So...after 17 years as a "fly sparger," I decided to try my hand at "the batch side."
The decision arrived at partly from things I've read here (thanks a lot, Denny) and from observing another local brewer's success at using no-sparge brewing...he's done well at competitions and his beer is very tasty.
For receipe formulation, I followed something I saw in a Denny post: don't worry about a "scale-up factor," just lower your expected efficiency. I read that 70% is a reasonable number, so I plugged that into my "homegrown" software and came up with a grain bill. (I was making an American brown ale BTW)
I was shooting for 15 gallons of pre-boil volume that would boil down to 13.5 gallons of 1.055...30 pounds of grain was called for.
I mashed in a 150 quart cooler (sorry, not blue) that has just under 15 linear feet of 3/4" slotted copper manifold... the mash bed was 4 inches thick. The mash temp was 152F, held for 60 minutes. Thickness was around 2 qts/lb.
I added enough water at mash out to ensure 15 gallons run-off into the kettle.
Here's where I was blown away: the run-off lasted just under 15 minutes...that's just over 1 gallon per minute. WOW...for speed, that beats any fly-sparge I've done...even one at 5 gallons. And the run-off was very clear.
Next, at the end of my boil, I measured my gravity and was slightly over my target (1.056), and came in at 71% efficiency...not bad for a no-sparge beer I guess, and close to my expected target.
And the stuff left in the mash tun? Well, I might as well go parti-gyle. I added 1 pound of 60L crystal and 4 ounces of caramel wheat, then added 8 gallons of 155 F water, and ran that off into another kettle, boiled it down for a while, then ran it into the first kettle...where there was 3-4 ounces of late addition hops from the brown ale that became the bittering hops for the "small" beer. I got 5 gallons of 1.030.
So far, I'm very happy with the results...and am very likely converted to no-sparge/batch sparge brewing...or am I parti-gyle brewing? Seems very practical so far...and easy...and pragmatic.
...A lot like my <$10.00 mash paddle...RIP Fly-sparge Kernel Dustjacket