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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: porterpounder on October 29, 2010, 01:39:44 PM

Title: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: porterpounder on October 29, 2010, 01:39:44 PM
Hello All.

Over that past year or so I've been playing with sparge method and I'm wondering if anyone out there has done it before.
Long story short, a brewing buddy of mine and I were trying to figure out how to do a 40 gallon batch of brew in the space of about 16 sq ft..  I awoke one night with one of those "right this down before you forget it" moments. 

Here's the skinny. The method requires a pump, a refractometer, 2 tiers and 2 vessels (a mash/lauter tun and a boil kettle): 

1) The water for the entire batch is heated to strike temp in the boil kettle
2) Mash in as usual with gravity feed or pumped to tun on higher tier (eventually the tun HAS to go above the kettle).
3) When the mash is completed, recirc for 5-10 mins to clear grain particles from the system.
Here's the new part:
4) Switch lines via QDs to then start running off wort INTO THE LIQUOR IN THE KETTLE.
5) Pump the now liquor/diluted wort from the kettle back into the tun in a continuous recirculating loop
6) Take a refractometer reading every 5 mins until the gravity stabilizes and then let the wort in the tun run off. This usually takes about 20 minutes with a 10 gallon batch.
7) Boil as usual.

There is some planning involved in this method. For a 10 gallon batch at 1.050 We’ve calculated that one will need about 15 gallons of water to 20 lbs of total grain. The method can work for various gravities, but you need to play with the total water volume a bit.  The extraction efficiency has not been lower that 75-80%, which has been better than my standard fly-sparging method. The beers brewed with this method are the brightest tasting, clearest brews we have made in 10 yrs of brewing.  Also, because you are recirculating diluted wort into the mash, the pH remains ideal throughout the sparge and there is no increased tannin extraction.  I initially thought that we would be leaving un-rinsed grain behind in the tun, thereby killing the efficiency, but this has not been the case. We’ve used this method on 5, 10 and 20 gallon batches about 15 times total in two different parts of the Northeast with the same results each time.  So there you go.  I’m sure this method can be improved upon, so have at it and happy brewing!
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: Mikey on October 29, 2010, 02:13:35 PM
So, you're taking your first runnings and pumping them back in with the remainder of the water in your boil kettle, thus diluting it. Then you're recirculating everything back through the mash. Have I got that right? Your 15 gallons of water for a 10 gallon batch is spot on based on my experience doing a conventional batch sparge.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: jeffy on October 29, 2010, 02:20:13 PM
I guess it works because the amount of water (now wort) retained/absorbed in the grains after draining is minimal.
You are saving space (your original plan) by using the same vessel for hot liquor and boil kettle, thus only one burner.
Pretty cool idea.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: denny on October 29, 2010, 03:15:24 PM
Try as I might, I can't see what the advantage is of doing this.  What am I missing?
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: porterpounder on October 29, 2010, 03:37:53 PM
Correct, Denny. After the initial recirculation to avoid boiling grain particles, it is dropping the first runnings into the liquor. But it is not just running off and then starting the sparge, it's running off at the same time as beginning the sparge.  It makes a shorter brew day by about 30mins to an hour depending on your usual sparge time. For larger batches, it also eliminated the hassle of stirring and recirculating the mash for each portion of batch sparging.  Also, as I stated initially, even with batch sparging there is the chance of tannin extraction when over-diluting the mash. That doesn't happen with this method.

Really it's just a new process that is fun to experiment with.  Nothing revolutionary, just tinkering as many of us enjoy doing.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: bluesman on October 29, 2010, 03:47:17 PM
It's like a fusion of batch sparging and a RIMS.   :-\

Interesting.  :)

Have you acquired any efficiency data on this method yet?
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: narvin on October 29, 2010, 03:57:06 PM
So, you're basically recirculating all of your mash and sparge water through the grain bed, just like the vorlauf step in a no-sparge.  Seems like the advantage here is that you don't need as big of a mash tun to do no-sparge.   I think the disadvantage would be that since you don't stir all of the water in, water channeling in a setup with a braid could create lower efficiency.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: porterpounder on October 29, 2010, 06:18:02 PM
We're using a 10 gal gott cooler with a false-bottom for the smaller batches and a 80 qt rectanglar cooler with copper grid false bottom for the large batches.  Channelling hasn't been an issue as the diluted wort is pumped onto the top of the grain bed and then gravity fed into the kettle.  The pump has a ball-valve on the out to control flow. One of the best aspects of this method is that it is very esay to monitor the level of water in the mash tun when sparging because it is directly proportional to the level of liquid in the kettle.

I don't hace the efficiency data handy, but everything is logged.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: euge on October 29, 2010, 06:28:37 PM
Interesting. Glad that it works. It's a modified fly-sparge. Might not be so great for us batch-spargers. ;D

I use grants and dump them into the kettle after the last of the second sparge water is in the tun. Then I run into the grants again, though I guess the kettle would work. However, I keep my tun a good distance away from the burner and at the same height as the kettle for safety reasons.

If you really want to save space and use less equipment how about brew in a bag?

Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: Hokerer on October 29, 2010, 08:06:42 PM
If you really want to save space and use less equipment how about brew in a bag?

