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Old 03-02-2009, 08:08 PM   #1
PavlovsCat's Avatar
Jan 2009
Key West, Tampa
Posts: 235

Gearing up for my first all grain brewing. Looking at the DIY plans for mash tuns on the forum. What are the pros and cons of the circular vs rectangular mash tuns?
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:19 PM   #2
TwoHeadsBrewing's Avatar
Feb 2008
Chico, CA
Posts: 3,924
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I'm sure there are more things to consider, but:

Round Coolers:
Con: More expensive than rectangular for same volume.
Con: Since they are taller, heat stratification can be an issue is colder climes.
Pro: Works better for smaller grain bills, due to a deeper grain bed.
Pro: Better for fly sparging when properly equipped with a false bottom.

Con: Wide base means a shallow grain bed for small grain bills, making filtering harder.
Con: Fly sparging is more difficult unless you are good at DIY. Most brew shops have pre-built fly sparge systems for round coolers, but not for rectangular ones.
Pro: Much cheaper for the same volume compared to round coolers
Pro: Since they are shorter, access is easier. You don't have to climb quite so high on the ladder with a gravity system. Plus, your brew stand isn't quite so high.

I use a 10g rubbermaid round cooler from Homes Depot, which cost me around $40 after tax. For the same price I could have purchased a Coleman Extreme 72 qt. which would be nice for 10 gallon batches. I like the round cooler, but the volume is just too small for doing 10 gallon batches over about 1.065. Other than that, I'm completely happy with my round cooler MLT.

EDIT: here are some mroe pics of my DIY on the 10g:

Fermenting: ESB
Kegged: Extra IPA, Brown Ale, American Wheat, Blackheart Stout
Coming Up: Dunkleweizen, 3C Pale Ale

DIY Fermentation Chamber
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:32 PM   #3
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May 2006
Adams, MA
Posts: 20,916
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I've got a 9-gallon Coleman Xtreme that I swear was designed by a homebrewer.

As noted, the biggest advantage for the round cooler is for fly sparging. Rectangular coolers have a propensity for "channelling" (where the sparge water doesn't distribute evenly and therefore doesn't do as good a job as washing the sugars away.

My Coleman was only ~$20, holds heat like a mo'fo', and has a neat channel in the bottom that goes to the drain, so there's effectively zero dead space. Since I don't plan on fly sparging, it's really a great cooler for the job.
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