I grinned when I handed my girlfriend a regular coffee after she had asked me to get her a Quad venti skinny with whip iced caramel macchiato…

… hey… I lost her at ‘quad’ and people behind me were waiting…

“here you go hon… cream and sugar are over there… hurry, we’re running late…”

…. long story short, I learned to speak ‘coffee’ that day…

… and even though from that time forward I could walk up to the barista, and place the order in her language I still ordered using the forbidden words ‘large, non-fat, four shot…’

Heck I even said it as fast as I could just to amuse myself…

Well… I’m much the same way when it comes to brewing terminology… you wanna talk vorlauf, lauter and sparge? I’m game… I speak the language…

But for the sake of those new to the hobby I prefer saying: dump the hazy wort back in the kettle, drain when clear and add more water to rinse the sugars off the grains…

…. and even the word ‘wort’ is too fancy…. how about water and sugar?…

Much better…

Thank you engineers and chemistry majors for making this so complicated…

Anyways… I got an email asking what’s better… to fly sparge or batch sparge?

Ummm… it depends…

They can both be equally effective… heck, you could get better results with batch sparging if done right…

… so let me start with this… sparging is basically adding more water to the mash… to the grains… the whole purpose of that is so that any sugar produced during the mash gets mixed in with that ‘sparge’ water…

So whether you fly sparge or batch sparge, the goal is the same… to get sugar mixed in with your water… to make wort… I like to say rinse grains instead of sparge…

Fly sparging basically means that you add water to the mash at the same rate at which you drain the wort… if it helps watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynqJhASxeEk

You can see around minute 10:48 I am draining (lautering) the wort from my mash tun… the theory behind fly sparging is to add water at the same rate at which I’m draining the wort… the time it takes for that new water to go from the top of the mash to the bottom of the mash, out the valve and into my bucket is enough time to have tons of sugar mix in with the water…

I mean I only show about 10 seconds, but really it takes me about an hour and a half to collect 6.5 gallons of wort… so my sparge water sits in the mash for about 45 minutes give or take…

How do I fly sparge?

Well, I open up the valve to my mash tun, sit back with a home brew in hand, press the on button to the pump using a remote control cause I’m to lazy to get up and every five to ten minutes I top off the mash tun… if I’ve drained half a gallon, I add another half gallon of water until I get all the wort I need… that’s it…

Batch sparge differs in that, you don’t rinse the grains (sparge) as you drain the wort… you just drain the wort until everything comes out… Once all the wort you had in the mash is done draining, you add more water and repeat until you get your 6.5 gallons of wort or however much you need…

So what’s the difference?

Really, it’s just time that the water spends in contact with the grains… batch sparge is usually done because it’s faster, but that also means grains won’t have enough time to mix in with all the sugars and what you get is a smaller beer because you have less sugar mixed in with your water… but not necessarily…

You could drain the wort, add more water and let the new water sit long enough to mix in with the sugars… heck, you could even stir the mash to ensure the water gets mixed in with the sugars… you would just have to let it sit for about 15 minutes so the grain settles and then recirculate the wort (vorlauf)… meaning dump whatever you drain at first back into the kettle until the wort comes out clear…

If you notice in the video around minute 10:09 I am draining my wort into a pyrex jar so I can dump it back into the kettle… notice how cloudy it is… I mean it’s so starchy it looks like my gf’s macchiato…

But that’s all we are doing here… we are draining wort, we are rinsing off grains and we are recirculating any cloudy wort back into the kettle so the grain husks act as a filter and gives us clear wort…

So I hope this makes it easier to understand… lauter simply means to drain… sparge, to rinse off…

What’s better, fly or batch sparge? neither… better is just allowing the water to sit in the mash long enough to mix in with the sugars… or as I like to say, to rinse off the sugar from the grains…

There you have it… now you can go to your home brew buddies and start a story with “the other day I was draining my wort and rinsing off the sugar from my grains when…”

Cheers!

P.S. In case you are wondering, No Sparge means you don’t rinse off the grains… you don’t add more water… you just drain whatever you have in your mash tun…

P.P.S If you watch the video, do me a favor… click on the ads.. it doesn’t cost you anything and it helps me pay for this website… thx!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynqJhASxeEk


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