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Old 03-19-2012, 11:16 PM   #1
Jan 2012
Colonial Beach, Virginia
Posts: 52

I recently bought a cooler from Home Depot (one of the decent orange ones) to turn into a mash tun. My problem is that without thinking I bought a 5 gallon instead of a 10. Would a five gallon be useful during 5 gallon brews? If not I was thinking about using it for smaller or test brews or just returning it.

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Old 03-19-2012, 11:23 PM   #2
TrainSafe's Avatar
Mar 2011
Appleton, WI
Posts: 808
Liked 69 Times on 46 Posts

you can do 5 gallon session beers without a problem with the 5 gallon cooler.

If you can still return it, you probably want to get the 10 gallon cooler. They're not much more $$ and it offers much more flexibility.

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Old 03-19-2012, 11:31 PM   #3
CourtHouseBrewing's Avatar
Feb 2012
Orlando, Fl
Posts: 120
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IMHO, I think you will be too tight on head room. With 3 to 4 gal of water and 12 to 13 lbs. of grains and adjuncts it will be too tight to sparge. I use a shower head in the top of a 10 gal cooler to sparge and it works great. I think a 5 gal would be filled to the top with no room to sparge. If you try it I would use a cheap grain bill.
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Old 03-19-2012, 11:34 PM   #4
Reno_eNVy's Avatar
Oct 2008
Reno, Nevada
Posts: 6,277
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Good lord....

Primary: air and sadness =(

Kegged: air and sadness =(

Bottled: English Barleywine (brewed 9/26/09 -- bottled 5/5/10)


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Old 03-19-2012, 11:34 PM   #5
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Revvy's Avatar
Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,921
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I've used my 5 gallon cooler for over 5 years, on 5 gallon batches and have never had a problem. At 1.25 it actually holds nearly 13 pounds of grain. Since most of my grainbills run between 10 and 14 pounds, I have no problem. for 14 pounds I just use about a 1.15 quarts/pound mash dillution. Or for 15pounds I go with a 1 quart/gallon.

14 pounds of 2-row in a 5 gallon batch gives you a 1.076 OG so it's not a small beer.

I rarely need a larger mash tun. If I'm making a bigger beer I'm often doing a 2.5 gallon batch instead of a 5 gallon one and those 14 pounds would then make a beer with an og of 1.151..... If I do want to make a 5 gallon batch of a big beer, or a larger than 5 gallon batch, I have a TON of homebrewing buddies, with all sorts of systems and sizes of mash tuns, and they'd let me use their geer. and if it's a barleywine or something like that, we're all brewing together then anyway, or hanging out.

I really don't have the space for a 10 gallon cooler, and like I said, in 5 years of using my 5 I've never had the need to go with a bigger one for more than a 1 shot deal. I maybe brew 1 huge beer a year anyway.

Other folks have other opinions, but in truth, you can make a lot of beer in a 5 gallon cooler.

If you wanna be realistic and practical and it not just be about the biggest toys, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions.

1) Am I ever going to brew larger than 5 gallon batches?
2) Are the majority if not all of my batches going to have an og higher than 1.076 (14 pounds of grain?)
3) Do I have the money or the storage space for a larger one?

It really comes down to those questions. In my case all three of those were no.

You could also add a fourth question- If I need to brew bigger once in awhile can I lay my hands on a bigger cooler. My Answer to that was yes.

So to me, a larger cooler was overkill, in light of living in a loft and not having much storage, nor having a realistic need for a larger one.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:06 AM   #6
Nov 2009
Concord, CA
Posts: 1,666
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Revvy likes lite beer (just kidding)
Beer begins at 1.080

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Old 03-20-2012, 01:11 AM   #7
Feb 2008
Posts: 561
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Originally Posted by TrainSafe View Post
.... They're not much more $$ and it offers much more flexibility.
At my local Home Depot they are actually 2x as expensive. $40 vs. $20.

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:25 AM   #8
944play's Avatar
Jul 2008
Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 2,726
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There's nothing wrong with bumping up your gravity with a little DME if you need to compensate for a small grain capacity.

But the real issue is that the 5 gallon cooler cannot contain a bucket or carboy. You need a ten for that:

OD: ?
Keg: Simple AIPA (2-row, Chinook, Cascade, WLP090)

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Old 03-20-2012, 03:52 AM   #9
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microbusbrewery's Avatar
Jan 2011
West Jordan, UT
Posts: 1,826
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I started out with a 5 and ended up replacing it with a 10. A 5 will work 99% of the time but there's always that 1% when you want to do a step mash with 14 pounds of grain.

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Old 03-20-2012, 05:54 AM   #10
May 2011
Stow, MA
Posts: 17,842
Liked 3077 Times on 2303 Posts

Text walls notwithstanding, I'd take it back and get the 10...


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