on the surface. This is documented in the manual and the website and is very easy to fix.
- Great for lager fermentation.
- Fairly compact in size and easily movable.
- Very easy to use head unit and clean the brew stick.
- Very efficient use of energy.
- Can use different carboy types and variations incl ale bucket.
- Prompt email support for issues or questions.
- Ale yeast fermentation temps wanted maybe above fermentation room temp which will not work with heat exchange system as brewjacket.
- Not easy to get a 5 to 6 gal full fermentation carboy in or back out of the jacket.*
- Fairly pricey for doing just one 5-6 gal fermentation at a time assuming purchase of one unit only.
- Fan somewhat noisy when on but depends on listening environment.
- With carboy in jacket cannot easily see active fermentation process.
- Currently is incompatible with Small Neck Glass Carboys, 10 Gallon Fermenters or Larger and Wide Fermenters, Conicals.
* I found it somewhat difficult to install a full fermentation carboy into the insulated jacket. If using a 5 or 6 gal glass or even plastic carboy (45 to 50 lbs) you really need almost two persons. One to hold the jacket down and one to lift and insert into the top opening of the jacket. The reverse is true when taking the same carboy out of the jacket. There is no vertical side zipper just the top opening with a draw string and clip. Since I ferment in my basement with plastic type carboys I purchased a small block and tackle hoist that easily lifts the carboy (attached to carboy handle) into or out of the jacket. But please keep in mind that if using a glass carboy and handle, you are still supposed to support the bottom of the carboy or risk breaking the neck of the carboy when it contains whatever liquid etc. As another option you could go from cooled wort into primary fermentation carboy with carboy already seated in jacket and the same if racking to secondary carboy for cold lagering. The downside to this method is that when carboy is seated in jacket you cannot easily see its contents etc. Maybe newer insulated jacket versions will have a vertical side zipper for easier carboy installation and removal.
I feel this fermentation cooler is generally best suited for lagers or where environments are 70 deg F or above. I am generally happy with the system and would recommend to those who have limited space, do not want another frig or freezer for lagering, or a warm climate and want to do lager beers with more precision. Cost of unit currently is about the same as purchasing a new small chest freezer (two 6 gal carboy size) and a temp controller unit. I had a few small issues and questions after purchase and found that the companies email support was excellent.