Advantages of cooler vs kettle for HLT

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

sunadmn

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Afternoon all,

I have been doing all grain brewing for just a short while and have built most of my equipment. I have noticed a lot of people seem to use coolers for HLT and just wondered what if any advantage that has over just using a kettle and burner.

I currently have two kettles one for boil the other for HLT and a converted cooler for the MLT. I also have an additional cooler I could use for a HLT but not sure it is worth the time so I just wanted to get everyone's view on the topic.

Thanks,
-Stephen
 

mageac

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
56
Reaction score
1
From my experience my kettle (keggle) loses as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit during a typical one hour mash. I don't insulate in any way here during a Texas summer. No way a cooler loses that much that quickly . by the way, If you stick with a kettle, be sure to preheat it before mashing.
 

wilserbrewer

BIAB Expert Tailor
HBT Sponsor
Joined
May 25, 2007
Messages
11,264
Reaction score
2,850
Location
New Jersey
A cooler will keep a more constant temperature as an HLT. Using a cooler for an HLT seems kinda silly to me in that you have to heat in a different vessel, and then transfer to the cooler, resulting in an extra transfer.

Best of both worlds IMO...Electric cooler HLT on a simple cheap timer, this way your water is heated and ready to brew when you are...cheers!
 
OP
S

sunadmn

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Hrmm ok maybe I have just been doing things a bit different; here is how I do my brew day:

1) heat volume of water needed for mash
2) mash in for X time
3) while mash is resting fill kettle (HLT) with sparge water volume and heat
4) end of mash vorlauf and drain first runnings to boil kettle
4) Batch sparge with volume in HLT
5) vorlauf and drain second runnings to boil kettle
6) boil
7) Whirpool/rest
8) counterflow chill to fermenter
9) pitch yeast
 

NathPowe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
Messages
601
Reaction score
146
Best of both worlds IMO...Electric cooler HLT on a simple cheap timer, this way your water is heated and ready to brew when you are...cheers!
^ This, except I take it a step further and use a heater with timer directly in my mash tun, which is a cooler. Just add grain.
 

Darwin18

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2008
Messages
5,339
Reaction score
960
Location
Fuquay-Varina, NC
Hrmm ok maybe I have just been doing things a bit different; here is how I do my brew day:

1) heat volume of water needed for mash
2) mash in for X time
3) while mash is resting fill kettle (HLT) with sparge water volume and heat
4) end of mash vorlauf and drain first runnings to boil kettle
4) Batch sparge with volume in HLT
5) vorlauf and drain second runnings to boil kettle
6) boil
7) Whirpool/rest
8) counterflow chill to fermenter
9) pitch yeast
Sounds pretty similar to my set up, except I drain my mash into a 5-gallon bucket while I transfer my sparge water from the brew kettle to my mashtun. Then I drain my BK, pour in the first runnings from the mash, and drain the sparge runnings into the bucket. I then pour the sparge runnings into the BK and it's ready to go. I think it's a waste of money to have a dedicated HLT when a 5-gallon bucket will serve you well.
 

LuiInIdaho

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 12, 2011
Messages
435
Reaction score
30
Location
Ponderay
sunadmn said:
Hrmm ok maybe I have just been doing things a bit different; here is how I do my brew day:

1) heat volume of water needed for mash
2) mash in for X time
3) while mash is resting fill kettle (HLT) with sparge water volume and heat
4) end of mash vorlauf and drain first runnings to boil kettle
4) Batch sparge with volume in HLT
5) vorlauf and drain second runnings to boil kettle
6) boil
7) Whirpool/rest
8) counterflow chill to fermenter
9) pitch yeast
The main advantage to using a cooler as an HLT is cost. You can have a three vessel system with only one stainless vessel and one burner, and it can work with batch sparging or fly sparging.

