Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cheap Mash & Lauter Tun for only $55 or Less

I’ve only been brewing for a short while, but I sure have caught the bug. I have brewed eight beers so far using extract and steeping grains. This morning, I brewed a Belgian Wit. The Wit recipe called for mini mashing a pound of flaked oats, a pound of German wheat malt, and 2 pounds of pilsner malt. This was my first mini mash.

I have been reading up on moving to all-grain and figured I just need to do it. It will only help me fine tune my recipes and help my beer be everything it should be. I did a bunch of research and decided batch sparging is the method I will be first using. Denny Conn’s article on batch sparging was a great help on how to build a mash tun for batch sparging. So I went out this weekend and picked up everything I needed from Walmart and Lowes.

I found my 50qt Rubbermaid Cooler at Walmart for $28.99. I went with a slightly larger cooler because I plan to do 10-gallon batches of high gravity beers. The cooler seems it will do the job perfectly. It claims to keep ice for 5 days in 90-degree weather, so I think it will keep a mash temperature for an hour. It is possible to use almost any cooler with batch sparging. If you have an old cooler lying around, it is possible convert it back and forth between a cooler and a mash tun. This will cut the price in half. You can also find coolers at yard sales for cheap to cut down the price.

I then headed over to the Lowes and proceeded to pick up the parts to make this cooler a mash and lauter tun. I used the directions I found on the Fly Guy MLT page and updated the parts for this cooler. They are as followed.

Parts inside the tun
  • All stainless steel ¼” hose clamps x 2
  • Brass square head plug (Watts A-737)
  • ½” x 30” braided stainless steel supply hose
  • 3/8” female barb adapter (Watts A-298)
  • 3/8” MIP x 2” brass nipple (Watts A-787)
  • Seal from plastic spigot of cooler (shown below)
Parts outside the tun
  • 5/8” O-ring (preferably heat resistant, if you can find one)
  • 5/8” fender washers
  • 3/8” threaded ball valve
  • 3/8” male barb adapter (Watts A-294)
You will also need some plumbing Teflon tape.

I’m not going to go step by step on how I assembled the tun because you can find the direction on the Fly Guy MLT site. However, I can say it was very easy. The hardest part was cutting the stainless steel supply hose. I tried doing it without any power tools and no saw, but that didn’t work so well. I then remembered I had a metal cutting blade adapter to my RotoZip. A hacksaw would work just as good, but I didn’t have one around. Once it was cut, it took some finagling to get the inner hose out.

Here are some photos of the completed mash & lauter tun.

Mash Tun

Mash Tun - Ball Valve

Mash Tun - Stainless Steel Braid

Mash Tun - Internal Connector

Now I need for my Wit to complete fermentation so I have space to brew another beer. I will post about my first full all-grain brew once I brew it.


Sam said...

Nice work Jeff.

Can't wait to see pictures of it in action!


Chipper Dave said...

That looks like the perfect mash and lauter tun. It's big enough to handle a big or small batch. Good suggestion and will hold the temperatures steady for a long time.

Jason said...

Jeff....any idea where I can find a stainless steel fender washer? I've looked all over and no one around me has them. Even online. Any help would be appreciated.


Jeff Louella said...

I didn't actually end up using a washer inside. I couldn't find one at the Home Depot or Lowes. It ends up, I didn't need it.

Also watch out with the stainless braid. The one I photographed was actually not stainless. It was plastic braid with stainless fittings(a home depot special). I ended up using a water heater supply line from Lowes. It was a little thicker and definitely stainless.

The plastic braid collapsed in the heat and i couldn't get the wort out.

Ted said...

I could not find any fender washer so I substituted with 5/8 in garden hose washers, they hold up to the heat and give a tight fit.

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Kerry Lee Anderson said...

if I may ask, how do you introduce the sparge water?

Jeff Louella said...

When batch sparging, you just pour water up top. I use a 1 gallon ice tea pitcher.

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