Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cooler to Mash Tun Conversion

Although we are ordering the majority of the equipment that we will be using for our Wild Brewing project we will also be constructing a few of the items that we need. Vital to the brewing processes is mashing the grains. The mash activates the enzymes in barley allowing them to break down complex sugars and starches into simple sugars that the yeast will be able to eat and turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

A mash tun is essentially a large insulated pot for making barley tea. The temperature inside the container needs to stay relatively stable which makes a cooler an ideal vessel to use (very little heat loss). Instead of buying a pre built mash tun I decided to take the more economical route and build one myself. Here is how it works in case anyone else ever wants to construct one.

What you need...

  1. A large cooler, the size is really up to you. You can fit at least 15 pounds of grain and the mash water into a ten gallon cooler. I am hoping to use this cooler to make 15-20 gallons of beer at a time, so I bought a 30 gallon cooler.
  2. Cooper pipe (the amount will vary based on how big the cooler is, I used 6 pieces of 1/2 inch pipe)
  3. 5 T push on connectors
  4. 4 90 degree elbow push on connectors
  5. A1/2 ball valve
  6. A 1/2 male to 3/4 barb plastic fixture
  7. A 1/2 male to 1/2 male connector
  8. A length of plastic tubing to fit onto the 3/4 barb
  9. A hack saw to cut the pipe
  10. Washers to seal the the outside and inside of the cooler with
  11. A shark bit connector to hook the 1/2 pipe to the 1/2 male to 1/2 male fitting

How to put it together....

  1. First I cut slits in the pipe about 1/3 of the way deep every 3/4 inches along the entire length of the pipe. The silts will face down and will work to filter the grain from the wort as it runs off
  2. I laid the pipe out to get a better idea of how many cuts I was going to need to make
  3. I made all of my cuts, making sure to measure
  4. Slip all the connectors onto the pipe and push them tightly together.
  5. Build the drain valve.
    1. I pushed the 1/2 male to 1/2 male connectors half into the wall of the cooler after taking out the previous drain.
    2. To the out side I added a washer and screwed on the ball valve adding the barb to the ball valve
    3. Next I screwed the shark bite connector to the 1/2 male to 1/2 male connector and added washers to make it seal tightly, and  then pushed it onto a piece of 1/2 copper pipe


It was about that easy! It took a little over and hour and a half to cut all the pipe and put it together. Total cost was 150$ which is a lot cheaper than trying to order something like this online!

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