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Old 02-04-2013, 07:12 PM   #1
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Default All-Grain Mash/Lauter Questions....

I brewed my first all-grain the other day and it didn't come out like I wanted to. I know what I did wrong, for the most part, and I just had a couple questions. I attempted to make a 5.5 gal batch of an APA with 12.5lbs grain @ 152. The hops aren't important for now.

Anyhow, I punched some #s in my calculator and came up with a strike temp of 175. I heated up 4 gallons of strike water (per my calculator from Beer Alchemy iPhone app) to the 175 and slowly mixed water and grain while stirring to dough it in. My temp was low and I ended up adding too much water, but I got my temp around 150-152 after figuring out my thermometer was off after calibrating it. Mashed for an hour with a decent temperature of 148 after the hour.

Now, since I added so much strike, I used less sparge. Heated sparge up to 170-180 and poured after first runnings and initial recirculation. This is where I get fuzzy. I have read and been told by other brewers to always keep at least 1/2 to a full inch of water above grainbed and use foil or plastic lid to pour the sparge onto. I did that while keeping at least a 1/2 inch of water/wort above the bed, but I ended up with wort still in my tun even after hitting my pre-boil volume. I believe this affected my OG and I also think I lautered too fast, but does everyone use that method of keeping liquid above the bed? I don't know how to tell when to stop adding sparge water if I am constantly pouring onto a floating lid. I am sure this comes with experience, but I ended up watering my beer down by 10 gravity points.

Target OG was 1.054 and my actual was 1.044. I ended up using too much strike and then I even goofed up my pre-boil volume due to having a keggle and overshooting my 7 gal watermark from earlier. I was too concerned with that damn inch water level and over added.

Also, how much sparge water is actually necessary? I see some say 1.5 to 2 times strike, while some calculators give me almost equal numbers (3.97 gals and 4.3 gals i.e.). It is needless to say that my efficiency was garbage and this beer will probably be extremely watered down. I am brewing again tomorrow, so any advice is welcomed.

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Old 02-04-2013, 07:20 PM   #2
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What you did was fly sparged. A lot of brewers use that method and usually have better efficiency than batch sparging. Batch sparging is done after you drain your mash tun, add your 170-180 deg water, recirculate (vorlauf), and drain until you have your preboil volume.

I have always done one half gallon of sparge water per one pound of grain. That does still leave you with some wort in your mash tun but you still get plenty of fermentables.

You will still have good beer and should have plenty of flavor but less alcohol and body. Some beers are designed around 1.03 for the lighter stuff so RDWHHB! (relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!)

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Old 02-04-2013, 07:25 PM   #3
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150-152 degrees F is a good mash temperature and even ending up at 148 should still give you good conversion.
12.5 lbs of grain @ 1.25 qts./lb = 15.63 qts = 3.91 gallons of strike volume so your 4 gallons is close enough.
I fly sparge and typically heat 5 gallons of water up to 185 degrees F.
Once I start the fly sparge I let about 3" of sparge water collect above the grain bed then start to drain into the kettle.
I will sparge for close to an hour and collect about 6.75 gallons or wort.
Once my pre-boil volume is collected I shut off the valve, leaving the rest behind.

Efficiency could be affected by the crush on your grains too.

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Old 02-04-2013, 08:13 PM   #4
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Your right that the lost sugar was tied up in your laugter tun. If you batch sparge you get the maximum efficiency by collecting the same volume of water from each running.

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Old 02-04-2013, 09:20 PM   #5
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I may batch sparge this next batch after reading up on the pros and cons of both. I lautered way too fast anyway, definitely not an hour; more like half an hour tops. I will drink this beer, but it isn't going to be very good to me. I despise light beer, but a bunch of buddies love it. I will give most of it away. Thanks for the replies guys.

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Old 02-04-2013, 09:28 PM   #6
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Now, since I added so much strike, I used less sparge. Heated sparge up to 170-180 and poured after first runnings and initial recirculation. This is where I get fuzzy. I have read and been told by other brewers to always keep at least 1/2 to a full inch of water above grainbed and use foil or plastic lid to pour the sparge onto. I did that while keeping at least a 1/2 inch of water/wort above the bed, but I ended up with wort still in my tun even after hitting my pre-boil volume. I believe this affected my OG and I also think I lautered too fast, but does everyone use that method of keeping liquid above the bed? I don't know how to tell when to stop adding sparge water if I am constantly pouring onto a floating lid. I am sure this comes with experience, but I ended up watering my beer down by 10 gravity points.
I don't understand the first part of this. You poured sparge water in, after draining the first runnings? If you did, that's the beginning of "batch sparging". When you do that, you don't keep water over the top nor do you drain slowly.

There are two major techniques to sparging- one is "fly" or "continuous" sparging. That's when you don't drain the first runnings, but instead add some fresh water at the same rate you drain the MLT, so that the fresh water works via the process of diffusion to pull the sugars out.

In batch sparging, you drain the MLT of first runnings, and then add a "batch" of sparge water. You must stir in the water, vigorously, and then drain it.

It sounds from your description that you didn't do either one of these, but instead combined the techniques? If so, that would explain the low efficiency.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:02 PM   #7
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I don't understand the first part of this. You poured sparge water in, after draining the first runnings? If you did, that's the beginning of "batch sparging". When you do that, you don't keep water over the top nor do you drain slowly.

There are two major techniques to sparging- one is "fly" or "continuous" sparging. That's when you don't drain the first runnings, but instead add some fresh water at the same rate you drain the MLT, so that the fresh water works via the process of diffusion to pull the sugars out.

In batch sparging, you drain the MLT of first runnings, and then add a "batch" of sparge water. You must stir in the water, vigorously, and then drain it.

It sounds from your description that you didn't do either one of these, but instead combined the techniques? If so, that would explain the low efficiency.
I didn't completely drain the MLT. I ran it down until I had about an inch above the bed and then I started sparging. I realized there were two different methods, but I was unaware of the differences until now. Plus, I have always read that you need extra equipment to fly sparge, so I didn't know that is what I was doing. Batch sparging is easier and saves time, but your efficiency is hardly higher than 75%; from what I have read. The brewer at my LHBS told me to do it that way and the website I was using for references gave steps in the same way, but I would have batch sparged to start with if I had done the proper research. No biggie, my next batch tomorrow will go much better now that I have the experience of the first under my belt.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:07 PM   #8
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I didn't completely drain the MLT. I ran it down until I had about an inch above the bed and then I started sparging. I realized there were two different methods, but I was unaware of the differences until now. Plus, I have always read that you need extra equipment to fly sparge, so I didn't know that is what I was doing. Batch sparging is easier and saves time, but your efficiency is hardly higher than 75%; from what I have read. The brewer at my LHBS told me to do it that way and the website I was using for references gave steps in the same way, but I would have batch sparged to start with if I had done the proper research. No biggie, my next batch tomorrow will go much better now that I have the experience of the first under my belt.
Ah, ok, so you did do a "fly" sparge then. I was just confused in reading it, that's all.

I go back and forth- sometimes fly sparge, sometimes batch sparge depending on how my day is going. I get about the same efficiency so I don't really have a strong preference. If I'm FWH, though, I'll usually fly sparge so the FWH hops can sit in the hot wort longer.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:25 PM   #9
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If I'm FWH, though, I'll usually fly sparge so the FWH hops can sit in the hot wort longer.
Batch sparge and have a beer or two before putting it on the burner?
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:28 PM   #10
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Batch sparge and have a beer or two before putting it on the burner?
Well, I'll be. That's another brilliant idea!
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