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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Batch sparge question
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Old 05-23-2007, 06:32 PM   #1
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Default Batch sparge question

I completed my first all grain brew over the weekend but got really bad efficiency (56%) . I've been reading up trying to figure out what I did wrong, and I think it might be my sparge technique.

I was brewing a porter (Edmund Fitzgerald Clone) with 12 pounds of grain. I did a single infusion mash and a batch sparge.

I wanted a thicker beer so I mashed at a higher temp. I calculated in BeerSmith that I should start with 3.75 gallons of water at 170.5 degrees to hit a strike temp of 156. This was successful. I stirred the grains every 15 minutes for a total mash time of an hour. Then came the sparge... I was a little confused as to what the process and temp for batch sparging was. I poured about 4 gallons of 170 degree water into the mash tun and waited a few minutes for the grain bed to settle. Then I recirculated the wort until it ran clear at which point I continued to drain it into my boiling pot. Did I use the right temp for a batch sparge? Should I be using 170 degree water or using water that is hot enough to bring the total temp of the mash up to 170 degrees? Eventually I want to try fly sparging, but I want to get my feet wet with batch before I spend the extra money.

I know Ph can also be a big factor in the efficiency. The Ph of my water is about 7.3, and I didn't make any adjustments because I was using darker grains for the porter. I read that this should bring the Ph to appropriate levels.

I don't really know how good my crush was. I just had my LHBS crush the grains for me. I am making an assumption that since they are the pro's they should have a pretty decent crush.

So, my conclusion is that something is wrong with my sparging techniques. Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 05-23-2007, 06:37 PM   #2
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I'm going to be attempting my first batch sparge this weekend, so needless to say, I'm not an expert. Did you stir after adding the second batch of water? Also, my understanding is that you want to add water to bring the temperature up to 168 or so.

I found this calculator to determine water temperatures.

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Old 05-23-2007, 07:19 PM   #3
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Did you drain your mash before you added your sparge water or add it on top? You want to drain the mash before adding in the sparge water. 170 is fine for the water, just don't get it much hotter than that.

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Old 05-23-2007, 07:38 PM   #4
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First, you need to drain your wort of the mash befor sparging. If you did not do that, it could be a reason for low efficiency.
I would also guess that your grains were not well crushed/milled. I have found that the crush is extremely important in terms of getting a good efficiency.
I like to heat the first "batch" of sparge water up to about 180 to try to get my mash to 170. This way you get a mash out and sparge....at the same time. Then for the second "batch" of sparge water, I heat it to 170.

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Old 05-23-2007, 08:28 PM   #5
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Also, try to verify that your thermometer is correct. A danger with warmer mashes is that your thermometer is out and you are mashing a lot hotter than you think you are (happened to me on my last batch). This could definitely reduce your efficiency.

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Old 05-23-2007, 08:38 PM   #6
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I also do what jdoiv does, I drain my mash (well run until it clears, pour what came out back over...vorlaufing, then drain), then add 1/2 of my sparge water, mix, let sit 10 mins, vorlauf and drain, then repeat with the other 1/2 of the sparge water. I usually have my sparge water around 180*F, and this maintains the grainbed at around 170*F. A general rule i read is that you want to sparge with 1.5x mash water volume, this ends up being a lot of volume for the bigger beers I brew, which means a really long boil...oh well...

Last brew was 16#, mashed w/ 5.25 gallons of water and sparged with 7.5 gallons, ended up with probably 9-gallons pre-boil, boiled for almost two hours before I started my hop additions for an hour...long night.

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Old 05-23-2007, 10:34 PM   #7
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Running the Wort off first makes sense. I guess I got confused when I read Palmer's "How to Brew". He describes the process of running the wort of first as english sparging and dumping it in with the mash as batch sparging. At least that is how I read it. What do you think?

"In the English method of sparging, the wort is completely drained from the grain bed before more water is added for a second mash and drained again. These worts are then combined. Alternatively, the first and second runnings are often used to make separate beers. The second running is lighter in gravity and was traditionally used for making a Small Beer, a lighter bodied, low alcohol beer suitable for high volume quaffing at mealtimes.

Batch Sparging is a U.S. homebrewing practice where the full volume of sparge water is mixed into the mash. The grain bed is allowed to settle, and then the wort is drained off. The re-circulation step in this process takes place in the first minutes of the sparge. You can use more than one batch of water if you need to. This method differs from the English method in that the mash is not held for any significant time at the saccharification temperature before draining."

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Old 05-23-2007, 11:43 PM   #8
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I think that he explains it as having 2 sparges for batch, once when lautering and once when sparging. English I think you actually mash twice. I think things are getting confused with terminology.
.
This guy is a huge proponent of batch sparging, I think he explains it well: http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

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Old 05-24-2007, 12:08 AM   #9
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From your description, you seem to have sparged with a single batch of 4g sparge water. I don't think this is enough to sparge 12 lbs grain. I'd sparge with at least 5g, and preferably 6g. If you can't do this in a single batch, you can do it in two batches of approximately equal volumes.
If this would result in collecting too much wort, you could mash a bit thicker (down to 1 qt. water per pound of grain). which would reduce the amount of wort you collect.
I agree with the suggestions to drain the mash before starting the sparge.
I also agree with the suggestion to stir after each addition of sparge water. (If you add some sugar to a cup of tea or coffee, and don't stir, much of the sugar remains undissolved).
When sparging, you want the temperature of the sparge (not the added sparge water) to be about 168 - 170. To do this with fly sparging, many people add some near boiling water to raise the temperature at the end of the mash and stirring (a mash out), before starting the sparge.
You can achieve the same effect with a batch sparge simply by using hotter water for the initial batch, but I find a mash out to be easier.

-a.

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Old 05-24-2007, 12:50 AM   #10
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I split my sparge water into two equal batches and shoot for 170F. I drain the first run, add water and stir for five minutes, re-circulate, drain, repeat. For my last batch, I got 22 points of the sugar in the first run, 14 in the second and 10 in the last. Two smaller sparges just seem to work better than one large one. Sometimes I'll run a final gallon, just to see what I get. Maybe it goes in the pot, maybe not.

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