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A question for those of you that fly sparge

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missing link

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If I'm mashing a 5 gallon batch at 150 and I start my fly sparge with 168 degree water, what temp should my mash be at near the end of the sparge? If my mash temp drops during this time, could this be a sign that I have channeling and none of the sparge water is passing my thermometer proble?

I am modifying my cooler now to get rid of the braid and I am installing a PVC manifold. I am also setting up a drip system in the lid of the cooler so I can keep the lid closed during the sparge. All in the pursuit of a better system.

Linc
 

menschmaschine

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You want your mash during the sparge to be 168, so your sparge water should be a few degrees hotter. Hotter still if you're not doing a mash-out. In a sense, you will have some degree of center channeling with a braid. That would probably result in a little lower reading on your probe thermometer. I've learned not to trust my wall-mounted probe on the mash tun. There are pockets of different temps in the mash that make it unreliable. I use it as a guide and use a hand-held probe at several different places in the mash to get an accurate reading.

Edit: you may already know this, but your efficiency will go up a little with the manifold vs. the braid.
 
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missing link

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menschmaschine said:
You want your mash during the sparge to be 168, so your sparge water should be a few degrees hotter. Hotter still if you're not doing a mash-out. In a sense, you will have some degree of center channeling with a braid. That would probably result in a little lower reading on your probe thermometer. I've learned not to trust my wall-mounted probe on the mash tun. There are pockets of different temps in the mash that make it unreliable. I use it as a guide and use a hand-held probe at several different places in the mash to get an accurate reading.

Edit: you may already know this, but your efficiency will go up a little with the manifold vs. the braid.
Thank you for the quick answer. I have another question.

Using beer smith, if I have a mash at 150 degrees and I select single infusion, it says to sparge with water at 201 degrees. I plan to hold my mash for 60 minutes, and then open the drain slowly while beginning to drain the HLT into the Mash. Using 201 degree water would slowly raise my mash to 168 right?

I'm just trying to get a feel for what a proper fly sparge should do.

Linc
 

menschmaschine

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missing link said:
Thank you for the quick answer. I have another question.

Using beer smith, if I have a mash at 150 degrees and I select single infusion, it says to sparge with water at 201 degrees. I plan to hold my mash for 60 minutes, and then open the drain slowly while beginning to drain the HLT into the Mash. Using 201 degree water would slowly raise my mash to 168 right?

I'm just trying to get a feel for what a proper fly sparge should do.

Linc
I tend to take many of the software temps with a grain of salt. Even with your exact system (thermal masses, etc.) dialed in, there are environmental variables that can't always be accounted for. Maybe someone else can chime in here, but 201 seems high to me. I think Beersmith designates that temp for mashout (add all at once) to get your mash temp to 168, not continuous sparging. You want to fly sparge with water that will HOLD that temp (168), not to keep raising it.
 
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missing link

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So if my mash is at 150, would it be easier to just raise my mash up to 168 using the electric element in my cooler and stirring, then sparging with my 168 degree water sparge water? If I were to use say 175 degree water, my mash would raise in temp during the sparge until it reached 175 wouldn't it?

For some reason I feel like I'm missing something. What do the guys using unheated coolers and fly sparging do? If somebody could give me a step by step to fly sparging with a 2 cooler system I would be most appreciative.

Linc
 

menschmaschine

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missing link said:
So if my mash is at 150, would it be easier to just raise my mash up to 168 using the electric element in my cooler and stirring, then sparging with my 168 degree water sparge water?
That's what I would do. I use a direct fired MLT to bring it up to mashout temps. Then I sparge with water just over 170. The goal here is to stop the starch conversion by denaturing the enzymes. You pretty much do that with a mashout of about 10 minutes at 168. So having the temp perfect for fly sparging after a mashout isn't crucial. You just don't want to get too high (or be below 168).
 
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missing link

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That's what I'll try next then. I just got an ice cream machine to use the motor from so I can make a mash stirrer. Then I can put a ranco on the cooler, have the stirrer run during the whole mash and get perfect temp control.

I love gadgets, but they aren't much help if you use them improperly.

