Author Topic: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun  (Read 410 times)

Offline Randall Miller

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To assure that my mash (in my cooler) hits and stays at the appropriate temperature to produce the right combination of fermentable and non-fermentable sugars, I carefully monitor the temperature and stir as needed to eliminate temperature stratification. Opening the color mash tun to stir can result in temperature loss. I am considering purchasing the electric bucket 1000 watt heating element as a means to bring the mash temperature up after it drops (or if I was low following doughing-in). I would stir the heating element to prevent hot spots in the mash. Does anyone see a downside to doing this? It would appear that this would be similar to what the mash would experience in a RIMS system. Thanks.

Offline MattyAHA

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Re: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2019, 08:32:06 PM »
the only downside i can see is spending money and adding another piece of gear to your system, if you are a geek like me its not a downside just makes brewday funner, but if you are only trying to brew great beer all it takes is 20-30 mins to get conversion and even in an uninsulated vessel holding 150F for example for 20-30 mins is very easy and other heating elements are not necessary but again if you are a geek like me and want to complicate and fine tune your brewing why not get that 1000 w element
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Offline Richard

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Re: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2019, 09:42:14 PM »
I think that 1000 Watts is total overkill. I mash in a well-insulated kettle and I need less than 100 W to maintain a mash temperature (with the top on). Using a high-power element increases your chance of scorching the mash if you don't keep it moving fast enough. Also, most of the ones I have seen are described as being for heating water. If you heat mash you will definitely get a burnt layer building up over time, so make sure you get one that can be thoroughly cleaned. That means the shield around the heating element must be removable so you can scour the surface of the element clean.
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Offline Bob357

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Re: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2019, 12:56:15 AM »
I mash in a 10 gallon Rubbermaid cooler and seldom lose more than 1 or 2 degree when mashing for up to 90 minutes. I stir twice during the mash, regardless of duration and average about 82% mash efficiency. Sounds like you're overthinking this and spending too much time opening the mash tun to stir. As MattyAHA stated, most of the conversion is completed in the first 20 to 30 minutes. If you're just attempting to solve a low efficiency problem, look first at your grain crush. That's the most common cause.


As far as missing tour temp by a few degrees, any decent brewing software will let you set up and adjust an equipment profile to assure you hit the temperature within a degree or 2. Until such time that you get that dialed in, just keep some boiling water handy to adjust as needed.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2019, 02:04:08 AM »
When I mash in a ten gallon cooler, I get the temp set and pull for pH. That first part has stirring to get the temp set. Maybe after a haft hour I check the temp. If it has dropped, i add boiling water. The wife has a 1 liter water boiler for Tea that o have at a boil when I open the cooler up. Works great for me.
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Offline mainebrewer

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Re: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2019, 10:56:28 AM »
I mash in a 70 qt cooler. When mashing in I stir for a few minutes to break up any dough balls and to equalize temp. Then I close the lid and don't open it again until the mash ends. I rarely lose more than a couple of degrees. You won't notice the difference between maintaining a temp for 60 min or losing two degrees over the course of the mash in the finished product.
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Offline denny

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Re: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2019, 12:43:45 PM »
When you mash in, stir enough to get the temp pretty much equal throughout the ccooler, then close it and don't stir again.  Small temp differences don't really matter and will pretty much even out anyway.
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Offline BrewBama

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Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2019, 01:03:27 PM »
BLUF: what’s your budget?

I agree that a large % if not all of the conversion is complete very early in the mash relegating maintenance of a couple degree drop over an hour pretty low on the ‘it’s gonna screw up my beer’ scale (data to illustrate at bottom of post). Also, realize that a single infusion mash is a compromise between optimal enzyme conversion temps which further puts it in the ‘it’ll be OK’ camp. However, having new shiny things in the brewhaus is pretty high on the ‘cool factor’ scale. So, a couple considerations:

1. Do nothing. Cost = zero. Easy Peasy. Makes great beer.

2. If you’re gonna buy a heat stick how are you gonna control it? 

     A. Manually babysitting a thermometer and switching on and off a heat stick + constantly stirring while it’s firing = PITA.

     B. Automatically controlling temp = much easier albeit more expensive. ...but your still gotta stir the whole time the element is firing or you run the risk of scorching your mash.  Constant stirring = babysitting = PITA.

3.  Do you have a pump?  If not, do you want one? (It’ll stir for you)

     A. Yes? Add a heat stick externally in a tube so you don’t scorch your mash. Recirculate the wort via tubing and maintain a set value automatically. (aka RIMS) 

         — You can do the same thing by recirculating the wort thru tubing in a temp controlled hot water bath fired with a heat stick with the added benefit of no chances of scorch the mash (aka HERMS).

     B. No?  See No. 1 or 2 above


* Data to help illustrate mash conversion times. If you graph it it looks like a hockey stick: sharply straight up from 0 to 20 min then a right turn flattening out after the initial 20 min to the mashout.  My last brewday:



20 min (end of 1st β rest @ 62* C): 5.5 pH room temp 1.053 ~80% of SG in kettle

50 min (very near end of three 20 min β rests: 62/64/67*C): 5.48 pH room temp 1.061 ~ 91% of SG in kettle.  Less ROI/time.

Mashout: 5.43 pH room temp 1.067 100% of SG in kettle

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« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 04:51:58 PM by BrewBama »
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Offline MNWayne

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Re: Adjusting the temperture in a 5 gallon and 10 gallon cooler mash tun
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2019, 01:40:16 PM »
I used to constantly monitor temp, stir a lot and adjust with boiling (or cold) water when needed, always keeping that pot of boiling water handy. Now I stir once or twice, don't bother measuring temp, skip the handy pot-o-water and my beer is better than ever. And without all futzing, my mashes are repeatable.
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