This is an honest review of the Blichmann RipTide™ pump. I wish I could say I was compensated for this in some way but I was not.
I recently upgraded to a Blichmann’s RipTide pump after being a March 815-PL pump owner for a while. The March pump does what it’s supposed to. I actually got it brand new for $50 so it was an absolute steal for the price. It’s a basic pump with basic features. It wasn’t until I upgraded to a RipTide that I truly understood the difference in quality, power, and features.
Blichmann RipTide Pump Review
So what’s so great about the RipTide? Well, a lot of things. Your typical March or Chugger pump with a stainless head is going to run you about $150-220. A RipTide is at the same price point of $199, or $225 if you want their new tri-clover (TC), model. If you’re looking to outfit your brewhouse with all tri-clover ports, it only makes sense to add a true TC capable pump. I am told that Blichmann will soon be selling the TC RipTide head on its own for those who would like to upgrade their existing NPT RipTide. I’m eagerly awaiting for the price of that.
Why? It’s way more sanitary and makes a lot of sense if your whole system is equipped with TC valves. From a pure sanitary perspective, TC valves followed by downline threaded NPT ports make your entire system LESS sanitary.
Either way, if you’re eyeing March or Chugger pumps and you have a budget of around $150-200, please do yourself a big favor and get a RipTide.
Right out of the box I was actually really surprised by the size and weight of the RipTide pump. I had only ever seen pictures online and assumed it was small and lightweight like my March pump. WOW, this thing is a beast. It’s something that initially caught me off guard. It features a fully enclosed body with no exposed motors or components. This feels a little more waterproof to me than my March pump…considering I can see inside of it.
This is a very small perk, but the 9′ power cord is a really nice touch. It gives you some flexibility on placement without relying on a close outlet or extension cord. The pump also has an on/off switch right on the body, so you don’t need to plug/unplug it at the source to operate if you don’t have a controller for instance. This is a plus if you brew outside and have to walk 50 feet to the nearest outlet.
Powerful and Quiet
Brewing pumps can be loud. Get two of them going at once and it makes your peaceful electric brew day not so peaceful. It wasn’t until I powered on the RipTide that I realized how much quieter it was than my March. Not sure if it’s the pump’s motor itself or the fact that it sits on a rugged base with rubber feet (probably both). Having both pumps running simultaneously on my metal brew stand, I could hear my March pump over the RipTide.
RipTides rip…They are truly powerful pumps that are great for a strong whirlpool, especially in larger kettles. It’s a visually noticeable difference in flow rate. I will note that most of the time my pumps are dialed back quite a bit for recirculating etc. There aren’t many brewing scenarios when you need to run your pump full blast like a banshee, but it does speak to its overall construction.
Most pumps need to be mounted on a surface so they aren’t flung around or tipped over by your tubing’s twisting and turning. The RipTide is heavy enough to stand on its own and doesn’t slide around thanks to the rubber pads on the base. This is great for cleaning spills or simply being able to move your pump on demand without needing to unscrew it from a table or base. I keep mine free!
Hands down the best feature here. I would buy a RipTide over any other pump for the cleaning benefits ALONE. The pump’s head is stainless steel for starters, which is already an upgrade to cheaper pumps. The head is equipped with an extra-large tri-clover fitting for quick and easy removal for cleaning and adjusting positioning. Other pumps require a screwdriver and it’s just annoying. You can completely break this pump down in seconds.
This year I became a little more obsessive about my cleaning regime. This means breaking down equipment, including my pumps after each brew day to ensure nothing gross is hiding where you can’t see. It only takes a few clogged spent grains or left behind trub to totally gross you out. I don’t want to drink that, regardless of the old “it’s gonna be boiled so it doesn’t matter” argument. Sure you can clean in place, but I feel better about removing and soaking the components for peace of mind.
Linear Flow Valve and Easy Priming
Blichmann’s built-in proprietary linear flow valves are easier to control and dial in over your traditional ball value (which you would have to buy separately on other pumps). This gives you greater control and a better feel for adjusting your pump’s flow. They also feel really nice and respond well to adjusting.
The pump also comes equipped with an air vent that makes for easier priming. If you’re a pump owner you know what I’m talking about. You need unrestricted airflow to drain water or wort from your kettle’s ports (with tubing attached), even if the kettle ports are totally open (physics…I know). These valves help with creating the necessary venting so wort can flow into the pump’s head. Just note, water/wort will flow out of the holes on the priming valve when pulled if the pump head is filled with liquid.
Obviously, these pumps, like most, are not self-priming. The good news is once they’re primed, you’re basically set for brew day.
The RipTide is a great pump, maybe the best homebrewing pump on the market if I may be so bold. I don’t know that I honestly have any complaints or things I would change about its design. In terms of affordability, it’s more expensive than your basic entry-level pump, but it’s overbuilt, rugged, and more feature-rich in comparison to anything else at a similar or higher price point. If you’re serious about homebrewing, this will be the last pump you ever need, so I highly recommend spending a little more and upgrading now for good. You won’t regret it!
PS A good tip from a fellow brewer, buy a few extra replacement o-rings and metal washers to have on hand in case you lose them or they break (the washer is tiny and could easily slip down a sink drain). The pump won’t function properly without either of those.