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Making a 2 Gallon Mini MLT

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Ninkasi

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Ok,

Here is a parts list for a 2 gallon mini mash/lauter tun that I put together. I'm sure it would work for a 3 gallon cooler as well. The cooler was purchased from Target for $9.99. All the parts came from Home Depot and are the "Watts" brand. Use any equivalent in your area. All sizes are 3/8 inch. I will describe the parts for those people who are not familiar with this stuff...like me!:



You will notice a white seal pushed flush against the inside of the cooler on this second picture. It was part of the original cooler set up. After I screwed off the plastic nozzle I left this piece on. If your cooler has this, I would suggest keeping it there. It is a part of the cooler's original seal:


The parts are listed in order starting from the outside:

1. Watts A-294: Barb to MIP Adapter (the piece that screws into the valve) = $2.10
2. 3/8" Brass Valve (with 2 female ends to screw the fittings into) The most "expensive" part at just over $6.
3. Watts A-785: Brass Pipe Nipple. You can't see it from the pictures. It's what connects the valve to the other adapter on the inside of the cooler. = $1.52
4. A washer that will go over the nipple on the outside of the cooler...whatever size will fit for your setup. = $0.25
5. Another washer on the inside. = $0.25
6. Watts A-298: Barb to FIP Adapter. It screws into the nipple. You can't see the actual barb from my picture. It is covered by the SS braid. = $2.33
7. Watts FloodSafe Auto Shutoff Connector: you can use ANY SS braid that will fit inside your cooler. I picked this one beause the braids were so tight I thought it would give me a clean vorlauf/sparge...it did! = $4.69
8. A little clamp to tighten the SS braid to the barb. = $0.79

I also cut a very small piece of siphon tubing and put it on the inside barb before I slid the SS braid over the top and clamped it down....I wanted to give the clamp something to "grab".

Also, don't forget some thread seal tape (only $0.99) for any spots where you screw pieces together.

If you need to there is no shame in bringing your cooler right into the hardware store with you. I did to make sure everything looked right...probably saved myself a trip or two. You don't look as silly carrying a 2 gallon cooler compared to a 5-10 gallon all grain cooler (although, I will probably do that as well when the time comes).

The entire project cost me ~$30, which will more than pay for itself after just a few partial-mash brews...how? 1 lb. of grain at my LHBS = $1.50. 1 lb. of DME = $4.50 (granted, its not a 1:1 ratio, but savings are still an immediate result). This is a great way for extract brewers to start enjoying the variety and benefits of grains during a brew session without needing all the equipment/space to jump immediately into all grain. To read more about the joys of mini-mashing, read the lengthy "Mini Mash For Extract Brewers" Thread here:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=8805

Good Luck.
 

TRNDRVR

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Thanks for this post.

I took your parts list to Home Depot and bought all the parts you listed and made one out of a 3 gallon cooler. Going to try it this weekend.

Thanks again!
Dan.
 
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Ninkasi

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TRNDRVR said:
Thanks for this post.

I took your parts list to Home Depot and bought all the parts you listed and made one out of a 3 gallon cooler. Going to try it this weekend.

Thanks again!
Dan.
Awesome TRNDRVR! Please let everyone know how your first PM goes.
 

Cregar

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Ninkasi...

I picked up most of my stuff but had a question...

Does "5. Another washer on the inside. = $0.25" & "8. A little clamp to tighten the SS braid to the barb. = $0.79" have to be stainless steel?
 

the_bird

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Anything that is in contact with wort needs to be stainless, brass, or copper - NOT GALVANIZED. Galvanized will leech zinc into the wort - a very, very bad thing. The biggest issue I had putting this together was finding a SS washer the right size; I ended up making one out of a piece of plastic, I simply could not find one big enough. You can find SS hose clamps pretty easily, though, in the plumbing section of HD/Lowes.
 
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Ninkasi

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Cregar said:
Ninkasi...

