Homebrewing Blog and Resource

Comparing Homebrewing Mash Tuns – Plastic Vs. Stainless

I was out of town so Mike took on the challenge of doing a solo post. We are a homebrewing blog so it makes sense every once in a while to profile the equipment we use. When you go from brewing extract kits to all grain recipes, you need a mash tun.

Mike has two of them. One is an old stainless steel keg that he converted into a tun that connects to a pump and recirculates the mash over an open flame. The other one is more common plastic water cooler that has some extra parts connected to it. In this video, he runs down all the details of each of these mash tuns and then discusses the pros and cons of each set up. Fire up that video to see more!

Two Mash Tun Man

Mike started mashing in a square cooler with a braided fitting to separate the wort from the grain. I believe he still has that cooler somewhere, but he has since ditched it for these two mash tuns that he presents in the video.

The first one is an old keg that he cut the top off of so that he could easily add wort to it. With a few weldless fittings and silicone tubing, he built a way to recirculate wort with a pump. This set up is to help maintain a specific mash temperature throughout the process.

He had some trouble with that mash tun so he went to the store and bought a tall orange Igloo water cooler that he fitted with a false bottom and a valve to let the sweet wort out of the bottom of the tun. He has been using this tun more lately and has been happy with the results.

Pros and Cons of Each Mash Tun

Stainless Steel Mash Tun Pros:

All these pros come with having a direct fire/pump system along with the tun.

  • You can always hit your mash temperature
  • You can step mash
  • Mashing out is easy
  • Wort gets to be super clear

Stainless Steel Mash Tun Cons:

  • Hard to keep the flame going on a windy day
  • Needs a lot of attention during mash
  • Hard to keep temperature on small batches

Plastic Mash Tun Pros:

  • No maintenance mash
  • No worries of going longer than 60 minutes

Plastic Mash Tun Cons:

  • Cloudy wort
  • Temperature for mash may not be locked in

Let us know how you mash – brew on!


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  1. Herb Meowing

    Home brewers using ‘an old keg’ is a sensitive issue b/c many of these kegs are often ill gotten goods.

    Was this keg acquired legally?
    If not … maybe y’all shouldn’t be advocating its use.

  2. I understand and am sympathetic to the legal keg issues. I have followed it for years. I don’t believe I am advocating stealing commercial kegs to turn them into mash tuns. I was simply demonstrating my mashing equipment and explaining the how’s and why’s of my choices for one or the other from time to time. Thanks for the support and commenting. -Mike

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