Do I need a Hot Liquor Tank?

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Nov 15, 2010
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Clifton Park
I'm looking to get my first All Grain system going and was wondering if i really need to spend the money on both a Mash Tun and Hot Liquor Tank?

The system I'm looking at is the started from Northern Brewer....

Could I invest in just the Mash/Lauter Tun for mashing and simply recycle/add sparge water to the system at the proper temperature?

Thanks, and Cheers!

Depends on what you are planning on doing.

If you are batch sparging you can do what I have done in the past and use a converted Igloo cooler with a SS braid. While that is mashing, I would heat up the sparge water in my boil kettle and just dump it into a spare cooler to keep it hot. This way I only needed one pot and no HLT. I used a spare crap igloo cooler I had to keep the water hot until needed.

If you are fly sparging you may be able to do the same thing, the cooler would keep the sparge water hot until you are ready to sparge.

However, while you are draining your mash, you will be using your boil kettle. So it will need to be empty prior to using it.

It all depends.

Part of getting that sparge water up to the right strike temperature is having an HLT. It doesn't have to be fancy unless you're brewing on a big scale. Up to 10 gallons or so, you should be able to muscle around an aluminum or steel stock pot on and off a burner. It gets easier if you drill it out and install a valve on it and let gravity do the work of sparging (sprinking) out the water.

If the price is too steep, check with a restaurant salvage company. We have a ton of restaurants in our area and a great salvage store that picks up their old pots and pans. You might find a big old stock pot that would work well for a HLT that you can drill out yourself and install a flow valve into.
I brew with only one cooler...
I heat my water in a 10 gallon stainless stock pot (HLT) and when at the right temperature I add the water into my cooler (mash tun). While I'm waiting for the mash to complete I add more water to my pot and heat it up to sparge temp and then batch sparge. You could always fly sparge if you add a pump or do the gravity thing, but as for now batch sparging works for me.

Hope this helps...:mug:
You can batch sparge with a BK and a mash tun.

Heat your strike water in the BK and transfer it to you MT. When you drain your wort, drain it into you bottling bucket or fermenting bucket (or a couple of Homer buckets). When you are done sparging, empty any water your have left in you BK, put the wort into it and boil.

No need for an extra cooler or HLT, maybe just a couple of cheap buckets.
Personally, I dont like the idea of brewing with plastic. Not only for the reasons of non-food grade plastics leeching who-knows-what into my beer, but also because I like the flexability of having 3 kettles. I.E. decoction mashing, brew rig up-grades, ect. Durability is also a factor I would take into consideration.
Been brewing since '09 with a 10 gallon igloo cooler as mash tun + 10 gallon boil kettle. Batch sparging works really well for me. I could upgrade but I'm so not interested. I gave my rig to my daughter when she moved out and went right out and built the same exact system for myself after seriously considering the options but this rig works so well it was a no brainier. Fly sparging = more equipment, more hassle, more things that could go wrong, more entropy concerns for better efficiency IMHO.

Steve da sleeve
Here is what I'm doing right now, I have a Keggle for a BK, and a 50 quart coleman extreme for my mash tun. I heat up on the water in my Keggle, then I transfer it to the cooler for mash in. While i'm waiting for the 60 or 90 minute mash to finish, I heat up the water again in my BK, for batch sparge. When the mash is done I vorlauf, and then I drain the 1st runnings into my old 30 quart BK. I then transfer the sparge water from my BK into my mash tun for a batch sparge. I let that rest for 15 minutes, and while that is happening I empty my BK(Keggle), put it back on the burner, and dump the first runnings into it and then fire it up. I then vorlauf, and run the second runnings into my old boil kettle, and then dump that into my Keggle.

This method works perfect, the only issue is, if you need to do a 2nd batch sparge, then it would complicate it. I don't have a HLT either right now, but I am on the look out for one in the future, to simplify this a little. Cheers.
Any way you look at it, you'll need another vessel to hold liquids. I have a 10 gallon mash tun (converted igloo cooler), my 10ish gallon brew kettle, a 5 gallon cooler, and smaller 3 or 4 gallon kettle.

I heat my water up, en masse, in my main kettle and mash in at the appropriate temp. I then overheat the sparge water and put it into the smaller cooler. I drain into the kettle, and then sparge with my reserved water. I collect second runnings into the smaller kettle and dump into the main kettle on the burner.

I picked up the smaller pot and the 5 gallon cooler at a yard sale for a couple bucks each.
Ditto to the above comment. Just spend the $20 on another pot at a thrift store. I am sure we waste that much at one time or another trying to find a cheaper way to fix a problem that ends up costing more.