Author Topic: Hi Folks - Question about sparge  (Read 4948 times)

Offline brooktrout

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Hi Folks - Question about sparge
« on: December 29, 2013, 06:00:23 AM »
Hi and happy holidays to you all.

I just did my second batch using BeerSmith2 and a Coleman cooler mash tun with copper manifold. The software and equipment worked like a charm, although, with experience from the first batch, I fudged the temps to the higher side and hit them really close. I used a single infusion and a single batch sparge for this Kolsch recipe. I emptied the mash tun and collected about 2 gallons of first runnings with a gravity of 1.082 (next time I will measure the volume more carefully).

After about 10 minutes of messing around, I added 4.5 gallons of sparge water at 170.2 F. I noted that the temperature settled in to only about 155 in the tun. Is that OK?
[Edit] Having done a some searching in the forums I realize that I need to hit 168 by adding much hotter water for the sparge.

The other thing I noted was the end of runnings gravity was 1.030. That suggests I left a lot of sugar behind in the mash tun. I'm thinking two smaller batch sparges should be more efficient. My OG ended up at 1.051, which was right on (albeit with only 4.8 gal of total wort transferred to the fermenter).

Another question I have is how much should I stir during the saccrification step? I did not stir at all except at dough-in.

Thanks very much for the community and happy times to you all.
- Tom










« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 06:30:01 AM by brooktrout »

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Hi Folks - Question about sparge
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2013, 11:08:32 AM »

I used a single infusion and a single batch sparge for this Kolsch recipe. I emptied the mash tun and collected about 2 gallons of first runnings with a gravity of 1.082 (next time I will measure the volume more carefully).

After about 10 minutes of messing around, I added 4.5 gallons of sparge water at 170.2 F. I noted that the temperature settled in to only about 155 in the tun. Is that OK?
[Edit] Having done a some searching in the forums I realize that I need to hit 168 by adding much hotter water for the sparge.

Yep, it's more efficient at rinsing sugars if the ultimate temp in the mash tun is 168-170F, and not the water addition.   Some batch-spargers boil the sparge water and by the time they add it, it's about 200F which seems to average out to ~170F.   Trial and error on your system will teach you what works for you. 


The other thing I noted was the end of runnings gravity was 1.030. That suggests I left a lot of sugar behind in the mash tun. I'm thinking two smaller batch sparges should be more efficient. My OG ended up at 1.051, which was right on (albeit with only 4.8 gal of total wort transferred to the fermenter).

Another question I have is how much should I stir during the saccrification step? I did not stir at all except at dough-in.

- Tom

Yes, sugars left behind indicate potential increases in efficiency to be had.  Batch sparging is usually a tad less efficient than fly-sparging.  Besides extraction efficiency there is also time efficiency, and if you hit your numbers this well on your 2nd attempt, and don't mind the approx. 15 points of sugars you left behind, then you may be OK.  I'd try another batch with ~200F sparge water before moving to two refills.   And I think most batchers stir well with each refill they do. 

There may also be some idle time where things are cooling off that you could eliminate.   Try filling hotter, stirring well, recirc/vorlauf, and start draining ASAP. 

Offline merfizle

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Re: Hi Folks - Question about sparge
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2013, 11:14:54 AM »
+1.  On second infusion of hot water stir vigorously and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before draining. 

Mark
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Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Hi Folks - Question about sparge
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 12:12:41 PM »
I pull some mashed wort out of my mash tun (about 1/2 of the expected first runnings) into my boil kettle.  I bring that up to a boild and add it back into my mash tun to raise my mash temperature up to 168F.  I've found with my system (quite similar to yours) that this amount pulled off, boiled and added back in (by the way, this is called a 'decoction') gets me close to 168F.

I stir it well and leave it sit for 15 minutes.  I feel the 15 minutes gets the most sugar into solution.  I then vorlauf and then slowly drain into my boil kettle.  I add my sparge water at 175F (I've noticed that the bare grains without mash water drops a little in temperature fairly quickly, so I need 175F sparge water to get it back to 168-170F).  I stir it well and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Vorlauf, drain and boil. 

I aim for 5.5 gallons into my fermentor.  With my boil off rates, I need about 7.44 gallons in the boil kettle.  I noticed you ended up a bit short on your wort into the fermentor.  If you would have added a little more sparge water, you'd have pulled out some more sugar from your mash.  Combined with the lower than ideal (not a fatal problem though) you didn't get as much sugar out of the mash as you could have. 

You're following the same learning curve as I did early on.  My first all grain batches were a little short on temperature and volume also.  The beers turned out great anyhow, so no worries!  You've had a very successful start and you'll get better efficiency, as you learn the process and your system.

