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Mash Tun Insulated Keg Vs Cooler

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Wax

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I've got a query about the pro's and con's of different mashing vessles. Most of the more serious hb setups I've seen use an insulated keg as a mash tun. Is there any real advantage of using in using a keg over a cooler or esky, other than it looking pretty?

Cheers
Wax
 

Darren

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Wax said:
I've got a query about the pro's and con's of different mashing vessles. Most of the more serious hb setups I've seen use an insulated keg as a mash tun. Is there any real advantage of using in using a keg over a cooler or esky, other than it looking pretty?

Cheers
Wax
Hey wax,
Pros for a keg:
Are that if you are under desired mash temp GENTLE bottom heat can be applied to raise the temp. Also useful for mash-out if you desire.

Cons: Insulating a keg is difficult. A fair bit of heat is lost through the top and bottom

Pros for esky: Well insulated.

Cons. Applying additional heat is almost impossible.
I have no basis for the next comment but I was always under the impression that eskys were to keep things cool. When I mashed in an esky I was always concerned about leaching stuff at high temps.
Anyone else here know anything about plastic and heat?
D
 

pint of lager

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Pro for insulated keg, cheap.

Re plastic and heat, this has always concerned me. The esky is designed for cold things all wrapped in their own unique layer of plastic. Plastic does take on aromas, ever sniffed a bait esky?

Seal up a clean dry fermenter for a week, open the lid and take a sniff, mmmmmm, plastic. This is one reason why I have gone the SS path for mashing and fermenting.
 

AndrewQLD

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I Have just scored three 50 lt kegs and hope to go the road that asher took,
can anyone tell me what to insulate the mash tun with???
 

Gulf Brewery

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Hi Andrew

I made another skin around the outside of the keg. I used a pink insulation bat then wrapped aluminium sheeting around it. The top and bottom that you can see in the pic is flashing that has been cut every 25-30mm so that it would bend. The whole lot is pop riveted together.

Cheers
Pedro

Flashing_on_Mash_Tun.JPG
 

AndrewQLD

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Top Idea Pedro, do you apply heat directly to the mash tun? I plan to use gas burners would this in any way damage the insulation??

Thanks
Andrew
 

Asher

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Pedro, Andrew, All

I used a yoga mat - Its like an oversized camp mat. It was cheap and can be easily remove for cleaning of the tun.

I was expecting a larger thermal mass than it actually had when I first used my keg tun. My initial mash temp for the first lager settled out at 70deg. Easily fixed with a cold water addition... but I was using kirin base malt and suspect its a bit like galaxy and the damage was done in the first 5 mins..... wont be a very dry lager...

That reminds me...
Con - Cleaning a Keg mash tun is a bitch, you end up with grain everywhere especially if you still have the handles on the top of the keg.....

Asher for now

Stay tuned.... I'm going automatic temp controlled HLT this weekend.. I've got the digital temp control, solenoid valve & a pilot light.... here we go....
 

Murray

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I guess the major advantage with coolers is that they make it easier for people to get into mashing. It is a simple matter of putting a tap and a manifold in it and infusion mashing away.

Obviously with experience this advantage decreases, thus more experienced people tend to upgrade to kegs, making available coolers for a next generation of mashers :)

As to plastic taste/retained smell, I haven't noticed this at all, though that is not to say that it is not there. I'm using a cooler that was originally intended as a drinks cooler like the ones used to hold gatorade for sports-people, so it would be food-grade, at least at low temperatures.
 

Gulf Brewery

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Andrew

I heat the keg directly with gas and the gas flame is contained under the keg. The flashing at the bottom stops the heat getting direct to the pink batt. Most insulation is flame proof as well (I haven't really tried to burn one yet).

Cheers
Pedro
 

lou

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AndrewQLD said:
I Have just scored three 50 lt kegs and hope to go the road that asher took,
can anyone tell me what to insulate the mash tun with???
And where may i ask to you find such items?

I'm looking at getting a boiler and these sem the best bet
 

devilsaltarboy

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I swear by my insulated plastic mash tun, with its set and forget mentality. I bought myself a 10 gal rubbermaid and false bottom from esb. It is simple, once you know the system you get a feel of the thermal mass, I hit my temperature nearly every time. Maybe the keg setup is good for those with the appropriate skills but the rubbermaid although more expensive is far simpler.
 

AndrewQLD

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[And where may i ask to you find such items?
]

Um, I got mine from a scrap metal yard, I think!!

Seriously if you live in a major city try the scrap metal yards, they quite often have ex brewery stock and you can pick them up fairly cheaply.
 

chiller

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10 gallon [US] Rubbermaid here.

Absolutely no problems with plastic flavours. A very long discussion was held on rec.crafts.brewing on the plastics used in these vessels. As you can imagine many "opinions" were voiced but occassionally a chemist or the like would provide info on the materials used.

A tum of the size I have is fine for doing step mashes using additions of hot water but I can attest that a 2400w heat stick waved around in the wort can create an instant smoked beer.

The advantage of the cooler mash tun is the flat bottom that reduces the losses during sparging.

I'm certain my rubbermaid won't last as long as a SS keg but my vote is definately for the cooler/mash tun.

Probably the only keg/mashtun I'd consider is the insulated design Pedro has made. I've seen this in action and it holds temp as well as my Rubermaid with about the same amount of brewers effort.

I have been trying to reduce the amount of weight I have to haul around on brewday so I have retired my SS HLT and Boiler for Aluminium pots [50litre]. My rubbermaid while a reasonable weight is still manageable.

Steve.
 

JasonY

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One other point is that if you are likely to have future ambitions for making a HERMS or RIMS system it will be a lot easier to drill holes in a keg than an esky. Just a thought.
 

GMK

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JasonY said:
One other point is that if you are likely to have future ambitions for making a HERMS or RIMS system it will be a lot easier to drill holes in a keg than an esky. Just a thought.
lost me on this one JasonY

Why would you drill holes in your mash tun for a hermes sytem.

Dont really need to drill holes in the HLT for a hermes system either.
 

JasonY

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Ahh yes ... that would be the kettle with the coil in it ... doh! Forget what I said :)
 

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