Planning A No Sparge Brew Day
You may of noticed recently that I have written a string of articles that focus on shortening the brewday, in particular this article and this article on using extract to brew a wee heavy. Well my situation is still the same, I’m pretty busy with one thing or another so anything to fit in a brew day where previously I wouldn’t have enough time is going to be a bonus.
With that in mind it brings me onto this article where I will look at brewing a no-sparge beer. To be honest, out of all the all grain batches I’ve brewed I have never not sparged and I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me sooner that it was a possibility, especially since I have been brewing smaller batched recently.
No Sparge Brewing Does Exactly What It Says
OK so ordinarily we would take our crushed malt, heat up our mash liquor and put it all in the mash tun. Leave it be for an hour then begin draining the first runnings. At this point we would either begin sprinkling sparge water on top of the grain bed (fly/continuous sparge) or wait for everything to drain out and then recharge with sparge water to make up final volume before boiling (batch sparge).
No sparge on the other hand would be a case of mashing you grains with the final pre-boil volume of mash liquor and then running that all off into your kettle and not bother rinsing the grains. Your first runnings are essentially 100% of the wort.
Benefits of No Sparge Brewing
As I said before its going to be quicker and that’s why I like the idea of using it on my next brewday. If I fly sparge it can add up to an hour on my brewday, with no sparge at all I can run off all the wort fairly quickly and begin heating to a rolling boil as soon as the element in my boilers covered.
As well as this there are suggestions that by not rinsing the grains you are less likely to extract any undesirable compounds and flavours from them, resulting in a richer malt character in the beer. To be honest I’m not sure if this will have any perceptible effect on taste over batch sparging, the proof will be in the pudding (or beer).
The Obvious Downside of No Sparge Brewing
The main cause of concern with this technique are the obvious loss in efficiency. The whole objective of sparging is to increase efficiency. In my small batches though this is not too much of concery and will hardly effect the amount spent of ingredients.
The Process of No Sparge Brewing
I think the main thing to bear in mind with no sparge brewing is you are going to lose efficiency. Therefore you have to increase the malt bill by around 25% to make up for the lost fermentables soaked in the grain bed. So your recipe that calls for 3.6kg / 8 lbs of grain will need to be upped to 4.5kg / 9.9 lb or more. I’m expecting the first time I brew with this method to be slightly off my target gravity until I can work out my efficiency with no sparge brewing
The next issue comes to the mash liquor needed. I’ve read accounts of mashing in the total water needed to achieve the pre-boil volume and also mashing in an ordinary grain to water ratio and diluting down with the amount necessary to achieve the pre-boil volume.
If you are brewing a moderate strength beer and dough-in with all the mash liquor to achieve the pre boil volume you’ll end up with a very thin mash. The concerns I’ve read about with this are this thin mash may cause issue with enzyme activities or that it will create a highly fermentable wort. It’s because of these reasons that running of a smaller first running and then diluting to boil volume was suggested.
In my case I don’t think this will be so much of an issue as long as I keep this in mind, I can stir the mash frequently to distribute enzymes and also increase the mash temps slighlty to combat a highly fermentable wort.
So I am going to give this a go for my next brew and will post the recipe and the results of the brew day soon enough. Now I just need to find the time to fit a no sparge brew day in.