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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * Archive through December 31, 2004 * Your Preferred MLT style... < Previous Next >

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Aaron Meyer
Junior Member
Username: Meyeaard

Post Number: 33
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 02:24 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm getting ready to piece together an AG setup and am needing your opinions on Mash Lauter Tun types.

Starting out I will likely be using single temp mash schedules and would like to have the option to multi-step mash and batch or fly sparge.

The two choices that I find for MLT are the cooler and the kettle.

The budget I have of 40-50$US for the MLT including all the fittings for the manifold and valving will give me the option of a cooler or a 35qt aluminum turkey fryer.

If going the route of the cooler, I'm leaning towards the Rubbermaid 5 gallon round Gott style.

Could you all please note your preference and any comments you have on why you prefer it?

Your help here is greatly appreciated!

don price
Advanced Member
Username: Donzoid

Post Number: 514
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 02:41 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Go for a 40-60 qt rectangular cooler. Dirt cheap and far more flexible than the 5-gallon drink cooler. You will move from 5 to 10 gallon all-grain batches very quickly so just buy the bigger cooler now. 10 gallon round coolers are nice but more expensive than the rectangular ones....but the 15 gallon SS lined (with galvanized steel exterior) drink cooler would by first choice if I hit the (small) lotto.

You can't direct-fire a cooler but it is very easy to modify for HERMS operation for step mashing...though step infusion mashing is easy if the cooler is large enough...

I use a converted keg because I got my sytsem used. I would probably go with a cooler if I need to replace what I have...but it will last until long after I am dead.


Mark Tigges
Username: Mtigges

Post Number: 214
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 07:04 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I use a rectangular 55 quart rectangular cooler. Very easy to modify to a mash tun (I used a slotted manifold). Excellent temperature stability for infusion mashing.

Previously I was using a bucket style mlt with a slotted manifold ... it also worked well enough. But temperature stability was only barely sufficient.

(Message edited by mtigges on December 28, 2004)

Richard Nye
Intermediate Member
Username: Yeasty_boy

Post Number: 422
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 11:03 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've used (and still have) a 10 gal SS kettle with FB. I direct heated and circulated with a pump to maintain temps and step mash. The grainbed temperatures were uneven and I would get a little scorching of the wort. Had to watch it like a hawk. Expensive too, wouldn't recommend it.

I also have a 50 qt rectangular cooler with a Bazooka screen. Works great for single infusion mashing. I may have to add a little boiling water during a 90 min mash to maintain temps, but it's very easy to mash in. I have a 50qt size which works for all 5 gallon batches and 10 gallon up to 1.050 OGs. Cheap too. I'd recommend it. Only problem is it's not easy to do step mashes.

I've step mashed in the oven using a 4 gallon kettle (you can get 'em cheap, just make sure it fits into your oven). You just infusion mash for the first step and place into a warm oven. To step mash you direct heat while stirring until the mash temp is reached then cover it and place it back in the oven. When you're done mashing, lauter in your cooler. This works very well, with very accurate, consistent mash temperatures.

Joseph Listan
Intermediate Member
Username: Poonstab

Post Number: 374
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 03:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Forget the manifold and use braided screen. It is really easy to modify, very cheap, and works better than any other method. It simply will not clog and there is practically no chance of grain bypassing it (manifolds fall apart, false bottoms float or get disturbed by the stirring, etc.).

I have only heard one story about a screen collapsing, but I wouldn't worry about that, they are much sturdier than they appear, and you can put a slotted or drilled pipe inside it if you are paranoid. It would probably still work even if it collapsed, though it would be slower.

If you are careful, you can cut the inner plastic tubing without cutting the outer braid by slowly and gently pinching it with a pair of wire cutters (the braid is really pretty tough, you'll see), eliminating the need to use a barb and clamp. This way you end up with the right fitting already attached (buy the hose with at least one fitting that you want; they come in several sizes), and it is a swivel fitting to boot. Very clean. If you batch sparge (recommended), you really only need about six inches of "open" screen on the end. Just pinch a small piece of stiff copper wire onto the other end that is completely cut off and you're all set.

