What size mash tun

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lostspring

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Ok I am ready to make the switch to AG brewing.
I want to stay with five gal batches and I want to start with batch sparging.
What size cooler should I start with?
I believe I will make a manifold using cpvc piping.
Is there any consensus as to whether slots or holes are best?
Thanks
 

brewmasterpa

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the 10-gallon rubbermain works great for 5-gallon batches. more than enough room to do even a barley wine in the 10-gallon. i do 10 gallon batches in my rubbermaid and theres just enough room. esiest to deal with for false bottoms, theyre readily available, and you can put a ball lock valve on easily.
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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Yeah I just made the switch myself and I asked a friend of mine what he did and what he would do differently. He said he got a 5 gallon cooler and he is now looking to upgrade to the 10 gallon.

I got a 10 gallon "Home Depot" (rubbermaid) cooler for $38 which I was pretty excited about. I also went with a copper manifold which ended up being a bit expensive but it was fun. I cut slots in it but I have really only made one batch in it and got really poor efficiency. However from what I can tell it was my process not my equipment.
 

humann_brewing

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+1 on the 10 rubbermaid.

Don't get the 5 gallon or you will be disappointed after a few brews even doing 5 gallon batches unless you just do light beers.
 

wilserbrewer

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I like the 48 qt rectangular rubbermaid "victory" coolers w/ a braid for batch sparging.

Walmart.com: Rubbermaid 48 Qt. Victory Ice Chest: Camping

Or the coleman 28 qt

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00682569000P?mv=rr
I find 28 qt is a convenient size for most five gallon batches. Not the thing for "big" beers though. These are dirt cheap....15 - 20 bucks tops

I like the rectangular for the following reasons:

easier to stir
cheaper
not as tall...cuts down on overall "height" of brew rig
 

malkore

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Don't get the 5 gallon or you will be disappointed after a few brews even doing 5 gallon batches unless you just do light beers.

depends on your idea of light beers. I've done a 1.062 OG porter in my 5gallon MLT, 5 gallon batch. Sure it was tight, but it wasn't a problem.

I do have a 10gal MLT too, but if I"m not making a big big beer, I lose a lot of strike temp to the excess headspace.

So, if you don't go over 1.060 or 12-13lbs of grain, the 5gal is sufficient. If you do, go with a 10gal, or do both like me :)
 

the_bird

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I've been great with a 9-gallon Coleman Xtreme. Just double-checked last weekend, two degrees lost over a sixty-minute mash. Plenty big for almost any beer that I'd make; if you're doing anything HUGE, you might go for bigger but I'm fine with what I've got. I'd almost hesitate on using the 70-qt for 5 gallon batches; the 36-qt "fits" good, I'd be worried that all the extra space in a 70-qt might cause more temperature loss. The 36 gives a nice "mash-mass"-to-cooler-volume ratio.
 

jjayzzone

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I like the 48 qt rectangular rubbermaid "victory" coolers w/ a braid for batch sparging.

Walmart.com: Rubbermaid 48 Qt. Victory Ice Chest: Camping

Seems a little different from the one I bought at wal-mart, but ya, It was a 48 quart, 20 dollar cooler. Works great.

My manifold is made with cpvc with slots cut. Be aware that 1/2" cpvc crosses are nearly impossible to find, and when you find them, they are very expensive. I have five lengths in my manifold, so I needed a cross for the middle one. Try to keep it to four lengths to avoid the cross problem. I ended up cutting a hole in the back of a tee, then cutting a port off of another tee and "saddling" it onto the other tee with the hole. It is attached with CPVC glue....not sure how long that will hold.

Also, it seems to be good practice to not glue all of the pieces together.....easier to clean.
 
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lostspring

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Thanks guys
I guess I will go for the 36 or 40 gt.
Now to get a manifold measured and built.
Any consensus on holes or slots?
 

the_bird

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First question is whether you plan to batch or fly sparge. If the former, get a length of SS braid and use that (that's what I do). Easier and cheaper.

I should say, too, that I don't have any evidence the 70-qt Xtreme does any worse of a job maintaining temps, just that I was worried it would and therefore I've got the smaller one. For me, the ideal size would probably be 48-qt, so that I could do a bigger beer a little more easily as well as do step infusions a bit easier. But, the basic design of the Xtreme is outstanding for homebrewing.
 

zman

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I use the Coleman 70qt Extreme and a Bazooka screen and I have done only 5g batches so far. I noticed a 1-3 degree drop in temp at the most.
 

janzik

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I've been great with a 9-gallon Coleman Xtreme. Just double-checked last weekend, two degrees lost over a sixty-minute mash. Plenty big for almost any beer that I'd make; if you're doing anything HUGE, you might go for bigger but I'm fine with what I've got. I'd almost hesitate on using the 70-qt for 5 gallon batches; the 36-qt "fits" good, I'd be worried that all the extra space in a 70-qt might cause more temperature loss. The 36 gives a nice "mash-mass"-to-cooler-volume ratio.


