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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Maximizing Efficiency when Batch Sparging
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Old 02-16-2012, 01:41 AM   #131
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I am kinda new at the brewing, I started out from ground zero. Each batch I change one component and they are getting much better. One thing I do that might be relevant to the conversation is place hole grain around my drainage system and I flip it upside down so the finer particles don't clog it. This has been working pretty well. I have a grinder that I reconditioned from an old wall hanger. In short, I can set it very fine and course but the in between will vary a bunch. It seems to work out good because on my last batch of mash out I was about 1.042 sg. The down fall came when I sparged it and brought it way down. I had to add some corn sugar in the boil to increase the sg. I am thinking next time of not sparging and just using more grain along with more water in the wort. Any thoughts?

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Old 02-16-2012, 02:27 AM   #132
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But what harm would come from allowing the sparge water to soak for even 15 minutes? If any starches have not fully converted to sugars, this may give that last 5% of them the opportunity to do so. Additionally, holding the sparge water in place for at least a few minutes might help ensure it has a chance to touch every bit of the grain, rather than begin to channel or miss one particular spot. It just seems like only good things could come from giving the sparge water some time.

This way of thinking is what's also causing me to not understand how fly sparging could in any way increase efficiency.
I think what you are mentioning here is largely responsible for the bumps in efficiency that people sometimes see when doing a batch sparge rest, a mash out, or carefully controlling sparge temps. If conversion hasn't completed, the temperature can provide a bump. But, as I see it, that's just dodging the problem. If your starch conversion hasn't finished, you shouldn't be ending your mash in the first place.

The reason that fly sparging is more efficient (so long as everything works right) is that you are constantly draining highly concentrated wort and replacing it with fresh water. The sugars that you leave behind are left behind in the water absorbed by your grainbed. When you batch sparge, you are diluting and then re-draining that sugar. Likewise, the kinds of proportions you use will impact the quantities of sugars that get left behind.

For example, one 12 quart batch sparge is less efficient than two 6 quart batches, which is in turn less efficient than three 4 quart or four 3 quart batch sparges. When done properly, fly sparging is the limit case: it's like doing an incredibly large number of incredibly small batch sparges. You pull out more concentrated wort earlier, and thus leave less concentrated wort behind in the tun.

Whether it's worth the effort, of course, is a completely different question.
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:04 AM   #133
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Ehhh to be honest, it really sounds like a rumor that someone thinking way too far into it dreamed up. I really don't see any numbers behind it and it would appear people who have done hundreds of brews using both methods agree.

"Yeah man. It's like "highly concentrated" wort comes out the bottom while you replace it with clean water up top. It, like, makes all your water into highly concentrated wort."

If we really want to think like that.... then you would have to admit that the sparge water you're ladling in mixes with the strike water at least somewhat. It doesn't just stay on the surface in a solid level or something. So then it's entirely possible that those early ladles of sparge water may make it out of your mash tun before every molecule of your strike water. This could only be translated into a loss in efficiency.

Again, I really don't think it matters much. Just pointing out the depth that one could assume. But in actuality, it makes a negligible difference.

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Old 02-16-2012, 03:40 AM   #134
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Ehhh to be honest, it really sounds like a rumor that someone thinking way too far into it dreamed up. I really don't see any numbers behind it and it would appear people who have done hundreds of brews using both methods agree.

"Yeah man. It's like "highly concentrated" wort comes out the bottom while you replace it with clean water up top. It, like, makes all your water into highly concentrated wort."

If we really want to think like that.... then you would have to admit that the sparge water you're ladling in mixes with the strike water at least somewhat. It doesn't just stay on the surface in a solid level or something. So then it's entirely possible that those early ladles of sparge water may make it out of your mash tun before every molecule of your strike water. This could only be translated into a loss in efficiency.

Again, I really don't think it matters much. Just pointing out the depth that one could assume. But in actuality, it makes a negligible difference.
Actually, liquid stratification in these kinds of sedimentary environments is quite well understood. I own a business that sells and exports coffee, and I've seen dozens if not hundreds of experimental articles talking about exactly this phenomena in the context of coffee extraction. I'd also refer you to chapter six of Brewing Science and Practice by Briggs, or this article by Kaiser that's been linked here before, both of which describe actual experiments on exactly this front. Of course, then, like, you'd have to read a book and stuff, man.

I'm not trying to talk you into fly sparging. I used to do it, but have done a single batch sparge for a long time now. But, all this is quite easy to test, as several of us on this forum have done. If you feel so inclined, build yourself a fly sparge setup and take readings at various depths of the grain bed. The differences in the numbers are not huge, and certainly they are small enough that I don't bother with it any more. But, to call fly sparging a "rumor" is a bit rash, eh?
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:33 AM   #135
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The reason a properly performed fly sparge provides maximum efficiency is the same reason why CFC and plate chillers are the most efficient chillers. It's all about maintaining the max delta. Of course, in chiller's it's temp delta and in sparging it's sugar concentration.

This really isn't wishful thinking.

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Old 02-16-2012, 04:31 PM   #136
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For example, one 12 quart batch sparge is less efficient than two 6 quart batches, which is in turn less efficient than three 4 quart or four 3 quart batch sparges. When done properly, fly sparging is the limit case: it's like doing an incredibly large number of incredibly small batch sparges. You pull out more concentrated wort earlier, and thus leave less concentrated wort behind in the tun.

Whether it's worth the effort, of course, is a completely different question.
That's the theory, but the reality for me is that when I do multiple I see so little increase in efficiency that it could be attributed to measurement error.
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:55 PM   #137
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That's the theory, but the reality for me is that when I do multiple I see so little increase in efficiency that it could be attributed to measurement error.
Sure. You've mentioned seeing a 1-2% difference. I saw a 3-4% difference when I ran the comparisons. Those are close numbers in any case, and the difference in our differences is easily attributable to proportions, method, etc.

The most carefully designed study I've seen on this is Kaiser's. The fact that his numbers confirm to what I've seen and conform to the "theory" of it all makes me think they're reliable.

But, for the record, I single batch sparge...using a system that I learned from you no less. I'm not trying to talk anyone into any system, and personally I've decided the slight differences aren't worth the extra effort. My only point here was to explain the mechanics of it all.
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:42 AM   #138
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I've been hitting low 80%s on my last couple brews batch sparging.

2 hour mash with a single 175 degree sparge seems to be working well for me.

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Old 03-04-2012, 09:45 PM   #139
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Just started down this path of batch sparging and I could not be happier with the results. All the batches have turned out between 83-86% efficiency.

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Old 03-05-2012, 12:49 AM   #140
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Trying my first all grain in 2 weeks, this has been a great help. Thanks!

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