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12/17/07 07:42 AM  
Batch sparging
Can a few brewers here who have experience with batch sparging give a detailed run-down of what you process entails? I'm interested in such variables as how you distribute the sparge water (i.e, slowly, with a sparge arm, say, or quickly, by dumping), how long you leave the sparge water in with the grains before draining, how many "batches" it takes to sparge, do you stir the grain bed at all, and anything else salient that comes to mind.


12/17/07 08:31 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
Dump in the sparge water (I do two batch sparges of "equal" volume (more or less).No sparge arm. I dump from the kettle.

Stir vigourously and then run off immediately (vorlaufing as normal, start slow till the grain bed settles a little).

You can run off as fast as your system will allow once you've finished vorlaufing.

Do second batch sparge as you did the first.

You don't need to let it sit at all as the conversion has already taken place by the time you sparge.

You have to use very hot water (~185 deg F.) to have any hope of getting the grain bed temperature up. But you don't have to worry as much about tannin extraction because the saprge is so fast.

12/17/07 08:52 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
Thanks, Ryan--I was just reviewing some of your older posts; I'm having the same problems you described awhile ago: expecting an OG of about 1.075, and getting 1.045, including copious amounts of sugar. How's your effiency looking, and how much grain are you using to get an OG around 1.075 (or whatever you are brewing to)?

Also, did you end up having a problem with cidery aromas with your under-gravitied/over-sugared beers?

12/17/07 09:47 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
hey mallace

second Q first. The only cidery aroma I've ever experienced was from a starter that I made with 50% dextrose and 50% dme. That smelled just like cider but I pitched it anyway figuring I would at least have a chance to see what happened. Beer was great...no cider.

Second, I think my effic. problems are more or less solved. I was sparging with water that was like 170F and that just didn't get the temps up in the grain bed. I have also started double crushing my grain but I don't know that that was the culprit.

My typical grain bill is about 15 lbs of grain for a 1075...including 12 or so pounds of pils + adjuncts.

Are you having specific problems? What do you know about your water? I'm assuming your crush is okay since that is the first thing most people check.

12/17/07 10:46 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
Yeah, the milling seemd to be fine. I did sparge with 170F water. My water is moderately hard (Philadelphia tap water), and I don't treat it until the wort is in the kettle (and then I just add a bit of potassium meta to counteract the chlorimine).

I based my grain amounts on various recipes I've seen, but given what you use, I've definitely under-grained...and actually, it looks like my efficiency isn't actually offensively low; one of my batches this weekend used 10lb pils, 1.5lb 60L crystal, and 1lb dark beet syrup (the Dan Sukker syrup from Ikea...), single temp infusion at 152, with two sparges. OG landed at 1.052. So if I add that extra 4 or 5 pounds of malt next time, looks like I'm in the ball park.

I'm new to all grain (this weekend was batches 2 and 3), so there are many areas of my method to tinker with...

12/17/07 10:50 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
It looks to me like your in the low to mid 60 % for effic.

I wouldn't worry about it. looks like you're doing fine and when you heat the sparge water a bit more, you'll likely pick up some more sugars in the sparge.

I too have moderately hard water but my low Calcium has been offered as one problem spot. Adding gypsum to the mash water might help some too.

12/17/07 11:10 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
You know, I took my inspiration for that batch from Pierre Rajotte's "Chou-chou" recipe in Belgian Ale...his recipe calls for 13.2lb of malt and 6.5 oz of sugar, and he predicts a 1.088 OG, which to me seems like it would require the direct intervention of God to achieve. I lowered the malt, raised the sugar, and did a little wishing. I think I'm going to bulk up the batch with a little extract today.
12/17/07 12:42 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
What it would require is something upwards of 90% efficiency.

Must have been a misprint.

12/17/07 12:49 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
By "batch sparging" I assume you mean sparging?

I pour slowly over the grain bed, usually into a collinder to a: better distribute the water and b: stop the stream of water being poured from tunneling into the grain bed. I never stir once sparging has begun, you want to get clear runnings and stirring would make solids come through. At least it would in my set up. I don't specifically leave the sparge water for any length of time, at that point you are basically rinsing the grains. So I pour new water on top, pull wort out of the bottom, pour more on top ...

12/17/07 12:59 PM  
Re: Batch sparging

Batch sparging is differentiated from "fly" or "continuous" sparging which it sounds like you are doing.

In batch sparging, you don't sprinkle water onto the grain bed and slowly rinse...rather you "DUMP" water in, stir it up, and run it off. Its way way way faster, way way way easier, you don't have to worry about pH and the efficiency can be very good (I get in the mid 70's).

12/17/07 01:01 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
check this out:


12/17/07 01:58 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
Thanks, not run into this method before. How much time does it take to do the extra recirculating?
12/17/07 02:05 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
Steve--When I was giving it a go this weekend, I ran off about a gallon (maybe two minutes' worth of run off?), dumped that back on top to recirculate. It took maybe eight or ten minutes to drain the wort, then I refilled the lauter tun, covering the grain bed by maybe two inches, then drained it again. Total sparge time might have been about fifteen minutes. If you've read Rajotte's "Belgian Ale", he describes that Achouffe uses this method...filling the lauter tun, draining it, repeating (four times, according to the book). I assume it's the same method breweries use to get beers from first runnings, second runnings, and so forth.

I'm doing it right now because I don't have the equipment such as a sparge arm to fly sparge, nor the patience to stand there with a colander. So basically it's laziness on my part, which I've found some justification for in the literature {8^P.