FWIW, I preheat my mashtun while my strike water is heating up. My most recent 5 gallon batch was 13.5lbs w/4.25 gallons of water (~1.25qt/lb) and I mashed at 154 and only lost 1 degree over 90 minutes, and I sort of got it back during that time frame if I jiggled the cooler. So I'm pretty happy with how the Coleman Xtreme 70qt(17 gallon) performs.

I will keep a close eye on this, because my father said he was losing temperature, but I don't know if it was because he was screwing with opening the lid and whatnot during the mash....
 

michaelm

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I used a round 10 gallon gott cooler... I went with the round cooler because I wanted something big enough to do ANY beer I wanted but with a small enough footprint it would ensure I have a good grain bed for the smaller beers too......

With a braid your good to go on batch sparging... but making a effecient manifold for a round cooler is a pain in the butt!!! and I ended up going with a false bottom another big expense.... :(

if I had only know about the coolers in this thread
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/my-super-efficient-5-gallon-mash-lauter-tun-92724/

I would have DEFINATLY went with the 10 gallon version of this cooler....

its tall but narrow like the round coolers thus making sure you have a good grain bed depth no matter what size beer you making.... plus its square so making a manifold is cakework.... a few bucks for cpvc pipe and a handfull of fittings sure beats the hell outta a 50 dollar stainless false bottom... and the cooler itself is ALOT cheaper!!!


If I had to do it all over again I would have went with the 10 gallon square colman water cooler....
 

dutch101st

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I did the HD thing as well and got the 5 and 10 gallon versions, outfitted them both with ball valves and MoreBeer's false bottoms- the 10 gallon I have rigged to fly sparge. And since I had a question on this, I may as well post it here too...

My initial intent was to use the 10 gal as my MLT and my 5 Gal as my HLT; the 10 gal is set up for fly sparging but now I am considering doing batch sparging.

Here's my question and it all comes down to capacity (I am ONLY doing 5 gallon brews at this time and for the foreseeable future): My grain bill is going to roughly be 9-12 lbs- do I stick with my inital rig, 10 MLT/5 HLT or do I change it- 5 MLT/10 HLT? And do I fly or batch being an utter noob to AG?

I am doing my FIRST AG the first week in May.
 

Anthony_Lopez

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that with rectangular coolers, you have to worry about your grain bed depth depending on the batch size, grain bill etc. I use a 10 gallon round cooler with a stainless steel false bottom. If you ever want to try fly sparging, you are going to want a round cooler. Thats the other advantage. Round coolers do just as well as rectangular ones for batch sparging, but you'll be up sh*ts creek if you wanna fly sparge in a rectangular.
 

Boar Beer

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the 10-gallon rubbermain works great for 5-gallon batches. more than enough room to do even a barley wine in the 10-gallon. i do 10 gallon batches in my rubbermaid and theres just enough room. esiest to deal with for false bottoms, theyre readily available, and you can put a ball lock valve on easily.



I agree with Brewmaster ------10 gallon rubbermaid
 

NateKerx

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I use a 38 qt igloo wheelie with a cpvc manifold and valve. The manifold is shaped like a box with one cross piece. I used 1/8 or 1/16 holes, cant remember which. It works great, took forever to drill out though.

Install the manifold holes down and you wont get stuck sparges unless you're really asking for them.

I just dry fitted my manifold, I wouldnt mess with cement or anything
 

the_bird

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that with rectangular coolers, you have to worry about your grain bed depth depending on the batch size, grain bill etc. I use a 10 gallon round cooler with a stainless steel false bottom. If you ever want to try fly sparging, you are going to want a round cooler. Thats the other advantage. Round coolers do just as well as rectangular ones for batch sparging, but you'll be up sh*ts creek if you wanna fly sparge in a rectangular.

OTOH, the rectangular coolers are about half the price of round coolers. $20 seems to be the common price for my cooler; the 10-gallon Rubbermaids that I've seen have been more like $40. Since rectangular is JUST as good as round for fly sparging (and I'll argue that the Xtreme has a particularly good design because of the channel at the bottom), it's potentially an extra $20 for a capacity that many of us never employ (especially since fly sparging also requires a manifold, rather than a simple SS mesh).
 
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