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Old 10-14-2010, 05:11 PM   #1
scrambledegg81
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Default Northern Brewer AG kit vid...no vorlauf?

I'll post the vid since it poses the question I want to ask (starts around 6:20):


The biggest thing I noticed about the method/kit here, there was no recirculation of the wort, and therefore, no vorlauf. Correct me if I'm wrong (never done AG, just looking into procedures at the moment...), but I thought recirculating was one of the most important things to do if you want to extract as much sugar from the grain bed as possible? The one-way system/method he has there just seems a bit "simple" from what I thought was needed for AG.

If not, I'm heading to Home Depot then.
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Old 10-14-2010, 05:42 PM   #2
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AFAIK recirculating is simply to clear the wort of the pieces of grain before transferring it to the BK. To extract as much sugars as possible you would sparge.

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Old 10-14-2010, 06:07 PM   #3
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Yes, you should recirculate the wort, but it is more for clearing the wort than getting more sugar extraction. It is simply collecting your first runnings in a pitcher, then pour that gently over the grain bed to re-filter it (collect 1/4 - 1/2 gal for a 5 gal batch)

About that setup: don't use brass. Ppl will debate this all day and night. The fact is simply that brass contains lead, the brass valve generally comes from China (lead in toothpaste, nuff said), and the hot and acidic wort is going to solublize a portion of that lead every time you brew. And you will be drinking that brew. Sure, you can treat the surface to lower the lead leaching. But you can also use stainless steel (but you won't find that at HD/lowes)

If you are using round cooler like that, I would just use a 1 ft stainless steel braid instead of that false bottom. Way cheaper and will work fine (ppl will also debate this).

Basically, that set-up is just a way for them to make money. Make your own, with parts from HD. You can use a brass valve to start with while you are learning the process, then step up to the SS valve if/when you decide to keep doing the all-grain.

On that point, just buy a reg. cooler with a drain at the bottom. You will have more options in the future for you all-grain brewing. Or buy the 10-gal round cooler, but that is going to be 2x the price of a reg. cooler.

Also, look up batch sparging if you are first starting out. If you don't have anyone showing you how to brew, its a bit easier (read: harder to screw-up) than the "fly sparging" method shown in that vid.

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Old 10-14-2010, 07:01 PM   #4
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Good points! I've already got a 10-gallon cooler setup with SS valve and a mesh strainer fitted over a slotted piece of hi-temp tubing inside (idea came from LHBS guy...saved me from spending on a sparge arm!). Just wondered about the procedure they were using there...guess it's Home Depot then!

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Old 10-14-2010, 09:19 PM   #5
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Lets try to make it so you don't have to make multiple trips to HD.

Are you going to fly sparge?
Are you planning on using the 10 gal cooler for the mashtun? (I would)

Fly sparging: is fairly straight forward. You don't need a sparge arm or any piece of "equipment". With the 10 gal cooler as the MLT, you mash your grains in there, ~1.25qt H2O/lb of grain for 1 hour @ 150 - 158, higher temp = more body, lower temp = more fermentability. But you prolly know this.

Once the hour of mashing is done, you vorlauf, then you start collecting the wort into your brew pot. This is when you start the fly sparging. As the wort is being collected in your brew pot, the level of liquid above the grain bed starts to drop (obviously). You want to keep this level ~2" above the grain bed. You accomplish this by constantly/intermittently supplying sparge water to the MLT. This is fly sparging.

To do this (cheap): you can just ladle small amounts of hot (180 - 200 F) water on top of the mash, gently. And that's it! You continue doing this until you collect your pre-boil wort amount in your brew pot (~7 gal for a 5.5-6 gal batch, boiled for 60 min.).
This is why ppl want sparge arms, because it gets boring ladling the hot sparge water over the mash for the 45 - 60 minutes it takes to collect your pre-boil volume.
Of course, you could increase the flow rate out of the mash tun, but your efficiency will suffer greatly (read: don't try to rush the sparge!). Why? Wort starts channeling in the mash, not rinsing the sugars like it should be doing.
Since you have a SS braid in your cooler, the chances of this happening are greater (b/c there is a single point of suction at the bottom of your cooler). That just means to take the full 45 - 60 min. to sparge. You're efficiency should be like 80-85% if you are doing it correctly.

Let me know what your all-grain plan is and we can make it work with the least amount of equipment. Then in the future (with more experience) you can decide what fancy/expensive equipment you might want to make the brew day less demanding on you.

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Old 10-14-2010, 10:41 PM   #6
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You, sir, get the Golden Brau award of the day.

One thing I'm confused about with sparging, considering the tubing would have to go back over the top of the grain, wouldn't it require a March pump?

With that said, I already mentioned that I have one 10-gal set up with the mesh screen & hi-temp tubing, and SS valve already done (MLT, I'm guessing). At this rate, I was going to do another 10-gal cooler in the same way, but just install the valve and use it as the HLT. Think my kettle is either 6 1/2 or 7 gal., so I might need to grab a bigger one before making the jump.

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Old 10-15-2010, 01:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrambledegg81 View Post
One thing I'm confused about with sparging, considering the tubing would have to go back over the top of the grain, wouldn't it require a March pump?
If you have your HLT higher than your MLT you can simply drain the hot liquor into your MLT as your sparge. A pump wouldn't be needed unless you're running a single-tier system.
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkswing View Post
Of course, you could increase the flow rate out of the mash tun, but your efficiency will suffer greatly (read: don't try to rush the sparge!).
I couldn't find that thread. Could you provide a link? I'd like to read it

Quote:
Originally Posted by funkswing View Post
Since you have a SS braid in your cooler, the chances of this happening are greater (b/c there is a single point of suction at the bottom of your cooler). That just means to take the full 45 - 60 min. to sparge. You're efficiency should be like 80-85% if you are doing it correctly.
Palmer says to sparge at a rate of 1qt per minute. If he sparged an entire 7 gallons it would only take 28 minutes. He'd probably only sparge with 4-5 gallons total so he should be done in 20 minutes. Again, I haven't read the thread you mentioned above so I don't know the benefits of sparging for a longer period.
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:54 AM   #9
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I think there isn't a vorlauf because they're just giving an overview. It's still a good step to follow to make sure you don't get too many grain bits. No matter how you sparge.

I'm no expert but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss that kit. If you read a lot of the posts (mine included) you might notice what you don't see. You don't see many complaints with round coolers and with false bottoms. I think there's a reason for that as well as a reason why kits from places like NB always sell round cooler and false bottoms.

Can you save money and do this yourself with stuff around the house and trips to Home Depot? Yes. Can you do just as good or better than if you had one of these kits? Yes. But I do think you will have more questions and issues going that route and you will also do more tinkering. If you like to tinker that's fine too.

I'm a good example. I used a square cooler I already had. I bought the parts for the valve and a SS mesh screen. I've converted to a cpvc manifold that I made to replace the SS mesh screen. I've stitched together other coolers and parts to try fly sparging. I've spent plenty of time tweaking and yet I'm still not where I'd like to be. I often think that I would have saved tons of time had I just bought a 10g like NB sells.

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Old 10-15-2010, 03:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
I think there's a reason for that as well as a reason why kits from places like NB always sell round cooler and false bottoms.
Because the two most popular home brewing books have pictures of them in their "DIY mash tun sections"?

Northern Brewer will most def. sell you whatever you think you need.
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