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strike/sparge temperature question

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by atomeyes, May 29, 2012.

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  1. atomeyes

    atomeyes Disciple (383) Jul 13, 2011 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    just curious...
    when you're following a recipe and it calls for a sparge temp of, for example, 168 F, do most people take that as the post-water-addition temperature or do they simply add water at the recipe's temp and assume (not care) that there will be a slight/significant drop in temperature due to the grain temp?

    and if they adjust the temp, do they use a rough rule of thumb or is there a calculation?

    just wondering because i've seen people do both. personally, i've been pre-heating my cooler with boiled water so the cooler temperature is nice and warm. when i add the grain, i assume that the grain's temp (i.e. room temp) and the cooler's warm temp somewhat cancel each other out. non-scientific, i know, but...
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,334) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    The drop in temp between sparge water temp and where the grain bed settles is not small. There are calculations. I think they are in 'How to Brew' as well as other places. Let's see. Here they are...

  3. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    Just to be clear, it appears you are referring to sparge water in the first paragraph and mashing in the third paragraph. Is that correct? You're temperature drop when mashing will be a lot higher as your grain is probably around 70 degrees. When sparging, you are starting around 150-155 (+/-) so the drop will not be as significant. Also with sparging you want your water to grain ratio to be higher 2 qts/lb compared to 1.25 qts/lb for mashing so adding more hot water to a smaller mass of grain will result in less temp drop as well.

    FWIW, I haven't been as worried about my sparge water temp being as accurate as my mash water temp. I batch sparge and I try to aim for 170-172 on my sparge water temp knowing it's going to drop a few degrees. I don't mind if it's a little less as the hotter-than-mash water temp will already help dissolve more of the sugar from the grain. What I don't want is the sparge water to be higher than low 170s where tannins will leach out.

    I use this calculator: http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash/

    (The numbers I used are approximates. They will vary based on what type of beer you are brewing, what flavor profile you want, how many infusions, etc.)
  4. atomeyes

    atomeyes Disciple (383) Jul 13, 2011 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    i'm talking about both.

    yep, i know that the temp difference between mash and sparge before the water addition is big. but i'm also not sure what my heated mash tun is going to do to mittigate the temperature drop.

    for example, i pour a kettle's worth of boiling water (so, 200F for argument sake) into my empty cooler. I let it sit for 15 min. i then dump out the water, add my grain and close the lid. that will warm up the grain (slightly).

    i'd also argue that its the mash tun, not the grain, that would have the greatest effect on mash/sparge temps. if my cooler if 70 F (room temp, approx), its probably harder to heat that up to 155 F than it is to warm up 10 lbs of grain. or is it?
  5. atomeyes

    atomeyes Disciple (383) Jul 13, 2011 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    and i looked at that calculator. almost makes me NOT want to heat my mash tun up. too many variables.
  6. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    As I'm heating up my strike water I'll get it to 155, dump my strike water into my mash tun for 10 minutes, dump it back into my boil pot to keep heating it to 170 (or whatever the website calculator says I need to be at), and cap my mash tun. When my strike water is ready I'll dump it and the grain into the mash tun. I don't know how warm the mash tun is but it's a lot closer to my mashing temp than 70. This eliminates the variable of preheating the grain and I'm usually within a degree or two to my projected mashing temp. Good enough for my level brewing.
    bgjohnston likes this.
  7. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    I use a round Igloo cooler and find that my mash temp comes in pretty close to a calculated number without any adjustments. Maybe 2 degrees cooler. It seems to hold the same temperature for an hour, too.

    I fly sparge with 170 degree water out of the kettle, regardless of the recipe.
  8. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    when you're following a recipe and it calls for a sparge temp of, for example, 168 F, do most people take that as the post-water-addition temperature or do they simply add water at the recipe's temp and assume (not care) that there will be a slight/significant drop in temperature due to the grain temp?[/QUOTE]

    Dunno about most people, but usually what I do is batch sparge by adding ~190F water, which usually brings me to about 168 or so. I add the water, measure the temp, and keep some icy water on hand in case it's up over 170.

    Well, my rule of thumb is that for my equipment, the water temp usually drops a good 12 degrees or so when added to grain.

    I use Beersmith, which allows me to calculate the strike temp for mashing, and I keep some ice water and some boiling water on hand to make adjustments. Usually beersmith gets me within a degree or two.
  9. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (270) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    My rule of thumb for calculating sparge water temperature...

    Post '1st runnings' grain-bed temperature °F + ((168°F - post '1st runnings' grain-bed temperature °F) * 2.6)
    ...where 168°F is the desired grain-bed temperature after sparge-volume addition.

    Post '1st runnings' grain-bed temperature: 150°F

    150°F + ((168°F - 150°F) * 2.6)
    150°F + 47°F = 197°F

    Reliability rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  10. atomeyes

    atomeyes Disciple (383) Jul 13, 2011 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    i'm loving the answers and variability i'm seeing (honestly).

