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No sparge questions (I've confused myself)

I’ve been reading about no sparge techniques and now I’m confused. This is what, I think, will be my plan of attack for a 1.045 beer:

  1. mash with a normal volume (2 qts/lb) for 60 mins.
  2. Add the remaining water needed to raise the temp to 170 and hit my boil volume
  3. vorlauf, then runoff

I should say too that I hesitate to mash with the full 8.5 gallons needed. Seems like an insanely thin mash that would present pH issues.

So, do I really need to scale up my grain bill to account for decreased efficiency ? Seems like I’m just batch sparging without running off first. Not sure how that would affect my efficiency, and there seem to be many conflicting views on whether or not it suffers.

Anything else I’m missing?

I realize the answer is probably in a thread somewhere, but I’ve read so many at this point they’re running together. Thanks in advance for the help.

With a lower gravity, you won’t see a large drop in efficiency and might hit somewhere in the 80s if your technique is good and you can drain the MT dry. If your sparge water is fairly high in pH, you may want to treat with a little phosphoric to drop it to around 6. And just as in batch-sparging, there is no need to do a mashout but it can help efficiency a little if you bring the mash temp up into the mid-160s for a short rest to get the enzymes really active.

When you say “sparge water” do you mean the mash out water?

I know I’ve read some threads where you talk about not sparging, but I don’t remember specifics.

Do you use a normal mash thickness and then add the rest after conversion and before running off, or mash with a large volume and just reserve a couple gallons to do a mash out?

Also, my water’s pH is 7.6, but I plan on diluting by 50% with distilled to lower my sulfates. Not sure if that cuts the pH in half as well.

Finally, Bru’n water predicts a mash pH of 5.4 with 6.5 gallons of 50/50 water and some CaCl and lime thrown to raise ions to appropriate levels. Sound OK? That would leave 2 gallons to mashout. I don’t see those 2 gallons throwing the pH out of whack too much.

I’ve said it before, but let me reiterate: Your help is invaluable.

I work backwards to get mash volume - I want to add enough boiling water at the end of the mash (I call this a “sparge” just out of habit, but obviously it’s not a sparge in this case) to boost the temp to 163F (ideally) which usually works out to be about a 1/3 of the total, and I mash with the remainder. Don’t worry about “thin” mashes - the 1.33 or 1.5 qt/lb “rule” is just a convenient number, it’s not magical.

I agree that two gallons of 50/50 tap/DI isn’t likely to shift pH very much, but you might still check the pH just to be sure.

I often mash at 3.5qt/lb (basically my whole volume needed) and it takes a little longer to convert (90min or so) but it works just fine. I typically get about the same efficiency doing this, as I get when doing a single sparge.

I can attest to the conversion at 3.5qt/lb. My 3 attempts at no sparge all finished higher in gravity than the same recipe previously batch sparged. The temperature within my cooler is also not as consistent at > 2.5qt/lb as at is at 1.5 qt/lb. A gradient forms from the grain bed to the top. I switched back to the 2 step. If it’s going to take 90 min to convert anyway, I can drain and do the 2nd step in that extra 30min.

Are you seeing a richer malt profile when you’re doing this? I didn’t realize it would add an extra 30 mins to the mash. I could batch sparge in that time, but if the no sparge results in a richer beer I may go for it.

Thanks.

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