Mash Out or Batch Sparge (cannot do both)?

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mccamich

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I'm brewing a 12% abv Belgian Tripel soon that I've brewed a couple of times with good success. My mash tun isn't large enough to allow me to do a mash out AND a batch sparge so my question is...would it be better for the brew if I mash out and skip the batch sparge, or skip the mash out and do the batch sparge. In the past I've done the mash out and skipped the batch sparge, but I'm curious as to what others would do in my situation and why.
 

Holden Caulfield

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Mashout to preserve mash profile.

All you sacrifice is a little efficiency which can be mitigated by upping the quantity of grain to make up the difference in points if you want to hit your OG target. You will spend a wee bit more but totally worth it given the level of effort.
 
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mccamich

mccamich

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Mashout to preserve mash profile.

All you sacrifice is a little efficiency which can be mitigated by upping the quantity of grain to make up the difference in points if you want to hit your OG target. You will spend a wee bit more but totally worth it given the level of effort.
Thanks. Will do.
 

DBhomebrew

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Why can't both fit?

Wouldn't the batch sparge make more room for the mash out? All of the 1st runnings (strike + mash out - loss to grain) would be out of the way by the time you add the sparge water.

And for such a big OG with tun volume concerns, I'd think the ~10% hit in efficiency would make the sparge attractive.

Maybe I'm missing something?
 

day_trippr

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I have to say getting wrapped around the mash-out axle for such a huge beer seems misguided. Given the purpose of the mash-out is to halt an increase in fermentability of the wort, and a 12% brew is going to challenge most yeast strains anyway, I'd be more concerned about making the attenuation goal that much more unlikely to achieve.

If both can't be achieved I'd skip the mash-out - actually, just skip it - do the sparge, collect as much wort as the calculation (Beersmith, in my case) requires to make up the volume/OG goals, and if the wort is a bit more attenuable, have a beer to that :)

Cheers!
 
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Bobby_M

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Mash outs are for custom sugar profiles when you plan to grind out a long fly sparge. This situation doesn't need either of those. If you batch sparge, you're running up to a boil right past the mash out temps quickly anyway. As a general rule, you don't need to mash out with batch sparging ever. Especially not when you want a highly fermentable Belgian wort.
 
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mccamich

mccamich

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Why can't both fit?

Wouldn't the batch sparge make more room for the mash out? All of the 1st runnings (strike + mash out - loss to grain) would be out of the way by the time you add the sparge water.

And for such a big OG with tun volume concerns, I'd think the ~10% hit in efficiency would make the sparge attractive.

Maybe I'm missing something?
I guess the issue isn't the mash tun, but the boil kettle. My boil kettle is only so big. Any sparge water I add to the mash tun wouldn't fit in the boil kettle. With a larger boil kettle and a longer boil time I could do both, but that's for another brew day.
 
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mccamich

mccamich

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I have to say getting wrapped around the mash-out axle for such a huge beer seems misguided. Given the purpose of the mash-out is to halt an increase in fermentability of the wort, and a 12% brew is going to challenge most yeast strains anyway, I'd be more concerned about making the attenuation goal that much more unlikely to achieve.

If both can't be achieved I'd skip the mash-out - actually, just skip it - do the sparge, collect as much wort as the calculation (Beersmith, in my case) requires to make up the volume/OG goals, and if the wort is a bit more attenuable, have a beer to that :)

Cheers!
I've hit attenuation with this beer before (always +/- 3%) while doing the mash out. This'll be my 3rd time brewing it. The first time I brewed it I skipped the mash out and sparged, but the wort was super thick and took forever to drain out of the mash tun and into the boil kettle. The 2nd time I brewed it, I did the mash out to help thin out the mix and the whole operation went a lot smoother after that, so I've done that ever since, but I've been curious as to if I'm doing more harm than good by mashing out and skipping the sparge. I guess if I'm hitting attenuation goals consistently with the mash out/no sparge maybe don't fix it if it ain't broke?
 

