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Fly or Batch - which do you do?

I found batch sparging to save me time overall. The fly sparge with concurrent collection and heating may save time somewhat, but in the end I found the batch sparging was quicker, easier (no sparge arm needed) and for me, better efficiencies (though this may have come from improving other aspects of my brewing, since I gave up fly sparging so long ago…)

I’m not Denny, but I’ll explain what I do. I start my burner once I’ve collected a gallon or so of first wort. Like Denny, my sparge water is about 190-200 degrees. By the time my first runnings are in the kettle, they’re getting close to boiling. Often, while I’m doing the vorlauf and getting ready to run off my batch sparge, I’ll see that the first runnings are already starting to boil or very close to it. My sparge typically kills the boil temporarily, but it sure doesn’t take long to get back up to that point.

I try not to sparge with anything above 180ish but as long as the pH is right on the mash, I guess it would be fine to use hotter sparge water. I use a an electric bucket heater for sparge and strike water and it can get the water to a boil, I just fear tannin extraction at the extreme end of the temp scale with water…YMMV, of course.

The biggest factor for me when I got started was not so much time, but the fact that there are a lot more things to worry about in a fly system. Unlike batch, manifold design, tun dimensions (and the resultant grain-bed depth), can have a huge effect on efficiency, it’s trickier to manage ph and temp during the sparge, and so on.

It took me enough effort and experimentation to get my simple batch system figured out, and the idea of dealing with the extra variables of fly sparging on my first all-grain batches was a huge barrier.

Even though I’m hitting my grain bed with almost 200 degree water, I’m stirring the whole time and it quickly stabilizes around 168 or so. You could be right about tannin extraction in that small window of time, but so far I haven’t noticed any problems. Now you’ve got me thinking again - fingers crossed!

I’ll sample my two brews from last weekend today and see what I can detect.

My batch water is usually well above 180F and I’ve never noticed any problems.

I stir while I’m infusing, but not to the point of really worrying about spots in the mash that may be hotter than is optimal for a few 10s of seconds.

FWIW, I use the exact same equipment whether I batch or fly sparge. SS mesh braid and coolers.

Interesting…is your braid just a straight length?

Interesting…is your braid just a straight length?[/quote]No, they are round, square or rectangular depending upon which MLT I’m using.

[quote=“burdbrew”]
Denny, I’m confused as to how you get to a boil so much quicker batch sparging. I start the burner as I collect fly sparging (mullerbrau’s technique of having a boil at the end of collection is what I try to do). I would have to think it would take some time to get to a boil batch sparging (I dabbled in batch sparging and found them to take about the same amount of time). I would batch sparge if I thought it would save time, so I’m wondering if I’m not getting something.[/quote]

I also start heating the kettle during the run off. But considering that the entire mash run off, sparge addition and sparge run off takes me 15 min. or less, compared to n=maybe an hour fly sparging, my wort gets to a boil more quickly than most fly spargers.

[quote=“El Capitan”]Even though I’m hitting my grain bed with almost 200 degree water, I’m stirring the whole time and it quickly stabilizes around 168 or so. You could be right about tannin extraction in that small window of time, but so far I haven’t noticed any problems. Now you’ve got me thinking again - fingers crossed!

I’ll sample my two brews from last weekend today and see what I can detect.[/quote]

As long as your pH is in line, there’s no problem even using boiling water. Think of a decoction, where you boil the grain. It works because of the low pH in the mash.

What advantage does a braid have over a false bottom? I have a round cooler and batch sparge pretty much the same as Denny’s method, other than equipment.

There’s really no advantage other than a braid is inexpensive and easy to make.

I find that with a braid you get clear wort faster so you need to vorlauf less. I also find a braid less prone to stuck run offs than either a FB or manifold. Now, I’m not saying that either of those is a bad choice. But after trying other lautering devices, I decided that the braid just worked better for me.

I’m not an expert on the false-bottom, but isn’t it generally more subject to deadspace losses than either a braid or manifold?

Possibly, but my 10 gallon cooler and false bottom leave 4 cups behind. I’m ok with that. Thx for the replies.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“El Capitan”]Even though I’m hitting my grain bed with almost 200 degree water, I’m stirring the whole time and it quickly stabilizes around 168 or so. You could be right about tannin extraction in that small window of time, but so far I haven’t noticed any problems. Now you’ve got me thinking again - fingers crossed!

I’ll sample my two brews from last weekend today and see what I can detect.[/quote]

As long as your pH is in line, there’s no problem even using boiling water. Think of a decoction, where you boil the grain. It works because of the low pH in the mash.[/quote]

Well I pulled hydro samples today, and there was no tannin problem whatsoever. Just a nice smoked porter and an American stout. But now I’m wondering about my sparge water pH. I treat my sparge water by adding salts into the mash, but I don’t use lactic acid. I don’t have a pH meter, so I’m trusting that Bru’n Water is getting me where I need to be. I guess maybe that’s a topic for a new thread - how important is the lactic acid additon to sparge water?

[quote=“El Capitan”]I got into AG brewing with two round orange coolers and a 10-gallon Polarware. I started off fly sparging because I didn’t know there was any other way to do it! So I fly sparged for a couple years. It worked fairly well, but I found that I had to constantly babysit the sparge or the water would get too deep, compacting the grain bed and stopping the runoff. Really a PITA to sit there and fiddle around for 30-45 minutes.

I read about batch sparging with the Denny method, and finally switched out my stainless false bottom for a braid. After that, I think I maybe went back to fly-sparging one time, but that’s it. Batch sparge all the way for me!

I could see doing a fly sparge for a really big beer - not a bad idea there.[/quote]
Almost exactly my experience as well, and haven’t considered that I might want to go back to the greater time and effort of fly sparging for any reason. But now that you mention it, it is worth considering for really big beers. My current method for those is to do a partigyle, but fly sparging might be a bit easier for hitting target gravity on the first beer. Need to think about it.

I only worry about adjusting the sparge water if I’m making a very light colored beer, like pils or tripel. And even them I sometimes don’t bother. Unless you have extreme water (I don’t), if you get the mash pH right then the sparge pH will almost certainly be right, too, in batch sparging.

Wow. I kinda expected there to be more Batchers than Flyers but not by the landslide shown in the thread. I tried to count them up (at least 1/2azzed). It looks like so far 23 batchers to 5 flyers, with one person practicing both. A huge number of conversions from fly to batch and only one the other direction. I would have to say that Denny has had one huge impact on brewing as most quote him as there original information source on batch brewing (myself included). Looks like unless you are going rather large size runs batch has taken over (and I still use batch for 10 gal runs)!

Barry

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