The ‘How to All Grain Homebrew Series’: #2 Sparging

Welcome to number 2 of the ‘How to All Grain Homebrew Series’. If you missed it, go and check out #1 Mashing. Without it, this post may be a little bit confusing.

So you have had a successful mash? At this stage you have removed all the blankets on your mash tun, measured your temperature and it has only dropped a couple of degrees. Now you need to get that sweet wort from your mash tun into your kettle.

How you go about this will depend on how you are mashing (whether you are using a converted esky or going BIAB). I will talk today about using a converted esky but may do a post later about BIAB if there is enough interest (or Sean is willing to write one for me).

The first step is that you need to set the grain bed. If you were to just open the tap and let it go into the kettle, you are going to end up with a lot of little grain floaties. Ain’t nobody got time for that. To set the grain bed you will need to do a procedure called “vorlauf”. This involves releasing the wort into a container and then returning that container of wort into your mash tun until your run off becomes clear. I find it usually takes at least a couple of litres for this to occur.

Once your wort is running clear, there are 2 main ways you can sparge. This is either batch sparging or fly sparging. Both have their pros and cons.

Batch Sparge= sometimes less efficiency (i.e. less sugar from grains), faster

Fly Sparge= usually more efficiency, slower, can introduce issues with PH of your water

I like to batch sparge as this is the simpler method. Whilst it usually means I have to use a little more grain I find the time efficiencies make it worth it. To batch sparge you dump the whole contents of your mash tun into your kettle. Make sure you give it time to run off completely.

You then add more water at the temperature dictated by your recipe (usually noted in your software program) and allow the grains to soak for a further 5 mins. You then do the vorlauf again until it runs clear and then dump the wort into the kettle. Depending on your recipe you may need to do this a couple of times.

So there you have it, a really quick explanation of the sparging procedure. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

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