A Return to Fly Sparging & Mash Podcast

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drayman86

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Our system is the typical keggle/10 gallon round Igloo cooler w/ false bottom. After conducting our first 6 batches with fly sparging, we attempted batch sparging, carefully following good batch sparge technique, only to see our efficiency suffer. It dropped from the mid 80s to the low 70s or less.

Our latest batch (an oatmeal stout) was done with fly sparging. Efficiency returned to the mid 80s, and we'll stick with fly from now on. Our system just seems to work better with fly.


The January 24th edition of Basic Brewing Radio is an excellent review of mashing including efficiency explanations, mashing techniques, improving mashing, etc.
 

FlyGuy

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That's too bad that your system doesn't cut it for batch sparging. Lots of people here go back and forth with little difference. Some even report higher efficiency with batch sparging.

Maybe it was your technique and not your equipment? Check out some recent threads on efficient batch sparging techniques:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=52550
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=52427
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=44489
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=38211

EDIT: Oops - can't forget this one:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Batch_Sparging_Analysis
 

bradsul

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I switch back and forth depending on weather mostly. My batch efficiency is usually mid 80's and my fly efficiency is only a couple points higher on average. You might want to give it a couple more tries before you abandon batch sparging, you can't expect to hit a home run in your first at-bat after all. :)
 
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drayman86

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Thanks for the replies and suggested information.

We're really not too dismayed with returning to fly. Our sparging system is low tech: inverted collander on top of the grain bed. Once we get the inflow and outflow to match, it's "sit back and drink a beer" until the boil kettle's full.

In terms of time a fly sparge only adds, perhaps, another 30 minutes or so to our brew sessions compared to batch, and we have burners on the HLT and the boil kettle of our rack, so keeping the sparge water warm for that period of time as well as starting the boil as soon as practicable is no problems.


Also, just finished reading John Palmer's Advanced Brewing column in the Jan/Feb Brew Your Own on lautering, which is an excellent explanation of the mechanics of lautering, manifold and false bottom systems. After reading this, I'm even more sold on fly sparging.
 
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drayman86

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UPDATE: SLOW & EZ

Took John Palmer's advice concerning fly sparging, slowing the sparge rate to 1 quart per minute. Our efficiencies returned to the accustomed mid 80s, which is where we were before attempting batch sparging. Our Great White North IPA was predicted at 1.068 with 75% calculated, and we hit 1.073.

I restrospect, I think we were not paying careful attention to temp. and amount of batch sparge water. However, fly sparging with our system is actually less effort, more time. Once we get the inflow and outflow rates balanced, it's literally hands off until the boil kettle is full.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We'll gladly trade an extra 30 minutes or so on brew day for less effort during the sparge and greater efficiency.
 

jdoiv

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I've always been a fly sparge guy but recently have tried my hand at batch sparging. I've done two 5 gallon and one 11 gallon batch sparges recently. My efficiencies were 76-82%.

I did two 11 gallon batches in the last 3 weeks, one fly, one batch of the same recipe to try and notice any differences. I had the efficiencies on each recipe adjusted for the system I was using and came very close to hitting the exact same numbers. Recipe for the fly sparge was set to 85% and for the batch 75%.
All in all, batch sparging was quicker, but for some reason I felt like I had less control over the outcome.

Something about fly sparging makes me think I'm controlling the process better. I don't know if this is true (and it probably isn't) but I think I like fly sparging better. I think what I plan on doing though is doing a fly sparge on my large batches and batch on my smaller ones. I did like the quickness of the batch but don't like the drop in efficiency. I think its also a comfort level thing. I've done so many fly sparges, doing the batch sparges just throws my rhythm off.
 
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drayman86

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jdoiv said:
Something about fly sparging makes me think I'm controlling the process better. I don't know if this is true (and it probably isn't) but I think I like fly sparging better. I think what I plan on doing though is doing a fly sparge on my large batches and batch on my smaller ones. I did like the quickness of the batch but don't like the drop in efficiency. I think its also a comfort level thing. I've done so many fly sparges, doing the batch sparges just throws my rhythm off.
This is what Palmer seemed to indicate, that a slow fly sparge at proper temp. does a more thorough job of rinsing the grains. Also, channeling can be an issue depending on the type of bottom/manifold, which is why there might be the eff. diffs. with brewers reporting their fly vs. batch. Our false bottom makes for an ideal fly sparger.
 
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