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High Gravity Brewing with 5 Gal Cooler

Hey Guys

I’m an AG brewer and want to brew my first High Gravity ale, but I only have a 5 Gal cooler. The only things I can think to do would be buy a bigger cooler (would I need a kettle larger than 7.5 gal too?), make a smaller batch (3 gal or so), or use extract. Are there any other options?

Thanks in advance

How high of gravity are you looking for?

What type of cooler, round beverage cooler?

Batch or Fly sparge?

I always use a 5 gallon cooler. I’ve had 7-9 lbs in mine and it makes for a think mash at 1.3-1.5 qts/lb. Requires a bit more time to stir in, but othewise, not really different than 5 lbs.

IME, mash either two half batches or just do a small (half to 3 gallon) batch. That’s what I do almost exclusively now. Yes, you have less beer on hand (in my case, 4 kegs x 3 gallons = 12 gallons of brew versus 20 gallons) but then you also have to brew more (brewing is fun) often so your selection changes more rapidly. Win-win in my book.

cheers.

Thanks guys!

I’m using a round converted cooler doing a batch sparge.

The recipe I was building was about 1.087 and I think 16.5 pounds of grain. I didn’t think about doing two halves, in which case it would lengthen the time, but maybe I could increase efficiency that way?

The end game is to make an Imperial wheat IPA at about 9%

Another option would be to cut back on a portion of the base malt, mash with whatever will fit, then add light dme to the boil to make up for whatever amount of base malt you cut out. So it’s almost like a large “mini” mash…if that makes any sense :wink: I used to do this quite a bit with my 5g cooler for larger beers, but most of my batches are 3-4g now so it’s not an issue.

[quote=“ludwigludwig”]Thanks guys!

I’m using a round converted cooler doing a batch sparge.

The recipe I was building was about 1.087 and I think 16.5 pounds of grain. I didn’t think about doing two halves, in which case it would lengthen the time, but maybe I could increase efficiency that way?

The end game is to make an Imperial wheat IPA at about 9%[/quote]

Mash the second half while the first half is boiling. I usally do a 90 min mash and almost always finish the first boil and cool-down before I need to begin my second run-off. i’ve had to wait to almost 2 hours once, before I bagan the second run-off, but there was no impact…mash had cooled from 152 to 150 in that 2 hour period…no biggie.

cheers

[quote=“StormyBrew”]I always use a 5 gallon cooler. I’ve had 7-9 lbs in mine and it makes for a think mash at 1.3-1.5 qts/lb. Requires a bit more time to stir in, but othewise, not really different than 5 lbs.

IME, mash either two half batches or just do a small (half to 3 gallon) batch. That’s what I do almost exclusively now. Yes, you have less beer on hand (in my case, 4 kegs x 3 gallons = 12 gallons of brew versus 20 gallons) but then you also have to brew more (brewing is fun) often so your selection changes more rapidly. Win-win in my book.

cheers.[/quote]
What are you talking about? 7-9 lbs in a 5 gallon cooler? I can mash up to 12 or so pounds with a 1.25 qt/lb ratio.
For high gravity brews, just add like 3 lbs of DME to the boil.

[quote=“Beersk”][quote=“StormyBrew”]I always use a 5 gallon cooler. I’ve had 7-9 lbs in mine and it makes for a think mash at 1.3-1.5 qts/lb. Requires a bit more time to stir in, but othewise, not really different than 5 lbs.

IME, mash either two half batches or just do a small (half to 3 gallon) batch. That’s what I do almost exclusively now. Yes, you have less beer on hand (in my case, 4 kegs x 3 gallons = 12 gallons of brew versus 20 gallons) but then you also have to brew more (brewing is fun) often so your selection changes more rapidly. Win-win in my book.

cheers.[/quote]
What are you talking about? 7-9 lbs in a 5 gallon cooler? I can mash up to 12 or so pounds with a 1.25 qt/lb ratio.
For high gravity brews, just add like 3 lbs of DME to the boil.[/quote]

Yeah Ive done 12-13. Its possible. Really full and thick but the beer was fine. I got a second cheap 5 gallon cooler and false bottom and now use both coolers for high gravity beers. 12 pounds in each with equal-ish runnings gets me a nice gravity.

[quote=“Adam20”][quote=“Beersk”][quote=“StormyBrew”]I always use a 5 gallon cooler. I’ve had 7-9 lbs in mine and it makes for a think mash at 1.3-1.5 qts/lb. Requires a bit more time to stir in, but othewise, not really different than 5 lbs.

IME, mash either two half batches or just do a small (half to 3 gallon) batch. That’s what I do almost exclusively now. Yes, you have less beer on hand (in my case, 4 kegs x 3 gallons = 12 gallons of brew versus 20 gallons) but then you also have to brew more (brewing is fun) often so your selection changes more rapidly. Win-win in my book.

cheers.[/quote]
What are you talking about? 7-9 lbs in a 5 gallon cooler? I can mash up to 12 or so pounds with a 1.25 qt/lb ratio.
For high gravity brews, just add like 3 lbs of DME to the boil.[/quote]

Yeah Ive done 12-13. Its possible. Really full and thick but the beer was fine. I got a second cheap 5 gallon cooler and false bottom and now use both coolers for high gravity beers. 12 pounds in each with equal-ish runnings gets me a nice gravity.[/quote]

Relax guys, put down the pints and re-read my post. :wink: All I said was that i’ve HAD (meaning past tense) 7-9lbs and it was thick. I said nothing about it being a limit or ever suggested it was any where near the maximum. It’s just what i’ve had in my 5 gallon cooler. Nothing more, nothing less.

:cheers:

You can mash up to 13 lbs of grain in a 5 gallon igloo. This should get you to somewhere around 1.065 to 1.075 depending on your effeciency. If you want to brew higher gravity than this, you can either make less than a 5 gallon batch, or use extract or simple sugars to push your gravity where you need it to be.

Seems like a lot of trouble to me. Why not just spend a few extra bucks and move up to a 10 gallon cooler and be done with it? Just my $0.02.

Reiterated mashing.

Mash 1/2 the grain like normal.

remove used grain. Use the wort for your sparge water. Add additional water as needed to make your boil volume.

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