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Old 02-05-2012, 02:58 PM   #1
jrcallinan
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Default Fly vs batch sparge

I just bottled my first all grain beer ever and at the urging of my home brew supply shop I used a batch sparge instead of the traditional fly sparge. The result was a very low original gravity and a very light pale ale. Has anyone had success with batch sparging? Any tips for a newbee?

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Old 02-05-2012, 03:05 PM   #2
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Welcome. Tons of people on this thread batch sparge with great success, myself included. Can you briefly describe your equipment & process? Perhaps we can help troubleshoot.

One tip is to double batch sparge (just like single sparge, but divide the water in half and do it twice). Most get 5-10% efficiency bump.

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Old 02-05-2012, 03:06 PM   #3
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When brewing on my gear, I batch sparge exclusively to good success - though I've fly sparged on friends' rigs to slightly better efficiency.

Can you describe your process? Maybe we can spot room for improvement...

In brief, here's mine:
- mash 60 minutes, usually between 152 and 158, depending on what kind of beer I'm shooting for, and almost always at 1.25 qts water per pound grain
- prepare sparge water
- lauter the mash tun, then add half the sparge water to the grain bed
- mix,wait 15 minutes, lauter, then add the rest of the sparge water
- mix, wait 15 minutes, lauter, then start boiling

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Old 02-05-2012, 03:46 PM   #4
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I think the key is to stir like crazy during the sparge. I have done 2 all grains so far and hit 72% efficiency on both using the batch sparge method. One was a 1.085 IIPA and I was only a few points short of hitting my target OG. I probably would have hit it if I heated my sparge water more. I now use 195° water when I sparge. That usually brings the grain bed up to around 170°.

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Old 02-05-2012, 03:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratslinger View Post
When brewing on my gear, I batch sparge exclusively to good success - though I've fly sparged on friends' rigs to slightly better efficiency.

Can you describe your process? Maybe we can spot room for improvement...

In brief, here's mine:
- mash 60 minutes, usually between 152 and 158, depending on what kind of beer I'm shooting for, and almost always at 1.25 qts water per pound grain
- prepare sparge water
- lauter the mash tun, then add half the sparge water to the grain bed
- mix,wait 15 minutes, lauter, then add the rest of the sparge water
- mix, wait 15 minutes, lauter, then start boiling

+1, Sounds exactly like what I do. I'm now struggling and trying to figure out the boiloff rate. I screwed a belgian trippel the other night by oversparging
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:23 PM   #6
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Sounds like a recipe issue to me. Not enough alcohol, add more base malt. Not enough color, add more higher kilned malts. Another issue might be you mash temps, usually lower temps around 148 or so will give you higher fermintability (dryer beer) and higher temps around 158 will give you less fermintability (sweeter beer). There's a lot more to it than that though, you might want to pick up a book like John Palmer's How to Brew or listen to the Brewing Networks Brewcast on going all grain. You basically just need to learn your system, everyone is a little different. Once you get one recipe down should be able to apply those changes to future brews.

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Old 02-05-2012, 04:38 PM   #7
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I use a cooler MLT... I don't exactly "Fly sparge" (I hate that term), but it is closer to my reality. At the end of my mash (usually 30-45 minutes depending on the beer), I do a vorlauf that usually takes 5-10 minutes to get a clear run off. I then let the wort begin draining into my kettle. Once run off has started, I begin to add my sparge water. I pour it over a large, wooden spoon to spread it out and not disturb the top of the grain bed, but do it quickly. Takes about 10 minutes to get all the sparge water in. Instead of an inch or two of water over the grain bed for the entire runoff, there are several inches. The insulation of the cooler and the thermal mass keep the temp up over my one hour run off. Works great, easy and I get consistent 80% efficiency. I have used this method in 4 commercial breweries as well with great results.

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Old 02-05-2012, 09:47 PM   #8
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I doubt the reason for your lower than expected efficiency is the fact that you did a batch sparge instead of a fly sparge. When you get a low efficiency, the culprit in my opinion is almost always an inadequate crush. I think a lot of people get a low efficiency and immediately think they need to start this multirest multiple decoction fly sparge routine when the problem could easily be solved by a finer crush. I have a simple cooler mash system, I batch sparge, and I typically get close to 80% efficiency, because I have my own mill and I crush 'til I'm scared. When fly sparging I get a couple percentage points better and that's not worth it to me.

It would be helpful to know your setup/process/recipe though.

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Old 02-05-2012, 10:07 PM   #9
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I just upgraded my setup. I use a single tier single pump system now. I didn't hit the target temp for sparge. I hit about 70% efficiency which is way better than before. I bet any money if I hit the sparge temp next time and split up the sparge, like the others have said, that I will be 80% or more.

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Old 02-05-2012, 10:11 PM   #10
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I doubt the reason for your lower than expected efficiency is the fact that you did a batch sparge instead of a fly sparge. When you get a low efficiency, the culprit in my opinion is almost always an inadequate crush. I think a lot of people get a low efficiency and immediately think they need to start this multirest multiple decoction fly sparge routine when the problem could easily be solved by a finer crush. I have a simple cooler mash system, I batch sparge, and I typically get close to 80% efficiency, because I have my own mill and I crush 'til I'm scared. When fly sparging I get a couple percentage points better and that's not worth it to me.

It would be helpful to know your setup/process/recipe though.
haha, i know *exactly* what you mean as an avid fly sparger, just keep this simple thought in mind--if you crush too fine and you get a stuck sparge, simply stir and batch sparge! ta-da! no more brew-day pressure!

low efficiency for home brewers is one of two things: channeling, or not rinsing the grain well enough.... or three! three things! simply not waiting long enough for the conversion.

but when the rubber hits the tire, a fine crush that looks like rough corn meal + husks and a patient sparge are your friends. 90% efficiency or 50% efficient isn't going to make a better beer, as long as you know what *your* efficiency is.
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