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Old 10-01-2012, 04:34 PM   #1
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Default 2 dumb noob questions about sparging

Hey guys,

I'm getting ready to do my first all-grain batch in the next couple of weeks, and I've been reading like crazy. However, there are still a couple of things about sparging that aren't clear to me.

I'll be batch sparging in a converted cooler mash tun.

All the books I've read describe sparging once, but based on the volumes of water and the "rule of thumb" ratio of 1.25 qt./lb of grain, as well as some of the descriptions I've seen in transcribed BeerSmith directions, it seems I should be sparging twice. So my first question is, how many times do I sparge if doing an all-grain batch sparge? Once or twice?

The second question is the temperature. Do I sparge at 170 F to "mash out," or am I still trying to achieve some more conversion with the sparge (and thus, should be sparging at 155-ish)? The literature I've read said to infuse the sparge water, stir the grains, then leave it for 10 minutes before vorlaufing and draining. But what temperature should my sparge water be?

Thanks for any insight you can provide.

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Old 10-01-2012, 05:01 PM   #2
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If you can fit all the sparge water in your tun then yin only need to do it once. 170-180 is a goo sparge temp.

There is no further conversion in sparging, it is simply the method to wash out all the sugars into the kettle to achieve your pre-boil volume

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Old 10-01-2012, 05:06 PM   #3
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Sparging is just washing the sugar off the grains after conversion is complete, so you don't need to stay at mash temps. The closer to 170 you get, the more sugar you will wash off.

You can sparge once or twice or 3 times or continuously or not at all. They all work. Some people report slightly better efficiency with 2 sparges compared to 1, but we are talking marginal effects. The main reason you might have to do 2 sparge additions is if 1 doesn't fit in your tun. If you got a 10 gallon cooler, you might never have to worry about it, but it could be an issue in a 5 gallon cooler with a big grain bill.

Mashing out is different from sparging. Mashing out is adding a small amount of hot water to the tun BEFORE you start draining the first runnings. It isn't strictly necessary with batch sparging, but many people report slightly better efficiency with a mash out.

Personally, I would recommend a single sparge for your first batch. No need to make things any more complicated than they have to be. Once you've got a couple brews under you belt, you can start tweaking all these little things to see if you can get better efficiency.

For temps, use one of the free calculators online or spring for some software. There is no use guessing when you can just plug in the variables and get an accurate estimate.

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Old 10-01-2012, 05:19 PM   #4
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Another note on sparge temp, the way I understand it (and the process I follow) is to have the sparge at around 170 degrees. If your mash temp is around 150, you want to bring that temp up to 170. Simply adding 170 degree sparge water wont do this. I typically heat my sparge water up to 190-200 degrees. That should get the grain up to 170 or so, for mash out. I then sitr everything thoroughly, and wait about 10 minutes before draining. I believe my efficiency is usually around 75% or so with this process.

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Old 10-01-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
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Well there are a couple different methods to a batch sparge for your first go I would recomend a single batch sparge. The easiest way to do it is of course calculate the amount of water you need for your mash usually around 1.25-1.5 liters per pound of grain. So lets say you need 12.5 liters of water for a 10lb grain bill and you need to end up with 7 gallons in the boil at the end. First calculate the absorption rate of the grain which I believe is .3 per lb of grain so you loose 3 liters to absorption. So take that original 12.5 and subtract the 3 liters and you have 9.5 liters so with you first runnings you'll have 2.375 gallons in the kettle. You do not count the absorption again as the mash handled that so now add about 4.63 gallons to the man tun again and stir it up really good and wait like 10-15 minutes and vorlauf again and drain and you'll end up with the 7 gallons you need. As for sparge temps around 168-170 is good but don't go higher than this as you could extract tannins from the grain husks. Btw I used to batch sparge than went to fly Sparging and got easily another 15% efficiency and I found it much easier.

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Old 10-01-2012, 05:21 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies, guys, that really clears things up. I have a 48-quart cooler mash tun, so it looks like I can go with just a single sparge. My confusion was in figuring out how to get up to the required 6.5 gallon pre-boil volume while still respecting around a 1.33 qt./lb water/grain ratio for strike water, but I guess that ratio isn't as important for the sparge?

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Old 10-01-2012, 05:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kombat View Post
Thanks for the replies, guys, that really clears things up. I have a 48-quart cooler mash tun, so it looks like I can go with just a single sparge. My confusion was in figuring out how to get up to the required 6.5 gallon pre-boil volume while still respecting around a 1.33 qt./lb water/grain ratio for strike water, but I guess that ratio isn't as important for the sparge?
You just sparge up to your boil volume. The grain won't absorb water during the sparge.

As an example, say you have 10 pound of grain. You're using 1.33 quarts of water per pound of grain in the mash, so 13.3 quarts. The grain will absorb about 1.25 gallons of liquid in the mash, so you'll get out right about 2 gallons of wort. That means you'll sparge with 4.5 gallons to get to 6.5 gallons for your boil volume.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:40 PM   #8
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So dumb question, let's say like today I got distracted and my strike water was almost 190, so I had to add almost a gallon of water to cool it down. Does that have a negative effect on anything? I just use less (batch) sparge water, right?

What do you do with the rest of the sparge water? Do you test it, to make sure it has very little sugar, i.e. to make sure you effectively washed the grains? Is there anything to do with it?

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Old 11-25-2012, 12:19 AM   #9
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The 1.25 qt per lb is a "rule of thumb" for mashing......today I did a 1.5 qt/lb grain mash on a stout....just because it was recipe.

Sparge is just rinsing the sugars out of the mash tun..........so do enough sparge water to get to pre-boil volume.

If you overheat your sparge water and have to much cause u have to add cold water...then just dont add it all......use what you need to get to your pre-boil volume you calculated.

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Old 11-25-2012, 06:22 PM   #10
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I generally mash with 1-6-1.75 qt./lb. That gets me close to half my total boil volume from the mash so I don't have to do a pre mash run off addition. Then I sparge with enough water at 185-190F to hit my boil volume. Yes, it's really just that simple!

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