Cooler Mashtun or Stainless

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jzuidema

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I'm getting back into all grain brewing and would like to know which is better. Using a Cooler mashtun system or a stainless pot with false bottom system?
thanks

Any recommendations for what type of equipment to purchase too would be helpful.
thanks

Z
 
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There's a lot of "it depends" answers to this question.

If you want a direct fired mash tun, stainless is the way to go. Scorching presents itself as an issue, but missing your strike temp is less painful since you can just fire up the burner.

If you want to get on the batch sparging bandwagon, a cooler is probably best. Generally, the cheaper the better in the case of batch sparging since geometry doesn't have much to do with efficiency.

I'll leave it at that for now - you're sure to get more opinions on this one!
 

Yeast Infection

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Its not a question of whats better, its more a question of: what fits your budget, your brewery setup, your knowledge/skill level, ect. Both work just fine.....like Yuri said, with steel you can direct fire to compensate for missed temps, but you could add a little more hot/cold water in a cooler setup too.
If you have all stainless steel everything...then yeah...get the stainless steel mash tun, it will make you look "cooler"
I use a cooler, it was "cheap" easy to make, works like a charm and it fits my skill level. I have found very easy ways to fix a missed mash temp. and this is what works for me. (but if i was offered a stainless mash tun i would take it and use it and love it)
 

Craig5_12

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I use SS (converted Sanke) and love it, it's great to have direct fired capabilities as well being able to use the same methods as the "cooler" people. the only downside is that it's not insulated as well. I've wrapped some insulation around mine.
Yuri, I'm surprised you didn't make a plug for "steam driven"....where is flyguy?
You might want to look into some of the steam setups that people on here are utilizing, they're pretty sweet.
 
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jzuidema

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Thanks for the input. I'll pick one and just get goin with it.
 
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Craig5_12 said:
Yuri, I'm surprised you didn't make a plug for "steam driven"....where is flyguy?
You might want to look into some of the steam setups that people on here are utilizing, they're pretty sweet.
Steam will work with coolers or stainless. I didn't mention it because it tends to be a bit involved and can be a bit dangerous, though FlyGuy's setup is pretty simple. Steam is definitely a viable means of mash heat control - just be careful, and do your reading/research first!
 

FlyGuy

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Hey, just spotted this post. Don't know if I am chiming in too late.

I will put in a plug for a modified-cooler mash tun with a simple steam infusion system.

1. It is dead easy to construct, and you won't need to contract a TIG welder to help build it (although I guess weldless fittings are possible).

2. You don't need multiple burners -- just one for the boil kettle, and perhaps something small for the pressure cooker (this could be an electric hot plate).

3. The system is lightweight, portable, and doesn't require a brew stand/sculpture. I use mine in my kitchen.

4. Heat retention in the cooler is excellent, so it requires less attention. And the steam system diffuses heat well, so heating overshoots are less of an issue.

5. The whole setup is cheaper than buying a keggle alone.

6. The 10 gallon cooler that I use doubles really well as a cheap fermentation chamber/lagerator (just add ice) and it fits a 5 gallon corny keg really well for parties on the deck! Multipurpose homebrew item!!

:mug:
 

brewman !

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I don't have a high opinion of direct heating the mash vessel. If you look through my post history, you'll see that I spent many hours discussing and exploring the issue of mash heating.

I think it says a lot if you look at the commercial systems (More Beer and Sabco) and neither one of them directly heat the mash vessel. The Brutus system does direct heat the mash vessel. It also has a recirculation pump. I wouldn't direct heat without one.

If you do direct heat, keep the heat low, like 10 watts per in^2. I'd use a constantly moving heat stick before I would put a flame under the mash vessel.

I don't see the value in using a SS mash vessel anymore.

As far as I am concerned, mashing is all about temperature control. Being able to set the temp wherever you want it and then holding that temp.

Nothing holds temp better than a well insulated cooler.

And, as far as I am concerned, steam is the simplest way to add heat to the mash. No pumping, the wort doesn't get burnt, no infusing, nothing. Just open the valve.

I agree with Flyguy that its dead simple. And it works very well.
 

Brewtosavepa

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Not bashing an old thread, but I have had a cooler mash tun for under a year and it cracked so bad that it is no longer usable. I bought an 11 gallon stainless pot to upgrade. I think I will circulate the mash on a burner with low heat. At least I know the stainless wont crack after 15 batches at 155 degrees.
 

lpdjshaw

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Just recently "upgraded" to a direct fire ss mash tun from a ss lined cooler. I've only got one batch in with the direct fire ss tun and it required constant attention and fiddling for the entire hour to keep my temp. It was kinda "fun" cuz I felt really involved in the process but I tell ya what, the set it and forget it for an hour convenience of a cooler is pretty damn nice. Eventually I'm thinking I'll automate so I can do other things during the mash but time will tell. I may end up going back to a cooler.
 

luhrks

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Just recently "upgraded" to a direct fire ss mash tun from a ss lined cooler. I've only got one batch in with the direct fire ss tun and it required constant attention and fiddling for the entire hour to keep my temp. It was kinda "fun" cuz I felt really involved in the process but I tell ya what, the set it and forget it for an hour convenience of a cooler is pretty damn nice. Eventually I'm thinking I'll automate so I can do other things during the mash but time will tell. I may end up going back to a cooler.
And that Billy is why people use RIMS and HERMS systems.

Seriously though, steam is probably the best way to direct fire, but I love my gas HERMS.
 
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