Sanke Mash Tun Build

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Hoosier

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Hello Everyone,

I am planning on converting a sanke keg to a direct fire mash/lauter tun. I dug around the project locater but I was unable to find anything on this. I plan on picking up a ss flase bottom for it and the construction of the lauter system is easy. My question is what are you all using for insulation and lid during the mash. Please post any advice and pic's if available. Thanks in advance.

R,
Hoosier
 

phillc

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No insulation, glass pot lid.

Mine is direct fired also. I heat half of the strike water in the HLT, and half in the MLT. This both warms up the entire MLT and cuts water heating time to less than half. I have found that using this process, there is no need for insulation. During last Saturday's brew I recirculated for a total of 4 minutes with very low heat to keep the temp at exactly 152.

Insulation is just one more cost and another thing to deal with when cleaning. Skip it!
 

redneckbeagle

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Thinking of doing this also. I have lot's of questions.

Do you have to worry about scorching?

Or are you just adding enough heat to hold the mash temp?

Do you doing any stirring during the mash time, would that clog up the false bottom?
 

Bobby_M

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I've avoided posting for a bit because I'm on the fence about sanke mash tuns. I know there are plenty of people here that have them and like them. Keep in mind, I currently brew on a direct fired sanke MLT so I'm not just speculating here.

If you want to direct fire it at any time during the mash, you really need a large false bottom in it so that the flame is heating liquid mash. In addition, you need a way to recirculate that now hot liquid back up onto the top of the grain bed to keep things from overheating. You have to be careful that you don't mill too finely or flow too quickly or you'll compact the grainbed and the false bottom will stop flowing. At that point, you'll have just a small amount of wort in the bottom, which will scorch, and your pump will lose prime. Oh, and there's no easy/cheap way of insulating while the flame is on. If you brew in ambient temps lower than 50F, trying to mash in an uninsulated tun is just wasteful.

Realizing some of these annoyances, one might suggest going to a RIMS (electric element tube exchanger) or HERMS system to avoid having to direct fire. I would agree that these options are probably a step in the right direction but once you stop direct firing, you might as well use a converted cooler as a mashtun because it's lighter, cheaper, easier to clean, and it's already insulated.
 

phillc

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Bobby_M, correct as usual. I do have a large false bottom and I do recirculate. No scorching issues.

I prefer the Sanke MLT versus the cooler because:
1. Stainless. Cleans nicely, looks pretty, durable, welded fittings.
2. Direct firing allows me to maintain temperature completely independently of my HLT. This means that I can be preparing for a consecutive brew or preparing my sparge water without needing to worry about what the MLT is doing.
3. Size. Sure I could have used a large square cooler, but I like the round one, darn it! The biggest of those that I could find is 10 gallons which limited my OG capabilities.

I moved from a cooler to the sanke and haven't looked back.

Phill
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ballegre

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Bobby_M, correct as usual. I do have a large false bottom and I do recirculate. No scorching issues.

I prefer the Sanke MLT versus the cooler because:
1. Stainless. Cleans nicely, looks pretty, durable, welded fittings.
2. Direct firing allows me to maintain temperature completely independently of my HLT. This means that I can be preparing for a consecutive brew or preparing my sparge water without needing to worry about what the MLT is doing.
3. Size. Sure I could have used a large square cooler, but I like the round one, darn it! The biggest of those that I could find is 10 gallons which limited my OG capabilities.

I moved from a cooler to the sanke and haven't looked back.

Phill
.02
So is the recommendation to use a false bottom, pick up tube and recirculation pump when using a keg for MLT? I too like the round one and want to do 10-12 gal batches.

I bought a bulkhead ball valve and braid from BargainFittings.com but I'm wondering what good is the braid. It doesn't create a siphon when draining and leaves a lot behind. Why do they even sell the braid? For coolers?

Thanks,

Bob
 

Bobby_M

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If you want to direct fire, you really do want a large false bottom. If you don't direct fire, you can use the braid but you need to run a siphon tube down to the bottom and then attach the braid. However, you'd still need to insulate the heck out of the keg if you have no way of adding heat.
 

FailureDrill

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I have a setup with a braid at the bottom. I heat my water in the mash tun with the lid on which pre-heats everything. When the flame goes off, I wrap three layers of reflectix (from Lowe's) around the container. The reflectix is attached by velcro.



Here is my mashtun insulated lid. It's two aluminum pizza plates with styrofoam insulation inside and reflectix on the outside of the interior surface. Silver reflectix taps holds it all together.


This setup works well for me. Outside temps were about 55 in my garage yesterday while brewing. I mashed in a 158.5 and an hour later it was 157.2. I really think pre-heating the entire tun is the key.
 

ballegre

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Thanks for the reply. I'm mostly interested in the braid, sparge and efficiency.

Do you have a single braid connected directly to bulkhead or connected to a pick up?

Do you find that there's a lot of wort left? Are your batches large enough so it doesn't matter?

Do you batch sparge?

Thanks,

Bob
 

Lil' Sparky

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I have a direct-fired sanke MLT. I have a sight glass installed so I can measure my strike water and heat it in the MLT. I really like being able to do this. When it's up to temp I can dough in and recirculate for a few mins. I don't use any insulation. If I did, I'd want it to be a high-temp, non-flammable type of insulation.

