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Old 03-09-2012, 01:10 PM   #1
Trimmer
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Default Which mash tun should I buy?

I plan on moving to all grain brewing in the near future and I want to make sure I buy the correct equipment the first time.

Currently Birdman brewing is selling has a "10 Gallon Polar Ware-Igloo Cooler MLT" on sale for $109. That seems to be just the cooler and the bulkhead though. you can buy a false bottom for $55 extra and a torepedo screen for $19.
http://www.birdmanbrewing.com/10-gal...oo-cooler-mlt/

Austinhombrew has everything below for $188
Includes:
Sparge arm
Two 3-piece stainless steel ball valves
Three 1/2" NPT to 3/8" barb stainless steel nipples
12" all stainless steel false bottom
38" of plastic tubing sliced down the side (to give the false bottom a better seal)
7 feet of 3/8" thermoplastic tubbing (for sparging and run off)
6 inches of 3/8" high temperature tubing (to connect the false bottom to the 3 piece ball valve in the mash tun)
All necessary nipples, nuts, washers, and silicone o-rings
Does not include the coolers. You can find them at most large hardware stores.
http://www.austinhomebrew.com/produc...ducts_id=13048


What do you all think is the better deal? Or should I make my own?

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Old 03-09-2012, 01:13 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Trimmer View Post
Or should I make my own?
Yes, I feel you should make your own. Tons of info on this on the board. IMO cooler Mash tuns can be very simple, inexpensive and work well.
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Old 03-09-2012, 01:15 PM   #3
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Default It's up to you...

but I built my own, ala Denny style batch sparging. Obviously I don't know what type of brewing you are planning on doing, but you can build one for $30 or so with the link below.

http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

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Old 03-09-2012, 01:23 PM   #4
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Definitely ask yourself this before proceeding: what volumes do you realistically see yourself brewing?

I'm currently wishing that I had given that question just a bit more consideration. I figured 6 gallons would be fine, yet only 6 months later I find myself converting a pair of kegs to HLT and brew kettle. I've got the capacity there for 12 gallon brews, but my 10 gallon mash tun would limit such brews to mid gravity beers (which I'm finding I'm OK with - you have to decide for yourself if you are). But if I ever decide I want to do a Barleywine or RIS, or something like that, I'm going to have to stick to 6 gallons because I just can't mash to the capacity of my brew kettle.

All that said: if you decide that 10 gallons will do the trick... I got my 10 gallon round cooler at home depot for about $40. I picked up a nickel plated ball valve/bulkhead combo and a bazooka screen at my LHBS for about $35. A brass barb at home depot and silicone tubing from some online brew store (I think it was brew masters warehouse) probably ran me $10 combined. These have worked great for me when batch sparging, the AHS setup sounds like a nice rig for fly sparging, if you've got the pumps or three tier rig for it.

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Old 03-09-2012, 01:31 PM   #5
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If you aren't too handy with that stuff, I would say buy it. Except if you purchase the kit from AHB, you are building it yourself. Its all parts except the cooler - lots of assembly required.

The Mash Tun from Birdman seems a little pricey, and all it does is get the ball valve fitted properly into the cooler.

When I built my MT, I pieced it all together from Home Depot. Built a manifold out of copper, etc etc. The only thing I had trouble with, was getting the ball valve to fit correctly where the cooler spigot was. I had to use food grade caulking to really fit it without leaks, but I found that only lasted a few brews before I needed to tear it out and re-do it.

So take that for what its worth. If I started over, I'd probably buy the cooler from Birdman, and then build out anything else I wanted.

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Old 03-09-2012, 01:34 PM   #6
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FWIW, I just converted my Igloo Ice Cube for ~$10 using this thread here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/60qt...simple-144475/

It has a TON of headspace for a 5g batch but I only lost 2ºF during a 75min mash. I batch sparge but plan on experimenting with fly sparging later.

If you don't have a spare cooler, surf craigslist...you can usually find something for cheap (maybe even free)

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Old 03-09-2012, 02:05 PM   #7
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I just bought the stuff to make my own mashtun out of a 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler.