I also recommend that you leave about three inches of uncut hose so that you don't get channeling right above the outlet. Even with batch sparging, if the suction is at the side of the tun, it takes longer to clear the wort as it will channel right around the edge. Most of the suction will concentrate at the end of the hose so it if is a few inches into the grain bed it has to go along the bottom of the tun which filters better.

Also make sure the screen is stainless and not plastic. The price will tell you, as will an attempt to scratch it with a fingernail. Most stainless screen is labelled as such, and an 18" or 24" hose should cost about $5 at the Mega Hardware ripoff center.

I like using a cooler, but I never get the insulative performance others report using a 10gal Rubbermaid round. My mash usually falls about 5F to 7F during a 45 minute mash. Not a problem, I start at 159 and it falls to just where I want it. Never hurts my beer.

Graham Cox
New Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 17
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 03:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have an Igloo 48-quart Ice Cube modified with the Kewler bulkhead fittings, SS ball valve, and the straight bazooka screen. The whole shebang was about $50, as I recall, and there was virtually zero time and labor involved in making the conversion. It works quite well. If I pre-heat the tun, I don't lose more than about 3-5F over the course of an hour mash, and even that amount is influenced by opening the lid and stirring, which is beneficial but probably unnecessary.

Paul Hayslett
Advanced Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 579
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 03:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I second everything Joseph and Richard said. I've mashed in my SS kettle with a Bazooka screen and in a big canning pot in my oven. But I usually use a 48qt rectangular cooler with a length of SS braid. Cheap as dirt and works just fine. Like Joseph, I lose more heat than others claim to but it doesn't seem to matter. I start a couple degrees high (not as high as he does) and figure that by the time it cools down much of the beta amylase will have denatured anyway. The beer comes out fine.

For really high gravity batches, I use a larger cooler without a drain. I rigged up a siphon with my Bazooka screen, a hunk of copper pipe, a barb, and a length of reinforced vinyl tubing. I leave it out during the mash and just plunk it in for the sparge. I control the flow during vorlauf just by raising or lowering the little pot catching the outflow (siphons are great that way). Works just fine and I never have to worry about banging into anything while stirring the mash.
The dreadful foul drink called mead is made from honey, then fermented. It is the sourest, blackest, vilest stuff ever invented by any man, and yet it is potent beyond all knowing; a few drinks and the world spins. -- Ibn Fadlan A.D.922

Ben Schy
Junior Member
Username: Bens

Post Number: 79
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 04:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I second the Cube. It's got a low drain point and huge capacity. I use mine in conjunction with a 1-gallon heat exchanger (made from an electric water heater element and a 1-gallong enamle pot) and a pump to recirculate. This makes it easy to maintain and rise mash temps as well as get crystal-clear runoff from the get-go. Not quite in the $50 range (thanks to the pump), but the cooler alone will hold your temps just fine, as well as give you the option of bumping up to 10-gallon batches when you want. I used to have 5-gallon Gott's, but they are just too small for big 5-gallong batches or any 10-gallon ones.

PS - I never had much luck with the screens. I had one collapse the first time I used it (leading to a super-slow runoff). I added a slotted copper tube inside it to maintain the rigidity, but the runoff was still slow. In the end, a simple slotted copper manifold is what works the best for me.


Stephen Manchester
Username: Smanches

Post Number: 145
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 05:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

72qt super insulated cooler with SS braid. It can easily handle any amount of grain that I may want to put in it, and the temperature drop over 90 minutes is almost unnoticable. The flow is fast and clean, and I get %75+ effeciency out of it on average.

I still do 5 gallon batches, but I like all the extra room for that day when I'm getting ready for a BIG party.