hist-brewing: to sparge or not to sparge?

ulfin at mail.portup.com ulfin at mail.portup.com
Mon Apr 12 18:07:00 PDT 1999

The learned Al Korzonas writes:

>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.

Hear! Hear!  This is a point that has always baffled me.  I cannot
imagine a brewing tradition in which it wouldn't be *painfully
obvious* that there are still more "goods" in the grain.  It's not
an obscure concept...anyone who washes clothes, dyes cloth, or
makes herbal infusions is familiar with the technique.

I can only think of a few (albeit weak) reasons why pre-industrial
brewers might have avoided it.  Maybe they didn't trust "unmashed"
water.  Maybe they *really* needed the grain in a "not-quite-spent"
state for baking. Maybe they couldn't bear to dilute their beer any
more than it already was.

While I agree that the lack of evidence that pre-modern brewers
sparged is *probably* because they didn't do it, I won't be
entirely satisfied with that conclusion until I find a good
reason why either they wouldn't have wanted to/been able to do
it or why it might not have even occured to them.

Dan Butler-Ehle

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