Insulated Keggle MLT Users _ Advice needed

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BarnabyHooge

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I recently acquired three pretty beat up sanke kegs and was hoping to put one to use as a kettle and one as an MLT. After reading what seems like hundreds of threads I'm still not totally sold on the insulated keggle as a MLT. I'm not interested in direct firing it at this point and would like to keep things on the cheap side, although I don't want to pigeon hole myself should I want to do a HERMS/RIMS set up in the future.

Here are my questions

1: What insulation do you use? Do you cover side, top and bottom?

2: What sort of temp drop do you experience in say, 20 degree weather and 70 degree weather?

3: Is a false bottom necessary? It seems like the way to go, but it's a little spendy for me at this point.

I guess I'm thinking if I'm going to drop the cash on a FB, I should make sure a cooler and braid wouldn't suit me better in the long run. I've got a 5 gallon igloo (had it around) now but it's just not going to work.
 
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If you are not direct firing then you might want to go woth a cooler as they will be much better insulated than an insulated Keggle. Unless you are uber insulatiung the whole thing, but then that will cost more than a cooler.
 

wilserbrewer

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Batch size plays a role here, if you fill that keggle w/ hot mash the insulation becomes less critical. But for smaller batches you will most likely lose heat a bit quicker. For 5 gal. batches, go cooler.
 
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BarnabyHooge

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Batch size plays a role here, if you fill that keggle w/ hot mash the insulation becomes less critical. But for smaller batches you will most likely lose heat a bit quicker. For 5 gal. batches, go cooler.
Ah yes, forgot about that. I also have a 5 gallon bev cooler around for small batches so I should be doing mostly 10 Gallons in the keg.

If you are not direct firing then you might want to go woth a cooler as they will be much better insulated than an insulated Keggle. Unless you are uber insulatiung the whole thing, but then that will cost more than a cooler.
I've read that some people lose too much heat, but I've also seen folks say a little insulation and a blanket go a long way. How many layers of the wrap do you use? Do you have an insulated lid? How many degrees to you lose over what period of time?
 
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BarnabyHooge

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Case in point, I just read a few threads at NB that said a sleeping bag pad wrapped around it after heating the initial strike water would lose only a couple degrees over an hour... all of the opinions on this are making my head spin.
 

Bobby_M

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In the summer time when ambient temps in my garage reach 95F after heating my strike water, 2 layers of reflectix (added AFTER the flame is turned off) holds temps really well. Keep in mind that I heat my strike directly in the MLT and overshoot by 2F so the vessel and insulation pulls no heat. I think I lost 3F in a 6 gallon batch and 2F in a 12.
 

sigmund

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In the summer time when ambient temps in my garage reach 95F after heating my strike water, 2 layers of reflectix (added AFTER the flame is turned off) holds temps really well. Keep in mind that I heat my strike directly in the MLT and overshoot by 2F so the vessel and insulation pulls no heat. I think I lost 3F in a 6 gallon batch and 2F in a 12.
How long a period of time for those heat losses?
 

Bobby_M

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60 minute mashes are the norm for me. I wrap the doubled up reflectix around the sides and I have one layer that fits on top of the keg that fits into the handle skirt. My lid goes on top of this.
 
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BarnabyHooge

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I'm thinking that since most of the action happens in the first 30 minutes or so this should suffice. I'd really like to be able to utilize this method until I have the "need' and funds to upgrade to a HERMS/RIMS set up.
 

HomebrewJeff

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Personally, I would say that you should either maintain temps via HERMS (or even RIMS), or use a cooler. A cooler would probably be much cheaper (and easier), depending on what equipment you already have.

Even with a cooler for the mashtun, you could still build a HERMS system around it and use the extra keg for a 15 gallon fermenter. :fro:
 
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For me heat loss depends on when I am brewing. Summer in the 32-42c heat I lose without the reflectix I lose just a couple of degrees in an hour. In the spring with reflectix (I just added it a month or so ago) I lose about 7, but I need to insulate the top.
 
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BarnabyHooge

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Thanks for all the input. I'm still on the fence, but it will likely just take some time for me to let go of the notion of a keg MLT.
 

Beavdowg

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I've been thinking heavily about switching to a converted keg as my MLT. The only reason though is because I'm a little concerned about what might be leaching out of the plastic in my cooler MLT. I just recently upgraded to a 50qt Coleman XTreme and on my first batch the inside sides of the cooler got a little wavy after adding my strike water. I could push on the plastic and it would move a little bit. Should I be worried about what chemicals are being leached into my mash? This is why I am thinking about a keg MLT, but it does seem like holding the mash temps is pretty difficult.

