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New mash tun system and fly sparging

After the new year I decided to upgrade. I am now making more beer per year and the time each brew session consumes is not fitting into my schedule. I purchased A mash tun, hot liquor tank and a 16 gallon brew kettle so I can double my batches.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007V493PG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I have never fly sparged before but I made my own sparge arm and increased my cooling efficiency by adding another primary cooling coil so now I have a pre-cooler and two primary coils. I should see my brew efficiency increase with fly sparging I hope. My only concern is two of my beers that I regularly have on tap will now have grain bills of 22 lbs and 26 lbs. After doing my calculations and considering the true volume (11.7 gal) of the mash tun, should come up to the top but still able to hold the mash. I really think this setup will hold 26 lbs of grain. is there anybody out there that has pushed the envelope on something like this? Unfortunately I won’t be able to test that yet because my first double batch is a Kolsch which is an 18 lb grain bill.

Thanks,

Brent

Here’s a handy link for you: Green Bay Rackers--Mash Calculators The calculator says 26# will take up about 10.3 gallons at 1.25 qts./pound. If you stiffen up the mash a little you can nurse it up further, even over 30# if need be I’d think. Not sure how sparging would go but I’d have to believe it’d be no problem as you’re just keeping the level over the top of the grain.

Yes, those are the same calculations I use but they are just calculations. I saw pictures of somebody with a 25-pound Grain bill with the same mash tun and it was right up there almost to the top so that’s why I was wondering if somebody has had a pretty large grain bill with this setup. I think it will work with no problems but with that big of a grain bill you have to be careful when you are doughing in because you were more likely to get some dough balls.

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I don’t have that same set-up, but I’ve done a few 25# mashes in a 10-gallon cylinder cooler without issue. I’ll mash in at 0.8 qt/lb grain, which makes for a pretty thick stir. The run-off is pretty slow as well, but as long as you’re patient it’ll work fine. I usually have to do a double batch sparge, but that shouldn’t be an issue with fly sparging.

.8qt/lb grain…That is really thick! That stir paddle has to be steel.:wink:

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Either that or your forearms! 25# of grain at that ratio makes for a good workout. I wouldn’t go any thicker than that, but after the sacch rest there’s more liquid in there than you’d think.

I am going with 1.25 qt/ lb grain and see how that goes. I should have a little over a gallon of room but like I said it’s going to be very full and I want to get a good mix without sloshing it over the top.

It’s actually good that your not brewing a beer to max it out first. It will help you to understand your capacity. Then you’ll know where you’ll need to hit as qts:lbs.

If you do max it out dough balls can be a concern. I’ve done this several times by accident (forgot to adjust my qts:lbs ratio). What I did was stirred very carefully and allowed it to sit for a couple mins. Repeat a couple times.

As far as your fly sparge the grains will eventually settle and the wort will rise to the top. In addition, when you vorlauf you’ll also get the grain to drop while setting your mash bed. Be prepared for a pretty big efficiency drop with a higher anticipated OG (doesn’t matter what your method is really and you may already know this happens).

Are you using one of the kettles pictured above for a MT? One caveat about fly sparging is that it benefits from a mash out. This helps liquify the mash AND MORE IMPORTANTLY set the fermentability of the wort. Since fly sparging should take 45-60 mins if you don’t mash out the enzymes will remain active and can lead to a dry beer or beer with little body.

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Use most of you strike water, add about 1/4 of the grist, stir well and repeat until all coughed in… You may have to adjust your temp up a bit because of the extra stirring… Then to add the reminder of strike water… you’ll see how full your kettle is… pH will become important for the rinsing… Too high, too much astringentcy to yer brew… Keep practicing… you’ll do well once you become one with yer new setup! Sneezles61

The kettle is my new brew kettle. I am using this to mash.

I brewed a double batch of Kolsch and hit every target with brewing efficiency at 73%. I did not measure pH but did order a pH meter today. Total sparge time was 43 minutes. I really thought that fly sparging was mashing out. If you are keeping a layer of water on top, essentially, you are pushing out the mash with the rinse at least that is what it looked like to me since the mash was a darker color then changed quickly to a lighter color.

I learned a few things on this batch. Always add more sparge water than what you need. I thought of this right before I opened the hot liquor tank valve. The recipe called for 8.5 gallons sparger water but not all of that would have gone into the mash tun because of the dead space. So rule of thumb I will add a gallon extra to ensure the proper boil volume.
now I’m going to have to learn how to adjust my mash when my meter arrives.:unamused:

Now is a good time to read about water… There are various places on the web to help you… You can get scientific or just grasp some basics… In my brew setup I have Lactic acid, phosphoric acid, citric acid, Gypsum, Calcium chloride, baking soda… And limited knowledge… I have a test from my well water, which helps me with Gypsum and Calcium chloride… Of the acid group, I like the Lactic best… Haven toyed much at all with citric, but, with very pale lawn mowing brews, is where I try that…
My pH for BIAB is adjusted to 5.8 tp 6.0 and pH after dough in ends up 5.2-5.6… For pale ales and such… Dark brews, no adjustments needed… Remember this works for me, you’ll likely have something a bit different… Keep records of what you are adding and tasting notes… One day, you’ll nail it, and have a back up, so you can do a repeat! Sneezles61

Honestly, I just want to make sure my mash pH is in range as simply as possible. After I measure the pH of the strike water, do I adjust at that moment or wait to adjust the wort? Like I said, I have never checked my pH but I know the water table where I live is pretty good. At this point I guess I need some basic guidelines to get started. My next batch is experimental and that’s a good place to start.

Brent

You don’t need to measure your strike water pH, but the mash pH. Wait about 15 minutes and pull a sample of wort, as clear as you can get. Not a big deal if there are some grain particles, you just don’t want it too chunky. Chill it to room temperature in an ice water bath, and take your pH measurement. Adjust with acid, re-check.

Start by looking at your pH BEFORE dough in… Thats where I adjust with acid… I didn’t do this when I was using a mash-tun… BIAB for perhaps 4-5 years now. Sneezles61

So when I get my grain all mashed in, wait 15 minutes and take a sample of wort. Chill to room temp then measure. Above 5.2 adjust with acid, below 5.2 adjust with base(salt). Correct?

Brent

That’s it! But for the most part, as long as you’re within pH 5.0-5.5, you’ll be fine.

Thanks for the info! Maybe at some point I will start to analyze my water and broaden my scope.

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