"Tun Cosy" pot/kettle insulator for mashing

Post #1 made 4 years ago
Hi folks,

Thought I'd share my removable "Tun Cosy" for keeping mash temp steady in a stainless steel pot. It's made of expanding foam and it's dead cheap to make. Used it for a few brews now and my mashes drop less than 1 deg C every time. Beats wrapping towels around the mash!

Here's an instructable I did for it. Probably better to link than post all the photos here :geek:

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Tun ... n-for-BIA/
Image
Cheers!
Last edited by Brew'n Bear on 17 Mar 2014, 17:57, edited 1 time in total.

Post #2 made 4 years ago
Thanks Brew'n Bear ,

Wonderful idea and pictures to boot! Our community is expanding our expertise and our waistline!
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Post #3 made 4 years ago
Hey there B'n'B and welcome to the forum :salute:,

Clever thinking and beautifully written instructable - see end.

I'm going to jot a few notes down for you one which you probably already know and one which you won't...

1. Don't be too lazy when starting out. Never hurts to give the mash a stir and check its temp during the brew a few times as this gives you a good idea of what is going on with your equipment.

2. In your instructable, in the first paragraph, you've written great stuff about BIAB but there is one major error. Let's have a look...
The 'brew-in-a-bag' (BIAB) homebrew method is great. It means you can brew all-grain beer using just one pot! But this also means you can't mash in ideal containers such as insulated coolers and the like, so keeping your mash temperature constant can be a challenge.
A full-volume mash in BIAB of say a 19 L (5 US gallon) Volume into Fermentor batch actually works better than an esky / cooler. The reason for this is all the water goes into the mash so the rate of cooling loss is very low in most climates. In an esky, with traditional brewing, you have a small volume and no way to heat the mash. What happens in an esky is you have a lot of pockets of heat and cold and, of course, it drops in temperature a few degrees at least on that size mash.

In 19L/5G VIF batch, you also have the option to apply heat during the mash so, in reality you have a system that loses heat very slowly and whose temperature can be maintained very easily.

Stovetop Brewing

Just thinking that maybe the word stovetop should be added in the title of the instructable :think:...

In stovetop BIAB brewing, you are doing a very small batch size so you have less thermal mass and controlling temperature is trickier but it is still better than a three-vessel system of similiar output. You are using one 19 L pot probably. If you went three vessel,you would need a 12L esky (which would be crap for holding heat) and your 19 L pot.

So, you are still mashing in an ideal container in stovetop BIAB, it's just that the small scale of things makes maintaining mash temp more problematic. BIAB is irrelevant to this.

Another trick for maintaining mash temp in stovetop brewing can be to put the pot in your oven if your oven is sensitive enough.

...

I hope you don't mind me making the above point/s but as I said in the beginning, that was a beautifully written instructable you wrote so it might as well be totally error-free. I hope we get to see you contributing stuff like that here. Excellent :thumbs: :clap: :champ:

:peace:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 18 Mar 2014, 17:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #4 made 4 years ago
I agree with PP, mash temp has never been difficult for me to maintain.

During summer mos, a standard 6G/23L VAW batch would lose maybe 1 deg F over 90 mins. At freezing temperatures I only had to fire up the burner maybe 3 times over 90 mins, for a couple minutes at a shot. Below that, I'm simply not brewing outside. Also, I couldn't imagine wanting to add risk by relocating a nearly full 11 Gallon kettle, when I could just turn the heat on for a few seconds. Even for a small batch, this does add risk of spillage.

This is definitely clever for those who want to stick with small batches though, but I think one would need to add even more equipment to make it fail-safe ... which adds to further complicating what many of us strive to keep a simple process.

I still can't wrap my head around a cooler mash tun being "ideal". I guess once experienced on the setup it's no big deal, but being able to just turn the heat on again seems a lot more practical to me. I'm BIABiased though, so there's that.
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Post #6 made 4 years ago
That's a great idea Bear. Not much heat would be lost in that.
I have a 57 litre kettle with 2 ports so I don't think it would be practical in my situation.
It would be impossible to slide the pot out of the foam.
Maybe for my 32 litre pot, though I don't use it much any more.
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Post #7 made 4 years ago
Thanks PP for the welcome and several good points!
PistolPatch wrote: A full-volume mash in BIAB of say a 19 L (5 US gallon) Volume into Fermentor batch actually works better than an esky / cooler. The reason for this is all the water goes into the mash so the rate of cooling loss is very low in most climates.
...Just thinking that maybe the word stovetop should be added in the title of the instructable :think:...
You're right of course. My personal setup has higher losses for a couple of reasons: firstly the small volume (~8 L batches on stovetop) as you mentioned, but also because I've taken to mashing thicker, i.e. not at the full volume. I mash at about 4 L/kg, mainly because I have a hard time shifting the pH for full volume mashes without using excessive amounts of salts. The second reason I don't do full vol mashes is because it lets me maximise the batch size for my small stock pots - i.e. grains displace otherwise usable pot volume.

