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Posted: 5/28/2014 9:51:14 AM EDT
I'm just getting into home brewing. Just acquired a bunch of equipment from my mom.

I'm going to start my maiden batch next week out of an extract kit, but would like to eventually brew from grain. Been studying on the process and think I got the concept down, but one thing I don't understand.

You essentially soak the grains at a set temp for a set amount time, etc. They talk about maintaining the temp by either adding ice or more hot water. All home brewers seem to use a modified cooler for this purpose. Why? Why not use a big kettle on a low set burner to maintain temp?

Link Posted: 5/28/2014 10:51:45 AM EDT
Originally Posted By JimEb:
I'm just getting into home brewing. Just acquired a bunch of equipment from my mom.

I'm going to start my maiden batch next week out of an extract kit, but would like to eventually brew from grain. Been studying on the process and think I got the concept down, but one thing I don't understand.

You essentially soak the grains at a set temp for a set amount time, etc. They talk about maintaining the temp by either adding ice or more hot water. All home brewers seem to use a modified cooler for this purpose. Why? Why not use a big kettle on a low set burner to maintain temp?

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You can, but would need to keep it moving or it will scorch quick. Some do that with recirculation, but to be honest the cooler is super simple, easy and works really, really well for 5-10 gallon batches. Why make things harder than they have to be? The only thing it would really excel at would be limited volume step mashes, but those honestly aren't normally needed for good/great beer, and trying to increase temp would require a bunch of heat that would be even more possible scorching.

Link Posted: 5/29/2014 9:23:42 PM EDT
Just get a cooler for a mash tun. It will do everything you need at first. I use a 10 gal igloo. I put water in at roughly 170 degrees and after I am done adding and stirring the grain, it is 150 degrees and stays there for an hour. I have never had to add more hot water or ice to keep a good temperature. Some day when you have tons of extra money to build a professional system, you can step up to a "kettle" that is heated and circulated and all that...

For now use a cooler and make awesome beer. 95% of the people that brew use a cooler and make fantastic beer.

No need to make life too complicated.

Good luck.
Link Posted: 6/2/2014 10:00:48 AM EDT
Now that I understand the process more it makes more sense to me now. Big coolers go on sale around this time of year, if I find a deal I'll pick one up.

Since I just started I'm going to play with extracts for a bit before considering the all-grain route. Seems like a mash tun could be a PITA to clean.
Link Posted: 6/2/2014 1:19:22 PM EDT
Look into BIAB (brew in a bag) no real cost except for a big mesh bag.
Link Posted: 6/3/2014 8:46:09 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/3/2014 8:47:46 AM EDT by TaylorWSO]
I have a insulated keg thats my MT.

I have a recirc pump that I intended to hold temp with, but to tell you the truth, if I preheat the MT, get my calcs correct. I usually hit w/n 1 degree of mash and only lose 1 to .5 degrees in a setting. If I dick it up I can recirc to get back on track.

For a single infusion you don't need to the recirculate if you have insulated MT

BTW its not "sparging" as much as its "mashing" for the title





Link Posted: 6/4/2014 9:19:21 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By skin290:


You can, but would need to keep it moving or it will scorch quick. Some do that with recirculation, but to be honest the cooler is super simple, easy and works really, really well for 5-10 gallon batches. Why make things harder than they have to be? The only thing it would really excel at would be limited volume step mashes, but those honestly aren't normally needed for good/great beer, and trying to increase temp would require a bunch of heat that would be even more possible scorching.

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Originally Posted By skin290:
Originally Posted By JimEb:
I'm just getting into home brewing. Just acquired a bunch of equipment from my mom.

I'm going to start my maiden batch next week out of an extract kit, but would like to eventually brew from grain. Been studying on the process and think I got the concept down, but one thing I don't understand.

You essentially soak the grains at a set temp for a set amount time, etc. They talk about maintaining the temp by either adding ice or more hot water. All home brewers seem to use a modified cooler for this purpose. Why? Why not use a big kettle on a low set burner to maintain temp?



You can, but would need to keep it moving or it will scorch quick. Some do that with recirculation, but to be honest the cooler is super simple, easy and works really, really well for 5-10 gallon batches. Why make things harder than they have to be? The only thing it would really excel at would be limited volume step mashes, but those honestly aren't normally needed for good/great beer, and trying to increase temp would require a bunch of heat that would be even more possible scorching.



