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Old 08-05-2009, 09:49 PM   #1
EvilGnome6
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Default Big Beer + Thin Mash = Tiny Sparge?

I'm planning out my next 5 gallon AG batch and want to do a thin mash to get a more fermentable wort. The recipe calls for 13 lbs of grain. If I aim for a 2 qt/lb ratio, that would be 6.5 gallons.

With that much water used for mashing, I would only have 1.31 gallons for sparging to hit 6 gallons pre-boil.

That seems like an awfully small amount to sparge with and I don't want my efficiency to suffer too much.

How much does a small sparge impact efficiency?

What would be a good sweet spot between mash thinness and sparge volume?

I know the easy answer would be to sparge more volume and boil it down but I have a 7.5 gallon kettle and I really don't want to go that route.

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Old 08-05-2009, 11:14 PM   #2
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The amount you are sparging isn't really relevant, it's only there to get you up to your boil volume. 2 is a bit high although it can be done. You might want to mash for 90 minutes with that much volume to give enough time for conversion. 1.5 might be better.

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Old 08-06-2009, 12:30 AM   #3
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The amount you are sparging isn't really relevant, it's only there to get you up to your boil volume. 2 is a bit high although it can be done.
No
and
No

A. Sparging washes additional sugars from the mash.
B. Even though homebrewers use thick mashes, at the Fermentation Sciences lab, they say they get the highest efficiencies at 5L/Kg (2.5qt/lb).

For a big beer, I'd recommend sparging to 7-7.5 gallons. If you can't do that, read up on parti-gyle and plan a long brew day.
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Old 08-06-2009, 12:45 AM   #4
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No
and
No

A. Sparging washes additional sugars from the mash.
B. Even though homebrewers use thick mashes, at the Fermentation Sciences lab, they say they get the highest efficiencies at 5L/Kg (2.5qt/lb).

For a big beer, I'd recommend sparging to 7-7.5 gallons. If you can't do that, read up on parti-gyle and plan a long brew day.
I agree, though I'm a batch sparger.

What I do, if I'm not wishing to partigyle, is to just mash in. Do no sparge, and count on about 20% efficiency loss.

I just did a 10.25% barley wine at over 1.100 and I didn't sparge at all. It was nice and easy, but I only got 52% efficiency because I didn't 'rinse' the additional sugars out with the sparge.
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:05 AM   #5
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I agree, though I'm a batch sparger.

What I do, if I'm not wishing to partigyle, is to just mash in. Do no sparge, and count on about 20% efficiency loss.

I just did a 10.25% barley wine at over 1.100 and I didn't sparge at all. It was nice and easy, but I only got 52% efficiency because I didn't 'rinse' the additional sugars out with the sparge.

Or start early in the morning and make a beer from your second runnings for "free". You can do all the sparging while the first beer is boiling and it only really adds another boil time onto your brew day. I have done this three times since starting AG and while the big beers have been aging, I have enjoyed drinking the session beers.
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:06 AM   #6
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Mash temperature has the biggest effect on fermentability anyway. You can mash down in the 148-150F area, let it rest longer (90 min) and still keep to your normal thickness. Just for reference, i get 60% efficiency on a no sparge so a distinct sparge is worth 20% more efficiency for me. Personally, I'd go 1.5qt/lb and leave some room for a single sparge.

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Old 08-06-2009, 01:39 AM   #7
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Mash temperature has the biggest effect on fermentability anyway. You can mash down in the 148-150F area, let it rest longer (90 min) and still keep to your normal thickness. Just for reference, i get 60% efficiency on a no sparge so a distinct sparge is worth 20% more efficiency for me. Personally, I'd go 1.5qt/lb and leave some room for a single sparge.
This is what I'm leaning towards.

Is there a certain minimum sparge ratio needed for good efficiency?
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:50 AM   #8
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Or start early in the morning and make a beer from your second runnings for "free". You can do all the sparging while the first beer is boiling and it only really adds another boil time onto your brew day. I have done this three times since starting AG and while the big beers have been aging, I have enjoyed drinking the session beers.
Or, save your second runnings to make starters with.
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:37 AM   #9
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If I where you I'd pad my grain bill, shooting for < 65% eff. If you don't have room to add to your boil, it's probably better to shoot for a no-sparge technique and fill your pot with as close to your target with the first runnings, and as other people are saying, pull your first runnings for your big boil, and send another 6 gallons through for a second beer.

Or get a bigger pot!!!!

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Old 08-06-2009, 04:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by EvilGnome6 View Post
This is what I'm leaning towards.

Is there a certain minimum sparge ratio needed for good efficiency?
Peak efficiency will occur when first and second runnings are exactly equal but some sparge is better than none.

With 13 pounds at 1.5qt/lb is 5 gallons (yes, I rounded). Your runnings after absorption will be about 3.5 gallons. Sparge with 2.5 gallons and you'll be pretty efficient.

13 pounds of grain is nowhere near enough to pull off a partigyle small beer.
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