Wasn't the OP about doing 20-gallon batches?  That's one heck of a big bag :)
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: narvin on October 29, 2010, 09:17:45 PM
We're using a 10 gal gott cooler with a false-bottom for the smaller batches and a 80 qt rectanglar cooler with copper grid false bottom for the large batches.  Channelling hasn't been an issue as the diluted wort is pumped onto the top of the grain bed and then gravity fed into the kettle.

Channeling depends on the layout of your mash tun.  If you have a false bottom or copper manifold designed for fly sparging, you should get good efficiency with this method. Batch spargers with only a braid or bazooka T could see lower efficiency.

No-Sparge is supposed to create very high quality wort for rich malty beers, and I think this is basically the same thing.  You could do a fly sparge with the same mash tun size, but you would need a third vessel to hold the sparge water, so this actually does make it easier.  Perhaps this is something that most fly spargers should look into...

If you're having problems with wort quality with a regular sparge, I would definitely look into the bicarbonates in your water and possibly add acid to your sparge water to keep the pH down.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: tubercle on October 29, 2010, 11:50:00 PM
It makes a shorter brew day by about 30mins to an hour depending on your usual sparge time.

 My time is dumping wort at full throttle from a batch sparge. Can't imagine shortening that.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: maxieboy on October 30, 2010, 02:03:02 AM
My time is dumping wort at full throttle from a batch sparge. Can't imagine shortening that.

Maxieboy agrees.  ;D
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: bluesman on October 30, 2010, 02:39:30 AM
My time is dumping wort at full throttle from a batch sparge. Can't imagine shortening that.

Maxieboy agrees.  ;D

LMAO!

Ya know... this is a perfectly great way to produce wort. I employ this method.  8)
Just in case inquiring minds really wanted to know how the bluesman likes to roll.  ;)
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: Mikey on October 30, 2010, 12:07:19 PM
One big advantage that I see is that you only need one kettle.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: tumarkin on October 30, 2010, 12:18:01 PM
One big advantage that I see is that you only need one kettle.

?? you need one less kettle... but you have to have two of them if I'm reading correctly, a mash tun & a boil kettle.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: Mikey on October 30, 2010, 01:10:50 PM
What I meant was that you don't need an HLT. Just a boil kettle and mash tun.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: MDixon on October 30, 2010, 03:11:36 PM
I might be missing something, but it sounds like a no-sparge with the exception of being more complicated.  ???

I've worked for years with nothing more than a boil kettle and a mash tun AND something to collect the wort until the boil kettle is no longer functioning as a HLT. A bucket, a smaller kettle, a pot, whatever... It's how I pulled off four brews in a 12 hour timeframe with one mash tun, two kettles and two burners.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: denny on October 30, 2010, 03:35:19 PM
I might be missing something, but it sounds like a no-sparge with the exception of being more complicated.  ???

That's sure how it seemed to me.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: Mikey on October 30, 2010, 04:09:26 PM
He's definitely sparging, because he pumps the wort back into the kettle with the remaining water and then rinses the grain with the "diluted" wort, by recirculating. Unless I'm misunderstanding what's he's doing. I've used buckets to collect wort and that works as well. This could be a nice twist on the procedure, assuming you have a pump.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: narvin on October 30, 2010, 07:46:21 PM
He's definitely sparging, because he pumps the wort back into the kettle with the remaining water and then rinses the grain with the "diluted" wort, by recirculating. Unless I'm misunderstanding what's he's doing. I've used buckets to collect wort and that works as well. This could be a nice twist on the procedure, assuming you have a pump.

It is no sparge, in essence... all the water is used in the mash runoff, and there is no separate sparge.  It is no different than dumping all of your remaining water into the mash tun before vorlauf.  It requires a pump, though, but the tradeoff is that you can use a smaller mash tun.  And it is also susceptible to channeling issues like fly sparking.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: Mikey on October 30, 2010, 08:26:16 PM
His numbers sure seem to be better than any no sparge I've ever done.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: MDixon on October 31, 2010, 08:41:01 PM
He "may" be getting a higher efficiency by the use of a "sparge" as opposed to simply draining the tun, but my no-sparge yielded a 64% efficiency. Now it may depend upon how his pump is setup. If the wort stratifies (and we all know it will), and if we suppose he is pulling from the area with the lowest sugars, he is in essence sparging and collecting in the same vessel and may be maximizing his efficiency by inadvertently taking advantage of the natural stratification.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: Mikey on October 31, 2010, 09:39:08 PM
Based on these statements:

"5) Pump the now liquor/diluted wort from the kettle back into the tun in a continuous recirculating loop
6) Take a refractometer reading every 5 mins until the gravity stabilizes and then let the wort in the tun run off. This usually takes about 20 minutes with a 10 gallon batch."


I find it hard to believe that he's getting stratification since he's recirculating the wort and he's checking for gravity stabilization.
Title: Re: New Sparge method for brewing large batches in small places?
Post by: bluesman on November 01, 2010, 01:17:27 AM
I think one thing to consider is the residual sugar remaining in the liqour in and around the grain bed
once the bed has been drained.
Washing the sugar from the grain bed is key to good efficiency.
This entails incorporating a thourough rinsing of the grains.
If there is significant liqour remaining in the grain bed, this may negatively impact the mash efficiency.

But data is needed to verify.