Author Topic: is vorlauf necessary?  (Read 8744 times)

Offline melferburque

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is vorlauf necessary?
« on: January 03, 2012, 10:10:31 AM »
I had added this as a subtext to an efficiency question on other thread, but figure it's worth its own post.

is it necessary to vorlauf?  I've found it's easier for me to just strain my wort through a fine mesh screen into the kettle.  this way I don't get any stray grains, and the mash compacts itself eventually anyway.  I don't have a steady enough hand to pour the vorlauf back into the mash tun without disturbing the grain bed.  am I missing a key step by not pouring it back through?  is it affecting my efficiency, or am I risking some sort of hot side aeration by straining the wort?  I have been straining the entire mash and batch sparge, but I suppose I could always stop straining after the first minute or so and not have many solids make it into the kettle.

thoughts?  it seems like HSA aeration is a contentious topic, and the only reason I've seen given for the vorlauf is to prevent the grains from getting into the boil.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2012, 10:15:03 AM »
It's not required.

I usually recirculate manually until it is clearer - as far as disturbing the grain bed goes, you only have to worry about the bottom of the grain bed.  As long as your pouring is only disturbing the top half of the bed you have nothing to worry about.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline denny

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2012, 10:18:11 AM »
I don't see anything really wrong with your method.  OTOH, it only takes me a qt. or less of vorlauf to get clear runnings, which makes it very simple to do.
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2012, 10:22:41 AM »
Of course it's critical or the efficient Germans wouldn't have invented both the process and that neat sounding word.  I think it is important, and I know from experience that I can get my wort crystal clear after a couple of vorlaufs.  Getting the big chunkers is great, but you also need to to get the fines out.
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Offline richardt

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 11:47:16 AM »
It depends on your set-up.  I currently use an 82 Qt rectangular cooler and a 12-inch Bazooka Braid, which is probably not as finely-meshed as a "Denny Braid", so I notice that it takes me about 2 to 6 Qts of Vorlaufing to get it as clear as I'd like before it goes into the kettle.  It usually starts out looking like an opaque milky-brown colored smoothie and then transitions to a translucent, watery, slightly more darkly-colored fluid (wort).  When I pour the vorlauf back into the cooler I check to see whether there are any fine sand-like particles in the grant (a cheap 2 Quart white plastic container I use for vorlaufing).  If there are, I keep vorlaufing.  If there aren't, then we're good to start running off the wort into the boil kettle.

I don't like the idea of extracting tannic bitterness from grain husks.  Since I go to great pains to ensure that the mash pH and temperature are optimal (e.g., pH of 5.4 and T<170F), I don't wish to undo those efforts by allowing a bunch of grain husk material into the boil kettle during sparging/lautering.  That's just me.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2012, 12:30:06 PM »
Corky, with my crappy German, this makes sense.

Vor = before

Laufen = to run  Lauf =run

Vorlauf = before or pre runnings.

Works for me.  Very despcriptive of what is going on.
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Offline melferburque

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2012, 02:08:23 PM »
I have a ten gallon round igloo cooler with a tight fitting false bottom. I drain through a ball valve and through a fine mesh strainer (I stole my wife's flour sifter, essentially, and use it again on the transfer to fermenter to aerate and sift out some of the bigger chunks of hops).  the first bit to come out has some husks in it, but it clears up after about ten seconds and then there's just the odd piece that makes it through the rest of drainage.  I've been making pretty big beers, rarely under fifteen pounds of malt.  seems like it compacts down pretty quickly with or without the vorlauf.

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2012, 02:15:04 PM »
Just keep doing what works best for you.  I vorlauf until the wort is clear, usually 3 gallons on my 10 gallon batches.  Sometimes even after the wort is clear i still get chunks so I tie a hops sack to the end of the runoff hose to catch the debris.  But whether it makes a real difference that the wort is crystal clear or if there is a tablespoon of grain getting into the boil I can't tell you.
Sometimes I think we worry too much over really insignificant details about the process and kind of forget how forgiving brewing really is.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 02:16:54 PM by corkybstewart »
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico

Offline thebigbaker

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2012, 02:27:51 PM »
I use a 48-qt rectangular cooler to mash and vorlauf and it only takes about a quart to run clear.  I've only done two all grain batches and with a lot of research, advise from this forum and Denny's site, I've been able to make some great beer.  One thing I do, which I picked up from a youtube video, is before I vorlauf I place some foil ontop of the mash and poke some holes in the foil.  When I return the runnings back to the cooler, I slowly pour over the foil as to not disturb the grain bed too much.  I repeat the process for the sparge also.  Does this really make my beer better?  Not sure, but it's what I started off doing and the beer has turned out great, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
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Offline denny

