Barleypopmaker's Beer Blog

~I know you drank the beer, but did you experience it?

Barleypopmaker's Beer Blog - ~I know you drank the beer, but did you experience it?

Apologies!

I apologize for the site being down for a few days. The web hosting I have has a pretty hefty cap on it, and for some reason this past month that bandwidth was exceeded. Thanks to everyone who comes to visit this site, I guess it’s a good thing in a way. If it continues I guess I have to look at options of increasing my bandwidth…..

How to properly pour a bottled nitro beer

I think we have all poured beer or two in our day, but did you know that you want to pour a bottled nitro a bit differently than your standard beer? Yep, and the method may make you a bit nervous, but it’s fun and quite the bar trick that could potentially earn you $10 in bets if you are lucky. Just check out this quick video I did on my phone showing how to pour a nitro beer (without a widget of course).

Ss Brewtech’s 10 Gallon InfuSsion Mash Tun

My Ss Brewtech 10 gallon InfuSsion mash tun with optional sparge arm.

I recently got my hands on the 10 gallon stainless InfuSsion mash tun from Ss Brewing Technologies and opted for the optional sparge arm assembly (an additional $55). I really love this companies products, they are seriously nothing less than fantastic. This piece of equipment, is no different. There is no shying away from the fact that you can build your own mash tun for under $75 out of a cooler, and there is nothing wrong with that. I brewed with those for over 10 years. But a mash tun specifically designed and engineered to be nearly flawless on the homebrew scale is something that cannot be simply scoffed at as being something just flashy and cool looking. My first run with thing left me seriously impressed. There was one drawback, I came across that I’ll cover in a bit. But in the grand scheme of things it was a very minor issue. The mash tun comes with a false bottom, a silicone rubber gasket for the false bottom, a 3 piece 1/2″ Stainless Steel ball valve, the insulated lid, and a thermowell with a precision LCD thermometer. But there are optional accessories available as well.

Unlike other reviews, I’m going to skip right over the basics of what this mash tun has, and explain what the features mean and how they worked for me. For example, I think if you are in the market for this mash tun, you probably know what a false bottom is and how it works.

The center drain in the mash tun, The bottom slopes downward towards the drain resulting in zero dead space.

One of the features skimmed over seems to be that this mash tun has zero dead space. So what is dead space? It’s simply the liquid left behind in the mash tun after mashing. In most homemade and commercially made mash tuns you have some degree of dead space. Especially if you are using a stainless braid or even a manifold. Those braids and manifolds, while cheap and fairly effective do leave a surprising amount of valuable wort behind. Because of the concave floor of the mash tun with the drain in the center, coupled with the stainless false bottom, you are ensured to get every drop of liquid from your mash. This is pretty valuable.

A good view of the double wall construction and the thickness of the walls. Between each wall is foam and airspace, creating a very good insulator.

It’s no secret that stainless is not the best conductor of heat…..now I’m not sure if that translates to stainless steel itself being a good insulator or not, but what I do know is that there is about an inch of foam insulated airspace between the double walls of the mash tun. That airspace and foam do make this mash tun well insulated. Think of it as a very large stainless steel thermos. Now, take note that the mash tun is lined with foam inside, that means it should most definitely NOT be direct fired. That is one drawback that I saw is that there is no direct method of heating, which would be very nice. It would be great if you could step mash or something directly in here. But you can’t. There is an add on item where you can add a small electric heater to the mash tun, but this is designed to hold temperature more so than raise or control it. There also is a re-circulation port option available for the 20 gallon unit that will enable you to not only circulate but also possibly heat that circulation liquid and cycle in warmer water. But that is not an option in the 10 gallon model I have. But to make a long story short, I brewed on about a 65 degree F day and I did not preheat my mash tun, I had no trouble hitting my mash numbers and had only about a 3 degree drop in 60 minutes.

A view inside the mash tun showing the volume markings. (Also shown is the optional sparge arm)

10 gallons is a fairly big mash tun if you ask me. I did a Norther English Brown ale 5.5 gallon batch with what was supposed to be a 1.050 OG (ended up being 1.059)  in the mash tun and the water and grain volume only around the 6 gallon marker. So there is plenty of room to either brew 10 gallon batches or intensely large barleywines. After I sparged and I drained the mash tun, I let it sit for 5 minutes and opened the valve again and got about 2 quarts of liquid out. After that I emptied the mash tun’s spent grains into a plastic bag as I always do, what I noticed was unlike every other time I emptied the mash tun, the grains were relatively dry in comparison to the other times, particularly near the bottom of the mash tun. I did notice that the corners of my bag, which normally have some liquid wort in them, was completely dry, as shown below.

I want you to take notice of this bag of spent grains. This is a bag I filled with spent grains after the mash. Normally the bottom of the bag fills with some liquid after I dump the mash into the bag. In this case, after sitting several minutes there was no visible liquid and as a matter of fact, the barley flour in the corner of the bag is still bone dry.

In this shot you can see the feet of the mash tun, as well as a hole where you can see the foam that insulates the tun….again, do NOT direct fire this mash tun.

My one and only complaint would be about the feet. I don’t know if it was on purpose or not, but I got an extra foot in my box. This will turn out to be a good thing because these feet fall off very easily. The just snap into holes on the bottom of the mash tun, but the slightest movement to the left or right when lifting the mash tun send one of the feet flying off and skittering across the ground. While all in all the mash tun is solid and put together very well, the issue with the feet can become somewhat annoying. Of course, if you feel you don’t need them you don’t even have to use these feet. But still, it would be nice if they fit into the holes more securely. This does not affect the functionality of the mash tun at all.

Optional sparge arm….

One of the optional pieces of equipment you can get with the mash tun is the sparge arm. The InfuSsion sparge arm assembly is pretty straight forward. It’s a shaped piece of stainless tubing with an screw-on attachment that will diffuse the water. Between the main assembly and the screw on diffuser is a rubber washer of your choosing, that will provide flow control. The various colors mean different flow rates with the darkest color having the lowest flow rate and the lightest color with the fastest. The sparge arm is held in place by a molded rubber bracket that attaches to the mash tun’s handle and a spacer helps keep it standing upright. Below are a few more pictures showcasing these features.

Flow control washers….

The rubber bracket and spacer that keep the sparge arm in place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used the the medium washer on my sparge arm and it seemed to be about right. I rigged up a small sous vide pump to run my sparge process and I’m sure it was a bit too fast, I’m typically a batch sparge kind of guy, but thought fly sparging, with the right tools may be worth a shot. Like I said, I did end up sparging a bit fast, but it worked fairly well and was easy to set up. I will just have to make adjustments to my flow control (a ball valve) to slow things down more. You could also use gravity to feed the sparge assembly, just be sure your HLT is higher than your mash tun. The center drain, and false bottom help prevent channeling in your mash as well.

Just sparging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, I think if you are ready to bump up your mash game, this mash tun will be very effective in helping you accomplish that. From the insulated walls and lid, to the center drain and false bottom you have yourself a serious piece of the brewing equipment here. The 10 gallon system retails for $395 for the 10 gallon model and $550 for the 20 gallon model. The sparge arm assembly will run you $55 and if you opt for the electric heater (they are calling it the MTSs) for maintaining mash temps, that will run you $80.


Both the 10 gallon mash tun, as well as the 20 gallon mash tun can be purchased at More Beer.