to sparge or not ! Appreciate a bit of advice fellas ....

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Marky B

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I recently experimented with full volume mashing and found i get the same efficiency. Just mash for longer, as its more diluted it takes longer for the enzymes to work. Generally i mash for at least 90 minutes sometimes more and do a mashout if you can. Reliably gives me an extra 4 points.
great advice thanks !
 

peebee

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Two questions? Starting with the OP. I cured myself of the sparging necessity a while ago as not sparging offered me some useful shortcuts. A lot of people here are giving a thumbs up to "no sparge" but haven't let go of some nonsense connected to it. There is only one very good reason to sparge … you don't have a vessel big enough to hold all the grain and sufficient water to get a full pre-boil run length, but even then you can add a litre or two of plain (cold probably) top up water. So:

Nonsense 1: It will result in lower extract. Just do the sums. W-e-l-l …. I did for this post and the results didn't back me up! The sums suggested I'd need to add about 12% more grain to counter the loss of extract due to "no-sparge". This didn't reflect my experiences so I had to look for other reasons. Firstly the result is going to be subjective: I reckon you need 12% extra, the BYO article @foxy linked suggests 20-25% more. But however carefully you calculate your sparge water volume, chances are you close the tap before all the sparge water is drained 'cos you've collected enough. In the past I've found if I drain the remaining sparge water from the mash later it has a gravity much closer to OG than the final runoff (which was probably around 1.010). So some extract is "hiding" from the sparge rinse until gravity forces it out (suggests "batch sparging" is not low efficiency compared to "fly sparge", and therefore "no-sparge" need not be lower efficiency either). So I reckon you only need allow for 5-6% extra grain to off-set "no-sparge" losses, if that, and perhaps sharpen up the water calculations and allow to drain a bit longer (I do the latter when using a Grainfather which encourages more through draining - I use the GF exclusively in "no-sparge" mode).

Nonsense 2: The enzymes get diluted and less efficient in the higher water to grain ratios of "no-sparge". Certainly not what I've experienced, though I must admit I always use mash recirculation systems (either a 3V HERMS setup or a Grainfather which is a glorified RIMS setup). The enzymes are very soluble in water so the recirculation probably massively increases the chances of enzymes bumping into their target molecules (starches and dextrins) so the extra dilution is rendered immaterial.

And the second question by @Charles Stanley-Grey. Temperature too hot. Of course "no-sparge" avoids the paranoia of sparging too hot. Mashing "too" hot might well produce a higher proportion of unfermentable sugar. But this might be done on purpose! High residual (unfermentable) sugar is a feature of some beers, especially some British beers. "No-sparge" reduces the risk of mashing too hot because larger quantities of water are used and the "strike" temperature is very much lower. But this brings me onto another "nonsense":

Nonsense 3. Too hot a temperature (mash or sparge) extracts undesirable astringency. Well it can, but it isn't something to get too concerned about. As has already been mentioned, it's not really the temperature it's the pH, and too high a pH is probably the result of over sparging with high pH water. Cure: "No-sparge" or acidify the sparge water (to about pH5.4-5.5). The other nonsense in this is a lot of people can't distinguish between being too heavy handed with hops (bitter) and extracting too much polyphenols like "tannin" (astringent): Clue, you taste bitterness, you feel astringency. Result: These people know they have a problem, but they go looking for it in completely the wrong place!


Whoa, there's a rant. I must be having a bad day?
 
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Pennine

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Gave this a shot today and worked exceptionally well on my robobrew. I started out with 20l and added the additional 6 during the mash. Ended up with 26l with around 75% efficiency. I think I will use this method going forward.
 

Brew_DD2

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I moved to no-sparge and I would never go back. It's one less thing to think about on brewday and means fewer vessels required. My brew house efficiency dropped from 80% to 74%. Basically a difference of a few pennies more grain.
 

DJDave

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each to their own & whatever suits you and you equipment but I don't get the point of not sparging you are just wasting suger. How much is debatable without some proper scientific repeatable trials.

