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Old 01-13-2011, 11:33 PM   #1
TarHeeledTexan
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Default Mash Tuns: Round coolers vs. Rectangular coolers?

I'm going to be upgrading from my simple zap-pap tun using uninsulated buckets to a cooler system. However, I don't know what type of cooler I want to use.

What would people say are the pros and cons of the tall, round coolers (eg. 10-gallon Rubbermaid) versus the lower, rectangular coolers (eg. 60-quart Igloo) for use as a mash tun?

I can think of some regarding things such as footprint/portability as well as more technical such as the thickness of the grain bed, but not having used either system, I am obviously ignorant to the real pluses and minuses of each.

Thanks!

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Old 01-13-2011, 11:52 PM   #2
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I have been using the 60qt Ice Cube even though I was originally planning to get a Rubbermaid 10-gallon when I was planning the build. But, the Igloo is half the price (or less) and it turned out that due to the size and shape it is easy for me to reuse the MLT as a fermentation temp control vessel by sticking the fermenter in there and filling it up with water, and adding ice/hot water bottles as necessary. At the time, it also happened to fit in the closet space I had much better than the big round rubbermaid, although that's a moot point now that I have moved to a new place.

I had an "incident" recently with my MLT, so I will probably be getting a new cooler, and will probably go with another Igloo. While I'm at it, I will also update my hardware to be 1/2" instead of the 3/8" I have on there now, so I can more easily set it up to recirculate, etc.

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Old 01-14-2011, 01:24 AM   #3
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I have two Coleman 10-gallon square Beverage Coolers. They are tall, but square. They work fine for me. I don't know about the low rectangular ones. I would think it may be easier to get a seal with a 1/2 ball valve since the surface is flat instead of round. One thing I did was drill some small holes into the lids and fill them with Great Stuff Foam.

BTW, your user name is what caught my attention. I'm a Bulldawged Tarheel (oldest daughter is at UGA).

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Old 01-14-2011, 01:33 AM   #4
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I use a 9 gal Coleman (had it in the garage when I decided to go AG) and put a spigot and a screen in it and have made about 6 batches with it.. 85%+ efficiency doing batch sparging in 2 batches. I got no issue with the square coolers. now back to my regularly scheduled beer.

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Old 01-14-2011, 07:40 AM   #5
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Cooler shape makes virtually no difference if you're batch sparging. If you're fly sparging, I think round offers a very slight advantage over square, and the taller/skinnier the better. That said, any cooler shape can be made to function very well with the right manifold and sparge arm.

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Old 01-14-2011, 08:41 AM   #6
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My understanding was that if you had enough grain bed depth then the shape of the mash tun wasn't important.

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Old 01-14-2011, 09:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richc View Post
My understanding was that if you had enough grain bed depth then the shape of the mash tun wasn't important.
Not true. Take a look at the fluid dynamics section in How to Brew. That should help in your design if your fly sparging.

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Old 01-14-2011, 09:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bullinachinashop View Post
Not true. Take a look at the fluid dynamics section in How to Brew. That should help in your design if your fly sparging.

Bull
Erm, where, I just scanned through that appendix again and I don't see much related to mash tun shape beyond the warning not to get to large a tun so your grain depth is deep enough. The fluid dynamics is about the design and positioning if the manifold in the tun rather than the actual shape of the mash tun.
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weirdboy View Post
I have been using the 60qt Ice Cube even though I was originally planning to get a Rubbermaid 10-gallon when I was planning the build. But, the Igloo is half the price (or less) and it turned out that due to the size and shape it is easy for me to reuse the MLT as a fermentation temp control vessel by sticking the fermenter in there and filling it up with water, and adding ice/hot water bottles as necessary. At the time, it also happened to fit in the closet space I had much better than the big round rubbermaid, although that's a moot point now that I have moved to a new place.

I had an "incident" recently with my MLT, so I will probably be getting a new cooler, and will probably go with another Igloo. While I'm at it, I will also update my hardware to be 1/2" instead of the 3/8" I have on there now, so I can more easily set it up to recirculate, etc.

That right there is what it is all about! Sounds like a very good idea, dual purpose! I use a converted sanke with a false bottom for my direct fire mash tun, but from the research I have done and my opinion is the shape doesn't matter too much. If you are fly sparging, I think that a round cooler would be easier to match up with a sparge arm.

Either way, just make yourself a nice manifold that is uniform and even for flow and as close to the bottom of the cooler as you can and you should be in good shape. I know a lot of guys use it with no problem, but I would personally stay away from the stainless braid toilet supply line thing. Just my $.02
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richc View Post
Erm, where, I just scanned through that appendix again and I don't see much related to mash tun shape beyond the warning not to get to large a tun so your grain depth is deep enough. The fluid dynamics is about the design and positioning if the manifold in the tun rather than the actual shape of the mash tun.
I agree, but I believe the poster was thinking that if the grain bed were deep enough, nothing else mattered.

The manifold or false bottom design will greatly change the efficiency of the tun.

So, making a manifold for a round tun would be less efficient than a false bottom.
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