Mash Tun Size

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rodwha

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I've been doing BIAB partial mashes. As space is at a premium these days after moving to a house lacking a beer room I made a pot koozie. However I got expanding foam on my pot and had to buy a new one negating the space saving feature.

I've found that my mash tun isn't very efficient as I lose up to about 5-6* after 70 mins. I'm needing to put an old quilt on the lid to help hold in heat.

I've been using a large colander (largest I can find) to sparge my grain bag with and have found that 6.5 lbs is pushing the limit without making too much of a mess.

I'm considering an Igloo type water jug and am wondering how many pounds of grains the 5 gal jug can hold. I don't want to short change myself later down the road if/when I get to all-grain and 6 gal batches. Will that fit in a 5 gal Igloo or should I get the 10 gal? And if I get the 10 gal Igloo how will that effect the temp efficiency with only 6 lbs of grains?

I'm also wondering what the sparge efficiency typically is by adding the sparge water directly to the spent grains and pulling a second running compared to what I've been doing, which is to dunk like a tea bag my grain bag in my brew pot's water followed by slowly pouring my sparge water over the grain bag and pressing it with the base of a cup, and then placing the colander with the bag into the sparge water pot to allow gravity to pull more out which I add to my brew pot periodically. This has usually given me very good efficiency that I'm seeing typically in the 80% range.

What say you all?
 

johngaltsmotor

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With my 5gal Igloo I could fit max 13lb of grain at 1.2qt/lb. My 10gal Igloo will hold 24lb + water.
For smaller batches the 5gal is better because of the height:diameter ratio of the grain bed (only really matters for fly sparge from what I have read).
If you are looking to simply use it as a dunking sparge for BIAB then I doubt there is any reason not to go for the 10g (aside from cost and space).
 

myndflyte

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If you plan on stepping up to 5 or 6 gallon all grain, just get the 10 gallon cooler.
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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I'm not keen on all of the versions of sparging. I have a LOT of reading to do! Water was easy for me to understand but mashing for some reason isn't quite so. BIAB is just soooo easy…

Another problem I'm considering is where to keep my sparge water as I'd be using my brew pot for the first runnings. It seems I'd still be using the second pot I'm currently using as my mash tun. This seems a bit excessive!

Maybe I ought to look into better insulating my koozie set up.

I certainly intend on doing 5 gal batches at the least, but there's no reason not to take advantage of the room in my fermentors and do the 6 I had been doing. I doubt the efficiency loss due to a larger cooler could be any worse than what I'm dealing with now.
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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I've also been using 1.5 qts/lb as I like knowing it covers the grains well and can easily be stirred. No harm in trying 1.25 qts/lb again though...
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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Here's my pot/koozie prior to the foam getting on the pot:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/crazy-concept-487019/

I'm thinking I could use a little more foam and then when I get styrofoam I can cut out a piece for the lid.

Part of my heat loss is obviously due to volume as well since I only use 1/2 - 2/3 of it.
 

RM-MN

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Since you are doing BIAB, mill your grains really fine and mash for less time. You don't need to hold the temperature steady for 70 minutes if your conversion is done in 20. With 20 minutes, I don't lose more than 1 degree.
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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If conversion is done within 20 mins why is a 60 min mash typical? Don't you get a higher efficiency the longer it sits?
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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I don't have a mill yet, but I've settled on one for Christmas (MM2 I believe).
 

feinbera

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Go with the 10-gallon. The five-gallon seems to work for 5-6 gallon batches on paper... but that paper will end up covered in wort when you have to vigorously stir a cooler that's full right to the brim, or add half a gallon of boiling water when you strike a bit low. I upgraded to the 10-gallon after only two batches, and due to the miracle of 3D geometry, it's only about three inches taller and three inches wider, so, storage space isn't a huge issue.

Efficiency-wise, I can tell you that with not-particularly-great LHBS crush and the n00bish technique of a guy who's only done about half a dozen all-grain batches, I reliably get between 70% and 75% efficiency into the kettle doing two batch sparges on beers with OG's around 1.050 - 1.070. The volumes do start to add up, however; I generally plan on longer boils, especially for bigger beers, to get all that sparge water evaporated down to fermenter volume.
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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A 5 gal cooler just won't cut it! Thanks!
 

RM-MN

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If conversion is done within 20 mins why is a 60 min mash typical? Don't you get a higher efficiency the longer it sits?
That's why I specified a very fine milling. With that fine of milling, my iodine test comes negative at less than 3 minutes but I let it set for 20 minutes because the beta amylase that makes the fermentable sugar takes longer than the alpha amylase although I don't know how much longer.

If your grains aren't milled as fine, mashing takes longer because you have to let those grains sit until they get wet all the way through so the enzymes get activated. Some people have such poor milling that it can take 2 hours for the conversion to be complete.
 

ndinh

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Definitely go for a 10g cooler. I have a 10g round one and with my last brew which used 13lbs of grain (1.070), my sparge water was a few inches from the top of the cooler. If you're using only one burner, you can buy another smaller cooler for your sparge water. If you have extra $$, go for a 2nd burner and another kettle. Since it's only for sparge, you can do budget and buy aluminum but obviously SS is the way to go so you won't need to upgrade later.
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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I actually brew indoors. It's too hot for too long here in TX and too many bugs that I'd be concerned about. But I also LOVE the smell in the house all day long!

And it's because I brew indoors and use the sink to chill that I prefer aluminum pots. And I recently just bought what's supposed to be an 8 gal (seems more like 7) aluminum tamale steamer.

The glass top stove sucks real bad, and so I struggle to get 5 gals to boil with the steamer portion used as a lid to allow steam to vacate. I'm waiting for my beer to mature to see if I taste the ole cream corn taste.
 

RM-MN

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I actually brew indoors. It's too hot for too long here in TX and too many bugs that I'd be concerned about. But I also LOVE the smell in the house all day long!

And it's because I brew indoors and use the sink to chill that I prefer aluminum pots. And I recently just bought what's supposed to be an 8 gal (seems more like 7) aluminum tamale steamer.

The glass top stove sucks real bad, and so I struggle to get 5 gals to boil with the steamer portion used as a lid to allow steam to vacate. I'm waiting for my beer to mature to see if I taste the ole cream corn taste.
Look for something called a heat stick. It will plug into a standard kitchen outlet and will directly heat the wort for that little extra that your stove can't provide. http://www.homebrewfinds.com/2013/11/hands-on-1000-watt-heat-stick-with-temp.html
 
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rodwha

rodwha

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I have been looking everywhere for those! I didn't know exactly what it was, but couldn't find what I figured it was. Thanks!
 
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