Does "5. Another washer on the inside. = $0.25" & "8. A little clamp to tighten the SS braid to the barb. = $0.79" have to be stainless steel?
Very interesting question, Cregar...

I will have to defer to the experts on this one. I believe the_bird is correct in saying that leeching of zinc from galvanized parts is possible but you should be able to find items that are stainless steel or plastic.

Now...I asked my LHBS owner about this. His response to me was that at a 1 hour rest in an MLT there really shouldn't be any concern. He told me that if there was a low quality, galvanized item in a fermenter, however, you should be concerned. My local guy also said DO NOT use any harsh chemicals to clean those internal parts. Basically, he employs a "relax, don't worry, have a homebrew" approach about such a concern. Again, if someone does have a concern, other pieces can be used, as the_bird described, to eleviate any worries.

I would like to here others chim in on this subject however. It's a very interesting question, especially when we are talking about mini-mashes.
 

Brewsmith

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I'm glad someone posted the parts. Today I decided I needed to build the same thing. I've got 2.25 lbs of grain that will eventually be an intentional gallon of malt vinegar. I just don't want to use my regular MLT for it. I already have the 2 gallon cooler, just need the braid and other guts to it. Hopefully I can do it all tonight.
 

Brewsmith

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I have all the parts! Building now...:)

-edit- I decided to go with a neoprene washer on the inside. I hav to cut it to fit, though
 

Brewsmith

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With some pics:

All the parts:
Mini Mash.jpg

Close-up of the parts. I had to cut the center out of the neoprene washer for the inside. I used a 5/8ths bit and it worked perfectly
Mini Mash Parts.jpg

The completed 2-gallon mash tun:
Mini Mash Complete.jpg

Both the 2-gallon and my 5-gallon mash tun. The whole family. How Cute! :p
Mash Tuns.jpg

Inside both mash tuns, braid and copper manifold:
Mash Tuns2.jpg
 
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Ninkasi

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Great pics, Brewsmith.

It was nice to see the whole "family!"
 

Brewsmith

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Thanks for posting the parts. I picked up evrything at home depot after work and assembly took less than an hour. And total cost not counting tax was $18.81.
 

Brewsmith

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Tonight will be the inagural brew for the mini mash tun. What kind of efficiency are you guys getting with SS braids? I'm not worried about this brew since I'm only doing a gallon with 2.25 lbs of grain, but I'm just curious.
 

RichBrewer

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Brewsmith said:
Tonight will be the inagural brew for the mini mash tun. What kind of efficiency are you guys getting with SS braids? I'm not worried about this brew since I'm only doing a gallon with 2.25 lbs of grain, but I'm just curious.
The two times I used mine I got decent efficiency. The one think I can't figure out is why the gravity at the end of the second sparge has been in the 1.020 range. I don't think I'm getting all the sugars out. Is more sparge liquor required for batch sparging?
 

Brewsmith

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I don't know. I fly sparge in my 5 gal tun. On this small scale though, batch sparging is I think the way to go. Like I said before, I'm not worried about the gravity of tthe wort. Whatever I get is what it's going to be. For a normal brew of 10 lbs of grain, I'll collect about 7-7.5 gallons of wort to end with 5.5 gallons in the fermenter. Here I'm only going with 2.25 lbs of grain, so by doing the math, I should only collect a little over 1.5 gallons pre-boil. I'm just going to sparge until I collect that and then begin the boil.
 

JohnnyK68

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I just bought basicly the exact same thing for 35 bucks already built, with a temp guage included. I am really happy to have found this guy who built it for me. now looking at it, it dosent seem that hard to have done this, but I probably could not have done it much cheaper then what I paid for it already built. Cant wait to try it now.
 