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2012, 02:30:21 PM »
I use a 48-qt rectangular cooler to mash and vorlauf and it only takes about a quart to run clear.  I've only done two all grain batches and with a lot of research, advise from this forum and Denny's site, I've been able to make some great beer.  One thing I do, which I picked up from a youtube video, is before I vorlauf I place some foil ontop of the mash and poke some holes in the foil.  When I return the runnings back to the cooler, I slowly pour over the foil as to not disturb the grain bed too much.  I repeat the process for the sparge also.  Does this really make my beer better?  Not sure, but it's what I started off doing and the beer has turned out great, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

If you're batch sparging, you're wasting time, effort, and foil.  You can just gently pour it back in and you'll be fine.
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Offline thebigbaker

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2012, 02:38:36 PM »
I use a 48-qt rectangular cooler to mash and vorlauf and it only takes about a quart to run clear.  I've only done two all grain batches and with a lot of research, advise from this forum and Denny's site, I've been able to make some great beer.  One thing I do, which I picked up from a youtube video, is before I vorlauf I place some foil ontop of the mash and poke some holes in the foil.  When I return the runnings back to the cooler, I slowly pour over the foil as to not disturb the grain bed too much.  I repeat the process for the sparge also.  Does this really make my beer better?  Not sure, but it's what I started off doing and the beer has turned out great, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

If you're batch sparging, you're wasting time, effort, and foil.  You can just gently pour it back in and you'll be fine.

I am batch sparging.  I will definitely take your advice and go w/ out the foil next time.  Thanks Denny, always appreciate any advice.
Jeremy Baker

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Offline narcout

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2012, 02:40:58 PM »
Sometimes even after the wort is clear i still get chunks so I tie a hops sack to the end of the runoff hose to catch the debris.

I also use a hop bag on the end of my runoff hose; it works great.  For the record I also vorlauf, but the hop bag makes sure that nothing gets through.

There's a Northern Brewer blogpost that actually advocates against vorlaufing.  I don't really agree, but here it is: http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2010/03/2-things-literature-says-i-should-do-that-i-dont/

Offline melferburque

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2012, 02:52:29 PM »
Sometimes even after the wort is clear i still get chunks so I tie a hops sack to the end of the runoff hose to catch the debris.

I also use a hop bag on the end of my runoff hose; it works great.  For the record I also vorlauf, but the hop bag makes sure that nothing gets through.

There's a Northern Brewer blogpost that actually advocates against vorlaufing.  I don't really agree, but here it is: http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2010/03/2-things-literature-says-i-should-do-that-i-dont/


wow, I'd never heard the bit in that link about not rehydrating yeast in water, either.  I'd always just follow the instructions on the package and added it to a bit of warm water 15 minutes before the end of the boil.  I know at the U-brew I started out at, they just add dry yeast straight to the wort...

interestingly enough, that NB article also mentions vorlauf causing HSA.  well damn, if they're worried about a bit of corlauf causing that, they must REALLY hate my straining method.

Offline oscarvan

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2012, 03:18:51 PM »
Of course it's critical or the efficient Germans wouldn't have invented both the process and that neat sounding word.

I beg to differ. The Germans invented a LOT of dumb words.....

"Eisenbahn-knotenpunt-hin-und-her-shieber" which loosely translates into: "railway- crossroads-backwards-and-forwards-mover".
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: is vorlauf necessary?
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2012, 03:23:08 PM »
Sometimes even after the wort is clear i still get chunks so I tie a hops sack to the end of the runoff hose to catch the debris.

I also use a hop bag on the end of my runoff hose; it works great.  For the record I also vorlauf, but the hop bag makes sure that nothing gets through.

There's a Northern Brewer blogpost that actually advocates against vorlaufing.  I don't really agree, but here it is: http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2010/03/2-things-literature-says-i-should-do-that-i-dont/


wow, I'd never heard the bit in that link about not rehydrating yeast in water, either.  I'd always just follow the instructions on the package and added it to a bit of warm water 15 minutes before the end of the boil.  I know at the U-brew I started out at, they just add dry yeast straight to the wort...

interestingly enough, that NB article also mentions vorlauf causing HSA.  well damn, if they're worried about a bit of corlauf causing that, they must REALLY hate my straining method.
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico