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HOMEBREW Digest #5176

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 · 15 Apr 2024

HOMEBREW Digest #5176		             Sun 22 April 2007 

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volume of sparge water (leavitdg)
Re: Sparge Questions - Part 1 (Fred L Johnson)
Re: Sparge Questions - Part 2 (Fred L Johnson)
trub free wort ("Jay Spies")
Yeast ("Jay Spies")
Re: Sparge Questions (Scott Alfter)
Re: Sparge Questions (Bob Tower)
Fermenting (leavitdg)

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Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 07:14:43 -0400
From: leavitdg at
Subject: volume of sparge water


It sounds to me like you used 1/2 of the quantity of sparge water, initially,
than was required. The 4 gallons, for a 5.5 gallon batch, is about right,
depending upon the amt of grain. They say 1-1.5 qts per pound of grain, and I
usually shoot for 1.3 qt per lb.

I am not sure about your sparge arm, please describe it better.

Also, the "head" has me baffled, as to what you mean.

Please note: I am only 1/2 way through my first cup of Java, so this may be a
factor on my end.

Happy Brewing!


Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 09:25:27 -0400
From: Fred L Johnson <FLJohnson52 at>
Subject: Re: Sparge Questions - Part 1

Part 1:

Lee asks about how to get his sparge arm sprinkler system to turn

I think the concept that one must sprinkle (sparge) the water over the
top of the grain bed is simply not correct. I suppose this is the way
the pros lauter because of the scale at which they operate, but this is
one of those areas where the homebrewer can achieve the goal with less
equipment in a simpler manner and probably better. In a real sense, the
lautering process and the rinsing of the grain bed when lautering "on
the fly" is simply performing the equivalent of gel filtration column
chromatography on a more gross scale. (I think the phrase "batch
sparging" should be "batch lautering", since there is no sprinkling
involved in the process.) An understanding of gel filtration column
chromatography isn't necessary to perform an efficient lautering, and
it certainly does not address Lee's question directly, but it may help
other homebrewers understand what they are doing. (Lee's question is
addressed in Part 2.)

The broken grains and husks within the mash are equivalent to the beads
of gel in a gel filtration column. Water is the eluting vehicle (mobile
phase) that will be used in our filtration column (lauter tun full of
broken grains and husks). Each bead of the gel (each piece of broken
grain and husk) contains nooks and crannies (a matrix within each bead
of gel) in which some of the wort and its dissolved sugars hides.
Elution of the wort and its sugars on the outside of each beads and
within each bead is accomplished by passing the eluting vehicle (water)
over the beads of gel. Elution of the wort that is located BETWEEN the
pieces of grain is much more efficient than eluting the wort contained
WITHIN the pieces of grain. The volume hiding WITHIN the nooks and
crannies of each bead (the internal volume) is somewhat protected from
the mobile phase flowing past the bead. However, given time, the wort
and its sugars within the internal volume of the bead (the nooks and
crannies) will diffuse into the mobile phase (water flowing by the
piece of grain). The amount of material within the cranny that will
diffuse into the mobile phase flowing by is directly dependent on the
amount of time the water immediately surrounding the bead is in contact
with the bead. If a given volume of water flows past the grain quickly,
there is little time for the sugars to diffuse out of the grain pieces.
This is why slow lautering yields more sugar in the kettle.

Fred L Johnson
Apex, North Carolina, USA


Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 09:25:42 -0400
From: Fred L Johnson <FLJohnson52 at>
Subject: Re: Sparge Questions - Part 2

Part 2:
Now to Lee's problem. A common way gel filtration is performed in the
lab is to maintain a level of the eluting vehicle or mobile phase
(water) above the top of the column of the gel bed (the grain bed).

The most thorough way perform the elution of the grain bed in the home
brewery is as follows:

1. Cover the grain bed with something highly perforated to keep the
top of the bed flat during the lautering. (A pizza pan or plastic disk
perforated in many places works for a cylindrical mash tun. for those
with other shaped tuns, you'll simply need to get something cut to fit
the top of the bed. You can even skip using the covering if you're
2. Add a little water if necessary to get a small volume of
wort/water above the top of the grain bed.
3. Start recirculating the wort gently at the rate at which you
intend to lauter. The grain bed will compress somewhat, depending on
how fast your flow rate is, and the volume above the top of the grain
bed will increase slightly. All of the steps below can be performed
without changing the rate or interrupting the out flow; and the slower
your out flow rate is, the more efficient will be your lautering.
4. Continue to recirculate the wort until the wort runs clear.
5. Divert the outflow to the kettle. You can interrupt the flow if
necessary to avoid spills.
6. Allow any wort standing above the grain bed to drop until it falls
just below the top of the grain bed.
7. Add water to the top of the grain bed until the level rises above
the grain bed again. (The previous step and this step minimizes the
volume above the grain bed prevents our precious sugar from getting
diluted into the pool of water above the grain bed.)
8. Let the level of the water again fall until it is below the grain
bed. This further ensures that there is no wort trapped in the head
space volume.
9. Add water to the top of the grain bed until you have some above the
grain bed (about an inch). The volume above the grain bed should be
essentially pure water at this point.
10. Adjust the inflow of sparge water to roughly match the outflow and
continue until the lautering is completed.

