This kind of response is why I almost never bring the subject up. I can taste the difference between a batch-sparged beer and a continuous sparged beer that was made using my gear, and that's all that matters to me.
Depending on the percentage of base malt used in a recipe, my average mixed-grist extraction rate for imported malt is currently in the 33 to 35 points per pound per gallon range. My mill is set at forty thousandths of an inch (achieving an extraction rate in this range with grain milled at forty thousandths of inch is very difficult with batch sparging).
I agree that amateur brewing is a hobby. Like all multifaceted hobbies, continuous sparging is one of many skills that can be learned and/or mastered. I also plate and slant all of the yeast cultures that I use. Using a commercial yeast culture is significantly easier than taking a culture of unknown purity and turning it into something that ferments cleanly 100% of the time.
There is a joy that comes from mastering continuous sparging. I was lucky to achieve a mixed-grist extraction rate of 22 points per pound per gallon when I first started to brew all-grain beer in 1993. I quickly learned that lauter tun design played a huge roll in continuous sparging (i.e., a rectangular cooler combined with a slotted manifold is not the most efficient lauter tun design when continuous sparging). My mixed-grist extraction rate quickly jumped to 28 to 29 points per pound per gallon when I switched to using a cylindrical cooler with a Phil's Phalse Bottom. My extraction rate remained at that level for several years before it dawned on me that lautering 5-gallon batches of normal gravity beer in a 10-gallon cooler resulted in a less than optimal mash bed depth. I switched to using a 5-gallon beverage cooler for normal gravity beers, and my extraction rate jumped to 31 points per pound per gallon. The remaining improvements have come from step-wise refinement of my process.
In the end, one is free to choose whatever way one wants to sparge. I personally like the results that I get from continuous sparging. My brewing schedule is based around having free time while the sparge is running. I use that time to make log entries, setup my boiling stove (I mash indoors), and perform other brewing-related housekeeping activities. I usually mash for 90 minutes and boil for 90 minutes; therefore, the time that I spend sparging is a minor fraction of my brew day.
A few questions about how you fly sparge:
- What water:grist ratio do you mash at?
- Do you add dilution water to the kettle? How much?
- How long does your sparge last?