Mash/Lauter Tun

I had 2 couplings welded onto mash/lauter tun: one for the valve and one for a thermometer. The exterior plumbing of the mash/lauter tun mimicks the exterior plumbing of the HLT.

Originally, I did not use a pump to recirculate the mash, so I decided to go with a slotted copper manifold for my mash/lauter tun because it is inexpensive. However, as I removed the manifold for cleaning, the manifold bent slightly, increasing the slot width, causing some clogging and frustration. As a result, I tried an Easy Masher TM type system, which worked well. Both of these apparatus require fairly long recirculation times before sparging, however, and I wanted to automate this with a pump. After trying to recirculate with the Easy Masher TM type system and failing and trying a homemade pizza pan false bottom and failing, I finally bought commercial false bottoms from Sabco for both the mash/lauter tun and the brew kettle and a pump from Moving Brews. Recirculation has decreased the time and effort on brewday, as I no longer need to stir the mash during temperature bursts and no longer need to recirculate by hand. The quality of the product has not been affected to my taste.

Mash/Lauter Tun Options

Copper Manifolds

Copper Manifolds consist of a circular piece of copper tubing that usually has slots cut halfway through the tubing with either a hacksaw blade or a Dremel tool with abrasive cutting disks. Scott Kaczorowski uses a copper manifold. These designs are very inexpensive and flexible, but may be marginally less efficient than the other methods above.

The copper manifold shown here is made out of 5/8" OD copper tubing. Copper tubing can be difficult to work with because it tends to kink if you try using brute force to bend it. Luckily, I picked up a 5/8" "tube spring" from Home Depot for $0.25, because it was being discontinued. A tube spring is a large, tightly wound spring into which you insert your tubing before bending. You then bend the tubing with the spring on it, and it holds the shape of the tubing to prevent kinking. I used a piece of 8" PVC pipe for a mold. After I bent the tubing into a large spring form, I removed the spring and cut the tubing.

I decided to solder copper fittings to the tubing instead of using compression fittings, because:

  1. For me, it is easier to ensure water tight fittings by soldering.
  2. Compression fittings generally are made out of brass. Brass plumbing fittings generally contain small amounts of lead. Even though the threat is minimal, I prefer to minimize my exposure.
  3. Copper fittings were much less expensive than the equivalent compression fittings.

I then soldered a piece of 1/2" copper pipe to the tee, an elbow to the piece of copper pipe, and another piece of copper pipe to the elbow. (If this is confusing, please see the picture.)

To make the slits in the tubing, I utilized my trusty hacksaw. Cut as many slits as you can, because the more you cut, the better it will work. I cut approximately half the way through the tubing on each slit, and it worked well for me.

Be forewarned: This is an exercise in patience! If you have always wanted to be a Zen monk, then this is right up your alley. If not, get smart and use your Dremel tool with the abrasive disks. If you do not own a Dremel tool like myself, then beg and plead with anyone who will listen to buy you one for Christmas. I am still waiting... (Update: I finally got One!!!)

Pizza Pan False Bottoms

Pizza Pan false bottoms come in two different forms:

Rigid aluminum screens often edged with a metal ring. These provide an extremely large surface area. An example of this can be found at Keith Royster's Web Page.

A sheet of aluminum with many predrilled holes. Often these are raised above the bottom with SS carriage screws, or sometimes the pan is placed upside down so that the edges keep it off the bottom of the mash. Domenick Venezia, in HBD 1962 has an ASCII diagram of a perforated pizza pan in his Gott cooler mash/lautertun. It will also work in a keg. Jeff Kane also uses this design.

:                                                         :
|<-- Inside wall of cooler                                |
|      _____________________________________________      |
|     /        Perforated Pizza Pan                 \     |
| ___/                                               \___ |
|/ o/\ <-- 1" thich-walled tubing (slit)             /\o \|
|\___/                                               \___/|
`------------ Bottom of cooler ---------------------------'

Below left is a picture of the homemade pizza pan false bottom that I made using a 12 inch pizza pan. I spent a lot of time drilling more holes in this pan, cutting the pan in half, and using an aluminum strip to join the two sides. The results were less than good.

SS False Bottoms

SS false bottoms, such as the ones available from Sabco Industries, Inc. and Precision Brewing Systems, arguably provide the best extraction efficiency than anything else on the market. They are custom fit to the bottom of a Sanke keg and come in several designs and gauges, including two peice units that remove easily for cleaning. The main disadvantage is that they are relatively expensive at $40 or more. Most are available with a center hole or without a center hole. I have been very satisfied with mine and use one in the mash/lauter tun and one in the brew kettle.

Easy Masher Types

Easy Masher TM type systems are very popular. They consist of a tube to which a small roll of screen crimped at one end has been attached. In addition to the single design, other brewers have made double designs, such as Jim Elden and even triple designs as demonstrated by Al Korzonas's Trident TM Mashing System.

I used a very simple one made of aluminum screen for a while in my mashtun. I eventually changed because it clogged on me a couple of times and I had a desire to automate recirculation.

Other False Bottoms

Other False Bottom designs include an interesting design by Rick Calley using spare parts from the keg conversion process and brass screen. This design would seem to work best with a system that has the coupling welded into the bottom of the SS keg, because it might be a challenging to put a pipe through the screen if your coupling is located on the side.