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Sparge Arms

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T.D.

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Hi everybody,

At present I sparge by bailing an icecream container of sparge water out of my hlt and gently puring it into the mash tun. There are obvious problems with this method (uneven distribution of sparge water over the grain bed is probably the biggest one, and its basically a very laborious way to go, not to mention the risk of burning yourself on the water!).

So I was thinking its probably about time I got myself a sparge arm. Grain and Grape sell them and are pretty cheap, but I thought I should look into making my own first. I found an old thread where some people have shared their efforts (see link below). I particularly like Doc's effort using the poly irrigation fittings, and Gout's idea of using a coil of copper tubing with small holes drilled in it.

Sparge Arm Thread: http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/forum/inde...?showtopic=1177

The things I am less sure about (which I would be very grateful if you good folk could help me out with) are the more intricate specifications of the ideal sparge arm setup.

How fine should the streams of water be that come off the sparge arm?

How close to the top of the mash should the sparge arm be positioned?

Has anybody had any problems with using the black poly-pipe? I know Doc said it held up ok structurally but I doubt it is food-grade plastic (may be wrong though) and I would hate for any "plastic flavours" to eventuate if hot water is run through it.

Also, if anybody can post some pics of their sparge arm setups I would be very grateful.

Cheers! :beer:
 

MAH

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HI TD

Before going down the fly sparging path, consider batch sparging. The majority of home brewers have adpoted this method.

Cheers
MAH
 

barfridge

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I'm interested in this as well. Currently I float a tupperware lid on top of the tun, and slowly trickle water onto it via a hose. It works well will little disturbance to the grain bed, but something better is required.
 

Justin

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Don't stress it.

Sparging doesn't have to be a science. Anyway you can get hot water on to the grain bed will do pretty much. If your grain bed is level and you keep the water level above the bed then I don't think it would matter how you applied the sparge water. Forget the whirly twirly things (waste of money IMO) and forget about how fine the stream of water flows onto the grain bed. In actual fact it doesn't have to drip/fall onto the grain bed at all (and in fact cools your sparge water even more if you do it this way).

I just use a ring of copper with holes drilled in it on the top side. It sits on the grain bed, partially supported by the hose connected to it but once the grain bed settles it sits quite firmly. I just keep enough water flowing through to cover the grain bed by about 1-2cm and that's it. My sparge ring sits just under the surface of the water.

But I suggest you take MAH advice and look at batch sparging. My new system will be a batch sparge set up. Can't get easier than that.

Cheers, Justin
 

Trent

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I currently use a type of "no sparge" method. similar to batch sparging, but without draining your first runnings off, just add all the sparge water in, enough to make it to mash out temp, give it a good stir then drain it out. The main problems I have noticed are it can limit your batch size, if you are doing high gravity beers (I use a 44L esky), and it can cool off a little before you drain all the wort out, possibly reducing my efficiency. I have noticed recently that my efficiency hasnt been that flash, and am thinking of heading back to batch of fly sparging, but am not sure yet. On the up side, it seems to be a fair bit less time consuming, and you end up with a very full bodied and smooth beer. Oh, ya also have to add 20% to the grain bill to allow for reduced efficiency.
Just another option...
Trent
 

T.D.

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Thanks guys. I'll look into batch sparging a bit more.

This is the only part of my setup that I am not happy with. I have a mash tun and HLT both with (boil-proof) snap-lock taps on them. So I have to hold the tap open just a bit (to keep the run-off at or below 1 litre per minute) with my left hand wile I add an icecream container of sparge water to the mash tun every now and then. Its the one part of the brewing process that I really don't look forward to. trying to keep that tap open at the right flow-rate for over half an hour while monitoring the rate and adding sparge water is something I could definiteloy do without. That's the reason I started thinking about adding ball valves and a sparge arm to my equipment - technically, if I got it right, I could set a ball valve to 1-2L/minute into the sparge arm, and then set the mash tun's ball valve to 1L/min or slightly slower, and just stand there and watch it! :D
 

T.D.

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Great Link Justin, thanks!
 

Tony M

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Sparge.jpgThis flood sparge gadget works really well. Not my idia, copied it from Ashers who no doubt sourced it from elsewhere.
The wooden bit sits across the mash tun and the copper contraption which is all 1/2" stuff just pushed together, can be set to a suitable height in the mash. I push on a length of PVC tube and regulate the flow with the HLT drain valve. Once you have balanced the flow you can go back to the book you were reading and only have to give the flow an occasional tweak.
I previously used a spiral copper tube drilled with lots of 1.5mm holes to shower the grain bed, but that system suffers a temp. drop whereas the flood sparge thingo doesn't.
 

Samwise Gamgee

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if you wanted to buy one locally, speak to Gerard @ ND Brewing as he normally has them.
 

T.D.

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Tony, that looks good. I was going to ask how you deal with varying grain bed depths but it looks like you can adjust the position of the vertical pipe on the wood. Looks easy enough to make too! :beerbang:

Sam, thanks, I didn't realise Gerard had these things - I buy all my ingredients from him anyway, so I will ask him about it next order.

I'll have a good think about all these options - plenty to mull over!

:)
 

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