# First Runnings VS Sparge Volume

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by O.L.D.B.B.A, Feb 10, 2020.

1. ### O.L.D.B.B.A New Member

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#1
Hello all and thanks for reading. I am trying to determine why my first runnings are always so low and sparge volumes are so high. Forgive me for the Metric Units. Here goes:

We are brewing 37.8 Litres @ ~ 4.0% ABV
Pre-Boil Vol - 49.3 Litres

Total Grain Bill = 8.8 KG's
Mash Ratio = 3 litres/KG
Strike Water = (8.8 *3) = 26.4 Litres

26.4 Liters minus grain absorption (8.8 Litres) and MT deadspace (2 l) = 15.6 Litres

Pre - Boil (49.3) - FR (15.6) = 33 Litres of SParge.

SO, I end up sparging a lot, certainly to much. but my Mash ratio is already in the upper range of what I have mash volume for and certainly inside the typical range. I would LIke to get 50% of pre-boil volume from first runnings but even at 10.40 OG that is not achievable.

The obvious solution is to move to a 4-5 litre per KG mash ratio but that is far thinner then I want to go.

1) What mash ratio is typical for you to use?

2) where have i screwed this up?

Thank You

2. ### Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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#2
Haven't looked at the math on your grain absorption and MLT deadspace, but it may help if I point out that whatever volume of sparge water you add, that exact volume should go into the kettle as your grain is already saturated, and your MLT deadspace is already occupied.

Question, when you get to your preboil volume, are you hitting your gravity?

3. ### O.L.D.B.B.A New Member

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#3
We generally hit our gravity or thereabouts, but we sparge alot. by the end of sparging, i feel we are really just adding water to the kettle and actually sometimes we do just add water to the kettle, without rinsing the grain bed at all we just put sparge water right into the kettle to reach volume.

The only way to increase FR is to increase Mash Ratio. Currently we are about 1.5 Quarts/ pound which I beieve is typical. In order to make 50% of pre-boil volume would have to go to 2 Quarts/Pound. (4.4 L/KG) which seems very high. Is this typical mash?

4. ### Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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#4
Others more knowledgeable than I will no doubt have more involved answers to your questions, but if you are getting your desired volume, at your desired gravity, I would have to say that all is good with your process.

How is your beer tasting?

5. ### philjohnwilliams Well-Known Member

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#5
Are you fly sparging or batch sparging?

6. ### Nosybear Well-Known Member

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#6
First question: Why is it important to you to get 50% of pre-boil volume from first runnings? It doesn't seem that important to me. Now answers. I typically split my WATER 50-50. If I'm using a total of 40 liters of water for the batch, I use 20 liters in the mash, 20 liters in the sparge. I don't worry at all about the liquor-grist ratio. Of course, that means I have less first runnings than second but really, why is that important? I used to mash in a lot thicker but then I had to use infusions to bring my mash temperature up, now I can heat the runnings directly with a RIMS unit. It's possible to optimize the mash liquor to grist ratio but at homebrew scale, why?

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7. ### Trialben Well-Known Member

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#7
My grist to water 1kg/6lt sometimes more.
Larger mash volume keeps temp better.
I always just sparge 5lt in a standard 21lt batch.
My brewhouse averages 83%
My beer tastes good doing it this way and if yours does doing it that way keep on keeping on.

You could change it up just for one brew and see if you notice any change in beer flavour or body then adjust.
Enjoy

8. ### BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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#8
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9. ### Yooper Administrator Staff Member

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#9
My mash volume is determined by a couple of things. First, I want to be able to stir the mash of course so I go thinner than 1 qt/pound. Also, I recirculate and have a false bottom, so I need to make sure I have enough liquid to do that. Lastly, it’s important for me to have a mash pH of 5.3 or so for my pale beers and 5.5 or so for my dark beers and adjusting the mash volume can often do that for me.
Often, because I make a lot of IPAs with a substantial amount of grain, I’ll have the opposite issue where my sparge volume is pretty low compared to my mash volumes. In a 11 gallon batch. I’ll start with about 15 gallons of water, 9.5 gallons or so in the mash. I average 1.5 quarts pound most often, because that works for me and keeps my sparge water over my HEX coil in the HLT so I can recirculate. It’s not written in stone- last brewday was a lower ABV beer, an ordinary bitter, and I did a full volume no sparge because I had room in the mashtun.

I would say as long as you are not over sparging and getting tannin extraction (unlikely in batch sparging as long as you don’t have terribly alkaline water), and your first runnings are good, you’re fine.

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10. ### Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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#10
I don't sparge at all if I can get away with it so I wouldn't stress to hard about it. I historically tried to do about 50/50 though and it worked well enough.

11. ### O.L.D.B.B.A New Member

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#11
We are batch sparging. Our beer is tasting pretty good and we are always refining our process. PH adjustments in the Grainbill, measureing Mash PH, Stainless fermentor, closed transfer. We have come a LONG way from 5 gallons of extract kit in a 5 gallon pail on the garage floor.

I have read that to much sparging can extract tannins and that when your Runnings drop below 10.10 to stop sparging. typically we follow this rule. We have always tried to mash at a target Liquer/Grist ratio of about 2.5-3 litres per KG. Simply because my research tells me this works. Maybe I am putting to much importance on that when really all i should be doing is filling the mash tun with grain bill and topping of with hot liquer. We make a lot of low ABV beer because we drink it alot and have jobs to get to. this means low first runnings. If there is no risk of poor extraction from a very thin Mash ( 4 litres per KG or more) I would be happy to go this route and not sparge so much. I am worried about tannin extraction although my inexperience blinds me from whether It is a problem or not in my process.

12. ### Nosybear Well-Known Member

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#12
None of those worries about tannin extraction are valid when batch sparging. If you're worried, acidify your sparge water to pH 5.6 to prevent tannin extraction. I've not had any problems with thinner mashes, either.

13. ### Yooper Administrator Staff Member

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#13
I have alkaline tap water, and I did have an issue even with batch sparging so I think that this advice is great. . Either acidity your sparge water (but below the taste threshold of course) or sparge with distilled or RO water if you have alkaline water. I started sparging wit 100% RO water a number of years ago, and it made a huge difference in my beer. I still go back and forth between batch sparging and continuous sparging, and of course the one-off no sparge batch I did last brewday.

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