Is anyone able to hold their mash temps in a keg MLT to within 1*F over an hour in average ambient outside temps? If so please share how you're insulating your keg.

thanks
 

JuanMoore

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I did two batches in mine before my pump and hex coil were operational, and lost ~1.5F both times. Both were 60 min, 10 gal, and semi-large grain bills. I used 3 layers of reflectix on the sides, nothing on the bottom, and an aluminum lid on top. Ambient temps were probably close to 90F.
 

JohnTheBrewist

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To answer your question about the false bottom, you could just make a voile bag instead for MIAB. Clean-up will be easier too.

I've been using a cooler mlt. But I decided to switch to a keg mlt simply because I decided that's how I wanted my system to be. To insulate, I bought two plastic drums; a 20gal and a 35gal. I will cut them short to where I want the height of the insulation to be. My keg will sit inside the 20 and the 20 inside the 35. The space between the 20 and the 35 will be insulated with spray foam. My kegs are bottom drain, so I will just have a hole in the bottom of the two plastic drums to allow for the drain. I will be able to remove my keg from its insulated case whenever I want. I haven't figured out an insulated lid yet. If all goes well, I'll have it put together this weekend.
 

Stankonia

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To answer your question about the false bottom, you could just make a voile bag instead for MIAB. Clean-up will be easier too.

I've been using a cooler mlt. But I decided to switch to a keg mlt simply because I decided that's how I wanted my system to be. To insulate, I bought two plastic drums; a 20gal and a 35gal. I will cut them short to where I want the height of the insulation to be. My keg will sit inside the 20 and the 20 inside the 35. The space between the 20 and the 35 will be insulated with spray foam. My kegs are bottom drain, so I will just have a hole in the bottom of the two plastic drums to allow for the drain. I will be able to remove my keg from its insulated case whenever I want. I haven't figured out an insulated lid yet. If all goes well, I'll have it put together this weekend.
How did this workout? Any chance you can post a couple pics?
 

JohnTheBrewist

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It worked out very well. I used the top of the smaller drum as a lid. Here's couple pics:

Barrel1.jpg


barrel2.jpg
 

Jud

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I cut an old military sleeping mat short (doesn't like high temps at bottom.) and wrap it around my MLT. It is held together with a couple of bungee cords. Lid is off an old military kettle. Insulated with remaining sleeping mat. It holds the temp good. Winter you have to use a small flame to keep it at the right temp.
 

Nohup

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I use an insulated Keggle MLT, and absolutely love it. I don't have a burner set up for my MLT, so it has to hold the heat for the whole mash.

Steps to make mine:
1) Make a nice 5 ply insulating jacket for it with Reflectix and metallic duct tape. Try to make it removable, as that makes cleaning a lot easier.
2) Cram a towel into the cavity underneath the keggle,
3) Find a plastic (or other somewhat insulating waterproof) lid that will just cover the hole in the top of the keggle, use that for your lid.
4) Stuff a towel on top of the lid to help insulate it.
5) Wrap the whole mess up with a good blanket/sleeping bag

(optional step) I found some grey foam pipe-wrap, like what you use to insulate copper waterlines. It comes in 6 foot lengths, and is like a long hollow tube. Get it at any Home Depot.
I cut a 2-3 foot piece of that, and put it around the opening of the keggle to help seal up gaps with the lid. Also put some around the top ring of the keg. It helps hold the lid in place tight.
Not sure if it helps much, but it's less than a buck, and easy to put in.

This system holds heat so well it's scary. Beersmith does a great job of estimating the temp. Just go with it's numbers, and make sure to give it 5-10 minutes to balance out. Then, wrap it up for 60 minutes, and drain. It's never been even a whole degree lower after an hour. I usually don't open it during the mash, but sometimes give it a shake.

I do use a false bottom, and it drains wonderfully. Never had a stuck sparge, just sometimes needs a little work to get it started. Efficiency is great, and you can put a lot of grain in there. Speed is good too. Kegs have a big diameter, and with a false bottom, you get a lot of area to drain.

This post got a little long, but I wanted to get everything in. After using this MLT once, I relegated my old 10 gallon cooler MLT to holding sparge-water.
 

beach

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I made a removable wrap with 6 layers of bubble wrap inside a reflectix skin, held together with aluminum duct tape. The lid is insulated with 8 layers of reflectix and the MLT sits on a piece of reflectix. I loose about 2-3 degrees over 60 minutes in 50 degree weather. I use a heat stick to raise temps if it drops too far or if I undershoot my mash temp.

Beach
 

bowiefan

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I direct fire a keggle MLT. I insulate with one of the foil water heater blankets (lowes, $15) the blanket is folded 1 time on the long axis making it 2 ply. I then sealed the raw edges with aluminum duct tape. I wrap it around the keggle after I am done heating and hold in place with a couple strips of velcro. I also have a disk of the same material cut to fit inside the handle skirt over my lid. In the winter, I also place a folded bath towel into the handle skirt over the insulation blanket. I mostly mash 60min, I never lose more than 2*F
 
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