Blichmann AutoSparge Review By: Fred Brown
The technique of fly sparging (continuous sparge) brought an nice increase in my mash efficiency in comparison to batch sparging.
Fly sparging requires a bit of extra attention as you you attempt to juggle wort running off into your boil kettle and the level of water that is rinsing your mash of its sugary contents. This time and attention (about 45 minutes) could be better used as you can be preparing for the next steps of your brew day. The bump in efficiency is certainly worth the effort.
A simple solution delivering a “set it and forget it” design is the Blichmann Auto Sparge. The auto sparge controls the flow from your hot liquor tank during the sparge to match the wort flow during the lauter.
Installing the Auto Sparge in my ten gallon cooler mash tun was very easy. However It did require me to purchase a 2” hole saw from the local hardware store (new tools are always good). For those looking to add an auto sparge to your kettle you will need a step bit or hole punch. In addition you will need a fitting to connect the hose from your HLT to the input of the Auto Sparge. My setup is outfitted with cam locks, otherwise I would go with a Blichmann Quick Connector.
Note: Before you get to drilling holes in things be sure to verify with your brewing setup you will install the Auto Sparge in its ideal location. Take into account you will want the outlet hose of your pump to reach in inlet of the Auto Sparge during vorlouf. Also be sure to check that you get hot liquor to your mash during the sparge process.
Once installation is complete go on with your mash as you normally would on brew day. I like to vorlouf during the last 15 of my mash. I set up the hose alongside the wall of my mash tun to allow the wort to circulate around the mash tun. I begin to run off into my boil kettle. When the wort level drops to the grain bed I will set the control float about half way into the grain bed. I connect a hose from my hot liquor tank to the inlet of the Auto Sparge. You can fully open the valve from the HLT. The Auto Sparge will regulate the liquor flow. Its a beautiful thing! You can sit back and relax or prepare for the next steps of your brew. The Auto Sparge will keep about 1-2 inches of hot liquor above the grain bed. All you need to keep an eye on is wort level in you brew kettle to reach your needed pre boil volume.
1: Grain milled and begging to be mashed
2: Lauter is complete, the float is set to begin sparge
3: Auto Sparge holding a consistent level above the mash bed
4: Crystal clear wort collected in the Boil Kettle
Thats it! When I was batch sparging I would see efficiencies in the mid to high 60s. I now am hitting mash efficiencies in the high 70 to 80% range! Another trick I picked up along the way as I started fly sparging was to control the flow of wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle to about .25 gallon per minute. You want to be sure to get all those sugars out of your mash!
If you're looking for a simple upgrade to your brew system that is easy to use and will free up time on your brew day give you cannot go wrong with the Blichmann Auto Sparge. CH
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