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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > MLT too big?
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:58 PM   #1
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Default MLT too big?

I'm putting together my all grain setup and I'm all ready to do my first batch tomorrow. I used a Coleman Xtreme cooler that I already had left over from a camping trip its a great cooler in good shape. I'm worried however that since its SO big, the grain bed won't be deep enough. I'm using nine lbs of grain on my first batch,which is the smallest batch I'd ever do, and when I put it in the cooler without the manifold the grain bed was just under 2 inches deep. From researching around here I understand that to have a good filter through the bed you need 4". How important is this and should I just buy a smaller cooler? I'm doing 5 gallon batches now and I'm thinking when I do go to 10 this will be ok, so I don't want to buy a small cooler that I won't use in four months

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:00 PM   #2
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I forgot to attach a picture I took of my cooler and manifold design.

forumrunner_20120107_175945.jpg  
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:16 PM   #3
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What volume is that cooler? Are you doing batch or fly sparging?

[Edit] Saw you posted the pic while I was typing earlier.

The problem with that type of manifold design is that you can never full drain the MLT because the wort has to travel up at some point. You can get a lot of it but eventually the siphon with break and you'll have some leftovers. The larger the MLT, the more wort per inch of level. So say you manifold can suck up all but a half inch. If you had a smaller MLT you would get a greater percentage of the total volume of wort out. I'd say your oversized cooler might lead to some efficiency issues.

If your fly sparging I'd just say forget about using that cooler. You need a thick grain bed to make sure you don't channel etc. For batch sparging you would probably be ok but might have some issues with your vorlauf never running as clean as you like.

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Old 01-08-2012, 01:41 AM   #4
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I would advise doing a double batch sparge and tipping the cooler to fully drain b/w sparges. Be sure to preheat well and keep a gallon or so of boiling water handy in case your temps run low w/ such a big cooler. It will work well, but just learn how to compensate if required

Grain bed depth is irrelevant w/ batch sparging.

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Old 01-08-2012, 02:42 AM   #5
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I think I'm going to go and get a new cooler tomorrow morning and try and make a smaller MLT, then I'll have one for small 5 gallon batches, and one for larger batches...

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Old 01-09-2012, 01:49 PM   #6
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Went out and got a 5 gallon round cooler, with a stainless steel braid. My efficiency was way down around 48%. I'm going to have to spend some time tweaking things to improve that. Should I have expected that?

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Old 01-09-2012, 02:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKLehmer View Post
Went out and got a 5 gallon round cooler, with a stainless steel braid. My efficiency was way down around 48%. I'm going to have to spend some time tweaking things to improve that. Should I have expected that?
Did you crush your grain? What temperature did you mash at? Are you sure your thermometer was accurate? Did you tip your cooler? I know a lot of those round coolers are a good half inch or so from the bottom, and if you don't tip the braid will not collect that sugary wort
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brettwasbtd

Did you crush your grain?
Yes

Quote:
Originally Posted by brettwasbtd
What temperature did you mash at?
Tried to hit 154, thermometer read 145 after adding water so I added a little more hot water and it shot up to 160. (I think this might have been my biggest mistake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by brettwasbtd
Are you sure your thermometer was accurate?
...No

Quote:
Originally Posted by brettwasbtd
Did you tip your cooler? I know a lot of those round coolers are a good half inch or so from the bottom, and if you don't tip the braid will not collect that sugary wort
Good idea, I'll do this next time.
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:46 PM   #9
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Pardon my AG ignorance, but is there any reason not to add the water to the MLT first and then pour the grain in? I've always assumed you add the water to the grain. The only reason I would think not too is it could splash around alot. The advantage is I could make sure the water is at the correct temp, and not worry about it cooling down because the MLT is cold. I was thinking about using my pump to recirculate the water through the HLT and MLT until I get the right temp, and then adding the grain.

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Old 01-09-2012, 09:11 PM   #10
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I tried a rectangular cooler and a round cooler,I`ve found The round cooler with a braid to be more efficient with the deeper grain bed.If I sparge right (not hurry) my efficiency has been 80% in the round cooler.I don`t batch sparge I use the time consuming method of
slowly pouring my sparge water around the side of the tun to keep the water an inch above the grain bed.It takes about an hour for a 6.5 gallon boil I`ts my cheap way of fly sparging,labor intensive though.

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