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Old 08-22-2012, 05:55 AM   #1
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Default Sparging Technique High Efficiency but High Preboil Volume

Hey guys! I have a question regarding my sparge technique, I have a 5 gallon cooler setup with an 8 gallon pot heated by an electric range.

Some Back Ground:

I have been hounding down inefficiency problems in my setup recently, and I was very successful I went from ~50 to ~75 after determining that my thermometer read 6 degrees to warm.

In addition, when I did my sparge, I basically refilled the mash tun water and made sure it hit ~170 and let it drain out until the gravity of the lauter was below 1.010 including compensation for temperature. Doing this however, I way overshot my preboil volume.

My setup evaporates wort at a rate of .685 gallons an hour, so if I hit 5.685 gallons preboil, I should be pretty spot on with a 60 minute boil. Instead, I ended up with like 7 gallons of wort and so I had to boil the wort for 3 hours to get it down to the target volume.

So here is the fundamental question:
If I only add enough sparge water to hit my target preboil volume of 5.685 gallons will my efficiency suffer, or should 2 gallons of sparge water more or less be plenty to rinse the sugars out? Should I add it in small batches, or add it all at once, stir then drain?

I hit my best efficiency yet with the uber large volume of sparge water, but the boil was way to long.

Any help or advice would be really nice

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Old 08-22-2012, 01:38 PM   #2
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Personally I would aim for a specific preboil volume and add grain as needed. This would, or should, be less efficient, but it's what is normal. Instead of sparging with a LOT of water, I'd look for inefficiencies elsewhere. Such as grain crush, deadspace, mash pH, etc. It should not be hard to hit 75 or even much higher with the average system, IMO.

Oversparging not only extends the boil time, but it *could* also lead to astringency caused from leeching tannins from the grain husk.

I normally mash in and stir like crazy to break up the dough balls and get an even temp. Then I drain completely then add the sparge water. Then I mix completely again to get water into every bit of grain and let it sit for 10 minutes (mostly to let the big pieces of grain settle into a grain bed) and drain again.

I have started doing a single sparge because there wasn't much difference in efficiency for me compared to doing a double sparge. But a double sparge is technically a bit more efficient. To do a double, just cut the sparge water amount in half and add it in two separate steps.

I would not get too crazy working on getting a high efficiency. Once you have a good crush, mash pH, accurate temp readings, etc. it should fall into the 75% range or maybe more. Unless you have channeling in your mash tun. What kind of mash tun do you have?

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Old 08-22-2012, 01:44 PM   #3
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Just the standard 5 gallon cooler set up with a braided hose at the bottom. So you recommend just adding enough water to hit your target preboil volume?

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Old 08-22-2012, 03:01 PM   #4
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I've used to figure out 1.25 qts per pound for mash and sparge with however much more it took to get preboil volume. Now I just figure how much water I need for preboil and split it about in half and use half for mash and half for sparge. I've read that mash thickness isn't that important for a 60 mash.

But yeah, beersmith or one of the other brewing calculators can tell you how much water to use or you can do the math by hand to figure out how much grain and water to use to account for grain absorption and deadspace and what not.

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Old 08-24-2012, 09:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice Homer, I look forward to my next brew!

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Old 08-26-2012, 11:57 AM   #6
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Good post

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Old 08-29-2012, 10:25 AM   #7
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While 3 hours is a little crazy...I don't see anything wrong with a longer boil. I use the same amount of water for my 6-7% brews as my 8%. I just end up with a 90 minute boil.

I usually do a 1.5 quart ratio. Never any dough balls...I had never even seen a dough ball until I tried a 1.3 quart ratio

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Old 09-05-2012, 01:13 AM   #8
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I personally switched over to using a turkey fryer burner to do my boils. I did my first 2 batches on an electric stove and ran into the same problem of having to boil longer, or settle for less efficiency. You will/can boil of 3-4 times more with the turkey fryer in a 60 min boil. I actually have to be more careful now not to boil too hot and lose too much liquid. Being able to achieve a higher boil off rate will allow you to run that little bit of extra sparge to bump efficiency but still hit all your other marks as far as volume and gravities. This is just my opinion, I'm pretty new to all grain myself, if I'm off base someone please correct me as I hate to give bad info.

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Old 09-05-2012, 02:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calichusetts View Post
While 3 hours is a little crazy...I don't see anything wrong with a longer boil. ...
The main problem is simply that the brew time is pushed way into the wee hours of the night and the apartment is still not post brew cleaned. Everyone gets grumpy from being sleepy and kittens die every hour until the brew is finished.

We can start to brew earlier in the day, but still a 3 hour boil really adds a lot work/time because you have to watch it etc.

I hope before very long to be able to upgrade to a 15 gallon turkey burner set up with a mash tun made from a chest cooler large enough to mash the grain for 10 gallons of RIS, so a major upgrade is in my future, just not yet.
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