I've tried just about every matching technique include decotion. IMO a single infusion works well on most beers as long as you are spot one with your times and temps and yes a 10GAL cooler works perfect. One can use a converted Sankey keg but there's no real advantage unless you're doing decot mashing.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 9:32:05 PM EDT
Single infusions work well for most beers. Some lagers require a protein rest, but in a 10 gal. round cooler, it's not much trouble to do that. For everything else, all it really does is make your brew day longer.

Beta amylase is a hell of an enzyme.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 10:18:41 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
. One can use a converted Sankey keg but there's no real advantage unless you're doing decot mashing.
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wow, just a minute, it looks cooler, much cooler
Link Posted: 6/10/2014 3:56:33 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By JimEb:
Now that I understand the process more it makes more sense to me now. Big coolers go on sale around this time of year, if I find a deal I'll pick one up.

Since I just started I'm going to play with extracts for a bit before considering the all-grain route. Seems like a mash tun could be a PITA to clean.
View Quote



It's really nothing to clean a 10 gallon igloo cooler. Verlof and drain the sweet wort. Get your boil going and when you got a free second dump the grains and hose it out with the garden hose. That's it. It doesn't need to be sanitized, just clean.

The plastic is very hydrophobic and stays that way unless you scrub with a scotch brite pad.
Link Posted: 6/16/2014 11:00:00 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By TaylorWSO:
wow, just a minute, it looks cooler, much cooler
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Originally Posted By TaylorWSO:
Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
. One can use a converted Sankey keg but there's no real advantage unless you're doing decot mashing.
wow, just a minute, it looks cooler, much cooler



Well yeah, there's that but the coolers work sooooooooo much better. I do need to install a through the wall thermometer on my mash tun as I'm anal as hell on my temps and hate opening up to check to see how it's holding.
Link Posted: 6/16/2014 11:08:15 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By ATLDiver:



Well yeah, there's that but the coolers work sooooooooo much better. I do need to install a through the wall thermometer on my mash tun as I'm anal as hell on my temps and hate opening up to check to see how it's holding.
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Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
Originally Posted By TaylorWSO:
Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
. One can use a converted Sankey keg but there's no real advantage unless you're doing decot mashing.
wow, just a minute, it looks cooler, much cooler



Well yeah, there's that but the coolers work sooooooooo much better. I do need to install a through the wall thermometer on my mash tun as I'm anal as hell on my temps and hate opening up to check to see how it's holding.

Just get a digital thermometer. They usually have the probe on the end of a length of cord and you just put it in the middle of you mash and shut the lid on the cord. I never lose more than a single degree during a 60min mash.

I have mixed results with analog thermometers.
Link Posted: 6/16/2014 2:27:03 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Marmike600:

Just get a digital thermometer. They usually have the probe on the end of a length of cord and you just put it in the middle of you mash and shut the lid on the cord. I never lose more than a single degree during a 60min mash.

I have mixed results with analog thermometers.
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Originally Posted By Marmike600:
Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
Originally Posted By TaylorWSO:
Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
. One can use a converted Sankey keg but there's no real advantage unless you're doing decot mashing.
wow, just a minute, it looks cooler, much cooler



Well yeah, there's that but the coolers work sooooooooo much better. I do need to install a through the wall thermometer on my mash tun as I'm anal as hell on my temps and hate opening up to check to see how it's holding.

Just get a digital thermometer. They usually have the probe on the end of a length of cord and you just put it in the middle of you mash and shut the lid on the cord. I never lose more than a single degree during a 60min mash.

I have mixed results with analog thermometers.


I use one of those but can't seal the lid good and tight. I wish someone made a through the wall probe 'hole.'
Link Posted: 6/16/2014 2:47:20 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By ATLDiver:


I use one of those but can't seal the lid good and tight. I wish someone made a through the wall probe 'hole.'
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Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
Originally Posted By Marmike600:
Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
Originally Posted By TaylorWSO:
Originally Posted By ATLDiver:
. One can use a converted Sankey keg but there's no real advantage unless you're doing decot mashing.
wow, just a minute, it looks cooler, much cooler



Well yeah, there's that but the coolers work sooooooooo much better. I do need to install a through the wall thermometer on my mash tun as I'm anal as hell on my temps and hate opening up to check to see how it's holding.

Just get a digital thermometer. They usually have the probe on the end of a length of cord and you just put it in the middle of you mash and shut the lid on the cord. I never lose more than a single degree during a 60min mash.

I have mixed results with analog thermometers.


I use one of those but can't seal the lid good and tight. I wish someone made a through the wall probe 'hole.'


You could probably get away with a couple of rubber grommets and a home made thermowell.
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