Pappers_

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I guess the issue isn't the mash tun, but the boil kettle. My boil kettle is only so big. Any sparge water I add to the mash tun wouldn't fit in the boil kettle. With a larger boil kettle and a longer boil time I could do both, but that's for another brew day.
Well this is an entirely different question. Then you'll have to work backwards and calculate how big (what the volume is) a batch you can brew at that original gravity in your size kettle. How big is your kettle?
 
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mccamich

mccamich

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Well this is an entirely different question. Then you'll have to work backwards and calculate how big (what the volume is) a batch you can brew at that original gravity in your size kettle. How big is your kettle?
Good question. I believe it's 7-7.5 gallons. I'll double check tonight. It might be time to upgrade the ol' brew kettle.
 

Pappers_

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Another good option, to work around your kettle size @mccamich, would be to add some dried extra light or pilsen malt extract towards the end of your boil, to give you the final gravity points you want. Nothing wrong with that. We did that with a huge beer (1.130 OG) that just won a silver medal at a competition last weekend.
 

Holden Caulfield

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The situation of having a boil kettle too small to capture adequate preboil volume and having a issues with lautering if you don't raise the mash temp to mashout temperature gives you four choices as far as mashing:
  1. Capture first runnings, add sparge water and capture second runnings - this option has not worked for you in the past due to slow draining
  2. Use sparge water to raise mashtun temp to mashout temperature and capture single running - this has worked for you in the past but results in poor efficiency. This is basically doing a no sparge.
  3. Hybrid - I am guessing you are adding boiling water to raise your mash to mashout temperatures, perhaps you could aim for a temperature between 160-165 and hold back some of the water for a mini batch-sparge/fly-sparge. This would increase your efficiency while enabling you to still have decent flow during your first runnings.
  4. As previously mentioned, use LME or DME in the kettle which can reduce the quantity of grain needed to hit your OG (reduces mash water volume reserving more for mashout/sparging.
I guess if I'm hitting attenuation goals consistently with the mash out/no sparge maybe don't fix it if it ain't broke?
^Good advice from a good source:). Option 2, and possibly 3, fit this criteria.
 

DBhomebrew

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would it be better for the brew
Like deciding on the 'right' exposure settings in film photography, brewing is a balancing of many interrelated attributes. Turn a dial on one, it'll shift the mark on another.

Lots of suggestions being offered with little understanding of your definition of 'better for the brew'. What attribute(s) are you hoping to improve?

That said...

I brew in a 5G pot where, like yours, pre-boil volume is my limiting factor. You may want to think about whether you can or want to reduce your boil intensity and boil-off rate.
 
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eric19312

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Do you have any more pots? Maybe a 2 gallon pot you cook spaghetti in? Nothing says your boil kettle has to be one pot. You could always start your boil with say 6 gallons in your 7.5 gallon kettle and another couple gallons spread out amongst kitchen pots. Then as you boil off you can combine into the main kettle.
 

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I'm with Bobby and day_tripper on this one. I've batch sparged with no mashout (except when i decoct) my entire time doing all grain (15 years?) with the thought process as follows:

I'm sparging (two iterations) with near boiling water after running off the sweet wort, and with each sparge the grainbed is getting hotter and hotter. However, that shouldn't matter much because all the runoff, and nearly all the enzymes, are already in the boil kettle where I've hit it with fire starting at the first runoff. So, bringing the kettle up towards a boil is effectively the mashout. In the instances i have not brought the kettle to a prompt boil, though, I haven't noted any instances of over-attenuated final product. Again - this is my understanding of what's happening during my process.
 

Holden Caulfield

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I'm sparging (two iterations) with near boiling water after running off the sweet wort, and with each sparge the grainbed is getting hotter and hotter.
Wouldn't this result in tannin extraction? I know PH plays a more important role in tannin extraction but boiling water poured on husks is not considered a best practice?
 

hout17

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Wouldn't this result in tannin extraction? I know PH plays a more important role in tannin extraction but boiling water poured on husks is not considered a best practice?
This is an interesting question because a mash out in some cases would require near boiling water to be added to bring the mash up to 168-170 for the mash out procedure.

