Mash Tun

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redrocker652002

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I have just started BIAB method, maybe 3 or 4 under my belt with varying results, but just came upon a 10 gallon blue Igloo cooler for 25 bucks on CRaig's list. I am going to grab it to convert into a mash tun and try true all grain soon. I figure for less than 100 bucks I can convert this and give it a shot. Thoughts?
 

myndflyte

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Did a bunch of BIAB mashes in a 10 gallon cooler until I switched to electric. A no need to rig up a manifold since you're using a bag. I'd suggest putting a ball valve on it to make transfers easier.
 

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I have just started BIAB method, maybe 3 or 4 under my belt with varying results, but just came upon a 10 gallon blue Igloo cooler for 25 bucks on CRaig's list. I am going to grab it to convert into a mash tun and try true all grain soon. I figure for less than 100 bucks I can convert this and give it a shot. Thoughts?

I take firm exception to the idea of moving away from BIAB to "true all grain". If you're getting most or all of your sugar content from mashing grain, it's as true all grain as it gets. Using a bag for your separation is just as valid as any other filter you might install. The only issue with a bag in a vessel with a single small exit port is that the bag gets sucked in and will not drain. Keeping the bottom of the bag slightly off the bottom of the cooler will make a huge difference in its ability to drain. Even just laying a few lengths of CPVC down the long length of the cooler will help and almost any object placed near the drain to keep the bag from sucking in will also help.
 
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redrocker652002

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I take firm exception to the idea of moving away from BIAB to "true all grain". If you're getting most or all of your sugar content from mashing grain, it's as true all grain as it gets. Using a bag for your separation is just as valid as any other filter you might install. The only issue with a bag in a vessel with a single small exit port is that the bag gets sucked in and will not drain. Keeping the bottom of the bag slightly off the bottom of the cooler will make a huge difference in its ability to drain. Even just laying a few lengths of CPVC down the long length of the cooler will help and almost any object placed near the drain to keep the bag from sucking in will also help.
I meant no disrespect, and the only reason I am thinking of doing this is because the cooler was so cheap. And it looks like it might be a bit better to hold the mash temp than the way I am doing it now. I still have a keg full of beer and 32 bottles so this is a bit away. but, I need a cooler either way as the one I have is cracked.

Thanks for the reply, and again, no disrespect intended.
 

myndflyte

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Totally missed that you wanted to move away from BIAB. I would suggest just using the bag in the cooler. Once the mash it done, pull the bag out and drain the mash tun. But if it rectangular and you don't want to get a bag that fits a rectangular cooler, you may have no other option. I initially set my cooler up with a manifold before I got a bag and, while it worked, once I got a bag for it, I never looked back. But that is just me. Either way, a cooler is a very effective way to mash.
 

hotbeer

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For a 10 gallon insulated water cooler I hope you are well under 100 dollars!


30 - 50 might be about right.
 
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redrocker652002

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Totally missed that you wanted to move away from BIAB. I would suggest just using the bag in the cooler. Once the mash it done, pull the bag out and drain the mash tun. But if it rectangular and you don't want to get a bag that fits a rectangular cooler, you may have no other option. I initially set my cooler up with a manifold before I got a bag and, while it worked, once I got a bag for it, I never looked back. But that is just me. Either way, a cooler is a very effective way to mash.
No worries, not sure if I explained it well either. My issue with the way I am doing it is temp regulation during the mash. My kettle is not insulated thus I am fighting temp swings in the mash. I was thinking the cooler might help as it is insulated. I am thinking of trying to wrap the kettle next time with an old sleeping back or blanket and see if that helps. Ether way, thank you for the reply. Any and all input is much appreciated. RR
 

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I meant no disrespect, and the only reason I am thinking of doing this is because the cooler was so cheap. And it looks like it might be a bit better to hold the mash temp than the way I am doing it now. I still have a keg full of beer and 32 bottles so this is a bit away. but, I need a cooler either way as the one I have is cracked.

Thanks for the reply, and again, no disrespect intended.

No, I know you weren't being disrespectful. I'm just being a snarky jerk to make a point.

The bag in a cooler is viable, but it requires nailing the mash temperature since there's no easy way to restore heat without adding boiling water or a little decoction action. Insulating the kettle can work, and if it's small enough you can also try jamming it into a low temp preheated oven with all the racks removed.
 
