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Coleman Xtreme Retrofit

Hello Everyone,

I have a Coleman Xtreme 70-Quart Cooler that I use for a mash tun and for batch sparging. I know that several others on the forum have mentioned using this same cooler (or one of similar capacity), and I am wondering if anyone has had issues with losing heat during the mash when brewing lower gravity beers with smaller grain bills. Overall, I am satisfied with this cooler’s performance, but am considering retrofitting it in some way to cut down on the excess head space when brewing with smaller grain bills to help with heat retention. I was thinking of possibly attaching a Styrofoam insert to the inside of the lid? I’m just curious to know if anyone else has dealt with this issue or found a simple solution.

never done this but it sounds like it could work. If the walls of the cooler go straight up and down you could just slide it down to just above the water level.

I’ve used my 70 X-treme for 5 gallon batches and lose a bit more (~5F) over a 60 minute mash. 10 gallon batches usually drop ~3F. I drape 4 large towels over the cooler to help hold in the heat. I’d suggest just getting a smaller cooler for smaller batches if it’s a real problem for ya. My manifold (braided stainless steel supply line) is set up so I can move it from one Coleman cooler to another in a matter of minutes. Here’s a pic that shows how:

I use the same cooler and preheat the cooler first with ~10°F hotter water than I need for strike water and when it is close I mash in. When the lid is open you will loose heat! Just add some ~200°F water part way through to boost the temp. Much easier than putting a foam block in there…

My setup is here
http://gnipsel.com/beer/equipment/MashTun.htm
.

John

I’ve noticed that the temperature dropoff is greater when brewing smaller batches. I like your idea of a Styrofoam insert but would let it float on the mash rather than on the inside off the lid.

My system is that I add the water first, let it sit for 10 minutes to stabilize a temperature then add the grain. Once you get your system dialed in then the temp is more predictable.

FYI, a blue cooler holds the heat better than a red Coleman extreme. :wink:

I just purchased one of these and set it up with a braid and valve. Can’t wait to give it a run, we’ll be brewing a 15gal batch next weekend. I have a 5gal round cooler for small batches.

I’ve never worried that much about holding the mash temp perfectly steady. If I’m making a batch in a system that loses a littel heat, I just start at a little higher temp. If it drops 5F so what you still get conversion. If you want more body you can use more crystal.

Thanks for all of the feedback.

hamiltont, I thought your manifold set up was a great idea. johnplctech, thanks also for the pictures of your system. Lennie, I am also set up with a braid and valve and have really been happy with the way the whole thing works. I’ve noticed that there is a ridge about halfway from the bottom of the cooler, on the inside. For batches that require less than half of the capacity of the cooler, I think the ridge could serve as a resting point for a few pieces of styrofoam, helping to lower the ceiling and hopefully maintain more heat. Right now I’m on the lookout for places that sell large blocks of styrofoam – does anyone know where to look? I’m guessing that places like Hobby Lobby might be a good starting point. If I ever come up with something that works, I’ll post a few pictures. As mplsbrewer and waszup suggested, I think I’ll go with the “drop in” method, rather than attaching something to the lid.

I’d go with maybe three pieces of styro and put each in its own ziplock bag. Otherwise I don’t think styro ought to contact food, and its get watrlogged after a time anyway. You might try Lowes, they sell sheets of various styro insulation. The blue stuff comes in 1" and 2" thicknesses. Might be cheaper to buy smaller blocks at a craft store though. It probably won’t take more than 1" thickness.

Hamilton I used a piece of more rigid tubing and made it just long enough to go through the drain plug so the valve sticks out straight. My friend used metal pipe couplings and sealed with the washer off teh drain plug assembly. I’ll resort to that if this thing doesn’t seem to hold up.

Thought I’d give an update on this topic:

I went ahead and bought a piece of styrofoam at Wal-Mart (maybe 36"x12"x1") for $10 and shaved the dimensions down so that it fit snugly at around the halfway point in the cooler (vertically). After mashing in, I wrapped the styrofoam in a (clean!) tall kitchen trash bag, inserted it into the cooler and filled the remaining head space with a couple of bath towels.

Today’s brew was an Octoberfest that only filled about 1/3 of the cooler (11.5 lbs of grain @ 1.25 q.p.p.), which would have left quite a bit of open headspace. I mashed in at 152* and only lost 1.5* at the end of 60 minutes, which is MUCH better than what I had been experiencing.

Styrofoam and towels, that’s dedication to solving this problem. +1

Sounds like you have a solution, very nice.

I was at Walmart yesterday and spied the Coleman Xtreme 120qt model, now I’m wanting one of those suckers! I bought a 20gal kettle earlier in the week and set it up with a valve and brewmometer this morning, plus I made a 50’ IC for it. So I’m ready to do 15+gal batches.

I have the Coleman extreme 5 wheeled cooler. I don’t know what to do on the inside such as a manifold or a water heater braid or ect. Does anyone have this cooler and what did you do. I have a ball value attached but that’s all. Any suggestions?

I have a 10gal round cooler and have noticed three things about it:

  • Lots of heat lost from the stock (hollow) lid…it feels very warm!
  • If I do a small beer and/or thick mash the extra empty space seems to suck up more heat than expected and I need to remember to add a degree or two to the strike water for beers like this.
  • The metal braid and valve seem to be radiating heat right out of the tun…temps near the valve on the inside are about 4 - 5 degrees lower than the average.

I had thought about squirting that low expansion foam used for window installation into the lid, but worried about nasty stuff leeching out. So I have a couple old bath towels I drape over the lid. This seems to have done the trick for heat loss, but not the issue with small beers and/or thick mashes.

If you shoot foam into the lid and then seal the hole I don’t see how anything could leach. I’d maybe let it cure out in the sun for an afternoon. I’m like you though, I know my system loses 5F so I start a couple degrees higher and get a nice mash over the range of temps. I guess thats not quite as controlled as some would like but it works for making good beer, in fact a little more beta amylase action early followed by more alpha activity, gives a nice combo of good yield and full attenuation.

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