Cooler Size

I’ve made about a dozen extract brews and each one has gotten better. I’ve decided that I want to dive into AG brewing for my next brew. Instead of buying a cooler to use as a mash/lauter tun I plan on using my 70 quart rectangular coleman xtrememe cooler that sits in my garage 364 days of the year. My only question is is that too big for five gallon batches?

IMO it is a bit on the large size. I use a 48qt and it’s usually 1/2 full.

But, I’m not going to tell someone to not use what they have on hand.

You can try it out on the cheep. Find some tubing that will fit through the drain. Put a splice on it to attach the braid line.

I use a 48qt model. I heat my mash water to 170*. Add it to the cooler and allow the temp to drop to 160*. Then add the grain. Stir until them temp drops to 150*.

With the larger cooler, you may need to heat the water a little more.

That is what I use and it works great. One thing you never really need to worry about it will it get too full :slight_smile:

I’m going to give it a shot. Worst case scenario is it doensn’t work and I have to drop $30 or so on a smaller cooler for the next time.

Any other advice for my first go at AG?

PLan on 5 hours for everything…or more…

I would allow 6 or more for you first time since you have lots of new things and greater volumes.

Just a few random things:

  • How are you calculating your infusion water temp, so you arrive at approximately your target rest temp? If you don’t have software like Beersmith, you should be able to find an app for your phone/tablet or you can give this a try:
  • Use a water to grain ratio of 1.5 qt/lb or higher for the mash.
  • To avoid dough balls, don’t forget to stir while you’re adding the grain to your strike water
  • Don’t forget to stir thoroughly after adding sparge water to the grain

If things going go perfectly, don’t sweat it. Lesson learned for next time. Have fun and good luck!

At least 5 hrs. and then some…don’t rush it.

Extract brewing takes me the better part of three hours with clean-up, so I assumed that AG would add at least 2 more hours if not more.

As for calculating the water temp, I thought I was just supposed to add water 10-12 degrees hotter then the rest temp, but I will do a little more research into that before I actually brew. I’, going to go with 1.5 qt/lb. Since I’m using a larger cooler, I figure I’ll have to add more water throughout the hour to keep it at the prope temp. If I go with 1.5 qt/lb I’ll have more space to do that.

Well I have officially given up trying to make my 70 qt cooler into a MT. No matter what I do I can’t stop a small leak from continuosly dripping and I think i’ve toyed with it that I may have damaged the plastic so it will never work. Any suggestions on which direction to go next?

Have you tried getting rubber gaskets from the hardware store? I was able to get a bunch of rubber, plastic and o-rings and using large Stainless steel washers, was ablet to put them together to stop leaks

Yes, I have tried everything. O-rings, washers (SS and rubber) and no matter what I do I have the same small leak comming from the same spot. I think I messed the cooler up. It was a 70 qt cooler, so it was probably bigger then what I needed anyway, it was just what I had already and I was trying to aviod buying a new one. Oh well.

I am pretty new to this all-grain thing as well. I have made 4 AG batches and the efficiency has gotten better each time. My cooler was bought in 1995 it is a 32 qt coleman it has that door to reach in, it does not seal w/o putting something heavy on it (pretty warped) but I did not have to buy one and it works. In fact I lost about 6 degrees the first time, I just adjusted and last wrapped blankets around it, lost 3 degrees, yesterday I put a kids sleeping bag in the drey for 20 min and wrapped the cooler in that as well as run the dishwasher to warm up the counter, I than used a old three gal pot filled with hot water and set that on top, a half degree of loss and over 75% effciency. Very happy.

As for the time I did an AG and a extract on same day started at noon was done with clean up and everything by 10, I was able to smole an entire cigar during the brew day and drank about a 12 pack it was a perfect day.

Just lurking but I have a question. I did not hear anyone mention building/buying a manifold of some kind.

Can you do a cooler mash and just drain through the plug?

[quote=“smetana1986”]Just lurking but I have a question. I did not hear anyone mention building/buying a manifold of some kind.

Can you do a cooler mash and just drain through the plug?[/quote]
Not without modification. This site has a great walk through
explaining how to do it. Scroll down to “Building the Mashtun”.

So my second try worked with no problems. This time I used a 36 qt cooler instead of the 70 and didn’t tighten it as much. Let water sit in it for over an hour last night with no leaks. I’m going to make my first AG today. Fingers crossed.

That should be good for all but the bigger brews. I have a 40 quart (white) that gets me my best efficiency out of three (keg with false bottom/screen and orange water cooler with screen) that I have. Definitely has something to do with the shape being rectangular I think as it shapes the grain bed to be thinner than the cylinders…YMMV