Sparging is the home brewing process of flushing the mash grain bed with very hot water, typically 168F – 175F in order to extract any remaining sugars from your grains after you have began draining the wort from your mash tun to your brewing kettle. There are a few common sparging methods used by home brewers.
Fly sparging is one of the most commonly used methods of sparging. Fly sparging is a technique where a home brewer uses a sparge arm to pour or spary hot water over the grain bed while at the same time transferring the wort to the boil kettle at a similar rate. As the hot water flows through the grain bed it gently flushes the sugar from the grain husks.
Another commonly used home beer brewing sparge method is batch sparging where a home brewer adds batches of hot water to the mash tun and then drains the mash tun completely before refilling it with additional water. Once the additional water has been added the brewer mixes the grains with a mash paddle for a few minutes to help extract the sugar from the grains. With each subsequent batch, less sugar will be extracted from the grains. The batching process is repeated until a sufficient amount of wort has been collected for the boiling process.
I personally use and have had great success with the fly sparging process, but the batch sparging method is also very efficient. If you are in the market for a high quality stainless steel sparge arm, I highly recommend More Beers ultimate sparge arm. That and a variety of other sparge arms can be found here:
Sparging is a brewing process that involves passing heated water through the grain bed of a mash to extract sugars from the crushed grains and adjuncts. Sparging is typically conducted at approximately 167° F to 170° F; if the temperature exceeds 170° F, the brewer risks extracting excessive amounts of tannins from the grains. If the temperature is too low, then the sparge will be ineffective at liquefying the remaining converted sugars from the grains. While the sparge water passes from the hot liquor tank to the mash tun, or lauter tun, via a sparge arm, the extracted sugars and water are being drained from the base of the vessel and relocated to the boil kettle in preparation for to upcoming boil.
This mash is being sparged at 168° F, while the beer is being transferred from the false bottom at the base of the mash tun over to the boil kettle.
Sparging in the mash tun, while wort is transferred to the boil kettle.
Chill haze is the cloudy or hazy appearance that a chilled beer gets when it is too high in residual proteins or tannins. For the most part, haze and turbidity are highly undesirable unless you are brewing a beer such as an American wheat, hefeweizen, or Belgian wit, where the style calls for a certain amount of haze. It is easier to try and avoid chill haze as opposed to trying to remove it from a beer.
Best practices for avoiding chill haze include properly controlling your mash out, sparging, lautering, and recirculation temperatures. Tannin extraction becomes a real issue when you exceed a temperature of 170° F in your mash tun, so always do your best to keep your sparge temp near 168° F for proper sugar extraction, but do not exceed it or else you will risk stripping too much tannin from the grain.
A consistent rolling boil and hot break are also important when it comes to reducing excess proteins. During the boil and hot break, proteins will merge together, becoming very dense and dropping out to the bottom of the kettle where they can be separated and not transferred to the fermenter. Perhaps one of the best and easiest ways to help avoid chill haze is to use an inexpensive fining such as whirlfloc. Whirlfloc is my personal favorite haze clearing fining; it is a blend of Irish moss and purified carrageenan. The Irish moss and carrageenan bind with the proteins and aid in precipitation. I will typically use one tablet per 5 to 15 gallons and add it at the last 15 minutes of the boil.
If you find yourself in the situation where when chilled your beer has haze and you have not yet bottled it, you can try one of the following methods to help clear chill haze. Extend your conditioning time and cold crash your beer to 34° F for a couple of weeks. This will aid in precipitation and help move suspended yeast and protein to the bottom of the vessel so that you can rack or transfer the clarified beer off the top of it. As a last ditch effort, you can use a beer clarifier such as gelatin. The gelatin should bind to the excess proteins, and drop some of the haze out of your beer.