Archive for the 'Gear' Category

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Mash Tun Cooler Assembly

Assembling the mash tun was really quite simple (and quick) once I had all the correct parts. I had to make a second trip, this time to A-boy, to get a smaller close nipple and braided line. The images will link to larger versions when clicked. Well, without further ado.

Step One: Get a cooler

Rubbermaid 10 gallon cooler

I’m using a rubbermaid 10 gallon drink cooler from Home Depot (notice the logo), though this can be done with a smaller or rectangular cooler as well

Step Two: Remove the faucet

Remove the faucet

I did this in the store to make sure I had the right diameter of close nipple. Use a crescent wrench to hold the nut on the inside in place and twist on the outside faucet.

Assemble new manifold and drain system

Out flow assembly

Here’s how the pieces are assembled, though only put one half on, because you have to put the close nipple through the hole in the cooler before tightening up. Use teflon tape on each threaded fitting. I installed the internal compression fitting and washer first, inserted it through the cooler, then installed the exterior washer and faucet. Don’t over-tighten the assembly or you’ll damage the washers. I tightened just a little bit more than was possible by hand.

Moment of truth, part 1

Wet test

If everything seems to fight right, give it a dry run. Well, a wet run. Add hot water to the tun and let it sit for 20 minutes or so to see if the vessel remains water-tight. If so, you’re ready to brew. See, that was cake.

No Leaks

Moment of truth, part 2

To be continued…

Mash Tun shopping list

A trip to the store.

  • Stainless Steel braided line: $9.49
  • 1/2″ brass close nipple: $2.58
  • 2 – 1/2″ washers: $0.74
  • 1/2″ to 3/8″ compression fitting: $2.39
  • 10 gallon HDPE drinking cooler: $39.97
  • 1/2″ brass valve: $5.77

So, for $60, I have an assembled 10 gallon insulated mash tun. I’m still uncertain if the braided stainless steel is the way to go, but I’m thinking it’ll work well enough compared to a false bottom or scored manifold.

I ended up using a compression fitting to connect to one end of the braided line, which meant I didn’t have to sweat any copper joints. Plus, copper is so expensive right now that even small sections of coiled copper have security tags attached.

Next: assembly….

Building a Mash Tun with a cooler

After some spectacular results using Scott’s cooler/mash tun, I’ve decided to build a mash/lauter tun from a 10 gallon Rubbermaid drink cooler and go all-grain. Joe and I brewed three great beers, and he’s done another couple that have turned out quite well. The quality of each of the beers seems to be as good or better than the best 10% of my extract and partial mash brews. Time to step up.

To start the process, I’ve been scouring the internet and print material on converting a cooler. I’ve been watching craigslist for some time hoping a 10 gallon drink cooler would pop up at the right price, but the only finds have been far enough out of the city that the savings over a new cooler are easily used up in travel and lost time. Luckily, Home Depot sells an orange HDPE lined cooler for $40. I opted for the cylindrical because John Palmer recommended them for 5 gallon batches, which is probably most of what I’ll be doing. There are lots of instructions out there on converting both a cylindrical and a rectangular cooler, which I’ve linked to at the bottom for reference.

I’ll be photo-documenting the process as well, but here are a number of conversions for comparison.

How-To Links

There are many more I’m sure, but this provides quite a variety to consider. I also checked a number of forums for opinions on false bottoms and manifolds. I’ll be going with a manifold design.

Keg thief

After reading about and hearing about all the larceny related to scrap metals, I shouldn’t be surprised when my Nugget hop planted in an old beer keg was stolen from our driveway during the move. Yup, it’s missing, and while that’s common during a move, it’s rare to misplace a 7.75 gallon keg with a hop plant in it.

I can’t complain though – it was probably technically still some breweries property. I pulled it out of a recycling bin and converted it to a planter before I was fully aware of the stigma attached to keg thievery.

Joke is on the thief though – I’d trimmed the plant back to the point where it wouldn’t produce this year.

Beer pouring robot

Matt sent me this clip of a beer pouring robot from Japan. I’m not all that impressed. Taks forever, and it’s not like the slow pour reduces the head on the beer. And what do you do after it pours you a beer? Do you tip?

So long, kegerator…

The couple buying our home included the kegerator in the offer. While I’m sad to leave it, I’m happy to be selling the house. The only stipulation I had was that the Burt Grant tap handle goes with us. I suppose this means I get to make another one, right? Or maybe win one. (via Champagne of blogs & Belmont Station)

Chip clip returns

Chip clip returns

With two beers in secondary, it was time to clean out my kegs. I’d kind of been ignoring one of the kegs because of the chip clip incident. The keg was about 2/3 full and had gone bad quickly after tapping.

Anyway, after removing the ice (fridge was cold) and still good smelling beer, I found my chip clip at the bottom. It was kind of gross too. I’ve been using a stronger chip clip for the last two batches, but I suppose I should figure out a better system.

chip clip

I dropped a chip clip into a keg while siphoning my fresh hop beer. The clip was holding the racking cane and slipped off the tube, falling directly into the small mouth of the keg. The break in the foam was almost a perfect outline of the chip clip. I hope it doesn’t ruin the beer – it’s quite good.

Second Starter with Dry Yeast

I just finished pitching another starter using Fermentis dry yeast. This time I used T-58, a spicy Belgian ale yeast. Only 45 minutes after pitching, the starter is active. I am prone to believe that it is just re-hydrating rather than “going to town.” But I don’t know how yeast think.

Here are two pics I snapped. The first is the mini-wort about to boil with a yeast nutrient stain on top. It looks drinkable itself. The second is the active starter.
Starter before boil Rapid Start

Propane and Propane Accessories

Gas, timer, stove and kettle

It boils like you wouldn’t believe.