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5 gallon mash tun

Making the jump to all grain, and off to a shaky start. First, is a 5 gallon mash tun large enough for any all grain brew? Using the 1.5 quart/1#grist takes my first mash to 4.85 gallons. So not enough room for that one. But could I split my mash between two coolers? One with my ss braid filter, and the dump from my non-spigot cooler to my mash tun?

I’ve already used my budget up for this excursion, and wife might cut me if I have to return it and upgrade.

[quote=“jabonneau86”]Making the jump to all grain, and off to a shaky start. First, is a 5 gallon mash tun large enough for any all grain brew? Using the 1.5 quart/1#grist takes my first mash to 4.85 gallons. So not enough room for that one. But could I split my mash between two coolers? One with my ss braid filter, and the dump from my non-spigot cooler to my mash tun?

I’ve already used my budget up for this excursion, and wife might cut me if I have to return it and upgrade.[/quote]

Well, then you don’t have much choice, huh? Personally, I prefer the rectangular coolers (more space for less money) and find that a 70 qt. is a great size. You could split your mash between 2 coolers, but then you’d have to get another one.

5 gallons isn’t large enough for most 5 gallon batch beers except maybe some smaller beers.

You could split between two coolers but it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth.

Personally, I purchased a 48 qt rectangular cooler, 6’ of 3/8" hose, a stainless clamp and a stainless hot water heater hose for like $25. Nothing fancy but works like a champ.

I’m all about easy work. Might just return it all and go with the cheap version. Thought I would go all fancy and look where it got me.

How big is your kettle? Have you considered BIAB(Brew In A Bag) mashing?

You can brew all-grain in a 5 gallon tun up to about 1.050. You can go even higher than this once you get your process down. Anything above that can be augmented with sugar and/or extract. I have 2 systems, one has a 5 gallon indoor tun, and I don’t notice a difference between a 1.065 beer that has a pound or two of DME to get it there vs one I do on my outdoor 10 gallon system that is all-grain.

Why not just brew smaller batches than 5 gallons more often? Works for me! I am doing 1/3 size batches, 1.7 gallons per batch and I love it and might never change. Then you don’t even need a mash tun., just a kettle and a bag.

That may be a bit smaller than he has in mind. I think a 5 gallon cooler works perfect for 3-4 gallon batches. You may consider doing that, OP. Brewing inside is great when the weather is crap. I switched to brewing 6 gallon batches and outside recently, but may switch back this winter when the weather starts to get too crappy. It’s less finished beer in the keg, which kind of sucks, but it’s so much easier to manage when brewing inside.

This is a 5 gallon all grain kit given to me as a gift. Actually two kits were a gift (Dry Dock Urca Vanilla Porter, and Rebel Rye Porter), so was going to take this time to make the whole all grain switch.

Kettle is 8 gallon Megapot 2.0. I would BIAB if there wasn’t ~13 pounds of grain. Going to spend some time talking it through with my dad this evening. He is a tinkerer and might have some ideas and might have a spare cooler I can convert.

Thanks for all of the replies gents. :cheers:

In that case, you can mash in your kettle, then do a dunk sparge in your 5 gallon cooler. You can do that until you get your cooler situation figured out. You could keep the cooler to do smaller batches in the winter inside or something.

in case you are still considering the 5 gallon cooler…

9-10 pounds is the sweet spot, where I can mash in with 1.3 qts/lb. I “mash out” with about a gallon of water and then batch sparge with a full cooler (usually about 12 quarts) resulting in around a 24-26 qt boil.

Once you get over 10 pounds, you have to start mashing thicker. And once you get to 12 pounds, you’re really maxing out the system and everything becomes tougher. I’ve never gone over 12 lbs.

You might want to look at the unit I built and posted a while back.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=122756

I’ve still having very good results with this SS lauter tun and I think the cost is competitive with the picnic cooler designs. Unlike the bazooka screen filtering (where fines sticking in the screen block the flow and don’t go anywhere) this operates like commercial units allowing the fines to flow out and be recycled to the top (about 4 qts gets it sparkling bright - see pics) and the fines become trapped throughout the bed and don’t significantly impedede the flow which remains good through the whole sparge.

Note that I don’t actually mash in this unit; I use a cheap thin-wall SS stockpot and place that in a 1" walled Styrofoam box and it maintains the initial temperature within a couple of degrees for 2 hr. It only takes me 3-4 min to scoop that (after heating to mash-out 168F) into the lauter tun, so for a 5gal size it adds only a small bit of time; and the flow and extraction efficiency are excellent so you probably save that time and then some. You don’t have to look very hard on this forum to see many accounts of stuck/low-flow sparges, and I just don’t get that.

The link has all the info and a supply list and costs… The feedback suggests that not everyone gets breathless about this idea, but it has made my all grain brewing a very predictable and regular process, not a crapshoot. So there it is FWIW…

Cheers!

The five gallon cooler works fine up to about nine lbs, has a small footprint for indoor brewing, and is really good for partial mash brewing.

A square cooler is still the better choice. Cheaper, more room and I think there may be some advantages to a shallower grain bed.

Was thinking of mashing in my kettle. It holds heat really well with that thick bottom on it. Going to give it a go either this Sunday or next weekend.

Going to give the Urca porter a go first, since it is just over 10 pounds. Thought it was 13 but looked at it again. Will mash thick at 1.3 gallons/# and just stir gently.

Thanks again.

Use the Can I Mash It? calculator at Green Bay Rackers:

You can mash 13 pounds of grain at a mash thickness of 1.25 qt per pound. I use a grain bag instead of a false bottom which means I can eliminate the vorlauf step and need less time for draining the wort into the boil kettle after the mash and sparge. Other advantages of using a 5 gallon cooler is that you can find them for under $20, they take up less space in storage and less head space inside the cooler results in less heat loss. It works perfectly for me as I prefer lower ABV beers and I don’t have a lot of extra storage space in my house.

Great calculator!!! :cheers:

Freaking out about this less and less thanks to you guys.

Thanks!

I have been using a 5 gal. Igloo round cooler for AG since I started doing AG.
Like the calc. that Ken gave a link to says, I can mash up to almost 14lbs. of grain with a grist ratio of 1.25 qts. water to 1lb. grain. I have made beers up to 1.060.
I like my mash tun. It holds temp. within 2 degrees, even in cold weather.
Ron

You can always mash as much as you can in the five gallon if you want to make bigger beer just make up the difference with extract in your boil.

[quote=“Ken in MN”]Use the Can I Mash It? calculator at Green Bay Rackers:

You can mash 13 pounds of grain at a mash thickness of 1.25 qt per pound. I use a grain bag instead of a false bottom which means I can eliminate the vorlauf step and need less time for draining the wort into the boil kettle after the mash and sparge. Other advantages of using a 5 gallon cooler is that you can find them for under $20, they take up less space in storage and less head space inside the cooler results in less heat loss. It works perfectly for me as I prefer lower ABV beers and I don’t have a lot of extra storage space in my house.[/quote]

Sucky thing is sparging gets a bit tricky if you batch sparge. I’d often have to do a double batch sparge, which isn’t a big deal, just adds a little more time to the brew day.

I mash in a bag and typically do two sparges with 50% of the total sparge water amount for each one, per the Serial Dilution principle.

http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resources/dilutions.html

The efficiency of my last batch was 85%, and that was using a normal grain crush (as opposed to the “crush it until it’s flour” advice of many BIABers.) I just add half of the sparge water, stir it, let it rest for ten minutes, drain and squeeze the bag, repeat…

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