Vorlauf or no vorlauf?

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Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
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What say you? Necessary, or a waste of time?

For those of you who have skipped it, did you end up with noticeable tannins or astringency? Clarity issues? Other...? Or did you wind up with decent beer?
 

NorthwestBrewman2013

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What say you? Necessary, or a waste of time?

For those of you who have skipped it, did you end up with noticeable tannins or astringency? Clarity issues? Other...? Or did you wind up with decent beer?
I always vorlauf for at least 20 minutes before draining into my kettle. The clarity is always stellar and there are noticeably less astringencies. Beer turned out awesome in the end. It really helps set the grain bed and gives a couple points greater efficiency as well.
 

Revvy

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It has nothing to do with tannins or astringency, all it does is basically flushes any loose grain particles that might be in your filter, braid or whatever you use without it ending up in your boilwort, and helps settle the particles/layers of grain so everything else runs clear.

"Vorlauf is the process of clarifying the wort being drawn out of the mash tun. Often this is as simple as drawing 1-2L of wort at a time slowly into a container and then pouring softly back onto the top of the mash; taking care to disturb the grain bed as little as possible.

The primary objective is to establish the grain bed as a filter for the wort being drawn off. The grain husks will then act as a sand-style filter to further enhance clarity.

When the wort runs mostly clear (meaning no large pieces of grain material) the vorlauf process is complete and sparging may begin. "

I run a few quarts into a water pitcher and slowly pour it back in, and if there's no grain in there, then bob's your uncle, and I start the flow.

It's nothing major and only takes a minute to do.
 

mrdauber64

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It depends what you use to filter your grains. When I used a metal braid inside a cooler I always did it because the wort was so full of grains. I wasn't worried about off flavors I just didn't want the wort or beer loss. Now that I do Full Volume BIAB I don't(and can't) do a vorlauf and the bag filters all of the material anyway so there is no need.

So your system will dictate if a vorlauf is necessary or not.
 

Lefou

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A long vorlauf isn't really necessary.

I run a few quarts into a water pitcher and slowly pour it back in, and if there's no grain in there, then bob's your uncle, and I start the flow.

If it's clear enough and pre-boil gravity is fine, why work harder? I mash in a 7.5gal kettle with a stainless false bottom snatched from my Igloo cooler.
A couple of quarts later, the wort looks nice. If it's too cloudy, a Whirlfloc can fix that on the boil. If I'm doing a hefe, the haze isn't a problem pre-boil.
 
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I have a metal braid. Sometimes after several rounds of vorlaufing I see little difference, and eventually I move on to collection. Perhaps I'm just not doing it enough.
 

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A long vorlauf isn't really necessary.

I run a few quarts into a water pitcher and slowly pour it back in, and if there's no grain in there, then bob's your uncle, and I start the flow.

If it's clear enough and pre-boil gravity is fine, why work harder?
Exactly. I use a half gallon plastic beer pitcher and usually drain into the pitcher about a third of the way up, and if it's clear, then I pour that back in and start draining the cooler. Probably about a quart of liquid....

My braid hardly ever gets more than a couple pieces of grain and a little "dust" in it anyway.
 

Revvy

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I have a metal braid too. I'm confused by this statement;

I have a metal braid. Sometimes after several rounds of vorlaufing I see little difference, and eventually I move on to collection. Perhaps I'm just not doing it enough.
What do you mean by "little difference?" Does that mean you have lots of grain particles coming through the braid? Or are you thinking you should be seeing something else?
 

motosapiens

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wow, i use a metal braid and I see zero particles. I vorlaufed once, inspected the runoff, and then quit. maybe my braid is finer than others. After I read the xbeeriment results linked in the 2nd post, I really stopped worrying about it. I think it's just a religious issue now. If it makes you feel better, do it. If you don't think you need to, then don't waste the time.

When I used to sparge with the papazap bucket system, instead of vorlaufing I just poured the wort through a strainer into the kettle, and got out a tablespoon of fine particles.
 
