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I've heard of both for very similar uses. What is the difference between a mash tun and a lauter tun? Or more generally, what is the difference between a mash and a lauter?

I found this wiki article on lautering, which implies after the mash, there is a rinse and sparge of the mash, but wouldn't that be taken care of in the mash tun, with a false bottom and vorlouf, with no need for an extra lautering container?

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Specifically, mashing is the process of extracting soluble materials from the grains with water and enzymatically converting them into a form the yeast can use, while lautering refers to the separation of the liquid and solid portions of the finished mash. So mashing is an enzymatic/chemical process, and lautering is basically physical.

In big operations, a dedicated mash tun is essentially a second kettle designed to handle the thick mash. The lauter tun would be close to what we tend to use as a mash/lauter tun: insulated but not heated, with a false bottom for separation, and some kind of sparging aparatus.

The good thing is that, if you're doing full all-grain batches, you should already have a kettle large enough to act as a mash tun if you want to do temperature-step mashes. Then you can just dump it in the mash/lauter tun for separation.

  • is correct. Homebrewers don't typically see a dedicated lauter tun. The lauter tun comes into play in commercial operations where all of the equipment is fixed in place and they don't add and remove the sparging apparatus from the mash tun like homebrewers do. – rjbergen Jan 10 '15 at 19:52
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They could be the same container, it seems that most people do it that way.

If you mashed in one container, and then transferred to another to separate the grains & wort, then you would have a mash tun and a lauter tun. I've used a small 2 vessel pro system set up this way, where the mash was done in the boil kettle and then pumped over to the lauter to separate. Not really the fastest or cleanest method, IMHO.

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    So to go a true all grain, I can just make the cooler mash tun, and also use it for the sparge? – CDspace Jan 10 '15 at 13:00
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    @CDspace, that's how most homebrewers do it. They will have a hot liquor tank (HLT) to hold the heated sparge water. A cooler with a false bottom will be the mash tun. And finally a larger pot will be used for the boil kettle. Some homebrewers will use a second cooler for the HLT so they can heat all of the water in the boil kettle and transfer it to the mash tun and HLT. This allows them to get by on a single burner with only one heating vessel. – rjbergen Jan 10 '15 at 19:49

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