Which cooler to get...

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

talleym0nster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2008
Messages
127
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Vegas
I'm looking at building my MLT and HLT next weekend. I'm trying to decide on a cooler. Right now I've narrowed it to two:


50 qt Igloo Ice Cube


or




Igloo 60 Qt. Ice Cube Roller Cooler




I like the 50 qt better for it's design and price.(I'll be buying two of them) I'm not crazy about the wheels on the other one because they put the drain opening higher up from the bottom of the cooler. I don't need the wheels or the pull handle.

I'm torn between the two. I guess it really comes down to capacity.

12.5 gallons or 15 gallons.

Can I get by with the 12.5 gallon cooler? Will I be able to brew bigger beers with it later on?

Please chime in with your experiences with either of these coolers, or any advise you may have.
 

Bob

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
3,928
Reaction score
167
Location
Christiansted, St Croix, USVI
What is your intended brew length? 5 gallons? 10? Even for a 10-gallon brew length the 12.5-gallon tun should suffice for all but the biggest beers. A mash tun and kettle evenly matched according to size max out at ~1.070, in my experience. If you want to go bigger than that, I recommend a double batch brew day or - better yet - brewing 5-gallon batches two days in a row. Let your previous day's batch get a nice, strong start to fermentation, then cast a fresh bitter wort right on top of it. Commercial breweries do that all the time with big beers.

Cheers,

Bob
 
OP
talleym0nster

talleym0nster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2008
Messages
127
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Vegas
5 gallon batches.....but in the future I could possibly do 10 gallon batches and split the wort between 2 fermenters.
 

devaspawn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
937
Reaction score
3
Location
Central VA
I use a 10 gallon Igloo cooler. I brewed a 1.110 Wee Heavy without any problems whatsoever. I even had a 2 gallon Mashout and still had no troubles. This was for a 5 gallon batch. If you want to do 10 gallon batches in the future I am not sure that a 15 gallon vs a 12.5 gallon would be significant enough to compensate for a higher drain spout and the inconvenience it causes as you are already willing to split the mash. This comes from a person who brews at least once a week. I know that tilting my tun every weekend would just become annoying. If you brew once a month or so maybe it wouldn't be as annoying.

:tank:
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2008
Messages
5,902
Reaction score
62
Location
Eastern Colorado
LOOK inside that dang 60 QT!
Make sure it doesn't have a drain valve that goes in at a 45 Degree angle. I can't think that would be anything other than a pain in the ass to build a manifold for, and if you bazooka it, you'll have like 4" of dead space in the bottom.
I was so depressed...they were on sale at WalMart today :(
 

BarleyWater

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2007
Messages
2,199
Reaction score
28
Location
Elmhurst
DON'T DO IT. The 60qt as BigK said, will leave you with a TON of deadspace in the bottom, killing your efficiency. I have the 50qt, and it sucks. It was a waste of money because it can't hold temp for ****. I lost 8 degrees during my mash earlier this week, and that was outside in 90 degree weather, and I had to add some boiling water half way through to not lose any more heat.

The lids on those coolers aren't insulated either, and they will lose their ability to seal very tightly after a few batches, I can see a little steam coming out of mine with the lid closed. I have had mine for about 15ish batches now, and it is worthless. It used to only lose maybe 4 degrees brand new, which still sucks but is usable. I will be getting a new MLT before my next batch.
 

devaspawn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
937
Reaction score
3
Location
Central VA
Regardless of what cooler you use, I recommend drilling a few small holes in the lid and spraying Great Stuff in it. I consistently have a 60 to 90 minute mash and have never lost an entire degree to it once (Don't have decimals on my digital therm). In fact, once, I had a two hour rest and I didn't lose anything. I can't speak to the loss of seal on the square coolers as I don't have one. My friend has lost 1 to 2 degrees of heat consistantly on his cylindrical 5 gallon cooler and he has not insulated the lid as I have.