So for my next go around, mash per the recipe, turn on the electric heating element at the end of the mash, heat while stirring, once at 168, begin to sparge with 168 degree sparge water.

How does that sound?

Linc
 

ajf

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missing link said:
So if my mash is at 150, would it be easier to just raise my mash up to 168 using the electric element in my cooler and stirring, then sparging with my 168 degree water sparge water? If I were to use say 175 degree water, my mash would raise in temp during the sparge until it reached 175 wouldn't it?

For some reason I feel like I'm missing something. What do the guys using unheated coolers and fly sparging do? If somebody could give me a step by step to fly sparging with a 2 cooler system I would be most appreciative.

Linc
If you add 175 degree water to a 150 degeree mash, you will never get the temperature up to 175 degrees. You will end up somewhere between 150 and 175 degrees.

Step by step instructions (for the way I do it).

After starting the mash, I add 5 - 6 gallons water into the kettle, and put it on the stove to heat. (This is the bulk of my sparge water, and it takes nearly an hour to get it up to temperature on my stove).
I add another gallon into another pot, but don't apply any heat yet. This is the mash-out water.
Then I do other things while the mash progresses and the sparge water heats.
15 - 20 minutes before mash is complete, I apply heat to the mashout water. (This will boil before the end of the mash.)
When the sparge water reaches 185 degrees, I fill my HLT (a 5g cooler) with the sparge water.
When the mash out water starts to boil, I turn off the heat and wait fot the end of the mash.

To mash out, I add about 1/2 the mash out water to the mash, stir well, and take the temperature. I then add more mash out water slowly while stirring and monitoring the temperature. I stop when the temperature reaches 168 - 170 degrees. For a 5g batch with my normal mash thickness (1 qt per lb grain), I never need the entire gallon of mashout water.

I then transfer the remaining water from the kettle to the pot with the remains of the mashout water. This will be used to top up the HLT later on in the sparge. I add about another gallon to this, and warm it up as I sparge. When the level in the HLT drops sufficiently, I use this extra water to top up the HLT.

10 - 15 minutes after adding the mashout water, I vorlauf a couple quarts, and then start draining very slowly into the now empty kettle.

When the water level drops to the top of the grain bed, I open the spigot on the HLT, which drains through a sparge arm into the mash. I try to match the flow through the sparge arm to the flow into the kettle, but usually have to make a minor adjustment every 10 - 15 minutes.

As the sparge nears completion, I use my refractometer to ensure that I am not going to over sparge, and I stop when I get the required volume in the kettle or the brix reading drops to about 3 (1.010 gravity), whichever comes first.

Now for that gotcha's:

I need a ridiculous amount of sparge water because I need about 2 - 3 gallons in the HLT to spin the sparge arm. I use the unused sparge water to clean up.

I add 185 degree water to a cold HLT. With my setup, this comes out of the sparge arm at about 168 - 170. Some of the heat goes to warming up the HLT, and some is given up as the water meanders through the hose to the sparge arm. Most people find a lower temperature satisfactory. You should experiment and measure the temperature.

I usually sparge for 90 minutes. This is much longer than most others, but I can't help it if everybody else does it wrong. :) It also helps explain why I need my sparge water so hot.

I mash more thickly than most Americans, and if you mash thinner, you will need more mash-out water than I do.

I don't actually measure the gravity of the sparge as it nears completion, but I used to when I started.

It is worth measuring the temperature of the grain bed while you are sparging. It should be 165 - 170 degrees. Higher may give you tannin problems. Lower can give you efficiency problems.

Some people say you should check the pH of the sparge to avoid excess tannins. I just acidify the sparge water, and haven't noticed any problems.

Hope this helps.

-a.
 

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I did a mash out for the first time today in my cooler mash tun, using Beertools Pro to calculate volumes and temps, and while the results weren't perfect, they were pretty damn close. What I did was this:

I mashed in at 152 with 1.25 qt./lb. After an hour my mash was at 151. I added .64 qt./lb. (1.5 gal. total) of 204 degrees water and raised my mash temp to exactly 168. I then fly sparged with 170 degrees water for an hour.

