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Old 12-28-2012, 02:26 PM   #1
Feb 2011
Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 101
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I am brewing early tomorrow morning, but need to take a break mid-morning to run my son to his martial arts class. That means I need to find a good time to take approx. 90 minute break.

I'm doing a simple all grain recipe using an igloo cooler conversion system, batch sparge. Should I pour the strike water and just let it mash in the cooler for approx. 2 hours, then come back, drain and sparge? Or better to get my sparge in first, and let the wort sit for 2 hours until I can return and start my boil? Or best to just get things ready and not start the mash until I get back and can do it all together?

Thanks for your thoughts. I've got a cramped schedule tomorrow, so would like to get as much done early as I can.


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Old 12-28-2012, 02:30 PM   #2
Getzinator's Avatar
Apr 2012
Wilmington, De
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I would say take the break pre-boil. Just for any (even if minimal) contamination possibility. Boil usually takes care of that.

But it would probably be best to either get up and start/finish earlier, or just wait until you get back.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:31 PM   #3
Jan 2012
Atco, NJ
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I'd sparge first, but I have no scientific reason why that's better or worse - just a gut feeling.

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Old 12-28-2012, 02:39 PM   #4
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Feb 2011
Sheffield, Ohio
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I agree. I'd feel better getting through the sparge & setting it up to boil before leaving. Just put a tight lid on it first.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:48 PM   #5
Aug 2012
minneapolis, minnesota
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Sparge that thing, get it in the pot and turn the burner on, add hops and leave. Boom boil done! And your house is mysteriously burned down....

Seriously though, f it's ninety minutes I'd just mash for ninety minutes. No harm there. Plenty of people have mashed overnight without issues. Mash in, stir, cap it and leave. Come home, sparge and boil.
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:01 PM   #6
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Nov 2011
Santa Rosa, CA
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I would break post sparge or post boil. If you go with post boil you can whirlpool and then let it settle, post sparge give you the safest option since boiling will tackle any baddies. You will continue to get some conversion post sparge while the wort sits in the kettle but that should not be a big deal.

You could go during the mash but remember you are going to have to heat your sparge water so the 90 minute mash would probably be closer to 2 hours or a little more...just a thought, still not that big a deal.
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:20 PM   #7
Feb 2011
Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 101
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Thanks for the helpful advice, as always ...

I'll play it by ear tomorrow, but now have a much better understanding of my options.

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Old 12-28-2012, 03:48 PM   #8
Oct 2012
Chicago, Il
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Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
I agree. I'd feel better getting through the sparge & setting it up to boil before leaving. Just put a tight lid on it first.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:09 PM   #9
Jul 2011
Glenview, IL
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IF it's really a necessity, I would start the mash and leave to do what you need to do. IF you know that you can hit your strike properly and the cooler doesn't lose a great deal of heat then going 60, 90, whatever minutes is really no big deal. You may actually find your mash efficiency goes up with the longer time. Just be sure to give things a really good stir before you sparge upon your return.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:37 PM   #10
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Jul 2009
Pittsburgh, PA
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I frequently leave to play 1 to 2 hours of basketball during the mash, but I have an eHLT HERMS system that allows me to maintain exact temperatures as well as keep my sparge water up in the 150’s so I don’t need a lot of time to get to sparge temps 170F. As helibrewer said, if you break during the mash you will need to come home, and start to heat water for sparging. That could take an extra hour depending on your system.

In your case, if this is a simple recipe (not an IPA or something with a lot of late additions) the most efficient use of your time would probably be to do the entire brew before you need to leave, and cover the pot and let it cool down while you are gone. 90 minutes in a somewhat sealed container is not going to cool down very much. Then when you get back you can either chill it the rest of the way, or leave it be as a no-chill brew. You might want to research the no-chill brewing techniques if you haven’t already. It involves adjusting your hop schedule since the wort is at a higher temperature for longer times (i.e. your 0 minute additions act as 10 or 15 minute additions, 10 minutes act like 20 minutes, and so on).

Second vote from me would go to breaking after you’ve sparged and the wort is waiting to be boiled. I think this would have the least impact on the recipe via not requiring changes to hop times/additions but would add time to your overall brewday since the wort will cool down some if that is something you are concerned with.

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