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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > How do YOU keep your cooler mash-tun as close to temp as possible?
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:01 PM   #1
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Default How do YOU keep your cooler mash-tun as close to temp as possible?

I have been brewing for years and have since gone to AG a few years ago but have never been able to hold my mash-tun AT temp. In the pas I have just accounted for the 2-3 degrees that I lose so if I need to hold 153 I'll mash at 156. I am using a cooler as my mash-tun and thought of using a fermentation band(for a bucket) or even plugging in a heater blanket and just wrap it like a baby. That just gave me another idea, heating pad under the cooler should help too... I might try the heating pad and heated blanket this weekend and see how it does. I'll keep you posted on the outcome. BTW, I'm talking about when it gets cold outside(as I brew in my garage that isn't heated).

How do you keep your temp. close?

Thanks for any ideas!
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:10 PM   #2
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I use an extreme cooler with heavier walls and I made a blue foam insert that fills the cup holders and a 1 inch blue foam cover insulates the top even more. I preheat my cooler with hot sparge water 20 minutes before show time and pour it out before I add sparge water around 176F. I have brewed at -10 in garage and temperatures held. I also kept grain in house at 68F before I added it! It works for me. I usually hit 154F doing this. If your temperature is dropping, dough in faster and add fresh hot water.!!!
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:12 PM   #3
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When I first started using mine, my test showed that I was losing less than 1 degree over 60 minute mashes in my cooler mash tun. The one flaw I didn't account for was that I was brewing mostly big beers that came close to maxing out my mash-tun capacity. After ~3-4 tests I stopped checking the temp because I just assumed it was holding just fine.

I was doing a much smaller beer the other day and decided to re-check my temp loss after reading a thread here about headspace in the mash tun. I was shocked at how much temp loss I had over the course of the mash. Probably accounts for the reason my smaller beers haven't had the body characteristic I was going for.

I'm not so worried about insulating the outside as I keep mash tun in the house during the mash. I am going to come up with a way to insulate the headspace in my mash tun for my smaller beers. I have access to very large food-safe plastic bags so I thought about throwing a sleeping bag in one of those and stuffing that inside the tun.
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:13 PM   #4
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Pre-heat, leave closed after dough in, cover with blanket. I use the Coleman Extreme and always stay within 1 degree within a 60 minute mash.
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:17 PM   #5
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You're losing heat somewhere. What kind of mash tun are you using? How big is it?

I use a 10 gallon rubbermaid cylinder-type cooler. If I'm shooting for 150F mash temp, I heat my strike water to 165-169 depending on the current temp of the cooler in the garage. I hit my temp and put the lid on. I very rarely lose more than 1 degree over an hour.
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:19 PM   #6
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I wrap my round Rubbermaid cooler in reflective insulation. I cut two circular pieces to the diameter of the cooler and place on top of the mash before closing lid. Holds to within a degree. In winter, I carry the tun inside for an hour. Also, don't forget to preheat tun.
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewsncrabs View Post
I wrap my round Rubbermaid cooler in reflective insulation. I cut two circular pieces to the diameter of the cooler and place on top of the mash before closing lid. Holds to within a degree. In winter, I carry the tun inside for an hour. Also, don't forget to preheat tun.
This^

Piece of REFLECTIX cut to the diameter of the cooler on top of the mash, close it up TIGHT and wrap a wool hunting coat around it and a wool blanket over the top. It stays at mash temps and I have even gained a degree on a couple of occasions in the summer months.
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Old 12-31-2013, 07:59 PM   #8
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I guess I didn't give details on pre-mash.

I keep the grains in the house 1-2 days prior(in the laundry room is the warmest so I put them there). I also keep the cooler in the house for this time too. I then preheat the cooler with hot water for 20 mins prior to show time. I usually only do big grain bills (no less than 27lbs but only up to 32lbs I found out last brew) because I like my beers high on the gravity . I think its time to just buy a new cooler as this one was scored on the freeway LOL. I'd really like to just use the 3 sanke's I have for all my pots (HLT, mash-tun, and brew kettle).
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:10 PM   #9
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How I keep my temps to within 1/2 of a degree in a 60 minute mash:

I use a cooler. One of those old steel-belted Coleman coolers. Not sure if it is better at keeping temps than a new one.

After doughing in and getting the temps just right I take a piece of aluminum foil and lay that on the top of the sweet wort, covering the entire surface. This will reflect the heat back down towards the mash instead of allowing the heat to attempt to heat the air above. We lost a lot of heat when we didn't use the aluminum foil. Just try this trick once and see if it doesn't really help out. I bet you it will.

Then I take a roll of duct tape and seal up the opening between the lid and the cooler.

Then, if we're brewing outside and it's cold out, I take a sleeping bag and throw that on top.
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:29 PM   #10
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Mine usually stays pretty close. I will pre-heat with hot water, then mash in, make sure my temps are good, and close the lid and leave it. I actually generally mash in inside, then bring it outside to my full boil rig, which I start to heat sparge water with about 15 minutes to go.
I'll bring it out at 15 or 10 minutes left in the mash, so it will settle back down.
When I add the mash out water, I check the temps, and it's been within a degree or 2 each time I've done this.
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