I've been shying away from batch sparging for awhile because I have been a bit intimidated.
That being said, I did it for the first time today and I am convinced this is the way for me to go from here. I followed Denny's guidelines at http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/
and it could not have been easier. I still have a couple of kinks to work out in the process but I will call it a first time success.
I was expecting an efficiency hit from batch sparging which I may or may not have taken (I'll explain)
I usually anticipate 65% efficiency in my rig with fly sparging and usually wind up no less than 65%, sometimes 70%. I don't own a sparge arm and I mash and lauter in a 10 gal Igloo round cooler with a bazooka screen. I have always just spent a few extra pennies on grain and anticipated 65%. Sometimes I would squeeze a few extra points out of my mash and be happy.
So I was pretty timid about jumping to batch sparging because I'd always heard that you could anticipate a small drop in efficiency with it.
This time however, in addition to batch sparging, I'd spent a few days in the Brew Science forum getting a crash course in water chemistry from "ajdelange". I hit my mash temp dead on the nose today and with AJ's water chem tips, I was sitting around 5.1 mash pH with the alkalinity in my water MUCH reduced.
So I may have taken the efficiency hit and just been fortunate to have had some good water adjustments on my side. Or I could have wound up with good water chem and the batch sparge left me no worse off than I usually am in terms of efficiency.
Either way, batch sparging went alot quicker. It was nice to see that I didn't wind up with a load of grain chunks in my wort (my second biggest fear). I'm sold and will make it part of my brew day process going forward. The wife was also pleased that I was done brewing a little faster and on to family time.
p.s. - I went for the trifecta of new processes today. First the batch sparging. Then the water chemistry. I also made my first big yeast starter. 1.3l for a 1.052 beer. It fell in line with the calculater at Mr. Malty. It's been 2 hrs since I pitched and I am hoping to see som bubbling any minute