Sparging Made Easy(er) – The Budget Edition…
For those of us living in a city apartment, brewing is obviously highly impacted by our available space. Sure, in a nice commercial space, or a basement, you can probably spread out a bit, or maybe even brew outside – which holds its own set of problems – but space is less influential in that situation. When I picked up brewing again after a several year hiatus, I went out and bought a 5 gallon stainless-steel kettle. My intention was to brew all-grain right from the start and I quickly realized that for a 5 gallon batch of beer, this kettle just wouldn’t do. I now have an 8 gallon kettle, with a handy spout, which I place between two burners on my stove to get the wort to boil within an hour. It’s all about finding what can work for your unique situation, and accommodating that situation. Which brings us to Sparging.
Laura and I have both struggled, attempting to dump the wort into a nylon bag while having one person try to hold the wet, sticky and increasingly heavy bag – which is laden with 10+ lbs of WET grain – above a bucket to catch the malty goodness. This is a bad method, we quickly decided. An alternative had to be found, on a pretty tight budget.
So, let me set the scene: I heat up my water to 160 in the kettle and then throw 10-15 lbs of grain right into the water and steep for an hour. My initial idea was a false bottom for my kettle. But after looking around, these aren’t very cheap (they range from $65 – $140) and I wasn’t sure if it would work the way I wanted it to. After speaking to several people in the club and hearing their ideas, I thought to buy a torpedo screen. This is a long, mesh screen which conveniently screws into the interior side of the kettle’s spout. I went to Bitter & Esters and the screen was just $16 – score! I bought it, and the next time I brewed, I screwed it in…and screwed..and screwed. Ummm… What’s the problem here? Ah, found it! I didn’t know these things came in different sizes!! So for another $16, I now have the correct size and it works perfectly. Sparging is now a one person operation, instead of two.
Mission accomplished for $16 …or $32 in my case, but since I’ve just clued you into the secret of the different sizes, I’m sure that won’t happen to you!
This may be an idea for anyone who thinks sparging requires 4-6 hands and a bunch of towels on the floor, or spending upwards of $50 on a false bottom.