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Inexpensive all SS Lauter Tun

I know I’m a bit off the main stream, but I use a cheap 5gal SS stockpot to mash in and set it into a styrofoam box (Dow blue foundation insulation board sheet cut and glued with siliconized acrylic latex). This keeps your mash in SS and I only get about 3 deg drop in 2 hours. I mash-out and then transfer to a SS lauter tun I made (by scooping the mash and layering on the screen). The coolers are not rated for hot liquids (see my web page info) and are most likely leaching nasty chemicals into your wort. My SS lauter tun was pretty easy to make, not expensive, and drains very well and efficiently. The drain is on the bottom, where a drain should be… I tried to get the NB folks interested in supplying them but they persist with pushing the picnic coolers… This is really simple to put together. After pouring in the mash, I recycle <4L of the initial runnings and it is running clear and bright. Good flow rate, good extraction efficiency. I know the separate kettles and scooping isn’t something that scales well, but it works fine for 5 gal batches and that is what many of us make.

The info is here, sources, costs…

http://people.umass.edu/dac/projects/la ... erTun.html

[attachment=0]LauterTun-0.jpg[/attachment]

There’s not much in brewing that hasn’t been done.

The safety of plastics has been tested and discussed to death.

Listen to the 3 part Basic Brewing podcasts regarding Homebrew Toxicology (2013, 2014).

http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio

Denny posted some info from a plastics chemist friend of his:

http://forums.morebeer.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=32110

There are many more forum posts regarding the safety of plastics, but I can’t be bothered to search for them right now.

Having said that, if stainless steel and silicone ease your mind then you seem to have an appropriate setup.

Personally, I don’t like using board type insulation or Styrofoam type products around my beer because they “chip” and truly are toxic.

I BIAB mash in a SS kettle and wrap it in an old sleeping bag. I lose less then 2 degrees over a 60 minute mash on the coldest of days.

I like the drain on the bottom of the kettle. I could see using that as MLT and the other kettle as HLT. Your process of moving the grain from kettle to LT seems like a chore to me honestly.

Appreciate you sharing this. Gives me a few ideas for my soon to be built indoor brewery!

Just wanted to update and respond. Re: the comment about Styrofoam, I put the wort in a SS boiler with a SS lid and set that in the Styrofoam box; the brew never gets near Styrofoam. I have used the box for over 20yr and it is not crumbling at all - that happens more with styrofoam exposed to sunlight. Not sure about the comment about silicone - I didn’t mention silicone…

I have now done a number of batches and continue to be very happy with the design and performance, getting nearly complete extraction of sugars while keeping the collected wort at <6gal for a 5gal batch. It really does flow freely and has no tendency to plug. After recycling <1gal volume it is running clear and bright (see pics…).

I posted this, not claiming to be the first to think plastic may be bad, but because people are still selling Rubbermaid and Igloo products, people are still buying these products, and plastic is still bad. Also I have seen a lot of posts regarding stuck sparges using the and this seems to be the problem and it just seems more logical to put a drain AT the bottom; and this works.

So I hope it is helpful to some. It is not expensive. You don’t have to physically transfer the mash as I do, but it only takes me about 3 min for a 5 gal batch (10.5qts water + 8#malt) so it is certainly reasonable for small scale brewers. Larger scale could underlet the mash water, then recirculate (pumping) through an inline heater to maintain temp instead of setting the uninsulated kettle in an insulated box. But the drain at the bottom is really effective with almost zero lost volume in a dead space and very clear wort resulting.

Cheers!

[quote=“toadhall”]
I posted this, not claiming to be the first to think plastic may be bad, but because people are still selling Rubbermaid and Igloo products, people are still buying these products, and plastic is still bad. [/quote]

What studies have you seen that have shown you that plastics at mash temps are bad or harmful?

In the original post I had a couple of screenshots from the Rubbermaid website telling people not to use their wares for hot liquids and hot liquid mashtuns for beermaking in particular was mentioned. Igloo is silent on the topic. Someone who responded to my post gave several links dealing with the plastics topic. I am aware of a lot of chatter about BPA as a plastic additive leaching from containers, and BPA is pretty well regarded to be bad stuff. The plastic Rubbermaid uses is labeled “7-Other” and that is a dubious designation for food contact, especially for hot liquids that will sit in it for an hour or so. I have also seen some reports that “BPA-free” is sketchy since they are just using another plasticizer that may well have similar or worse effect. Risk is a personal choice. Stainless just seems like a safer option than a plastic if you are making a choice. But that is my opinion.

But the design does flow quite freely, never plugs, and works very effectively to give sparkling clear wort as shown in the pics…

Cheers!

[quote=“toadhall”]In the original post I had a couple of screenshots from the Rubbermaid website telling people not to use their wares for hot liquids and hot liquid mashtuns for beermaking in particular was mentioned. Igloo is silent on the topic. Someone who responded to my post gave several links dealing with the plastics topic. I am aware of a lot of chatter about BPA as a plastic additive leaching from containers, and BPA is pretty well regarded to be bad stuff. The plastic Rubbermaid uses is labeled “7-Other” and that is a dubious designation for food contact, especially for hot liquids that will sit in it for an hour or so. I have also seen some reports that “BPA-free” is sketchy since they are just using another plasticizer that may well have similar or worse effect. Risk is a personal choice. Stainless just seems like a safer option than a plastic if you are making a choice. But that is my opinion.

But the design does flow quite freely, never plugs, and works very effectively to give sparkling clear wort as shown in the pics…

Cheers![/quote]

Coolers use HDPE. It contains no BPA. What reason did Rubbermaid give?

Rubbermaid didn’t give a reason. What they said is in the screenshot; it is straight off their website… attached again here; URL is in the browser. Probably liability and approved use guided their statement. If it is HDPE and FDA food grade it is probably Ok, but why wouldn’t they say that? The Rubbermaid website now states “BPA-free” but that is not to say there is no plasticizer used and that it will not be found to be an issue. They very specifically do not say it is HDPE - that may be on the bottom of your cooler - I don’t know. Guess I’m just more absolutely comfortable with SS. Your choice may be different.

Cheers!

Dale

That is almost word for word the same answer I got from them 16 years ago. You are correct that the reason they advise against it because they haven’t tested it…not necessarily because it isn’t safe. A good friend who’s a plastics expert has confirmed to me that the coolers are HDPE and pose no risk at how temps. I have no qualms about using them.

Yeah, they can’t recommend using their coolers for higher temps until they test them at higher temps. They’re just covering their butts.

Then again I wonder why they havent tested this a long time ago since its such a popular way to homebrew.

[quote=“wobdee”]Yeah, they can’t recommend using their coolers for higher temps until they test them at higher temps. They’re just covering their butts.

Then again I wonder why they havent tested this a long time ago since its such a popular way to homebrew.[/quote]

Because homebrewers buy so few coolers compared to the rest of the market that it isn’t worth their time.

I assume it also has something to do with not wanting to get sued when they say it’s ok to fill their coolers with hot liquids and then someone gets burned because the lids aren’t water tight.

I don’t know about other brands, but the FAQ for Igloo states that the interior liner of their hard sided coolers is made from FDA approved polypropylene.

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