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Old 05-29-2012, 03:35 PM   #1
Warthaug
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Default Batch sparging confusion

I'm nearing the end of my all-grain drought, having purchased the last few items required to re-build a basic all-grain setup (cooler mash/lauter tun, immersion cooler, etc). I've decided to give batch-sparging a go, but am not sure about the best method to use. My reading of the net has revealed at least three distinct ways to do it - I was wondering if there was any reason (aside from equipment volume limitations) to prefer one over the other.

FWIW, I have a 50L (~50qt) cooler, which should hold the mash+sparge water for nearly any imaginable 23l (6 US gallon) recipe.

Method 1: At the end of the mash add all the sparge water, mix well, let sit 10min, drain
Method 2: At the end of the mash drain what you can, add sparge water, let sit 10min, drain
Method 3: Essentially method 1 or 2, with the sparge water added piecemeal (i.e. 2 separate washings, or 3, or 4, or...)

Is one way better than the others? If doing multiple washes, how do you avoid over-sparging (as there wouldn't be a continual change in gravity/pH you coudl monitor for).

Thanx

Bryan

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Old 05-29-2012, 03:41 PM   #2
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I did my first all grain a couple weeks ago and it went great. I had 9.5 lbs of grain so I added 3 gallons of mash water. Let it sit for an hour and drained it. Collected about 2 gallons from the mash. I knew my boiloff rate was about 1.5 gallons per hour, so I needed 7 gallons for the boil to get down to 5.5 gallons if I wanted to leave a half gallon in the kettle with the trub. So I did two sparges of 2.5 gallons at 180 F.

Everything worked perfectly. I had exactly 7 gallons pre-boil and 5.5 gallons post boil. Hit my OG at 1.047 when I was shooting for 1.046. Efficiency was about 75%.

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Old 05-29-2012, 03:53 PM   #3
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Method 2.

I've read that getting 2 equal volumes of the mash runnings and the sparge running is ideal for efficiency but there may be an advantage to doing 2 sparges. You may want to add some boiling water to the mash to increase the temperature to aid in the mash runnings from becoming stuck. It's not a mashout, but just a temperature boost to the high 150's without depleting too much of the sparge water. A few minute rest there may allow the alpha amalyse convert starches if there are any. Your sparge water can be safely heated to 175F-180F without much chance of your sparge to ever exceed 168F.

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Old 05-29-2012, 03:57 PM   #4
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Method 1 is not batch sparging.

2 and 3 are but don't forget "stir really really well after adding the water".

If you mash slightly thinner, say 1.5qt/lb then you can limit your sparge addition to just one big one.

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Old 05-29-2012, 04:24 PM   #5
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You also don;t have to wait after adding the sparge water. It's a waste of time. See my article in Zymurgy or www.dennybrew.com for details.

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Old 05-29-2012, 04:44 PM   #6
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My favorite method is to drain the tun and then sparge once. I've lately started basically splitting the mash and sparge water into roughly equal amounts.

You could figure a grain to water ratio instead, and then add enough sparge water to make up your boil volume, but equal batches seems to work fine too and as Denny says, no waiting required, although I do let the grain drop a bit before I start. Usually it's like 2-3 minutes while I'm doing other things.

Doing 2 or even 3 sparges is supposed to increase you efficiency, but the very small amount of increase doesn't make it worth it in my opinion. I simply like the equal batch/mash method better.

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Old 05-29-2012, 04:57 PM   #7
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I like to try and mash-out, which is to add 180* water to the mash until temp reaches 168* (while stirring), then vorlauf and drain, add next sparge addition, stir, drain, repeat until hitting preboil volume. I let the sparge water cool a bit after the 180* addition so that I'm not running risk of tannins when the ph changes with each sparge addition.

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Old 05-29-2012, 05:24 PM   #8
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Unless your water is really weird, there will be no appreciable pH change in a batch sparge.

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Old 05-29-2012, 05:30 PM   #9
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Thanks, things are already clearer.

I always mashed-out, so I didn't even think of skipping that step (usually bring a small pot of water to a boil; enough to raise to 76C). Based on what everyone here has written, for the first go I'll follow method two (minus the 10min soak, as per danny's page), at least for the first go.

One quick question about stuck sparges; one of my more commonly brewed recipes is a blue-moon-esque brew, which due to the high amount of wheat/oats was really prone to sticking. I always threw in a few handfuls of rice hulls to help, but even then, it got stuck every other batch. Some of the pages I've read have suggested that stuck sparges are nearly impossible with batch sparging - is that true, and if so, could I forgot the rice hulls?

Thanx again

Bryan

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Old 05-29-2012, 05:35 PM   #10
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I think it has more to do with your system than the process of batch sparging. I've brewed 422 batches and I've never had a stuck runoff. But I can't conclusively say whether that's due to my equipment or my process.

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