Mash Tun choices

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HomeBrewMasterRace

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Hi All,

I was contemplating making or buying a mash tun. I have watched various videos and done a little research in regards to making a mash tun. However, it seems like it is simple to do, however the bottom filter that you get doesn't look as though it'd be as effective or easy to clean as the ones with a false bottom that i can buy.

I'm looking for recommendations as i'm currently brewing in a Bag inside of my 10 gallon pot and this makes it difficult as you can imagine to sparge the grains. as my 2nd pot is only a 5 gallon.

Please let me know, below are the links at the 2 tuns i've been looking at online, recommendations would also be appreciated..

https://www.northernbrewer.com/fermenters-favorites-cooler-mash-lauter-tun

http://www.brewinternational.com/10...uPwui7iD3-C7FoXfG-1bAxch-BpXB1FwaAh-mEALw_wcB

Thanks in advance!
 

Rev2010

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First, skip those "kits" and just order the Rubbermaid 10G cooler from the site that gives you the lowest price. A quick search online pulls these up at under $50: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rubbermaid-10-Gal-Orange-Water-Cooler-FG1610HDORAN/202260809

Next, get the cooler conversion kit (Valve/Barb/O-rings) from wherever is charging a reasonable price and also get a bazooka tube. I tried the false bottom once in a cooler and had grain come right underneath as it didn't sit flat. Most of them seems to have some warpage and not be 100% flat so I went with the bazooka screen and never looked back. I went with the 12" screen from NB https://www.northernbrewer.com/mash-boil-screen but had to crimp the end to make it fit. Those are cheaper on other sites as well. Anyhoo, worked like a charm for years.


Rev.
 

Rev2010

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There is a simple solution to this problem.... bend it.
Bend a round metal disc and expect it to be perfectly flat? LOL, good luck with that. I much prefer my solution of getting a bazooka tube.


Rev.
 

Rev2010

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Agree on everything but I wouldn't go bazooka. Build a manifold instead out of CPVC. You'll get a better, more efficient lauter without worry of channeling.
I had nothing but success with my bazooka tube - just have to be sure to stir/lift when coming 'round the bazooka location so you don't whack it with your spoon/paddle. I was pulling a consistent 81-83% efficiency with my mill crush and double batch sparge. But yes I totally agree - a manifold, or braid, whichever... beats a single false bottom.

I'm not against false bottoms in general. Just the one-and-done false bottom. The newer electric units that use several layers of screening I think are just as good.


Rev.
 

pshankstar

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What about BIAB using a cooler as a mash tun? Contact @wilserbrewer with the dimensions of the cooler and he will make an awesome bag that will fit the cooler. Then just replace the drain pug or valve with a ball valve and your good to go. I am debating on buying a cooler and doing this myself this summer. Not b/c of the issues of sparging, but b/c I want to be able to maintain my mash temps better. Good luck!
 

mirthfuldragon

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I'm looking for recommendations as i'm currently brewing in a Bag inside of my 10 gallon pot and this makes it difficult as you can imagine to sparge the grains. as my 2nd pot is only a 5 gallon.
I'm not sure I follow you here. I think you may be making it more complicated than it is. Use your 10g kettle to mash. Use your second 5g pot to heat your sparge water. Drain your first runnings into a HDPE bucket (like a Home Depot bucket), then sparge through your BIAB kettle.

I use a 10g igloo cooler and a BIAB to mash in a bag, but largely out of habit and since I bought it somewhat blindly and before I fully understood my options.
 

jpakstis

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What about BIAB using a cooler as a mash tun? Contact @wilserbrewer with the dimensions of the cooler and he will make an awesome bag that will fit the cooler. Then just replace the drain pug or valve with a ball valve and your good to go. I am debating on buying a cooler and doing this myself this summer. Not b/c of the issues of sparging, but b/c I want to be able to maintain my mash temps better. Good luck!
I do this and the bag I used for my 10g kettle fit perfectly in a Rubbermaid/round cooler. I also mash full volume so I don’t bother with lautering and sparging. It has really simplified my brew day. I started doing it this way to try to keep my mash temps from fluctuating so wildly when BIABing since I brew in the middle of winter in Massachusetts outside. I originally got that NB all grain kit but I only use the mash tun with my BIAB bag.

So if you want to dip your toes in the mash tun/cooler setup I’d heartily recommend this as an intermediate step. All you really need is the cooler and a ball valve to install.
 

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Building one is fine, but if you don't want to build, I think either the options you linked to are fine. They are similar, I would probably go with the less expensive option. But either look good.
 

schematix

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Bend a round metal disc and expect it to be perfectly flat?
Yep....

I did it both with my cooler false bottom and my blichmann false bottom. Took a few iterations but wasn't at all challenging. One may also find over time that coolers warp and you may need to reshape the false bottom to fit better. The result may be far from flat!
 

Kent88

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I BIAB in an insulated 3-gallon cooler mash tun. I don't want to BIAB, but my false bottom just didn't work no matter how many times I tried. I've even been having problems with that method. I bought a mash/boil screen that I think is like a bazooka tube and I'm planning to cover that with a mesh hop/grain bag the first couple times I try it out. It almost can't be worse than the false bottom.

That NB kit has bronze parts that might not last as long as steel. I'm no expert on the differences, though.
 

beernutz

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Hi All,

I was contemplating making or buying a mash tun. I have watched various videos and done a little research in regards to making a mash tun. However, it seems like it is simple to do, however the bottom filter that you get doesn't look as though it'd be as effective or easy to clean as the ones with a false bottom that i can buy.

I'm looking for recommendations as i'm currently brewing in a Bag inside of my 10 gallon pot and this makes it difficult as you can imagine to sparge the grains. as my 2nd pot is only a 5 gallon.

Please let me know, below are the links at the 2 tuns i've been looking at online, recommendations would also be appreciated..

https://www.northernbrewer.com/fermenters-favorites-cooler-mash-lauter-tun

http://www.brewinternational.com/10...uPwui7iD3-C7FoXfG-1bAxch-BpXB1FwaAh-mEALw_wcB

Thanks in advance!
If you are doing 5 gallon BIAB batches in a 10 gallon pot why do you even need to sparge? Just do full wort mashes in the 10 gallon pot and be done with it. You won't even need to use your 5 gallon pot.

There are many online calculators like these which tell you how much water to use for no sparge BIAB: http://www.biabcalculator.com/ or https://pricelessbrewing.github.io/BiabCalc
 

Rev2010

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I bought a mash/boil screen that I think is like a bazooka tube and I'm planning to cover that with a mesh hop/grain bag the first couple times I try it out. It almost can't be worse than the false bottom.
I'd recommend you don't cover it with a mesh bag, just leave it as is. You have more chances of stopping/reducing flow covering it with a mesh bag.


Rev.
 
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HomeBrewMasterRace

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One of the main reasons i wanted to move away from the brew in a bag, is i've been letting the wort drip out of the grains and as you can imagine, holding a bag with 14 lbs of grain and full of water can be a nuisance and takes a lot of time and energy. I have been unable to find a strainer strong/heavy duty enough to set the weight on. The pot i currently have is here - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073V37JCL/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
 
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Redtab78

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Hi All,

I was contemplating making or buying a mash tun. I have watched various videos and done a little research in regards to making a mash tun. However, it seems like it is simple to do, however the bottom filter that you get doesn't look as though it'd be as effective or easy to clean as the ones with a false bottom that i can buy.

I'm looking for recommendations as i'm currently brewing in a Bag inside of my 10 gallon pot and this makes it difficult as you can imagine to sparge the grains. as my 2nd pot is only a 5 gallon.

Please let me know, below are the links at the 2 tuns i've been looking at online, recommendations would also be appreciated..

https://www.northernbrewer.com/fermenters-favorites-cooler-mash-lauter-tun

http://www.brewinternational.com/10...uPwui7iD3-C7FoXfG-1bAxch-BpXB1FwaAh-mEALw_wcB

Thanks in advance!
Are you on a budget? How many ag brews have you done? I ask because if you not that limited on a budget, and as addicting as this hobby becomes, you may want to look at other alternatives such as the SS brewtech infusion or chapman barrel mash tun. But i dont know what your budget/experiance level is etc.

I just recently went from a rectangle coleman cooler i built with a bazooka tube to the infusion, and oh man what a difference! The cooler served me quite well while i really got into brewing, but it was time for me to step up my game with much better temp control then the cooler, and the excess wort left behind on the cooler caused me to tilt my cooler during mashmout etc. Just became a PITA. With the brewtech mash tun, i have 0 left behind :)

There are TONS out there using coolers very successfully and very happy with them so i am not knocking those 1 bit. Just throwing out some alternatives.
 

charger

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For when you want to brew that RIS or 10 gallon batch. This 70 quart is what I use, my previous 52 quart tun was overflowing when I mashed in a RIS.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AU6GB2K/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

And the bargain fittings or brewhardware 2.5” nipple cooler bulkhead fits just fine. Bazooka screen and batch sparge are sufficient for me as well.
 
