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Old 08-07-2008, 03:52 AM   #1
John Long
Jun 2008
Olympia, WA
Posts: 94

I'm confused about sparging. The book I'm reading tells me to sparge with extra water, then include that with the mash. Does this mean you don't add the full 5 or 6 gallons (depending on boil evaporation) to the mash? But instead combine both the sparge runoff and mash to make the full 5 gal batch?


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Old 08-07-2008, 03:53 AM   #2
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Feb 2008
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The latter yes. The sparge collections and the 1st runnings will make the total of your preboil volume
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Old 08-07-2008, 03:59 AM   #3
Aug 2008
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I'm a major beginner, but I set aside some filtered water out of my 5gal batch for sparging, so my 5gal mark depends that I added that sparging water.

Now for the real reason I replied, are you by chance the famous rock climber? And if so can I have your autograph? :P

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Old 08-07-2008, 04:03 AM   #4
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Sep 2007
Dexter, MI, Michigan
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The first runnings, which is very concentrated, will provide a couple of gallons. You then add additional very hot water (185+ is what I use) to rinse out the remaining sugars.

There are two basic ways to sparge:
a) fly - (think of a continuous shower of hot water gradually rinsing sugars away)
b) batch - adding water in one or more additions, stirring, allowing to rest a little, then draining.

The runnings from the sparge gradually become less concentrated. You then boil all of this collected wort.

Check out for more info on the subject. It's a very well-written summary of all brewing topics. The print copy is even better.


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Old 08-07-2008, 04:25 AM   #5
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Feb 2006
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To come up with total water needed, you have to work backwards from the end of the boil.

An example: If you want 5.5 gallons (to cover losses in transfer) and you boil for 90 minutes at 1 gal/hr boil off rate, you need about 7 gal at the beginning of the boil. To get 7 gallons of run off, you will need 7 gallons plus roughly a gallon for every 8 pounds of grain (to cover what the grain will absorb and not release). Suppose you have 12 pounds of grain - you are now up to 8.5 gallons of water. Add to this a little to cover water that is lost in equipment like hoses and under the false bottom or manifold of the mash tun, and make it 9 gallons.

So what do you do with all of this water? Your mash should have somewhere between 1 and 1.5 quarts of water in your mash for every pound of grain (many people use 1.25). For the example above, this would be 15 quarts (or 3.75 gal). After you add this to the mash tun with your grain, you will have 5.25 gallons of water left - this is your sparge water. As mentioned in another post, you can add this continuously as you drain (fly sparge) or in batches (surprisingly enough called batch sparging). Most people that batch sparge add this in two batches, so you would drain the mash (recirculate the first runnings until they run clear - no particles), add batch 1 (half of 5.25 gallons), stir, recirculate until clear, drain, then repeat for the last half of the sparge water.
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Old 08-10-2008, 04:55 AM   #6
John Long
Jun 2008
Olympia, WA
Posts: 94

Originally Posted by j_jones84 View Post
Now for the real reason I replied, are you by chance the famous rock climber? And if so can I have your autograph? :P
I am not but you can have my autograph anyway!

Thanks for the replies. I will look into everything posted.

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Old 08-10-2008, 01:06 PM   #7
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Aug 2006
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I don't want to discredit whatever book you're reading, but I'm sure you'll understand this:

It sounds like you mashed with way too much water on your last batch. If you're too loose, you dilute the enzymes that convert starch to sugar. If you're wondering, you did a "no sparge" brew.
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