Instructables

Build Your Own Brewery for Under £100 ! - STEP 1 - Mash Tun

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Like Beer? Like cooking? Like traditional crafts? Tried homebrewing? If the answer to any of the above is yes, then read on my friend...

Hi, my name is Rich but my friends call me Chard,

After making Elderflower Champagne about 2 years ago and then building a cider press and making homegrown cider i got into brewing my own beer as that is the drink i drink the most!

This started by making up various homebrew kits which come with malt extract and yeast to which you just add water! Simple enough but you're limited to what the producers of the kits make and it  can be kind of expensive (about £20 for 40 pints...still cheaper than the pub).

The next step is 'All Grain Brewing'. Here you take crushed malted barley, hops, water and yeast and craft yourself a beer that YOU like and for a lot less than by using kits.

This is the first in a series of 4 Instructables which will document my journey into the world of 'all grain' brewing and how you can build your very own low cost brewery from scratch! Starting with ... the Mash Tun.

 
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Step 1: What the Hell is a Mash Tun?

There are lots of names and words for things in homebrewing but you soon get the hang of it. Basically the Mash tun is a vessel in which you soak your crushed grain. Its like a MASSIVE porridge bowl! The idea is you need to soak your grains in a certain ammount of water at a high temperature (about 66oC) for approx 90 mins before draining off the liquid. This liquid  is basically beer in its most raw state!

But enough of that you'll learn about that in my last step in the series - making beer!

The criteria of the mash tun, or MT for short, is to keep a steady temperature for 90mins before draining off the liquid. It has to withstand temperatures around the 80oC mark, be food safe and have a good way to drain of the liquid and leaving all the grain behind.

Buying the most basic prefabricated homebrew mash tun would cost over £65.... my design will be about half that.... so what will you need?



GavinD12 months ago

I might make one of these this weekend on a smaller scale. I'm new to AG brewing having done some kits perviously and wish to start small.

I have some 1gal. glass carboys into which I'll experiment with small batch brews. I'm thinking about using two 4.5l 'food tubs' which would be just about right for the 1gal. carboys) Would cheesecloth/muslin in the base of the top bucket be advantageous to help filter or would that be overkill?

Tryten8 months ago

Nice design. I would suggest using all stainless steel connections as brass contains small amounts of lead.

asewell1 made it!9 months ago

Excellent guide, than you!

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Kevanf19 months ago

Fantastic 'Instructable', well done and thank you from one fellow brewer to another. I'm wondering at this stage whether one could substitute push fit joints and poly pipe for some of this? The ball valve can still be used and that would have to be the same as the one you have used. I did at first think about using copper solder feed fittings but as easy as that would be for me (I used to be a plumber and can solder) it would involve more expense in the guise of blowtorch, solder and flux. Plus there would be more cleaning up afterwards to get rid of the flux residue.

I have a similar bucket within a bucket mash tun.
What is the mash efficiency you get? Mine is 65% and it is also a pain to clean those little drill holes.
waldy1 year ago
Hi chard, thanks a million for sharing. perfect timing for me & for chrismas. Why did you go for the two bucket approach rather than say a sieve bucket containing the grain on blocks? think I can guess the advantages but wondering what your view of this is? cheers waldy
airecrist4 years ago
diy your thermal foil? :P
djsc airecrist4 years ago
I would. I have loads of bubble wrap from packing in big pieces. Thermal foil can be bought in the form of 'space blankets' or 'survival blankets' from pound shops, though I stockpiled mine from tesco in a sale. I have combined them into insulation in a 'haybox' style cooker before.
djsc4 years ago
Hi, I am currently following your instructions for both the mash tun and the boiler. Its going pretty well, I had a stripped-down kettle already with a working element, for the second I used a wilkinsons kettle very similar to your tesco one, same price too. I found that the wilko kettle was easier to fit, the design of the seal was better than the old one I had, it makes a very neat job. I found that a ball-valve tap has a very stiff handle (mine was an old one though) so I am using an isolator valve which is cheaper and requires less leverage, it has a screw head instead of a handle. I will use a plastic colander instead of an extra bucket inside the mash tun. Have you insulated your boiler yet? great instructibles both of them, thanks.
joshbierton4 years ago
hi
sorry, i've probably missed something, but you said the water is supposed to be 66˚C but i don't see how it becomes that hot, unless you heat it up outside the container and pour it in. if so how do you heat up 25 liters of water easily?
Chard (author)  joshbierton4 years ago
That's where step 2 comes in!
t.rohner4 years ago
Hello
nice instructable. I have been thinking about this type of mash-tun when i went to all grain brewing 12 years ago.
I decided against it, because i wanted to be able to do step mashes, without adding hot water.
I was thinking of a slotted false bottom. (Waterjet or Laser-made)
But then i came across this:
schmidling.com/empp.htm
I made some 20'000 liters of beer and ale with it. It works like a blast.

