Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

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Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

Postby huntfisher on Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:42 pm

I have seen the mini brew 15 gallon mash tun, but not having handles on the tank would be a problem for me lifting on picnic table. Also, it seems Minibrew may not hold temperature so well. I was wondering if using a false bottom on a 60 qt cube cooler would work for fly sparging. Youtube example at bottom. The false bottom does seem to cover much of the space at the bottom of cooler. Do you think I could get good efficiency for fly sparging using something like this? 1.42 minutes shows space for false bottom http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBstWVnJkeo

I do not want to go the stainless steel braid route for filtering since many internet sighting state that it may not be ideal for fly sparging as far as efficiency goes when rinsing grains. I much rather use a false bottom if it fits since looking for parts for making a CPVC manifold may not be worth it for me as far as time goes and my Macivering skills.

It would be greatly appreciated any feedback and experience. Thanks to your previous help in the past, I have gone from 5 gallon extracts to doing 10 gallon all grain batches for the past three years, but the last year or so, my ten gallon igloo has been a pain for batches with more than 22 lbs of grain. So, I either have to make a cheaper mash tun using a rectangular cooler, bite the bullet and buy mini brew which I don't like handles, or start substituting some grain for DME which kind of defeats the purpose of all grain.
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Re: Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

Postby lexuschris on Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:21 am

Heya,

I had just a few thoughts for you on this. First, I am a batch sparger, not a fly sparger. For me and what I read, the small improvement in efficiency was not worth changing my rig or process. Second, I used to use the round 10-gallon Igloo cooler mash tun with a false bottom until I upgraded to a brew stand and 16-gal pots.

When I was on my 10-gal cooler mash tun, I only had 1 beer that I couldn't fit, so I adjusted the recipe for 3# of DME at the end of the boil. It is still all grain, and the DME is only a few gravity points to the overall beer. I wouldn't worry about that at all. :) It made a nice barley wine!

As for your original question, I'm not following the connection between a false bottom and improved efficiency fly-sparging. That is probably because I've not done a lot of reading on fly sparging. :) The good news is that I've met plenty of folks who use braids and were happy fly sparging. So, maybe it is a small technical difference, but not worth worrying about too much?

Looking at the video, I was more curious as to how much dead space would be in that tun. There is a shallow basin by the rear drain, which is dead space.. plus the area under the false bottom. Not sure if that would negate any adds to the efficiency right there.

In the end, I would advise you to not change things around too drastically for that illusive gain of a few points of OG. Sometimes the engineer in me wants to 'dial in all the numbers' to maximize my efficency, but in the end, I just want a good batch of beer. Sometimes it is just easier to add a little DME, or an extra scoop of grain, and stick to the process you know and works for you and your setup.

Happy brewing!!
:cheers:
--LexusChris
"A woman drove me to drink, and I hadn't even the courtesy to thank her." – W.C. Fields
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Re: Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

Postby bwarbiany on Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:45 am

Would that sort of a false bottom work? Yes. Would it maximize efficiency? I think most likely no, due to the big distance between the false bottom and the corners of the tun.

For a square design, you may want to just bite the bullet and build a manifold. It's really not that difficult to do.

But why not look at something like this? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001PZ7K7A

15 gallons, inexpensive, and it has handles.

Being aluminum, it also has the ability to be direct fired to maintain mash temp (if you have a recirculation setup to avoid scorching). And I find direct-firing my mash tun to bring strike water up to temp to be much more convenient than trying to heat the strike water and then transfer it to a cooler, hoping I get the temps *just right*.
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Re: Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

Postby huntfisher on Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:05 am

Yeah, using dme or building a manifold may be the way to go. I have no re-circulation and heating up mash tun, I could just see myself scorching the grains, definitely don't want to take that route at this point in time.
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Re: Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

Postby brahn on Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:16 am

I used a 60 qt cooler with a hose braid doing batch sparges for several years with great results. Now I'm on a 3 vessel single tier system and I fly sparge because it was easy to set up and makes it a little easier to do step mashes or maintain mash temp. I'm actually tempted to go back to batch sparging for the 99% of beers that don't require a step mash so that I don't have to constantly tweak my flow rates during the sparge.

It seems like you're fighting the hardware you want to use instead of going with the simplest solution. Is it possible to fly sparge with a cooler mash tun? Sure. But it's a lot simpler to use a hose braid and batch sparge. I just don't see any advantage to fly sparging in that setup.
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Re: Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

Postby huntfisher on Thu May 01, 2014 9:56 pm

I like the way the fly sparge is going so I am just gonna ride it out. I will probably just use some DME until I get some bigger gear. Still might convert a 70 qt cubed cooler and jerry rig something for fly sparging or possibly use suggestions. Either way, I will have an extra cooler , win win .
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Re: Converting 60 qt cooler for fly sparging

Postby huntfisher on Fri May 02, 2014 1:14 am

The thing I hate about brewing is all the lost time pondering and researching what equipment to utilize next, instead of just brewing.

The 15 gallon pot Brad mentioned would that work effectively for fly sparging if my false bottom is 12in. and the diameter of pot is 15 inches. Thanks for all the replies and options.
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