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Old 11-04-2013, 11:54 AM   #1
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Default Help with Mash Tun and Sparge Vessels

Hi all. So currently an extract brewer due to Chicago apartment and stove sizes and the lack of any where out door that could be considered sanitary (or warm) to brew. Oh Chicago and your 100 year old buildings with out garages.

any way, I am considering going all grain for 1 or 2 gallon batches, just to start to get acclimated with it until my girlfriend and I could get a burner and bigger kettle. I was reading a few blogs online about smaller batch all grain brewing and they had recommended this for a mash tun

http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-2-Gall...+gallon+cooler

I also found this one on home depot's site that i may trust a little more

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Rubbermai...specifications

Both seem good enough, but when discussing this with my girlfriend her response was "shouldn't we go ahead and get a bigger one to be ready for when we move to 5 gallon all grain batches". So i hunted around and found this one on home depots web site

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Rubbermai...3#.UneX3ZHdfwI

So i have two questions.

1) if we are sticking to small batches now due to size restraints, would we want to go with the smaller one to help kill out any dead space in the mash tun / sparge vessel, i would figure any dead space in the contain would make retaining the heat needed for an hour tricky, but what do i know, i could be wrong.

2) These coolers look pretty typical to the ones see in my LHBS or on Northern Brewer or other sites. I want to make sure I'm looking at the right things before i spend any money, would these work? and of course i would start basic with them but as time went on convert them over to nicer coolers (false bottoms, hoses, etc)

as always, thanks for the help!

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Old 11-04-2013, 12:03 PM   #2
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I'd go with a five gallon tun. That should allow you to make batches of five gallons or less. Three gallons might be a nice batch size in your situation, most stoves can handle that volume. The five gallon cooler will then allow you to make five gallon batches when you're ready. Although, I prefer a ten gallon for five gallon batches as it allows for larger beers.

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Old 11-04-2013, 12:17 PM   #3
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I'd go with a five gallon tun. That should allow you to make batches of five gallons or less. Three gallons might be a nice batch size in your situation, most stoves can handle that volume. The five gallon cooler will then allow you to make five gallon batches when you're ready. Although, I prefer a ten gallon for five gallon batches as it allows for larger beers.
for now anything under 2.5 / 3 gallons would be real hard to do. we bought a "5 gallon" kettle, which really turned out to be 4 gallons due to crappy advertising. Its a great kettle so we kept it. I don't know that anything over 6 gallons would fit on our tiny stove. So i couldn't see doing more than 3 gallons in it due to boil overs and the such. i wouldn't mind this at all, i guess my only concern was any dead space in the mash tun making it hard to maintain a temperature for the mashing and if these would would actually work / convert easily.

(oh how i wish i could brew 10 gallons at a time....)
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:20 PM   #4
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Agree with getting the 5 gal round cooler to start with as well.
You will eventually want it anyway.

Do a test run with some hot water in the cooler to evaluate heat loss.
If still a concern, you can do what I did and cut a piece of Reflectix to fit into the cooler, wrap the cooler in a blanket/sleeping bag and it should be fine.

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Old 11-04-2013, 12:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Burzlurker View Post
So i couldn't see doing more than 3 gallons in it due to boil overs and the such. i wouldn't mind this at all, i guess my only concern was any dead space in the mash tun making it hard to maintain a temperature for the mashing and if these would would actually work / convert easily.

(oh how i wish i could brew 10 gallons at a time....)
I think a good five gallon cooler with hold heat for a 2.5-3 gallon batch. I have a ten gallon cooler, but only make five gallon batches, so that's the same ratio of batch size to cooler size.

Once the grain and the water is mixed, there's enough thermal mass to maintain the heat with a decent cooler. Plus, you can pre-heat your mash tun. You can also use a higher water to grain ratio, like 1.5-2 quarts per pound to limit the dead space. You can also wrap the cooler in a blanker, or put a space heater on it, although I doubt that will be necessary.

This thread may be useful: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/how-...-needs-123585/
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:55 PM   #6
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thanks all! Guess ill get those 5 gallon ones.

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Old 11-04-2013, 01:06 PM   #7
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I guess another advantage to getting a 5 gallon one would be being able to make higher gravity small batches? (1 or 2 gallon barley wines or imperials?)

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Old 11-04-2013, 02:28 PM   #8
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Yes, with a 1.25 qt/pound ratio, you should easily be able to make 2.5 gallon batches of about 1.100 OG in a 5 gallon cooler. Look at the max. OG for 5 gallon batches that a 10 gallon cooler can handle in the link I posted eariler.

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Old 11-04-2013, 02:47 PM   #9
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You could also just BIAB your smaller batches in your 4 gallon kettle. If you're going to upgrade soon I wouldn't bother with the 2 gallon cooler unless you will use it for other things.

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Old 11-07-2013, 01:20 PM   #10
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thanks to all.

I have one more question then. since 10 gallon coolers are just about 15 bucks more at my local home brew store, and one day we will get a burner and bigger kettle, would it just make more sense to go with the 10 gallon cooler now instead of a 5? I would like to be making higher gravity beers once we get to a full 5 gallon all grain set up.

Again, it just goes back to my question, will those extra gallons give to much head space to keep temps stable for the hour if im doing small batches of 1 - 3 gallons right now? If im going to spend the money to build a mashtun now, i feel its worth it to just go for the 10 gallon one and spend the extra 15 bucks and not have to buy this again in the future when i want to do a 8.5 imperial ipa once we have more room to get burners and bigger kettles, etc.

any advice would be helpful! i dont want to waste the money either way, but i know in the future i will be brewing all grain 5 gallon batches, just not sure how soon...

thanks all

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