Cheap(er) All Grain Idea

Sat May 06, 2006 4:36 pm

I have been planning for a while now to buy a new kettle and a cooler setup for brewing all grain. Today I thought "why bother with the cooler". My idea is to still get a new kettle with the dual coupler, and a false bottom. This way I can mash in the kettle (providing better temp control), then sparge off to something like a "better bottle" (one of those plastic carboys) for temporary storage. Then clean the mash tun out and put it back to the burner as a boil kettle.

Does anyone see any potential problems with this, other than a little extra time or "hot side aeration"?
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Sat May 06, 2006 6:17 pm

Just time. You can even hold the runnings in a plastic bucket or something - don't need to soil your nicely sanitized better bottle.

It will cost you a fair amount of time, though. With separate lauter and kettle, you can start heating for the boil as soon as you have collected enough runnings to cover the bottom of the kettle. You can be almost at the full boil by the time the lauter is done.

With your plan, you have to wait the hour to lauter, then take more time to clean the kettle, then tranfer, then start heating from 140-150, so you might have another half hour or more to reach boil.

Is that extra hour+ *every time you brew* worth saving $20 on a cooler?
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Sat May 06, 2006 7:01 pm

Thanks for the time line Danny, I didn't realize that laudering took so long (since I'm an all grain virgin). I still think that I can live with the time. I wasn't just looking at a cooler though, I was thinking more like the B3 cooler setups which are like 150+.
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Sat May 06, 2006 7:55 pm

You can always switch over to batch sparging instead of fly sparging. That way your lauter only takes 10 minutes.

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Sat May 06, 2006 9:14 pm

Even when batch sparging (which I do) I think it will take a lot more time. Lauter times aside, don't forget you'll have to clean out the grains from the kettle before you can put the wort back in.

Beyond time, it will be a bit dangerous. The grains will be at least 150F, and the bottom of the keg will have had heat applied and probably be hotter than that. You'll either wait for it to cool (more time!) or deal with the hot stuff.

You can build yourself a mash-lauter tun for next to nothing. B3 sells a false bottom for a bucket for about $5. Drop it in your bottling bucket, wrap it in blankets and you're in business. A small upgrade is a cooler with a bottling valve and hose braid installed. (Like this one on the left.) Search the forums and you'll find several cheap designs.[/url]
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Wed May 17, 2006 10:27 am

Thats the way I did it for about 10 years. Not only was it a budget contraint but I was also working in a tiny work space for brewing so the less things there the better.
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Wed May 17, 2006 11:39 am

You can also check for deals on the 5gal coolers. My Cooler system started when I found 5gal rubbermaid coolers (the Blue ones) at Walmart for $18 each. SOLD!

I still have the coolers, false bottom, Phil's sparger, fittings, thermometers, etc... Any offers??


Wishing you all the best...
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Wed May 24, 2006 8:47 am

Home Depot also have nice coolers for cheap. When I used my cooler, it was like $19.95 for an 8 gallon cooler that a large Phil's Phalse bottom fit perfectly. Added a coffee urn type spigot and viola', I had a mash/lauter tun that kept temps to within 1 degree F for 90 minutes for less than $30 total. Typical amount of grain and liquor was around 16lbs and 20quarts for an OG of 1.048 for 10 gallons, 1.096 for 5 gallons, but of course, ymmv!


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