I have a full FB, and IMO it's the way to go with a sanke MLT. It keeps the grain bed elevated above the hot bottom when you're adding heat. I use a pump to recirculate when I'm adding heat (and sometimes during the entire mash just to keep the temps stabilized). If you let the grain rest on the bottom of the keg as you add heat, there's no way you can avoid hot spots in your mash, and if you're doing a 10 gal batch in there, stirring just isn't going to cut it, you have to recirculate. I do this to mashout and after each batch sparge addition, too and it performs a very nice vorlauf as a bonus.

Here's a pic of the inside of my MLT for your reference.



and a video of how I use it if you're interested.

 
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FailureDrill

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Thanks for the reply. I'm mostly interested in the braid, sparge and efficiency.

Do you have a single braid connected directly to bulkhead or connected to a pick up?

Do you find that there's a lot of wort left? Are your batches large enough so it doesn't matter?

Do you batch sparge?

Thanks,

Bob

I use a stainless braid wrapped copper tube attached to the bulkhead almost exactly like the one Bobby_M shows in this thread.
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/sanke-mlt-stainless-braid-56183/

I don't leave very much wort behind, especially since I started using a pump. The braid works well and since it is nearly right on the bottom, there is almost no dead space.

I usually do a double batch sparge and mostly make 5 gallon batches. My efficiency with this setup is about 75%-80%.
 

ballegre

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Sparky,

That is exactly what I was looking for, thanks so much.

So in your recirculation path, you prob the temp coming out from keg bottom so you can adjust the flame to ensure temp remains under 168*F to avoid mashing out (couldn't hear what you said on video)? It looks like your keg probe is pretty low to begin with. Is there that much of a difference?
 

Lil' Sparky

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Yeah, sorry about the horrible quality. I need to fire that narrator before I do another one, too. :D

The probe on the pump (MLT output) helps me make sure that the heated wort coming out of the bottom of the MLT isn't above the temp I'm shooting for so I don't denature the enzymes. This is particularly important if you're stepping the mash from a protein rest to a sacc rest. The probe in the mash may be 10-15º cooler than the heated wort (or more if you're not careful).

If I'm just maintaining temps, say the mash has lost 1-2º, then it only takes a min or two with the MLT output a few degrees higher than your target (very low flame) to get the temps back where you want it.

When you're just mashing out, I don't mind if the MLT output gets up to 170-175º. The MLT will reach 168º at an increase of ~ 2-4º/min.
 

Bobby_M

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I love the braid for it's ability to flow really well but I just don't like the idea of heating a mash with grain touching the bottom of the keg. Maybe it's not a problem but I imagine it would be really easy to overheat unless you can really tame the flame.
 

ballegre

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Yeah, sorry about the horrible quality. I need to fire that narrator before I do another one, too. :D

The probe on the pump (MLT output) helps me make sure that the heated wort coming out of the bottom of the MLT isn't above the temp I'm shooting for so I don't denature the enzymes. This is particularly important if you're stepping the mash from a protein rest to a sacc rest. The probe in the mash may be 10-15º cooler than the heated wort (or more if you're not careful).

If I'm just maintaining temps, say the mash has lost 1-2º, then it only takes a min or two with the MLT output a few degrees higher than your target (very low flame) to get the temps back where you want it.

When you're just mashing out, I don't mind if the MLT output gets up to 170-175º. The MLT will reach 168º at an increase of ~ 2-4º/min.
One more question. I didn't see a sight glass on your boil kettle in the video. Don't you need to know how much runnings you collected? Or are you just that confident in the BeerSmith calculations.
 

BargainFittings

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I love the braid for it's ability to flow really well but I just don't like the idea of heating a mash with grain touching the bottom of the keg. Maybe it's not a problem but I imagine it would be really easy to overheat unless you can really tame the flame.
I keep thinking about this and wonder if its an issue.

I mash in ss kettle with a braid and I have applied heat at times but I just stir it to prevent scorching. I'm not convinced a pump will recirculate fast enough to prevent it.

Guess I'll have to try it.
 

Lil' Sparky

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One more question. I didn't see a sight glass on your boil kettle in the video. Don't you need to know how much runnings you collected? Or are you just that confident in the BeerSmith calculations.
Once I got Beersmith dialed in for my rig, my final volume is usually within a qt of my target for 11 gal brews - not bad. I'm afraid the plastic sight glasses I use on the MLT and HLT would melt on a boil kettle, too.
 

kristfin

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one silly question. how fine are the holes in the false bottom?

i'm planning on building one of those myself, and i have a plate with 2mm holes in it, i was wondiering if that is fine enough?
 

msjulian

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Great video Lil' Sparky...I see that you have your probes on your thermometers installed with compression fittings. This looks like the way to go for a direct fired tun. Any tips on which ones to use and the best way to install??
 

Lil' Sparky

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I've used several different ones and they all seem to be accurate enough for my purposes - at least you can't tell by drinking my beer that I need something better. ;)

Here's how I sealed them using some tubing and compression fittings. They seal very well, but I probably need to find some silicon tubing instead of the cheap PVC stuff because it eventually wears out. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/thermosight-twist-28815/
 

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