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Old 05-09-2007, 03:59 AM   #11
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ajf's Avatar
Oct 2005
Long Island
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For fly sparging, I'd definitely recommend a round cooler with a false bottom, but I'd also recommend a sparge arm which is missing.
For batch sparging, the shape of the cooler is immaterial. I'd recommend a rectangular cooler with a manifold or braid because they are cheaper for a given volume.
Why would you need a SS false bottom in a plastic MLT? I've been using a plastic one for over 10 years, and it still works as well as the day I bought it.
If you are fly sparging, I would recommend a second cooler for a HLT, but this is unnecessary if you are batch sparging and have the capacity to heat the sparge water without using the MLT. Even if you do need an MLT, a rectangular cooler may be cheaper.
Instead of using the spigots shown, I use bottling bucket spigots in both the MLT and HLT. You need a half round rasp to ease out the hole to fit them.
I'll admit that my spigots may not last as long as those shown, but I haven't had any problems with them since I installed them (3 years on the HLT, and 1 year on the MLT)
As for the 5g lbs 10h debate, 5g coolers fit into by brewing cupboard while 10g coolers don't. If I brew heavy beers (which I do about once every 2 - 3 years) I simply make a 3g batch instead of 5g. There's no way I'll ever make 10g batches (or bigger) because I'm too cheap to get a bigger kettle, and I can't lift more than about 5g without damaging my back.


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Old 05-09-2007, 04:56 AM   #12
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Jan 2007
Calgary, Alberta
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I have a 2 x ten gallon cooler setup for brewing 5 gallong batches, and I kinda wish I had gone with 1 x 5 gallon and 1 x 10 gallon instead. If you are doing a small grainbill, then mash with the 5 gallon and get a nice deep grainbed, and the 10 gallon serves as a hot liquor tank. If you have a bigger grainbill, then mash with the 10 gal cooler and use the 5 gallon as an HLT. Best of both worlds in my opinion. The only downside is that with a 2 x 10 gal setup, it would be possible to brew some (not all) 10 gal batches of beer, but not if you had a 1 x 5 and 1 x 10 gal setup.

I also went the batch sparging route, mostly because it was easy, inexpensive, and forgiving. Unless you are set on fly sparging (perfectly fine to do so), I would strongly consider batch sparging, in which case lose the false bottom and use a SS braid. Way cheaper and could be easier/quicker. But let's not start that debate again, please....

My sig has some instructions on how to construct a do it yourself MLT. You could use exactly the same setup for both 10 gal and 5 gal coolers. If you do it this way, it will be half the cost of the commercial product. It wil take you about 20 mins per cooler to do the conversion, once you have the parts.

Let us know how you make out. Happy brewing!

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Old 05-09-2007, 02:57 PM   #13
CBBaron's Avatar
Feb 2007
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I would definitely go with the 10gal system even for 5 gal batches. I have a 5gal cooler and nearly every batch fills it up and any high gravity batches require the addition of DME.
You can definitely build a cooler system for cheaper but to replicate the quality of this system won't save you much money. The biggest difference is you could probably save some money on the coolers and shipping by buying the coolers local and getting the rest of the system through NB. Many people have put together similar systems using mostly/all local parts but it seems to be a pain to collect all of the parts necessary.

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Old 05-09-2007, 03:15 PM   #14
Jul 2005
Poo-Poo Land
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Here's what I'd do:

1. One (1) ten gallon cooler @ Home Depot: $40
2. One (1) 44 qt Turkey Fryer kit: $80 @ Costco (if they still have them)
3. One (1) Used keg, $15 on CraigsList (no ethics debate, please)
4. Three (3) Fittings Sets, http://www.greatbargain.net/order/shop1.html: $17 ea
5. SS braid or manifold and pick-up tubes: <$20
6. Couple lengths of food-grade heat-rated tubing, $15

Entire setup, $221 plus shipping, tax, propane, and male prostitutes (since this IS orpheus we're talking about. He'll need at least one or two to get through the process).
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Old 05-09-2007, 03:28 PM   #15
Sir Humpsalot
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Nov 2006
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Two questions:

1. Do you plan on brewing big beers?

2. Do you have a problem with adding, say 3 lbs of DME in order to make a big beer?

If the answer is Yes to both, buy the 10 gallon system. If the answer to either is No, then the 5 gallon system is fine.

If you batch sparge, you can have a comparable set up for less than $50 and a few hours of your time. How much is that worth to you?

If you fly sparge, you can still do it for around $50, but now you're talking a full day of your time... or you can spend $100 and speed up the production process by buying things such as a false bottom instead of making your own.
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Old 05-09-2007, 03:44 PM   #16
McCall St. Brewer
Sep 2005
West Monroe, Louisiana
Posts: 1,172
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I bought the 5 gallon system from them and am very happy with it. I guess in hindsight if I had to do it over again I may have bought the 10 gallon system. So far, though, the 5 gallon setup is working perfectly for me. I think that for now if I need to make a bigger beer I'll just add a little extract during the boil. Now that I have the stuff, though, it would be very easy to upgrade to 10 gal. coolers. I would need a bigger false bottom and maybe even a bigger sparge arm, but other than that it would just be a matter of moving the fittings to bigger coolers. Right now, though, I think I actually prefer the smaller sized coolers.

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Old 05-09-2007, 07:07 PM   #17
The Pol
Feb 2007
Posts: 11,454
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How are you going to brew a pumpkin ale in a 5 gallon cooler? Huh? LOL Anyway, the reason that I bought the SS sparge arm and the SS false bottom was because that was all that I could find at my LHBS and online a month ago when I assembled it. I also heard SOME ppl have issues with the plastic false bottoms "floating" in the mash because they are so buoyant. My 2 cents. My 10 gallon system will easily mash down to 9lbs of grain and retain 78% eff while fly sparging.

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Old 05-09-2007, 07:20 PM   #18
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Dec 2006
Newnan, Georgia
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Go for the 10 gal. if you can afford it, you won't be sorry.

5 gal is far to restrictive.

Most people that buy cheap buy twice.
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Old 05-09-2007, 09:08 PM   #19
The Pol
Feb 2007
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Exactly, you cannot afford NOT to buy a 10 gallon system...

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Old 05-09-2007, 09:40 PM   #20
...My Junk is Ugly...
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Jan 2007
St. Louis, MO
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After 6 straight weekends of 5 gallon batches and no end in sight, I decided that 10 gallons is the way to go. I've done three 10-gallon batches the last three weekends and don't regret it at all.

Twice the output for essentially the same effort.

Of course, with both setups, I could have a 15-gallon brew session.

Go for the bigger setup. It'll save you headaches down the road. This coming from someone who just a few months ago was preaching that 5-gallon setups are sufficient...

PS - I bought my 10-gallon rubbermaid from HD for $39.00.

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