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Old 06-27-2013, 06:50 PM   #1
wadwrich
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I read somewhere that you shouldn't use too large of a cooler for mashing because you will have a shallow grain bed. I have a 52 quart cooler. Is that too big if I want to make 5 gallon batches?

 
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:09 PM   #2
ajf
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If you're fly sparging, then I would say yes, but if youre batch sparging, then the depth of the grain bed makes no difference.
However, with all the spare space in the cooler, you may find it a bit more difficult to maintain the mash temperature.

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Old 06-27-2013, 07:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
However, with all the spare space in the cooler, you may find it a bit more difficult to maintain the mash temperature.
This. I had a 60 quart igloo and I could NOT maintain a steady temp to save my soul.

If you're using some kind of circulating mash system it might be alright, but that's a ton of headspace that is just begging to eat up your heat. I switched to a 7 gallon cooler (which is just barely too small, as you can imagine) because the 15 gallon was driving me crazy and making my efficiency bounce all over the map.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:13 PM   #4
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i use a 70-qt cooler for 5-gallon batches and it works great

first time I used it I lost 3° over an hour-long mash, so now I place a layer of aluminum foil over the grain bed and don't lose any temp
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MuddyCreek View Post
This. I had a 60 quart igloo and I could NOT maintain a steady temp to save my soul.

If you're using some kind of circulating mash system it might be alright, but that's a ton of headspace that is just begging to eat up your heat. I switched to a 7 gallon cooler (which is just barely too small, as you can imagine) because the 15 gallon was driving me crazy and making my efficiency bounce all over the map.
Maintaining temp would be the main problem i agree. If you have a larger cooler as your mash tun (in this case 52 QT) i would recommend making/finding a head space "spacer" if you will. What i have seen done before is find a large piece of Styrofoam and cover it with foil or some other type of temp resistant sheeting and cut it to the size of your mash tun so it just barely clears the sides making it easy to insert and remove. Once its covered don't forget to add a handle for easy removal. You can then push this spacer down over your mash so your just keeping the heat in with your grains and not heating the entire cooler quite so much causing you to lose temp.

 
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Old 07-01-2013, 03:47 AM   #6
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I use a 48-qt cooler (the generic cheap blue Coleman), and would generally only lose a degree over an hour with 5 gallon batches. I filled the lid of the cooler with spray-foam, and it made ALL of the difference with losing heat. The lid used to feel quite warm when mashing, now I feel NO heat loss at all from it. It's super awesome, and would highly recommend it. It's a good size for 5 gallon, and can step up to most of my 10 gallon batches as well.

 
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:40 AM   #7
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I have had mostly good success with a round 10 gallon cooler for my 5 gallon batches. One key thing I do is when I hit my strike temp of 170 I pour off two gallons of this hot water in to the mash tun. I put the lid on as tight as it goes and I shake it like it is a can of paint. I let it sit for a couple minutes and pour the water back in the boil pot to reheat. This actually helps as it lowers my water temp a bit if needed and it also heats up the mash tun. I do a quick temp probe and if the water is lower than 140 I will repeat the process. As the temperature drops outside this may have to be a full filling and a longer sit but I don't anticipate it being too large for my needs.

I don't see a smaller cooler holding temps any better when it drops to the 40s and below but perhaps. Those are cheap enough that I can easily go buy one then.
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:44 AM   #8
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I use a 52 quart cooler and batch sparge on 5 gallon batches all of the time. I lose a degree per hour. No worries. I didn't insulate the lid and I also don't ever have issues with headspace in the cooler. I do put a blanket over it during a mash, though. It's worked great on countless batches.
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:51 AM   #9
wadwrich
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I think I will give the cooler that I have a try and if it just won't work then I guess I will buy a new one. Still have a little ways to go though before I will have everything I need to go all grain.

 
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:03 AM   #10
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+1 to using a blanket. I use it on both my 48 and 72 quart coolers with what ever batch size. It really makes a difference by keeping heat loss to around 1-2 degrees over an hour.

 
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