    HerbMeowing's using math and his math sort of makes sense. like, adding 170 F water to 155 F grains shouldn't result in 168 F sparge temps. in theory, it should be lower. but i'm not sure if i'd be cool putting 197 F water into my grains for a sparge. that doesn't seem right.

    my assumption: your grains are (for example) 155 F. you add enough 170 F water to cover the grains. let's assume that you're using 1/3 of your sparge volume. so the mash tun temp would then probably be somewhere in the low 160s F (halfway between 155 F and 170 F). you then add 2/3 more water and the temp will be a lot closer to 170F than 160 F.

    doing that logical math with 197 F water...no way in hell that I can logically see that working. the amount of energy (heat) that the grain absorbs to get up to around 170 F shouldn't be that much. unless your mash tun is inefficient (and yes, some of the water temp drops in order to heat the tun) then the near-boiling water seems like its way too much.
  11. evantwomey

    evantwomey Initiate (0) Jan 1, 2008 North Carolina

    I frequently batch sparge with water that is as hot as 190 F and even after the second batch sparge, the grain bed is still typically in the mid- to low- 160s. All that wet grain soaks up a ton of heat.
  12. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    Hitting mash temps and sparge temps is more a matter of experience than it is a formula - everyone's equipment is different and everyone's thermometer may not be totally accurate - but all that can be overcome with adjustments on future batches based on your experience with past batches.
  13. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    Have you tried warming up your mash tun with your mash water and leaving it in while you add the grains? I found this to me a much simpler approach and wastes less water. I heat up my mash water (~1.5 quarts/.lb) to almost 180F and dump it all into the mash tun - wait until the temp stabilizes to about 12 degrees above my mash temp target, then add the grains to the water and stir. I always shy to the high side since its much easier to bring temps down with cold water than it is to raise them with hot/boiling water.
  14. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (270) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    Should be noted the formulation applies to batch sparging only.

    Lonstaff is right about system variability and experience.
    Logging initial grain-bed temp...sparge water temp...and temperarure after sparge additon will yield a reliable method for your equipment.
  15. Stepp2

    Stepp2 Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2014 California

    Im hoping to get some answers on this same subject started in 2012.
    I am able to infuse and hold my grain temp at 149-152 in a 5 gal round igloo cooler and hold for 60 min no problem. This doesn't leave me with a whole lot of room in the cooler to bring the temp up to 170 for mashout. (1.5l x 12 lb.= 4gal H2O) Because of this I use a "fly sparge" technique right after vorlof. My question is: If I fly sparge and my mash grain temp is say 150, do I still use 170 degree water at the Fermentap Sparge head? or use a hotter water in the beginning of the fly and bring the grain temp up to 170? Once the 170 sparge water mixes with the mash it drops. Is this a problem?
    As I understand it going over 170 is a tanin extractor.
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,014) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Perhaps this was asked in the above discussion but: is there an 'optimum' temperature for the grain bed for the sparging process? Is this 'optimum' temperature different for a batch sparge vs. a fy sparge?

  17. Lukass

    Lukass Savant (926) Dec 16, 2012 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    @atomeyes I don't know if you do this or not, but I always keep a few gallons of near-boiling water, as well as a few gallons of cold water sitting next to my mash tun. I do this for both the mash-in and sparge. When I add my sparge water (the temp can vary anywhere between 10-200F) to the grain bed, I check the temperature of the grain with my thermometer. Always move the thermometer around a bit in the grain bed to get the average temp. If the temp's too low or too high, I'll adjust by adding cold water or near boiling water to the grain bed until I get the temp I'm wanting. I know this can throw the water-to-grain ratio off balance just a bit, but I've never had any problems with the end result.

    I'm with @HerbMeowing though – log all of your strike and sparge temps. I always do my mash in the laundry room, where the temperature stays pretty ambient. I brewed a stout outside in the winter time once, and didn't account for the cold weather making my mash tun much colder, resulting in a lower than anticipated mash temp. So if you do log your strike/sparge water temps, make sure your doing your mash in the same climate as before. Hope this answers your question!
    #17 Lukass, Mar 25, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  18. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Initiate (0) Jan 5, 2015 Illinois

    You technically aren't mashing out. That isn't really a problem. Drain the mash and "mash out" in the kettle by starting the boil process. Then add the sparge water. Drain the sparge and "mash out" in the kettle. After a 60 minute mash, the rate of conversion is very slow. Your fermentability won't vary much. If you do it this way every time, it becomes predictable and repeatable.
    bushycook likes this.
  19. atomeyes

    atomeyes Disciple (383) Jul 13, 2011 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    i usually don't miss my target temps. it's a good idea to measure your grain temps prior to adding water. my mash tun's stores in the same room as my grains, so i can plug that into BeerSmith and meet my targets.

    i also bought a stainless steel (i think) paint mixer. i put it into my power drill and i'll use that to mix the mash up real good after striking.
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