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New mashtun. big enough?

So the wife got me a 36 qt cooler as a mashtun. I requested a 52 qt but she improvised and got the wrong one. Will this be big enough to make pretty much any 5 gallon recipe or will I struggle with bigger beers? I was going to return it but the place she bought it at only has the 36 qt and she lost the receipt. What’s the biggest grain bill I can expect to handle with this mashtun?

You should be A-OK with nearly any 5 gallon batch. I’ve used a 10-gallon Gott cooler for years, and the only time it’s ever been maxed out is on big beers or double batches (10 gallon). Even then, you can always do a double batch sparge and be ok.

I’d say a typical 5-gallon batch takes up about 6.5 gallons in my cooler, and that may be a high estimate.

When in doubt, check it out: Can I Mash It?

I got a new mashtun for Christmas too, but mine was small on purpose - I’m scaling back to 3 gallon batches so I bought a 5-gallon orange cooler and converted it yesterday. Broke it in today, and it went great. :cheers:

You may struggle with batches over 1.050 or so. Frankly, I’d say get a bigger one.

When you say struggle what specifically are you referring to? Temperature concerns or just having enough space and having the ability to stir everything?

According to that calculator that was linked above (not sure how accurate it is) but it looks like it should be able to handle an 18lb grain bill with a mash ratio of 1.5 and still have a little under 1 gallon of space leftover.

I could always lower my mash ratio if space is a concern right?

I believe Denny is talking about capacity. I have a 50 and when I put 13-16 lbs of grain @ 1.5 Qrts/ Lb
grist ratio, it’s near the top of the cooler. I would otp for the bigger one. In this case more is better, but that’s just me.

I’ve used a 36 qt for a few years and it’s pretty good up to 1.080 or so. I’ve mashed 18 pounds in it, and it’s been a struggle to mix the grain and water well and my efficiency has suffered. 12-14 pounds has been fine and most of my beers are in that range.

I have a 40 quart and use it for 5 gallon batches only. Bigger beers and bigger batches go in my sanke mash tun

I run with a 10 gallon (40 quart), and I’d say I only really “struggle” with beers over 1.080 - 1.090. You just use less qt/lb, and suffer a bit of an efficiency loss, but otherwise it’s all good. I have absolutely no issue with 1.50 qt/lb up to 2 qt/lb for a 1.065 beer.

I like this calculator for determining whether or not it’ll fit in my mash tun:

http://www.haandbryg.dk/mashcalc.html#mash

I’ve been using my old 36qt cooler lately due to my 52qt having a crack near the valve and leaking. It easily handles 10-12 pounds of grain plus all the water for the first runnings, ~4.5 gallons.

When you say struggle what specifically are you referring to? Temperature concerns or just having enough space and having the ability to stir everything?

According to that calculator that was linked above (not sure how accurate it is) but it looks like it should be able to handle an 18lb grain bill with a mash ratio of 1.5 and still have a little under 1 gallon of space leftover.

I could always lower my mash ratio if space is a concern right?[/quote]

Space and ease of use. Keep in mind that cooler manufacturers count the volume under the convex lid as part of the total capacity. Obviously you can’t use that. I started with a 48 qt. cooler and have recently stepped up to a 70 qt.

[quote=“Denny”]
Space and ease of use. Keep in mind that cooler manufacturers count the volume under the convex lid as part of the total capacity. Obviously you can’t use that. I started with a 48 qt. cooler and have recently stepped up to a 70 qt.[/quote]

Do you compensate for the increased headspace by upping your strike water temp at all or is the temp loss negligible?

[quote=“mattnaik”][quote=“Denny”]
Space and ease of use. Keep in mind that cooler manufacturers count the volume under the convex lid as part of the total capacity. Obviously you can’t use that. I started with a 48 qt. cooler and have recently stepped up to a 70 qt.[/quote]

Do you compensate for the increased headspace by upping your strike water temp at all or is the temp loss negligible?[/quote]

Negligible. Usually about 1 degree over the course of the mash. If it’s really cold, maybe 3 degrees. Not enough to worry about.

I have a 10g and have no issues with a 1.50 beer like denny said.
You are a tad smaller but should be fine, may get messy on some bigger beers though. use extract on those

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