should I use a 10 gal mash tun for 3 gallon batch

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by mrskittle, Sep 17, 2020.

  1. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Well, the title says it all. I'm looking brew a small, experimental batch and I'm wondering if it's prudent to use this big 10-gallon igloo cooler mash tun. The grain bill is around 7 lbs so @ 1.5 qt/lb, that's about 2.5 gal of strike water. I was reading somewhere about the height/volume of the mash compared to the surface area of the perforated dome, can affect efficiency.

    Am I overthinking this or is there something to it?
     
  2. Frankenbrewer

    Frankenbrewer Well-Known Member

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    On the surface, I'd say no. But there are more qualified opinions out here than mine. Also, if that's all you have, then YES
     
  3. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Well it isn't my only option.

    I've been doing partial mash up to this point but recently took the plunge into all-grain. For my partial mash batches, I have been doing BIAB method for mashing a slightly smaller grain bill in a 5 gallon kettle wrapped in towels. I then sparge through a large kitchen strainer It does a fine job but I'd rather ditch that setup for the igloo mash tun.

    I will typically do 5 gallon batches but when I try a new style I like to do a small batch in case it's not what I'm looking for. That is to say that the 10 gal mash tun will see lots of use in other batches, like my house IPA, which will be the first full-sized all-grain batch!!
     
  4. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    You can do a full volume mash without a sparge, like a first run partigyle. It will be a little less efficient, but just add a bit more grain. It will give you a good mash.
     
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  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Mostly your efficiency will suffer because the grain bed will be thin and flat compared to a bigger batch in the same tun. Otherwise, there's no reason not to use the equipment you have available.
     
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  6. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    This idea pretty much sounds like a BIAB procedure. Just add the full volume of water to the mash and drain without a sparge. Doesn't sound like a bad way to go.

    If it's just a matter of efficiency, I can deal with that. Like Bubba said, a little more grain in the mash will do the trick. It's Thursday evening now and I'm not going to brew till Saturday so I'll have time to change my mind a few times on how exactly I'm going to proceed.

    Would anyone venture to guess what kind of efficiency to expect with a no-sparge mash of this size?
     
  7. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I can't see any reasons not to i don't read into mash thickness or the shape of the vessel. In my opinion it comes down to temperarure - PH - time. Less volume = more temperature drop so i rekon go with a full volume mash as bubba sugested take the efficiency hit add more grain and have a more stable mash.;)

    If you are going to mash in in smaller volume I'd just start the mash higher to compensate any temperature drop you will get over 60 mins.
     
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  8. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    I'm kinda thinking like @Trialben. Time and temp will probably be the largest hurdle to overcome, but 7lbs of grain isn't to terribly small. You could easily bump your water to 1.75qrt per pound for a little extra mass. I know when I used a cooler tun not so long ago, pre-heating it will help a lot. I think most of us probably mash longer than we really need to anyway. An hour is kind of the set standard that we all just go by. I'm betting you'll be just fine.
     
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  9. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    I've seen others estimate 5%. Things to change that would be how fine the grain is crushed, how much you stir or recirculate and how hard you squeeze the bag (I'm assuming the bag is still being used?). Though I probably wouldn't change the estimate down from 5% until you've done a batch or two to prove it. Always easy to dilute the wort at the end of the boil if it's an overestimate.

    I'm pretty much exclusively full volume mash and with a fine crush, recirculation and a medium squeezing of the bag (just enough to get the easy liquid out of the bag) I'm sitting 75 - 80% for most of my batches.
     
  10. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    3-5% is what I usually see when I no sparge.
    I'd say do it, extra space in a mash tun is no big deal.
     
  11. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Well, the brew day went fine but my numbers didn't come out right. First of all here's the recipe https://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/view/1055627/avett-amber-ale

    The mash tun did a great job of holding heat for a relatively small volume of water and grain. I'm looking forward to the much more stress-free mashes going forward. No more wrapping my kettle in blankets! However, as I was putting the strike water in I realized that I hadn't considered the dead space under the false bottom and I second-guessed my grain absorption numbers. So I went ahead and added an extra half gallon, for 4.5 gallons overall.

    What I got was a pre-boil gravity of 1.040 and post-boil of 1.050.

    I'm always thrilled when I hit my numbers because if I don't, I usually don't have a good idea why. Now that I'm into all grain, I figure I best track down my errors. I don't have to 100% efficiency of extract to boost the numbers of a shitty partial mash.
     
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  12. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Keep brew keep recording you're volumes losses and Starting /Finishing gravities this will help you dial in your system.
    Before you know it you'll be right on give it take s point or two
     
  13. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    If you think it's a grain absorption setting, overcorrect for the next batch. That way you shouldn't be short and may just need to add some boiled water if it's really gone too far the other way. Then you can slowly hone in on the right number.
     
  14. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    After doing the first full size brew with my new set up, I've learned a lot. I recorded the volumes of everything I could imagine (even the height/volume of the drained, grain bed). I did a serious debrief with my notes and the recipe and I think 2 big things hurt my efficiency on this smaller batch. Crush size and too much water.


    The grain mill is brand new to me. It's the Crop Duster for sale over at Adventures in Homebrewing. It seems really solid. When I started milling the second batch of grain I paid closer attention and realized that not every kernel was even getting crushed. I make some adjustments and seemed to get it corrected.

    The second problem was too much water. I panicked a little when I was putting in the strike water and added some extra. I'm not sure how much was left over after I got my boil volume, but there was some. This same issued got me on the latest full 5 gallon batch. I added too much sparge water and ended up with almost a gallon of pre-boil left over once my kettle was full. I realized that I hadn't filled out all the info on the "My Equipment" portion of the recipe maker. I rewrote the recipe to reflect the information I added and the recipe calls for 1 gallons less sparge, the exact amount I had left over.
     
  15. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Nice work! That's the advantage of keeping notes.
     
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  16. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I still panic and do something dumb sometimes! Keeping notes FTW!
     
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  17. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Thanks for the encouraging words folks. I'm no stranger to working through my own mistakes so its simply a matter of time before I get it all right. The only problem is that I don't get to brew enough. As soon as I discovered my mistakes I wanted to do another batch but it's only my wife and I drinking it and the 7.5 gallons I've got fermenting right now will last awhile. Maybe I'll start taking donations and requests from my neighbors for brews.

    Edit: depending on how long I've got to stay at home with kids for "hybrid learning", my beer intake will likely increase.... maybe I can brew a batch a week.
     
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