:tank:
 

devaspawn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
937
Reaction score
3
Location
Central VA
I actually used the product that they have in the plumbing aisle at Home Depot. It's fire retardent and at the time in my excitement to go AG I equated that with better insulation for heat and my purposes. It's like $3 more a can than the regular Great Stuff you can buy in the paint area. I suspect the insulation factor for both products is roughly equal. I am glad you replied to my response or otherwise I might not have remembered to mention that. I felt stupid after I calmed down about switching to AG and have intended to mention it everytime I mention the product so as to help people save $3 to $6 for the project.

:tank:
 

Diablotastic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2007
Messages
217
Reaction score
0
Location
Northbridge, MA
I convereted a 52 qt coleman extreme...only used it once and I think I only lost like 2 degrees....held without any loss for the last 1/2hr when I put a couple of weights and a blanket over it.

It converts fairly nicely too as the spigot comes up at an angle and I didn't have to use any 45's to get up to the cooler bottom with my manifold

DSC02435.jpg
 

drew91

Active Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
Location
Austin, TX
I'll second the recommendation for a Coleman extreme. I lost one degree over an hour last weekend in my 70qt. It worked just fine for a 5.5 gallon batch and should be fine for 10 gallon batches if I decide to step up. The only downside would be that it cost about twice what the 50 qt Igloo cost. They're about $38 at wallyworld.

 

mmb

"I just got a new pet toaster!"
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 20, 2008
Messages
40,703
Reaction score
9,910
Location
Mid Mittigan
I went with the 10G Rubbermaid drink cooler, but if I was doing it again I'd get the extreme as well.

Don't try to "save" money on the MLT cooler. It lasts forever unless you find you went too small and then have to buy a larger one.
 

Saccharomyces

Be good to your yeast...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 17, 2008
Messages
5,438
Reaction score
152
Location
Pflugerville, Texas
Just built a Coleman Xtreme 70 tun and used it this weekend for the 9-9-9. Need to post the pics. Cooler was $40 at Wally World and the copper manifold cost $70. After pre-heating it, I hit my strike temp on the nose (first time that has EVER happened) and it held within 1* for 75 minutes thanks to the superior insulation. The manifold sits flush on the bottom so there is all of one pint of dead space in this cooler. It's like it was designed for homebrewers. I looked at many, many options before I decided to upgrade to this thing, it's big enough to do 10 gallon 1.090 beers and well insulated enough for 5 gallon small beers.
 

Brew-boy

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,271
Reaction score
19
Location
Lapeer, Michigan
I have the 50qt. Igloo square cooler and love it. I use to loose a lot of heat from it during the mash until I injected the lid with liquid foam. Now it will only loos 1-2 degrees during a 75min mash. I had one brew that had 20 pounds of grain and I still had room for more.
 

heinz57

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
383
Reaction score
0
Location
Pasadena, CA
Somebody posted this awhile back, but this guy made a small business using those exact coolers.

Great for brewing both 5 & 10 gallon batches! This system will hold up to 33 pounds of grain which should get you reach gravities of 1.170+ for 5 gallons and 1.080+ for 10 gallons.
Seems that as long as you don't want to go above 1.080 on your 10 gallon batches you should be alright and if you do make a beer that's around 1.170 you're the man.

With a quick calculation it seems he's using a 75% efficiency as well, so you probably could weasel out a few more gravity points if you're as successful at sparging as several people around here.
 
OP
talleym0nster

talleym0nster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2008
Messages
127
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Vegas
Somebody posted this awhile back, but this guy made a small business using those exact coolers.
Damn. I was thinking about building an extra MLT and seeing how it does on eBay. It'd be kind of nice to make a little extra money. A quick search revealed that there is one individual selling a converted cooler MLT/HLT combo for 140$ plus shipping.

Would it be unethical for me to try and sell one (or more if they are successful) on eBay? It's not like he has a patent or anything. Besides, my unit won't be identical to his. Similar sure, but there are different ways to build a cooler MLT. There are a couple things I will do different on mine.

Free Enterprise, right?

