From the HBD Archive
Subject: Re: Sparge question
Date: 1992-03-18 16:33:30 GMT

[ Sayeth : ]

I saw your posting in the HBD and I have a problem that maybe you
can help with. I am trying to get into all-grain brewing but each
time I try it (about 5 times) I get a VERY harsh after taste making
the brew un-drinkable.

Hmm... That's never happened to me, but then again I've always been
worried about it after reading Dave Miller's book.

I'm thinking that the harshness is polyphenols coming from the husk.

I guess so, but once again I have no experimental evidence to back it up.

1. how much sparge water do you typically use per pound of grain?

I generally brew with about 10 lbs of grain for a nominal 5 gal batch.
I mash with about 3 gallons and sparge with at least 5 gallons. I know
that's supposed to be a no-no, but I feel that when I carefully monitor
the runoff there should be no problem.

2. how do you adjust the PH of the sparge water and to what PH?
You already answered when to stop sparging.

Actually, the last time I brewed I didn't, just as a test. After
reading Goerge Fix's book I decided that distilled water (which I
always brew with; San Jose water is pretty bad and I don't feel like
boiling 10 gal of water the night before I brew) should be about as
effective as acidified water in controlling tannin extraction. I do
have a jar of USP lactic acid that I have used with success. It's
kinda hard to find, but chemical supply shops can get it. It doesn't
take much.

3. What is your sparging setup?.

I have a pair of 22 qt rectangular food bins I got at a restaurant
supply place. I drilled many many holes in one with a Dremel tool.
I installed a spigot near the bottom on the other one. When sparging,
I nest the multiply-perforated bucket in the spigotted one and wrap
the whole thing in mylar-coated plastic bubble insulation (available at
hardware stores). I also put a block of wood under one side to tilt
the thing such that the spigot end is lower than the other. Before
transferring the mash from the stove to the lauter tun, I bring about a
gallon of water to the boil and fill the bottom of the tun. I then
transfewr the mash and let it sit for about five minutes. I then
start draining off the wort, rapidly at first, into a saucepan on
a little portable electric burner (to keep the mash temperature up).
I recirculate until pretty clear.

I used to do the gradual exchange of sparge water for wort, but on my
last batch I tried the seemingly popular technique of draining all of
the initial mash liquid before adding any sparge water. When the bucket
drained completely, I added the 170-degree sparge water and stirred up
the mash. I let it rest a little, then repeated the initial process.

On my last mash I also tried the single-temperature "hot strike"
technique suggested by someone; Russ Pencin? That worked very well.
The wort came out as clear as any decoction mash I've done, and it
was MUCH less work. The mash was mostly 2-row Klages, and I got a
perfect pH with almost no effort (a little calcium chloride inthe
distilled water is all I added).

Mike McNally
Digital Equipment Corporation
Western Software Lab

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