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Maxed out the 5 gallon tun today

Picked up my grain for a sweet/oatmeat (sweet-meal) stout wednesday, for a brew session today. I had forgotten my “list” in my rush out the door so had to call back home for the ingredients…got them and stopped at my LHBS.

since i use a 5 gallon cooler and still use my extract pot, my usual session is for a 3 gallon batch. But, in my haste, I forgot to cut my 5 gallon recipe to 3 gallons and purchased the 5 gallon grain bill. So, last night I decided that I’d press ahead with the 5 gallon bill, mash the full amount, and then cut the runnings into two pots.

I went with a 1.25 ratio, so with 12.5 lbs grain I struck with approximately a tad more than 15 qts. Geeze that sure filled the 5 gallon tun and it was as thick as oatmeal :wink: . It took a while to stir in the entire 12.5lbs, but once done i had only enough room remaining in the tun to firmly close the lid.

Mashed for 90 minutes and then proceded with the run-off. I only got about 9 qts back from the 15. I had 12 qts ready for the sparge but only 8 would fit as the grain was satuated. I let that sit for 20, then vorlauf, and drain. I then added the remaining 4 plus another 4 for a second sparge…20 minutes later, vorlauf and drain. I ended up with approximately 6.5 gallons of 1.048 wort after the two sparges and subsequent draining.

Post boil, I have just under 5 gallons of 1.068 sweet stout. If the final is even half as tasty, i’m in for a real treat. But next time, I’m just going to do 3 gallons as this was quite a bit of work.


Coolers are cheap - get a 48+ qt and you won’t regret it.

Actually, I have one sitting in the garage. I really don’t want to go bigger. Smaller batches work well for me and last a long time (slow beer drinker).

With this batch, I had a senior-moment and bought too much grain so pressed ahead. It also gave me an opportunity to test the limits of my 5 gallon tun.


I have a 5gal cooler MLT too, 12lb is definitely your upper limit. Sounds like you made it just fine though. The one thing you could do is go with the larger tun and do no-sparge for your small batches. I get the same efficiency this way. You can do step mashes if you don’t have a pot big enough to heat all the water at once.

I broke down and got a 72qt MLT not too long ago. Its big enough for 15gal batches that me and a friend are now brewing. I used it last night to make 5gal of a no-sparge big beer, then sparged and made a small beer for growing a couple of yeasts I needed to get going.

I do know what you mean about not being able to drink as fast as you brew.

[quote=“StormyBrew”]Actually, I have one sitting in the garage. I really don’t want to go bigger. Smaller batches work well for me and last a long time (slow beer drinker).[/quote]As Tom mentioned, you don’t have to make bigger batches with a bigger cooler, it just gives you more room and options, particularly for no-sparging.

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