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Batch Sparging Equipment

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday I posted asking for advise on brewing my upcoming first AG batch, and today I’m back with equipment questions. After reading the information on DennyBrew, I think I’d like to go with a rectangular cooler for a Mashtun (I plan on batch sparging), but have a few lingering questions that I hope some of you could help me with:

  1. Cooler Size - I was thinking something along the line of 15 gallons. Would this be big enough to accommodate large grain bills for American Barley Wines and the like? At this point, I’m only brewing 5 gallon batches (mainly session beers), but want to have enough room for the occasional big beer.

  2. Any advise on brands to look at or stay away from?

  3. Converting the cooler. Would the bronze or stainless cooler valve kits and Stainless mash/boil screen that NB sells work with most any cooler? I’d just as soon order the conversion equipment from them if it would all fit.

  4. What am I missing? Since I don’t really know what I don’t know at this point, any related thoughts or words of wisdom on getting set up would be welcome.

Thanks to all for your consideration!

I just brewed my 3rd all grain batch yesterday. I made my mash tun out of an Igloo 52 qt. (red) cooler. That should be just fine for a huge 5 gallon batch. I didn’t put a valve on my cooler. I have the hose running out of the factory drain. It’s a tight fit, and doesn’t leak. Then, I have a clamp on the hose to adjust the flow. I was trying to get the most bang for my buck. My setup is pretty much the same as Don’s here.

I use a 48 qt. cooler. I can do up ti 5 gal. of a 1.100 beer in it, but it’s very tight with very little room for stirring. 70 qt. is a good compromise size and what I’d recommend for you. You can certainly buy a bulkhead and go that route. Personally, I prefer my system ( because it lays on the bottom of the cooler creating a siphon. That means there is almost no wort left behind.

Here is a 60qt Igloo Cube conversion that I did.

Remember that cooler design is important. My first cooler was 50qts, but ~1/4 of that volume was in its large dome lid. Clearly, volume in the lid isn’t worth counting from a brewing standpoint, so try to look for something with a flat rather than domed lid.

I’d recommend a Coleman Extreme cooler, they have a channel in the bottom to the drain which helps it drain nearly completely. They also hold temperature very well.

I have a 52qt and it gets kind of tight on larger brews but it’s doable. When I need to replace it I’ll go with a 70qt.

Many thanks for all of the information and for the links.

I actually have my eye on the 70 qt. Coleman Extreme and it’s good to know that it’s on someone else’s list.

i got one of these early summer when they were offering free shipping. unfortunately its $14 now. either way, it works great. has a nice channel in the bottom and its cheap (relatively speaking).

Make sure it’s blue. You’ll get an extra 5% efficency versus red.

I use a 70 qt extreme, until recently I have only done 5 gallons batches and it worked great. It held temp fine even on lower gravity beers but you will definitely want to pre-heat before you actually mash in.

I personally went with the cooler kit from NB and it works great, with the bazooka screen. It installed in 5 minutes and although the screen does sit up a bit high with the valve I typically just put something under the far end to angle the cooler a bit and very little wort is left behind.

If/when you step up to 10 gal batches no need to worry (much) about cooler size. I just did 10 gal of 1.080 porter and although the cooler was full, really full it definitely fit and I will probably plan on doing 2 sparges next time i do a batch of that gravity and that size.

I would check some of your local stores as now is probably a time that they have some on sale so they dont have to sit on the stock all winter long.

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