Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mash Tun Made Easy

Home Grown Mash Tun

When preparing for my entry in to all-grain brewing I had to gather some new equipment. Among the required items, of course, was a mash tun. If you’ve done research you know that you can spend quite a bit on commercially produced hardware, or you can use one of several methods to build one of your own. I took the latter route, and I did it for about $7.00. I’m going to use my first post on this blog to talk about how I did it, and a bit about how I use it.
First, what’s required.
  • A spigot. I purchased mine from the local brewery supply store, http://www.beernut.com.
  • Two food grade buckets. I would have been better off getting larger buckets, but I know the owner of a local Chinese restaurant, J. Wong's Asian Bistro...If you’re ever in the Salt Lake area, stop by. The food is excellent. Anyway, I bugged them for a couple of 5 gallon buckets that were used to supply food products.
  • A splatter screen. The kind that’s used for putting over your frying bacon. Get a Cheap one. You’ll be tearing it apart.
  • A lid. I use the lid from my primary fermentor.


Now, for what I did.

  1. I bleached the hell out of the buckets. One was used to store onions, the other for soy sauce. Those are probably not flavors you want soaking in to your wort, so bleach them until they’re clean and white, and bleach them one more time.
  2. I got out my drill and a ⅛ inch bit, a couple of beers, and put on Sons of Anarchy while drilling holes in the bottom of one of the buckets. I drilled the holes about ⅛ inch apart, basically making the bucket in to a big sieve. This bucket is the inside bucket that acts as the false bottom.
  3. On the bucket without the holes, the outer bucket, I marked a location for the spigot at the bottom. I placed it so that it was about ¼ to ½ inch higher than the bottom of the bucket, and below the bottom of the inside bucket when the inside bucket is placed inside of the outside bucket. Then I drilled out a hole big enough for the spigot to slide in. I didn’t do this very well, and ended up having to use some silicone to fill in some areas around the spigot, but it’s holding for now.
  4. I took the screen out of the metal ring handle of the splatter screen, and I use that as a filter on the inside of the false bottom. It ensures that no grains can fall through the false bottom.

That’s it. I’ve used this set up for over a year, and I’ve had no major issues. When mashing I put the lid to my primary fermentor on top, and wrap the mash tun with a U-Haul blanket. This is able to hold temperature within 5 degrees for an hour and a half.
There is one problem that I’ve run in to. I cannot brew a batch that requires more than 10 pounds of grain, and even that is pushing it. It’s not a big deal for me because I brew 5 gallon batches, and my recipes usually manage to stay under 10 pounds, but if I want to do something like a barley wine, there is no way this setup will handle it.
Is it the perfect solution? No, but it’s dirt cheap, easy to construct, and works very well.
Of course, the idea isn’t original, and I’m more than happy to give credit, but I’ve since forgotten just where I found the info online.




Update

While I admit that the homemade rig worked pretty damn well, I eventually did break down and build out a kit from 2 10 gallon igloo coolers. The main reason was that high gravity beers, even 5 gallon batches, are just too big for a 5 gallon bucket. It's all part of the process, and all part of the fun! I ended up with something a little like this:

The Amazon links go through my affiliate account, and any purchases will give me a little taste that will help to motivate me to keep putting out content.