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Old 02-16-2012, 04:47 PM   #1
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Default Round vs Square Coolers for 5 gal batches?

I'm going to start with some AG recipes here shortly and wanted to know which is my best option for 5G batches that will have SG of less than 1.070. I only want to do styles like pale ales (mainly English), Brown Ales, Irish Ales, an occasional stout or porter but not high octane...etc. Before you suggest larger ones because I'll jump up to 10G...it's NOT going to happen - space, kids, and consumption don't fit that type of capacity brewing.

So - I was thinking either a 5G Rubbermaid round cooler or something like 36 quart rectangular cooler. As for the rectangular coolers - will a "non-xtreme" version work? Do I just have to put towels around it or blankets? Or will the normal versions be okay for 1 hr?

I'll probably batch sparge since it doesn't require any more additional purchases. Will my efficiency be okay?

Based on opinons of round vs rect....then I'll have to decide on the filtering mechanism....if people suggest round - then I'll go with a braid...if rectangle - I'll probably go with a kettle screen or bazooka like screen. Although I do have a fermentap spray siphon that I could "fly sparge" with. If that would help my efficiency.

I can get a 36 qt "3 day" coleman cooler for $15...xtremes 36qt are more like $40. 5G round cooler is $22

Thanks in advance.



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Old 02-16-2012, 04:59 PM   #2
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With my 10 gallon round cooler and 10 gallon batches the max OG I can make is about 1.055 which is fine for plenty of brews but too small for just as many. That said, I feel it would be around the same for a 5 gallon round cooler and 5 gallon batches.

With the rectangular cooler you might have an issue with grain depth which can lead to channeling.

In my opinion for 5 gallon batches with the possibility of porters and "big beers", I don't mean high alcohol I mean large grain bills, I would suggest a 10 gallon round cooler.

Bobby-M has a sticky in the equipment section that breaks down the sizes of mash tuns and what they can do, I would check that one out.



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Old 02-16-2012, 05:09 PM   #3
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My brewing and consumption habits are similar to what you outlined. I only brew five gallon batches and can't imagine doing more. Most of my recipes have called for 10-12lbs of grain. I use a rubbermaid 34qt cooler (8.5 gal) that I think is a good compromise. It is small, but still gives me plenty of room to mash without sloshing all over the place. I generally loose a degree or two during the mash.

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Old 02-16-2012, 05:20 PM   #4
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I got a 10 gallon round rubbermaid cooler with a stainless braid, and it works good for lots of stuff. I think i could probably go a little smaller, but i don't think i'd do a 5 gallon round, just think sparging would be a pain, and you might have to do a few smaller sparges instead of one or two bigger one. Not sure if that would make a difference. My last two all grain batches, I did one where i dumped all my sparge water into the tun at once (6.2 gallons), and another where i added it in two steps (3.1 gallons + 3.1 gallons) and i got nearly identical efficiency with both.

I don't think you'd have any problem getting good efficiency out of batch sparging. I've gotten around 80-82% with batch sparging. I don't think i'd change much, maybe i'll build a cpvc manifold one of these days.

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Old 02-16-2012, 05:55 PM   #5
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I prefer a deeper grain bed, so I use a 10 gallon round Gott Cooler. I wouldn't bother with a 5 gallon cooler. You'll just be buying a bigger one shortly.

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Old 02-16-2012, 10:04 PM   #6
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A10 gallon round one works for me. I have room for grain and water for 5-6 gal. batch. Every thing else has been said. Cheers

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Old 02-16-2012, 10:11 PM   #7
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I don't know size use what works for you. But as far as shape I first bought a 5 gal Round Igloo cooler. I brewed one batch and ended up replacing it with a standard coleman retangle cooler. I found the retangle was easier to stir. Mash temps were no p[roblem in the standard cooler. You will lose a degree or two but not enough to worry about . I also batch sparged.

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Old 02-17-2012, 02:01 AM   #8
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I also have a rectangular cooler, I believe in the 36 qt range. I have gone up to around 1.075 OG in it without a problem. I use a blanket on the outside to maintain the temp, although it is not totally necessary (can't hurt though). I have a clear vinyl tube that goes thru the drain and connect via SS hose clamp to a SS braided line that acts as my filter. I "borrowed" the design from Don Osborne at www.donosborn.com. I found him thru an internet search. He was some great videos and a really website with some good instructions for the mash tun. Best of luck

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Old 02-21-2012, 04:25 PM   #9
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So would a 36 gal coleman (non-extreme) cooler work for me then? I can get one for $15 on sale new. I plan on getting a cooler kit from bargain fittings and a 12" kettle screen.

Of course the SG that I'm look at for all-grain recipes don't have me going over 1.055 or so. With that in mind, there is going to be a lot of empy space in the cooler correct? A grain bill of 6-8lbs and the corresponding water is not even coming half way up in the cooler. Is that a waste and should I stay with the 5 gal round cooler? I'd have to use a false bottom or a braid then.

Thanks.

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Old 02-21-2012, 06:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H-ost View Post
With my 10 gallon round cooler and 10 gallon batches the max OG I can make is about 1.055 which is fine for plenty of brews but too small for just as many.
I use a 10 gallon round cooler and make 10 gallons batches with much higher OG's than 1.055. I can max out at about 1.080, albeit with a thick mash. I do wish, however, that someone made a 15 gallon round cooler because I really like round better than rectangular.


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