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Old 08-25-2008, 03:10 PM   #1
Diablotastic
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Default Good coolers to convert to MLT?

So I've seen some great info on converting a rubbermaid round cooler and the coleman on these forums and in the Brew Wiki.

I have a question regarding the heat retention for these two models....how well do they hold over the course of a 60min mash?

I picked up this pretty generic 48qt coleman ($18) from walmart and gave it a bench test with just 155deg water and it lost like 12 degrees over 60min so needless to say that one will be going back to wally world.

Soooo from some your experiences....what coolers seem to hold the best?

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:23 PM   #2
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Don't be so quick to return that Coleman. There's a couple of things that will help stabilize temperature and minimize loss:

1) Preheat the MLT. A 'cool' cooler (ha!) will suck away heat. I usually add 180 degree water (1-2 gallons) to my MLT and let it absorb the heat for 10-15 minutes. Dump and save this water for clean up later- no need to waster water.

2) Calculate your strike water temps accurately (software helps). Measure the temp of your grain before doughing in and base your strike water based on this.

3) If you have a really big headspace in the cooler based on a small grain bill, closed cell foam laid on top of the grain bed will keep the heat in.

I usually only lose a degree or two over the hour long mash.

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:32 PM   #3
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+1 on the closed cell foam. I've only done 1 AG so far, but use a 10 gal, orange, home depot mash tun. I was a small batch, 8 lbs of grain, and I cut a section of 2 inch styrofoam to cover the grains.

I did a 90 minute mash and only lost 1 1/2 degress

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:35 PM   #4
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Many cheap coolers just don't have the insulation needed to maintain mash temperatures, esp if you plan on doing any outdoor brewing. Consider one of the round rubbermaid drink coolers or spend a few extra bucks now on something like a Coleman extreme which will maintain temp well, even on cool days.

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:46 PM   #5
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Yeah I added 170 degree water and let it cool to 156 degree before closing lid.

What excatly is closed cell foam?

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:50 PM   #6
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I don't know about the rest of the coolers, but I have one of those Home Depot rubber maid 10 gallon ones. I don't preheat the tun, and I pour in 168F water in order to hit a mash temp of 152F. I close it up for the entire 60 minutes, and the temp when I am finished is 150F. I have not yet tried this in the winter, when the ambient temp in my garage is much lower but I don't expect too much of a difference.

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:58 PM   #7
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Twohead....do you close up your cooler as soon as you add the 168 or do you let the temp stabalize closer to the 152 1st before closing?

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:59 PM   #8
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Be careful shopping at Target stores. I almost picked up a $12.00 CUBE, Till I felt it and realized that the walls were about 1/3 as thick as the standard quality Cubes I've seen at all the other Big Box stores.

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:59 PM   #9
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I use a 52quart Rubbermaid (the 5 day one) I don't preheat, beersmith will give you a strike water temp to compensate. I do put a little weight on the lid, and I have never lost more than 2 degrees.

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Old 08-25-2008, 04:08 PM   #10
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Check my sig. It's pretty freakin good and cheap. The drain is recessed in the floor so it drains like a champ.

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