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!