12/17/07 02:24 PM  
Re: Batch sparging

I always no-sparge brew. I have a direct heated mashtun and step mash usually at 1.25 - 1.4 qts/lb of grain. When the mash is complete and I'm ready to "sparge", I'll bring the mash up to 75*C and add the remaining liquor which is also at 75*C, let it sit for ten minutes and begin vorlaufing.

My effeciency ranges from 69 - 74% depending on the grains used, pH and calcium ppm. On average I'm at 71 - 72%.

Also, the "sparge" water is premeasured based on the usual final volumes I've achieved in the past with grain absorbtion rate at .15.

I always have an extra quart of pre-acidified water ready to add in case I have to top up the kettle. If after "sparging" I overshoot the volume a bit, I'll first take a gravity reading and based on what my target is, I'll either remove a little wort, boil longer or just stay with it and hop it a little more.

I have to admit, I really love mashing this way. The only draw back is using a larger than normal mash tun to accomodate the full grain and sparge volumes. I don't encounter many problems though.

12/17/07 02:33 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
Ross--this is the second time today I've gotten vorlaufed...My non-English Germanic languages being a bit patchy, can I get a translation of "vorlauf"?
12/17/07 02:52 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
Mallace: Vorlauf= collecting the first couple of quarts (I usually pull 3/4 gallon) from the sparge and adding it back to the grain bed before starting to collect in the boil kettle. This allows you to get clearer wort into the kettle because the first few quarts are often full of grain bits before the bed begins to filter effectively.

Ross: I'm with you dude. Though I do add batch water to sparge because I can't directly heat the mash tun (I mash in a cooler).

SteveG: Extra Time? Are you kidding? You will save yourself at least 30-40 minutes over fly sparging with this method.

12/17/07 02:58 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
No kidding, instructions that include "begin vorlaufing" would make me nervous!!

I think after you've been brewing for a while you tend to tweek your process, after nearly 2 decades the tweeks can add up. What I do is closer to fly sparging, but I bet a race between me and Ryan would be reasonably close. The part in the article that says it will take an hour or more does not refer to me!

Mallace, first I don't stand there holding a colinder, I place it on the grain bed and push it in a bit. It just defuses to pour. I tend to recirculate as I mash as the fluid is heated by a filament under the grain bed (which is contained in a metal basket of sorts) and I want to distribute the hotter liquid. So I end up not recirculating when I sparge cause I've been doing it all along and the fluid is clear. I pull out my first runnings, as that is happening I pour in the sparge water at a similar pace to the draw off. I've never timed myself, but I'd guess I get through it in 20 minutes, 30 at the most (including the first runnings) if I'm collecting a lot of wort. Most of the waiting is in letting the grain bed drain. I don't see how it could go faster unless I Scotch guarded the grain! Sure, you could really speed that up by stirring, but then you'd have to recirculate (I think the article said 4X) to repack the grain bed and stop soilds from getting through. So it sounds to me like the time you save by stirring is lost in the extra recirculating. I tend not to get stuck sparges because of grain choices.

12/17/07 03:04 PM  
Re: Batch sparging

Is that a challenge? I bet I can finish before you but that in the end, we'd both rather drink your beer! :)

JUst a guess

So I was under the impression that a sparge (fly) that took less than an hour would result in really low efficiency.

12/17/07 03:25 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
I think the fear with doing a fast runoff when fly sparging is that your efficiency will suffer (i.e the sparge water won't have much time to extract more sugar from the grain). Fast runoffs with batch sparging scare people less maybe because the sparge water has more time in contact the grain.

But in light of Steve's fast fly sparges I kind of wonder whether that effect is really significant.

Anyway put me in the no-sparge (or at most, single batch sparge) camp. Nothing more than personal preference.

12/17/07 03:28 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
And I was under the impression that sparge times have everything to do with the depth of the grain bed. I think I read, in horror, of sparging lasting over 2 hours at one of the Trappist breweries. Yikes. With the batch sparging I did, I managed to knock out two all-grain batches in roughly six and a half hours, including clean-up. And I have no idea what I'm doing! Of course, they both came in way under gravity, but I'm all about small, selective victories. Unless they are Victory V12s. Then big Victories are ok.
Scott Jackson
12/17/07 04:09 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
I am a fly-sparger. This past Saturday I brewed 2 10-gallon all-gain beers (Belgian-style Tripel, RyeIPA) in about 8 hours and got over 80% efficiency on both.
12/17/07 10:35 PM  
Re: Batch sparging
Ryan, I think possibly the greatest part of being a homebrewer rather than a pro is a pro really needs to care about efficiency. If I need to use a pound or two more to get where it is I'm going I have no problem with that, I'll take the efficiency hit! I don't think it would be accurate to say my efficiency is really low, its not like I need 15 pounds of grain to hit 1050. Its worth saying that I don't try to pull fluid off very quickly, I am a believer in avoiding hot side aretion. So I do kinda a quick trickle! The quicker turn around would be that I don't need to recirculate (well, much) to get a pretty clear run-off.
12/18/07 11:19 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
Steve, I agree with avoiding oxygen uptake whenever possible, so I run off thru a hose to the bottom of my kettle so that there is zero splashing (maybe that's what you meant). Anyway, I think you can run off really fast that way without picking any more air up.
12/18/07 11:25 AM  
Re: Batch sparging
A hose ... never thought of that. Good one Baums, that's worth looking into. Thanks, Steve
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