Here is a link to his auction
 

Lenny2884

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2008
Messages
129
Reaction score
0
Location
Westwood, NJ
Where do u drill the holes to put in the foam? Length wise or right down through the top?
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2008
Messages
12
Reaction score
0
Location
Arlington, WA
dont go with the 60. I bought it and because the valve is placed so high up it is hard to get your braid to lay on the bottom properly. I had big trouble with stuck sparges because of this. I now have the Xteme and love it.
 

Saccharomyces

Be good to your yeast...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 17, 2008
Messages
5,438
Reaction score
152
Location
Pflugerville, Texas
Where do u drill the holes to put in the foam? Length wise or right down through the top?
When I insulated my Igloo I drilled a few holes down both sides of the lid. Squirting the foam in one side the excess runs out the other side as it expands, and you can trim it off when it dries. I don't really think it matters where the holes are as long as you have several.

I've since switched to the Coleman Xtreme as well as I mentioned in an earlier post. :)
 

mklawz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2008
Messages
203
Reaction score
5
Location
western burb of Chicago
I have the Igloo 50qt - I've only used it for partial mashes so far, but I'm doing my first AG this weekend.

I sprayed in Great Stuff. What I did was open up that little compartment that is for holding limes, or whatever. Cut out the bottom of that. Then sprayed in the foam. Close the little lid back down, and sealed it with caulk.

I just used a utility knife just inside the indentation for the little compartment


sealed with caulk
 

-Dan-

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2007
Messages
504
Reaction score
10
If you get the 60qt one, just drill a whole on the front to put the valve in and leave the original one where it was.
 
OP
talleym0nster

talleym0nster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2008
Messages
127
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Vegas
I have another question concerning the mash tun.....

For my sparge arm...... copper or cpvc? Is it just a matter of personal preference? Will cpvc with hold the high temps?
 

McNasty

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2008
Messages
101
Reaction score
2
Location
Madison, WI
Somebody posted this awhile back, but this guy made a small business using those exact coolers.
I bought 60 qtr one from this guy a couple weeks ago. He was super nice and shipped it in a couple days. I only used it once and it worked great. Though I forgot to check my temps during the mash, but it looks like it could use some insulation for sure in the lid. After shipping it came out to around $85.

 

MikeInCtown

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2007
Messages
423
Reaction score
3
Location
Parma Hts. OH
CPVC is made for hot water/potable water. I wouldn't hesitate for a second to use it. Only thing I would be careful with is making sure the stuff is cut cleanly and straight and that you don't use too little or too much glue as the stuff could leave places for nasties to grow.

McNasty, how does yours work and does it create a siphon effect so that the water flows uphill and then out? I went looking for a cooler today at two different WalMarts and at Target. I've been striking out. Either the coolers are too expensive $60+ or they don't have drains or even a hole location for a drain. I cannot find the 50 quart referenced but I think I may have seen one that you have.
 

mklawz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2008
Messages
203
Reaction score
5
Location
western burb of Chicago
I got my 50qt (no wheels) at Target earlier in the summer for $20. The walls are thin as h*ll but with the insulated lid I hear it's good. I'll let you know after Saturday :)
 

mmb

"I just got a new pet toaster!"
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 20, 2008
Messages
40,703
Reaction score
9,910
Location
Mid Mittigan
McNasty:

Stating the obvious, but I'm hoping that those slots on your manifold are only up for pictures.

You want those right on the bottom to help limit deadspace.
 

Alamo_Beer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2006
Messages
2,436
Reaction score
15
Location
Manor, Tx
I've got a 48qt ice cube with a cpvc manifold....works great! I've done a few 10gal batches and know for sure that it'll hold 26lb of grain when it's filled to the freakin MAX!

I would think cpvc is fine for a sparge arm but, uh....you sure you wanna fly sparge? :D
 
OP
talleym0nster

talleym0nster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2008
Messages
127
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Vegas
I think at this point in time I have decided to go with fly sparging.......unless you can convince me otherwise.

speaking of sparge arms.....I have noticed that on the cooler MLT's some have mounted their arm to the underside of the lid. How do you monitor/adjust the rate of flow? The lid would have to be down for it to work properly and you wouldn't be able to see anything....right?
 

