Batch sparge harshness?

I’ve had the same RIMS system (a sabco brew magic) for 10 years. Last fall, for the heck of it, I thought I’d try batch sparging as it was easier and faster and didn’t require near as much observation as my usual fly sparging. Well all four batches are noticeably “different” from my usual beers. They lack the usual smooth malt flavor of my beers and seem just a little “rough”. I used the same water profile for all of them- yellow balanced. So no crazy ion levels. All had mash ph’s of 5.3. On only 1 of the beers did I note adding a little acid to the sparge water. It’s a helles and is the better of the 3 beers. I did not check the pH of my sparge on any of the beers and am wondering if my sparge did need to be acidified more and this is a little astringency I’m tasting.

All the beers have high quality base malts- Weyerman’s pils for the 2 lagers and Maris otter for the ales.

Any thoughts?

pete

I have never heard of harshness due to batch sparging as a variable in and of itself. It’s an interesting data point. I don’t understand why this would happen; I don’t really have a theory at this point as to what is so different that would cause this. Maybe Denny can play devil’s advocate against his own process and come up with a theory. He may find this topic interesting if nothing else.

Sorry I can’t be of more help. I’ve never used RIMS.

Sometimes you taste something just because you think you will taste something. I sometimes think I taste something in my beer but nobody else does. Sometimes one day I taste something the next day I don’t. Even commercial beers that are pretty consistent I may enjoy them one time and maybe not the next. I guess I’m not beer judge material.

Just a guess here, but how hot is your sparge water on the batch sparge? Is it possible that your batch sparge volume and temp are high enough to raise grain temp too high?

All very true, for any taster… except for the very last sentence. If you can taste subtle differences, then you are certainly judge material.

:cheers:

Theoretically, a high pH in the sparge water could extract tannins correct? Would this not also be the case for fly sparging?

It is even more of an issue with fly sparging, because by the end of the sparge the solution is so weak that there is little left to buffer the wort.

Tannin extraction is even more a possibility for fly spargers than batch. That’s why these results don’t seem to make any sense to me.

EDIT: rebuilt beat me to it literally by seconds!

My experience leads me to believe this is due to poor temperature control. I’m betting the RIMS system kept your mash temperatures higher, and therefore you are getting a more fermentable wort. Is your final gravity lower than usual?

Good analysis.

Interesting thought…

I can’t think of any reason the OP’s problem would be related to batch sparging.

I’d be interested in digging a little deeper into the specifics, like your description of the issue. “Different” and “rough” are difficult to troubleshoot. If your helles came out better, what were the other three? Other than adding a little acid to the sparge water, what other processes were different in making the helles?

Also, have you cranked out another batch using FS and then comparing them? For all I know, you’ve already abandoned the BS method and all this is just moot conversation, but I’m particularly interested in this as I am in the process of developing a hybrid batch sparge system.

Just an observation, but perhaps the batches were over sparged? I ran into the “cooked tea” taste from over sparging when I switched mash tuns and did not calibrate my water for my new system (less dead space).

It’s darn hard to oversparge when you batch sparge.

I agree that it should be tough to over-sparge a batch sparge. And I agree that rising sparge pH should be more of an issue with fly sparge.

The tasting point is a good one… I do tend to be my own worst critic and tend to search for flaws. However, my mom, who happens to be a regular taster of my brews, was passing through the other day and commented that my bitter didn’t taste like my usual beers. Not as smooth.

I’m completely flummoxed by this. I’ve gone back to fly sparging since my dabbling with the batch, but none of the beers are ready yet.

When ya’ll batch sparge, do you check the pH of the grist once you’ve added the sparge water? I didn’t on mine and now wish I would have.

Thanks for the input.
pete

It’s darn hard to oversparge when you batch sparge.[/quote]

I only did it once when I switched to a different mash tun and I used my water calculations off my old system which had more dead space. I over sparged by about a gallon. The beer did have some hints of tannins, but not too over powering. I have since switched to my handy day measuring stick to ensure my pre-boil volumes are correct.

But I tend to agree with the issue with over sparging with a batch sparge.

[quote=“pkrone”]I agree that it should be tough to over-sparge a batch sparge. And I agree that rising sparge pH should be more of an issue with fly sparge.

The tasting point is a good one… I do tend to be my own worst critic and tend to search for flaws. However, my mom, who happens to be a regular taster of my brews, was passing through the other day and commented that my bitter didn’t taste like my usual beers. Not as smooth.

I’m completely flummoxed by this. I’ve gone back to fly sparging since my dabbling with the batch, but none of the beers are ready yet.

When ya’ll batch sparge, do you check the pH of the grist once you’ve added the sparge water? I didn’t on mine and now wish I would have.

Thanks for the input.
pete[/quote]

I’ve checked the pH during the sparge so often that I don’t bother any more. Any rise was so minimal that it didn’t matter. Martin has just posted on the AHA forum concerning harshness due to high carbonate levels. Although those will influence the beer no matter which way you sparge, it would seem. I guess if I had noticed harshness due to batch sparging I would have stopped doing it hundreds of batches ago.

I have the data to back it up: If you have a moderate level of bicarb you need to acidify a batch sparge just like a fly sparge.

Yeah, it all depends on your water. My bicarb is around 90 so it isn’t an issue for me.

@denny I have had harness issues in the past (mainly with lighter colored beers that I did not cut with distilled) and I have a question; is HC03 at 133 PPM considered high and contributing to my sometime harshness?

Thank you