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Old 11-17-2010, 04:24 PM   #1
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Default Best Mashing Techniques

I've always used the "no sparge" method (basically two mashes) and just poured the water right onto my grain. My beer is great but I'm wondering if I'm missing something.

Do you think fly sparging and/or doing step mashes are better? More efficient? Better suited for some styles?

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Old 11-17-2010, 04:56 PM   #2
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Some people will say that you'll get slightly higher efficiency with fly sparging than with batch sparging. I've learned how to brew doing fly sparging so that's what I do. If your beers are turning out great then keep doing what your doing. Your beers won't be better if you fly sparge. One thing that I've been battling using fly sparging is astringency extraction. I find it difficult to know when to quit sparging as to not extract additional off flavor. I've considered trying batch sparging to avoid this. But overall, I'd tell you to switch if you were having major efficiency problems, but since your beers are turning out great, don't mess with that.

With that said, there are other circumstances where other mashing techniques may be better. For example, what they call the "American adjunct mash schedule" is a must for doing BMC type beers with good efficiency. Also decoction mashing although not absolutely necessary will improve those dark german beers like bocks and dunkel lagers. I'm still trying to perfect a simple pale ale with single infusion mashing so I haven't personally explored those bone chilling techniques.

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Old 11-17-2010, 05:03 PM   #3
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What works for your brewery is the best.

I batch sparge. No problems with efficiency. I am solid 75% with my crush and happy there. I can crush finer and run the efficiency to 85% but it tends to fluctuate and sometimes doesnt sparge as well.

No sparge has been cited as a method creating a "better" beer in terms of quality. Many will argue for their preference. I would just encourage you to not stop doing what you are doing because you think you are missing something. You are likely not.

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Old 11-17-2010, 05:10 PM   #4
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I have a nawing feeling that my stouts would be fuller and maltier if I did a different kind of mash, but considering one of them just won an award I shouldn't complain.

I did a decoction mash once. Once.

Funny thing, my efficiency was always around 83% and then I moved, started going to a different HBS, and started getting 65-70%. I guess the water is different here or their mill doesn't grind as fine, but it's thrown a wrench in my brewing.

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Old 11-17-2010, 08:33 PM   #5
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pete20 - please detail your "no sparge" method. I am curious what you are doing. Does it cut the production time down?

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Old 11-17-2010, 08:50 PM   #6
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I just add the water for the first mash in a couple of big pours and stir it to ensure there are no dough balls. Usually the ratio is 1.5 qt/lb and I let it sit for one hour before lautering. After collecting the first runnings I check how many gallons I got to determine how much water I'll need for the second mash (if I got 3 gallons and I want 7 gallon starting volume I'd add 4 gallons). The water for the second mash is always between 170-180F and I put it in the tun all at once and hold it for 10-15 minutes before lautering a second time.

It's simple and I assume it's quicker than other methods but I can't say for sure because this is all I've ever done.

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Old 11-17-2010, 09:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete20 View Post
I just add the water for the first mash in a couple of big pours and stir it to ensure there are no dough balls. Usually the ratio is 1.5 qt/lb and I let it sit for one hour before lautering. After collecting the first runnings I check how many gallons I got to determine how much water I'll need for the second mash (if I got 3 gallons and I want 7 gallon starting volume I'd add 4 gallons). The water for the second mash is always between 170-180F and I put it in the tun all at once and hold it for 10-15 minutes before lautering a second time.

It's simple and I assume it's quicker than other methods but I can't say for sure because this is all I've ever done.
Seems like you use a batch sparge method, not a "no sparge" method. I'm sure you'll find many folks using a similar method.
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Old 11-17-2010, 10:43 PM   #8
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Yeah, that's just batch sparging. At 170-180 there's no need for a rest as you are stopping the conversion process. No sparging is adding all the necessary water for boil volume and grain absorption in a single water addtion.

There's no magic mash style that is best for everything. Different styles benefit from different mash techniques. The "best" technique is going to be whatever produces a beer you like the most.

I triple decoct most Belgian and wheat beers I do. Most other beers get a single infusion. Depending on the beer style I often have to do a double infusion or a single decoction to create an acid rest because my water is very alkaline. If I am doing small batches I do them BIAB style and either a single infusions or a step mash, depending on the style.

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Old 11-17-2010, 10:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete20 View Post
I have a nawing feeling that my stouts would be fuller and maltier if I did a different kind of mash, but considering one of them just won an award I shouldn't complain.

I did a decoction mash once. Once.

Funny thing, my efficiency was always around 83% and then I moved, started going to a different HBS, and started getting 65-70%. I guess the water is different here or their mill doesn't grind as fine, but it's thrown a wrench in my brewing.
The crush has a HUGE effect on efficiency, that's the difference. See if your LHBS will adjust the mill for you or else start buying a bit more base malt. I'm a fly sparger myself but I really don't see any problem with your process, tons of people do it that way.
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Old 11-17-2010, 10:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster View Post
No sparging is adding all the necessary water for boil volume and grain absorption in a single water addtion.
Not necessarily. There has been a lot of discussion about the effects of a thin mash and most argue that you still want to mash with a correct ratio. Then add the rest of your water on top of that after you are done mashing. Essentially adding your "sparge" water right on top of your mash without draining any runnings. Both methods could be considered "no sparge".
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