Author Topic: A different sparge approach ...  (Read 962 times)

Offline VictorBrew

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A different sparge approach ...
« on: January 07, 2016, 10:38:53 PM »
Was intrigued by this idea from another thread (, but I did not want to side track it so creating this post.

The general idea is to limit the amount of the sparge water that touch the grain and then adding the remaining sparge water directly to the kettle to hit your target ,aka Limited Sparge? (Not sure it has a proper name).  Improvements noted include reduced tannins and overall flavor improvement.  I like the idea and I will need to experiment and prove it out for myself, but wonder a few things from those whom are exercising it.

- How did you initially determine the amount you sparged with vs added directly to the kettle?
- Did you treat(salts/acidification) your full volume of sparge water the same as would have in a traditional sparge?
- Did you find this approach equally valuable independent of style ... from a Pils to an Imp Stout?

Offline denny

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Re: A different sparge approach ...
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2016, 11:07:47 PM »
IMO, completely unnecessary and it will likely reduce your efficiency.  To avoid tannins, make sure your pH is good.
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Offline stpug

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Re: A different sparge approach ...
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2016, 02:45:33 AM »
I have a variable sparging technique that is usually chosen batch by batch. I generally am looking at grain bill amount, how thin/thick the mash is, gravity of the beer, and even to some extent the style of the beer. I'll pick my poison based on what I'm feeling is the appropriate choice for that particular batch. These changes all came about because of a series of beers that had this very subtle astringency that wasn't always obvious. Since making these changes I have not been experiencing the astringency. The compromise I've chosen to accept is a slightly lower efficiency than I was getting before (84% brewhouse previously vs 80% brewhouse now). This is still an experimental process for me and I'm only now starting to have a guide as to why I would pick one process (or combination of processes).

As for your questions:
1) I initially chose to perform a single batch sparge with half of my sparge water. The remainder went directly into the BK. This has transformed into a sliding scale based on the several factors I listed above.
2) I treat all of my water with salts/minerals/acids - mash and sparge - the same as I would for a "traditional" sparge.
3) Undetermined. Of the styles I've brewed since making this change, my approach has worked well, but I have not brewed dark beers since the change; however, I suspect this will be beneficial for dark malty beers.

The processes I use are basically:
-No sparge; all sparge water directly to BK
-Single batch sparge with various amounts of designated sparge water
-Sprinkle sparge (the term I use; could be called pseudo-fly sparge) with typically 1-2 gallons
-Combination of the two immediately above

As I said, it's still in an experimental stage of development for me but, for me, I'm seeing better quality beers. I understand and accept that Denny is better than I can ever hope to be, but still I try  ;D

Offline ca_mouse

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Re: A different sparge approach ...
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2016, 05:40:06 AM »
I agree with Denny that your efficiency will suffer by not sparging that water. Like Fly Sparging, Batch Sparging is only as efficient as your process and topping up with water that doesn't rinse sugars from the grain is a waste of the potential gravity. Now on the other hand, if you sparge and collect your total amount pre and post boil, and your gravity is too high for the style, topping up post boil with previously boiled and cooled water would be perfectly acceptable. I've never had an issue with tannins in my beers, perhaps I've been lucky, but I watch my pH and my sparge temps closely.

I have been Batch Sparging since I read Denny's website prior to my first all grain batch (Denny's website convinced me that Batch Sparging is a perfectly fine process and my awards tell me that the beer is good). Of course it took a solid set of brews (probably 6 to 8) before I saw the quality that I wanted. As with any process, you will need to find what makes you happy. I would suggest doing the same beer with this process and duplicate it and do a standard Batch Sparge. This will tell you if the end results are what you like and can live with.

Offline charles1968

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Re: A different sparge approach ...
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2016, 08:50:31 AM »
I have very hard water and used to have tannin problems with pale ales. I fixed it by treating water and by mashing thinner to reduce sparging volume. I'd advise sorting out water treatment first and then trying reduced sparge. But don't add unused sparge water to the kettle as your efficiency will drop significantly. Add it to the mash tun instead instead and mash thin. This will reduce the risk of tannin extraction through oversparging and is standard practice in German breweries.

To answer your questions:
- I typically mash with 75-80% of the liquor volume and do a single batch sparge with the rest. I don't add any water direct the kettle.
- Yes treat the whole volume.
- I use the technique for every style.

One of the reasons I mash thin is because I often mash overnight - the larger volume of water in the mash has more thermal mass, which means it holds temperature better. To save time I occasionally mash with 100% of the liquor volume and skip the sparge completely. This saves lots of time but efficiency drops, so you need to plan the recipe accordingly.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: A different sparge approach ...
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2016, 12:38:40 PM »
I think you're talking about something Martin mentioned about stopping his sparge at ~ 3 brix instead of ~2. I think what it really comes down to is that if your efficiency starts to creep up too high you can experience some downsides.

I think there is for sure value in trying NOT to wring every last drop of sugar out of the mash. if that means topping up pre-boil for you then great. For me, as a batch sparger I've found that when I want to really pump up malt character I do no sparge and run a second runnings beer after (sometimes).
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: A different sparge approach ...
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2016, 11:41:59 PM »
Yep.  I use a modified "no-sparge" where I mash all my grains with a typical 1.5 qt/#. Then add additional water via calculations to reach a mash-out temp and pre-boil amounts going into the kettle, which are then fully drained and boil commenced.