Another important tip, i read in the last Zymurgy.
Spray the malt with some water, mix and let it sit for 5 minutes before milling. (200ml water for 10kg malt)
It makes a huge difference, especially with wheat malt.

The insulation on the mash tun has been replaced since i took the picture....

Cheers  Thomas


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Chard (author)  t.rohner4 years ago
Thats quite a set up you have there!

the easy masher looks pretty damn good aswell but if you fly sparge do you get channeling?

Ive heard that tip for milling aswell, the moisture helps keeps the husks intacts right? I dont mill my own grain as i am only just starting and this is very much a starters brewery. Thanks for the intrest though!
t.rohner Chard4 years ago
There is a chance for channeling in every setup. To reduce it, i cut the mash with a large bread knive a couple times during lautering. My efficiency is also quite high, so the channeling can't be too bad.
Moist milling indeed keeps the husks intact. You get a looser mash, which makes lautering much easier.(No more slow or stuck mashes during lautering)
Milling the grain yourself is a nice thing. You get better prices on bulk malt and the whole kernels stay fresh much longer. When i started all grain brewing, i invested in a mill from the beginning.

Some photos:  milling, our deluxe bottle washer(24 bottles in one go...), sanitizing our wort cooler and finally bottling
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When you get ready for the next step this could also function as an MFC and could be used to recharge batteries while the mash is fermenting. It opens the door for "No, honey I'm not just brewing beer, I'm saving on energy costs."
Fashim4 years ago
Couldnt you just use a normal pot with a lid? and then pour it into a Strainer with a Cloth wrapped around the wholes so none of the Grain gets out?
Chard (author)  Fashim4 years ago
Well yes and no. The idea is that at the end of the mash you recirculate the liquid which maked the grains form a bed. This then filters out all the tiny bits of grain and flour.

maybe the collander and extremely fine cloth would work...maybe something for you to try :)
Nice work,

How does it taste? I just bought some bins for the kitchen recently and the smell of the plastic aint nice.
I'd hate to go through the whole process only to have a plasticy taste.
Especially when you have something of that temperature in it for that length of time.
Just fill the bins with water and let them rest on the sun for two days. You may change the water twice a day. The smell will just vanish.
Chard (author)  nodnodwinkwink4 years ago
No smell on mine to speak of. I used PP buckets that were sold as fermenting vessels so were food grade. the boiler (comming soon) smelt a bit plasticy after all the drilling of the big holes but after filling with water and washing this went away. some say cleaning with bicrb of soda helps too
Nice 'ible.  I'll be keeping an eye on your progress, since I might want to do the same thing soon.
lemonie4 years ago
Great, if you want to to the job properly, you need the right kit.

L
camiller4 years ago
Well done! 

Couple of thoughts for you and your readers. 

Most modern malts don't take 90 minutes to achieve full conversion.  60 minutes is typical for most mashes and even then is plenty generous.  For the technical minded an iodine test for starch conversion will let you know when conversion is complete.

You can save a bit of money if you take out the valve and substitute a hose barb and a couple feet of tubing.  As long as the end of the tubing is above the level of liquid in the mash tun nothing will come out.  That said I do have a ball valve on my converted coolbox.
Chard (author)  camiller4 years ago
both good points. i know the mash doesnt really take a full 90 mins but the longer the mash tun can hold the heat the better.

as for the barb idea i personally think youre asking for trouble. if that hose falls then youll end up with a LOT of mess especially if like me you dont plan on being in the same room as your mashing. plus i designed this with the idea of batch sparging at first but moving on to fly sparging in which case i want to be able to control the outflow fairly accurately