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beernutz

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One of the main reasons i wanted to move away from the brew in a bag, is i've been letting the wort drip out of the grains and as you can imagine, holding a bag with 14 lbs of grain and full of water can be a nuisance and takes a lot of time and energy. I have been unable to find a strainer strong/heavy duty enough to set the weight on. The pot i currently have is here - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073V37JCL/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
I wouldn't hold a 14lb bag by hand either but there are plenty of inexpensive strainer options that have been written about on HBT which will support that weight or you could use a pulley system. I use a double pulley and can easily lift close to 30 lbs of wet grain when BingIAB.

But if you have your heart set on no longer doing BIAB and using a mash tun you can still use your BIAB bag. When I use my 3 vessel system I sometimes double crush my grain then put it in my BIAB bag inside my cooler mash tun. The mash tun has a bazooka screen in the bottom but also using the bag allows me to use very finely crushed grain and get improved extraction without risking a stuck mash. Just tossing out some other options to consider.
 
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RM-MN

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One of the main reasons i wanted to move away from the brew in a bag, is i've been letting the wort drip out of the grains and as you can imagine, holding a bag with 14 lbs of grain and full of water can be a nuisance and takes a lot of time and energy. I have been unable to find a strainer strong/heavy duty enough to set the weight on. The pot i currently have is here - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073V37JCL/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
There are lots of ways to get that bag out of the pot when it is full of hot grains that don't require you standing there holding it at arms length. If you have some ingenuity you will figure this out or you will use it as an excuse to buy a different mash tun.
 
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charger

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There are lots of ways to get that bag out of the pot when it is full of hot grains that don't require you standing there holding it at arms length. If you have some ingenuity you will figure this out or you will use it as an excuse to buy a different mash tun.
IMG_2722.jpg


This was my old setup for 3.5 gallon BIAB batches using a turkey fryer kit, 5 gallon paint strainer and rope ratchet pulley. Can be upscaled to larger batches with a larger pot/cooler and bag. Pulley is rated for 75 pounds or something like that. Woolite has mesh laundry bags that can be a cheap alternative for larger tuns but a brew bag from wilserbrew or other may be better in the long run.
 

hoponthegoodfoot

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I've been messing around with converted coolers and copper manifolds/pvc sparge arms and the like for about 18 months. Then I got a bag that fit my cooler and pulley system. Dirt cheap...less hassle and I'm even seeing improved efficiency with the bag. Im going to to try a batch sparge next brew as opposed to hang and drain. The bag just gives options...
 

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Im with redtab78. I bit the bullet and bought the chapman thermobarrel. I put an auto sparge on it and wish I had done it alot sooner
 

RevKev

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Why are you sparging the grains in BIAB? Are you getting that bad of efficiencies? I have never found the need to spare the grains with a fine enough crush, let the bag drain itself and done. Seems a unneeded Hassel, just account for the extra water soaked up and add initially. My 0.02¢

After trying to squeeze 32lbs in my BIAB setup I literally said "**** this ****ing **** I am never ever doing that again" and have gotten 80% plus efficiencies
 
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hoponthegoodfoot

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Why are you sparging the grains in BIAB? Are you getting that bad of efficiencies? I have never found the need to spare the grains with a fine enough crush, let the bag drain itself and done
You obviously don't have to. You can hoist and drain...such is the biab method, but I've read many different people's take on the bag and I'm experimenting to see what works best for me. So far, a drain and a dunk sparge sees the best efficiency for me. I plan to see what efficiency I get if use the bag in the tun instead of my manifold and revert to traditional vorlauf lautering. Because...why not?
 

RevKev

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You obviously don't have to. You can hoist and drain...such is the biab method, but I've read many different people's take on the bag and I'm experimenting to see what works best for me. So far, a drain and a dunk sparge sees the best efficiency for me. I plan to see what efficiency I get if use the bag in the tun instead of my manifold and revert to traditional vorlauf lautering. Because...why not?
Oh no that's fair to each is own, but if OP is looking to upgrade to a two or three pot system, I would aim for a larger no sprage BIAB pot and a winch. That's my 0.02¢. Was just wondering what the motivations were to do that I have just had bad experiences
 

hoponthegoodfoot

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Oh no that's fair to each is own, but if OP is looking to upgrade to a two or three pot system, I would aim for a larger no sprage BIAB pot and a winch. That's my 0.02¢. Was just wondering what the motivations were to do that I have just had bad experiences
Absolutely. The bigger the bag the better! The bigger the pot then no need for a sparge if you can get your full volume in one go. I can't....so thus the dunk.
It's down to space and money. I've found personally that I've spent a lot of time and money making my mash tun and sparge arm, taken up a lot of storage space and ultimately the bag is better for me. Wish I'd gone biab from the start. But like you said. My 2 cents.
I'll end up with the no sparge once I personally upgrade to a bigger system. I've got a couple of kegs that need converting...or I'll go false bottom again.
Ultimately if the op wants to go with either their mash tun choices then thats awesome. I would, just like you, personally recommend bigger pot, bigger bag and pulley....
What bad experiences were you referring to so I can try and avoid?
 
