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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Starting AG, have a couple questions...
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Old 06-06-2005, 06:22 PM   #1
wyobouldering
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Default Starting AG, have a couple questions...

I've perused the forums pretty thoroughly and haven't quite found the answers I'm looking for, so if this has already been beaten to death, I aplogize in advance. I want to start going AG, and have been looking at going the way of the 10 gallon cooler mash tun. My question is purely economical being a recent poor graduate facing student loan payments of epic proportions. The cheapest 10 gallon rubbermaid/gott style cooler I've found comes in at just under $50. There are plenty of 10-12 gallon rectangular coolers running in the $20 range. Is it acceptable to use such cooler for your mash? Are there any particular disadvantages to using the box style coolers as opposed to the cylindrical versions?

Next question...an immersible wort chiller will run between $40 and $50, but I can purchase 60 ft of copper line for 20 bucks locally...what diameter should be used?

thanks for the info guys, and happy drinking.

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Old 06-06-2005, 07:21 PM   #2
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you can use the regular ice chest type of cooler for a mash/lauter tun. i dont know the specific advantages or disadvantages of one over the other though, i think you will need to be more careful with compacting the grain bed in the ice chest because of the larger surface are, but i could be way off on that one.

you want your emmerision chiller to be able to fit into your boiling kettle.. so it should depend on your kettle. i think you'll need a torch of some kind to heat up the pipe so you can bend it without splitting it?. there are also tools you can used to bend the pipe.

edit: you mean pipe diameter, not the diameter of the coil,

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Old 06-06-2005, 11:52 PM   #3
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As with most homebrew subjects, mash tun preference is very personal. Here's my take:

I actually prefer a retangular mash tun for the following reasons:

1. It's cheap. Less than 1/2 the cost of a round cooler (as you found out on your own). When it's time to replace it (hey, it's plastic, the stuff doesn't last forever), you'll be glad it's cheap.

2. It's larger and can do both 5 and 10 gallon batches. A typical recangular cooler is 50 quarts, the round is only 40. Your starting gravity on a 10 gallon batch in a round cooler would be pretty limited.

3. Tailor made for a slotted manifold. I think slotted manifolds work better than the pre-fabbed plastic false bottoms. The slotted manifold will also be cheaper and won't float on you. Others will disagree on this.

4. Less chance of a compacted mash due to the larger surface area. Basically this comes down to grain bed depth. Tall skinny grain beds have more weight in a small area, while a short wide grain bed will have less. A five gallon batch in a rectangular cooler with a gravity of 1.050 (10 - 12 lbs of grain) will have a depth of 5 inches or so. This is plenty. Recirculate the runnings gently onto a perforated aluminum pie tin for 10 minutes or so to set the bed and you're good to go.

Just my take on it. I went through a long string of pros and cons when I built my brewery, taking into account a lot of things, some of which I read, some of which I saw with my own eyes, and settled on the rectangular cooler. You won't be dissappointed.

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Old 06-06-2005, 11:59 PM   #4
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For the chiller, it is difficult to bend the copper without kinking it. Fill it with sand first and that makes it a bit easier to bend a radius without kinking. Use a form to wrap it around. I use 1/4" myself, it bends easier and works quite well, but I would not go over 3/8" as it gets unweildy to bend.

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Old 06-07-2005, 12:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smorris
For the chiller, it is difficult to bend the copper without kinking it. Fill it with sand first and that makes it a bit easier to bend a radius without kinking. Use a form to wrap it around. I use 1/4" myself, it bends easier and works quite well, but I would not go over 3/8" as it gets unweildy to bend.

They make a special tool to bend copper pipe. It looks like a spring, which you slide over where you want to bend a 90 degree angle (or more). If you use a corny keg to wrap the coil around, it will come out the perfect circumference for a chiller. You don't need the spring tool to bend it around that, the copper is very flexible.
Use 3/8 inch copper.
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Old 06-07-2005, 01:08 AM   #6
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FWIW, I have 2 coils, one goes in an ice/saltwater bath and the second in the wort. For maximum heat transfer you want to find the sweet spot in the flow rate that transfers the maximum heat. Heat exchangers are magic beasts that require a black candle, a knife and a goat to get dialed in just right.

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Old 06-07-2005, 08:20 AM   #7
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I went with a plastic false bottom that turned my plastic primary into the mash tun. Cost was under 20 dollors and it saves on space. So now have a alum. pot, a stainless boiling pot, my plastic primary, and 2 carboys. the primary works for the mash tun and the bottling bucket.

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Old 06-07-2005, 01:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smorris
FWIW, I have 2 coils, one goes in an ice/saltwater bath and the second in the wort. For maximum heat transfer you want to find the sweet spot in the flow rate that transfers the maximum heat. Heat exchangers are magic beasts that require a black candle, a knife and a goat to get dialed in just right.

Thanks for all the info guys. I appreciate it....Got a knife...my wife has more candles than a grotto, so I'm sure there's a black one in there somewhere...if not I'm positive there's at least a black cherry...now I just need to find that goat.
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