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Old 07-21-2011, 03:26 AM   #1
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Default How do HLT cooler batch spargers do it?

So I have a 10 gal cooler converted to an HLT. I double batch sparge. I heat up my water a bit under boiling (~195 - afraid to warp / crack it) and put it into my HLT. I lose about 15 degrees as the cooler sucks up the heat. That typically puts me at 180 or a bit under. By the time I'm looking to batch sparge I'm down in the upper 170s. During my process I've found I need about 185 - 190 degree water to bring my mash up to 170 by the second sparge. How do you guys do it?

Should I be taking off the skirt and putting boiling water into my cooler HLT?
Should I heat up my total water, mash in, and then reheat now that my HLT is warmed up?
Something I'm missing?

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:02 AM   #2
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I've had the same problem with my 5 gallon cooler HLT. Some people spray foam insulation (Great Stuff) into the lid to help prevent heat loss through the top - I tried that but the foam collapsed and turned into liquid, so that didn't work very well for me. I have taped a piece of Reflectrix to the top and wrap the sides with a blanket which helps a lot.

I don't know if you will be able to use the following method on your system, but here's how I do it:
I've heard so many stories of coolers warping and cracking that I am really careful to heat mine gradually. I heat my water in a kettle on my electric brew stove and pump to my 10 gallon cooler MLT using my March pump. I start pumping at about 100 degrees - pump a bunch of water to the MLT, then turn off the pump (I have a conveniently mounted toggle switch) and let the water drain back through the pump into the kettle (takes a few minutes to drain back). By the time all the water is back in the kettle, it is about 20ºF hotter than before (I'm still heating the kettle), so I pump the water back to the MLT and drain again, repeating in 20ºF increments until I have reached about 165ºF, at which point I pump my desired amount of strike water to the MLT. Then while I'm waiting for the MLT temperature to stabilize before I dough in, I repeat the whole process with my HLT, heating up the sparge water to about 180ºF and I leave at least a gallon of empty space in the HLT. While I'm mashing, I heat up two or three gallons of water to boiling for mash out water, and just before I mash out, I pump enough of the boiling water into my HLT to heat the sparge water back up to 180ºF or whatever I need for the particular grain bill. Because I single batch sparge, the water in the HLT hasn't cooled too much by the time I finish the mashout and drain the first runnings and I'm ready to sparge.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:16 AM   #3
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I did the spray foam into my MLT lid, but have yet to do it to my HLT. Had a similar experience with it going liquid but if you don't pick the dried "scab" of the foam coming out of the hole, I think it ultimately cures inside.

For the pumping to the HLT / MLT to warm it up genting, it's a very interesting process I've never thought of. I don't have a pump yet, although I emphasize yet because I have a bad back and lifting a full 10 gallon cooler here and there gets old fast... My MLT warped a bit, but my HLT is still holding strong adding the very hot water directly in a single shot.

In the meantime I'd be very interested to see what others do that don't have a pump in this situation.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:26 AM   #4
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I spray foamed the lid of mine, it warped slighty after the first strike water blast. But no lyquifying like others mentioned. And it still sills good. IDK,Maybe cause I used the BIG gap filler in the black can. It's for gaps over one inch. The normal Great Stuff is for under 1" gaps. Haven't had any problems adding hot liquer to the MT though and I do use a pump for transfers and recerculating.
I assume the gradual temp raising method mentioned would elongate brew times significantly with all the back and forth. The cooler results I'm sure depend on which of the 100K brands and models you have.
Hope that helps.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevo2569 View Post
I spray foamed the lid of mine, it warped slighty after the first strike water blast. But no lyquifying like others mentioned. And it still sills good. IDK,Maybe cause I used the BIG gap filler in the black can. It's for gaps over one inch. The normal Great Stuff is for under 1" gaps. Haven't had any problems adding hot liquer to the MT though and I do use a pump for transfers and recerculating.
I assume the gradual temp raising method mentioned would elongate brew times significantly with all the back and forth. The cooler results I'm sure depend on which of the 100K brands and models you have.
Hope that helps.
I don't think the brew day is much, if any, longer doing it this way - I'm continuously heating water that I'd have to heat anyway; i.e., while I'm pumping and draining from/to the kettle, there is still some water in it which is still being heated. When I begin draining back, that water in the kettle is much hotter than the water draining back, but after mixing, it's ready to pump back to the cooler just as soon as it has all drained back to the kettle. So basically, my stove is running full blast the whole time heating my strike and sparge water. The only disadvantage is that I do have to watch the water level and turn the pump on and off, so can't really do any big tasks at the same time, but I like to have almost everything ready to go before I start heating water anyway, so that I don't feel rushed.
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Old 07-21-2011, 05:13 AM   #6
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I wrap my cooler mash tun in blankets (one around the sides secured with a spring clamp, one over the top) during the mash and don't lose more than a single degree in an hour. I generally strike with about 4 gallons of 180ish degree water (depending on the recipe) to preheat and let it cool to strike temp and add the grain.

When batch sparging, there's no need to do a mash out, because the wort isn't in there long enough for it to matter. Many times I even sparge with cool water with no I'll effects.

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