To vorlauf or not?

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mccamich

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I've been all-grain brewing in my kitchen for about 10 years. I have a 20 gallon converted Igloo cooler mash-tun that serves me well. I've never vorlauf-ed before, but it seems like something I should be doing to improve upon my brewing process. I have no interest at this point in purchasing any pumps or whatnot to do a proper vorlauf. However, from what I've read, would I be able to do the following as a simplified version of the vorlauf process?
1. collect my first runnings
2. pour my first runnings over the spent grains in my mash-tun
3. re-collect the wort (possibly pour it over the spent grains again?)
4. sparge
 

PCABrewing

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I've been all-grain brewing in my kitchen for about 10 years. I have a 20 gallon converted Igloo cooler mash-tun that serves me well. I've never vorlauf-ed before, but it seems like something I should be doing to improve upon my brewing process. I have no interest at this point in purchasing any pumps or whatnot to do a proper vorlauf. However, from what I've read, would I be able to do the following as a simplified version of the vorlauf process?
1. collect my first runnings
2. pour my first runnings over the spent grains in my mash-tun
3. re-collect the wort (possibly pour it over the spent grains again?)
4. sparge
When I have done it manually it has taken more than one or two cycles to get a clean outflow.
I'd plan on at least four or five to set the grain bed.
Interested to hear if others have the same experience.

I use a pump now and it seems to work better and easier to avoid tunneling using a dispersion nozzle.
With the manual pour you might want to implement something like a watering can to disburse the liquid over a broader area.
Holes drilled in a piece of PVC pipe would work, or a coffee can.
 

day_trippr

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Classically, a vorlauf does not mean to recycle the entire first runnings. Just enough to clear any husks etc that got through the lautering device (FB, bazooka, bag, whatever).

So, the brewer runs off a quart or so and quietly pours it back atop the mash, and if that quart is free of debris, one is done with the vorlauf :)

Cheers!
 

BrewMan13

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I have a cooler setup as well, and I just use a pitcher to catch enough until the wort come out clear, usually 1-2 quarts. Then I dump it in the back of the cooler as gently as possible. I batch sparge, so I do it again at that point.
 

bracconiere

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I've never vorlauf-ed before, but it seems like something I should be doing to improve upon my brewing process. I have no interest at this point in purchasing any pumps or whatnot to do a proper vorlauf.

i don't really vorlauf either, just figure the graduated cylinders i take to tell when the mash is done is enough....


lautering device (FB, bazooka, bag, whatever).

BIAB vorlauf? how does that work? 🤣
 

Gusso

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Since I switched to mashing in a bag (Wilser), vorlauf is a thing of the past. But in the past, I typically drained a half gallon or so into a pitcher. It wasn't a big deal.
 

PCABrewing

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Just enough to clear any husks etc that got through the lautering device (FB, bazooka, bag, whatever).
I don't know where the line is drawn to declare the end of "first runnings" but that isn't my objective.
My target is the same but I usually end up running 1.5 to 2.5 quarts before I get no more hulls and it certainly hasn't hurt my yield.
Once it is clear it goes to the kettle.
 

rtstrider

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I vorlauf around 2 gallons or so each batch. What I'm looking for first is the husk and grain bits. Once those are gone I'll go until the wort looks cleaner. In other words till it looks less cloudy. It usually takes 2 gallons or so but it works! Whether or not it makes a difference I'm not sure lol Just part of the ingrained brew day process :)
 

tracer bullet

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I have two clear quart pitchers that I use for various tasks, and when I don't have a pump out they do the vorlauf. I fill one with the runnings while the other is being slowly poured back over the grains. I do that for maybe 5 minutes, probably less, and when it's clear-ish I'm done and let it drain to the boil kettle.
 

DosGatosBrewing

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I use the cooler/bazooka tube setup. I run the first couple of quarts into a container and dump it back into the top of the mash tun. I have forgotten to do it many times. It really just make for clearer beer, in my humble opinion.
 

Turricaine

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Does vorlaufing depend on if you use a grain bag or not? I thought that the nylon mesh already filters a lot of the particulate matter from passing through the tap. I have never done vorlaufing before. According to the poster above, maybe a cheap watering can would work so not to disturb the grain bed sediment. I do not have a pump and only learned about this recently when looking at more expensive models of mash tun.
 

Bassman2003

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The grain bed itself is the best filter. Mesh bags only hold in the larger particles. Drawing some initial wort through breaks the loose particles away so you keep them in the mash tun when you pour them back on top. You do not need a pump if you can use gravity. Clear wort in the kettle is very important to some brewers like myself.
 

Turricaine

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Note that the mesh size on the bags varies from 100μm (fine) to 300μm (course). Also there is a filter that attaches to the inside of the tap fixture. I might experiment with vorlaufing but I know that it is not 100% mandatory if you used a bag and did not leak anything from inside it. I can't remember properly because it was from such a long time ago, but I think the scorching you described happens when you don't have some kind of a false bottom partitioning the grain bag from the source of the heat.
 

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I do a sort of BIAB method of brewing and I squeeze it to speed up the brew day. I used to do a vorlauf type thing after mashing and then realized I completely undid that work with the squeezing. I guess I'm trying to say that "vorlauf or not" will partly depend on what other steps you take.
 

Dland

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I usually vorlauf by with pump for about 10 minutes just before sparge. Pumping wort slowly by mostly closing valve on pump, once flow has started. Wort goes back into top of mash tun via a Blichman "autosparge",( or whatever one is using for sparge wand). Makes for nice clear wort going into BK with no bits of grain to clog during sparge, seems to help with efficiency some too.
 

khannon

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I vorauf mainly to sing the vorlauf song while I do. It's not so much a song as repeating vorlauf over and over out loud because it is such a fun word to say.
 

Yeast Farmer

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I usually forget to vorlauf, but when I do it, there's less crud in the bottom of the fermenter.

And like most have said, all I do is run a quart or so into a jug until it runs clear, and gently poor it back into the mash tun.
 
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