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What do you mean by "little difference?" Does that mean you have lots of grain particles coming through the braid? Or are you thinking you should be seeing something else?
I don't have many particles coming through at all. Mainly I never perceive that I'm reaching the level of clarity that I believe I should be reaching during the vorlauf.
 

MagicRat

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I ritually vorlauf 3 2-quart pitchers. I suspect it has little to no effect on the final product but it's easy enough to do. It adds maybe 5 minutes to my brew day so I keep it.
 

exc503

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I used to vorlauf about 1/2 a gallon (2 - 1qt measuring cups), but along the way i acquired a Brew Bag, I guess technically its a BIAB...bag, and use that to line my MT (round cooler), on top of a false bottom. The mesh is so fine, just about nothing makes it thought, and it doesn't get clogged up. I won mine, but it is certainly worthwhile investment for clarity.
 

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I saw people using a BIAB bag to line their mash tun and suddenly it hit me: I could use a hop sock tied over my mash tun's torpedo/bazooka screen and things would go much faster. A twist tie and I was in business.

Vorlauf using that is now about 30 seconds. I start slow, there's a little debris that comes through but very little, and I'm on full-flow in maybe a minute.

Pretty big time saver. I remove the hop sock and my wife tosses it in the laundry and good as new for the next time. I've also just rinsed it out and hung it up to dry.
 

JonM

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I have one of those metal hop baskets that hangs on the edge of the kettle. I just put the out-hose from the mash tun into that and it catches all the little bits of grain. I just hose the basket out and put it back in once the boil starts.

I've forgotten to use it a couple times and didn't notice any difference.
 

A2HB

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I vourlauf every time. The runnings from the first vourlauf are always murky and full of grain particles, but by the third or fourth pass, nothing is coming out but clear wort. I do this at the end of my mash, and then both of my sparges, for a total of three vourlauf steps. It doesn't hurt anything and I feel it makes a clearer wort at the start of the boil so why not is how I look at it
 

Phyre

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I have one of those metal hop baskets that hangs on the edge of the kettle. I just put the out-hose from the mash tun into that and it catches all the little bits of grain. I just hose the basket out and put it back in once the boil starts.

I've forgotten to use it a couple times and didn't notice any difference.
Good information, I hadn't thought of that. I'll give it a try.
 

burninator

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How much time could you possibly be wasting with a vorlauf? Takes me about 3 minutes, if I really stretch it out.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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I have a stainless torpedo. I see particles for the first quart or so, then it runs"clear" just like you read about. I figured it was that way for everyone.

I've done two all grain brews now and both admit exactly as I've read.
 

QuadConPana

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I have a Grainfather, so vorlaufing just kind of happens.
 

seatazzz

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I MIAB, and use a pump to recirculate (vorlauf) for ten minutes once the mash is done. Yes I know it could be done faster, but the ten minutes gives my sparge time to heat, and me to go pee or refill the coffee. Brewday is so push-button now that if I changed it the stars would collide and the world would end. Or that's what the voices in my head say.
 

cmac62

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My new system has a HERMS rig and that is basically an hour long vorlauf, so I don't usually bother with doing it again. When I was using a cooler for the MT I would sometimes do it and sometimes not. I don't think a little bit of grain particles in the boil will make that much difference. IMHO. :ban:
 

Soulshine2

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What say you? Necessary, or a waste of time?

For those of you who have skipped it, did you end up with noticeable tannins or astringency? Clarity issues? Other...? Or did you wind up with decent beer?
Im sure everyone has their habits they swear by. I stopped vorlaufing a long time ago. ok , what I do is probably still a quick vorlauf but not as drawn out as when I started brewing. I just crack the valve and let it trickle into the BK , maybe a quart ,pour it back in carefully. it runs clear after that then I let it run.
 

Soulshine2

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I have a stainless torpedo. I see particles for the first quart or so, then it runs"clear" just like you read about. I figured it was that way for everyone.

