hist-brewing: to sparge or not to sparge?

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Mon Apr 12 11:10:54 PDT 1999


Owen writes:
>In commercial brewing, there is the mash tun, the lauter tun, then the brew
>pot. The sparge is part of the lautering. Even in the very great effort by
>Anchor Steam to recreate the oldest known recipe for beer, (see
>http://beer.tcm.hut.fi/Misc/SumerianBeer.html) Lautering is used in the
>recreation.

It depends on the type of brewing... in England and Scotland, where they
do infusion mashing exclusively, they have a single mash/laeuter tun.
In breweries where they have direct heat on the mash tun, yes, there
you have separate mash and laeuter tuns.  In a decoction mashing brewery,
you would have only a laeuter tun and *some* kind of a cooker... some
breweries have a dedicated decoction cooker, others use their kettle.
American Megabreweries all have what's called a "cereal cooker" which
is kind of like a decoction cooker, except that it's used *before* the
main dough-in to pre-cook the corn, rice, etc.  Miller doesn't have a
lauter tun at all...  they use what's called a "mash filter" which is like
a big plate and frame filter except that it has sliding panels and the
ability to squeeze the goods.

Now, I'm no historian, but it seems illogical to me that any brewer
would not *consider* rinsing (what we now call "sparging") the grains
after the first runnings are drained.  Whether a sparge would yield
*good* beer depends a lot on the water.  Untreated alkaline water
would result in very astringent beer and this may be why some
regions would intentionally avoid sparging, whereas others would
do it.  I'll bet if you searched the literature from areas of
high calcium/low alkalinity, you would be likely to find *some*
kind of sparging of the mash.

Al.

Al Korzonas, Lockport, IL
korz at brewinfo.org
http://www.brewinfo.org/brewinfo/

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