Process would be:
1). Heat volume of strike water for mash in boil kettle.
2) When strike water is to temp, transfer strike water to cooler MLT and mash in; rest for x time.
3). While mash is resting fill boil kettle with sparge water and bring to temp.
4). Before mash is done, transfer sparge water to cooler HLT and hold at sparge temp.
5). Vorlauf mash and drain start sparge (either batch sparge or fly sparge).
6). Etc.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,674
Reaction score
4,980
Location
Whitehouse Station
The only reason to use a cooler for an HLT is if you only want a one burner/one kettle system AND you want to fly sparge. The whole point is to keep the sparge water hot during the long fly sparge. If you only intend on batch sparging, you can save money by using a bucket for either wort collection OR water holding since there really is no long waiting period in which heat loss is an issue.
 

kombat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
5,685
Reaction score
2,189
Location
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I drain my mash into a 5-gallon bucket [...] I think it's a waste of money to have a dedicated HLT when a 5-gallon bucket will serve you well.
I'd be nervous about the ability of those plastic buckets to safely tolerate the high liquid temperatures associated with mashing out wort without releasing harmful chemicals. I prefer to stick with vessels clearly built to take the heat (aluminum, stainless steel).
 

Darwin18

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2008
Messages
5,339
Reaction score
960
Location
Fuquay-Varina, NC
I'd be nervous about the ability of those plastic buckets to safely tolerate the high liquid temperatures associated with mashing out wort without releasing harmful chemicals. I prefer to stick with vessels clearly built to take the heat (aluminum, stainless steel).
I wouldn't. The bucket literally contain the runnings for 10 minutes or less and have held up unscathed for 30 - 40 batches so far. The temperatures you're concerned about are in the 150 - 160 F range which aren't enough to come close to melting the bucket or leaching any chemicals from the plastic. Certainly the judges at competitions haven't noted any chemical off-flavors any of the beers I've submitted. If you've got money to burn then an extra kettle or pot is nice to have but a 5-gallon bucket will serve just as well to hold liquids for a short period of time.
 

dyqik

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
1,708
Reaction score
445
Location
Maynard, MA
I use a second cooler as a HLT as initially I started out working on the stove top which only had space for one kettle and because I only have one kettle. A cooler is about 1/4 the cost of a second kettle, and I can drain into the kettle on the burner, and start heating before all of the runnings have been run through.

A cooler with 4 gallons in it loses less than 2F an hour, so fly sparging happens at a constant temperature.
 

fosaisu

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2012
Messages
702
Reaction score
114
Location
Denver
I'd be nervous about the ability of those plastic buckets to safely tolerate the high liquid temperatures associated with mashing out wort without releasing harmful chemicals. I prefer to stick with vessels clearly built to take the heat (aluminum, stainless steel).
I have no evidence on whether or not chemicals leach from these plastics at 150-160 F. If you're concerned about this then presumably you couldn't use a cooler as a HLT or for mashing either (since that'd just be a longer exposure time for the plastic). Of course the fact that a great majority of all grain brewers use coolers as mash tuns doesn't mean there's no chemical leaching going on, but it does suggest that any leaching is pretty subtle since you don't hear complaints of off flavors or ill health effects.
 

Ramitt

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2011
Messages
1,103
Reaction score
74
Location
Bloomington
I use a bucket heater, later to be upgraded to a heatstick for mash and sparge water in a 5 gallon cooler. also works for sous vide cooking.
 

Quaffman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2011
Messages
228
Reaction score
17
Process would be:
1). Heat volume of strike water for mash in boil kettle.
2) When strike water is to temp, transfer strike water to cooler MLT and mash in; rest for x time.
3). While mash is resting fill boil kettle with sparge water and bring to temp.
4). Before mash is done, transfer sparge water to cooler HLT and hold at sparge temp.
5). Vorlauf mash and drain start sparge (either batch sparge or fly sparge).
6). Etc.
This is my process exactly. Though I am thinking about moving to a 2 burner setup
with another kettle. Gotta Kinda wonder about those chemicals. One judge did mention a plastic taste. It was after the first time I use this method. I was previously using the transfer of the wort into the plastic bucket but got burned several times since the liquid rose most of the way to the top of the bucket.
 
Top