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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Understanding the Use of the cooler tun idea
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Old 11-30-2007, 06:36 PM   #1
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Default Understanding the Use of the cooler tun idea

I have read through about 3 threads that were miles long and would think that I would be understanding everything at this point.

I want to put one together this week-end
But here are a couple of questions about it.
First, I currently sure the "tea bag" steeping approach with my mini mash brewing and things have turned out fine and I have been happy with my results.
I am still seeking new ideas and improving my brewing process.

It seems like the main purpose for this cooler idea is to increase the efficiency of the grain being used - ie more bang for the buck - and therefore you will not need to use as much extract , thereby saving $.

My interest is more in making great tasting beer. I have made great tasting beer from all extract and from my steeping mini mash. I know that there is nothing wrong with extract brewing - I have tasted my results and it is good - but I know myself and I want to be as "authentic" or whatever and I see myself moving towards an all grain one day soon.

So with that being said my interest in the cooler idea has more to do with producing better tasting beer.

I live in austin and use AHS It is awesome just being able to walk in a store like this a couple of times a week and talk brewing.
anyway... I use their recipes.
So... If I increase my efficiency It makes me think that I would need to use less extract that would give me. Or if I increase my efficiency and use the recipe just as they give it to me ... how is it going to change the taste of my beer?

I hope I am making sense. Just trying to understand what I am trying to accomplish my moving to this cooler tun approach.

On a side note it looks easier to deal with than the messy grain bag as well.

Thanks for your insight.

T

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Old 11-30-2007, 06:41 PM   #2
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It sounds like you're actually doing all extract with steeped grains. When you steep grains you're really not adding any more fermentables. It's when you step up to partial mash or all grain that you're no longer steeping but "mashing" where you convert starches to sugar. This allows you to use less (or no) extract thereby reducing your per batch costs and making a relatively better beer in the process.

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Old 11-30-2007, 06:43 PM   #3
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The objective of the mashing process is to extract fermentable sugars and other characteristics from malt.

Here is a much more technical description of the process than I would be able to provide:

http://howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14-1.html

Edit - Bobby's right. steeping only contributes flavor from malt and does not contribute fermentable sugars. If you convert a cooler to a MLT you will not need to use extract anymore you adjust your grain bill to achieve the results that you want.

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Old 11-30-2007, 06:44 PM   #4
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Being able to mash also introduced a lot more flexibilty to the process; you get to use some wonderful character grains like Munich and Vienna and all kinds of other "toasty" kinds of malts. Most people report that beer from a mash (PM or AG) tastes "fresher" - but for me, being able to utilize all of these other types of grains is what I most enjoy.

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Old 11-30-2007, 06:47 PM   #5
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Well, I know where you're coming from! I started with steeping grains and extracts, then moved to PM by using a grain bag in my bottling bucket. It make good beer, that's for sure. But I knew it could be a little better. Then I started doing full boils instead of 3 gallon boils. And it was even a little better. And yes, you can use less extract, so you save some money! The more grain you mash, the less extract you need.

But when I went with the 10 gallon cooler, it was so that I could use NO extract. I mash around 10 pounds of grain now and make good beer besides!

For in-between brewers, who can't go All grain or don't want to, a smaller cooler to mash the grains is ideal. The reason this works so well is that you can mash more grain than in a grain bag set up. You want the water to be in contact with all the grain- so the "tea bag" works for small amounts of grain but not larger amounts of grain. In a 3 gallon cooler, you can mash the grain and it'll hold the temperature well. And you can sparge by just leaving the grain there, instead of lifting up the "tea bag" and trying to rinse the grain.

I hope this helps! If I didn't answer your question, though, let me know.

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Old 11-30-2007, 07:01 PM   #6
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Has anyone here tried the Brew In a Bag technique?

http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/php...f7798a136801e0

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Old 11-30-2007, 08:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for the insight....
And yooperbrew.. I might be coming back for more info.
I am going to read some more and stop by the AHS and talk with them a little too.

from what it looks like.. I already have a big pot, propane burner that I have been using... jumping to all grain would not that be that big of a deal if I am going to go partial why not go all .. right?

Thanks agian.. and I may be back over the week-end with more questions...

T

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Old 11-30-2007, 08:43 PM   #8
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If you have the ability to go AG I would skip the PM step all together (wish I could). AG will make a better beer and I think the process is more enjoyable.

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Old 11-30-2007, 09:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgrier
Thanks for the insight....
And yooperbrew.. I might be coming back for more info.
I am going to read some more and stop by the AHS and talk with them a little too.

from what it looks like.. I already have a big pot, propane burner that I have been using... jumping to all grain would not that be that big of a deal if I am going to go partial why not go all .. right?

Thanks agian.. and I may be back over the week-end with more questions...

T
And don't forget the best brewing info online (besides here!): howtobrew.com

He has pictures of his mashtun and AG setup with explanations.
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Old 12-01-2007, 04:25 PM   #10
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I invested in PM brewing stuff, and then after 1 batch I went all grain.
DME is $5 a pound at my LHBS, and I was tired of seeing brown colored wheat beers from extract kits.

if you can afford it, go AG. and in your reading, some of it might sound confusing, but once you get a couple AG brews under your belt, most of the mysteries will be solved.
start with batch sparge, single infusion. its easy, and a little cheaper since you won't need a fly sparge arm. and it'd be a cheap upgrade to try fly sparging later on.
with batch sparging you really don't need to worry about testing mash pH (especially if you use some pH 5.2) or measuring the gravity of runnings to avoid tannin extraction, since you usually can't get that low unless you're really skimping on the grain bill.

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