Bottling Bucket as Lauter tun

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Bottling Bucket as Lauter tun

Postby shaggyt » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:14 am

Question first:

Has anyone used a bottling bucket as a lauter tun? If so, what, if any, problems have arisen from using this piece of equipment for lautering?

Reason:

My limited budget has me trying to utilize less often used equipment and repurposing to meet my needs. I will eventually be converting a beverage cooler (10 gal most likely) into a mash/lauter tun, but that's probably not until Xmas or beyond.

I currently mash in my kettle and fly sparge using Phil's Lauter/Sparge system (donated to me) and it works just fine. Problem is my lauter tun capacity is not sufficient for what I want to brew in the future (barleywines and stronger ales) without using extract. I love the challenge of all grain!

I've been mulling it over for sometime and decided today to convert my rarely used bottling bucket into my lauter tun using some "spare" pieces of racking cane, tubing, a rubber stopper, and a false bottom. I tested it with roughly 2 gal of 180F water with no leaking...I'm waiting for some samples to cool for tasting for possible off-flavors.

If anyone has tried this and has had a "definitely don't try this again" type of experience, please let me know. My only concern right now is whether the bucket can withstand temps of 160F for an hour.

Cheers,

Bryan
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bucket tun

Postby slothrob » Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:52 pm

I've seen pictures of people doing this with one bucket inside a second for insulation. I think you'll want to pay attention to the design of the plumbing so that you minimize the dead volume, or it will take a toll on efficiency.

Have you considered just making 3 gallon batches of the big beers until you can afford the new cooler?
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3 gallon alternative

Postby shaggyt » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:53 pm

I thought about smaller batches, but a few factors weighed in...mostly the time involved in brewing the batch vs. yield...I'm very much a "biggest bang for the buck" person and a 3 gallon batch seems inefficient. Plus, my 5 gallon carboy is my smallest fermentation vessel...too much headspace?

I can tweak the plumbing a bit before using it to be certain I get the most out of it.

Thanks for the feedback Slothrob.
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:04 pm

I don't think I'd worry about headspace in primary. I did a 3 gallon batch of imperial coffee bourbon porter. I didn't have the capacity to do a full boil on 5 gallons at the time. I was pretty satisfied with my yield. I turned out about 35 beers. I don't drink the big beers excessively, so they tend to last longer than things like wheats and ipas.

I actually used a bucket for holding sparge water on my first all grain batch. It worked okay, but it did lose a little more heat than I would have liked. I would put some hot water in it first, take a temp reading and come back later to check it. If it doesn't lose more than a couple degrees, go for it.
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bucket

Postby slothrob » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:56 am

Yeah, you'll probably need to find some way to insulate the bucket, because it probably will lose heat, but that should be easy enough. The mass of grain might help it hold heat better than just the water of an MLT.

I drink imperial beers pretty slowly, so the big beers would last me a long time and the smaller batches would make sense for me, but not for everyone. 5 gallon batches would encourage you to keep some around long enough to age properly.

The extra headspace of a 3 gallon batch doesn't matter in primary, I make mostly 3-3.5 gallon batches and there's no oxidation problem. Any extra O2 gets consumed quickly by the active yeast. If I secondary a small batch, I use a 3 gallon container, though.
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Postby shaggyt » Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:23 am

Well I have yet to brew anything bigger than an OG of 1.070 and aging is actually non-existent in my world...not that I don't want to let them age, it just doesn't happen for some reason :wink: .

I think that's part of the reason why I would like to brew a barleywine or imperial stout/porter/ipa. If it doesn't taste great right away, I'm more apt to let it sit.

My LHBS does sell some 3 gal carboys for about $30...cost effectiveness just doesn't add up for me considering 5 gal carboys are only another $10. If I could find a smaller glass vessel for around $15-20, I would go that route.

Also, I think there's some leftover duct work insulation lying around my garage I can use. I appreciate your feedback gents...I'll post the results should I get this to work or not.

Any suggestions for recipes to use?
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Results

Postby shaggyt » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:08 am

Well, this worked surprisingly well, though it will only be a temporary solution. Some of the racking tube I used to connect the false bottom to the valve showed signs of warping due to the heat but other than that, it worked great.

My efficiency was off because I was multitasking (kids, dinner, brewing...what a combination), but the equipment functioned so I'm happy.

So it can be done.
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Postby Libnick » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:41 am

My first all grain batches were actually done with a bottling bucket and a large fine mesh bag. You put the mesh bag in just like a trash can liner, pour you mash in, put a lid with no hole in it on tight, and wrap a sleeping bag around it. It worked very well and we had no problems with it holding temps within about 3 degrees. The only problems we had is the mesh bag would compact right around the valve opening and the sparge would get stuck alot. You would have to lift the bag up to get it goin again. we made about 7-8 batches this way and they all turned out just fine. It's a really cheap and easy way to try all grain brewing if you're not sure about it. We had the bottling bucket and the mesh bag was about $7 and the rest is history.
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Bottling Bucket

Postby Sapper » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:46 pm

I use my bottling bucket to hold hot sparge water.
I mash in a cooler.
The bottling bucket sits on top of the cooler and the spigot fits into a PVC pipe that leads to the manifold (sprinkler) I fabricated and attached to the inside of the cooler lid.

I fill it with nearly boiling water and it cools to 170F during the roughly 45 minute sparge.

It works well for me.
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