MLT Decision

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Myrdhyn

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Well, it seems I've been bitten by the AG bug. I'm starting to gather my equipment now. I plan on picking up a turkey fryer/propane burner for boiling, building an immersion chiller for cooling, and building a MLT out of a cooler. The problem is I can't decide which cooler to go with.

I've got it narrowed down to two, possibly three, options. The main two considerations are:

5 gallon Igloo round beverage cooler - Available for $20

-OR-

12 gallon Cube type cooler - Available for $25

-OR-

The third potential option is that I've heard rumors of a 7gallon round beverage cooler (haven't checked all the Walmarts in town yet) that also has my interest piqued and might shoot for a happy medium between the two if I can find it.

I'm not forseeing going to 10g batches any time soon, but I would like flexibility to brew a wide range of styles/wide range of SGs. I'd say I'll probably average in the 1.050-1.070 range, but could go lower for some session beers or higher for some barleywines and the like. I would just go with the 12gallon cooler, but grain bed-depth has me concerned on <=1.050 batches. So I guess what it boils down to is, if I buy the 12g cooler, am I going to screw myself if I try to brew a 60/- or something like that? Or should I just quit stressing, buy the 12g I'm leaning towards, and attack it with tools/hardware/beer?

And before someone asks, yes I've done many searches, and I've spent hours upon hours reading here and elsewhere (including both Papazian and Palmer) trying to decide this.
 

The Pol

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The 7 gallon beverage cooler costs just as much in most stores as the 10 gallon.

You will regret getting the 5 gallon, they are very small.

So, Id recommend the 12 gallon with a 1/2" ball valve fitting.

But, whatttaaa I know??? Do what you like
 

ajwillys

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Not the 5!! 7 would get you 15 pounds of grain at 1.5 quarts/pound ratio so it would work but you won't be able to make much of anything with the word 'imperial' in front of it.

I'd go 10 or larger...
 

tipicreeper

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+1 on the 10g.
I bought two 5's about 3 months ago. I have already grown out of them with double & triple batch sparging.
Cheers
-David
 
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Myrdhyn

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So, I guess the real question is, will I have any problems with grain bed depth in a 48qt cooler with a grain bill of say 6-8lbs for some smaller beers?
 

rico567

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I'm also on the verge of doing the cooler MLT conversion. It's my understanding from the sources I've read that getting anything below a 10 gal. cooler for 5 gal. batches would be a mistake. Right now I'm focused on the 10 gal. Rubbermaid, but the price of the 12 gal. Igloo cube seems attractive.....
 
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Myrdhyn

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That 12gal Cube @ $25 is at Big Lots, so I don't know how much luck you will have finding it. Definitely worth a look if you have one in town though.

I think I've pretty much decided that's what I"m going with. It doesn't come with a spout/spigot but it has a place where one would go and a small indention/slope down to it, so I can drill my own custom hole and go with under mounted drain tube as in this thread:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/my-super-efficient-5-gallon-mash-lauter-tun-92724/

Probably going to shamelessly steal from his design just scaled up larger (sans-fly sparge manifold for now) if I go with this cooler.
 

Catt22

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50 quart Igloo Ice Cube Marine. Here's a cut sheet on one, but I would bet you could find them cheaper at Dick's or Wally World:

Ice Cube 50 Marine Ice Chest

A drain valve is very easy to install on the Ice Cube. You will appreciate the 12 gal capacity and that should take you up to the 1.070 gravity limit unless you happen to get extraordinary efficiency. Don't worry about the grain bed depth. Some of the experts suggest that a thinner grain bed is better than a deep one. Opinions will vary on this and there is probably an optimum depth. A thinner grain bed is less likely to compact and hinder the sparge or recirc. That makes a thinner grainbed attractive for me, but my grainbed depth is dictated by the size of my mash tun. I have a ten gallon MT and I'm looking to upgrade to a 60 quart one soon. I like to brew 11-12 gallons at a time and for higher gravity beers the 10 gallon MT just doesn't have the capcity I need. You may not see ten gallon batches in your future, but the rest of us do!
 

Yankeehillbrewer

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I just bought the 38qt Igloo w/wheels from Wal Mart for $20. It's plenty big, I figure I can do a 5g batch of 1.105 barleywine in it, but would probably have to lower my amount of water I use. The inside dimensions of the cooler are crutial to know,IMO. That way you can figure out your grain bed depth. FWIW, Palmer explains how to estimate grain bed depth on p.288 in the hardcopy of How To Brew.:mug:
 
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Myrdhyn

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Well, I picked up the 48qt cube today. $27 out the door at Big Lots.

I also scored another little gem: 50ft of 3/8" Flexible/refridgerator grade copper tube for $25.00 ($27 out the door) at a local discount merchandise shop. For anyone in North Alabama, this would be the Mike's Discount Merchandise in Huntsville, they had stacks and stacks of the stuff, as well as shorter amounts.

So now I've got the base for a 12gallon MLT and a 50ft copper IC. Just have to make a list of fittings, and head back out to grab them from Lowes.
 

Cookiebaggs

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Well, I picked up the 48qt cube today. $27 out the door at Big Lots.

I also scored another little gem: 50ft of 3/8" Flexible/refridgerator grade copper tube for $25.00 ($27 out the door) at a local discount merchandise shop. For anyone in North Alabama, this would be the Mike's Discount Merchandise in Huntsville, they had stacks and stacks of the stuff, as well as shorter amounts.

So now I've got the base for a 12gallon MLT and a 50ft copper IC. Just have to make a list of fittings, and head back out to grab them from Lowes.

Good call on getting the 12 gallon. You would have been kicking yourself later for not spending the little bit extra. Nice score on the copper too!
 
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