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I  am  setting  up  for  all grain brewing  for  the  first  time. I am  planning  on using a picnic  cooler   as  a  mash  tun ... I  have  a few  around  the in different capacities. The  larger  coolers, a 13 gallon and a 14  gallon, have a spigot.  The smaller 8.5 Gallon cooler I  think  may be a better fit for the 5 gallon (more  or  less) brews that I  am set up for already.
any  thoughts  about mash tun cooler size before  I  start driling  holes in  the  cooler?
 
  

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Anytime my friend. We are all about helping the community. I have a more selfish role. If I can get everyone to brew great beer, the more great beer I get to drink! :)
Keep me posted how that setup works for you. I'm thinking about making a 60qt into a tun and then getting one of the round coolers for a HLT.

First step is buying a bigger kettle, prferably w/ a ball valve and sight guage.

Some pics were just posted to a good thread on HBT:

 

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/60qt-ice-cube-mash-tun-build-cheap-...

 

Simple, easy, and effective approach!

I experienced many more stuck mashes in the round cooler (actually none in the rectangular cooler). Both had bazooka screens with the same size mesh with similar grist bills and the same crush on my mill. The only difference was the geometry of the coolers. I think the problem was the depth of the mash in the round cooler; more weight at the bottom.
I think the round coolers don't came in the larger (60qt) sizes, too?
That makes sense to me! I'm using a Coleman "cube" cooler, which gives a pretty good width/height ratio, but the rectangular ones are probably even better.
I guess the shape of the HLT wouldn't matter? As long as it holds the same amt of liquid as the tun.
I mash in my 11 gallon SS boil kettle, then transfer that to a rectangular cooler with a bazooka screen. I mash in the kettle so I can do multiple temperature rests (if needed) and a mashout. Then preheat the cooler with a gallon of boiling water so there is no temperature drop when I transfer the mash. I wish my efficiency was stable, but it jumps from 65-73% and I've gotten as high as 81% and as low as 59%. I'm thinking of upgrading the bazooka screen to a CPVC manifold system for better efficiency.

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