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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Round, Square, Rectangle Mash Tun?
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:55 PM   #1
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Default Round, Square, Rectangle Mash Tun?

What are the pros / cons of different shaped cooler mash tuns?

To me, it would be whatever your budget / space allow. I don't know, I don't even have a mash tun....

Is this going to be one of those round head lights vs square head lights?

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Old 01-14-2010, 07:40 PM   #2
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Ive used both... but I really like my 10 gallon Rubbermaid round cooler with a false bottom.

Pros: works well with a perforated false bottom, which eliminates channeling (your sparge water taking the least path of resistance and not rinsing all the grain during runoff).

sometimes the runoff can be so good (if you crank it wide open) that a vacuum is created under the false bottom and can cause a stuck sparge/recirculation.

In my honest opinion I wouldn't even consider a square or rectangle MLT for anything but batch sparging, which works quite well being that you are draining the whole tun each time during batch sparging. All you need then is a good stainless screen or toilet braid to keep the grains out. But for fly sparging I would whole heartedly recomend a round MLT with a false bottom, then you never have to worry about bad efficiency because of channeling in the grain bed.

I got my cooler from Home Depot for $40, my false bottom from Midwest Supplies for $32, the SS Kewler kit from the same place for $18, and the bulkhead from Lowe's for $7... the whole thing was less than $100 and works beautifully.

my 2 cents anyway...

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Old 01-14-2010, 07:44 PM   #3
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I'm not sure it really matters. I've got a 5 gallon Igloo (round) cooler that works nicely, and just built a 56 quart Rubbermaid (rectangular) with a steel braid for larger brews. I don't think one would work better than the other, it was just a couple coolers I had available.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:51 PM   #4
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Square/Rectangle work just as well as a circle.

The only advantage to a large rectangle is bigger batches of big beers. The round coolers max out at 10G (40qts), which could be limiting for some 10G batches of higher OG beers.

A popular rectangle cooler is the 70qt Coleman Extreme.

Depends on what you need.
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:19 PM   #5
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I have one of the Coleman rectangular ones. Came in very handy a few months ago when I did a double batch (parti gyle). With a little added extract, I was able to finish with 6 gallons each of 1.080+ beers (in fact, the first was over 1.100)... I don't think I could have done that in the round cooler, at least as easily...
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Old 11-10-2013, 01:34 AM   #6
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I started w/ a square cooler and stainless braid. I had efficiency problems when batch sparging and tried just about everything.

Adjusted water to grain ratio
Changed LHBS assuming crush might be poor
Played with various temperatures between 148-158
Stirred the piss out of it when mashing in
Barely stirred it at all..
Drained the wort verrrry slow
Let it sit for 60 min
Let it sit for 90 min

Anyway, point is my efficiency kept hovering at about 60%. I finally just figured maybe I should try some new equipment. Bought a round cooler and a false bottom - efficiency jumped 10%.

A lot of people report great luck with a square cooler. But my experience was that a round cooler w/ a false bottom caused an immediate improvement. It actually makes sense to me that round would work better w/ a batch sparge. All the water is forced through all of the grain, with a square cooler there is more opportunity for grain to clump up in corners and yield less sugar.

Just my two-cents -but like I said, lots of people have fantastic luck with a square mash tun.
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Old 11-10-2013, 01:39 AM   #7
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I had a rectangular cooler sitting in my garage, so that is what I used. No issues at all. I use a CPVC manifold and regularly get 75%-80% efficiency. I've done up to 16 pounds of grain, but it would probably do 20 or more. I'm not sure what the capacity on the round Igloo coolers are.
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Old 11-10-2013, 04:08 AM   #8
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