I would think that one could heat their sparge water up to the calculated temp to raise the grain bed to mash out temp and hold. Then vorlauf and drain the mash tun and still get decent efficiency?

Posts above suggest to not do a mash out if you are batch sparging but I don't see why you couldn't as long as the grain bed isn't ultimately heated above 170 after stirring in the added water for the mash out procedure.
 
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Bobby_M

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Wouldn't this result in tannin extraction? I know PH plays a more important role in tannin extraction but boiling water poured on husks is not considered a best practice?
Well, that's exactly what you'd be doing with a mash out infusion anyway. I wouldn't fly sparge with boiling water but if you're batch sparging, that temp will quickly drop as you thoroughly stir it into the grain. Back when I batch sparged, I'd do it twice. The first one would be around 190F and the second about 185. The resulting mixture never got above 170F after 10 seconds of mixing.
 

Holden Caulfield

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I'm sparging (two iterations) with near boiling water after running off the sweet wort,
Doesn't this mean that the mashtun is being drained then the boiling water is being added to saturated grains only - no thin mash remaining?

Well, that's exactly what you'd be doing with a mash out infusion anyway
Unless I am interpreting incorrectly - so not exactly. The practice of adding boiling water to a drained mashtun is new to me and seems like it would risk extracting tannins. Perhaps near boiling means 175 - 180 degrees.

Alternatively, adding an appropriate amount of boiling water (or for that matter a decoction) to a mash that has not been drained is a very common way to raise step mashes to the next temperature and a mashout is really just another step.
 
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mccamich

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Alternatively, adding an appropriate amount of boiling water (or for that matter a decoction) to a mash that has not been drained is a very common way to raise step mashes to the next temperature and a mashout is really just another step.
Yes. That's my process.
1. Add grains to mash tun
2. Add 1.25qt/lb of water (between 156f-170f) to bring the whole thing up to mashing temps (for the belglian tripel coming up soon it'll be around 156f so it'll mash at 147f-148f)
3. Mash for 45-75 minutes depending on the brew
4. Add enough ALMOST boiling water (208f) to the mash to bring the total temp up to 168f-170f
5. Hold there for 10 minutes.
6. Drain first runnings
7. Add enough sparge water at 170f to rinse the grains and bring the total volume of water in my boil kettle to about 5.4-5.6 gallons
 

Bobby_M

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Doesn't this mean that the mashtun is being drained then the boiling water is being added to saturated grains only - no thin mash remaining?

Unless I am interpreting incorrectly - so not exactly. The practice of adding boiling water to a drained mashtun is new to me and seems like it would risk extracting tannins. Perhaps near boiling means 175 - 180 degrees.

Alternatively, adding an appropriate amount of boiling water (or for that matter a decoction) to a mash that has not been drained is a very common way to raise step mashes to the next temperature and a mashout is really just another step.
When you infuse for "mash out" it happens before you drain anything out of the tun so the amount of infusion volume to get from 150 to 168 will depend on the water temp. Since you want to try to preserve as much sparge volume as possible, you usually make it boiling. It really doesn't matter as the intent is to arrive at about 170F once it's all stirred in.

In a batch sparge infusion, the bulk of the liquid wort has already been removed so the mass/heat capacity remaining is much lower. It will take less volume and/or lower temp water to get the full mixture up to 170. It's just a matter of calculating (I mean cheating using software) to figure out what the volulme and temp should be. It's been years since I've batch sparged but if you're splitting the sparge, that first one can definitely be at boiling or near it without getting over 170F. The short story is that any infusion can be at boiling as long as the pH is still in check and it's stirred in fast enough that no one pocket lingers at very hot low buffered water.
 
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