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Difference between Batch and Fly Sparging

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I am embaressed to admit that I don't know the difference between these two sparging methods. Could someone explain the difference?

The main difference is that fly sparging is a continuous process - a relatively slow, continuous rinse of the mashed grain done simultaneously with collection of the wort.  Batch sparging, on the other hand, is a fairly quick collection of wort (often called "first runnings") before adding additional sparge water, followed by addition of one or more "batches" of sparge water that are stirred into the mash, briefly rested, recirculated, then collected.

Either process can be used to make beer.  Fly sparging can yield higher efficiency, but generally takes substantially more time than batch sparging.  I think batch sparging is simpler, requires a little less attention and control, and is generally faster - but there is usually a sacrifice in efficiency (though some who batch sparge get very good efficiencies).

Here's the link to the definitive take on batch sparging the Cheap-N-Easy way  It also includes a brief description of fly sparging.


In a very unscientific manner, I have seen that batch sparging has not given me poor efficiency.  I have not yet started formulating my own AG recipes, only kits from NB, so I am going off the OG on the information sheet that comes with every kit.  Every kit I have brewed has ended up no lower than about 2 points below the OG, and sometimes a few points higher. 
Definitely read up on Denny's methods, and to see batch sparging in action, I suggest doing a search on youtube for chrisknight000.  He has a series of 8 videos that do a pretty good job showing how easy the process can be.  I was strictly an extract brewer until I saw his videos.  Now, the only use for extract in my house is for yeast starters.

Matt B:
Not to turn this into a 'what's better' thread, as the whole batch vs fly sparging thing seems to be a religious subject with most people. One thing to keep in mind that your method and its effectiveness is very very dependent on your equipment.

But I've tried both. For me and my equipment and method, batch sparging didn't give me worse or less efficiency than fly sparging, and batch sparging actually took *longer* for me. By the time I drained the first runnings as quickly as I could, added in the additional water, stirred it up, and did a vorlauf until it was reasonably clear again, it took longer than my typical fly sparge. Maybe I'm a bit too picky on how clear the wort should be by the time I transfer to the boil kettle, but that's my experience.

Now, the last batch I did, fly sparging, I was trying to use a perfect amount of lautering water, and when the mash tun was completely drained, I still needed another gallon in the boil kettle (10 gallon batch.) So I decided why not, I'll give it a try, I'll add in a couple more gallons, and if it takes a half an hour to drain because of the set grain bed, oh well, I'll live. However, I added in the additional water, and was able to drain it off quite quickly.

So, I'm considering doing another batch sparging attempt, but *not* mixing up the grain bed. I'm not sure how much this is going to hurt my efficiency as compared to fly sparging, but I guess I'll find out :)


--- Quote from: Matt B on December 16, 2009, 07:09:38 PM ---So, I'm considering doing another batch sparging attempt, but *not* mixing up the grain bed. I'm not sure how much this is going to hurt my efficiency as compared to fly sparging, but I guess I'll find out :)

--- End quote ---

In my experience, it will hurt your efficiency considerably.  How much are you vorlaufing?  It seldom takes me more than a qt., and never more than 2.  You're not aiming for crystal clear....just no "chunks"!  FWIW, for a 7.5 gal. boil volume, it takes me 15 min. from the time I start my mash runoff until I end my sparge runoff.  That includes adding, stirring, and vorlaufing the sparge water.


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