According to the thermometer next to the wall of my tun, the mash temp dropped to 150, but I don't trust that and need to get another thermometer, because my efficiency was at 80%, 6 points higher than what I had been getting.
 

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I usually sparge for 90 minutes. This is much longer than most others, but I can't help it if everybody else does it wrong.
+1
It's not wrong to sparge for 60 minutes, it's just not as efficient with some grains and so to be more safe it is "Better" to mash for 90 minutes and sparge 90 minutes. If you guys don't believe it then try 2 of the same recipe of any beer and measure the SG and see. :) This is really important when milling is not set as fine as it should be.
 

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I think the more ideal the brewhouse set-up is in respect to efficiency, the less important fly-sparging time becomes. If you have a good crush, good water chemistry, a false bottom, and good temperature control, you can't NOT get good efficiency... whether your sparge time is 60 min. or 90 min. On average I sparge for about 45-50 min. and I've never been below target gravity. I think fly-sparging time is important, I'm just saying there is room to play, the more efficient the rest of your brewhouse is.
 
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missing link

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good input guys. Thanks.

I think the part I was missing in my thought process was getting the mash up to 168 to stop the enzymes before sparging. With my electric heating element in the cooler, it should make this quite easy.

I think what happens is that once you understand this stuff, you don't think twice about it and even in the books it isn't explained as well as it could be.

I just finished my PVC manifold for the bottom of my mash tun and I am going to use something in place of a sparge arm to sprinkle my water on the grain.

Now I just need to either buy more carboys or wait until some of my batches get kegged.

Linc
 

menschmaschine

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missing link said:
I think what happens is that once you understand this stuff, you don't think twice about it and even in the books it isn't explained as well as it could be.
This is so true... with many things in life, but especially brewing. I guess this is why I chose the science career field. I always wanted to know the hows and whys instead of just accepting things for what they are. Some books are better than others. John Palmer's is great for getting started, but I'm a big fan of New Brewing Lager Beer and Designing Great Beers... very explanatory without needing a PhD to understand.
 

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I tend to just heat my sparge water to 175, do a vorlauf, then then start sparging. Sometimes I'll put a gallon of boiling water in my mash tun to loosen things up beforehand.

I'm not sure why people use the reasoning "to stop the enzymes" when calling for a mashout. If there is no more starch present in the mash, what do you need to stop the enzymes from doing?
 

The Pol

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If you do not do a mashout in a cooler, and your cooler is open while fly sparging, your grain temps will drop throughout the sparge, even if you have 180F water. I mashout and bring the temp up (with an infusion) to 168F. This reduces the ammout of water needed for my sparge, but it keeps my temps hotter, because they begin hotter, at 168F instead of say 152F. It is impossible to warm up the mash in an open vessel simply by sprinkling hot water on top. You lose more heat than you introduce (10 batches don't lie). That is why I:

*Mash at 150-158F for an hour
*Mashout at 168F for 10 minutes
*Sparge with 170-180F water with a fly sparging system that allows me to keep my lid ON the cooler. This is the only way I have been able to keep my grainbed temps from dropping during the sparge.

Coolers are awesome, but they are just as miserable as a SS pot with no burner if you take that lid off.
 

menschmaschine

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JoePolvino said:
I'm not sure why people use the reasoning "to stop the enzymes" when calling for a mashout. If there is no more starch present in the mash, what do you need to stop the enzymes from doing?
This is my understanding (and if I'm off, someone let me know because I love to learn!). I believe there is some starch left in the mash or we'd all be getting 100% efficiency. :) Doing a mashout helps to stop alpha-amylase and the dextrins they produce (higher gravity, but less fermentable wort). By stopping all of the enzymes, you have the ratio of fermentable to unfermentable sugars that you intended with your mash temperature.
 

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menschmaschine said:
This is my understanding (and if I'm off, someone let me know because I love to learn!). I believe there is some starch left in the mash or we'd all be getting 100% efficiency. :) Doing a mashout helps to stop alpha-amylase and the dextrins they produce (higher gravity, but less fermentable wort). By stopping all of the enzymes, you have the ratio of fermentable to unfermentable sugars that you intended with your mash temperature.
Yes and no on this answer. Yes there will be some starches present. But the real reason for the mashout is to halt enzyme activity. If you didn't, the beta amylase would continue to break down the longer chain sugars the alpha amylase had created and you would end up with a much drier beer after fermentation. It would also lack some of the body that the alpha amylase long sugars provide.