I'm usually at about 1.015 at the end of my sparges now.  I was at a similar 1.030 as you were when I did my first all grain batches.

Keep it up and you'll be winning some ribbons in no time!!
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Offline tom_hampton

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Re: Hi Folks - Question about sparge
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2013, 01:52:54 PM »
I batch sparge, and I've tried most variations on the idea over the last 13 years or so (from no-sparge, to 4 batches).  I've tried various thickness mashes from less than 1 qt/lbs to almost 3 qt/lbs.  I've chased efficiency up into the higher 80's.  Here's some of my thoughts:

Process changes: Since you are new, I recommend that you don't change anything for several more batches.  Continue hitting your numbers for 5 or so more batches.  This will give you the confidence to KNOW that you have a working, consistent process.  From there you can know that any variation that you see AFTER YOU MAKE A PROCESS CHANGE is caused by the change, and not simply due to inexperience. 

Number of batches: a single batch is sufficient.  Switching to double batch will get you another 5 percent efficiency, and cost you another 15 minutes.  Not worth it in my experience.  The only thing I do towards "maximizing efficiency" is to ensure that my two runnings are approximately equal in volume (3.75 gallons@room temp, each). 

Efficiency: The higher you go in expected efficiency the more variation you will see from batch to batch.  Ie, different minor variations in ingredients, grain crush, mash pH, temperature, mash duration, etc begin to result in changes in real extract.  One session might get 85%, another 82%, another 87% (and the oddball 65% for no good reason).  I find nothing more frustrating than UNDERshooting my pre-boil OG.  If my recipe calls for 1.054 and I only get 1.047, I'm NOT HAPPY.  Setting my efficiency expectations lower (70%) allows me to MANAGE the process and ensure that I get the desired results with less variation from session to session.  I pay a minor additional cost in grain to do this (generally about 1-2 lbs of extra grain per recipe). 

Final Runnings Gravity:  Generally, based on my target efficiency of 70% my final runnings end at around 1.020.  This varies based on target OG, of course, but for your basic 1050 beer, 1020 is where I end.  A low 1040 beer would be in the low teens (101x).  I don't ever go below 1010, no matter what---add water to dilute lower than that. 

Temperatures:  Mash out temps are not necessary.  Most of us do it, but there's no real reason to (it doesn't increase efficiency, it doesn't really denature the enzymes instantly to halt conversion, etc).  Your 170F water and 155 sparge bed temp is just fine.   If you want to mash-out anyway, 190F water is the highest I would recommend with a plastic cooler.  Anywhere between 170F and 190F water temp is fine.  Just pick a temp and be consistent.  Others have succeeded at 200+, YMMV.


Stirring:  stir at dough-in, just as you did. The goal is to ensure that you have no clumps of dry grain/flour (dough-balls) in the mash and ensure that every bit of grain is wet.  Once that's done, stop.  Don't stir during the sach-rest.  It doesn't help anything, and it just drops the mash temperature by 2-3 degrees each time.  DO stir in any sparge addition.  Stir vigorously for 30 seconds or so.  Waiting after stirring in the sparge is not necessary.


In summary:

0.  Don't change anything at all for several more batches (including any changes recommended by this post).  Be sure you have a consistent process.
1.  Two sparges, of equal runnings.  Each 1/2 of your total pre-boil volume. 
2.  Target an efficiency around 70% is fine (that will generally result in final runnings of 1.020 or so). 
3.  Mash out is not necessary.  Do it, if it makes you feel better...but, it isn't doing anything.
4.  Stir whenever you make an addition, but not otherwise. 
5.  No delay after adding sparge water is necessary before draining the MLT.

My "simplified" sparge process looks like this:

1.  Add strike water to MLT (grain absorbtion + 1/2 pre-boil volume).
2.  Stir in grain. 
3.  Wait for sach-rest to complete.
4.  Recirculate wort until no grain material comes out.
5.  Drain first runnings into kettle, and fire burner.
6.  Add 190F sparge water to grain.
7.  Stir to break up the grain bed and even out grain/water mixture.
8.  Recirculate wort until no grain material comes out.
9.  Drain into kettle. 
10.  Continue to heat to a boil.  Take pre-boil measurements after you reach a boil. 

I'm a huge proponent of measuring.  But, I don't want to overwhelm you with information.  Do the above for several batches.  Get used to the process and enjoy making some beer.
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Offline brooktrout

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Re: Hi Folks - Question about sparge
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 06:16:24 AM »
Thanks very much to all of you. I'm floored to get so much valuable feedback on my first-ever post to the forum. This will really help me refine my method and keep me moving in the right direction. Cheers!