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Old 04-22-2013, 09:19 PM   #1
cbzdel
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Default Can I make a 5gal MLT work?

My local Lowes has 5 gallon Igloo (Lowes Branded) round coolers on clearance for $13. I just bought a 10 gallon Home Depot cooler yesterday but I was a bit overwhelmed with it size, it would not fit in the brewing storage cabinet that I have, but I could fit 2 of the 5 gallon ones in there, plus they are so much cheaper!

I will never brew more than 5 gallons, and I would almost rather step down to maybe 3 or 4 gallon of a "big beer" if I could make it work. Plus it would give me an excuse to make more often, I am a solo beer drinker for the most part and have a dual 5 gallon keg system..

Any input??

(thought I clicked on the Beginners section, mods can move if needed)


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Old 04-22-2013, 09:32 PM   #2
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I'm using a 5 gallon hardware store cooler now, it does ok for regular beer and small batch high gravity brews. It is a bit smaller than I would like and I'm looking for cheap 10 gallon coolers now. Will keep my 5 gallon for sparge water though. Check out cooler conversions in the DYI section


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Old 04-22-2013, 09:48 PM   #3
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That would be a resounding heck yeah!!!! You have already identified the potential shortcomings of a smaller tun and seem capable of adjusting your batches accordingly so why mot? I too have a 5 and 10 gallon Igloo cooler and both are set up to be mash tuns or I use the smaller one as an insulated hot water tank if I am pushing my systems capacity from the RODI unit I use for ultraclean water. So if ya got both, convert em both and use the one that closely fits your current need as dictated by mash or grain volume . Thats what I am doing with mine too.

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Old 04-22-2013, 09:54 PM   #4
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My plan would be to return the 10 gallon one as I have not used it yet, my budget only allowed for one unit right now, and I was going to use my boil kettle as a HLT. But if I got two of these deeply discounted 5 gallon coolers I could have a dedicated HLT and keep the boil kettle ready for action.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:59 PM   #5
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Green Bay Rackers have mash calculators that will let you calculate how big you can go with a five gallon cooler.
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:11 PM   #6
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Im in the same boat - im the only drinker and make smallish batches <5 gal. I love my 5 gallon tun! I can always go bigger later on if I need to, but for now I love the small size and ease of cleaning / lugging / storing.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:45 PM   #7
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I have the 5 gal MLT, it works great for my 3 gallon batches.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:51 PM   #8
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I did a 5 gallon round cooler for a MT, but in the end it just cost me more b/c like others have said, anything more than a low to moderate gravity beer will be difficult to do w/o cutting your water to grain ratio or having to add extract to make up the difference.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:55 PM   #9
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I started with a 5 gallon rubbermaid and loved it. You most definately can make a 5 gallon round cooler work. From what I've heard (read) and a little experience, you can make up to 12 pounds of grain work in a 5 gallon tun. Some have gone up to 14 pounds...though they said it was a pain in the butt and wouldn't recommend it.

Later, I came across a 10 gallon Igloo for the right price (free) so I took it and converted it as well. Interestingly enough, the 10 gallon Igloo cooler required a rubber grommet (due to a larger drain hole size) for valve installation where the 5 gallon Rubbermaid did not. Just something to look at. I digress...I now use the 5 gallon cooler as a hot liquor tank for sparge water. It works great!
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:03 PM   #10
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I used a 5 gallon for years to brew 5 gallon batches before moving up to a 12 gallon square cooler. You can get pretty creative to get what you need. is it a bit small? yes, but some solution to these problems are:

1. Use a very low water to grist ratio, I think mine was 1 qt/lb of grain most of the time.

2. Keep DME on hand to increase gravity for those that need it. This would be the same as a mini mash but using the mash for most of your gravity and adding an addtional 10-15 points with DME.

3. Partigyle you can make a higher gravity 2.5 gallon batch and a 2.5 gallon low gravity table beer from one mash.

4. if all else fails just double mash. mash and sparge as normal then use your wort as the strike water for the second mash. You won't get great efficiency on the second batch but you can use this method to get 1.090+ batches if you do it right. Personally if you are going to spend the time, I'd just do 2 partigyles and combine the first runnings.


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