Author Topic: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble  (Read 643 times)

Offline David

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • West Valley City, UT
    • View Profile
Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« on: March 18, 2018, 06:24:18 PM »
Hi all!,

I am having a trouble hitting my target volume and temperatures on a batch sparge. Using a certain popular computer program for most of my calculations, the last three or four brews have completely missed both sparge water temperature target and pre-boil volume. Here is my procedure:
I usually use a 1.5 water to grain ratio, having zero problems with strike water target temps, usually within a degree or two.
I then recirculate and transfer the first runnings to the kettle.

This is where I start to run into problems:
I use the volume of water for sparging calculated from the software going for a target temperature between 168 and 170. I add that calculated volume at the temperature specified (using the current grain bed temperature) my mash temp is now 160???
After I recirculate and transfer the second runnings, my volume is 1 to 2 gallons too high.

Today's brew as an example:
15 pounds of grain at 1.5 water to grain ratio + deadspace + grain absorption from the software gives me 26 quarts of strike water. Grain was at 44 degrees, strike water temperature was 165. My target temp was 153, this gave me 154, not bad. After the mash, drained to kettle.
The software then tells me that I need 4 gallons of sparge water (looking at this now, it is obviously too high as the calculated total water needed was 9.8 gallons and this puts total water used at 10.5), the drained grain bed reads 143, water temp was calculated to 176???? when added to the grain temp was at 160. 8 to 10 degrees too low. Recirculated and transferred to kettle, ended up a little over 2 gallons above the calculated pre-boil volume of 7.27 gallons.

I have double checked the mash tun deadspace, it is correct.

What am I doing wrong??

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 19395
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2018, 06:39:38 PM »
I gotta start by telling ya, using software to calculate batch sparge temps is pretty much a crapshoot...especially if you use a cooler for a mash tun.  Here's what I've done for 20 years and 525+ batch sparges.  Once you get your first runnings in the kettle, measure how much you have.  I use a stick marked in qts. to do that.  Subtract that amount from the boil volume you're going for.  Example...if you want to boil 7 gal. and you get 4 gal. from your first runoff, you need 3 gal. of sparge water.  Yes, it's really that easy.  Heat the water to 185-190F.  Stir it in, vorlauf and runoff again.  That's it..you're all set.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline David

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • West Valley City, UT
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2018, 08:13:02 PM »
I gotta start by telling ya, using software to calculate batch sparge temps is pretty much a crapshoot...especially if you use a cooler for a mash tun.  Here's what I've done for 20 years and 525+ batch sparges.  Once you get your first runnings in the kettle, measure how much you have.  I use a stick marked in qts. to do that.  Subtract that amount from the boil volume you're going for.  Example...if you want to boil 7 gal. and you get 4 gal. from your first runoff, you need 3 gal. of sparge water.  Yes, it's really that easy.  Heat the water to 185-190F.  Stir it in, vorlauf and runoff again.  That's it..you're all set.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com

Sounds like i am overthinking things a bit...so is the final sparge temperature not as critical as I am trying to make it?

Offline BrewBama

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1428
    • View Profile
Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2018, 08:26:49 PM »
I’d say a parameter in your calculator needs a minor tweak. I’ve come to the point that close enough makes pretty tasty beer so, even though I still plug my stuff in to try to keep within a reasonable semblance of a style, I rarely give a crap if I am spot on or not. When I am I figure it’s a fluke.

I usually mash between 8.5 and 11 lbs of grain. Based on about 75 batches using my set up, for 5.5 gal in the fermenter to end with 5 gal in a keg, I want 7 gal in my kettle due to a 1 gal boil off and half-ish gal loss with the trub. So, I usually use 8 gal of liquor: strike with 4.5 gal and batch sparge with 3.5 gal. That gets me within my +/- personal tolerance of pretty dayum close to 7 gal in the kettle.

Now, having said that, strike temps are my personal nemesis. I usually shoot for 152*F mash temp except in rare circumstances. I am usually a couple degrees low if I use a whisk to break up dough balls. But if I use a spoon I end up with some small-ish dough balls and a couple degrees high. Go figure. Either way I am getting really good mash efficiency and always hit between 150*F and 154*F so I am good with it.

