Rant: Fly Sparging vs “Brew in a Bag”


I’ve read recipes that say to “fly sparge 75 C (168 F)”. I didn’t know what that was (or why there’s a sudden temperature jump up), so I consulted the book and some online resources. Here is an excerpt from the homebrewers association, which is sourcing “How to Brew”:

However, fly sparging takes considerable time and requires some special equipment. The process is conducted by slowly sprinkling sparge water evenly over the top of the grains while the mash is slowly lautered into the boil kettle. This process of continually adding the sparge water while also lautering is where the name “continuous sparging” derives.

The entire process can take anywhere from a half hour to two hours and requires the ability to pump sparge water into a device known as a “sparge arm,” which is rigged to evenly distribute sparge water over the top of the mash kind of like a shower head.

Source: How to Brew by John Palmer

Did you stop reading? I would’ve…. I forced myself to finish, and then said “fuck that”. What home brewer would choose to do that? It just seemed way harder and needlessly complicated…

I planned to do Brew In A Bag (BIAB). The book says:

[…] all the water that would be used for the mash and sparge […] is combined here for the mash.

So, I figured I should be able to just make sure I’m using the full amount of water in the recipe… right? The “size” for this recipe is 18.9 L. I know there’s an efficiency loss, and that I have to account for foam over and mass of the hops. When I read on, I wondered if I could reduce the grain quntity, because BIAG has a higher yield. Mr. Palmer reduced his pale ale malt from 8.5 lbs to 8 lbs. How would I adopt that ratio…? Great, more math. (Spoiler: I just used all the grains).