With something like the grainfather model you don't have any more vessels you just lift the grain basket up add the sparge liquor - how you do this is up to you and let it drain.

The grain basket then sits on a stockpot and drains a bit further - very little in reality and I add this when I add first hops. which tends to be after 30 Mins.

I really don't see this as a chore.

I do a 90 minute boil because that's what my old recipe book (Graham Wheeler) says and that is what we used to do in production. What do current production brewers do?

I initially looked at the GF sparge calculations and then modified to suit myself which turned out to be 50/50 16 litres mash & 16 litres sparge which gives in the region of 30 litres pre boil. Grain bill is usually a bit over 4Kg. I tend to do drinking bitters not knock out strength

Pre boil efficiency is in region of 80% according to Brewers friend.

Whole grain brewing is a bit of a chore but it is a rewarding one.
 

Covrich

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I do full mash BIAB I mash usually for about 1 hr stirring half way through and a spend time doughing in.. I get 70+% efficiency this way. It does work find what works for you and then calibrate it to suit.
 

peebee

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… but I don't get the point of not sparging you are just wasting suger. How much is debatable without some proper scientific repeatable trials. …
I thought the "myth" of "wasting sugar" had already been debunked? But we don't need "proper scientific repeatable trials", decent record keeping is quite enough to get a perfectly workable idea: If sparging you will know the gravity of the final runnings (@MmmBeer: Yes, some of us are farty enough to measure it!) and will have a working value for spent-grain water absorption for water volume calculations, and if practicing "no-sparge" you can assume the grain absorption is the same and the grain will be holding on to wort at pre-boil gravity. Some quick sums and you have the difference between sparge and no-sparge. This is how I came up with the figure 10-12% earlier. But I also argued it probably isn't as bad as that because sparged grain can hang-on to higher gravity wort than the assumptions have you believe.

Being a percentage means sparging a mash for a very strong beer is perhaps worthwhile, but sparging the mash of a session strength beer just isn't worth the effort.

And why did I start "no-sparge"? Well I purchased a Grainfather 'cos the 3V HERMS system was having 18 months of modifications. And having got a GF quickly learnt I'd need another vessel to heat the sparge water. Sod that, so first off I carried on sparging but didn't bother about the temperature of the sparge water (WHAT! says those with the distorted idea that it really matters) and then I moved to "no-sparge".
 

peebee

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I do full mash BIAB I mash usually for about 1 hr stirring half way through and a spend time doughing in.. I get 70+% efficiency this way. It does work find what works for you and then calibrate it to suit.
I might have a Grainfather which can be considered as a glorified RIMS system. But really it's a glorified (read "expensive"!) BIAB system, with the small advantage that you don't need to stir the mash halfway through.

'Tis the reason I support "BIAB" at any opportunity.
 

foxy

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each to their own & whatever suits you and you equipment but I don't get the point of not sparging you are just wasting suger. How much is debatable without some proper scientific repeatable trials.

With something like the grainfather model you don't have any more vessels you just lift the grain basket up add the sparge liquor - how you do this is up to you and let it drain.

The grain basket then sits on a stockpot and drains a bit further - very little in reality and I add this when I add first hops. which tends to be after 30 Mins.

I really don't see this as a chore.

I do a 90 minute boil because that's what my old recipe book (Graham Wheeler) says and that is what we used to do in production. What do current production brewers do?

I initially looked at the GF sparge calculations and then modified to suit myself which turned out to be 50/50 16 litres mash & 16 litres sparge which gives in the region of 30 litres pre boil. Grain bill is usually a bit over 4Kg. I tend to do drinking bitters not knock out strength

Pre boil efficiency is in region of 80% according to Brewers friend.

