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Mash Tun Questions.

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onescooter

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I am trying to set up an AG setup but haven't got a mash tun yet. My question is whether or not esky/cooler type setups have any problems with plastic and heat combined. I guessing there is no problems due to the large amount of people using coolers, but I thought that the plastic would leach chemicals into the brew with hot temperatures. Also is there a difference between the round drink coolers and the rectangular eskies in efficiency, because the price difference is huge ($50 for a 15l round one versus $30 for a 25l rectangular one.)
Other questions - is there a better brand i.e. better type of plastic used.
- is a 15l cooler going to be big enough for standard brews
I would really appreciate some advice because I don't wan't to waste money or worse, spoil a brew.
Thanks,
Scott. :)
 

Guest Lurker

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You dont get any taste from heating up the plastic in the esky. And if there are any toxic chemicals leaching into the beer they wont kill you any faster than the alcohol in it will. The thin walled eskies (like Willow) do warp when hot making it hard to get the lid on. The round expensive ones seem to be better insulated than the cheap square ones. Whether they are better than the thicker walled more expensive square ones I dont know. How big a batch do you want to make at what gravity? I think 15 l is almost certainly too small.
 

GMK

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agree with GL - 15ltrs is too small.

try and get at least 5gallon size - 36ltrs.
I think Goliath sells round Keep Cold Coolers 5 gallon for 80.00 ea or 100.00 for 10gallon size.

I also use a false bottom - they can be expensive 35.00 to 50.00 depending on size an dmaterials.
Alot of the guys here use SS braid hose as it is cheaper and works well.
 

JasonY

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I use a 25L plastic bucket that I have insulated. This would be the minimum volume I would recommend. You can so single batches of just about any beer (unless you are going for some mad barley wine or something ..). If you think you will move on to double batches then perhaps consider something larger like 40L?
 

Trough Lolly

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15L is too small, unless you plan on double mashing! If you refer to a standard brew as 23L of finished beer, then you need around 4 to 5 Kg of grains in the mash. And that means at least 8 to 10L of mash water in the mashtun to achieve 2L per kilo of grain in the mash and that's a pretty thick mash. And 10L of mash water and 5Kg of grains will fill up the 15L mashtun in no time - in fact, I'm not sure if you can put that much in a 15L container.

So, you will be struggling with a standard brew and have no hope of making a larger (30 Litre+) batch.
Forget 15L mashtuns unless you plan on making small batches.
Cheers,
TL
 

MAH

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GMK said:
try and get at least 5gallon size - 36ltrs.
1 US gallon = 3.8 litres
5 US gallons = 19 litres

Onescooter, it all depends on what you're trying to do. 4kgs of grain with 3 litres of mash water for every kilo of grain will require 14.67 litres of tun space. With 70% efficiency you would be able to make 22 litres of a 1.040 beer. So if all you intend doing is making traditional English bitters then a 15 litre tun is ample.

However if you want to make bigger batches or bigger beers you would need more room. But don't get caught in the trap of going TOO big TOO soon. A 25 litre rectangular esky will be a good starting point. Up until now I've been using an old 19 litre round cooler (Daddy Cool brand from the 70's). It's suited me fine, and I've had no problem with the size. The only thing you need to do is, when batch sparging, drain the tun completely, then refill with sparge water and drain again.

My suggestion is small steps.

Cheers
MAH
 

Justin

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MAH, I agree but I reckon 15L would be pushing it a bit and my opinion is 19-20L bare minimum for 5 gallon batches. I have a 19L coleman square beverage cooler. With 4.5-5kg grain at 3L/kg I'm maxed out, my tun is full to the brim. BUT the good thing about having a mash tun that is the right size for the batches you are doing is (ie. pretty full when you do a normal sized batch) is that it holds it's heat a lot better. If you have heaps of air/head space in your tun then it cools alot quicker.

For 5 gallon (23L) batches my 19L cooler can't be beaten IMHO.

Cheers, JD
 

MAH

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I'm with you JD. My old 19 litre cooler hold it's heat best when it's near capacity. Only reason I've bought a bigger mash tun is becuase I'm build a HERMS and need more room for the return manifold etc.

Cheers
MAH
 

onescooter

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Thanks all for your quick replies. I figured plastic would have to be alright but I had a little niggle in the back of my head over it. I think the choice is coming down to a rubbermaid 5 gallon which I am having problems trying to find at the moment ,but I am assured of one by Christmas, or willow 25 lt square esky which I can get right now. I'm sorry GMK, I haven't heard of Goliath eskies. I don't really know what I plan on doing yet but I don't plan on doing double batches. :)
 

wee stu

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MAH said:
GMK said:
try and get at least 5gallon size - 36ltrs.
1 US gallon = 3.8 litres
5 US gallons = 19 litres

Up until now I've been using an old 19 litre round cooler (Daddy Cool brand from the 70's). It's suited me fine, and I've had no problem with the size. The only thing you need to do is, when batch sparging, drain the tun completely, then refill with sparge water and drain again.
I agree MAH, size certainly isn't everything in this world :lol:

I too am currently using a 19L Daddy Cool (pauses to acknowledge surprise sponsor - GMK), and am quite happy with it, especially at the lower gravity ranges.
You don't have to have a massive OG or ABV (and the larger grain bill this implies) to make a quality, flavoursome all grain beer.
And, as both MAH and Justin have indicated - a well filled, appropriately sized, esky can significantly assist in achieveing the temperature stability you are looking for in the mash.
 

wedge

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I've only got a willow esky, its does warp and does loose about 2 degrees over the mash. Personally i would get a esky from goliath, it allowes you flexibility with how large a batch you can make. If you have a 5 gallon esky with 6 kg of grain you will not hold enough especially if you want to batch sparge.

But thats only my 2 cents worth.
 

sosman

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I converted my Willow mashtun back to an esky and bought a 45 litre rectangular jobby.

Works a treat for me - can batch sparge my regular brews (32+ L pre boil) in a single batch.

I was worried before I bought it that it might be too big (lots of dead air space) - that is not a problem.

Some pics of the only time I used the smaller esky at:
brewiki: all grain 1

Pics of newer mashtun (not in action):
brewiki: batch sparge
With this setup I have been getting 90% efficiency, apart from one brew which was 83%.
 

Duff

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Nice article on batch sparging sosman. I am planning my first AG next weekend and this will certainly help in the process of getting through the mash stage.

Cheers - Duff.
 

johnno

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sosman said:
I was worried before I bought it that it might be too big (lots of dead air space) - that is not a problem.
I have a 48 Qt Igloo and only do part mashes with around 3 kilos of grain. There is a lot of dead air space but it holds the temp perfectly. For an esky that I purchased in '88 and have used on countless occasions it is the bees knees.
I would thouroughly recomend an Igloo if the budget allows it.

cheers
 

sosman

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Duff said:
Nice article on batch sparging sosman. I am planning my first AG next weekend and this will certainly help in the process of getting through the mash stage.
No worries and thanks. The trick is not to complicate it - if you dont hit your temperatures then relax, the beer will almost certainly come out ok and the odds are that this won't be your last brew. In any case the temperatures vary throughout the mash.

I just updated the page now after reading it again. If this is any help I assume that the esky soaks up as much heat as 1.3L of water (it is a 45L rubbermaid rectangular esky).

Isn't it spooky how similar we look in real life?
 

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