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Old 11-20-2009, 11:56 PM   #1
mimus
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Default Cheap Mash Cooler Idea and Question

I'm trying to find the least expensive way to modify a cooler for mashing. Rather than spend money on a new cooler, I'm using one on hand that doesn't come with a drain. I've used a spigot assembly from a bottling bucket instead of buying new brass hardware. The spigot attaches only to the inner wall of the cooler. I plan to add a rubber stopper to the back side, then connect to a copper pickup tube and a stainless braid. It's not pretty, but doing it this way saves money for ingredients.




I'm concerned that the spigot and stopper won't be able to handle the high temperatures of mashing without failing or leaching chemicals into the wort. I've exposed both parts to boiling water and they held up without giving off any chemical smell.

I know this method isn't as good as the other guides here, but I'm trying to save money and don't mind a bit of inconvenience. So, will it work?

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Old 11-21-2009, 12:28 AM   #2
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it will work, but you will be losing a lot of efficiency. in other words, you won't be getting a lot of fermentable sugars out of your grain which, if you put a little work into a manifold, you could get out. ideally, you'd have a copper or cpvc manifold (read: cheap) that went to every corner of the cooler and plenty of cross pieces (think a checkerboard design) with holes drilled on the bottom side of the pipes. then your sugars wouldn't have any dead spots in the cooler where you couldn't get them out, which you'll have big time with the braid.

that said, you should be fine with the braid but you might end up spending more money in the long run on the extra grain to get the same amount of fermentables that you could have otherwise gotten with a more efficient mash tun.

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Old 11-21-2009, 01:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doggage View Post
it will work, but you will be losing a lot of efficiency. in other words, you won't be getting a lot of fermentable sugars out of your grain which, if you put a little work into a manifold, you could get out. ideally, you'd have a copper or cpvc manifold (read: cheap) that went to every corner of the cooler and plenty of cross pieces (think a checkerboard design) with holes drilled on the bottom side of the pipes. then your sugars wouldn't have any dead spots in the cooler where you couldn't get them out, which you'll have big time with the braid.

that said, you should be fine with the braid but you might end up spending more money in the long run on the extra grain to get the same amount of fermentables that you could have otherwise gotten with a more efficient mash tun.
Sorry, this is, um.....wrong.

Or at least, it depends. If he is fly sparging, braids suck. If he is batch sparging, (which I recommend, esp for a braid setup), his efficiency will be just fine. With a batch sparge, whether you use a braid, manifold, false bottom, or molecular sieve, the efficiency is the same.

OP, as for whether or not your spigot will leech things that will kill you, don't worry. Hell, many people USE bottling buckets as MLTs, (I do). You are just fine. 100% Have fun .
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:28 AM   #4
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You might match that internal thread up. If so you can use a female to male barb fitting to attach your braid and just get rid of the stopper.

Edit: Just checked that type of spigot and found a female 3/4" pipe thread will fit it.


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Old 11-21-2009, 03:02 AM   #5
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we don't need no stinkin valves...

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/ten-minute-cooler-mash-tun-conversion-125108/

If your cooler doesn't have a drain, just drilll a hole 1/16 less than the tubing and pull it through w/ a long taper on the end to feed it through.

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Old 11-21-2009, 03:20 AM   #6
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Mimus, I haven't used a cooler with a braid. I use a keg with a false bottom. I'm sure your braid will do fine because you don't have to have incredible efficiency to make great beer.

But as easy as it is to create a good manifold out of cheap material such as cpvc, I'd recommend it. The solutes from your mash are not going to somehow travel from the corners and bottom sides of your tun to your braid. Why not just put together a cheap manifold that's going to collect from all corners and edges of your tun?

This show explains that "the main impact on your efficiency is your crush and your sparging". So of course you don't need to worry about the manifold/braid issue as much as other factors. But if you're interested in learning about why a manifold will work better than a braid, listen to it.

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Old 11-21-2009, 03:32 AM   #7
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From that show (Brew Strong on the Brewing Network):

Jamil Z and John P note that most of the problems with a mash are probably related to "something of the physical nature...either your particle size (your crush) or it's how you're getting your sugars out of your mash tun".

Later in the show, John Palmer discussed to ridiculous extent the ways to optimize collection of your sugars, and a braid was pilloried. In addition, John Palmer writes about the same issue on his website.

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Old 11-21-2009, 03:47 AM   #8
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wilser, that's a cool idea! i love the simplicity of it.

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Last edited by doggage; 11-21-2009 at 03:50 AM. Reason: saw the hi-temp tubing was addressed on the linked thread
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Old 11-21-2009, 04:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doggage View Post
The solutes from your mash are not going to somehow travel from the corners and bottom sides of your tun to your braid. Why not just put together a cheap manifold that's going to collect from all corners and edges of your tun?
I imagine the solutes travel all around the tun whilst I'm stirring the mash doing a batch sparge...no?
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Old 11-21-2009, 05:42 AM   #10
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I get 75-80% every brew using braid and not touching the mash until I'm composting it.

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