MiniBrew MiniMash Lauter Tun users..

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MiniBrew MiniMash Lauter Tun users..

Postby bredmakr » Mon Feb 10, 2003 4:44 am

anyone have experience with the Hobby Beverage Equipment Company (www.minibrew.com) products like their MiniMash/Lauter Tun? looking for pros and cons of this product.
Thanks!
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The Minibrew Gear

Postby BillyBock » Mon Feb 10, 2003 4:09 pm

Bredmakr, I own their products: the MLT, the HLT, and the 15 gal conical. I've been very satisfied with the gear. What specific questions do you have? I'll field them the best I can. For my own background info when discussing it, are you currently an all-grain brewer? What kind of system do you have now, or are thinking about, ie. cooler mash tun, etc.

v/r
Bill
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current and future specs.

Postby bredmakr » Mon Feb 10, 2003 4:37 pm

In process of upgrading a 5 gallon all grain system to a 10 gallon system. Current system includes a converted 5 gal Rubbermaid cooler, bottling bucket for HLT, 7 gal SS kettle. Have constructed frame for RIMS system. Have new 14 gallons kettle. Have new pump.
Need 15 gal Mash Tun!
To be honest, the majority of my brewing is 10 gallon partial mash brews with a 6 gallon yield on the mash tun and then adding water and extract to bring up to 12.5 gallons. Boil to 11 gal. I have only two all grain productions under my belt. One was 'Leos Brown', which I brewed for my wife's birthday, and the other is my rendition of an India Pale Ale called 'Jake's #3'. This beer is currently aging in the basement.
So, please ... now that I've rambled...tell me more.

Mike
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Minibrew Info

Postby BillyBock » Tue Feb 11, 2003 3:13 am

Before I got this gear, I used two Gott coolers for the MLT and HLT, a 30 qt kettle, and carboys. All gravity fed and muscle power. The new system includes the 3 minibrew components as I mentioned plus a St. Pat's 15 gal kettle with a Bayou Classic propane burner. I'm on design version 3 of my new system as I try and figure out what will work better for me.

I started with a 3-tier concept, which I quickly scrapped. The wooden stand (which I over-engineered for strength) was as tall as I am (6 feet) at the third tier. With the HLT on top, it came close to the roof. This would've been ok; however, I wasn't able to get a sufficient gravity drop to properly power the sparge head in the MLT. So I scrapped that idea and went to a 2-tier design where the MLT and HLT are on the same level and the kettle is on the floor on its stand. This setup allowed me to pump from the HLT to the MLT under pressure and develop a good spray from the sparge head. This system was replete with hard piping and valves. Actually too many, I went through my "gear-head, gotta have lots of stuff" phase...I'm on to simplifying the 2-tier design now. However, I did manage to make 3 great brews with it. As a matter of fact, I'm currently upgrading the 2-tier system with quick disconnects, hi-temp food-grade hose, stainless hardware where needed, a more compact counterflow chiller, and a kettle false bottom since I tend to lose a gallon of wort due to hops/trub mess clogging the lines.

The disadvantages as I see them:
(1) Space requirements: Be prepared for the space needed. The tuns measure 23" H x 18" W, not including the protrusion for the valves. The fermenter measures 46"H x 19"W, which makes cooling a challenge.
(2) Sparge Head: the stock sparge head is a corkscrew shaped item inserted in the MLT lid. The concept is that water under pressure enters the top of the lid and is fanned out by the sparge head. The 6"-9" drop I experimented with wasn't enough pressure to cause more than a drizzle. I pump it under pressure now.
(3) Heating: You're allready familiar with this one, but I only have one vessel to do all the heating. Hot water is pumped from the kettle to the tuns. You could add a heating element, but I'd rather not go poking new holes in my investment :-) I considered a RIMS/HERMS type setup, but I'm not so convinced that the extra gear would be worth it to me.
(4) Thermal mass: This is a good and bad thing depending how you look at it. On my Gotts, I calculated the thermal mass at 0.3. On the Minibrew stuff, it's more like 0.7-0.9. I find that I need to heat the HLT water to 190*F for it to settle in around 170*F--it may be just as easier to preheat the tun first. On the other hand, they do very well at keeping temps. Once I dough in the grist, I may start with a 10*F stratification between the top and bottom of the MLT. With stirring I minimize this to within a 3-4*F. Over the course of a 60-90 mash, my temp loss is about 4*F. This is a bit more than my Gotts (which was about 1*F), but then again they had a sealing lid to retain the heat. The MLT and HLT lids sit on top, so there is some heat escaping there, but not too much. I typically prep the mash first and then heat and transfer the liquor to the HLT. By the time I'm done sparging, the liquor's been in the tank for an hour with the same 4*F temp loss.

The advantages as I see them:
(1) Large Grain Bill: Although they're big, you can make some very big all grain beers. The MLT holds about 35 lbs of grain at typical water/grist ratios.
(2) Thermal Mass: As mentioned above, it does very well at retaining heat.
(3) Sight Glass: I enjoy having the sight glasses on there. They don't come pre-graduated, so you'll need to spend time doing that. But it makes it handy to monitor exactly how much sparge water you used. Since the MLT has a shallower bottom than the HLT, you won't be able to just copy your measurements from one over to the other.
(4) Extra Threads: Both tuns come with extra 1/2" threads for you to use in any manner you think needed. The MLT's threads can be used for a RIMS setup. Your design imagination is the limiting factor.
(5) Customer Service: I have nothing but good things to say about Mr. Thomas' customer service. There was a minor problem with my order, and he quickly fixed it. No questions, no hassles.
(6) Turnkey Concept: Turnkey out of the box, all you have to do is install the fittings.

I'll stop here, now that I've rambled :-) Let me know if there's anything else you want to know but didn't cover.

Cheers!
Bill
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that is what I was looking for.

Postby bredmakr » Tue Feb 11, 2003 3:24 am

Bill,
Thanks for the details. That is exactly what I was looking for to push me over the edge and commit to buying the minibrew products. A proven track record and your testimonial are convincing.

I am going to set up the MiniBrew MLT with a RIMS type system. Will report on how well it works when I get it running. Current design is a 3 tier with the MLT stacked directly above the HLT. I have used this rack four times with my current 5 gallon system and already I am thinking of cutting it down so don't have to climb a ladder to stir the mash.

Thanks for the information!
Mike
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sure would like one

Postby canman » Tue Feb 11, 2003 2:52 pm

I sure would like to have one of their fermenters but shipping to Canada is as much as item. Too bad.
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