Sparge temps are less of an issue because I have one kettle: I heat the 4.5 gal strike liquor to about 15*F higher than required and let the temp settle to the temp the calculator told me to hit in the mash tun (aka Extreme cooler with a Brew Bag) prior to mashing in.  Then I heat sparge liquor to boiling (while I mash) and hold that 3.5 gal in a HLT (aka Gott water cooler). I run off ~3.5 gal wort into my kettle, then batch sparge w/ the 3.5 gal in the HLT which usually brings my grain bed to ~170*F (yesterday it was 173*F). I have been holding for 10 min lately before run off again.

I’m getting great efficiency using this method and the beers are awesome (admittedly personal bias). Not sure this helps but hopefully you can use something I do using my system to your advantage on your system.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 08:28:45 PM by BrewBama »
Huntsville AL

Offline David

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • West Valley City, UT
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2018, 08:44:25 PM »
........I’ve come to the point that close enough makes pretty tasty beer.......

Ultimately, these are the questions I need answered most. Everything i have read about the sparge temp says either 168, 170, or >170. How close is close enough? Is there a "too high" sparge temp?

Again, I may be overthinking as I did with the volume.......
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 08:47:17 PM by David »

Offline BrewBama

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1428
    • View Profile
Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2018, 08:50:08 PM »
I’ve read not to go over 180*F but I have also read counterpoints that say it doesn’t matter in batch sparging. I usually stick to 170*F +/-  a couple degrees for no reason other than it seems to be where I end up and it works. Not very scientific but I am not a real scientific brewer.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 10:38:27 PM by BrewBama »
Huntsville AL

Offline klickitat jim

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8460
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2018, 09:26:31 PM »
If ph is proper, temp of sparge shouldn't matter. Think about it, if 190F is too high for sparging then how is it that taking a 3rd of the grain out and boiling it for an hour (decoction) is ok.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 09:30:01 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline David

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • West Valley City, UT
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2018, 09:33:35 PM »
If ph is proper, temp of sparge shouldn't matter. Think about it, if 190F is too high for sparging then how is it that taking a 3rd of the grain out and boiling it for an hour (decoction) is ok.

Makes perfect sense to me, and I should have made that connection as I do decoction mashing on some brews as well.....

I am definitely overthinking this, thanks everyone for your help....

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 19395
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2018, 02:31:34 PM »
I gotta start by telling ya, using software to calculate batch sparge temps is pretty much a crapshoot...especially if you use a cooler for a mash tun.  Here's what I've done for 20 years and 525+ batch sparges.  Once you get your first runnings in the kettle, measure how much you have.  I use a stick marked in qts. to do that.  Subtract that amount from the boil volume you're going for.  Example...if you want to boil 7 gal. and you get 4 gal. from your first runoff, you need 3 gal. of sparge water.  Yes, it's really that easy.  Heat the water to 185-190F.  Stir it in, vorlauf and runoff again.  That's it..you're all set.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com

Sounds like i am overthinking things a bit...so is the final sparge temperature not as critical as I am trying to make it?

Not inthe least.  I get pretty much the same result with any temp between roon temp and boiling.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline 802Chris

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 150
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2018, 12:13:39 PM »
I gotta start by telling ya, using software to calculate batch sparge temps is pretty much a crapshoot...especially if you use a cooler for a mash tun.  Here's what I've done for 20 years and 525+ batch sparges.  Once you get your first runnings in the kettle, measure how much you have.  I use a stick marked in qts. to do that.  Subtract that amount from the boil volume you're going for.  Example...if you want to boil 7 gal. and you get 4 gal. from your first runoff, you need 3 gal. of sparge water.  Yes, it's really that easy.  Heat the water to 185-190F.  Stir it in, vorlauf and runoff again.  That's it..you're all set.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com

I've got to say, Denny is right on here. I have been using this method for years now (Thanks Denny). It works great and takes a lot of stress and math out of the brew day. I have also noticed temp doesn't really seem to matter.

