Brewing can be a great pleasure if you have the right equipment. It’s not just that the brewing process will go quicker and easier if you have quality equipment. The kind of brewing setup you have also has a direct impact on the eventual taste, clarity, and quality of the beer.
A mash tun is possibly one of the first pieces of equipment you consider when getting into homebrewing or when you are looking to upgrading your setup.
What is a Mash Tun?
A mash tun is a dedicated vessel for the mashing process in brewing. Starches in crushed grain are converted into sugars during the mashing process which is essential for fermentation.
Since mashing requires maintaining a consistent temperature over time, most mash tuns are insulated. Most mash tuns also have a false bottom and spigot to cater to the lautering process in the same vessel.
A mash tun may be made from plastic or stainless steel.
What Makes a Good Mash Tun?
You will find plenty of mash tun brands and models on the market which can make choosing one difficult and frustrating. Some people may even suggest building one from a cooler.
There are many affordable cooler-type mash tuns as you will discover in our review below, and which makes it difficult to justify the cost, time, and effort of converting a cooler into a mash tun.
There are a few features that make a good mash tun and that are worth keeping in mind when comparing the options.
Insulation and heat retention is perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a mash tun. You will need to maintain a consistent mash temperature, usually between 145 – 158°, for at least one hour.
Good insulation ensures that you can maintain a consistent temperature without requiring an external heat source.
There are two ways that you can go with a mash tun; either stainless steel or plastic. Plastic mash tuns are generally cheaper while stainless steel tends to be more durable and easier to raise mash temperature.
Whichever you choose, make sure that the tun is well built and will last a long time.
A good mash tun should cater to the mashing and lautering process. A false bottom and a spigot at the base of the mash tun allow you to sparge and drain the wort without needing to switch containers.
This dual-purpose makes the brewing process easier, quicker, and less cumbersome.
Maintaining precise temperatures during the mashing process is critical to the final quality of your brew. A built-in thermometer helps to keep track of the internal temperature. It would be convenient not having to open the container every so often to check the temperature.
Best Mash Tun for Homebrewing Review
There is a great variety of equipment in the homebrewing market which means that there is a mash tun to fit any budget or brewing specifications. We have reviewed the 5 best mash turns for your convenience.
1. Brewer’s Edge Mash and Boil
- Mash up to 16lb of Malt
- Maximum Capacity of 7.5 Gallons
- Double Wall, Stainless Steel Construction
Brewer’s Edge Mash and Boil is an electric system which means you don’t have to worry about hauling propane tanks or running out of fuel.
This system runs on 120V so you can plug it anywhere with an electric outlet without requiring any modifications or add-ons. You can also choose from 3 different heat levels including 600W, 1000W, and 1600W which give you more control over the heating.
The double-walled body is great for maintaining a steady temperature and makes this unit sturdy and durable. The electric control allows you to set the temperature and pre-set the timer for up to 24 hours.
The Brewer’s Edge Mash and Boil has an easy to use spigot valve to drain your wort. Finally, as the name suggests, you can also boil your wort in this equipment after sparging which is convenient.
This is a durable piece of equipment that is functional and well worth adding to your homebrewing setup. This option is perfect for your first upgrade from a cooler mash tun.
2. Learn to Brew Igloo Mash Tun
- 10 gallon mash ton
- Perfect for 5 and 10 gallon batches
- All metal is stainless steel
If you are thinking about buying a cooler and accessories to turn it into a mash tun, you may want to hold off the project and consider the Learn to Brew Igloo Mash Tun.
Igloo is a solid brand in the cooler market and this mash tun upholds the quality standards the brand is so well known for. This 10-gallon mash tun will sustain the same mash temperature for at least one hour owing to its thick foam insulation and insulated top cover.
The stainless steel false bottom and spigot allow you to lauter from the same unit and produces quite a decent yield without too much grain getting in your wort.
This is a relatively lightweight mash tun with large easy-to-grip handles which let you move your mash easily without any extra help. This is a simple mash tun with no learning curve or electrical parts that can malfunction. It is also easy to clean and maintain.
The Learn to Brew Igloo Mash Tun is a perfect option for someone just graduating from extract or BIAB brewing to all-grain brewing.
3. SS Brewtech InfuSsion Mash Tun
The SS Brewtech InfuSsion is a beautiful piece of brewing equipment that any homebrewer would love to own. The polished stainless steel aesthetic is bound to inject a professional appeal into your homebrewing setup.
Looks aside, this is a 20-gallon mash tun so it will handle even your most ambitious brew days. The mash tun combines a kettle and insulated cooler so you can handle the entire mashing process from boiling your strike water to mashing, and eventually lautering in the same unit.
The insulated wall, insulated lid, and insulated false bottom ensure that you maintain a stable temperature throughout the mashing process. The silicone gasket on the stainless steel false bottom creates a tight seal so that there won’t be any grain finding its way into your wort.
The volume markings on the inside wall help you to keep track of your volumes while a digital temperature sensor complete with an LCD screen lets you monitor the temperature.
There is also a provision to attach a recirculation kit to the unit (sold separately).
This is a high-tech unit and a great option for intermediate to experienced brewers who don’t mind splurging on top-notch brewing equipment.
4. Northern Brewer – All Grain Beer Brewing Kits Mash Tun
- 12+ gallon capacity makes it possible to brew everything from session beers to imperials.
- All Stainless fittings including IsoFlow bulkhead and ball valve.
- Titan False Bottom supports the largest of grain bills.
The Northern Brewer All Grain Beer Brewing Kits Mash Tun is yet another affordable cooler mash tun. This is a relatively large mash tun with a 12-gallon capacity which is sufficient for most beginner to intermediate brewers.
The extra thick insulated walls help to maintain a sufficiently consistent mash temperature and the cooler works just as well as many stainless steel models on the market. The built-in temperature gauge isn’t a common sight on plastic cooler mash tuns so it is a convenient and useful addition to this model.
The Titan false bottom does a good job of keeping the grain out of your wort during lautering. The false bottom also leaves very little dead space and sits almost flush to the floor. This design improves your yield by minimizing wort loss.
All hardware is steel reinforced and includes silicone gaskets so there will be no leaks while you use this cooler mash tun. The stainless steel fittings are durable while the cooler body is solidly built.
This Northern Brewer may seem a little expensive for a cooler mash turn but the integrated thermometer, stainless steel fittings, and large size alone justify the price. This unit is a great option for beginner to intermediate brewers and a good alternative to the Igloo.
Final Thoughts on the Best Mash Tun
A mash tun is necessary for all-grain brewing if only to make your work easier when lautering. It is great to see all the different options catering to different needs and budgets. All the units mentioned in this review are top brands and good quality mash tuns for home brewing.
You can improve your efficiency by pre-heating your mash tun with hot water for a few minutes before pouring in your strike water and grain. Also consider covering your mash tun with a blanket or towel to provide extra insulation.
Having the right equipment for homebrewing makes the experience more pleasant and results in great beer so don’t be afraid to invest in good quality equipment and upgrading often when your means allow.