From the HBD Archive
Subject: First Mash
Date: 1992-06-29 16:21:11 GMT

Well I did my first mash yesterday. It was surprisingly
easy, considering that I needed to fabricate my mash/lauter tun
and wort chiller. Here is what I did.

For a mash/lauter tun I used a five gallon cylindrical water
cooler, Rubbermaid Gott brand. These are available at Sears and
home center stores and maybe K-Mart. I got mine in New Jersey,
but they are available closer to Philadelphia. About $20. I did
not get the squarish Coleman brand, though, because it would not
work as well with my sparge system described below. I also got a
plastic drum tap from Home Sweet Homebrew (HSH) in Philadelphia
for a couple of dollars. Then I unscrewed the push button tap on
the Gott cooler, using a pencil soldering iron I melted a larger
opening in the outer wall of the cooler where the tap is inserted
and scraped away the insulation from between the walls. I had to
enlarge the opening in the inner wall of the cooler, but much
less than the outer wall. The drum tap then screws into position
with the two washers supplied and a bit of formable washer (a
thin strip of sealing compound used to pack leaky faucets). The
washers may be enough, but my inner hole was not quite circular
and I feared a leak during the mash. I may seal the whole thing
with silicone sealant if I ever get a leak, but for now the tap
is removable.

To complete the mash/lauter tun setup, I set into the bottom
of the tun a vegetable steamer of the sort that opens like petals
of a flower. It is designed to hold vegetables in a pot of
boiling water about 1/2" off the bottom of the pot. It costs
about $10 at HSH, but got mine on a whim at Ikea in Plymouth
Meeting a while ago for about $2. It is made of stainless steel.
Finally, I got a nylon grain bag at HSH for about $10 that fits
inside the tun.

The wort chiller was really easy. I got 20 feet of L 3/8"
O.D. refrigerator copper tubing at Hechingers in Narberth for
about $12 and, for about $2.50, a compression fitting that takes
the tubing to 1/2" threads and an adapter that then goes to 3/4"
garden hose size (which connects to the adapter on my kitchen
faucet that I got with my bottle washer). Before installing the
fittings, I re-coiled the tubing around the outside of a pot that
was smaller than my brew kettle and then bent the ends up into an
inverted "J" so drips from any fittings fall outside the brew
kettle. On the intake side I used a spare washing machine hose
and on the discharge side I stuck some old siphon hose over the
tubing (it was a tight fit).

I then dumped 7-1/2 lbs. of my pre-crushed British 2-row
grain and 1/2 lb. of 40 L. pre-crushed British crystal malt into
the grain bag in the tun (which sits on top of the steamer),
turned the tap off, and put in two gallons of 170 F. water. (I
used the water charts for a single step infusion mash from
Papazian's book.) Stirred vigorously and checked that my mash
temperature was between 150 and 155 F. (I hit about 151 F.) I
did an iodine test (it worked!), screwed the top of the tun on
and let it work for about 90 minutes.

After mashing, I drained the first runnings from the tun and
added 4 gallons of boiling water, stirred again, and let sit for
30 minutes. I then drained off the second runnings and proceeded
as I have with extract brews. This simple "mash out and sparge"
technique seemed to work well, although I have not calculated
efficiency. I will try to measure that next time when I have a
better idea what I am doing and do not need to make up the tun
and the like. George at HSH suggested that to sparge in this
setup a colander could be set over the top of the tun to spread
out the sparge water as it is poured in. I hope the easy
"sparge" will be sufficient, and not release too many tannins
from the hulls of the grain. Since I read about this technique
in HBD, I would be interested to hear about your experiences with

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