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Old 04-18-2008, 10:55 PM   #1
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Default Round or Rectangular cooler for All Grain? Manifold, FB, or braid?

I'm in analysis paralysis I can't decide between a round or a rectangular cooler.

I will definitely start off with batch sparging (the double batch method, most likely) but I would eventually like to do fly sparging because it maximizes efficiency. I am told that the best setup for fly sparging is a round cooler with a false bottom, but a rectangular cooler would work as well. For batch sparging, a rectangular cooler with a braid is the cheapest route, but unfortunately it doesn't work well with batch sparging.

I'm also confused about whether to get a false bottom, a braid, or a manifold.

What would you recommend to a beginner? Thanks.

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Old 04-18-2008, 11:02 PM   #2
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Well, I have a rectangular cooler with a CPVC manifold I use for batch sparging. I did my first AG recipe with it a few days ago, ended up with 91.37% efficiency (probably a lucky shot, but what can ya do? ). Here is a pic:

[

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Old 04-19-2008, 01:02 AM   #3
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For fly sparging, I would recommend a cylindrical cooler with a false bottom.
The reasons for this are:
1. The false bottom provides for even flow across the whole area, thus minimizing channeling
2. It is the ideal shape for a sparge arm to deliver water very gently across the entire surface of the grain so it can percolate through the entire grain bed.
For batch sparging, channeling is not an issue, and I doubt that the shape of the cooler, or the method for collecting the wort makes a noticeable difference.

I'm also not sure that fly sparging is noticeably more efficient. Although I get slightly higher efficiency when fly sparging (with cylindrical cooler and false bottom), this is probably because I fly sparge 95% of the time, and I have never got the batch sparging process dialed in.

When making heavier beers (with an OG > 1.070), it seems that fly sparging with the right equipment can be noticeably more efficient than batch sparging.

-a.

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Old 04-19-2008, 01:31 AM   #4
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88-94% efficiency by batch sparging here. Cheapest cooler you can find, SS braid.

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Old 04-19-2008, 01:51 AM   #5
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i built a 5 gallon round mlt with ss braid. i'll be on my third AG this weekend. my efficiancy has been hitting around 70% probally do to my AG noobness. anyways, i see myself batch sparging several times before i decide to experiment more. the decision to build the round cooler came from the easy shopping list on the forums.
printed it out and gave the list to an employee at home depot.

tasted my first brown AG the other day and she's a beaur. another reason for me to keep improving on one technique right now.

i do keep eyeballing the rectangular coolers though. god, i can't stop buying brew stuff!

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Old 04-19-2008, 02:27 AM   #6
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+1 on what Bobby_M said.

For me I went with a 10gal round cooler (don't buy a 5gal) plus a braid. I went with a 30" braid and formed a loop, connecting both ends to a T fitting.

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Old 04-19-2008, 03:29 AM   #7
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Use a square cooler, I think 50 or 60 qt, available at Targer (Blue Igloo). Drilled holes in lid and filled with GREAT STUFF expanding foam for extra insulation. I think the bottom measures 13.5 square. built a manifold of pvc like above, but with one less vertical (if looking at pic above) line and one more horizontal all the way through. Mine is a little smaller than pic, keeping away from sides to prevent any digging of water at the edges. Used band saw to cut thin grooves in pvc for manifold. Build exact same for sparge arm, but drilled pvc with small bit. Looses about 1 degree over 90 minute mash. Do fly sparge using a 5 gallon round cooler and get efficiency of around 85. Cheap to do, I think 20 for cooler and 10 or so for pvc. I didn;t glue any pvc togeter, makes nice to clean and no nasty glue in ur wort. If you want pics, let me know. I probably should just upgrade membership and post in my gallery.

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Old 04-19-2008, 04:51 AM   #8
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I use a round cooler with a Phils false bottom - very effective.

I've read that the round 5 gal and 10 gal coolers give you a close to ideal grain bed depth. Some rectangular coolers result in a very shallow grain bed especially when doing smaller batches.

Cheers!
Brad

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Old 04-19-2008, 04:25 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice. I appreciate it.

Will a 5 gallon round cooler work? They had one on sale at Target the other day and I almost bought it, but I was worried it wasn't big enough to do the mash. I plan on doing only 5 gallon batches, not 10 gallon. Should I just get the 10 gallon?

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Old 04-19-2008, 04:31 PM   #10
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5 gallon should be enough for 5 gallon batches up to 1.060 if you batch sparge, higher if you fly. If you get a 10 gallon, it's good for any gravity 5 gallon batch and some 10 gallon batches. Obviously, 10 is more flexible with little compromise other than price.

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