Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

All-Grain Set up for newbie

I’m making the gradual shift to all grain brewing. I’ve enjoyed making several partial mash beers. I’m contemplating between an all grain economy cooler set up and a stainless steel kettle set up. I already have a stainless eight gallon boil kettle and one propane burner. I like brewing some big beers, some that would require up to 15-17 lbs of grain. Thus, I’m looking for any recommendations about mash/lauter tun kettle size. I’m uncertain if a 20 gallon pot is too large? I only plan to make 5 gallon batches. I’ve considered the stainless steel because I like the idea of being able to heat the mash over a burner if the temp drops or if I want to increase the temp for a protein rest. However, because I plan to use the mash tun as the lauter tun too, I wanted to place a false bottom in the kettle. Would the false bottom limit my ability to effectiely control the heating?? I appreciate any feedback. Thanks

Recently bottled:
Belgian Tripel, Belgian Dark Strong
Secondary:
Imperial Stout, American Red
Primary:
Oatmeal Brown

If you want to do step mashes in the mash tun then you need separate mash and lauter tuns.
When I do step mashes I use an 8 gal pot and then dump the mash in my Gott cooler w/false bottom for the final sacharification rest and then sparge in it. I do 15 gal batches and the 8 gal pot is more than enough for all but the biggest beers so for 5 gal batches so 8 gals should be good enough for use as mash and boiling kettle.

You want to be able to stir the bottom of the mash tun while you heat. I always get scorching when I have a thick mash no matter how much I stir.

Having an insulated mash/lauter tun gives you so much flexibilty,

You can do step mashes in a kettle, but a braid positioned along the side wall (rather than a false bottom) will make it possible to stir to the bottom and prevent scorching. With a short piece of braid, you’d be better off batch-sparging instead of fly. If you’re doing big beers, having your MT twice the volume of your kettle will give you a lot of flexibility, so with an 8-gal kettle you could use a half-barrel keggle for the MT.

To me, step mashes are a thing of the past. Modern malts are well modified and do not require a protein rest.

I say go cooler. If you want to do some retro brewing tech like decoct you can still do it with a cooler.

50qt (12.5G) cooler with bazooka has worked for me for 10 years plus. Batch sparge and I get 85% efficiency all the time. You can too. Sure not a sexy as a ss rig but it is consistent.

Volume of the mash in quarts = (lb grain/3) + water volume in qts gives you capacity. 20lbs and 1.5qts/lb is easily doable. Never did it but I could do prolly pull of 30lbs with 1-1.25qts/lb… Also works for the occasional 10G of wedding beers/party beers too.

Never ran into this but I’ve read stories about having too large of cooler will lose heat (low thermal mass).

Looks like your ready to make the move to AG. Have a chiller, right?

Thanks for all the insights. I have my head wrapped around my options better now. I think I’ll proceed with a cooler set up and plan to do infusion mashing.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com