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redrocker652002

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No, I know you weren't being disrespectful. I'm just being a snarky jerk to make a point.

The bag in a cooler is viable, but it requires nailing the mash temperature since there's no easy way to restore heat without adding boiling water or a little decoction action. Insulating the kettle can work, and if it's small enough you can also try jamming it into a low temp preheated oven with all the racks removed.
LOL. All good man, all good.
 

RM-MN

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No worries, not sure if I explained it well either. My issue with the way I am doing it is temp regulation during the mash. My kettle is not insulated thus I am fighting temp swings in the mash. I was thinking the cooler might help as it is insulated. I am thinking of trying to wrap the kettle next time with an old sleeping back or blanket and see if that helps. Ether way, thank you for the reply. Any and all input is much appreciated. RR
Are you having trouble with temperature regulation during conversion or are you having trouble with temperature regulation during the hour long mash? Those two are different things and if your problems stem from the hour long mash period, find out how long conversion really takes and worry about the temperature for that length of time. Some mashes may need less than 30 minutes, others will not be completed in 2 hours due to a really poor crush.
 

GPNewBrew

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I mash in a bag (MIAB) using a round igloo cooler and bag, sometimes over a false bottom (when I fly sparge), and sometimes with no false bottom (when I’m batch sparring. I have no problem maintaining mash temp. I usually start off with Strike water about 7-8 degrees warmer than my desired max temp, and mashing in the grain typically drops the water temp down from strike to mash. I then apply the cooler lid and don’t peek until mash is done. When I check the temp after the mash the temp is usually right on, plus or minus 1-2 deg at the most. In other words, to make a long story short, the round cooler will definitely hold temperature!
 

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The bag in a cooler is viable, but it requires nailing the mash temperature since there's no easy way to restore heat without adding boiling water or a little decoction action. Insulating the kettle can work, and if it's small enough you can also try jamming it into a low temp preheated oven with all the racks removed.
I was wondering this as well: how are you heating your mash water? do you have an electric kettle (foundry/mash-n-boil/grainfather/other/etc)? Will it be able to heat a full charge of strike water? If the answer is yes, get the cooler.

The 10gal round cooler will work pretty well with a Wilsner/Brew-Bag/other and just a SS ball lock swapped for the stock spigot.

I MAIB with a 5 gallon round igloo cooler, same setup, and works a treat.

For 5 gal/19L you may have enough volume in the cooler to do full volume MAIB, otherwise pretty close to it with batch sparging.

Just a SS ball lock and a brew bag, all you need. I'd get the cooler.
 

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Just a quick addition to my previous comments. If you're able to suspend the bag in the cooler, i.e. take the slack out, so that the bottom of the bag is not touching the bottom of the cooler, it will drain freely without any extra hardware. That works well in a round cooler. If you're using a square or rectangular cooler where it's not possible to take all the slack out, then some kind of prop, manifold, coarse false bottom or just about anything to create gaps or channels for the wort to drain and then run towards the exit, that is more ideal.
 

Malticulous

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A ball valve and a bazooka screen is all you need. No bag is necessary. I use a 70 qt cooler. With a single batch sparge I can mash a little over 30 lbs. I don't want to lift a hot bag that heavy. I don't have to. Denny brew all the way,
 

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Before my AIO, I converted a round 10 G Igloo cooler with a ball valve and used a false bottom with my BIAB (The Brew Bag). The mash temp didn’t drop more than a couple of degrees in my kitchen. After mashing, I put the bag in a colander on top for the sparge. Sometimes I miss using it.
 

Bobby_M

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A ball valve and a bazooka screen is all you need. No bag is necessary. I use a 70 qt cooler. With a single batch sparge I can mash a little over 30 lbs. I don't want to lift a hot bag that heavy. I don't have to. Denny brew all the way,
When you use a bag, you don't lift it out until it's time to clean up. You'd drain it out of the spigot just like you're doing now. The bag is just another separation medium.
 

InspectorJon

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Just thinking about it, as I have not used a cooler before. It seems like it would be a little easier to clean the grain out of the cooler if all one had to do is lift the bag out.
 
