hist-brewing: going to try something old but new for me

Eric Jacobs eljacobs at bellsouth.net
Mon Dec 10 20:38:56 PST 2001

On Mon, 10 Dec 2001 20:41:42 -0600, you wrote:

>I plan
>on adding all of the sparge water to the ice chest, stirring like mad
>(without splashing) with a wooden paddle that I copied out of the book
>(period term is "rowing"), then allowing everything to settle. I then hope
>to draw the wort off of the top. I am planning on repeating the process to
>make a small beer.

I always use a similar technique, that I think is called "batch
sparging" and it works great for me- good efficiency, and good beer.
I think at least a couple other people on the Homebrew Digest use the
same technique successfully.  I mash as usual, then drain off all the
liquid (through the grain bed).  Then add fresh water, mix, let sit 20
minutes, and drain.  Then repeat with one more rinse.  According to
what I've read, this is a historical technique that's been mostly
replaced by the modern "fly sparging".  Traditionally they might use
the first batch of runnings for a strong beer, later runnings for a
small beer, but so far I've always mixed together all the run-off.
Maybe I should point out that I'm not doing this for historical
accuracy or anything, I just happen to like this technique.  :)

The differences I see between my technique and what you're proposing
1) I'm filtering through the grain bed, but you'll draw the liquid
from above the grain.  Off-hand, I would think you may end up with
sediment in your wort- resulting in cloudy beer or maybe some
undesirable flavors.  But after leaving a mash undisturbed for a
while, it does seem to settle pretty well, and the liquid on top is
very clear, so maybe it'd be fine.
2) I'm still doing multiple water additions, but you'll be adding all
the sparge water at once.  Might give you lower efficiency, but that's
easy enough to compensate for.  Add a little extra grain, have some
DME on hand, or boil it down, like you said.

>I have also been
>told that I need to really crank the roller mill down and almost flour the
>grain. I am real leery about doing this because I will have no way to switch
>to the regular sparger if this turns into a fiasco.

I can see the argument for a fine grind.  When I drain the wort,
there's an amazing amount of liquid in the grain bed, just in the
little spaces between chunks of grain.  It seems like finer particles
of grain would settle more compactly, so you can get more of the
liquid out.  Smaller particles would probably also let the sugars get
into solution faster, when you add the sparge water.  If you're
terribly worried about being able to fall back on a conventional
sparge, you might want to have some rice hulls on hand.  I have
limited experience using them, but they're supposed to do wonders for
stuck sparges.  Might also help you sparge finely-milled grain.

Sounds like an interesting experiment, and based on my experience, I
don't think you'll run into any *huge* problems.  

Eric Jacobs
eljacobs at bellsouth.net

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