There is no need for a sparge arm and the rinsing of the grain will be
more thorough.

(Is it true that some/many commercial English breweries use a variation
of the method I describe above rather than sprinkling?)

One other point affecting efficiency is that the "dead" space below the
bed of the grain is another place in which wort can get trapped. If you
minimize the size of this pool, you'll get better efficiency. The lower
the volume below the false bottom, the better. This is why the
"Bazooka" screen and other equivalents in which there is close to zero
dead volume work so well.

Fred L Johnson
Apex, North Carolina, USA


Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 14:36:52 -0400
From: "Jay Spies" <jayspies at>
Subject: trub free wort

All -

Fred asks about how to get trub free wort going into the kettle when using a
CFC. What I do on my system is use a pump and a bazooka screen along with
with leaf hops. After the power is off to the kettle, I recirc the wort in
a continuous kettle loop. This pulls the whole hops down onto the bazooka
screen (note: DONT use pellets). After a few minutes of 200+ degree wort
to sterilize the lines, I turn on the cold water flow to the CFC and begin
to precipitate the cold break. I usually let the kettle run until the wort
volume reaches about 140 or so (this is where I think cold break really
comes out of solution). After adjusting my outflow temp, I just pump to the
fermenter. Usually the resulting wort is very clear, and as a bonus, I
usually have very clear beers within a week of kegging, at most....

Hope this helps,

Jay Spies
Head Mashtun Scraper
Asinine Aleworks
York, PA


Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 14:39:49 -0400
From: "Jay Spies" <jayspies at>
Subject: Yeast

All -

Lee Smith sez:

>>>Ah, nothing like the sound of millions of lives happily burping away in
my fermenters.<<<

Well, now, it looks like someone underpitched !!!!


Jay Spies
Head Mashtun Scraper
Asinine Aleworks
York, PA


Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 12:55:27 -0700
From: Scott Alfter <scott at>
Subject: Re: Sparge Questions

Lee Smith wrote:
> I could've shaved off two hours if I hadn't had to boil sparge water three
> times. Got great extraction though! The predicter I used recommended 4 gal.
> sparge. I wound up using 4 and then 2 and then 3 gallons.

I just go with a couple of gallons beyond the pre-boil volume. For a 5-gallon
batch with a one-hour boil, that works out to 8 gallons.

Also, why are you boiling your sparge water? You don't want it much above 170,
or else you'll start extracting tannins and other nastiness.

(I had been using a 48-quart cooler as a hot-liquor tank, with some heatsticks
to bring the water up to temperature and a copper racking cane to get the water
up and out. I've now installed a valve in the drain, a thermometer nearby, and
a 1.5-kW heating element (same type as in the heatsticks) in the opposite side.
It should be a bit more energy-efficient with the lid fully closed (not that
it used that much to begin with), it'll be easier to keep the temperature where
I want it (until I get around to automating that), and I don't have to start a
siphon to get the water out. To speed things along, I can still pop in a
heatstick or two.)

> I was not pleased with the amount of attention I had to pay to the sparge
> arm. I had to stand over the mash/lauter tun and flick the arm to keep it
> rotating.

My sparge arm is just a length of copper tubing with holes drilled in it. It
doesn't spin, but it works fine. No spinning means there's one less thing to
go wrong.

_/_ Scott Alfter
/ v \ Visit the SNAFU website today!
(IIGS( Top-posting!
\_^_/ rm -rf /bin/laden >What's the most annoying thing on Usenet?


Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 23:11:03 +0200
From: Bob Tower <roberttower at>
Subject: Re: Sparge Questions

Lee Smith asked a question about the volume of sparge water. Lee, the
rule of thumb is that your sparge volume is roughly equivalent to
your batch size. So for your 10 gallon batch of hefeweizen, you could
have figured to have had 10 gallons of sparge water heated and ready
to use. It's always better to have more sparge water ready than to
run out and have to heat up more thus causing mashing problems as
well as extending your brew day unnecessarily. If you are finding
that you don't need anywhere near that much sparge water then you are
probably mashing excessively thin (i.e. a high mash water to grain
ratio). 1.00 - 1.50 quarts of mash water per pound of grain is
considered the normal ratio. Obviously, if you add much more water
initially to the mash you won't need as much sparge water later to
hit your target volume in the kettle.

Bob Tower / Hoorn, The Netherlands


Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2007 07:09:07 -0400
From: leavitdg at
Subject: Fermenting

Fermenting one beer
with another beer
this spring

End of HOMEBREW Digest #5176, 04/22/07

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