A time comes in a homebrewer’s career that he or she decides to take another step. For me, it was time to do some all-grain brewing. Sometimes, there is a huge outlay in equipment costs to get you to that point, but fortunate for me, I had some great gear already, and just needed to add the mash tun. After some research, I decided to build the AHA Cooler Mash Tun.
For my build, I followed the basic plans that were outlined for the Denny Con Cooler Mash Tun. I got the following items from Amazon to complete my project:
- 48 Coleman quart picnic cooler
- Rubber mini-keg bung (I got a three pack because it was a great deal)
- (2) 1/4″ hose clamps (I bought a box of 10 for a great price, you can’t have enough of these around)
- 1/2″ hose clamp (see above)
- 3/8″ inline brass barbed ball valve (I got this as the nylon valves were more expensive and harder to find)
- 7/16″ vinyl tubing (I had previously bought 100 feet of this and had some left over)
- 16″ stainless steel supply line
- Food-grade sealer
Building The Mash Tun
Once all my parts arrived, I started the project. Also, at the same time I was building a recirculating draft line cleaner with plans from homebrewfinds.com . I will post about that build in an additional article. The building of this cooler mash tun was relatively easy. The video from the AHA really walks you through the different steps. I will just let you know a few thoughts.
With the supply line, you should exercise some caution. Definitely use a saw to cut it quickly, but be sure to have it clamped so you don’t cut yourself. Also, when removing the inner tube, excessive force makes it harder. Gently pull with a pair of pliers, while stretching out the line, and it will come right out. When clamping down the end to you tubing, and crimping the other end, just be careful of the metal fibers…they hurt when they poke into your finger… not that I experienced this 😉 .
Silicone food grade sealer is cheap, so don’t worry about liberally applying it. The bung was a little loose for me snapping in, and I wanted to be sure the tubing didn’t have a leak around it. Know that you probably won’t be able to reuse the sealer tip as it dries quickly in there, and is a pain to clean out.
Don’t forget when you build it, to water test it to be sure there are no leaks. You don’t want a surprise on your first brew day.
For under $55, I built a great mash tun, and I still have some extra parts for other projects. My first all-grain brewing with it went great. I loss very little temperature in the one hour mash, and that was from me opening the mash tun to check on the process. The next morning when I cleaned it out (we brewed late that night), the moist spent grains still had some heat to them!
My buddy Sully, who has been mentioned a few times before (here and here), also built one. He used a different cooler that was on sale at a local Wally World. He also took things a step further and built a pvc sparge arm setup that sits on top of his cooler.
I would definitely recommend this build to anyone that is looking into all-grain brewing. It is a fun project that you can accomplish quite easily in a day, and have it for many brews to come!
Life has been crazy, and many things have changed since my last post. Most of my brewing gear is packed up and temporarily stored at my parents house, as we decided to sell our house and move… so my focus has not been on beer so much as of late. Time got away from me, and I didn’t properly note everything as it happens, but I will try to keep up with it better over the coming months!