Now for what is possibly the easiest mod for the homebrewer: the 10 Gallon Cooler Mash Tun. This was such an easy mod that I’ll include the manifold in this post.
First, we started with the 10 Gallon round Igloo cooler from Amazon. You might have to watch this item. When we got it, we paid $39.98 for the cooler. Right after we received it, the price shot up to $49.98. At the time of this post, it is back down to $39.98.
The most common cooler used for this mod is the Rubbermaid 10 Gallon round cooler. Those go for $44.98, you can get them at Home Depot for about that price, as well. The other consideration is the lid. From what I have read, the lid from the Igloo seems to hold temperature better, so it may be a superior insulator. I know the rubbermaid is thin and hollow.
Back to Bargain Fittings for the valve assembly and we got this party started.
Unscrew the spigot that comes in the cooler and you’re halfway there. Wrap the nipple fitting with nylon tape. Screw the bulkhead onto the nipple and slide on the washer. Slide that through the hole from the inside of the cooler, leaving the bulkhead side inside the cooler. Slide the silicone gasket onto the exposed nipple from the front of the cooler and thread the nut on. Tighten hand tight and check for leaks. You won’t need to tighten this too tight. Once you have no leaks, thread the valve onto the nipple and check for leaks.
Your Mash Tun is complete!
This picture shows the bulkhead with the manifold coupling installed. I’ll detail the manifold below.
OK, so for this manifold you need to use CPVC pipe and fittings to handle the higher temps in your mash tun. I used 1/2″ pipe for this project. Here is the materials list:
I cut six 3-inch pieces, two 3 1/2-inch pieces and five 1-inch pieces. There is an extra piece in the picture below, and we will get to that in just a moment.
In what I deemed the underside of the 3- and 3.5-inch CPVC pieces, I drilled a lot of holes. I used a 3/32 drill bit for the holes. I wanted them to be small enough to keep the grains and husks out of the drain. This is why I didn’t just use a dremel to cut slits into the pipe.
I then assembled the manifold base into a hexagon.
Where you see the fittings essentially butting together is where the 1-inch pieces are. the 3-inch pieces are six sides of the perimeter and the 3.5-inch pieces are the two crossing the center of the manifold. The extra piece coming out of the 45 degree elbow is an undrilled 3-inch piece (the extra piece from the initial manifold picture). This is the piece that will slip into the coupling threaded into the bulkhead. The length of this piece can vary depending on your cooler, the depth of your threading the coupler on the bulkhead, the phase of the moon in relation to the rotation of the earth on a specific trajectory toward a rogue meteor, etc.
Place the manifold into the cooler for spacing measurements.
Connect the manifold to the coupler.
Note that I did not glue the joints of the manifold. I want this to disassemble for cleaning. If I notice this starting to come apart or if it does come apart during a mash, then I will revise this plan.
Cost for the Cooler Mash Tun – $68.43
Cost for the Manifold – $8.51
Total cost for project – $76.94
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