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Old 03-16-2012, 05:45 AM   #1
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Default Mash Tun Opinion: Keggle or Cooler?

I'm still new to the whole brewing process, but I recently got 3 15.5 gallon kegs that I plan on converting to Keggles in the future. I plan on converting the boil kettle and HLT from the kegs asap. My question is should I convert a cooler to start off with and learn the ropes, or should I not waste the money and convert the 3rd keg into my mash-tun?

I want to convert the 3rd one to a mash-tun regardless, I just did not know if I should learn the ropes with the cooler first since it is easy to maintain temperatures with, or go ahead with the keggle mash-tun.

Just wanted to make sure that there wasn't a big difference between the two as far as brewing wise. And what are your guys's thoughts?


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Dakota

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Old 03-16-2012, 05:50 AM   #2
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If you have the money and the equipment (or burners). Then I would turn the keg into a mash tun as well. Then you can step mash if you want to... I used Northern Cal - Jaybird designs for my false bottom. Go with the 15" FB hinged with handle.

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Old 03-16-2012, 05:53 AM   #3
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If you want to wait and don't have the money right now. A cooler is cheap and works great!

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Old 03-16-2012, 09:53 AM   #4
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If you already have a keggle that is going to be a dedicated MLT I would spend the money on getting that ready as opposed to building a cooler. Coolers are way easier (in my opinion) because you don't need to have a burner under it or have some complicated HLT MLT recirculation craziness going on that is a more advanced concept. I just want to brew beer...

That being said, if that is the direction you plan to go, that is the direction you need to take now, otherwise you are spending money on a system you will grow out of before it pays for itself in beer.

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Old 03-16-2012, 02:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bkorver View Post
That being said, if that is the direction you plan to go, that is the direction you need to take now, otherwise you are spending money on a system you will grow out of before it pays for itself in beer.
See that was what I was thinking, just curious how hard is it to maintain a certain temperature with the keggle for mash? I know you can insulate the mash-tun or use a burner or a combination of both. Just looking for what you guys do and how hard is it?

Thanks again for the info guys,


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Old 03-16-2012, 02:35 PM   #6
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The cooler is nice if you don't want to do step mashes. They are more stable for temps and cheap and easy to make.

Kegs are great if you want to step mash, and have a pump to recirc, to keep the temp even. They just lose heat faster, basically. But they are also bulletproof.

I am building a eHERMS rig this summer and at this point I still plan on using my cooler MLT. I don't plan on doing step mashes and it works well. At some point I might change to a keggle MLT, but only if and when I see a good reason to.

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Old 03-16-2012, 03:13 PM   #7
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Since converting to the all grain process, I probably have nearly equal batches on a cooler tun and converted keg. I'm going to suggest grabbing a cheap cooler and cutting your teeth on that for a year unless you're willing to do one of the following:

1. Insulate the heck out of the keg with something that can take the heat of a direct fire.
2. Immediately use some kind of temp maintenance system like HERMS, RIMS, or regulated gas direct fire.

Yes, people will correct me and say that they just wrap a big sleeping bag around the keg and it's fine. It's going to lose heat unless it's 90F outside.

There are enough other techniques and nuances to worry about with all grain brewing that wrestling with your mash temp is a distraction you don't need to deal with in a cooler once you figure out the infusion temperature compensation.

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Old 03-16-2012, 03:19 PM   #8
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I love my keggle mash tun. I've never had a need to fire it, just insulated it like this http://youtu.be/l5Ry2lBCjfk. for the false bottom I actually used the cut keg top and putt hundreds of little drill hole in it. It works great

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Old 03-16-2012, 04:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weizenheimer View Post
I love my keggle mash tun. I've never had a need to fire it, just insulated it like this http://youtu.be/l5Ry2lBCjfk. for the false bottom I actually used the cut keg top and putt hundreds of little drill hole in it. It works great
What type of insulation did you end up using, and how much of it? I like the idea of just adding the insulation of it for now with it only losing a degree or two during the mash. Also, I would be able to later on upgrade to a HERMs or something later on down the road with it.

Save some $ in the long run without having to purchase the cooler. Did you start off all-grain with the keggle you are talking about, and how easy is it for you?

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Old 03-16-2012, 06:12 PM   #10
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I used the same insulation in the Youtube video (i think it's called reflectex), I bought it at Lowes. I only loose a degree or 2 in mine although it is not usually below 30 degrees when I brew. I insulated the bottom of mine too. I use it for both 5 gallon batches up to 11. If you do smaller batches with it and your putting in a thermometer put it as low as you can. I put mine too high a 5 gallon mash barely puts it under and it doesn't read accurately. I get about 76% efficiency out of mine using the batch sparge method. Also i do suggest pre-heating this type of mash tun, if not you will loose more heat than you think.

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