The reason for trying to keep the grain bed at 168 or so is to keep the sugars loose in solution and aid in rinsing the grain. It isn't totally necessary though. I direct fire my MLT to mash out and start my sparge with 175*F water. By the end of a 60 minute sparge, my grain temp will drop to 140-150 and I'll still get high 80's to low 90's efficiency. Just so long as all the enzymes have been denatured, nothing more is going to happen other than the sugars not dissolving quite as well as they would at a higher temp.
 

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jdoiv said:
The reason for trying to keep the grain bed at 168 or so is to keep the sugars loose in solution and aid in rinsing the grain. It isn't totally necessary though. I direct fire my MLT to mash out and start my sparge with 175*F water. By the end of a 60 minute sparge, my grain temp will drop to 140-150 and I'll still get high 80's to low 90's efficiency. Just so long as all the enzymes have been denatured, nothing more is going to happen other than the sugars not dissolving quite as well as they would at a higher temp.
Let me see if I got this straight. You mash around 153 I presume, and then heat your MLT directly, and then sparge with 175F water...and your grain temp DROPS to 140-150? Unless I'm reading this wrong, it sounds like you're continually heating the mash, so a temp drop seems counterintuitive to me. Please unconfuse me.

Also, some people perform very long mashes, sometimes overnight. Would it be true that a mashout would be unnecessary for these people, strictly from an enzyme perspective, since the enzymes had plenty of time do to their thing and there is nothing to stop? One could argue that a mashout could still be performed to loosen sugars, though.

For the record, I rarely do mashouts and have created very good beers, none of which lack any body that I can tell. I'll do a mashout for gummy mashes strictly to loosen up the sugars and reduce the chances of a stuck mash.

-joe
 

jdoiv

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JoePolvino said:
Let me see if I got this straight. You mash around 153 I presume, and then heat your MLT directly, and then sparge with 175F water...and your grain temp DROPS to 140-150? Unless I'm reading this wrong, it sounds like you're continually heating the mash, so a temp drop seems counterintuitive to me. Please unconfuse me.

Also, some people perform very long mashes, sometimes overnight. Would it be true that a mashout would be unnecessary for these people, strictly from an enzyme perspective, since the enzymes had plenty of time do to their thing and there is nothing to stop? One could argue that a mashout could still be performed to loosen sugars, though.

For the record, I rarely do mashouts and have created very good beers, none of which lack any body that I can tell. I'll do a mashout for gummy mashes strictly to loosen up the sugars and reduce the chances of a stuck mash.

-joe
Once I hit 168*F in the MLT, the flame goes off. I then start the sparge. As the hour goes on, the sparge water temp will drop, and the mash temp will drop as well. The sparge takes a good 60-90 minutes and the temps will drop if I'm not paying real close attention to them (which I usually am not as I'm drinking a homebrew and getting my hops measured out). Also, the sparge water in the HLT may be at 170*F, but after it gets pumped up and over to the MLT and then sprinkled in the air on top of the mash, it is getting cooled. Temp of the water hitting the grain bed may be 160*F or so after the first 10 or 15 mintues.


As far as long mashes go, you are probably right in that a mashout probably isn't necessary. I don't think mashouts are completely necessary, it just depends on what you want out of the mash. There are lots of factors at play (water chemistry, mash pH, grain bill, temp, etc) that can affect the make up of the wort. There is a nice write up in the wiki that Kaiser wrote concerning the length of the mash here,

I'm not saying that not doing a mash out will make bad beer. What I'm saying is that a mashout will improve extract efficiency by loosening the sugars in solution making it easier to lauter as well as halting starch conversion to lock in the makeup of your wort. The latter is the real reason of doing a mashout and the first is just a nice side benefit. The reason we sparge at 170*F is that it loosens the sugars in solution helping efficiency. You could just as easily sparge with luke warm water, you just wouldn't have as good efficiency.
 
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