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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Batch sparging the dead zone
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:35 PM   #1
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Default Batch sparging the dead zone

I’m considering switching to a batch sparging method for my small to medium sized beers, but as I was thinking through the process, I came upon a concern.

The set-up: I’ve got a 10 gallon stainless steel MLT with a dead space that may be 2 gallons. (I haven’t measured it yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s well beyond 1 gallon.)

I want to collect 7 gallons pre-boil, thus I plan to collect 3.5 gallons in my first run-off. But even at a humble 9 lbs of grist, I’ve got 3 gallons of mash water mixed in there plus another 2 gallons below in the dead space. Minus roughly a gallon of absorption, I’m still looking at 4 gallons in my first run-off.

Now, if I simply add another 3 gallons to the MLT, I see 2 gallons of that water going straight to the dead space, leaving me with only 1 gallon to stir into the grains and rinse the sugars. Is that enough water? Am I going to have a hell of a time stirring a ‘mash’ this thick? I feel like most people doing batch sparge are using igloo coolers with dead spaces much smaller. I don’t know why I feel that way… it’s just an instinct.

Any batch spargers out there with words of comfort, or better yet, a MLT like mine?

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Old 07-22-2009, 09:44 PM   #2
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2 gallons of deadspace is unacceptable should be corrected. How about a picture of the setup? What kind of separation medium do you have in there? False bottom?
Why is your deadspace so large? Just to make sure we're talking about the same thing, if you fill your MLT with 4 gallons of plain water and open the valve, are you saying only 2 gallons will drain out? You need a siphon tube to the bottom of the tun.

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Old 07-22-2009, 09:50 PM   #3
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By dead space, I assume you mean space below the false bottom and not the volume left after draining. What I would do is drain the first 2 gallons into a separate pot and drain the rest of the first runnings into the kettle. Then pour the first two gallons back into the mash tun and add the sparge water.

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Old 07-22-2009, 09:52 PM   #4
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I thought that too but now I'm thinking it's impossible. I have a keg MLT with a FULL 15" diameter false bottom and it only takes 7/8ths of a gallon to hit the FB.

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Old 07-22-2009, 10:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
By dead space, I assume you mean space below the false bottom and not the volume left after draining. What I would do is drain the first 2 gallons into a separate pot and drain the rest of the first runnings into the kettle. Then pour the first two gallons back into the mash tun and add the sparge water.
D'OH!

<sheepish>

(Yes... that is what I meant by dead space; the space under the false bottom.)

Thanks for the idea! I may have been as premature with my estimate as I was wrong about my use of the term 'dead space'. I will do an exact measurement tonight! (But for the record, I do think it's more than a gallon. It's an older-model MLT from Morebeer.com with the stainless false bottom.)
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
By dead space, I assume you mean space below the false bottom and not the volume left after draining. What I would do is drain the first 2 gallons into a separate pot and drain the rest of the first runnings into the kettle. Then pour the first two gallons back into the mash tun and add the sparge water.
I'm confused... what exactly would this accomplish?
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:20 AM   #7
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If you're batch sparging, you could tilt the MLT in the direction of the outlet. Dead space will drop to an insignificant amount.

-a.

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Old 07-23-2009, 04:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpc View Post
I'm confused... what exactly would this accomplish?
I'm not quite following either. You'll definitely have to run a slightly thinner mash, but you certainly want to drain off all the wort in first runnings if batch sparging is desired. Tuns with false bottoms like this are better for fly sparging.
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:54 PM   #9
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Pictures would be fantastic. Depending on your setup it may be just a matter of altering your diptube/false bottom.

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Old 07-23-2009, 02:29 PM   #10
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Thanks fellas. Tonight I'm going to get some real numbers (like the actual volume under the false bottom) and some pictures for the gang, and will have them back up here in the morning.

I’m starting to get the feeling that my system just ain’t cut out for batch-sparging. I may be a fly-guy by necessity. Presuming my estimate of a 2-gallon space below the false bottom is correct, if I ever wanted to do a double batch-sparge, I’d be having to split a piddly 2-3 gallons of water between the two sparges, and losing almost all of that sparge water to the space below the FB. That doesn't seem practical at all.

A question to those who do batch sparge… how much initial run-off do you typically get in your systems, and how much sparge water are you subsequently using? And what are those systems? I’d like to know just how different my set-up is from others’.

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