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Old 02-20-2013, 03:16 PM   #1
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Default Mash technique advice

I just upgraded to a 10gal Cooler MLT/HTL coming from BIAB. Previously I was using no mash-out/sparge BIAB to the tune of 75% eff. I want to keep my process simple but plan to experiment a bit in the next coming batches. If anyone has any feedback on these methods please let me know!

1) Single step mash @ 1.25 L/lb, sparge with 170*

2) Single step mash @ 1.25 L/lb, add boiling water for mash-out, sparge at 170*

3) Single step mash @ 1.25 L/lb, decoction boil for mash-out, sparge at 170*

I plan to reduce wort volume in all cases to 1" above the grain bed before sparging to reduces dispersion and mixing. I'm not sure how much of an impact reaching the mash-out quickly will affect efficiency. Also, for 10gal batches and multi-step mash, decotion is really the only way I can see being able reach mash-out quickly. Having not used a mash out I'm wondering if it's even necessary. I know some BIAB people even sparge the bag with cold water and see a yield increase.

Thanks for the help and input!

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Old 02-20-2013, 03:39 PM   #2
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Add on question: When people start their vourlof do you crack the mash-tun valve, or open it all the way? I've see people do it both ways suggesting it can seat the grain bed, but can also get it stuck.

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Old 02-20-2013, 03:43 PM   #3
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If you're going to batch sparge, I'd just recommend no mash out.

What I'd do is 1.5 quarts/pound for the mash, collect the runnings and measure. Then use the amount needed for the sparge, stir it well, and vorlauf and drain. What happens is you use hotter water for the sparge, so it serves as a mash out as well as a sparge. I hope that makes sense- what I mean is this: mash as usual. Drain. If you need, say, 4 gallons of sparge water then add it at mash out temperatures (maybe 185, as an example) so the grainbed is at 168. Stir thoroughly, and then vorlauf and drain.

When you vorlauf at first, you just crack the valve open a little so that you can "set" the grainbed and get out the big chunks, then open it wide up and let 'er rip.


If you're going to fly sparge, you should do a mash out. Either infusion or decoction would work, but it's more common (and easier) to do it via infusion. Then sparge with 170 degree water.

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Old 02-20-2013, 03:47 PM   #4
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Yup, what Yooper said! I batch sparge every time. I get 80-85% efficiency. I see no need to do anything more complicated than batch sparge.

I vorlauf wide open once the flow starts to blast all the large chunks out. I never get stuck sparges but I also use rice hull and/or water condition my grain before milling which keeps the husks mostly intact to make a nice grain bed filter.

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Old 02-20-2013, 05:21 PM   #5
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Thanks Yooper and Jayhem for the suggestions. I did consider batch sparging and will likely try that on my first batch. I think I will also try fly sparging just to test it out and see the difference.

Another random question: When first wort hopping do you add hops once you have your first runnings, or once sparging is finished? I'm not sure it would make much difference either way so long at the time before boil is the same. Not sure if the higher gravity first runnings would affect the flavor/aroma profile from the hops.

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Old 02-20-2013, 06:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbiker278 View Post
Another random question: When first wort hopping do you add hops once you have your first runnings, or once sparging is finished? I'm not sure it would make much difference either way so long at the time before boil is the same. Not sure if the higher gravity first runnings would affect the flavor/aroma profile from the hops.
You need to let the wort boil first so it can achieve "Hot break", then add your hops on their schedules.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbiker278 View Post
Thanks Yooper and Jayhem for the suggestions. I did consider batch sparging and will likely try that on my first batch. I think I will also try fly sparging just to test it out and see the difference.

Another random question: When first wort hopping do you add hops once you have your first runnings, or once sparging is finished? I'm not sure it would make much difference either way so long at the time before boil is the same. Not sure if the higher gravity first runnings would affect the flavor/aroma profile from the hops.
I FWH all of my beers now. I typically replace 3/4 to all of my bittering hops with FWH (adjusting the amount as needed to keep the same IBU's ).

I batch sparge and will throw the hops in the kettle before my first runnings, the first runnings reach the kettle and the hops steep while I mix in my sparge water and give it a good healthy stir. Then I drain the mash tun again into the kettle to reach my pre-boil volume. I turn on the heat and once I get a boil I either add the remainder of my bittering hops or start my timer to add the rest of my hop schedule.

I like to do IPA's with a 'hopburst/FWH' approach. I add hops to the kettle before draining the mash and then add no hops until the last 20 minutes of the boil to get the remaining IBU's and tons of hop flavors. I finish it off with hops at knock out.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:25 PM   #8
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For FWH, add the hops to the boil kettle when it's still empty, and when you drain your wort to it, it will steep in there. Fly sparging means a longer FWH time, but even with batch sparging FWH works great!

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Old 02-21-2013, 02:58 PM   #9
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Thanks again for the advice. Now I'm just trying to decide if I want to build some kind of wood structure to put the MLT and HLT above the boil kettle, or if I should just buy a pump.

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Old 02-21-2013, 03:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbiker278 View Post
Thanks again for the advice. Now I'm just trying to decide if I want to build some kind of wood structure to put the MLT and HLT above the boil kettle, or if I should just buy a pump.
There are advantages to having a pump besides sparging. It can be used to circulate the wort in your BK while chilling and it can be used for whirlpooling prior to emptying your BK into the fermentor.
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