Mashing is the term used to describe the process of extracting sugars from the grain bill. Mixing the grains with water and maintaining a set temperature for a set period of time promotes enzymes in the malt to break down the starches in the grain into the sugars required for the yeast to ‘eat’ and produce alcohol.
The vessel most commonly used for this process is an insulated container called a mash tun.
There are many methods for making your own, however here’s my take on a low-cost Instructable by ‘Rich’ or ‘Chard’ (depending on your familiarity with him) but using UK high-street plumbing. It is basically 2 buckets; one which acts as a filter, holds the gain bill and stacks into the second bucket. The second bucket is insulated and will hold the liquor at a set temperature for an hour plus. A tap or spigot makes sparging, circulation and racking off easier.
We have used this cheap mash tun on many occasions now for small 20 litre beaches and it works well, with no catastrophic fails or blockages.
- 2 x 25 litre food grade buckets with lids (eBay)
- 1 x 15mm JG Speedfit plastic push fit tank connector
- 1 x 15mm lever ball valve (compression fitting) (eBay)
- 20cm length of JG Speedfit barrier pipe
- 2 x 15mm JG Speedfit plastic pipe inserts/supports
- 1 x 15mm JG Speedfit plastic push fit stem elbow
- 1 roll of foil coated [loft] insulation
- 1 roll water-proof tape
- Drill bit (ideally a step bit/unibit)
- Spanner/adjustable wrench
- Take one of the buckets and drill holes in the base. You can print out this hole guide to help. Stick it over one quarter of the base and drill a hole at each place a line crosses. Using a step bit/unibit will help remove any plastic burr. Move the guide onto the next quadrant and repeat until the base is like a sieve. This may take some time, however you can make a call on how many holes are needed.
- Take the second bucket. Drill a hole approx. 2cm up from the base, big enough to fit the tank connector. Clean off any plastic burr so that a clean fit can be made.
- Now you need to cover this bucket with 3+ layers of the foil insulation, including the base and one of the lids. Use the waterproof tape to make a seal around the base and at the top. Make a hole for the tank connector to jut out.
- Fit the tank connector and seal the insulation around the outlet.
- Cut a 10cm length of barrier pipe
- Slot in one of the inserts and fasten this end to one end of the ball valve, tightening with a spanner
- Cut a 5cm length of barrier pipe
- Slot another insert into one end and fasten this end to the ball valve outlet, again tightening with a spanner
- Slot on the stem elbow
- Slot this assembly into the tank connector
- Test for any leaks by filling up with water and then draining through the spigot.
Now just get yourself some malts and start discovering the self fulfilment of all grain brewing. Our tried and tested recipes to come shortly.
Leave a comment if you’d like any further information or have any suggested improvements.