wooden mash tun

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anderj

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I was having a conversation during a brew session the other day about a historically accurate (or at least some aspects of it) home brewery. Basically using wood and copper. Seeing as how a copper boil kettle is out of the question, I was wondering what it would take to make a wooden mash tun. My initial ideas lean toward a square or rectangle footprint rather than a round one. I really couldn't be that hard. I do have a few points that I would like some advice on.
-What type of wood would be the best, I would probably use 1'' thick planks of some sort of hardwood.
-barring any stainless, what would be the best way to sparge? No standard false bottom. How did the Germans do it 300 years ago, a separate lauter tun? Drill a crap load of holes through a wooden false bottom?
Just a thought at this point, but might become a serious project after the solar conversion.
-Ander
 

Catt22

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Ya know, I've often thought that one could use a half whiskey or wine barrel as a mash tun. That's probably something similar to what they used in more primitive times. A spigot of some kind would be useful and most any kind of a screen/mesh braid or manifold would likely work. Not that I have any interest in actually trying this, but it did cross my mind at one time. You could also line the barrel with some type of coarsely woven cloth to act as a screen. The cloth should probably be boiled first to reduce or remove anything that might leach out in the mash. A whiskey barrel would need to be filled hot water and drained repeatedly to remove/minimize any remaining whiskey from the wood exposed to the mash. It might be difficult to completely eliminate anything from leaching out of the wood, but it could be brought down to a very low level I would think. As for solar mashing, you could cover the mash tun with black plastic and set it out in the summer sun for most of the day and it should get up to conversion temperatures easily. I have no idea what the end product might be like, but in an apocalyptic scenario, one might still be able to brew beer the very, very old fashioned way if you could procure the ingredients somehow. Acquiring some decent yeast might be the biggest obstacle.
 

wilserbrewer

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I believe i read somewhere that the first mash tun screens were made w/ evergreen branches to filter the barley. Maybe a nice spruce beer.
 

67coupe390

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I believe i read somewhere that the first mash tun screens were made w/ evergreen branches to filter the barley. Maybe a nice spruce beer.
Or maybe some type of hide with holes poked in it. I think that they had fire back in the day so you could maybe seperate the flame from the barrel with a large flat rock. I think all you have to do is think of things that are not man made and go from there. I'm sure all is game are forfathers were quite good at making what they needed to live. You do the trial and error and when your done I'll follow!!!!LOL Very cool keep us posted.
 

harley03

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That is a very interesting theory. I wonder if you could use something like an old whiskey barrel to mash in. I do not see why it would not work. If it doesn’t I would like someone to speak up and let us know why.
Not saying that I would go from using my cooler to this, but maybe use the barrel for special or period type brews.
 

Ryan_PA

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I remember reading that spruce was the original sparging device in the brewing process too. Since it is in the mash, it does not impart the flavors to the same intensity boiling would.

How would you approach making liquid tight seals at the joints? Silicone? Homemade pitch?
 
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anderj

anderj

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How would you approach making liquid tight seals at the joints? Silicone? Homemade pitch?
I am not quite sure but I was thinking cotton. I may loose some liquid but I don't think that it would be enough to really matter. My general plan is to build a box, 20x20x12, with the sides all cut on the 45. Place a bit of cotton in the joints and use a ratchet strap (yea I know) to really clamp them down. I think it wold be a pretty big challenge to go all rustic right off of the bat.
-ander
 

clemson55

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I think this is a cool idea trying to do a brew with historic equipment.

First question is how much home brewing do you think there was? I'm betting most people just boiled some stuff in a kettle and let it ferment in a big jug which would have been some sort of clay product.

Second if someone was doing a larger quantity/more advanced homebrewing why do you think they would use a wooden box? There were plenty of types of metal available and metal workers. If you were brewing more you probably could have afforded to upgrade a little. If you were brewing that much you probably weren't dirt poor if you were dirt poor then you werent brewing you had bigger worries like eating.

Third I think the box is the wrong approach I think a barrel would have been the weapon of choice if you were using wood. People have known how to make barrels for a long time and they are pretty damn water tight. Why would you make a box and have to figure out how to waterproof it when there were perfectly good barrels.

Just my .02
 
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anderj

anderj

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I was going to try and get through this thing without buying a barrel, maybe not. It is still a ways off. I think building a box would be a better solution than a $300 barrel.
-ander
 

FSR402

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I was going to try and get through this thing without buying a barrel, maybe not. It is still a ways off. I think building a box would be a better solution than a $300 barrel.
-ander
Look around. Founders Brewery in GR MI will sell you a used one for $20. So I know you can find them.
 

mrbowenz

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I was having a conversation during a brew session the other day about a historically accurate (or at least some aspects of it) home brewery. Basically using wood and copper. Seeing as how a copper boil kettle is out of the question, I was wondering what it would take to make a wooden mash tun. My initial ideas lean toward a square or rectangle footprint rather than a round one. I really couldn't be that hard. I do have a few points that I would like some advice on.
-What type of wood would be the best, I would probably use 1'' thick planks of some sort of hardwood.
-barring any stainless, what would be the best way to sparge? No standard false bottom. How did the Germans do it 300 years ago, a separate lauter tun? Drill a crap load of holes through a wooden false bottom?
Just a thought at this point, but might become a serious project after the solar conversion.
-Ander
Ask as many questions as you like , I am way deep into this and in process of re-working my setup with more copper kettles and coils :

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/historical-brewing-equipment-72760/
 
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anderj

anderj

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Ask as many questions as you like , I am way deep into this and in process of re-working my setup with more copper kettles and coils :

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/historical-brewing-equipment-72760/
Thanks for the info, if anything it turned me on to brewers pitch, which, well, just makes perfect sense for sealing everything up. I don't know if I am ready to ferment in wood though. I guess you could steam it for 1/2 an hour and it should kill anything in there.
 

clemson55

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To bad you arent in SE VA this weekend at Williamsburg is a 3 hour session on brewing in the 18th century. I'm thinking about attending.
 
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