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Old 02-15-2012, 03:44 AM   #1
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Default Batch Sparge: Rest or No Rest?

For my first AG batches, I had a couple of efficiency struggles. Every time I brew beer, I try to make changes to my system and methods until I find the one that pleases me the most.

This time around, I bought a barley crusher grain mill, and hope that will resolve the majority of my issues. However, I also think the way I batch sparged may have impacted poor efficiency.

The first time around I tried using a "hybrid" approach where I batch sparged half the amount, and then fly sparged the second half with a bucket with holes. I think I messed that up by draining much faster than sparging.

The next time around I switched to double batch sparging. After mashing and draining, I heated my sparge water to 185~ and mixed it with the grain for about 5 minutes, vorlaufed, and repeated twice. Note, it was a cold day, so during the 5 minutes of mixing I did lose quite a bit of temperature in the grain bed.

So when batch sparging, what is the important factor? Maintaining the temperature as close to 170 as possible while mixing the grain; or simply mixing the grain well?

Sugar is more soluble at higher temps, so does that mean I should just mix really really well for about 1-2 minutes (rather than mix and rest 5-10 min) then begin vorlauf and drain?

Edit: Not trying to start a debate of any kind, simply improve my process through more experienced member's experiences.

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“Get your beer off the yeast cake on day 7 or your beer will crawl out of the fermenter and eat your youngest child”

“Your beer will be the equivalent of rhinoceros urine unless it sits on the primary yeast cake for at least 4 weeks.”
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:53 AM   #2
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Temperature during sparge shouldn't matter much. Your sugars have already dissolved, and in any case solubility is plenty good at even room temperature.

Batch sparging is pretty fool proof so long as you mix thoroughly. Have you tried using Kaiser's diagnostic tools? http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...use_Efficiency

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Old 02-15-2012, 05:24 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply! I've browsed through it, but I'll go ahead and thoroughly read the whole thing now that I have time.

On a side note, you think it would be more effective to mix well for about 10 minutes than mixing well for say 3 minutes and draining?

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Originally Posted by BierMuncher View Post

“Get your beer off the yeast cake on day 7 or your beer will crawl out of the fermenter and eat your youngest child”

“Your beer will be the equivalent of rhinoceros urine unless it sits on the primary yeast cake for at least 4 weeks.”
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:35 AM   #4
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I've had good luck with just a minute or two of good mixing. I definitely let it settle for 5-10 minutes, though, to let everything work its way out. Do that twice, and I've been overshooting my efficiency numbers, even. If you can get the sparge water in contact with all the sugars, especially with two rinses I think you'll be well off. As MalFret said, the temperature shouldn't be an issue, just the exposure and removal.

I don't know that 10 minutes as opposed to 3 minutes would really make a difference, but might as well try every tool in the shed.

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Old 02-15-2012, 06:21 AM   #5
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Along the lines of what MalFet said, from what I understand the temperature is not very important as the sparge is simply rinsing away sugars from the grain. Some research that John Palmer talked about once upon a time also showed that tunnels, or easiest paths form in your grain bed, and fly sparging sometime isn't very efficient as all the sugar is removed from these channels that the water flows through but not from the rest of the grain bed. So, in that case, batch sparging is better as it tends to soak up the sugars from the entire grain bed. This is especially true if you only have a small output for your wort.

I think the most important thing is that your grain mill, giving a consistent crush, will help with the consistency of your efficiency. I batch sparge and my efficiency is only in the high 60s but I get about the same efficiency every time, so I'm happy to spend a couple extra dollars per batch to know what to expect.

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Old 02-15-2012, 06:32 AM   #6
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Right. Good input. I like how MalFet says its pretty much "fool proof". I was a little concerned because I was even considering doing a single batch sparge, but if I mix for about 3-4 minutes, and then vorlauf and drain, I'm looking at a 5-6 minute batch sparge process. That sounds like I'm missing something.

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Originally Posted by BierMuncher View Post

“Get your beer off the yeast cake on day 7 or your beer will crawl out of the fermenter and eat your youngest child”

“Your beer will be the equivalent of rhinoceros urine unless it sits on the primary yeast cake for at least 4 weeks.”
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:43 AM   #7
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Sounds like you are changing things up too much and should consider sticking to one method for multiple batches. Just try to dial in one method and make it consistent so you can hit your numbers.

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Old 02-15-2012, 07:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spenghali
Sounds like you are changing things up too much and should consider sticking to one method for multiple batches. Just try to dial in one method and make it consistent so you can hit your numbers.
I would agree with this, adding that once you feel you've dialed one method , then move on to another if you need to.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:31 AM   #9
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Others may disagree, but I'd be cautious with the double batch sparge. The pH of your mash drops each time you sparge and if it drops too low you can extract tannins from the husks. I ended up with a pretty astringent pale ale due to (what I believe was) over sparging.

That said, if your beers are turning out fine, ignore the above. I also wouldn't stress about efficiency unless your numbers are really bad. If you have a process that produces good beer, go with it.

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Old 02-15-2012, 12:01 PM   #10
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I would agree with watching pH problems with too much sparging. The pH actually drops less to release tannins though. With the water starting at around 7.5 it needs to drop down near 5 and does so with the grain to water ratio. I believe that introducing more water sparging can lead to the pH to climb back up above 6 where tannins can be an issue.

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