No sparge method
No sparge brewing very simply means that wort produced with this method consists of only the first runnings from the mash. The very simplest version of Brew-In-A-Bag (BIAB) is a variety of no-sparge brewing. The Brutus-20 method uses a “normal” water/grist ratio during the mash, but at mash-out, adds the remainder of the pre-boil volume and recirculates until the mash is homogenous. If a brewer performed a partigyle that used the first runnings independently from any following runnings, the first portion would be a No-Sparge brew.
- Benefits of No-Sparge brewing:
- Simplified brewday: With No-Sparge brewing, there are simply less steps. For some brewers, this can also mean that a repeat brew of the same recipe can yield more consistent results because the method has less room for variation.
- Compact Equipment: 2 Vessel and 1 Vessel No-Sparge systems are becoming more and more common. Single vessel breweries include straining baskets and/or bag systems and frequently are accompanied by hoists for handling said strainers and the resident spent grains. No-Sparge breweries are usually smaller than sparging breweries, but are not necessarily simpler.
- pH control: Because the mash is never rinsed, the natural pH buffer is protected. As far as brew quality goes, this is frequently cited as the most important benefit.
- Drawbacks of No-Sparge brewing:
- Efficiency: Because the mash grains are soaking in the pre-boil mash and are never sparged, they retain pre-boil concentration wort. When brewing a beer with a high gravity this means that there is a relatively large amount of extract remaining in the grains. At the barleywine end of the hydrometer, this is an example of diminishing returns. The higher your pre-boil gravity is, the lower your efficiency to kettle will be. Taken to an improbable extreme, adding a unit of grain would eventually mean losing as much sugar due to absorption as you would gain from extraction. A lesson that can be taken from BIAB brewers is that minimizing dead loss from the MTL and from the BK will have a large positive effect on brewhouse efficiency.
- Recipe Formulation: When creating a No-Sparge recipe, a brewer cannot use the same efficiency to calculate recipes of different gravities. Because the varying grain amounts will absorb different amounts of varying concentrations of wort, the brewhouse efficiency will vary in relation to the wort concentration. If a No-Sparge brewer consistently brews beers in the 1.045 to 1.050 range, the No-Sparge brewer’s efficiency will appear quite consistant, on the same equipment. However, if one brews a No-Sparge 1.030 brew, and a No-Sparge 1.090 brew on the same equipment, the efficiency will be significantly different. If the Mlt deadloss, the Conversion eff, the water absorption, the Bk deadloss, and the boil-off percentage are known, the efficiency for any given post-boil gravity can be calculated. With this information, a sparged recipe can be converted to a No-Sparge recipe.
Large commercial breweries transfer their entire mash into lauter tuns with special pumps to strain wort from the mash. Home-brewers don’t do this because there are easier ways to perform the same function at a small scale. A Home brewer that produces primarily beers in the 1.090 O.G. range should probably use a sparge method, unless they own a Barley farm. The No-Sparge Method has specific advantages for the home brewer, and with the proper know-how, can be used to great effect. Like any other tool, No-Sparge brewing should not be used on all occasions.