Brewsmith

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Does anyone weigh down the braid or hold it down somehow? It wanted to float up and wasn't resting completely on the bottom during the sparge.
 

the_bird

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Brewsmith said:
Does anyone weigh down the braid or hold it down somehow? It wanted to float up and wasn't resting completely on the bottom during the sparge.
Buy a nipple (about 3/4 - 1 inch long), an endcap piece, and a stainless steel hose clamp. Insert the nipple halfway in the end of the braid and clamp it in place, then screw on the cap. Works like a charm.

 

Brewsmith

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Thanks, bird. That's exactily what I needed. I just had the end crimped, but that didn't even want to stay every well. Another $2 in parts it is. Darn, now the total cost is over $20. :p

I did the brew last night. I ended up with about a gallon of 1.060 wort in the 4L jug that is the fermenter. My efficiency was over 70%. I pitched Safale - 04 and it was bubbling steady when I left for work this morning, about 7 hrs. after pitching.

Off-topic, I did a starter with the PacMan yeast last night, and I could see activity with an hour!
 
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Ninkasi

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Brewsmith said:
Does anyone weigh down the braid or hold it down somehow? It wanted to float up and wasn't resting completely on the bottom during the sparge.
Mine doesn't float at all...hmm...

Maybe it has to do with the volume/weight of the grain bed. I use at least 3-4 lbs. of grain. I think that kept the SS braid down.
 

the_bird

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Ninkasi said:
Mine doesn't float at all...hmm...

Maybe it has to do with the volume/weight of the grain bed. I use at least 3-4 lbs. of grain. I think that kept the SS braid down.
Mine used to float all the time, and I was doing eight- or nine-pound mashes (in a bigger cooler, not this one). Maybe you're just lucky!
 

weetodd

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Thanks for posting all of the information in this (and the other thread).

A quick question: What is the maximum amount of grain that you can do in the 2 gallon? I'm still stuck doing stove top boils of about 3.5 gal max so would the 2 gallon be the way to go? Also, could someone help me with a rough estimate of what a recipe would look like doing a partial mash and then adding extract to get to a reasonable SG? This part is a bit new to me as I've done a handful of extract only brews to this point. Thanks!
 

Brewsmith

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I'm not sure. I only had 2.25 lbs. in there, but I would guess that I could have put up to about 5 lbs if I had to.
 

Cregar

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weetodd said:
A quick question: What is the maximum amount of grain that you can do in the 2 gallon? I'm still stuck doing stove top boils of about 3.5 gal max so would the 2 gallon be the way to go? Also, could someone help me with a rough estimate of what a recipe would look like doing a partial mash and then adding extract to get to a reasonable SG? This part is a bit new to me as I've done a handful of extract only brews to this point. Thanks!
From reading the article from BYO about partial mashing, you should be able to get 4 pounds of grain plus about 1.375 quarts of water per pound of grains into a 2 gallon cooler. I decided to go slightly bigger and went with a 3 gallon cooler to be able to handle 6 pounds of grain.
 
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Ninkasi

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weetodd said:
Thanks for posting all of the information in this (and the other thread).

A quick question: What is the maximum amount of grain that you can do in the 2 gallon? I'm still stuck doing stove top boils of about 3.5 gal max so would the 2 gallon be the way to go? Also, could someone help me with a rough estimate of what a recipe would look like doing a partial mash and then adding extract to get to a reasonable SG? This part is a bit new to me as I've done a handful of extract only brews to this point. Thanks!
Good question weetodd:

Let's look at some simple math.

Depending on who you ask/what tickness of mash you want/what type of beer you are brewing, you will need between 1-2 liters of water per pound of grain (there are 3.79 liters in a gallon). Brew Your Own Magazine suggest in this recipe (http://byo.com/feature/353.html) that you use this equation: .33 X #lbs of grain = gallons of mash water. In this recipe, they are using 1.25 liters per pound of grain.

Lets say we are using a total of 4 lbs of total grain. That would mean you would need between 3.79-7.58 liters (1-2+ gallons) of water. Remember, the grains will both take up volume space AND absorb some water.

