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Old 05-25-2010, 06:41 PM   #1
jdog188
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Default Can somebody explain a MLT

Hello,


Due to the crazy high cost of DME and LME, I think that it is time to move onto all-grain brewing! Not to mention, it just seems so much more legit.


I have John Palmers book on the designs of MLT using picnic coolers, of which I have a very crude understanding. However, I still don't get the difference between braids, manifolds and false bottoms and how they work, why they are better etc. Could some enlightened soul please illuminate the dark path I am currently walking down? Thanks!

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Old 05-25-2010, 06:43 PM   #2
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Cost factor is about all that separates the differences. If you are batch sparging, little point in using a false bottom.

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Old 05-25-2010, 06:45 PM   #3
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Haha, well said! Well, the braid is the easiest/cheapest way to go and works great for batch sparging. Manifolds and false bottoms work marginally better if you want to fly sparge as they don't create channels in the grain bed. I think that is about it but others may have more insight. I am going with SS braid as it works well and is easy.

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Old 05-25-2010, 08:25 PM   #4
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I don't know about using a cooler, but I would put my money in 2 large stock pots (you need a boil pot already so it's not much more $) and a colander instead of cooler.

A 2 pot batch sparge allows for quite a few benefits:

No need for a false bottom, braid or any thing fancy just a cover.
much higher efficiency I have gotten up to 80%
You can add heat instead of hot water for your different rests
Easier to clean and store
Colander can stay in the kitchen and be used for other things
Stock pots can be used for making soup chili and other things

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Old 05-25-2010, 08:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdog188 View Post
I have John Palmers book on the designs of MLT using picnic coolers, of which I have a very crude understanding. However, I still don't get the difference between braids, manifolds and false bottoms and how they work, why they are better etc. Could some enlightened soul please illuminate the dark path I am currently walking down? Thanks!
Sorry in advance if this is too simplified - but I will attempt to answer this part of your question -

The grains need to sit for an hour at roughly 154F to convert the starches to sugar. The cooler is insulated, therefore, will hold temps for an hour.

The manifold, braid, false-bottom --- they're all there to help separate the grain from the sweet wort you just created by soaking the grains for an hour. So after your hour is up, you drain the sweet stuff out, leaving the grain behind.

However, there is obviously some sugars still clinging to the grain - they need to be rinsed (sparged).

Batch Sparging is draining out the wort, then filling the cooler with 168F water, stirring, and draining into the brew kettle, to join the previous wort.

Fly Sparging is letting the initial wort out very slowly, with hot (168F) water sprinkling onto the top of the grain bed at the same rate the sweet is draining out of the bottom, until you have the volume in the boil kettle you want (say 6.5 gallons for a 5 gallon batch)

--- remember to account for about a gallon to a gallon and a half for evaporation during the boil.

And, keep in mind the grain will hold another gallon of water that won't drain out.

Braid, Manifold, False Bottom - when it comes down to it, it's all a matter of preference.

Good luck with your all-grain efforts!
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:33 PM   #6
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Manifolds, false bottoms, braids all help to keep the grain in the mash tun and also to help "guide" the wort through the grains during lautering(draining) to remove the maximum amount of wort from the grain bed.

The grains ideally will form a filter so the wort will come out clear of any small bits of grain and residue. If the wort channels then the grains will not filter evenly and leave a portion of sweet wort left in the grain bed.

There are several schools on which is better but as "Gila" said, it basicall boils down(no pun intended) to cost and effort on the part of the brewer!

BTW most of my AG batches run about $21-$23(grain, hops, yeast) and I know there are a lot of awesome brewers who cut costs even more!
Check out bargainfittings if you are thinking about going AG and converting some equipment yourself(easy and cheap)!

As always, this is all my own humble opinoin! Good luck!

I'm a slow typist so basically what Hang Glider just said :-)

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Old 05-25-2010, 08:35 PM   #7
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^^^^ what they said!



Also, if you look up BobbyM here, he's got a very clear website page on batch sparging - the link is in his signature, I think. I found his explanation remarkably helpful when I first began brewing all grain.

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Old 05-25-2010, 08:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yodalegomaster View Post
I don't know about using a cooler, but I would put my money in 2 large stock pots (you need a boil pot already so it's not much more $) and a colander instead of cooler.

A 2 pot batch sparge allows for quite a few benefits:

No need for a false bottom, braid or any thing fancy just a cover.
much higher efficiency I have gotten up to 80%
You can add heat instead of hot water for your different rests
Easier to clean and store
Colander can stay in the kitchen and be used for other things
Stock pots can be used for making soup chili and other things
I'm not sure if I agree with 100% of what you're saying. True, a keggle or kettle will allow one to heat up the mash with a burner directly. What I don't understand is what you use the colander for? Flip it upside down in the bottom of the pot and use with a valve? Drain the pot through the colander into the other pot? Put a valve in the pot and drain out through the colander? Any way you slice it, I can't imagine how practical a colander is going to be. Flipped upside down in the bottom of the pot would result in a ton of deadspace. Pouring the mash through the colander into another pot seems like it would be a pain in the ass. 10 pounds of grain that has absorbed water is heavy and a mess!

Personally, I think the only benefit of mashing in an un-insulated pot is that you could do multi-step temperature mashes without pulling anything out or using a complex series of pumps and valves with external heat. Also, although I don't have experience doing a full batch mash in a pot, I do know from experiences with partial mashes that it is a pain in the ass to feather the burner to get the exact temp I want in an un-insulated pot. In a cooler, it is a non-issue since you just get your strike temp down to your desired level and go from there. With these things in mind, if you wanted to do a multi-step mash, I would reckon it is much easier to do a decoction mash (no special tools/equipment needed- just another mid-sized pot) than to set up a HERMS/RIMS system.

Anyway, obviously I'm a fan of using coolers as mashtuns! The ability to lock onto a single temp and hold it steady for an hour is awesome. I run a false bottom in mine, and have been very happy with it so far. It's probably overkill, but if I want to do fly-sparging someday, I can just do it.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:37 PM   #9
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If you decide on a SS braid, I recommend using the hot water heater line as it is bigger. I was having stuck sparges with the regular size, switched to the water heater hose and no issues since.

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Old 05-25-2010, 09:14 PM   #10
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I don't know about the OP but this was very helpful to me. I've only ventured into extract brews so far and have a decent understanding of the brewing process but the whole batch vs fly sparge discussion was confusing me.

Thanks!

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