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> No-Sparge All Grain Brewing, contributed by joe002
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post Jan 2 2005, 09:30 PM
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No-Sparge All Grain Brewing
contributed by joe002

Q: Can I brew without sparging the grains in my mash?
A: Yes. With no-sparge brewing you basically make your wort by mashing your grain with all of the water you need for your boil in your Mash Tun, then pouring the all of the wort from your Mash Tun directly into your boiling pot without adding any water.

Q: Why would I want to do that?
A: The benefits of no-sparging brewing are:
* Simplicity - add water to Mash Tun, heat, add grain, wait, drain wort to boil pot
* Richer, Maltier Beer - when sparging the pH and buffering capacity of the wort usually changes, which causes more polyphenols, silicates, and tannins to be extracted, which can affect the taste of the finished beer
* pH Consistency - once you set it at the beginning of the mash it stays consistent because you don’t add water
* Specific Gravity Targeting - the SG of the mash will be the SG in the boiling pot (if it’s too low just keep mashing)
* Time - it’s usually faster to do a no-sparge mash than a mash followed by a long sparge (I usually shoot for a 60-90 minute mash, but I did have one mash that took 4.5 hours to convert! (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/crazy.gif) )
* Potentially Less Equipment – since the entire mash is performed in one pot you can potentially have one big Mash Tun (pot), drain your mash into a bucket, rinse out your Mash Tun, fill it back up with the wort in your bucket and start the boil.

Here’s a little of what John Palmer has to say about no-sparge brewing (see: “Skip the Sparge!”, BYO May-June 2002 for the complete article): “This method produces a richer, smoother tasting wort with the same gravity as a standard recipe, but with a mashing and lautering process that makes the wort more robust and pH stable”.

Q: What’s your no-sparge process?
A: First comes the recipe: I use ProMash and can adjust a “normal” recipe to a “no-sparge” recipe with the following procedure (note: in this example I will create a 5 gallon batch):
1 – Create a new Brewing Session from your “normal” recipe.
2 – Under Edit Ingredients, click on Lock Ingredients to Batch Size, set your batch size to 5 gallons.
3 – Next click Efficiency Lock and change the efficiency to 56%, Click OK (note: since we’re not sparging we’ll never get a high efficiency like batch or fly sparging).
4 – Click on Mash Schedule. In Dough In Mash you’ll enter the total amount of water you need for the mash and boil. This number will need to be adjusted based on your grain/OG requirements, Mash Tun, boil length, waste, etc. For this example set it to 9 gallons and click OK.
5 – Click on Water Needed. The Sparge numbers will be zero and you should see “You Will Need 9 Gallons of Water”. Based on your equipment you need to adjust the Deadspace and loss numbers. In any case, you want to see 5 gallons going to the fermenter. If the amount going to the Fermenter is too low then increase the water in the Mash Schedule.
6 – When you have everything set go back to Mash Schedule. There is a box labeled Total Mash Volume GAL that will show you how much space you’ll need in your Mash Tun. Click OK.
7- Click on Efficiency. In the Water Needed Pre-Boil Targets you’ll see the target SG for your mash. I have a refractometer and I convert the Estimated OG to a Brix reading so I know when my mash is finished.

Q: Let's get this out of the way right now -- what are the bad points of no-sparge brewing?
A: From the recipe procedures above you’ve probably have seen the two biggest disadvantages of no-sparge brewing:
#1 - If you’re looking for the ultimate in efficiency don’t do no-sparge brewing (my “target” efficiency is 56%). This can probably be increased a little by mashing longer, but you’ll never reach the efficiency of batch and fly sparging.
#2 – you need a Mash Tun big enough to hold all of your water and grain at one time (I mash in a 50 quart stainless pot – not cheap). If you like making big batches (15+ gallons?) then the cost of the Mash Tun may be prohibitive.

Q: It looks like that mash will be a little thin - will it be OK?
A: Yes. When you mix all of the grain and water in your Mash Tun you’ll typically end up with 2-3 quarts of water per pound of grain – which is on the thin side. Thin mashes can lead to more fermentable wort, which is desirable for some beers, and thick mashes can result in a sweeter beer, which is desirable for others. However, I have found that the temperature of the mash has a much bigger impact on the final fermentability of the wort. A lower mash temperature will be more fermentable than a higher temperature mash – even if the mash is thin. As an aside, I have found that higher temperature mashes do take longer to convert than lower temperature mashes.

I’ve never tried it, but if you want try a thicker mash you could conduct your no-sparge mash with less water (to get a “standard” 1.5 quarts/pound), and when the mash completes you could mash out with the remaining water. With my setup it would require an extra burner and pot (to heat the extra water), and some additional math with your Refractometer readings (to calculate when the mash is complete).

Q: How do you mash?
A: Conducting the Mash: For my setup I have a 50 Quart Mash Tun with a spigot and bazooka screen (1) which works well for no-sparge brewing. I put the pot on my propane burner and fill it with all of my water (9 gallons in this example) and bring it up to my infusion temperature that I got from ProMash (in Recipe Step 6). I then dump in all of my grain and measure/adjust the pH as necessary (note: this is a thin mash – when multi-step mashing the Beta phase runs much faster than the Alpha phase). If I’m doing a multi step mash I raise the temperature with my burner as necessary (note: if you do a multi-step mash you can raise the temp when your Beta SG is hit instead of waiting a pre-determined time). Also, since the Mash Tun is on the burner I can raise the temperature if I lose a little heat during the mash. As I’m mashing I occasionally stir and check the SG with my refractometer and compare it to my target from Recipe Step 7. When the SG is hit, the mash is over and you simply need to transfer the wort from your Mash Tun into your boil pot.
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Q: And then what?
A: Transfer the wort. With my setup I attach my transfer tube and drain/recirculate a few cups of wort to get my bazooka screen/grain bed set (2). I then attach some muslin bags to the end of the tube and put it in my boiling pot (3). Here's (4) the mash pot still on the burner, and my boiling pot positioned under it waiting for me to open the valve. I then drain the mash pot into the boiling pot (5) (no HSA and no husks here). I now have my wort to boil. Note: I attempted to improve my efficiency by recirculating more than a few quarts of wort but it didn’t have any affect on the efficiency – you can’t wash wort with wort, you have to wash it with water to get a higher efficiency.
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Q: Is there anything I can do with all that remaining sugar in the mash?
A: While I have never done it, you can use this process to make a “big” and “small” beer in one session. The first runnings would be the “big” beer and if you re-fill the Mash Tun with hot water, let it sit, then drain the Mash Tun into another pot, you could make a “small” beer. Then again, if you drain the second runnings into the first boiling pot you would be batch sparging – but that’s a different FAQ. (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/wink.gif)
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