THEN, you need approximately .5 gallons of sparge water per pound of grain. So, 4 lbs of grain X .5 gallons = 2 gallons of sparge water.

I, too, am still boiling on my stovetop. For my first batch of partial mash beer I used 1.25 liters/lb. of grain for mashing, giving me, after sparging, under less then 10 liters (~2.6 gallons) of wort in my brewpot. Perfect for partial mash/partial batch stove top brewing.

Here was my recipe:

-3 lbs. of American 2-Row Malt
-1 lb. Crystal Malt (10 L)
-.5 lb. 2 Row Toasted Malt
-4 lbs. Muntons & Fison Light DME
-1 oz. Chinook Hop Pellets (12.8%, boiled for 60 min.)
-2 oz. Centennial Hops (9.8%, 1 oz. at 30 min, .5 oz. at 15 min, .5 oz. at the end of the boil.
-Safale Dry Yeast US-56

I sampled it before bottling...It tasted GREAT with a wonderful citrusy hop aroma.
You can use this recipe or modify it to make it your own.

EDIT: Before I finished this post I saw that Cregar weighed in. It appears that he has a similar though only with quarts instead of liters and a 3 gallon cooler instead of 2. All things to consider depending on your desired set up.

That BYO Article linked by Cregar is a very good one. I have to read it all the way through. Thanks.
 

weetodd

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Thanks for the thoughtful responses and for the detailed parts list. I looked for a 3 gallon but couldn't find one so I got a 2 gallon and got mine put together in no time.

Thanks!
 

skifast1

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weetodd said:
Thanks for the thoughtful responses and for the detailed parts list. I looked for a 3 gallon but couldn't find one so I got a 2 gallon and got mine put together in no time.
Ditto that - the pictures are priceless in replicating this. FWIW, I had to use a nipple that was about 1/4" longer (hey now!) as the one that's shown in the pic (threaded all the way across) was just a bit too short. I think it has to do with the fact that the stainless washer I put on the outside was bigger than the one pictured and held the valve away from the body a little bit more.

Anyway, it's watertight and I'll take my first step away from the land of extract-only this weekend :)
 

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Just a little clarification. Are you guys are using the braid for filtering corrcet? It's not all just running in the end right?
 

skifast1

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Yes - I proved this out in testing the watertightness of my cooler. Opened the valve and was surprised at how much flow I got coming through the braid (I'm using the same FloodSafe braid as Ninkasi and have the other end plugged). It's a tight weave but there's enough surface area to provide a healthy flow.
 

Schlenkerla

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From the original list; (My Suggestions for easier shopping & assembly are in blue!!!)

1. Watts A-294: Barb to MIP Adapter (the piece that screws into the valve) = $2.10
2. 3/8" Brass Valve (with 2 female ends to screw the fittings into) The most "expensive" part at just over $6.
3. Watts A-785: Brass Pipe Nipple. You can't see it from the pictures. It's what connects the valve to the other adapter on the inside of the cooler. = $1.52
4. A washer that will go over the nipple on the outside of the cooler...whatever size will fit for your setup. = $0.25 (Use 2 16mm ID washers stacked together)
5. Another washer on the inside. = $0.25 (Use soft plastic garden hose gaskets)
6. Watts A-298: Barb to FIP Adapter. It screws into the nipple. You can't see the actual barb from my picture. It is covered by the SS braid. = $2.33
7. Watts FloodSafe Auto Shutoff Connector: you can use ANY SS braid that will fit inside your cooler. I picked this one beause the braids were so tight I thought it would give me a clean vorlauf/sparge...it did! = $4.69 (Have the store clerk cut the ends off with a PVC Cutter!)
8. A little clamp (2 Hose Clamps Size 1/4-5/8) to tighten the SS braid to the barb. = $0.79
9. Use a 1/2" push-in brass barb plug to plug the end of the braid along with a hose clamp (1/4-5/8")

I had to shop around to find this stuff... Now this is everything you specifically need so it should make it easier. At Lowes, I had to go to the bulk parts bins w/ nuts bolts and washers to find the 16mm washers. Gardening for hose gaskets.