The cooler was $50 at Lowes.
I then ordered these parts from bargainfittings.com (Who shipped it the same day)

$33.49
COOLER bulkhead kit
- Inside fitting Coupling - Standard option
- Cooler type Standard 1.5" nipple
- Valve Stainless 3 piece valve
- Hose Barb - (for valve outlet) 1/2" Male NPT x 1/2" Hose - SS Weldless Cooler bulkhead

10 feet of 1/2" Silicone tubing (I'm going to make 2 5 foot tubes. for 24.90 (2.49 a foot)

a kettle screen for $16.99

and just in case I needed it a
1/2" Washer 304 SS - Fits COOLER bulkheads (LARGE ID) 1/2" Shim LARGE ID $2.75

The total cost for my mashtun was 112.00. I'm sure it could have been cheaper if I didn't go with stainless and the 3 piece valve or 10 feet of tubing. (I wanted 5 for my kettle HLT and 5 for the mashtun).

I went with 10 gallon over 5 because the 10 gallon will support really big 5 gallon beers and allow me to play with 10 gallon beers. I can't wait for everything to get here (I also ordered a new 15 gallon kettle from morebeer.com) so I can brew my first AG batch (I'm going to try a Scottish 80 Shilling).

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Old 03-09-2012, 07:16 PM   #8
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Stratslinger,

I am building a custom bar with chest freezer under it that holds 5 Gallon kegs. So I don't plan on brewing anything over 5 gallon batches. Would a 10 gallon cooler be enough? Is there any advantage to a water cooler over a shorter more side rectangular cooler?

It is amazing how much people are willing to help on this website. Thank you all for your responses.

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Old 03-09-2012, 07:21 PM   #9
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That bring me to another questions. Is it better to Fly sparge or batch sparge? It sounds like a fly sparge is more complicated since you have to get a pump involved, but what is the payoff of fly sparging? Does it result in better quality beer?

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Old 03-09-2012, 07:36 PM   #10
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A 10 gallon cooler should be large enough to brew just about anything in a 5 gallon batch. With a 10 gallon cooler you can get a OG of 1.118. I don't think the shape really matters all that much, I went with a round cooler because it already had a spout built into it so I didn't have to drill it to put in my ball valve.

With a square cooler you might need to build a manifold instead of just using a braid, which is another consideration.

In terms of sparging, my research seems to point to both methods being fairly equal. You 'might' get a slightly lower efficiency when using batch sparging which can be made up by adding a little more grain (and the software out there will account for this). Most people fly sparge for the higher efficiency that it claims to get. Personally, I don't feel it's worth the added effort and equipment. There are pro's and con's to all methods of all grain brewing. It really depends on your funding, and how complex you want the process to be.

You could go with BIAB and get just as good of a product when compared to building a $3000 brewing rig with pumps and controllers. I chose batch sparging because I couldn't afford to buy two kettles right now.

I'm currently going to use 1 15 gallon kettle for a boil kettle and HLT. I will heat water, use it to prime my cooler, then heat strike water. Put the strike water into the cooler and then use the kettle to heat my HTL water. I'll then do my first runnings to a 6.5 gallon bucket and add my sparge water. Depending on how many sparges I plan on doing (1-2) I'll either run to the bucket or straight to the kettle (which will be heating the wort).

In a few months when I get an extra hundred or so I'll buy something to use as a dedicated HLT. The quality of your beer is not really as dependent on which sparge technique you pick as your overall process and consistency. I brewed really enjoyable beer with extract and partial mash with just a bucket and a 5 gallon kettle. I'm pretty confident that I will be brewing really enjoyable beer as a all grain brewer.

So I say, pick what sounds most interesting to you and give it a try. Look at your results and use a critical eye to see areas you can improve. If you buy the stuff for batch and it doesn't work out, there is very little difference to move to fly sparging, you just need to change that braid out for a false bottom and get a HLT.

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