Mini-Mash Tun

>> Saturday, January 02, 2016

Today I'm doing a little write-up on a new piece of equipment. a mini-mash tun. This isn't to be confused with mini mash or partial mash brewing; I'll still be doing 100% all-grain, just on a smaller scale.

There really isn't anything new or groundbreaking here, but I'm still excited about it. I've been toying with the idea of doing some smaller batch brewing for a while. Most of the time I brew 5 gallon batches and occasionally I'll mix in a 10 gallon batch, especially when I'm doing sours. Sometimes even five gallons of a particular beer can be too much. For example. pumpkin spiced beers...I enjoy them but they're hard to drink pint after pint so they tend to hang around for a while. I don't brew many lagers, mainly because I prefer the bolder flavors usually associated with ales. However, I'll probably brew lagers more often if I have the option of brewing smaller batches. Another candidate, beers that should be drunk fresh, like IPAs. Half batches will ensure tasty IPAs are finished off before the hops have a chance to fade.

So why a new piece of equipment rather than just making a smaller batch with my existing mash tun? Well, my normal mash tun is simply too large in diameter for batch sizes less than 5 gallons. It measures roughly 16" in diameter and the volume is about 12 gallons at the rim. This size vessel would have too shallow of a grain bed for 2.5 - 3 gallon batches. The new mini-mash tun is 12" in diameter and has a total volume of about five gallons, so the grain bed and liquid depths will be comparable to that of my larger tun. On the plus side, the 12" false bottom that I use in my larger tun will also work in the mini tun.

Weldless Assembly
Like my other brewing vessels, I'm going with weldless fittings on this tun. All the weldless fittings are based on Blichmann-style weldless fittings as documented on The Electric Brewery site. You can take a look at this diagram on The Electric Brewery for more details, but weldless fittings are assembled as follows (from inner to outer):
Hose barb nipple > full coupler > close nipple (through hole in kettle wall) > silicone o-ring > washer > nut > ball valve. 
As on my other vessels, I used my 13/16" Greenlee punch to make the holes for the weldless assemblies. These punches work awesome and give you a perfectly sized and perfectly round hole for mounting your assemblies. The false bottom connects to the nipple with a short section of 1/2" silicone tubing. The return from the heat exchanger is basically the same assembly and uses a short section of 3/8" silicone tubing to return the mash liquor to the top of the grain bed when recirculating.

That's about it for the mini-mash tun. I'm pulling my old 8 gallon boil pot out of storage for these smaller batches. I've outfitted it with a whirlpool port just like my keggle. I'm planning on the inaugural batch with this tun in the next week or so.
Return from HEX 

Full-size vs. Mini 

With False Bottom