Will a 5 gallon round cooler work for most AG batches AND partial mashes? - Home Brew Forums
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Will a 5 gallon round cooler work for most AG batches AND partial mashes?

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Old 05-03-2008, 04:53 AM   #1
Oct 2007
Santa Barbara
Posts: 712

Lowes has a 5 gallon round Rubbermaid right now for $22.00.


I am currently an extract brewer who is planning to step up to partial mashing for the next batch. I eventually will go all grain, but I have space concerns that prevent me from buying all the extra equipment I will need (apartment dweller). Partial mashing seems like an ideal solution for me and I'm told the results are excellent.

Anyway, will a 5 gallon cooler be too large for partial mash, or too small for an all grain batch? I've been looking for a 3 gallon cooler for my partial mashing, because the small size will keep the heat temperature more stable and will allow a good grainbed level. I can't find a 3 gallon cooler for less than this 5 gallon cooler. Will the 5 gallon size allow for all grain batches to occur? About how many pounds of grain do these 5 gallon coolers max out at?

I appreciate the help. Thanks.

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Old 05-03-2008, 04:55 AM   #2
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BierMuncher's Avatar
Jan 2007
St. Louis, MO
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A 5 gallon cooler is perfect for 5-gallon batches.

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Old 05-03-2008, 04:56 AM   #3
Oct 2007
Santa Barbara
Posts: 712

That looks like a nice setup. Are there recipes you can't do simply because it requires too many pounds of grain?

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Old 05-03-2008, 06:55 AM   #4
Jan 2008
dallas, tx
Posts: 265
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My feeling is that a 5 gallon is too small for all grain and too big for partial mashes. It will have too much headspace in a partial mash, like you said, giving less stable temps. For all grain it is big enough for average strength beers but too small for anything above average strength. A 10 gallon is not much more expensive and will allow high gravity 5 gallon brews as well as average gravity 10 gallon brews. It also does not take up much more space. If you plan on only doing fairly low gravity 5 gallon batches then go for it. If you plan on ever doing bigger batches or high gravity beers a 10 gallon is a better choice.

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Old 05-03-2008, 07:02 AM   #5
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Jan 2007
Cereal City, USA
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a 5g round cooler is fine up to about 12-14lbs of grain gets you to @1.060 og. if you want stronger then i cut batches down to 3g into fermentor, or do a partial mash for like the triple 9 barleywine thats being floated right now.
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Old 05-03-2008, 01:39 PM   #6
Hagen's Avatar
Feb 2008
Spotsylvania, VA
Posts: 392
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I easily fit 12lbs into my 5gal. It's just fine for basic styles up to 1.060 OG. I have a small kitchen and it works fine for me.
Too much too fast to keep track of...

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Old 05-03-2008, 02:03 PM   #7
Aug 2007
Buffalo, NY
Posts: 847
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I think the biggest worry will be finding a 10 gal cooler. I finally did, but a lot of people on the forums still can't (I happened to see a stack of five at Home Depot... hell, it's like when I found my Wii at Best Buy).

Most people have said that a 5 gal is fine, but a 10 is better if you can get it. The 5 at Lowe's seems pretty cheap, so I say go with it
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Old 05-03-2008, 02:06 PM   #8
Apr 2007
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WalMart recently had the same except in blue for $15. Did u check there also?

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Old 05-03-2008, 02:13 PM   #9
Aug 2007
Southern Maine
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What kind of beers do you usually do? If you don't routinely do super big beers then the 5gal should be fine for most AG. If you do the occasional big beer, then you can bump the gravity up using extract or other "tricks".

Since your ultimate plan is to go to AG, then I wouldn't worry too much about having too much headspace in the 5gal with your partial mashes. Just deal with it and you'll be all set when you go to AG.

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Old 05-03-2008, 02:51 PM   #10
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Feb 2007
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A 5 gal cooler is small enough to work for a 5gal partial mash recipe but large enough to do AG 5gal batches.
You will be limited to about 12-13# of grains but that get me over 1.060 OG.
For larger beers I substitute DME for the grains that don't fit. I've used this technique to make beers 1.090 and bigger.

If you intended to do more partial mash beers then a 5gal cooler is a good idea. If you intended to switch to AG then the 10gal cooler does allow more flexibility.


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