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The “Low Sparge Brewing” Concept

Posted on March 21st, 2014 by in "Projects"

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I’m going to try a new process that I’m calling “low sparge brewing“. The concept isn’t new (I don’t think), but I haven’t read anything else about my intended process anywhere.

The basic concept of low sparge brewing is to extract as much sugar from the grain using the least amount of sparge water as possible so as not to over extract, or pull tannins, or other “stuff” from the grain. I don’t have a ton of reasoning behind this process other than something similar being in a recent interview with John Kimmich from The Alchemist. He says that they stop sparging Heady Topper when the gravity is around 1.018.

The “Low Sparge Brewing” Concept

My first attempt at low sparge brewing will be starting with a slight variation of my Perfect Pale Ale recipe and adjusting my mash efficiency and grain bill slightly to keep the same numbers (OG/FG, ABV, IBU, etc). For the first attempt at this I’ll be decreasing my mash efficiency to 55% instead of the normal 67%. I won’t be using as much sparge water solow sparge brewing I’m expecting a drop in efficiency. I can always add water to the wort to dilute it, but I don’t like to add extract or boil for extended periods if I don’t have to.

I’ll be doing a 6 gallon batch, so I’ll use my actual water measurements, as well as percentages and ratios, to describe what I’m doing. If you decide to follow this concept you’ll probably want to adjust your water amounts based on the amount of grain you’re using.

My plan is to do a double infusion mash at 154F for 45 minutes. The first infusion will use 6 gallons of water with a ratio of 1.25 quarts per pound of grain. After 30 minutes I will add another 2.75 gallons of 154F water to bring the water/grain ratio up to 2 quarts per pound. This second infusion will rest for 15 minutes and then I’ll drain the first running as normal, making sure to take a gravity reading.

low-sparge-mash-volumeThe reason for splitting the mash in to two separate parts is to keep the enzymes close together and to not dilute things so much that it takes a long (or longer than needed) time to fully convert. I’ve had full conversion done in as quickly as 10 minutes with a 1.5 quart per pound ratio, but this way makes the most sense, especially to start.

This is where the low sparge brewing part comes in – the batch sparge will also be done in two parts, but this time it’s to be able to monitor the gravity more closely. I’ll heat 2 gallons of water to about 180F and then will sparge with one gallon at a time. The goal is to not add wort that is less than 1.018SG to this beer.

Low Sparge Brewing – American Pale Ale Recipe

Amt Name Type %/IBU
11 lbs 8.0 oz Brewers Malt 2-Row (CMC) (1.8 SRM) Grain 72.2 %
2 lbs 8.0 oz Munich I (Weyermann) (7.1 SRM) Grain 15.7 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (More Beer!) (1.6 SRM) Grain 6.3 %
10.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 3.9 %
5.0 oz Biscuit malt (Castle Malting) (30.5 SRM) Grain 1.9 %
0.55 oz Magnum [14.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 25.3 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [7.10 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 8.1 IBUs
2.00 oz Cascade [7.10 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 8.9 IBUs
1.00 oz Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [50.28 ml] Yeast -
1.00 oz Amarillo [9.20 %] – Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs
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