I did a water leak test... w/o teflon tape, forgot it... No leaks though.

:mug:
 

clindt

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I just wanted to thank everyone on this post for helping me get the courage and knowledge to do a PM. I finished making an Imperial IPA.

I bought a 5 gal. Igloo at Walmart for $16 and completed the MLT with parts from the local hardware store for about another $20. I didn't know that this could be so easy to build and do.

I ended up getting 70% efficiency out of the PM. Man, I can't wait to do an AG batch next. Thanks again!!!
 

TRNDRVR

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Ninkasi said:
Awesome TRNDRVR! Please let everyone know how your first PM goes.
Well believe it or not, (being sick and work) I just did my first PM.

Did an AHS Devil's Brew Belgian Ale.

I added a little part to my manifold though. Hard to explain, but I added a small piece of copper tubing in the braided water line. The end result is that the opening is now on the bottom of the cooler and I get more liquid off the bottom.

Can take a pic if need be.

Thanks again!
 
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Ninkasi

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clindt said:
I just wanted to thank everyone on this post for helping me get the courage and knowledge to do a PM. I finished making an Imperial IPA.

I bought a 5 gal. Igloo at Walmart for $16 and completed the MLT with parts from the local hardware store for about another $20. I didn't know that this could be so easy to build and do.

I ended up getting 70% efficiency out of the PM. Man, I can't wait to do an AG batch next. Thanks again!!!
PMing definitely helps to make the bridge between extract and AG. I was in the same position as you...just needed some courage and a push.

Your efficiency % is similar to mine. I have been getting 70-75% through batch sparging. What % is everyone else getting with their mini MLTs? I hear people getting in the high 80s with their AG batches using fly sparging. I am not getting that high of an efficiency...not that it matters too much when we are talking about 3-5 lbs. of grain but I was curious if everyone else was getting that ~70-75% efficiency with their mashes...?
 

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Ninkasi said:
I have been getting 70-75% through batch sparging. What % is everyone else getting with their mini MLTs? I hear people getting in the high 80s with their AG batches using fly sparging. I am not getting that high of an efficiency...not that it matters too much when we are talking about 3-5 lbs. of grain but I was curious if everyone else was getting that ~70-75% efficiency with their mashes...?
I just did a 3 gallon mash in my mini-MLT, which is a 3 gallon cooler lined with a big grain bag. I have been pushing the limits of my crush, making the grind finer and finer. I hit the limit on Sunday, and kept getting repeated stuck sparges (not an issue with a grain-bag-lined cooler -- you just stop the flow, yank on the bag a bit to get things unstuck, and recirculate). Anyways, to make a long story short, I calculated my efficiency to be 84%.

But it wasn't worth it -- I backed off on my grinder and will crush coarser and accept a bit lower efficiency. The hassle is not worth it.
 

paddy21

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Two ?'s -
1> What's the difference between a partial mash and extract with grain? It seems like and EG could be implemented just the same as PM.

2> I'm one of the many who plan to go AG so I bought a 5 gal liquid cooler.
Should I use the braided stainless on the inside for filtering the grain or is there a better method for these larger coolers?

Thanks,
Paddy
 

cpbergie

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How is everyone seperating the SS braid from the connections on the end, and the tubing on the inside? I started cutting the ends off with a saw, and i dont see how im going to get the inner part out. Did i mess something up here?
 

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cpbergie said:
How is everyone seperating the SS braid from the connections on the end, and the tubing on the inside? I started cutting the ends off with a saw, and i dont see how im going to get the inner part out. Did i mess something up here?
Cut the ends off first, then grab the inner flexible hose with some needle nose pliers. Then PUSH the braid off, don't try to pull it. It should just slip off. Just don't poke yourself too badly on the frayed ends of the SS hose.
 
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