If you want to use the software, I recommend brewing a batch the way we just described, and THEN going back into the software and adjusting your equipment profile to match the results you saw in real life. Do that for a few batches until you see it's consistent, and then you can start relying on the software more (until you change your process/equipment and have to start over again!).

Offline David

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • West Valley City, UT
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2018, 11:57:04 PM »
I gotta start by telling ya, using software to calculate batch sparge temps is pretty much a crapshoot...especially if you use a cooler for a mash tun.  Here's what I've done for 20 years and 525+ batch sparges.  Once you get your first runnings in the kettle, measure how much you have.  I use a stick marked in qts. to do that.  Subtract that amount from the boil volume you're going for.  Example...if you want to boil 7 gal. and you get 4 gal. from your first runoff, you need 3 gal. of sparge water.  Yes, it's really that easy.  Heat the water to 185-190F.  Stir it in, vorlauf and runoff again.  That's it..you're all set.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com

I've got to say, Denny is right on here. I have been using this method for years now (Thanks Denny). It works great and takes a lot of stress and math out of the brew day. I have also noticed temp doesn't really seem to matter.

If you want to use the software, I recommend brewing a batch the way we just described, and THEN going back into the software and adjusting your equipment profile to match the results you saw in real life. Do that for a few batches until you see it's consistent, and then you can start relying on the software more (until you change your process/equipment and have to start over again!).

Sounds like Denny's way (and yours) is much easier anyway. Doesn't appear to be need to rely on the software for this part at least.....

Offline 802Chris

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 150
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2018, 11:48:50 AM »

Sounds like Denny's way (and yours) is much easier anyway. Doesn't appear to be need to rely on the software for this part at least.....

Exactly. When I started thinking about it that way it just made it much easier in my head. IE The mash absorbs water and spits out what's left. It wont absorb more, so whatever is left to get to your pre boil volume, is your sparge water volume. Keeping it super simple like this helps me as a final sanity check. 

At this point the software just helps with guestimating and formulating a recipe. I only use it (BSmobile) for a timer come brew day.

Offline soymateofeo

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2018, 05:11:02 AM »
Wait. Denny is totally right but you shouldn't be off that much.  15 lbs of grain should absorb about 2 gallons of water or maybe up to 3... ish.  So if you wanted to get 5.5 gallons in the fermenter, you'd need about 9 gallons or so.

with really crazy rough numbers, if you wanted 7.5 gallons in the kettle so you could boil off some and lose some to your rig, so if you mashed in with 6.5 gallons and 2.5 of that gets absorbed, that leaves 4 gallons in the mash tun and you'd add another 3.5 gallons to get 7.5. 

Ah hell, I'd just boil a bit longer to get the volume down to what you are looking for.  You could just boil down to the gravity you want or add some DME to raise it up. look at your software and see where this number is.  I regularly boil for 90 minutes and lose 1.5 -2 gallons.

Offline dmtaylor

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3224
  • Two Rivers, WI
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2018, 11:32:31 AM »
15 pounds of grain at 1.5 water to grain ratio + deadspace + grain absorption from the software gives me 26 quarts of strike water.

Sparge volume is correct.  It's the strike volume that's too high.  You should account for grain absorption but NOT deadspace in the strike calculation.  If you want a ratio of 1.5 qt/lb, I'd strike with just 22.5 qts for your 15 lb grain.  If you strike with 26 qts, you're a gallon high.

FYI -- my batch sparge water is usually about 190 F.  It doesn't hurt anything to go above 170 F because once it's all blended together, it will only hit about 160-165 F anyway.  Probably could/should use boiling water actually if a mashout is desired.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 11:34:35 AM by dmtaylor »
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

Offline Kevin

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 43
  • Free from the Style Police!
    • View Profile
Re: Batch sparge volume and temp trouble
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2018, 06:10:01 PM »
If your certain popular program is Beersmith I'm here to tell you that you must... must create accurate equipment and mash profiles if you want to get accurate results. Don't trust the profiles that come pre-loaded in the software. Even Brad the developer warns against that. Those are there as a reference or starting point. You must... must take all your measurements, boil off rates, all your losses (actually measured not guessed at) even the material your mash tun is made of and how much it weighs are factors.
“He was a wise man who invented beer.”
- Plato