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Old 08-22-2007, 01:41 PM   #1
briandickens
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Default AG Technique Question

SO I am getting ready to do my first ever AG batch. I was going to do PM, but after reading these forums I picked up a 5gal cooler and figured I'll just do a nice low gravity beer that's easy to drink first. So I'm going to do an Ordinary Bitter. Anyway, I just want to make sure I have my technique down before I get too deep into it.

Basically, I am going to take my milled grain and put it into the cooler and add about 1.25qt/lb of grain, right? Stir it up and let it sit for an hour. That's the mash part.

The sparge is where I think I am missing something. Am I just taking whatever water I need to get me to 6 gallons and sparging with that? How long should it sit in the cooler? Assume this is a batch sparger.

If I understand correctly, I am going to add in the remainder of the water (Beersmith says 5.21 additional gallons), stir up the grain in the water, and immediately vorlauf and drain to the kettle. Am I understanding right?

Thanks for your help...

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Old 08-22-2007, 01:52 PM   #2
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For batch sparging, after letting the mash rest for an hour, you'll want to stir the mash up, then vorlauf (recirculate the runnings until they are clear), drain into your kettle. After you've drained the mash, then add half of your sparge water into the MLT, stir, let sit for 15 minutes, vorlauf, and drain. Repeat with last half of sparge water.

Boil away.

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Old 08-22-2007, 02:09 PM   #3
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Check out Denny's Batch Sparge website: http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/ He goes through the whole process and makes it really easy to understand. I know my first AG brew wouldn't have gone as well if I hadn't read through his site a few times.

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Old 08-22-2007, 02:16 PM   #4
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One other thing- depending on your setup (false bottom, braid, etc), you probably don't want to add all the grain and then all the water. You'll get a stuck sparge for sure. I add a little water (to cover the false bottom) and then open the bulkhead fitting until the water flows a bit, close, and then some grain and stir, then more water and then more grain. This stops the vacuum effect of the water and keeps me from getting a stuck sparge. I've never had a problem yet.

I'm probably doing it as overkill, but at least you could add some water and then some grain and stir and then add the rest.

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Old 08-22-2007, 02:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper Chick
One other thing- depending on your setup (false bottom, braid, etc), you probably don't want to add all the grain and then all the water.
I agree. I typically add all my water to the mash tun, and then stir in my grain as I pour it in slowly. This allows me to make sure that my mash will be at the right temp. Your mash tun will absorb a degree or two of heat so it's good to factor that in.
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:26 PM   #6
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A general proceedure is for mashing and batch sparge goes something like this:

1. Add 1 or 2 gallons of 180dF water to the mash tun, close the tun and let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then drain. This pre-heats the tun.

2. Put crushed grain in the (dry!) mash tun. Grain is room temp.

3. Add water in the amount of about 1.5 quarts/lb of grain. The water is usually between 165dF - 170dF, depending on the mash temp you are shooting for. Stir so there are no hot or cold spots.

4. The mash temp will settle somewhere in the 150's.

5. About 30 minutes later, open the tun, check the temp and stir again. Close the tun. Be quick.

6. After 60 minutes, top off the mash tun with 170dF degree water, recirculate 2 - 4 quarts, and drain into kettle.

7. Add 170dF water to the mash tun in whatever quantity is needed to get to a full boil. Stir and let sit for up to 10 minutes. Drain. This is the sparge. Repeat this step if you necessary to get to a full pot.

8. Boil.

Your Mileage May Vary.

An online calculator (e.g., http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/) or brewing software (e.g., brewsmith) will help you calculate specific temperatures for infusion and sparge water.

Also, you should read this (if you haven't already): http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/index.html

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Old 08-22-2007, 03:00 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice and links. I've read through the hdb.org link (but will re-read!) and also the Palmer section. I think reading so many different techniques was confusing me. But now I think I have it down.

I didn't think I'd get a stuck mash if I stirred it up after adding water to grain or grain to water. Am I wrong? At least I didn't think that adding water to the grain, or vice versa, would cause the problem if I stirred after adding.

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Old 08-22-2007, 03:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briandickens
Thanks for the advice and links. I've read through the hdb.org link (but will re-read!) and also the Palmer section. I think reading so many different techniques was confusing me. But now I think I have it down.
I agree, its easy to get confused. Following Palmer's book (and the advice given by more senior members of this forum) is what helped me arrive at a method that works for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by briandickens
I didn't think I'd get a stuck mash if I stirred it up after adding water to grain or grain to water. Am I wrong? At least I didn't think that adding water to the grain, or vice versa, would cause the problem if I stirred after adding.
I think you can do it either way. Several people on this forum add grains to water with good results. I've never done it that way. I can't say what impact it has on the potential for a stuck sparge. If if works for you, then go for it.
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Old 08-22-2007, 04:05 PM   #9
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Hmm, I disagree with several points in this thread so far.

First, you don't need to let the sparge water sit in the MLT for 15 minutes before you drain. Several of us have tested this and volaufing/draining directly after a good stir doesn't negatively affect efficiency. IMHO, this adds an unnecessary 30 minutes to the process and you might as well fly sparge in that case.

Next, I throw all my strike water in the tun, then all the grains, stir, rest.

Finally, when "topping off" at the end of the mash (this is actually called a "mash out", I wouldn't just wing it and I wouldn't use 170F water. You want to infuse just enough boiling water (it's the hottest you can go) to get the mash up to 168 or as close as you can get without overflowing the MLT or using all your sparge volume. In simplest terms, without obsessing over it, add about a gallon of boiling water, stir, vorlauf, drain. For example, in my last low gravity batch, adding a gallon of boiling water for mash out got the mash up to 165F (not bad). Software will help you figure out what temp it will settle at.

Now, if you don't like the idea of a mash out infusion before first runnings for whatever reason, at the very least you need to do your first sparge infusion at a temperature that will raise the grainbed up to near 170 also. This won't happen with 170F water. I just ran some numbers in BTP and a 2.5 gallon sparge of 190F gets me up to 168F. On the second, you want to stick with 170F infusions because the grain is already up to max sparge temp.

It's a lot of detail that you can pretty much ignore if you're not concerned much about 10% or so of efficiency. If your mash/sparge stays between 150-160F, you'll probably get 60-70%. I've been getting 80% + using the mash out method plus two equal batch sparges.

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Old 08-22-2007, 04:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
If your mash/sparge stays between 150-160F, you'll probably get 60-70%. I've been getting 80% + using the mash out method plus two equal batch sparges.
Thanks, Bobby. You make a lot of sense. Using the method I outlined above, I got 78% and 75% efficiency on my two AG batches. I would like to increase that, though, and have better control over sparge volumes. So, I am going to follow your procedure next time and see how that works.
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