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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > 5gal Mash Tun?
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:19 PM   #1
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Default 5gal Mash Tun?

So I have an opportunity to buy a 5gal Mash Tun that someone made out of a stand up rubbermaid cooler. As the topic states it is only 5gal, I was thinking that I would need something bigger if I did want to start doing all grain brewing, as I dont know how many pounds of grain it could hold and still be efficient.

He is willing to sell it for $20, should I take the deal or no? Someone have an idea of how many pounds it holds? I only do 5gal batches right now as is, so kinda leaning towards buying it.

Advice appreciated.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:23 PM   #2
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My first was a 5 gal rubbermaid cooler. It did just fine for regular beers although it is a bit small. You'll want to keep the grist ratio to a qt/lb and either use a fly sparge or a couple batch sparges

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:24 PM   #3
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I would go with a 10 gallon one myself. You can build one for like $50. With a 5 gallon one, you won't be able to do any higher grav beers. I use a 10 gallon tun for my 5 gallon batches and it can hold over 20 lbs of grain.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:24 PM   #4
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Well for some reason I get beat up for daring to post this, SCANDELOUS idea, but I've used my 5 gallon cooler for over 5 years, on 5 gallon all grain batches and have never had a problem. At 1.25 it actually holds nearly 13 pounds of grain. Since most of my grainbills run between 10 and 14 pounds, I have no problem. for 14 pounds I just use about a 1.15 quarts/pound mash dillution. Or for 15pounds I go with a 1 quart/gallon.

14 pounds of 2-row in a 5 gallon batch gives you a 1.076 OG so it's not a small beer.

I rarely need a larger mash tun. If I'm making a bigger beer I'm often doing a 2.5 gallon batch instead of a 5 gallon one and those 14 pounds would then make a beer with an og of 1.151..... If I do want to make a 5 gallon batch of a big beer, or a larger than 5 gallon batch, I have a TON of homebrewing buddies, with all sorts of systems and sizes of mash tuns, and they'd let me use their geer. and if it's a barleywine or something like that, we're all brewing together then anyway, or hanging out.

I really don't have the space for a 10 gallon cooler, and like I said, in 5 years of using my 5 I've never had the need to go with a bigger one for more than a 1 shot deal. I maybe brew 1 huge beer a year anyway.

Other folks have other opinions, but in truth, you can make a lot of beer in a 5 gallon cooler.

If you wanna be realistic and practical and it not just be about the biggest toys, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions.

1) Am I ever going to brew larger than 5 gallon batches?
2) Are the majority if not all of my batches going to have an og higher than 1.076 (14 pounds of grain?)
3) Do I have the money or the storage space for a larger one?

It really comes down to those questions. In my case all three of those were no.

You could also add a fourth question- If I need to brew bigger once in awhile can I lay my hands on a bigger cooler. My Answer to that was yes.

So to me, a larger cooler was overkill, in light of living in a loft and not having much storage, nor having a realistic need for a larger one.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:25 PM   #5
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thanks for the response, so at max how much did you do in it, lb's wise?

Im sure I can make use of it, and it is only $20 bucks, just trying to get a better idea of how "big" a beer I can make.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:25 PM   #6
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For a 5 gallon batch of beer, a 5 gallon cooler would work for beers up to about 1.060 or so (11 pounds of grain). It's a start, and you could use the "old" cooler for an HLT in the future if you want to get a bigger MLT. I'd get it for $20, if it's complete with a ball valve and false bottom. Otherwise, I'd pass.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:31 PM   #7
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Thanks for the response Revvy, and others.

Maybe Im off here but would I be able to split up the grains and mash 2 batches, to get the efficiency up and then mix them in my 10 gal pot? In my head that sounds like it could work, but need others opinion.

Main reason I am asking is I am about to do a modified version of the Bourbon Vanilla Porter so its ready for winter here soon, and my recipe calls for 17lbs of 2row, which obviously wont fit in a 5gal mash according to the responses.

And yes for 20 bucks it is complete, meaning, ball valve and bottom.

Edit: If I cant split it Ill just do a partial with the porter and not AG.

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Old 03-28-2012, 08:44 PM   #8
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I used to use a 5 gal. I did a Russian Imperial stout as a gift to my son before he was born (we're laying it up for many years), and I split the mash between two batches. The only gotcha I'd watch out for is making sure you get enough of the barley with the enzymes in each mash. I'd split each of my types of grain into two and make sure it's mixed well so that you end up with all the enzymes chugging along in your tun when you mash. The stout I made turned out to be the most fantastic beer I've ever brewed, so I see no problem with doing 2 mashes/sparges if you can't lay your hands on a larger tun for the bigger beers.

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Old 03-28-2012, 09:01 PM   #9
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For $20, I say what the heck! Get it and I am sure you will be happy with it... even if you do outgrow it soon.

P.S. Scroll down to "Can I Mash It?" to see exactly how much grain you can fit ina 5g mash tun: http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml

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Old 03-29-2012, 12:13 AM   #10
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Taliesin thank you for answer my question/thought. I hadnt thought about completely splitting the bill up evening to get the best results so I appreciate that advice.

Will be picking this up on Friday, pretty excited now.

Thanks for the link as well Jaysus.

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