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Old 11-01-2012, 06:17 PM   #1
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Default replacing my mash tun

My current mash tun is on the way out. After about 3 years of faithful service, it is losing heat more and more rapidly each session. In the beginning, it would loose 3 degrees or so over an hour. Now it's loosing upwards of 10 degrees. My method has not changed, so I'm not really sure why all of a sudden my cooler has lost its capability to insulate.

I'm torn between a 5 and 10 gallon round cooler. 95% of the beers I have made in the past 5 years will fit into a 5 gallon cooler, but I'm still leaning toward a 10 gallon MT. My only concern with going with the 10 gallon is the the unused space and any temperature fluctuation caused by said unused space. Seems to me that the fuller the MT, the less heat loss. I make 5-6 gallon batches and rarely do high gravity beers.

Is the unused space in the MT a concern to anyone? Does the partially full 10 gallon MT loose more heat than a mostly full 5 gallons MT? Or is it negligible.

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Old 11-01-2012, 06:38 PM   #2
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I've only used a 10 gallon round cooler as a mash tun, but I've not found the head space to be an issue. My temperature has fallen between 0-2 degrees during the mash with my 10 gallon rubbermaid round cooler. I live in Florida, so I'm probably aided by the ambient temperatures we have here most of the year.

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Old 11-01-2012, 06:59 PM   #3
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I mash regularly in a 10 gallon Igloo Industrial round cooler and it loses about one degree over an hour even with a thick mash on a five-gallon batch (read: with a lot of head space). A ten-gallon tun gives you more flexibility in your recipes (you could even do 10-gallon batches of lower gravity brews) and I think the difference in insulating effectiveness is slim to none.

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Old 11-01-2012, 07:07 PM   #4
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Why a round cooler? I find rectangular easier to use and you get a lot more volume for your money. FWIW, I've used the same rectangular cooler for nearly 15 years and 429 batches and it still works fine.

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Old 11-01-2012, 07:14 PM   #5
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The cooler I currently have is a square 48 quart Coleman (the one that's on the decline). I had no faults with it until the last few batches. I'm not set on a round cooler. I would go square again if I could find one that fits the bill. The last place I went didn't have a lot of square coolers for sale, probably a seasonal thing. But, they had both 5 and 10 gallon round ones.

Denny- what brand of cooler have you been using for all these years?

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Old 11-01-2012, 07:23 PM   #6
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Just a cheap Rubbermaid.

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Old 11-01-2012, 07:36 PM   #7
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I've got a rubbermaid 5 gallon and I haven't found its small size to be a real issue. Obviously if I were going to do a barley wine it might be a problem. The thing holds heat crazy good too.

But hey, if I were building a new one I'd probably go with a 10 gallon, could dump all the sparge water in at once and walk away for a bit.

If your worried about the heat loss you can always prime it with hot water before you use it, but I honestly don't think that extra space is going to make a big difference.

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Old 11-01-2012, 08:13 PM   #8
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I have always preheated my MT and covered it with insulation or sleeping bags. Not sure why it is loosing heat all of a sudden. I thought the head space may have attributed to some the the loss.

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Old 11-01-2012, 08:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estricklin View Post
But hey, if I were building a new one I'd probably go with a 10 gallon, could dump all the sparge water in at once and walk away for a bit.
This. That's part of the reason I changed from 5 gallon round to 10 gallon round. Not much difference in temp loss. If you are outside in cooler weather, I suggest buying some of that foil bubble wrap insulation stuff from Menards or Home Depot and cutting a pattern that will fit several layers around your cooler. I do this, seal it with a little packing tape, throw a blanket on top, and it is good to go. If it drops really cold outside I slip an inverted garbage bag over it, then the blanket. Plastic really helps it hold the heat in.

Cheers.
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:44 PM   #10
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You may have water leaking into the insulation of the cooler. That would prevent the cooler from maintaining a consistent temp. I would take the valve out and check for damp insulation and let it air dry.

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