How to Build a Mash Tun – Start All Grain Brewing!
What’s a Mash Tun?
A mash tun is a container that holds grain and warm water. The warm water activates enzymes in the malt and converts complex carbohydrates to yeast-friendly simple sugars.
A mash tun can be as simple as a bucket. Many homebrewers convert coolers to mash tuns. Those have the advantage of insulation. That insulation helps maintain a steady temp throughout the mash process. Kettles are also regularly used as mash tuns and there are also some purpose built stainless mash tuns. An example of that is Ss Brewtech’s InfuSsion Mash Tun.
Components of a Mash Tun
- A container – Examples: bucket, cooler, kettle, keggle or a purpose built vessel
- Filter device/mechanism – Examples: false bottom, bazooka screen
- Ball valve and tubing
- Optional – sparge arm, thermometers
Coolers to Consider
- 10 Gallon Igloo Cooler – via Amazon
- Coleman 48 Quart Cooler – via Amazon
A key feature to look for when considering a cooler to convert to a mash tun is a built in drain. It’s possible to drill a hole in some coolers, but it’s generally, much easier if the cooler has a drain.
Mash Tun Conversion Kits
- All Stainless Steel Mashing Made Cooler False Bottom 10 Gallon – via Adventures in Homebrewing
- Learn to Brew Complete 12″ Stainless Steel False Bottom With Weldless Valve – via Amazon
- Options change frequently… Search Amazon for “mash tun conversion kit” to shop around
- Chill Passion Stainless Steel Domed False Bottom, Select a Size (12″, 10″ or 9″), 12″ L x 12″ W
- Search Amazon for “Stainless Steel False Bottom”
- False Bottoms at MoreBeer
- False Bottoms at Adventures in Homebrewing
- False Bottoms at Keg Connection
Ready Made All Grain Brewing Setups
- Cooler Brew All Grain Brewing System Equipment Kit at Keg Connection
- Mash Tuns, HLTs & More at MoreBeer
- Mash Tuns at Adventures in Homebrewing
Popular (and Simple Design) via Denny Conn and the AHA
This setup is based on Denny Conn’s great design. Denny is a legendary homebrewer. Among other things, he is the co-author of Experimental Homebrewing and the keeper of Wyeast 1450 Denny’s Favorite 50. Check out Denny’s Author Page on Amazon see more of his books.
See the AHA’s Article on this: How to Build a Mash Tun – via the American Homebrewer’s Association
- Coleman 48 Quart Cooler – via Amazon
- Rubber Mini Keg Bung – via Amazon
Taking mash temp with my Thermapen Mk4. Notice the backlit, rotated display.
Or… Brew BIAB Style
BIAB uses a low cost cloth bag as a filter. This allows you to brew all grain beer using a single kettle. It’s easy and cheaper to get started vs a dedicated all grain setup.
- BIAB Brew Day Spreadsheet – easy water and temp calculations
- The Brew Bag – Purpose Made BIAB
- Get a Bag! Search Amazon for “BIAB Bag”
- Brew In a Bag: Brew fantastic craft beers at home using the All Grain brew in a bag method
- Small Batch, All Grain Stove Top Brewing Using BIAB
- BIAB: Brew in a Bag – Easy All Grain Homebrew! – Gear, Resources & Reviews
Do You Need a HLT?
A hot liquor tank is a container that holds hot or warm sparge water.
Many of the cooler all grain system systems on the market include two coolers. One functions as a Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) the other as a Mash Tun (MLT). If you’re a batch sparger, you may be able to get by with one cooler if by using a spare kettle for your hot liquor tank (HLT). When I first went to all grain, I used my 5 gallon extract kettle to piggy back the first runnings. Doing this allowed me to temporarily use my boil kettle as a HLT.
It worked something like this…
- Heat strike water in boil kettle
- Drain strike water into cooler mash tun and mash
- Heat sparge water in boil kettle
- Recirculate and drain first runnings into 5 gallon extract kettle
- Empty sparge water into cooler mash tun
- Dump first runnings from 5 gallon kettle into boil kettle
- Recirculate and drain second runnings into boil kettle
Obviously, this is batch sparge method. This method would not work with fly/continuous sparging. If you are fly sparging… you need a dedicated HLT.
Having a dedicated HLT is preferable, but this piggy back method got me started in all grain at a reasonable cost until I could pick up another kettle.
Get a Deal on Bulk Grain
A Deal on All Grain Kits
Adventures in Homebrewing discounts seasonal homebrew beer recipe kits by 20%. Selections include both all grain and extract options.
20% Off Seasonal All Grain Kits | 20% Off Seasonal Extract Kits
Check Out These Related Reviews
- Hands on Review: Barley Crusher MaltMill!
- Hands on Review: Viking Malt Xtra Pale Base Malt
- Hands on Review: Vittles Vault Stackable Storage Bins for Homebrew Grain Storage…
- Hands on Review: Monster Mill MM-3 Grain Mill!
- Hands on Review: Blichmann Engineering AutoSparge
- Hands on Review: Ss Brewtech InfuSsion Mash Tun
- Hands On Review: Cereal Killer Two Roller Adjustable Homebrew Grain Mill
- Hands On Review: 24″ Stainless Steel Whisk
- All of our All Grain Related Reviews!
Everything All Grain!
Our resource post on all grain is the source for everything all grain!
Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application. Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application. Always read and follow manufacturer directions. toppost:makingamashtun tag:tpr
How is the street elbow attached to the false bottom? I tried to upgrade mine last night with a street elbow and had to rig it together. Is there some sort of hollow male threaded bolt that screws into the elbow clamping it down to the false bottom?
I have the same exact cooler and conversion kit, and my dead space is around a pint (not a quart), as long as I don’t lose siphon. When you drained it did you attach a tube that emptied below the level of the valve?
Interesting. Thinking about the siphon effect… I did use a tube when doing this test. It had a drop of 2 or 3 feet (from my table to a keg sitting on the floor). In the interest of getting a reasonable and realistic result, I did not tip the cooler in any way. That would probably help to get more liquid out. That’s something I would probably do on most brew days. Beyond that.. I’m trying to think of what the difference would be.
Did it seem to flow better or differently?
It flowed well, but I can’t tell you that it flowed better or differently.
What would you say your tun deadspace would be in beersmith with this setup?
Great question David. I’ve added that to the review. I’d say 1/4″ gallon would be a great figure.