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redrocker652002

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All great info. Thank you to all. My thought it simple, it is something to try and I can do it on the cheap. LOL. I have a propane burner and a 10 gallon pot that I can heat the strike water in. Transfer it to the cooler, then retransfer it back into the pot for the boil. for 25 bucks and a few cheap parts, I might give it a go. If it doesn't work, it is a cooler I can use for the beers I will be drinking. LOL.
 
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redrocker652002

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As Denny Conn suggested to this same question in another forum yes, your cooler will make an excellent mash tun. And it can be done rather inexpensively too. Scroll down the page to see how it's done... dennybrew
That is exactly the set of instructions I was going to use. Simple, cheap and easy. I already have the screen and the valve and hoses are close by and easy to get either local or on Amazon. I am the type that likes to fool with stuff, and this is a cheap way to try it out.
 

renstyle

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I don't understand why use a bag if there is a ball valve and some kind of lauter screen? A valve and screen are cheap on amazon.

WIlliams has a screen on sale for 49¢. Cheaper than a bag.

I can't beat 49 cents, good timing on finding that 95% OFF!

I've made a few MIAB batches with some paint strainer bags from Ace Hardware, 2 pack was maybe $4.00.

I also have a Brew Bag, which is indeed more expensive, but you can get by with a paint bag.

Honestly, I'd get the screen and still use a bag if only for ease of cleanup/dumping.
 
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renstyle

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Just thinking about it, as I have not used a cooler before. It seems like it would be a little easier to clean the grain out of the cooler if all one had to do is lift the bag out.

You do need to lift wet grain out of the cooler, so takes a little effort, but beyond that cleanup is ridiculously easy.
 

renstyle

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All great info. Thank you to all. My thought it simple, it is something to try and I can do it on the cheap. LOL. I have a propane burner and a 10 gallon pot that I can heat the strike water in. Transfer it to the cooler, then retransfer it back into the pot for the boil. for 25 bucks and a few cheap parts, I might give it a go. If it doesn't work, it is a cooler I can use for the beers I will be drinking. LOL.

Having a food safe bucket to drain the mash tun into, then dumping that into your kettle will obviate the need for a pump.

Swap a Foundry kettle for your propane+pot and what you describe is pretty much what I have always done.

This 2-vessel setup also lets you use your kettle to heat up sparge water while the mash is doing its thing (well, 2 vessel plus one bucket)...
 

bwible

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Depending on what size batch you are making 10 gallons could be large. Heat/pre-heat with some hot or boiling water prior to mashing in to help maintain temp. My 5 gallon Gott cooler holds 12-13 lbs which is fine for most 5 gallon batches. 10 gallons gives you plenty of space for bigger beers like barleywine, etc or would allow you to do bigger than a 5 gallon batch.

“The bag in a cooler is viable, but it requires nailing the mash temperature since there's no easy way to restore heat without adding boiling water or a little decoction action. Insulating the kettle can work, and if it's small enough you can also try jamming it into a lo temp preheated oven with all the racks removed.”

I do smaller batches. I bought an Anvil Foundry and I use that exclusively as my mash tun. I love being able to maintain temps and even do step mashes. I do not boil in it. I drain out of it (and I get much clearer wort out than I do lifting the basket) then I boil on top of my stove. I can get away with that when I’m making 3 gallons.
 

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I don't understand why use a bag if there is a ball valve and some kind of lauter screen? A valve and screen are cheap on amazon.

WIlliams has a screen on sale for 49¢. Cheaper than a bag.

So everything is a race to the cheapest possible way of doing something? Hardly an argument especially when they are blowing out a $10 item for 49 cents. I don't use a bag in a cooler, but some of the reasons someone might want to do it is that it makes cleanup pretty easy and you can mill the grain to a near flour consistency.
 
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Malticulous

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I just brewed a 15 gallon batch a hefeweizen with my bazooka screen. Mash drained great. I used no rice hulls.
 

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Malticulous

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I can't beat 49 cents, good timing on finding that 95% OFF!

I've made a few MIAB batches with some paint strainer bags from Ace Hardware, 2 pack was maybe $4.00.

I also have a Brew Bag, which is indeed more expensive, but you can get by with a paint bag.

Honestly, I'd get the screen and still use a bag if only for ease of cleanup/dumping.
I scooped the spent grain into a bucket and froze it for my SWMBOs friends chicken's . A bag may have helped a little. I work for a living.
 
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