Whole grain brewing is a bit of a chore but it is a rewarding one.
Sparge comes from the Latin word spargere which means to sprinkle water, it is time consuming and apart from that needs another vessel to keep the sparge water up to temperature while sparging for a hour or more. Plus the fact that the water is treated with salts separately.
In the history of brewing sparging is a relatively new concept, before sparging the brewers would brew a high gravity beer, drain and mash again, maybe three times or four. (See parti gyle)That is arguably the best way to get full use of the sugars in the grain. For me I drop my efficiency by 10% so I will use that much more grain, but time saved for a $2 extra is worth it.Plus with the sugar content left in the grain all the microbes and bacteria soon get stuck in to break it down.
 

Nicks90

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Cold dunk sparge is where it's at!
I rinse my fv whilst my mash is on and then put 4l of cold water in it. Once my mash is finished i just drop my biab bag in the fv and turn the boiler on. Then after it's had a few minutes in the cold water, I just give the bag a good squeeze and pour the liquor from the fv in to the boiler.
I end up losing about 2l of volume for 4kg of grains and get pretty much all the sugars out and it doesn't take any additional time in my brew day.
Plus as the grain has been in cold water, it's cool enough to do a good bag squeeze without risk of scalding myself.
 

BREWERS DROOP

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I went from sparging on a 3 vessel,down to a 2 vessel 200ltr no sparge full recirculated mash,the beers far better,its simple,less cleaning,and i get 80% efficiency,and improved clarity. I found the more fluid the wort,(thinner mash) the better the product.Yet everyone i spoke with said its less efficient.Your system is also dependant on what you get out of it.
 

alsch890

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Oversparging can cause tannins to be leached out from the grain husks, which can lead to astrigency and haze. It is recommended to stop sparging when the OG of the spargings drops to 1.008, but who actually measures this?

Not sure if this is what Foxy was implying, but there is some logic to it.
I used to measure this, take a sample from the sparge when I was getting close to my target boil volume. But it's such a faff to then recalculate for the difference in temperature of the wort too. So I stopped. And it's always fine.
 

foxy

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No sparge and full volume mash are a little different. No sparge could mean that you don't sparge but top up the water after mash out. I try to keep mine as a full volume mash where all the water needed is in the mash tun, it depends on the gravity and the size of the kettle/mash tun or in most cases a single vessel brewery or BIAB.
To help achieve a higher gravity beer I only add the fermentable grain to the initial mash cycle the un- fermentable grain I add at mash out.
001.JPG

Crystal and a bit of roast in the container to be added at mash out.
002.JPG

As you can see not much room left in the mash tun as the grain soaks up the liquor there will be enough space left to add the un-fermentables at mash out.
006.JPG

This is where a lot of the lost sugar ends up, not only in the grain but in the trub, if I took a hydrometer reading of what is left guaranteed it will be higher than the hydrometer reading that I will get after transferring the wort to the fermenter. The reason why a commercial brewery will get all the wort separated from the trub.
 

BREWERS DROOP

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No sparge and full volume mash are a little different. No sparge could mean that you don't sparge but top up the water after mash out. I try to keep mine as a full volume mash where all the water needed is in the mash tun, it depends on the gravity and the size of the kettle/mash tun or in most cases a single vessel brewery or BIAB.
To help achieve a higher gravity beer I only add the fermentable grain to the initial mash cycle the un- fermentable grain I add at mash out.
View attachment 23387
Crystal and a bit of roast in the container to be added at mash out.
View attachment 23388
As you can see not much room left in the mash tun as the grain soaks up the liquor there will be enough space left to add the un-fermentables at mash out.
View attachment 23389
This is where a lot of the lost sugar ends up, not only in the grain but in the trub, if I took a hydrometer reading of what is left guaranteed it will be higher than the hydrometer reading that I will get after transferring the wort to the fermenter. The reason why a commercial brewery will get all the wort separated from the trub.
 

BREWERS DROOP

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I do the same, crystal and dark malts i chuck on top for the last 15 mins of the mash, and mash out, and you get a smoother tasting beer, no astringent taste.
 
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