McNasty

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2008
Messages
101
Reaction score
2
Location
Madison, WI
McNasty:

Stating the obvious, but I'm hoping that those slots on your manifold are only up for pictures.

You want those right on the bottom to help limit deadspace.
Actually, my old brewing partner came over this weekend and I was showing him the manifold and all the tubes came apart. I just stuck them back together to show him how it fits. But when the tubes are all connected it fits in tight and snug so I'm not worried it would come apart during a brew. I'll be sure to adjust them before the next batch.
 

ZacMac

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2007
Messages
108
Reaction score
0
Location
Crown Point, Indiana
At this point in the thread, for what it is worth, I have the 50qt. I have completed 5 batches of AG in it. It is my first cooler mash tun that I put together. I have never had an issue with maintaining mash temps in it. I have not added additional insulation to the lid either. I do preheat the tun with about 185 degree water and let it set for about 10-15 mins., check the temp and let it cool till it hits my desired strike temp and then mash-in. Like I said, I have never had an issue with this cooler and found it a good one to start with.

As for the fly vs. batch sparging, check out this siteAll Grain
and scroll down to the instructions titled "The Single Kettle/Burner Method with a simple picnic cooler MLT" I think the simplicity of batch sparging compared to the constant attention of water levels in the tun with fly sparging is more enjoyable. But that is me, you have to decide for yourself.

Good Luck
 
OP
talleym0nster

talleym0nster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2008
Messages
127
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Vegas
I have seen a few youtube videos of a spinning sparge arm. How does that work?
 

PseudoChef

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2007
Messages
3,401
Reaction score
117
Location
West Chicago 'Burbs
The water flowing through it just makes it spin. I don't think it's too effective with a square cooler though, they're usually for the round coolers.
 

BarleyWater

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2007
Messages
2,199
Reaction score
28
Location
Elmhurst
Eric, your setup is VERY similar to mine, except I'm in an Ice Cube. I have a copper manifold and CPVC sparge arm also, although I have to sparge with the lid open right now. Thinking of modifying it, but I'm still considering a new MLT, although I have foamed my old one now so I will probably test it out before I make the decision to switch or not. I found the 36qt Coleman Extreme at Dick's earlier today for $35.

As for the constant attention for the fly sparging, I just set it and forget it. I can pretty easily gauge the rate of flow, and just check every 10 minutes or so to make sure it's still on track.
 

Alamo_Beer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2006
Messages
2,436
Reaction score
15
Location
Manor, Tx
I tried fly sparging once with my ice cube.....I popped the lid off and set it down at an angle so I could see inside with the lid propped on it (does that make since?) It went...OK but batch sparging is SOOOO much easier (IMO :D) and I'm getting pretty consistent 80-85% efficiency and I can normally knock a brew day out in 4hrs....3.5 if I'm on crack :D
 

MikeInCtown

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2007
Messages
423
Reaction score
3
Location
Parma Hts. OH
OK, just picked up a cooler today from Walmart. (thank goodness I have a lot around me) It's a Coleman Extreme 62 quart Coleman - 62 Quart Wheeled Xtreme Cooler -

I'm hoping it will work ok for me since my batches for a while will be for 5 gallon brews. It was the only one they had though with the spigot at or below bottom of cooler level and it was opposite the wheels. Also is the 5 day version with supposedly more insulation.
 

blacklab

Banned
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
2,379
Reaction score
50
Location
Portland, ME
I think at this point in time I have decided to go with fly sparging.......unless you can convince me otherwise.
T-man...please, please consider batch sparging. I can finish a brew with lid locked on the fermenter and cleanup complete up in 3 hrs. I know you have a little one and finding brew time is tough enough. I've got two of them and if brewing took any longer, I might never get a session in. I can start up at 8.30pm and finish by midnight.

Bobby_M's website demonstrates some great ways to get solid efficiency with batch sparging. I regularly get 75%. He's even higher. I just throw another 1/2 lb of base malt in if the recipe I'm using calls for a higher efficiency.

My two cents. Good luck either way!
 
Top