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Old 04-07-2012, 03:44 PM   #1
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Default Why don't more people do this ...? (multi-step sparge)

Ive been brewing for a few years, and have my processes down pretty well. I can basically brew with my eyes closed.

I started out all grain mashing in a 5 gallon round gott/igloo cooler with a ss braid. After a while, it became apparent if i was accepting 1:1 grist/water as a minimum, i was capped at using only so many pounds of grain; if i wanted a bigger beer, i either had to mash twice or add malt extract.

Then it hit me: My boil kettle is like 12 gallons. I can just mash in that, on the stove. Then, for sparging, i could dump (most of) that into the cooler, drain the first runnings. if necessary (due to volume constraints), i can dump whatever didnt fit before draining into it and drain again before sparging.

Eventually i got a bigger cooler, and could, in theory, mash in that, but the stove-top boil kettle mash stuck with me. I ALWAYS hit my mash temp, because i can provide direct heat. I can take the lid off if i want, and stir the crap out of it, and not lose any heat. My efficiency typically hovers around 78%, using a single batch sparge.

So, i was wondering, why is it that more people don't do this? am i missing some downside?

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Old 04-07-2012, 03:47 PM   #2
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drain the first runnings
Into what? You now have a cooler full of unlautered wort and a boil kettle that still contains some of the mash. You still need a large vessel in which to collect your runnings...
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:51 PM   #3
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At 1.25/gallon I get 13 pounds of grain in my 5 gallon cooler. That size cooler has been sufficient to mash 99.9% of my beers in.

I love threads that have titles like "Why don't...." More people don't "whatever" because there's always multiple ways of doing things. If you love your way of doing things, that's skiffy. But there's always gonna be many ways to do things that work just as well for other people. We can share what works for us, but we don't have to expect other folks to jump on our bandwagon.

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Old 04-07-2012, 03:51 PM   #4
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Well, i have other pots and pans. I have another pot that i use sometimes, or even an empty fermenter.

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Old 04-07-2012, 03:54 PM   #5
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I love threads that have titles like "Why don't...." More people don't "whatever" because there's always multiple ways of doing things. If you love your way of doing things, that's skiffy. But there's always gonna be many ways to do things that work just as well for other people. We can share what works for us, but we don't have to expect other folks to jump on our bandwagon.
Well, the thread wasnt intended to try to convert people to 'my way.' I'm all for people doing what works best for them, and lord knows theres like a bajillion ways to make beer.

I guess the two things i'd like to know are:

1. Am i missing some potential downside using this process?
2. Is the 'mash in a cooler' style of brewing's main advantage over this process that there's one less thing to wash?
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:05 PM   #6
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1. Am i missing some potential downside using this process?
Consistency and temperature control. If you're haphazardly pouring most of your mash into the cooler and accomplishing your "partial sparge" while a small portion of the mash cools rapidly in what will become your boil kettle, it will be very difficult to achieve consistent results. Sure, you'll get close, and that might be good enough for you, but it's certainly a disadvantage. Also, if you're not mashing out, your sparge process may lend itself to dryer beers due to continued conversion and potential temperature loss during your two step sparge.
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2. Is the 'mash in a cooler' style of brewing's main advantage over this process that there's one less thing to wash?
No. It's a cheap way to craft a temperature stable mash/lauter vessel. Homebrewers often do not employ a lauter tun, not necessarily to ease cleanup, but rather to lower cost and simplify the overall process. When a lauter tun is used, it's usually big enough to hold the entire volume of the mash.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:09 PM   #7
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So, i was wondering, why is it that more people don't do this? am i missing some downside?
Yeah, it sounds like a huge pain. Why do all that transferring back and forth?
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:26 PM   #8
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Yes, the pouring back and forth was a huge pain. Which is why i got a larger cooler (well, had one, but converted it).

So, i'm not necessarily asking about my 'how i used to do it,' but rather the revised process - mash in a boil kettle, dump it all into a single cooler, then drain and sparge like normal.

Sorry for any confusion; the 'how i used to do it' was mostly for background.

Re: mashout - mashout is easy. I just apply heat and stir until the mash is at 168 and then it's mashed out.

PS: thanks for the input!

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Old 04-07-2012, 04:54 PM   #9
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Yes, the pouring back and forth was a huge pain. Which is why i got a larger cooler (well, had one, but converted it).

So, i'm not necessarily asking about my 'how i used to do it,' but rather the revised process - mash in a boil kettle, dump it all into a single cooler, then drain and sparge like normal.

Sorry for any confusion; the 'how i used to do it' was mostly for background.

Re: mashout - mashout is easy. I just apply heat and stir until the mash is at 168 and then it's mashed out.

PS: thanks for the input!
If it all fits in the cooler, why are you not just mashing in the cooler??
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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If you like having the ability to step mash and mash-out without infusion, a direct heat MLT works. Why don't you add a ball valve and bazooka screen to the pot and lauter from there. Rinse pot, add wort and boil. Be easier than transferring hot mash from one vessel to another.

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