Cooler for 1 gallon all-grain

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dn151864

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Hey Everyone,

I'm going to be starting all grain 1-gallon brewing in the next week or two, I'm waiting on a current batch (of extract) to finish. I wanted to know your thoughts on cooler size.

I have come to the realization that keeping my mash at 160 degrees for 1 hour, on the stove top, may be a little difficult and I've seen that a lot of all-grain brewers use coolers to steep. If I am doing 1 gallon batches, I figure that I'll need 1.5 gallons of water. I plan on doing BIAB, to start, do you think a 2 gallon cooler would be sufficient in size?

Thanks!
 

cubalz

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You can get a 1.5 gallon cooler at Walmart, a 2 gallon model leaves a bit too much headspace in my opinion. I personally brew a lot of 1 gallon pilot batches to test out a new recipe just in case I don't like it. Here is my 2 cents: given the small liquid size and grain bill size, buy yourself a 6 qt. tiny stock pot and mash in it. All you have to do is wrap it with a thick blanket when it is off of the stove and on the counter. I have been doing it this way for years. Coupled with careful batch sparging, my efficiency is damn good and I make excellent beer.
 
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dn151864

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Hmm, that's not a bad idea at all. I'll have to look into that.

If you are using a 6 qt pot, how much liquid are you using? You'll lose a lot of liquid during the 1 hour boil.
 

cubalz

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I mash with 1 gallon of water and batch sparge with 1/2 gallon and after a 60 minute boil, I end up with one gallon of wort to chuck into the fermenter. Everytime. With a rolling boil in a properly sized pot, you will lose a half gallon.
 
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dn151864

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Good to know! I recently just bought a 3 gallon stock pot for brewing. I used to only do 5 gallon extract batches. I needed a new pot (since i was using my parent's) so I let my girlfriend pick the brand since she will use it for cooking. Now I have a ridiculously expensive 3 gallon pot for brewing 1 gallon batches. Not my brightest moment but I'm still learning about this 1 gallon all-grain brewing. I think if I follow your advice of mashing with 1 gallon of liquid and sparging with .5 gallons then I should be fine when it comes to the boil.
 

cubalz

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If you find that you end up with less than 1 gallon after your 60 minute boil and need to add top off water, you may need to boost up the sparge water to 3/4 gallon but I doubt it. The worst thing that could happen is that you would need to increase the boil duration or need to add a bit of top off water until you dial in your process given your pot size and particular stove top used.
 

GrogNerd

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if you're worried about headspace in a "too big" tun, just put a layer of aluminum foil over the grain bed

I have a 70-qt tun, have no problems keeping mash temps with 12-13lb grain bills only taking up 5 or 6 gallons of space

edit (full disclosure): that 70-qt's inside dimensions really measure 55 quarts
 

Jim_Holmes

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if as you said your going to do BIAB why even use a cooler. you could do single vessel full volume. i do it with full volume 5 gallon BIAB and only lose about 3* - 5* over 60 minutes with an uninsulated 40 qt stainless pot. if it does start to lose more with that small a volume its easy to move back on the burner and heat a bit while stirring, just allow for grain absorption or top off after mash
 

alexacuna

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I did a half batch (2.5 gallons) in a full size cooler today without any issues. I got mine at a thrift store for $5 and the paint strainer bag for $2, so it was a no-brainer. It's nice to just leave it alone and now have to worry about covering it up since they hold temperature so well.
 

EJay

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On a batch this small you can just mash in the kettle and put the whole thing in a preheated (but turned off) oven to hold the temps, and it's one less thing to clean. I do that with 2.5g batches.
 

pricelessbrewing

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I've been doing small batch biab for several months. Big fan.

I'stick with using your brew kettle as the mash tun. You can either sparge or not sparge to your reference. 2 gallon kettle would be sufficient for most brews.

Aa shameless plug, look at my biab calculator in my sig. There's a lot of cool calculations in the background that will help you get a good first brew, then enter the measurements for your brew day and you can calculate some info about it to nail in your process.

Two recommendations, gea stainless ruler to measure the height of your volumes, and a 0.01g scale for weighing hops.
 

Big Monk

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I use the 2 gallon "stacker" cooler by Coleman. Less than $20 investment including cooler and fittings. Works fantastic.

