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Old 09-15-2005, 07:18 PM   #1
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Default el cheap-o lauter for mini-mashing (will this work)

I am primarily an extract brewer, with a few specialty grains steeped here and there in my recipes. I'd like to get a little more out of my grains, but didn't want to bother making or buying a lauter tun and messing with it.

Anyway, last night I was throwing out some old/busted kitchen stuff, and came across a 1.5 gallon tupperware-type plastic pitcher. The lid is missing, so it is not much use anymore....

but then I had an idea.
(disclaimer: many of my life's horror and success stories start with that sentence)

Since I typically only use about 1 lbs of grain in any recipe, I was thinking that I could turn this orphan jug into a mini-lauter if I just drilled a few very small holes in the bottom of it. It has a "D" shaped handle molded onto the side, and I could cut through that at the bottom where it meets the jug.

With those two modifications, I think I can simply hook it onto my boil pot (slide the cut handle over the rim of the pot so that the jug is hanging inside the pot) with 8 inches or so of space between the bottom of the jug and the bottom of the pot. Then, just pour my hot sparge water into the jug and fill it up to the top.

The water should slooowly trickle out through the holes I drill in the jug and fall into the pot. If necessary, I could re-fill the jug multiple times with sparge water utill my runoff is clear.

Does this seem like it would work? I would cost me a big fat $0.00.

Naturally, I can't do an all-grain batch this way, but I'm not that obsessed yet.

-walker

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Old 09-15-2005, 07:27 PM   #2
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Not to burst bubbles, but wouldn't the heat from the side of the kettle melt the plastic?

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Old 09-15-2005, 07:38 PM   #3
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the kettle will not be on the heat at this point. It's just a vessle for capturing wort.

and, I missed a detail in my description: I put the GRAIN into the jug,a nd then fill the rest of the way up with water as it hangs on the side of the pot.

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Old 09-15-2005, 07:39 PM   #4
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think if it as a weird double-bucket system. My false bottom is the pitcher's bottom, and I don't have a tube to carry wort away.. it just falls directly into my pot.

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Old 09-15-2005, 08:14 PM   #5
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I don't understand how you're going to get any conversion just by pouring hot water over the grains. Most people mash their grains for an hour minimum. Also, I'd think if you sparged until you had clear runoff you would have vastly oversparged and extracted undesirables from the mash. Perhaps I'm not understanding the system fully?

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Old 09-15-2005, 08:21 PM   #6
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sorry... i skipped a lot iof details. this is really just for sparging the already mashed grain.

now, remember, I've never done anything other than steep grains before, so maybe I'm not understanding something....

anyway, I would use step mashing:
30 minutes soak at 120*
add hot water to bring to 150* / rest 15 minutes
raise temp to 158* / rest 10 minutes
remove grain from water, throw in jug, sparge with 170* water.

so.. have I misunderstood something?

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Old 09-15-2005, 08:28 PM   #7
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No, I think I misunderstood. Seems like it would work if your plastic holds up to the heat (grains will hold heat, then the sparge water...). But I would definitely avoid over-rinsing the grains. I believe there was something somewhere in the latest issue of byo about that. I'm not sure if it necessarily offers an advantage over a grainbag, but why not give it a try?

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Old 09-15-2005, 08:31 PM   #8
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the things was most concerned about were

- aeration of the sparge runoff since I would have a huge space between the 'false bottom' and bottom of my brewpot. this could lead to staling, right?

- having to much water in the jug. my reading says "keep an inch of water above the grainbed n the lauter". Is this a MINIMAL requirement, or an OPTIMAL requirement.

-walker

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Old 09-15-2005, 08:42 PM   #9
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I'm far from an expert and I'm sure someone knowledgeable will chime in sooner or later. The aeration could certainly be an issue based on all I've read. I do a full mash and just make sure my drain hose is submerged in the collecting wort. As far as keeping water above the grainbed, I'm not sure how much difference it will really make since you'll wash a lot of fines into your wort using this system, anyways, unless you go to the trouble to recirculate a bit of the first running. I'm not sure how big of a concern this is with a mini-mash since you're using less grains.

Basically, I'm and at the limit of my knowledge.

It seems like if you go to the effort to alleviate all your concerns, you'll reach a point of diminishing returns where it makes since to by a cooler, a few fittings, and up your grain bill!

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Old 09-15-2005, 08:48 PM   #10
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yeah... i know. the main thing stopping me from going all grain is that I can't get more than 3 or so gallons to boil on my electric stove.

well.. there's that and fear of The Unknown.

thanks for the responses, neighbor.

-walker

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