Hands On Review: Brew Hardware’s Cooler Mash Tun Conversion Kit – Making a Mash Tun

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Brew Hardware’s 10 Gallon Beverage Cooler Mash Tun Conversion Kit

Brew Hardware is known for innovative, high quality brewing gear.  They have a good amount of gear that is their design and only available via Brew Hardware.

Brew Hardware’s Mash Tun Conversion Kit is available in two versions.  One that works with Igloo’s 10 Gallon Seat Top Cooler and one that works with Home Depot Beverage Coolers.  Just pick your preference on the product page.  This review specially looks at the Igloo Cooler version.  My assumption is that the Home Depot/Rubbermaid version is very similar.

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cln_img_0292What’s included: 12″ stainless domed steel false bottom – with high flow connector, 2 piece SS ball valve, True Weldless Bulkhead with 5/8″ barb and a section of 1/2″ ID high temp silicone tubing.

cln_img_0295A comparison of the high flow elbow (bottom) vs my old false bottom (top).  I would consider my old false bottom (top) to by a pretty standard size.  As you can see.. there is a huge difference in size.  That can only lead to better flow rates and fewer clogs.  To my knowledge Brew Hardware is the only shop to carry such a thing.

cln_img_0301Here’s the Brew Hardware Bulkhead (right) next to my old (now out of production) bulkhead (left).  The simplicity of Brew Hardware design is pronounced.  The barb and exterior threaded portion our all one single machined piece.  The larger barb is also noticeable.cln_img_0308A look at the (single piece) bulkhead bodycln_img_0310All True Weldless Bulkheads have a machined channel for the o-ring to sit in.  This picture shows that.cln_img_0316To install, you start by removing the factory spigot.  The spigot for my cooler was removed… long ago.  Then pop the bulkhead body in threaded side out.cln_img_0319A larger oring, a single washer and the lock nut are installed installed on the outside.  If you’ve dealt with other weldless kits you’ll know that tightening these is typically… touchy.  Too loose and they will leak, flop around and loosen.  Too tight (easy to do) and the oring squishes out the side and the thing leaks.  Brew Hardware’s bulkheads separates itself from the pack once again.  This assembly can be tightened very tight.  In fact the instructions say… “It is impossible to over-tighten this bulkhead”.  I wouldn’t challenge anyone with power tools, but the fact remains… this thing is solid!

cln_img_0322With the ball valve installed.  You can turn the handle without fear of the whole thing falling apart.  I has a solid feel.cln_img_0321A look at the inside with no false bottom.  Not a lot in there to get in the way.cln_img_0324False bottom installedcln_img_0306Top of the ball valvecln_img_0307Profile of the ball valve.  This ball valve does not have one of the sliding locks.  I like that, because I don’t like those sliding locks!  Wanna know why?…cln_img_0341I charred my finger on a recent brew day on one of those.  I know they get hot.  I also have heat resistant gloves [Search Amazon: hot surface handler].  Considering all of that… I usually risk it.  This time I burned my thumb.  Burn Free to the rescue.  I’m sure there’s a reason for those slide locks, but I have never liked them.cln_img_0327Leak test.  Filled to the tippy top with warm water.cln_img_0329No leaks on the first trycln_img_0338I installed a camlock QD but you can install whatever 1/2″ NPT QD, fitting or barb you’d like.
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Completed mash tuncln_img_0546Dead Space Volume Test:  I filled the cooler up and drained it.  My Rubbermaid Commercial Pitcher [Review] shows what’s left.  It’s just under one quart.  For BeerSmith and other recipe calculators I think .25 gallons is a very close figure.cln_img_0351Filing with strike water.  I’m brewing Great Fermentations Dark Side Robust Portercln_img_0353Taking mash temp with my Thermapen Mk4.  Notice the backlit, rotated display.cln_img_0379When all is said and done.  This did come with a tubing clamp, but I didn’t use it.cln_img_0292I’ve now used three conversion kits in this same cooler.  The first one was a part brass, part stainless kit with a 9″ false bottom (I briefly used a 5 gallon cooler for MLT and moved that over when I got a 10 gallon), followed by an all stainless setup (the one that is compared here – now out of production) and finally Brew Hardware’s conversion kit.

Conclusions

After years of using the cooler and this conversion, I can tell you that it is a superior product.  Bobby from Brew Hardware’s smart and thoughtful design shines through.  It’s quality construction, well designed, simple and well priced.  I can heartily recommend this to you.

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Related: 10 Gal. Orange Water Cooler – via Home Depot

Get a Deal on Bulk Malt via MoreBeer:  Viking 2-Row Pale Malt, Viking Xtra Pale Malt, Viking Wheat Malt – and Viking Pilsner Malt – all sell for $10.99/10 lbs, unmilled.  5 x $10.99 = $54.95 for 50 lbs of grain.  To sweeten the deal shipping is free with a qualifying $59 orderCheck product links for current price & availability.

Also: All Grain Tips & Gear | 10 Gallon Mash Tun Conversion Kit [Review] | Cereal Killer Grain MIll |  Batch Sparge SpreadsheetBIAB Brew Day Spreadsheet | The Brew Bag – Purpose Made BIAB

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10 thoughts on “Hands On Review: Brew Hardware’s Cooler Mash Tun Conversion Kit – Making a Mash Tun

  1. David K

    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?

    Reply
  2. EG

    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?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      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.

      Reply
        1. admin Post author

          Great question David. I’ve added that to the review. I’d say 1/4″ gallon would be a great figure.

          Reply

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