If you plan to do small scale BIAB then don't bother with a cooler. If you plan to go the no-sparge or batch sparge route then the Coleman is a good unit.
 

wilserbrewer

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I would mash BIAB in a 3 gallon pot and put it in a warm oven to keep the temp stable. You could do full volume or add a sparge step if you desire. Very simple and effective.
 
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dn151864

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As of right now, my first few batches will actually be kits just to get the process down. The kits include one of those mesh bags for the grains. I guess I'd consider this BIAB technique, right? Why do you suggest I not use a cooler when doing BIAB?

My oven only goes down to 170 and I don't have a way of check the temperature while the oven is closed to know if it's keeping it's heat. What do you do in regards to that? An oven thermometer?

I would have though BIAB in a cooler would have made it really easy. Wouldn't even need to strain the cooler, just pour it out into pot for boiling.
 

GrogNerd

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As of right now, my first few batches will actually be kits just to get the process down. The kits include one of those mesh bags for the grains. I guess I'd consider this BIAB technique, right? Why do you suggest I not use a cooler when doing BIAB?

My oven only goes down to 170 and I don't have a way of check the temperature while the oven is closed to know if it's keeping it's heat. What do you do in regards to that? An oven thermometer?

I would have though BIAB in a cooler would have made it really easy. Wouldn't even need to strain the cooler, just pour it out into pot for boiling.
mesh bag is for steeping grains. same thing as mashing, just the grains are doing something different.

pre-heat oven to 170, turn it off, stick your pot in there. leave it. should hold at mashing temp for the hour

I have mashed in a bag in a cooler. totally viable option if you want to do that. others suggested just mashing in the pot, just to avoid the extra steps of pouring the water into or out of the cooler (splash & burn hazard!)

up to you, either way will make beer
 

chickypad

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pre-heat oven to 170, turn it off, stick your pot in there. leave it. should hold at mashing temp for the hour
^This. I turn it off as I am stirring in the grains, then put the pot in with the lid. I find that for mashes 152 to 158 I lose less than a degree for up to an hour. If I'm mashing low like 148 I try to turn the oven off about 10 minutes earlier (BTW, you're not really planning to mash at 160*, are you?)

I tried the cooler for a while - I do 3 gal batches and had a 3 gal drink cooler for picnics. It's just much simpler and one less thing to clean mashing in the pot. That's even with a drink cooler that had a flip open valve. If you have one you have to hold open that would be a pain, and IMO it's not worth modifying one for such small batches.
 

Big Monk

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YMMV but I spent 30 minutes and less than $20 on my 2 gallon mash tun. It's really about what works for you.
 

BucksIPA

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Im using a 1 gallon igloo style water jug as my mash tun. Like a mini version of a 5 gallon water cooler
 

Big Monk

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Im using a 1 gallon igloo style water jug as my mash tun. Like a mini version of a 5 gallon water cooler

1 gallon? What's your typical batch size? I went 2 gallon so I could do higher gravity 1 gallon batches.
 

RevA

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I use a 2.5 gal cooler and put the grain in a voile bag to mash. It works very well for up to 2.5 gal batches. It's easier than BIAB for me, but BIAB has the advantage of being able to step mash.
 

GrogNerd

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I did a 2.5 gallon batch of Grodziskie in a 16 qt cooler using a voile bag.

did it that way to not use my 70 qt cooler for a 100% wheat mash and have to add rice hulls.

it was also a 4-step INFUSION mash, a real pain in the rump to hit temps.
 

BucksIPA

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1 gallon? What's your typical batch size? I went 2 gallon so I could do higher gravity 1 gallon batches.
Yea not 1 gallon, 2 gallon rubbermaid victory jug. I Think 1.5 gallon would be ideal for me though. For making IPA's. The 2 gallon jug fills up maybe half way during mash.
 

Big Monk

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Yea not 1 gallon, 2 gallon rubbermaid victory jug. I Think 1.5 gallon would be ideal for me though. For making IPA's. The 2 gallon jug fills up maybe half way during mash.

I'm thinking of switching to the victory jug. The opening for the fittings is smaller and the 1/2" fittings would fit much tighter than mine currently do.
 

Calichusetts

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Oven here. I can actually fit my 5 gallon mash tun in there. I mainly do 3-4 gallon batches. Best change I ever made in terms of brewing practices.
 
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