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Old 03-16-2008, 10:11 PM   #1
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Default One Simple Change, From 72% to 82% Efficiency

I'm a batch sparger. I can predict to within 1 point, my gravity based on a 72% efficiency.

This last batch was a three-peat of my Kona Fire Rock, Pale Ale.

But this time I took a page fom the latest BYO issue, discussing a variation of batch sparging that uses the fly sparge "theory" of washing down the grains by continually adding fresh hot water to the top of the tun and letting that water "squeegy" though the grains and rinse the sugars.

My normal batch sparge consists of:
Slowly drain the tun completely.
Fill tun with 180-185 degree sparge water, stir, let sit for 5 minutes...drain the tun.
Repeat until pre-boil volume is achieved.
This process has consistently yielded a 72% efficiency.

This time I:
Slowly drained the tun, and before the water droped enough to reveal the grains, I gently ladled in (with a sauce pan) just enough water to keep the level 2-3 inches above the surface of the grains. I was essentially manually fly sparging.

Once my liquor tank was empty and I needed to refill/reheat, I close the tun valve and let the mash sit with 2 inches of water over the surface of the grains until I could continue. This would normally be about 15 minutes.

I'd repeated the ladling process, careful not to "pour" the hot water into the tun, but lay the pot into the top of the water and tip it so as to "fold" in the water and not create any channels.

This time, my efficency was 82%.

I knew I was on to something when my preboil volume of 13.5 gallons was just a few point off of my target OG.

So anyway. From now on, I'll not be stirring in my sparge water...but taking the kinder, gentler approach.

So technically, I guess I'm now a fly sparge guy.

NOTE: This erases my notion that going from the round rubbermaid to a wider rectangular would be beneficial to my efficiency. I have to believe that the narrower cylinder shape lends itself more to this method.

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Old 03-16-2008, 10:34 PM   #2
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Excellent! I've always been a bit mystified with the sparging process, this sounds like a simple & effective way to go!


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Old 03-16-2008, 10:37 PM   #3
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I did a similar quasi-fly sparge once. Efficiency still sucked, but it was either the crush or my hydrometer. What made it a little easier was floating a tin pie pan on top of the mash, to disperse the water gently as I was adding it to the mash.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:09 PM   #4
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Now you're only one step away from a second cooler for HLT, a sparge arm, and a little gravity for an even easier fly sparge.

Welcome to the 80%'s!

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Old 03-16-2008, 11:18 PM   #5
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Nice thanks for the notes on that experiment... I was thinking about doing the switch but wondered how much it would increase. Downfall is that it does take a little longer eh

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Old 03-16-2008, 11:46 PM   #6
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Eureka! by golly, I think you're onto something!
I've been fly sparging from the beginning and regularly get 80- 85+ %
If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself!
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:52 PM   #7
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BierMuncher, You have done the same thing I did but wanted to do it 2 times in a row before telling the group. I did not get as big a jump in efficiency but did get a bit better. Maybe I do not drain as fast as you do when batch sparging and spend a bit more time and that is why I get 80 % when batch sparging but I did get over 80 when using the "Modern Batch sparge" method. Now all us "Die-Hard Batch Spargers" will get hammered about switching.

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Old 03-17-2008, 12:07 AM   #8
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Some tips:

--drain very slowly
--place aluminum foil on top of your grain bed, and poke a bunch of holes in it with a stem thermometer, or something of similar size. You then have no need to pour so gently.

I've always used this method, and regularly achieve 90% or better efficiency.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:14 AM   #9
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I jumped from 72% to 80% this weekend for the first time (on your Nierra Sevada recipe). The way I got there was to realize during my second batch sparge that sent me liberty hops instead of perle, so I ran to the LHBS to get some perle, so instead of leaving the second runnings in the MLT for 10 min, it was closer to 30 min.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:38 AM   #10
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You might as well fly sparge at that point because manually adding sparge water seems like a waste. It takes the same time as true fly, but with the added incremental intervention. I wish I understood why some people (me) get 90% on a regular basis and other batch sparger can't break 80. I've tried running off slower and it gains me nothing. So far, temperature is the only variable that changes my efficiency. If letting your sparge water sit in the grain longer yields higher efficiency, my logic tells me you have a much coarser crush than I'm running.

As an advocate of batch sparging, I don't have anything against fly...In fact there's a certain aura of purity that surrounds it. I might try it in the future but it's hard to justify changing anything with 90% batch sparging. Have you tried the double sparge method?

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