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Old 04-12-2011, 09:39 PM   #1
Feb 2009
Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 85

OK - so this idea is probably already covered somewhere but I can't seem to find any threads on it, so here goes:

In a single batch sparge system, is there any reason I couldn't heat my sparge water directly in the MLT right with the grain? For a number of reasons, I am really hell bent on building a single tier two vessel system (I'm going to skip the brutus 20 as I only have one pump and I like to brew the occasional monster beer).

My thinking is that it would go something like this:

1. Heat strike water in direct fired MLT
2. Dough in
3. Complete mash and bring to mash out (recirculate with pump during mash out step)
4. Pump to BK
5. infuse full sparge volume into MLT (cold water)
6. fire MLT and raise to mash out temps (or at least warm it up some to improve run-off viscosity)
7. Recirculate and pump to BK

One thought is that I could heat the sparge water in the BK to maybe 160-170 or so while while the mash is on then drain it via gravity into a couple of ale pails. At least then it will be pretty hot when I dump it into the MLT for the batch sparge

Any thoughts? Esentially I am trying to do my damndest to limit myself to two vessels (bc I already have two converted kegs) and a small single tier stand (because I have extremely limited storage space).

If I do a mash out to effectively halt any further conversion, what difference does it make if I need to spend some time bringing my MLT up to temp, assuming scorching is not an issue. I would be firing the BK in the meantime to get a head start on the boil..

One possible draw back I suppose is that it would be difficult to consistently hit the EXACT same sparge water temp from batch to batch - but again, with a proper mash-out does that really matter so much? The only draw back I can really see is lifting and pouring the ale pails, but that is a trade off I am willing to make I think. Buckets are easy to store.


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Old 04-12-2011, 09:44 PM   #2
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Dec 2007
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Old 04-12-2011, 09:54 PM   #3
Feb 2009
Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 85

Thanks! not sure how I missed that (surreptitiously searching HB from work causes me to miss stuff I guess)

I think I'll give this a shot.

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Old 04-12-2011, 11:18 PM   #4
Feb 2009
Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 85

In thinking about this some more (and reading thru the cold water sparge thread) I suppose a more pointed question for my situation would be the bit regarding bringing the sparge volume up to temp IN the MLT... Anybody see any issues with doing that?

Say I just dump room temp water into the MLT, mix into grain well and light it up. It might take 20 min or so to come up to 165-170 temp with my burner, but I would recirculate for clarity during that time, as well as prepare some other brew day stuff... then drain to BK

Thoughts? Any reason not to heat my sparge water right in the MLT with the grain included? other than time...

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Old 04-13-2011, 01:16 PM   #5
Mar 2009
Posts: 506
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This is an interesting thought. I have no experience with a batch sparge system like that, but I have heard of some experiment results that you may find interesting, and I can offer a process change you might find helpful.

First, an experiment was done on BBR where a listener suggested heating his initial mash infusion water along with the grains (which were seperated into a glass jar), in an effort to save time and have less of a differential between the room temp grains and hot strike water going into the mash. His results showed a minor time savings (literally 2 or 3 minutes), and he said hitting mash temperatures was a little easier. More importantly for you, slowly heating the grains along with the water did not seem to have any negative effects.

You idea is a little different, in that you will be heating grains that have already experienced a starch -> sugar conversion, because you are only concerned with trying this approach during the sparge. Honestly, I do not know if it will hurt your product. However, I have found that while I fly sparge, if I do not start with a mash out step, the sparge can be a bit of a struggle. I believe this is the case for two reasons. First, the mash-out makes the mash a bit thinner. Second, and this applies more to your situation, the additional infusion of heat keeps the sugars in the mash more liquified (think cold honey and warm honey) and easier to rinse. I do not know how heating/cooling/heating would effect the rinsing of the sugars. May have no effect; may have a big effect.

I understand you want to stick to two vessels, but does a bucket really count as a third vessel? If you only plan 1 batch sparge, I may be able to tweak the process a bit and eliminate your concern all together. However, a double batch sparge would make this process impossible.

Steps as follows.
1st - heat strike water in kettle.
2nd - infuse strike water and grains in mash tun (You mentioned a pump - good time to use it)
3rd - while mash is resting (maybe 30 minutes after strike), measure and add sparge water to kettle and slowly approach sparge temps (180/185/190 depending on ambient - go a little hot because some heat will be lost over a few minutes of sitting in a bucket). This is a timing step, so practice will make it easier.
4th - once mash is complete, and as sparge water approaches temp, begin/finish recirculating your mash for clarity (again, good use of the pump). This is a good time to think about emptying that sparge water into the bucket (ie- pseudo-3rd vessel). Again, some practice will be needed to get down the timing of this step. In reality, you only want the sparge water to be sitting in the bucket as long as it takes to empty the first runnings. Time is your enemy at this point.
5th- empty the mash tun into your now empty kettle as you would a typical batch sparge. Once an inch or two has been collected in the kettle, for more time savings, put a slow fire on the burner to get a jump on the boil. During this time, the first "batch sparge" is still sitting in the bucket around 175/180)
6th- as soon as the first runnings from the mash tun has stopped draining, carefully dump the sparge water from the bucket into the MLT. Stir, recirculate, and drain the second runnings into the kettle.
7th- boil, cool, pitch, ferment, condition, carbonate, and drink.

This method eliminates the concerns about taking sparge water and mashed grains from cold to hot, and will also save you a ton of time on brewday by multi-tasking. But again, it only works with a single batch sparge, and you have to be willing to make a big investment in a bucket.


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Old 04-13-2011, 01:28 PM   #6
ChuckO's Avatar
Oct 2008
Keyrock, WV
Posts: 1,026
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You could heat your sparge water in the boil kettle during the mash time and sparge into your plastic buckets using gravity to the bucket and the pump from the boil kettle into the mash tun. Then pour or pump the wort into the now empty boil kettle. It won't hurt if the wort cools off a few degrees before starting the boil.

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