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HomeBrewMasterRace

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I think i'm going to stick with the BIAB as it still sounds simplest and works great.

I just have 1 further question. If i wanted to brew a high gravity beer, would i be possible for me to use 1 bag, soak for 90 minutes then add in another bag of grain for another 90 minutes to up the gravity? Would this result in any adverse flavors in the beer? I've tried looking online but haven't been able to find anything.

I was hoping to make a 10%-ish beer so an OG of about 1.090 for an ale.

Thanks everyone for the input! it's very much appreciated.
 

RevKev

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You should be able to fit about 18lbs of grain into a bag comfortably considering I maxed out at 36 on a 20gal SS Brewtech. Forgot what volume initially but I ended up with 8gal of what was a 13% beer. What's the biggest beer you've done so far?

As for the bad experience it came with wort going absolutely everywhere and having on sandles and shorts.

For the dual dipping, I am not sure it would effect any results and typically I stick to a 60min mash, bc I am lazy and impatient and most conversion occurs well before that time frame is up. But if you were doing that 90min no issues IMO for time, decoction mashes typically take 3 hrs to complete. The only issue I forsee is loosing extra volume of what would be likely 1.05+ wort due to grain loss.
 
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I'm attempting a 16lb grain stout tomorrow. I also got it double milled as well so that the sugar extraction should work a bit better as well as take up slightly less volume. Aiming for a Gravity of 1.081. If i fall quite short of that i'll add some extract.
 
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HomeBrewMasterRace

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I was able to do it and get a gravity of 1.075.
I'll have to wait a few weeks now to see how it turns out
 
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I'm that'll turn out quite nice, what was you lb/gal ratio?
My grain bill
12 lbs pale 2 row
1 lb crystal 60
1 lb American dark chocolate
3/4 lb of roasted barley
And 2 lb flaked oats

I double milled and let it mash for 90 minutes

All in 6.5 gallons of water, once the 90 minutes was up, I poured in another 1/2 gallon of boiling water and let sit for an extra 5 minutes.
 

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As you can see everyone does something a little different and it works for them, there are many ways to make wort. Myself, I started with BIAB but hated dealing with the bag, got ok but not great efficiency and very cloudy wort (not that cloudy wort is that bad). I changed to the round cooler and false bottom, started fly sparging and It worked great for me. I now get clear wort and 80+% efficiency.
I also have lots of room to brew, wash/dry and store equipment and my hose doesn't freeze in the winter. Others may be limited in room and have to brew in their house in which case BIAB is probably your only choice. My own personal opinion, if you are not doing BIAB then skip the manafold or Bazooka screen and buy the 30$ false bottom. It sounds like BIAB is for you though so don't let me sway you
 

fragged

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As you can see everyone does something a little different and it works for them, there are many ways to make wort. Myself, I started with BIAB but hated dealing with the bag, got ok but not great efficiency and very cloudy wort (not that cloudy wort is that bad). I changed to the round cooler and false bottom, started fly sparging and It worked great for me. I now get clear wort and 80+% efficiency.
I also have lots of room to brew, wash/dry and store equipment and my hose doesn't freeze in the winter. Others may be limited in room and have to brew in their house in which case BIAB is probably your only choice. My own personal opinion, if you are not doing BIAB then skip the manafold or Bazooka screen and buy the 30$ false bottom. It sounds like BIAB is for you though so don't let me sway you
This. Try things, start with what makes sense to you. I started AG cheap and easy, BIAB with a ratchet pulley. Up until my last batch, it was fine. I ripped the bag by catching it on my whirlpool arm though. That same batch was a parti gyle attempt that I planned horribly, so I ended up with a cooler too to hold the extra mash batch(aka first runnings) while I boiled the second one(sparging/mashing the second is when the bag ripped, my own fault).

Since I now had a cooler with a ball valve, I added a stainless steel braid from a water heater hose and will mash in the cooler next time and see how I like it. Then I'll mash in a round cooler with a Wilser bag and see how I like that. I may try a false bottom after that. All about trying things. Eventually, I'll have an Ss brewtech infusion, but my current experience told me that's simple a desire, nowhere near a necessity.

I also try to keep in mind a "doesn't work out plan" for things I want to try, to keep costs down. The square cooler I just bought will easily perform fine as a beer cooler if I don't like it for mashing. The round cooler and bag (or false bottom) is easily sold as a used tun or repurposed as an HLT if I don't like that option.

To me, this is one of the fun parts of brewing, trying things.

I was bery happy with the BIAB right in my boil kettle though, until I ripped it. Could be fixed, but with my setup I know it'll just happen again.
 
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