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What's the pros and cons about mash in coolers or pots? How to choose?

  • Chino tells the pros and cons listed as I asked, so I'm accepting his very good answer. But Denny's experience sharing was also very important to me to buy a cooler and give it a try. Thanks you both. – jards Oct 6 '14 at 16:39
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Cooler as Mash Tun

Pros: Relatively cheap and easy to modify with a bulkhead fitting and ball valve. Holds a steady temperature very well. Lighter weight, and therefore easier to clean.

Cons: Cannot be direct-fired, so any step mashing has to be done with additional infusions or by decoction - step infusions will increase your mash's water-to-grist ratio. Will not perform double duty as a kettle (but can be used for cold beverages).

Kettle as Mash Tun

Pros: Can be direct-fired for stepped mash schedules. Can be used in advanced homebrewing setups such as RIMS or HERMS systems. Can double as a kettle.

Cons: Higher cost. The kettle is not insulated, so it is harder to maintain a steady temperature. More difficult to modify to add a ball valve. Heavier, and therefore harder to clean, relatively speaking.

How to choose?

It comes down to your budget and personal preference.

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I have used a cooler for 466 batches over the last 17 years. I have tried using a pot to mash in and found I preferred the cooler because it held the temp so well. I seldom find a need to do step mashes and in fact question their value. But when I want to do one, it's a simple matter to simply infuse boiling water until I get to the temp step I'm going for. You can see my equipment and methods at www.dennybrew.com

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