Lessons in Sparging

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lessons in Sparging

Last night was my brew club meeting and the topic was sparging. I learned quite a bit, both from the presentation and from some conversations I had afterwards. Here is what I came away with:

  • There are 5 signs to stop sparging:
  1. You run out of sparge water
  2. the PH turns (more or less acidic, not sure what the conclusion was on that)
  3. Gravity reading
  4. taste
  5. color
  • Sparge at 170F, this is hot enough to clean the husks, not cool enough to keep the bad stuff out of the runoff
  • Avoid a stuck mash, keep the grains suspended in the water and be sure that you have as much going out as you have coming in. This way there is no binding up around the filter. All of the grains should be submerged in water at all times.
  • When you are brewing and you start to see the runoff get light in color, shut off the water running in and the run off. Let the mix sit there for 15 to 10 min like that and start again. Repeat this process as a way to make sure that you are getting the most out of your mash.
  • when the gravity starts to drop on the runoff, you can run the remainder into jars and use it for starter in the future.

All in all it was a great meeting for me to go to because I am still a little shaky on the sparging process. I have been completing my sparging a half hour or so and in the future, I need to allow the process to take an hour or so.

Finally, I brought in the ESB I made for some comments. Everyone agreed it was mighty hoppy for an ESB and the malt I used (chocolate at .45lbs, crystal 60L) gave the brew a very pungent malt flavor. Most people that tried it said they thought the malt was roasted barley or biscuit.

With that said, everyone seemed to like even though it was not in a style category. Some people said it was more like an IPA than an ESP, however I would keep away from that because it's a bit dark for an IPA.

Hmmm, dark, bitter...I will call it Mother's ESB after the Danzig song Mother. You don't get much more dark and bitter than that.


Ted Danyluk said...

Sounds like this beer could fall into a homemade category of hoppy brown ale. As long as its tasty. What would you do differently?

I've read about when to "stop sparging." Mostly it seems to be a Ph and gravity thing. A rising Ph with a very high sparge water temp can lead to astringencys pulled out of the husks. And then when the gravity falls too low, the Ph also rises.

I've never been concerned with any of this. I simply sparge to get the right pre-boil volume. Sometimes it gets pretty thin, but the post-boil OG is usually right on, and the beer tastes good. Also, by the time the sparge nears the end I believe the temperature in the mashtun cools to a point where there's no real problem.

I've never "batch sparged" before. Did they talk about that at the meeting?

Travis said...

Hoppy brown ale sounds about right, but the brown ales that I have had in the past have had a sweet malty flavor and this has more of a malt punch, so who knows.

My first few batches I was sparging for volume and it was throwing off my OG (I was also not adjusting my recipes for efficiency). I felt like the rest of my AG processes was solid enough, but this has been something I want to get better at. I think I am just going to draw out my sparge a little more from now on.

I batch sparged my first two times AG, it worked fine. I would recommend it for anyone just getting started with AG because it's easy and makes the whole process a lot better to swallow at once. They talked about it a little at the meeting and everyone thought it was a good, fast and easy way to sparge.