So I definitely need my tun cosy! I certainly take your point though that many BIABers may not need such a thing.

Writing that last line made me realise the best/worst username on these forums for a guy called Justin would be Justin BIABer.

Anyway I've amended the first paragraph of the instructable to make it a bit more accurate re. the above points :thumbs:
Dee Envy wrote:That's a great idea Bear. Not much heat would be lost in that.
I have a 57 litre kettle with 2 ports so I don't think it would be practical in my situation.
It would be impossible to slide the pot out of the foam.
Maybe for my 32 litre pot, though I don't use it much any more.
Fair enough. Although I recently realised that you could follow the same procedure and then slice the insulating jacket in half to create a sort of shell that's removable from the sides. Still requires temporary removal of spigots etc. so you can get your kettle out the set foam though.
Last edited by Brew'n Bear on 21 Mar 2014, 19:52, edited 1 time in total.

Post #8 made 4 years ago
Brew'n Bear wrote:Writing that last line made me realise the best/worst username on these forums for a guy called Justin would be Justin BIABer.
:lol:

Good on you BnB,

Learn the BIABacus if you haven't already because, despite pure BIAB being a single vessel, full-volume method, Section W of the BIABacus allows for people like you. There is no other software that can do what Section W does.

Keep up the good work Bear and thank you for editing your instructable.

:salute:
PP

P.S. Just had a look at your edits. Nice thinking on the post above (see the update at the bottom of the instructable). The first para is much better but still implies that traditional mashing in a cooler allows less heat loss than a full-volume BIAB which at room temperature is not correct. BIAB will do better in heat consistency and loss believe it or not on a normal sized brew of normal gravity or lower at room temp or above. (Read that slowly - lol).
Last edited by PistolPatch on 24 Mar 2014, 16:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #9 made 4 years ago
PistolPatch wrote:The first para is much better but still implies that traditional mashing in a cooler allows less heat loss than a full-volume BIAB which at room temperature is not correct. BIAB will do better in heat consistency and loss believe it or not on a normal sized brew of normal gravity or lower at room temp or above. (Read that slowly - lol).
I'm not implying that mashing in a cooler wouldn't be full volume though :dunno: Just saying that if you want to stick to one vessel then you're not going to have the luxury of doing your mash (full volume or not) in a pre-insulated container.
Last edited by Brew'n Bear on 24 Mar 2014, 17:19, edited 1 time in total.

Post #10 made 4 years ago
Brew-n-Bear,

Step 6 is genius!

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Post #11 made 4 years ago
Brew'n Bear wrote:I'm not implying that mashing in a cooler wouldn't be full volume though :dunno: Just saying that if you want to stick to one vessel then you're not going to have the luxury of doing your mash (full volume or not) in a pre-insulated container.
I am having another crack hear Bear. I wrote some long post here 48 hours ago but deleted it because I was tired and drunk :).

Firstly an insulated container should not be viewed as a luxury. That vessel, if used as a mash tun, will unless you agitate it often allow great differences in your mash temperature from one part of the grist to another.

So, that's the first point. Insulation is neither good nor bad. Everyone says though (and I don't think they are necessarily right) that controlling and maintaining an even mash temperature is really important. Well, if it is, then agitating and checking and adjusting the temp of your mash regularly should be a priority and BIAB allows this. But you rarely will have to do this because the thermal mass of full-volume brewing is so much greater than traditional brewing.

... Anyway, when I write I take great care to try and see what I write from many different angles. I've been doing this for a long time now.

For example you say that you're not implying that mashing in a cooler wouldn't be full-volume. That's pedantics. People who full-volume in an esky are really BIABrewers. They certainly aren't traditional brewers.

Anyway, I rue the day when we called single vessel, full-volume brewing BIAB. I'm not sure what other name we could have come up with but a lot of stuff out there really misses the point.

...

One last thing. There is basically no stove-top, three-vessel traditional brewing about. Pretty much all stove-top, all-grain brewing has sprung up thanks to BIAB.

So, the first paragraph of your instructable will read, to many new brewers, as though BIAB (single-vessel) brewing has a disadvantage whereas the real truth is that they couldn't even brew on their stove-top with any ease if it wasn't for BIAB.

Does this seem too pedantic? If so, I think a read of nearly all the posts I have written on this site, over 3,500 of them now, all could be basically re-written as...

I'll write that another day.

:interesting:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 26 Mar 2014, 21:32, edited 1 time in total.
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