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Old 07-26-2012, 11:17 PM   #1
crazyworld
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Default How to: Build The BEST Mash Tun from a Beverage Cooler

Hey guys. Got another one for you. Check out my latest project.

Not only did I build a KILLER mash tun, my friend and I shot a video on how to make one yourself.

Video:

Description:
In this video I show you how to build your own beverage cooler mash/lauter tun for homebrewing your own beer. You can use any type of cooler for this project, but your hardware will vary.

I chose to do a 5 gallon mash tun because I had one lying around but this is really as small as you would want to go for a 5 gallon batch of beer. Most people choose something in the 20qt (5 gal) to 50qt (12.5 gal) range. The larger end will accommodate larger gravity beers and most 10 gallon batches.

My rig, besides the mash tun itself, uses all stainless steel components as well as all silicone gaskets and tubing. DO NOT use conduit locknuts, parts labeled only as "steel," or anything galvanized. These items are plated in zinc which will readily dissolve in the (slightly) acidic wort and can cause toxicity. Brass is generally regarded as fine for the laybrewer although the biggest concern here is the lead content. Look for "lead-free" brass which will have no more than 0.25% lead. Otherwise, soak all brass parts in two parts of white vinegar and one part of hydrogen peroxide for no more than 5 minutes to remove surface lead. If you're still concerned, just go stainless. Yes, stainless steel parts are expensive, but they will last a lifetime!

My fittings are 1/2" NPT while 3/8" are probably more common as they are cheaper and can be found locally more easily. Understand that the hardware requirements will vary and your options for assembly are endless. I highly suggest you plan your build before you go shopping and plan on making a run to the hardware store when things don't work out. When I went to order my parts, they were out of FNPT hose barbs so I was forced to buy a coupler and use a MNPT hose barb instead. It's common with a 2 piece ball valve to need to shim it away from the cooler with another locknut or washers if your handle cannot fully close. These can be made of whatever material you wish as they will not touch the liquid.

Be sure to use an NPS (straight threaded) locknut as I did if you wish to thread it all the way onto the pipe nipple (heads up, very few places will have them). Also, you can save here by not using a barb on the inside and putting the braid directly over the inside of the nipple. However, I chose to use the barb to remove the braid for easy removal for cleaning and drying (no need to remove the hose clamp). The barb was only $4 (although I did have to spend another $3.50 for the coupler in my scenario) so I'm not losing sleep over it.

Be sure to test for leaks when I recommend you do as you'll only waste time later if you run into one. If you do encounter a leak, make sure you've wrapped the half of the pipe nipple that threads into the ball valve. I also wrapped the center of the nipple to ensure a smooth, tight surface for the gasket to hug up against. If you don't have a flat surface for the gasket to sit, pack your threads with Teflon tape until you do. Lastly, make sure you're putting enough compression on the gasket. I found it's unnecessary to bend the washer to conform it to the side of the cooler so long as your gasket is thick enough and you have good compression on it.

I used an awl to help get the silicone tubing on the elbow. This stuff is thick so don't worry too much about gouging it. Once it's on there, I don't plan on taking mine off.


And because I know you guys would go nuts if I didn't post it...

Supplies and prices:

All metal parts are 316 stainless steel and ½” NPT unless specified otherwise. All prices include NYS tax where applicable. All quantities are (1) unless otherwise specified.

14.95 Ball valve – 3 piece
3.50 Coupler
4.00 5/8” outlet hose barb
4.75 90 degree street elbow
3.92 “F” camlock adapter
5.62 “B” camlock coupler
7.17 3ft – ½” ID x ¾” OD silicone tubing
2.49 1 ½” pipe nipple (304 SS)
1.99 ¾” ID x 1 ½” OD silicone gasket
3.75 NPS locknut (304 SS)
1.99 15/16” ID x 1 ½” OD washer (304 SS)
9.65 ¾” female NPT x 18” SS water heater connector
1.95 9/16” x 1 ¼” SS hose clamp
10.00 5 gallon Rubbermaid beverage cooler (used)
xx.xx Teflon tape & spray paint
$74.73 TOTAL

The way I look at it, I have an AWESOME mash tun that I can upgrade whenever I want and take the parts with me. Plus, those parts will last me a LIFETIME of brewing.

Thoughts? Comments?

Nick


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Old 07-26-2012, 11:42 PM   #2
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Uhhhh.


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Old 07-26-2012, 11:50 PM   #3
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The "BEST" mash tun from a beverage cooler would be 10 gallons and have a HBT sticker on it....





See what I mean.....???

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Old 07-26-2012, 11:53 PM   #4
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Save a few $ you don't need the pipe nipple on the inside or the elbow on the outside.

Go with the 10 gallon cooler if you can. You would be very hard pressed to fill it for a 5 gallon brew. You will make beers that will totally fill the 5 gallon cooler.

Other than that it looks like my 10 gallon except I went brass and have no disconnects.
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Old 07-27-2012, 01:30 AM   #5
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The instructions and video may be very good but as a rule I don't consume things deemed to be THE BEST by the creator of said thing. More flies with honey and stuff.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:15 AM   #6
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I wouldn't use a used cooler. I am sure it's fine but would weird me out. $48 for a 10 gallon Amazon seems well worth it (just bought a second today for an HLT). Love the MASH on there. Going to do that for my tun and HLT.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:26 AM   #7
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Well produced but...

If you wave your braid at me in person, I'll tie a knot in it and step on it.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
The instructions and video may be very good but as a rule I don't consume things deemed to be THE BEST by the creator of said thing. More flies with honey and stuff.

Bobby, As far as I am concerned, if you were to put "THE BEST" on your products it would be no lie!

sorry for the hijack!
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E-Mursed View Post
The "BEST" mash tun from a beverage cooler would be 10 gallons and have a HBT sticker on it....
Yeah it would. If I only had a HBT sticker for the kegerator ...

And guys I know 5 gallons is small; I thought I made that clear in the video/description, no? It's what I had. I'll be doing some thick mashes and perhaps double sparging but eventually I plan on upgrading so no big deal.

Yes, I'm totally tooting my own horn here Bobby but I really just meant best on youtube. I'll be the one consuming what comes out of this thank you very much

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenshead
If you wave your braid at me in person, I'll tie a knot in it and step on it.
Hahaha, I wouldn't blame you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kh54s10
Save a few $ you don't need the pipe nipple on the inside or the elbow on the outside.
Not sure what you're talking about here as I obviously must have the pipe nipple on the inside. If you meant hose barb, then yes, I really could have just taken the barb and therefore the coupling off and put the screen right over the nipple (don't know why more people don't do this). Like I said, the options are endless, this is just what I decided to show but I appreciate you pointing out where you can save. As for the elbow, I just wanted it (plus I'll probably end up needing one in the future if I decide to build something single tier or something that uses pumps).
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Old 07-27-2012, 04:13 AM   #10
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Video was really well done. Neat inserts without losing information and it was cut well.


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