I've done two all grain brews now and both admit exactly as I've read.
i posted my reply before reading yours...we're doing the same thing. no issues.
 

Beerswimmer

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I have a kitchen strainer that I put over my kettle, and tie a nylon mesh bag under it. So my wort get strained a little going into the kettle. Anything that makes it to the fermentor is just yeast food.
 

str1p3s

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For people who use a pump to recirculate... I use a Chugger pump and I've read that if you throttle down, it should be done in the pump's output, not the input. Wouldn't the pump trying to pull the liquid through the grains be like throttling it down? Is this a concern or do you use a different type/brand where that is allowed? Or am I just completely not understanding the process?
 

Konadog

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For people who use a pump to recirculate... I use a Chugger pump and I've read that if you throttle down, it should be done in the pump's output, not the input. Wouldn't the pump trying to pull the liquid through the grains be like throttling it down? Is this a concern or do you use a different type/brand where that is allowed? Or am I just completely not understanding the process?
The problem if you just run wide open, the grain bed will throttle it down for you by compacting so tight that nothing gets thru (stuck sparge) and then you need to figure out a way to get it draining again.
 

doug293cz

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For people who use a pump to recirculate... I use a Chugger pump and I've read that if you throttle down, it should be done in the pump's output, not the input. Wouldn't the pump trying to pull the liquid through the grains be like throttling it down? Is this a concern or do you use a different type/brand where that is allowed? Or am I just completely not understanding the process?
The problem if you just run wide open, the grain bed will throttle it down for you by compacting so tight that nothing gets thru (stuck sparge) and then you need to figure out a way to get it draining again.
It's not just detrimental to the grain bed, but also the pump. Throttling flow to a centrifugal pump on the inlet side can cause the pump to cavitate, which creates lots of small bubbles. These bubbles are abrasive to the impeller, and other internal parts, and prolonged cavitation will damage the pump. Doesn't matter whether the flow is restricted by the grain bed, or an input side valve, the effect is the same. So what you need to do is throttle the pump on the outlet side - to a flow rate below the grain bed limited flow rate.

Pumping faster than the grain bed will allow can also cause air ingress into the volume below the grain bed, in which case the pump will be sucking air. This can also damage the pump.

Brew on :mug:
 

Moose_MI

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You don’t need to vorlaugh as long as your using liquid yeast.

...unless you’re doing LODO

Next subject please........
 

501irishred

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I MIAB, and use a pump to recirculate (vorlauf) for ten minutes once the mash is done. Yes I know it could be done faster, but the ten minutes gives my sparge time to heat, and me to go pee or refill the coffee. Brewday is so push-button now that if I changed it the stars would collide and the world would end. Or that's what the voices in my head say.
im just glad to see I’m not the only one that drinks coffee while brewing (beer)!
:coff3:
 

Moose_MI

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Not a frickin thing... Or .... maybe everything ?

We’ll know when Brulosophy does the exbeeriment....stay tuned and DONT TOUCH THAT DIAL!
 

seatazzz

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It's not just detrimental to the grain bed, but also the pump. Throttling flow to a centrifugal pump on the inlet side can cause the pump to cavitate, which creates lots of small bubbles. These bubbles are abrasive to the impeller, and other internal parts, and prolonged cavitation will damage the pump. Doesn't matter whether the flow is restricted by the grain bed, or an input side valve, the effect is the same. So what you need to do is throttle the pump on the outlet side - to a flow rate below the grain bed limited flow rate.

Pumping faster than the grain bed will allow can also cause air ingress into the volume below the grain bed, in which case the pump will be sucking air. This can also damage the pump.

Brew on :mug:
I agree with the above. I throttle the flow at the mash tun, not the pump; start it out full blast, then slowly turn the valve down until it's where I want it. Seems to set the grain bed just right without causing problems. I haven't had a stuck mash in yonks, and I mill as fine as my mill will go.
 
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