Thursday, March 11, 2010

Building the Mash Tun

So in my last post I made a oatmeal stout. It didn't turn out as well and I would have liked. Decent flavor but a little on the weak side. Since I want to add a few pounds of blueberry's in the secondary I figured I would try another stout. Like you can ever have enough stout around. This time would be my first all grain batch. I thought about using the same recipe I used before, but decided on a Founders Breakfast stout clone. This came out great for me in the past.

I first had to make a mash tun. It was quite easy. One trip to the big orange box hardware store and I had everything I needed.

Shopping list
1-1/2" Ball Valve with a 1/2" male connect on what will be the inside of the cooler
1-3/8 barb(where the hose connects to) to 1/2" male thread
1-1/2" female adapter-This will screw onto the ball valve and accept the 5/8"outside diameter copper pipe
1- long piece of copper pipe 5/8" outside diameter
5-90 degree elbows 5/8" inside diameter
3- copper t 's 5/8" inside diameter

It took me 30 or so minutes to round all of that up. I was glad that I sneakily ripped open the packages for the adapters to test that they fit right. The first ball valve I picked up would not have worked at all. After that it was time for cutting. I found a good guide on this blog. It served as a template for the manifold design. My cooler is a bit different than the one on the site so I improvised a bit. The cooler was measured and I cut the copper pipe with a pipe cutter. That made it a lot easier than a hack saw. Once the pieces were cut I dry fitted everything together. The one piece from the manifold to the ball valve had to be cut down a few times to get the correct fit. Then you can cramp the t's and elbows with a wrench just a little bit to get the pipe to fit nice and snug. I don't think solder will be necessary. t will make cleaning allot easier too.

Time to drill. A 5/64 drill bit was what I used. Small but not too small. There are a ton of different drill patters out there. Figuring I could always drill more if it doesn't work I drilled holes about 1/2" from each other just on the bottom of the manifold.

Once everything was put back together I got the cooler ready. For x-mas I received an Igloo Ice Cube cooler. The spigot was removed and saved the gasket. From there its was super easy to screw in the ball valve and female adapter with the gasket in between. The manifold hooked up to the adapter perfect and it was now time to test her out. 5 gallons was placed in the cooler and that's when I found to one and only flaw. Since the hole in the cooler is recessed my ball valve wouldn't close all the way due to the long handle. Not a big deal. the handle was removed and I used a wrench to open and close the valve until I can cut the handle shorter. Shockingly the cooler drained all but a few dribbles out the 5 gallons. I was really worried about the valve being higher than the bottom of the cooler. All and all I'm quite happy with this setup so far. It only cost me $25 and took around an hour to build.

Next post the first brew.

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