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Old 05-07-2012, 03:47 PM   #1
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Default Am I weird that I find Fly Sparging so much easier than Batch?

I'm only about 5 or so batches into my new foray into traditional all-grain brewing, but something dawned on my in my last batch - I love fly sparging so much more than batch. Is it just me?

Maybe I'm lucky, weird, or doing something wrong (It's likely all three). But batch sparging was just so much more work for me. Batch sparging seemed like vorlauf, run-off, heat aprge water, stir, let sit, vorlauf, run off, repeat. Whereas fly sparging was almost "set it and forget it." With the occaisonal check to make sure your flow rates are consistent and your "inch of water" on top of your grain bed isn't getting too big or small, the water seems to do all the work for you, freeing up time to prep other stuff or like I did last brew day, put away laundry.

Maybe I was over complicating batch sparging and maybe I'm under-complicating fly sparging, but I sure know which one I prefer- and I'm killing my efficiency.

Also, I am terrible at vorlaufing, maybe that's part of it. I grasp the concept but I can never seem to not get grain bits in my runnings. *Shrug*

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Old 05-07-2012, 03:52 PM   #2
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Weird? No... You like what you like. I haven't fly sparged, but in theory it seems as if it would be easier.

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Old 05-07-2012, 04:00 PM   #3
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Hey, it's all about doing what feels right for you. I might fly sparge someday, I have a gravity stand to do it, but right now I batch sparge. It seems easy to me. Dump water in, stir, go do something else for an hour. With a 15 minute sparge, I am ready to boil 75 minutes after starting. I hit 80% efficiency routinely so it's all good.

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Old 05-07-2012, 04:03 PM   #4
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I have always wanted to know. Do you fly sparge until you get your kettle volume? If so what do you do with all the water left in your MTL?

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Old 05-07-2012, 04:07 PM   #5
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I have always wanted to know. Do you fly sparge until you get your kettle volume? If so what do you do with all the water left in your MTL?
yes.

Drain it off.

haha, pretty much that simple.

I have fly sparged hundreds of batches, it's easier for me on my system and it works fine.
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:14 PM   #6
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There's a way to make your "fly sparging" (I HATE that term- sparge means to sprinkle or splash, so if you aren't doing that, you aren't sparging, you're adding water) even easier... If your MLT has sufficient volume to handle it, get your sparge water in as soon as possible after your runoff begins. It isn't necessary to maintain that 1" or 2" depth. That concept seems to have originated with maximizing the space in a lauter vessel by getting as much grain in it as possible.

I have my sweet spot on my runoff valve, set it to get the runoff rate that I like (about an hour), begin adding sparge water (I pour it over a spoon, but if you have an arm or whatever that's fine), once there is enough of a cushion to prevent digging in to the grain, I speed up. I generally take 5-10 minutes to get it all in and then walk away. One HBT member recently suggested placing a sheet of tin foil over the grain to cushion against the massive inflow, I've never done it, but I can see that it would work.

I have been doing it this way since '89. Actually learned this when working at Bell's back in the day and have done the same thing at several other breweries (obviously at a different scale and with different equipment) when the systems would accommodate the technique.

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Old 05-07-2012, 04:38 PM   #7
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I've done both and find fly sparging much harder. On lighter beers you constantly need to check the gravity, not to mention mashing out requires more effort. Also, fly sparging efficiency can be finicky - if you don't have your equipment perfectly attuned to the technique, you'll get channeling and poor extraction.

For me, batch sparges are much more "hands off" and ultimately take less time and attention.

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Old 05-07-2012, 04:49 PM   #8
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Doesn't fly sparging require doing a vorlauf??

Granted you only do it once, but with batch sparging I just dump the water in stir well, wait 10 minutes, vorlauf then drain. I do not have to watch or adjust the water flow and do not have to worry about the gravity or ph level during the sparge as you would in fly sparging.

I haven't done, but want to try fly sparging just to see the efficiency difference.

I also can do other things during the sparge. I don't have to sit and watch the sparge for an hour.

It doesn't seem easier to me but, I have tried BIAB and that doesn't seem easier to me than batch sparging.

What ever seems easiest to you is the easiest - for you.

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Old 05-07-2012, 05:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kh54s10 View Post
Doesn't fly sparging require doing a vorlauf??

Granted you only do it once, but with batch sparging I just dump the water in stir well, wait 10 minutes, vorlauf then drain. I do not have to watch or adjust the water flow and do not have to worry about the gravity or ph level during the sparge as you would in fly sparging.

I haven't done, but want to try fly sparging just to see the efficiency difference.

I also can do other things during the sparge. I don't have to sit and watch the sparge for an hour.

It doesn't seem easier to me but, I have tried BIAB and that doesn't seem easier to me than batch sparging.

What ever seems easiest to you is the easiest - for you.
-You don't HAVE to vorlauf... you do it if you want to make sure that there are few or no particles making it through to the kettle. Takes a minute or two.

-What makes you think you have to worry about pH during a sparge/run off? Or gravity for that matter? If your brewing liquor is right in the first place, the pH will be. If you have your volumes correct you will run off exactly as much as you need. Even if you have excess, you simply cut off the runnings when you reach your kettle volume. BANG, done.

-You don't have to watch the sparge for an hour. I get my water in and walk away after, at max, 10 minutes. During the remaining 45-55 (depending on how fast I got my sparge water in) I can do whatever I want... sandwich, clean a fermenter, watch an episode of Father Ted... Even if you go for the continuous sparge (which I have never done at home, and only do commercially when the system demands it), if you know your equipment, you know the sweet spots and you can set it and walk away.
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:48 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wailingguitar View Post
There's a way to make your "fly sparging" (I HATE that term- sparge means to sprinkle or splash, so if you aren't doing that, you aren't sparging, you're adding water) even easier... If your MLT has sufficient volume to handle it, get your sparge water in as soon as possible after your runoff begins. It isn't necessary to maintain that 1" or 2" depth. That concept seems to have originated with maximizing the space in a lauter vessel by getting as much grain in it as possible.

I have my sweet spot on my runoff valve, set it to get the runoff rate that I like (about an hour), begin adding sparge water (I pour it over a spoon, but if you have an arm or whatever that's fine), once there is enough of a cushion to prevent digging in to the grain, I speed up. I generally take 5-10 minutes to get it all in and then walk away. One HBT member recently suggested placing a sheet of tin foil over the grain to cushion against the massive inflow, I've never done it, but I can see that it would work.

I have been doing it this way since '89. Actually learned this when working at Bell's back in the day and have done the same thing at several other breweries (obviously at a different scale and with different equipment) when the systems would accommodate the technique.
This is pretty much what I do. Vorlauf, start my runnings, start the sparge (I do it through a hose with a little plastic sprayer thingie. I sprinkle it onto a plastic container lid, and that's pretty much it. I let it run for an hour, hit my volumes and go.

I'll collect a sample for the gravity reading at the end, but that's really jsut for information. I don't usually concern myself with pH or running gravity or anything like that during the lauter. It hasn't adversely affected any of my brews...(yet )

Also, my gravity feed system is a high=tech method known as "a chair on a table" HLT on chair, MLT on table, boil kettle on the burner, which is on the floor.
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